Since February I have been studying a Politics course long-distance to South Africa. Having done my three year undergraduate course in Politics and English in Cape Town, I always knew I would have to do an extra years study at the end to receive my honours. In South Africa a three year degree only gives you a Bachelors degree. Initially I was planning on staying at the University of Cape Town to finish my degree, but that became increasingly unlikely as Lekai and I began planning our lives together. So I moved home and started my studies in February through the University of South Africa.
It’s not been the easiest experience in my life, but I think all experiences, good or bad, difficult or easy, happy or sad, can teach us something, so here are some of the things I have learnt:
1. I am definitely a people person: studying along three days a week has at times made me a little crazy. Some days on Lekai’s return home from work I am literally so hyper and excited to see him that I think I speak nonsense and jump up and down for at least the first 10 minutes of his welcome home.
2. I am self-disciplined: or so I am told by most people who I describe my course to. There are no friends to compare your work with, or make you panic when you haven’t been working hard enough, there is no structure to the day unless you make it yourself, and there is no where to be, apart from at your desk.
3. Working from home is not good for the waist line: with the kitchen just a stroll away, it can seem like a great idea (at the time) to head to the kitchen for a study break and have a snack, and unless I persuade myself to go for a jog (which is becoming harder to do over the winter months) then you get hardly any exercise in the day.
4. Self-control is an amazing app: having said I have good self-discipline, that only goes so far when you are ploughing your way through an 8,000 word assignment. Self-control, which I actually discovered during my undergrad is an app that blocks any websites you tell it to, for any length of time you tell it to between an 30mins and 24hours. This means that distractions like Facebook, checking the news and youtube are curbed.
5. Watching Ellen Degeneres on youtube makes for great study breaks: during my breaks I tend to watch clips of Ellen Degeneres. Before this year I had never really watched much of her stuff, but her interesting guests, and funny quips have lightened my mood in some of my darker study moments.
6. Having one contact really helps: I met a girl in one of the uni forums who was keen to do some form of virtual study group. We ‘met’ at the beginning of this year and have been whatsapping non-stop since. It’s so great to have just one person who I can moan to about studying who can really empathise, but also for both of us to have someone to panic with!
I hope that this little list might be of use to those currently doing long-distance or thinking of starting long-distance studying, and also as an insight to those I know of what this little part of my life is like.