Afternoon Inqueery

AI: Back to school (or college… or university)

I originally started university straight out of school in 2009. If I’d continued as normal I’d be entering my final year now (here in the UK bachelors degrees take three years and my course includes an extra year for a masters degree, as many other science courses do). However, I ended up getting ill in my first year, and “a couple of resits” turned into “a couple of years trying to get the right medication and therapy while not doing very much else”. I ended up planning to study through the Open University, since I could never have taught myself the five lecture courses’ worth of material I missed thanks to often being unable to leave my halls, and hence couldn’t go back into the second year. Or so I thought… My situation changed earlier this year when I was told that there had been a misunderstanding and I was allowed to repeat my first year. I’ll be back in London in just over two weeks!
As you can imagine I’m pretty excited, though also incredibly nervous. However, I’m trying to concentrate on the positives. I’ll be doing physics and maths full-time again, this time with a lot of support from the university (and hopefully no breakdowns). Some of my friends from my first first year are still in college or elsewhere in the city, and there will be loads more new people to meet (even if I am three years older than my peers). Having lived in a village for the last two years, getting back to a place where exciting things are constantly going on even within walking distance will be great. Another thing in particular that I’m excited about is that this year a few students started up a feminist society in response to sexism on campus – I can’t wait to get involved in that and hopefully help change the university for the better.
(Why yes, I did just hijack this week’s Thursday AI to squee for a couple of paragraphs…)
Are you returning, or have you recently returned, to full-time education? What are you most enjoying or looking forward to? What’s the situation like for LGBTQ* people where you study – is there any kind of feminist presence there?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
(Featured image by CmdrFire on Flickr)

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Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.


  1. September 14, 2012 at 12:14 am —

    I’m not really ‘returning’ so much as ‘vaguely aware of a new semester starting’ and ‘painfully aware of the fact that I am now a third-year with no papers to show for it.’ (I’m a PhD student in a new lab, with a loooot of kinks to work out of protocols. But I do love my group and my thesis topic, so, my optimism supply should last me.)

    Being queer here is a bit… odd. My colleagues are very accepting, and for the most part the environment at the institution as a whole is pretty good, even though the student body tends to run conservative. My city is cosmopolitan with a very large gay and lesbian community, but it’s also in the Bible Belt, so it’s still very easy to run into hostility.

    My department is very proactive about recruiting women as faculty, and the school has a lot of resources for mentoring, networking, and the like for women on campus at all levels. That was part of what made me want to come here, specifically.

    Good luck with your fresh semester!

    • October 4, 2012 at 10:02 am —

      Thanks very much! Hope your optimism supply is still going strong.

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