By Renee Luka
My experience as a full-time mum and full-time distance student with Massey has been difficult, crazy, frustrating, enjoyable, exciting and has given me great knowledge on a vast number of topics.
Unfortunately, I signed my self out of high school just before I turned 17 due to falling out with my group of friends and various other personal issues. I felt immense sadness and confusion at the time and ended up moving back to Australia where I worked full-time at McDonalds, as a cleaner in various hotels and in hotel kitchens. I felt, because I dropped out of school that I shouldn’t bother applying for jobs that required a specific skill as there was no way I would be interviewed having only NCEA level 1.
When I was 23 I met my now partner of almost five years and when I was 24 I had my daughter. I loved being a mum but was overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness and I knew I did not want to return to any of the jobs I had previously done. With help from my partner I applied for a diploma in arts with Massey as we had heard they had an awesome distance program.
Just as the first semester begun I found out I was pregnant with my son and was extremely sick for almost 3 months. In this time, I was enrolled in compulsory arts degree papers, Critical Thinking and Writing and Enquiry and I cried a lot. I had no idea what I was doing and had nausea all day and all night. Looking back, I have no idea how I passed both papers and even got an A- in critical thinking! I loved critical thinking and began to feel excited when my marks were returned.
Juggling the study with now two children has been incredibly difficult but I feel addicted to learning now and love tackling the assignments. My son was born in October 2016 and I was enrolled for three papers for summer school beginning in November. As the summer school start date approached I realised three papers would be a bit much with a four-week-old and I called the Massey line to talk about withdrawing a paper. The guy on the phone recommended I withdraw from summer school altogether as I had just given birth. I definitely did not feel that way and knew I would be able to handle the condensed workload. I did withdraw from one paper though, mainly because I had no interest in it. This February I sat my first university exams at the Albany campus and passed both papers with B grades.
I have enjoyed studying with Massey so much that I have turned my diploma into a psychology degree as all my Diploma papers are transferable. Now, I am almost half way through a degree!
After one of my exams in February I got speaking to another mum that had just finished hers too. She told me she had previously been enrolled internally and found it a lot easier being able to go to the campus where she had direct contact. As well as specific time set aside to learn and write. I think either option poses its challenges.
From my experience, I would not say that distance study is easy because you are at home. Juggling the children, chores and work load that comes with each paper leads me to tears at times but I am ecstatic I have begun my journey to a degree and as I mentioned earlier I am addicted to learning!