Total Pageviews

Sunday, 30 December 2012

#73: Two Degrees of Separation — Part Six

Unfortunately, this was no 34th Street for me. I prepared as best I could for the six end-of-year exams – given I had no particular interest for any of them and had been going through the motions for about eight of the nine Year Two months.

However, the writing was on the wall. And not on the exam papers. At least not the right kind of writing. Miracles were apparently in short supply on this one, fine summer's day.

Out of those six exams, I passed just one. In Sociology. Largely because the abstract doodle I did in the answer booklet was immense. They couldn’t fail me with that in there.

But the rest were a write-off. And meant I’d be forced to take five re-sits in five days – a week before the scheduled start of the new term – to progress to Year Three and have a chance of completing my degree.

I embraced the challenge and stayed in student (campus) accommodation for five nights, while I re-sat. It’s amazing how focused you become when goals are so black and white.

The night before each re-sit I crammed in revision like never before, and felt like I had at least a cat-in-hell’s chance (whatever that actually means) of scraping through.

My quintet of exams went reasonably well – or so I thought – and I then had to sweat it out, waiting for the results.

Better. Three passes. But still not good enough. Two fails. I could re-sit the failed two again the following March, but my hopes of carrying on into Year Three on schedule and graduating the following June were toast.

I briefly considered just taking a year out; re-sitting in March, and then moving on to Year Three. But then I came to my senses. The university experience, overall, had been about as much fun as a bad case of diarrhea. It was time to move on.

From that point, I focused on golf for the next 18 months – living back with my parents (I was still only 20) and working evenings at a diesel injector factory to offer some housekeep. My swing was honed to an eight handicap – but that was as good as it got.

So I then pursued journalism, and ignited a career that married two of my great passions: English and sport. It was a blast, and for the next eight years I was in my element.

But then I started to get itchy feet again. And thoughts of revamping my career or taking it in a slightly different direction solidified. As did a yearning to exorcise the ghost of my failed degree.

And so, in September 2002 at the grand ‘old’ age of 29, I enrolled at St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham, on the outskirts of London, to become a Bachelor of Science in Sports Science/Health, Nutrition and Exercise.

This time there'd be no farting around. No going through the motions. This time I was serious. I’d been a runner almost five years at this point and craved to learn how to make myself a better, more efficient pavement-pounder. I wanted to devour every relevant morsel of information about physiology, nutrition and sports psychology.

While the lion's share of fresh nubile First Years were busy sowing their wild oats and engaging in groundbreaking activities reminiscent of the night I drank myself into oblivion before running backwards down a main road in Stafford; falling and bouncing my head on concrete; then waking up the next morning with mild concussion and proceeding to vomit 17 times (the #'s imprinted in my mind – I think literally), I was salivating over physiology textbooks, nutritional studies and sports psychology research.

That first year I was hung-go for learning and amassing knowledge. I was also able to showcase my journalistic skills in some areas (in one paper I have apparently gone down in SMUC folklore as being the only guy who scored 100% (and the old ego can never have enough of those experiences).

I whistled through the coursework and sailed through the exams – noting that the black-&-whiteness of science-based exams (particularly multiple choice options) seemed a better fit for me. The wishy-washyness and apparent pointlessness of a lot of essay-type questions was a bigger turnoff than the sound of my Staffs Uni housemate and his Magnum PI lady-friend almost coming through the ceiling in the name of lust.

My First Year average was 71% – the equivalent of a First or Grade A. No resits needed this time.

I'd also arranged to study my second year abroad; the first semester in the States (Platteville, Wisconsin); and the second in Australia (Melbourne). The latter was still to be confirmed, but the signs were good.

All-in-all, I was bang on course to exorcise (via exercise) the ghost of Staffs Uni and my ‘lost’ degree.

I'd also just turned 30, so was flying to Chicago (Platteville was a 3-hr coach ride from O'Hare International Airport) having just entered a new decade.

The future looked bright. Bl**dy cold, come November in Wisconsin. But bright nonetheless.


No comments: