Trials and Tribulations

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By Gemma Braithwaite-Ross
Degree: BSc Psychology
Campus: Distance/Online

As I sit here at 5.30am on a Monday morning drinking my morning coffee, a must have as a busy student, mother and full-time worker, I look at the black sky reflecting on my past five years at Massey University.

I started my degree in 2012 on campus in Albany. At the time I was new to Auckland and had moved there in order to be close to Starship Children’s hospital as my daughter required on-going surgery which by the way still remains. I completed my fist semester there but due to some rough circumstances at home decided to return to Hawkes Bay and be close to family.

That first semester was the hardest semester I have undergone, adjusting to uni life and meeting new people was the upside to it but in my personal life I was struggling big time with my daughter and her operations and a case we were going through against a daycare, my relationship dissolved and my housing was inadequate to say the least. I was alone in a rental that I just could not afford let alone the fact it was damp and mouldy with no heating and my daughter’s condition is respiratory. I lost a huge amount of weight and felt the pressure would sink me, but with the help of Massey staff and the few friends I had acquainted I made it through my first semester with semi decent marks.

I have since been studying as a distance student from Hawkes Bay and my journey has been a roller coaster of growth. What I have learned through my studies has broadened me as a person and helped me to understand so much in day to day life and likewise what I have learned in life has helped me to understand the texts I am reading as part of my papers.

Distance learning in itself has its own struggles as you need to be organised and I’m telling you now that was not my best quality up until the last year or so. Finding the balance between working, being a mum and completing my papers has proven to be difficult but at the same time has just taught me so much. I am up at 5.30 am so that I am able to get a reading in before the mundane chore of work and school routine set in for the day and my nights are long to finish assignments. Luckily I have great support here for my daughter and I which allows me to carry on. But don’t get me wrong there are so many advantages of studying via distance. I have freedom around when I choose to study and it allows me to create my own harmonious balance in my crazy life. I am also able to work full time which supports my family and helps to achieve our goals such as trying to buy our first home and traveling overseas! I am able to take my work with me anywhere and have flexibility in my routine…as long as I make the deadlines!

There have been many times I have wanted to throw in the towel because other things in my life were out of control and effecting my study. There have been times I have wondered if I am the subject of my own study and times I really thought I wasn’t going to make it through the night let alone my next assignment. I have been frustrated with the time it has taken me to complete my degree (I still have at least another year ahead) as I watch my friends graduate but at the end of it all each assignment I write I am proud of because I have worked my arse off to get that B average mark and every paper I pass is a small feat in my journey.

Life was never designed to be easy, it is here to challenge you and it is how you rise to the challenge and smash your goals out that matters. At the end of it all it is not about who gets there the fastest it is about really wanting something and going for it that will help you succeed.


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