It seems like only yeterday that I was hiding behind a tree near campus on a frosty January morning, having a guilty cigarette and reciting (with a touch of irony) the Health Promoting Schools mantra in preparation for my PGDE interview.
Several months have passed since that nervous day and here I am again, just as anxious as before, but now a fully-fledged student teacher embarking on my new career.
So far, it has been great. An early high was becoming the proud owner of a student card that entitles me to discounts in cinemas and shops. Not sure why this gives me so much pleasure, but every little helps when you are surviving on a student loan.
It is good to be a student again, especially now that I no longer feel like "Norma-no-mates" on her first day at school. However, university is not quite what it used to be - we have been told, for example, that we are expected to attend lectures AND hand-in assignments on time! What will they think of next?
The first week swept me along on a tsunami of introductory talks and baffling educational abbreviations - RME, PDP, PMT, PTO. Apparently, these will soon be tripping off our tongues in learned conversations around campus. If only we knew what they meant.
But in the meantime I have indulged in frivolous chat with any stranger who happens to be standing next to me in the mile-long canteen queues that form during the rare breaks between lectures. These brief conversations usually consist of an exchange of names and a comment along the lines of "Gosh, there's a lot to take in, isn't there!"
Actually the workload is pretty overwhelming, but I am learning to live with the tugging undercurrent of panic. Early on, tutors advised us to "say goodbye for a year to our life and our loved ones". This seemed a touch melodramatic, but as the work piled up, it soon resembled understatement.
For one thing, it has taken several days and many late nights to work out the timetable. "You need a degree to crack it," someone quipped in a coffee queue recently. So, perhaps it is fortunate that these days teaching is an all-graduate profession.