Excitement bubbled in Trisha’s stomach. She could not wait to begin her full-time studies at Loughborough University. She had been so lucky to have been offered a place to study Geography, the degree of her first choice. Now she had tangible evidence to convince her sceptics who had been doubtful all along probably thinking, ‘Can dreams come true?’
Sadly, Trisha seemed oblivious to the enormous challenges that lay ahead of her. Little did she know that a combination of higher education studies with parenting were ma-mouth tasks. Only time would tell.
The university calendar kicked off as usual in the autumn month of September. Trisha eagerly completed all the registration for her enrolment. The first week passed smoothly with no hassles at all. A week hive of activities and preparations before the start of serious learning. Social get-together and impromptu events ran one after the other to orient the newcomers. So far so good, Trisha mused on her progress.
Usually, family commitments take a heavy toll on students with children. Trisha, aged 43, was not in an enviable position. As a single mother of two boys aged 3 and 9, came with a huge responsibility.
Her former husband, Josh, had deserted their matrimonial home after rekindling his romance with his teenage sweetheart. One morning he had packed his bags and vanished.
Trisha got an education loan and other social welfare grants from the Local Education Authority to help her with living costs. Compared to items on her buy-list, this was a drop in the ocean. She needed money to buy books, money for tuition fees on top of her everyday bills to cover gas, child care, food and travel. Moreover, she had to pay back the loan she received for tuition fees upon completing her degree.
Trisha had no choice except to get a part-time job to supplement her earnings. Night shift type of work seemed perfect. It gave her more room to juggle motherhood with her studies. Fortunately, she landed herself an order picking job in a warehouse. The all-night job was exhausting. It involved endless pacing up and down picking orders and lifting packed boxes to designated points. At the end of each shift, she had no bone in her body not aching.
Trisha’s shift started at 6.00 in the evening up to early morning. On knocking off, she would rush home, take a quick shower and have breakfast before dashing out for morning lectures. She lost considerable time due to travel alone. Disappointingly, she travelled on certain days just to attend one lecture. The hectic days and nights went on and on.
The quality of her studies drastically deteriorated. We all know where it was coming from. The unquenchable and competing demands from her family, job and studies gave her no rest. The pressure progressed to the extent her learning could no longer sustain the achievement of adequate grades.
Also, the pressure both from work and homemade her fail to utilise the on-campus library, resources and computer facilities. To fill the gap she bought herself a computer for home-based internet access but bills caught up with her. Trisha tried to put on a brave face in spite of everything.
It was not long before she succumbed to the pressures. She found herself dosing throughout lectures. To catch up, she tried to borrow notes from fellow students. Half the time the notes were scribbled in Hieroglyphics. Meaning, the handwriting was not legible. Most students preferred to use shorthand that was only meaningful to themselves.
The pressure continued to mount up. The pressure to achieve and the pressure from exhaustion began to take their toll on Trisha’s health. Very often she would excuse herself for failing to prepare her tutorials in advance until it became a regular song.
Participating in field trips was out of the question because she had no time. Besides, it was not proper to be away for days on leaving her children alone. At least when away on night shifts, her best friend, Greta, looked after her kids.
Feelings of financial stress often stem from common issues such as carrying too much debt, not earning enough money, the expense of raising kids, marriage to a spouse that has different ideas about how to manage finances, and the list can go on. Source
Examination time approached sooner than she anticipated. Fortunately, Trisha passed 3 modules after resitting Physical Geography and Statistics.
Drastic alterations to her family life began to surface. Inevitably it caused the strain. The relationships between her and school authorities got sour including Greta who helped her to look after the kids. Arguments over petty issues became a common thing until her mother who was living in the countryside was summoned to be with her.
Trisha was constantly in and out of her doctor’s surgery. She had significant weight loss after losing her appetite and having sleeplessness nights plus migraines.
Then, the doctor dropped a bombshell. He revealed that Trisha was experiencing a terrible bout of depression. The symptoms were obvious. She felt like she had no energy and struggled to concentrate. Sometimes she felt irritable all the time for no apparent reason.
She was lucky the doctor recognised the symptoms early enough to avoid progression into more serious health problems. He said the disease is difficult to treat if not diagnosed in good time since it has a tendency of recurring.
Many universities have special mature student advisers or welfare officers including a mature student’s society to provide help, support, and a forum for sharing experiences. Trisha was completely ignorant of all this support within her reach.
Her tutor came to her rescue and gave her wise counsel. He advised her how important it was to have marked time for quiet and uninterrupted study. Most importantly, to take leave of her studies so that she would concentrate on receiving treatment.
As a result, she took a break holiday. After 6 months of treatment, signs of improvement began to show. It is during that short break that she came to her senses. She had once heard about distance education learning but had paid it little consideration.
A distance learning qualification, like any other qualification, could open up new options and benefits for her. An open study was a great way to achieve a degree. Generally, it was cheaper and less time-consuming compared to qualifying from ‘conventional’ universities.
In addition, a wide range of grants for course fees, study materials and other costs were available. Because of its flexibility to accommodate her other roles, Trisha enrolled the following year. Today she is a proud primary school teacher.
This post, ‘Can Dreams Come True?’ is a sample to showcase the craft of writing stories. This is the sort of article that is suitable for submission to a publication looking for short stories with a given theme. In this instance, the theme is Surviving a Tough Moment in Life.
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