I struggled to contain my excitement when I received the news about my acceptance to the Europe Inside Out summer school in Leuven Belgium. Attending a summer school was something I had wanted to do so badly, since I heard about these opportunities offered by the university during my first year at Stellenbosch. I had never travelled alone and it was something I was really looking forward to do.
Let me start of with a caveat: I’m not your typical student. I’m 35 and in my third year of studies. In my previous life as part of the workforce, having 21 days annual leave was the norm. With never-ending deadlines, taking full advantage of this was a challenge and at the end of the year I always ended up carrying over some unused leave days.
Imagine then the complete mind-shift when I became a fulltime student again with an average of approximately 12 weeks holiday per year. The concept was daunting. What was I going to do with all this time? I’m married and my husband still has to work, so long romantic vacations were not on the cards. Plus, of course, I don’t have the luxury anymore of saving up a salary for a fun-filled getaway to somewhere exotic. I definitely also didn’t just want to sit at home reading or binge watching series. No: I wanted to use this time in a smart way, maximising my four short years of being a full-time student again. I set out to learn as much as I can and challenged myself use this time to postion myself optimally for when I put down my pen during my final exam I’’ll be writing in 2018.
So I made a rough list of things I thought I could keep myself productive with. I must admit, the holidays flew by faster than I expected and though I managed to do many of the things on my list, international exposure was always at the back of my mind. I was looking for an opportunity at the university that could support my hunger for learning.