Friday, August 23, 2013

College: "To do or not to do"

As you might know, I took a huge leap into the unknown last year to fulfil a long held dream of being a student at UCC in Cork. I became a student of Disability Studies and thoroughly enjoyed it. (see posts about this adventure here)
It did however come with rather large challenges. Getting there was one of them, and after becoming very ill from the taxi-bus-taxi journeys every week and staying in Cork for the night to do the journey in reverse the following day, I had some amazing support to be able to go to college by taxi. This sounds rather decadent, but there is no public transport of any kind in my town. I was picked up and brought home that same night so I could sleep in my own bed and fully rest the following days.
There was of course the sitting up in class for the three or four hours, which is a challenge in itself and at the same time you're suppose to stay alert! The 'good old adrenalin' clicked in every time but of course that is 'borrowed' energy and I find it very hard to come down form this artificial high.

I remember a good few nights where I was suddenly aware to be sitting in a class in college among 35 other students. "I am in college" I would think. It made me smile every time. It was as if someone has plucked me from my normal existence and dropped me into this class without telling me in advance.

Another extra energy drain was that I had to do a lot more reading, and spending many more hours on computer to write my essays.


Yes my health was compromised. But I enjoyed being in the class with people from such a diverse background and from so many different countries. I learned so much. I became aware of the wider issues surrounding living with a disability. I relayed a lot of it to my own experiences of living with ME. So many questions arose. My past experiences of working as a nurse in Rehab and palliative care and as a social care worker with people with learning difficulties, and being a creative being all seem to finds its place through this for me new topic.
I became much more aware of the Arts and Disability Culture. How people with disabilities are projected in the media, and how, I felt, that the artist, and the arts can function as a form of education about our lives. We do have a life and we do have a value in society!

After a lot, an awful lot of deliberations, I have decided not to go back to college for the second year of Disability Studies at UCC.

Various reasons:
I have not been able to secure funding: 70% of my travel fund is no longer available this year. The cost, on top of the €900 Tuition fee is too high to bear on my own. It would be much to stressful.

Secondly, it took me about two and a half months to recover fully from the year in college (and surgery I had a few days after college ended). When I started to feel well, 'my well', I realised how much college had taken over my life and impacted on my health.

I am only doing what I had hoped to do for the summer and that was reading more about Disability Art, and life lived with chronic illness. etc.
I came across some amazing books, especially "The Rejected Body", by Susan Wendell comes to mind. Wendell has ME, is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at Fraser University BC Canada. A lot of her writing made great sense to my own experiences. A gem! Many more besides this one. Will tell you more some other day.

My not college orientated reading into Disability Art and living well with Chronic Illness, is well on the way, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  At the end of this month I will be spending two weeks at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, for which I received a bursary, to work on my writing about this and create art resulting from it and plan to continue to do so for the year ahead!
When I scribble in my notebook I call this "my-book-to-be" project.

The past year in college set me up for this exciting road ahead. I am immensely grateful to all who supported me along the way, and I will keep my options open to finish the course next year.

Mary O'Grady, Disability Support Officer at UCC, is very supportive in terms of my project, including in a practical sense with Assistive Technology to make working on computer less tiresome. She also has plans for me in connection with Disability Awareness Week and talks with O.T. students.

This way I feel I am still at college although not as a student who attends lectures. I do hope to make use of the library for research purposes.

It was certainly not an easy decision to make. But a long talk with my GP settled it. I am happy with the decision. Even excited about it.

It is funny how I feel a sense of Freedom since I made up my mind. I suddenly have lots of time!
Because it took so long to recover over the summer months, it feels as if I only had a two week break between finishing college and starting again!
Time is a curious thing, and so is the mind!

Be good my dear friends!
Peace in the garden. Peace in the mind.
© Corina Duyn 2013

ps... As always it is lovely to know that you stopped by to read my musing and follow my creative adventures. Many thanks & Lots of love Corina


Sue Page said...

Exciting times ahead for you my friend! You are doing so well, be proud. I am sure you know you have made the right decision...the freedom you feel tells you that! I wish you all the very best with it all, and it is so encouraging to know where you have come from, and where you are now! Well done you - inspiring.xx

Corina Duyn said...

Thank you so much Sue (and others who responded via email). I AM proud! I did it, I went to college and it was good. I had the battle with ME and I feel I won that part of the battle. Being in college brought a new sense of confidence!
Much love

Unknown said...

Good decision. Sometimes too much is too much. I can imagine it's a tough decision to make though.

Is there not some form of distance learning you can do? Sure, interaction with classmates is valuable, but if that is no longer possible, there must be alternatives. We're in the 21th century!

Best wishes on your endeavours!