Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting all growed up...

Well it's been a tough year, and this post is going to be about the educational issues I'm come face to face with in 2009. A bit boring, so feel free not to read ahead (if there is in fact anyone who actually reading this blog):

Last year I was studying literature at Deakin University, and while I loved it more than anything I've ever studied, it didn't feel like a career in the field of literature was going to give me job security and a decent wage - both of which I need if I'm to support the children Bertie and I plan to have in the near future. The plan is for me to be the main breadwinner, as Bertie's keen to have the babies and stay at home (and I am not!). Then again, I'm miserable when I'm not doing something I'm absolutely passionate about, so this career needed to be something I was really interested in...

Well, over last year an idea started to form. It got stronger and stronger until it turned from an idea into a plan. A job that was interesting, challenging, offered lots of room for moving up, sideways and topsy turvy (policy, hospitals, private practice, education, product development) - nutrition and dietetics!

I knew I was interested in food for a number of different reasons - I have been trying to lose weight and get healthier, and wanted to know more about how to do that; I am struggling with cravings for meat and want to know more about replacing the nutrients I'm missing with nonmeat alternatives; I have many friends who are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose/gluten/fructose intolerant and wanted to know more about how to understand/help/cook for them, and I was feeling drawn to issues of food activism other than vegetarianism - questions about genetic modification of food, preservatives and additives and the harm they might be doing, advertising of junk food to children, etc etc...

So what better area for me to get into?

But I couldn't entirely let go of my Arts degree. I had actually finished enough subjects to graduate with one major (in Arabic), but I wanted a major in literature too, so that (in typical me style), I would have a backup plan, an escape route, a passionate fling with books that would be waiting there for me to return when I tired of nutrition. So I gave up four advanced credit points I had got for my days in journalism at RMIT so that I could do the four literature subjects I still needed to do to get that second major, then I deferred my arts degree and planned to finish the literature subjects online along the way. I enrolled in a TAFE science bridging course that I had been told would get me into science courses at university, and off I went for 2009.

Well it turned out that my Certificate IV in Science is not recognised by universities as a replacement for VCE biology, chemistry or maths (why is it called a bridging course if the bridge only takes you halfway across the river?), so I was left with the knowledge but not the entry requirements. The nutrition course at latrobe needed VCE Chemistry, and I had been led to believe that this course would suffice... but it wouldn't. Should I redo VCE? That's what one person in the course planned to do when she too found out... Should I do biological sciences for a year and then transfer into nutrition if my grades were good enough? It was a decent option - many of the subjects were the same as the nutrition course, so I'd be getting a headstart on my nutrition degree. But what about my literature subjects? What about my arts degree?

Stuff it, I thought. Bertie and I have a house deposit, two overseas trips, and a wedding to save for. I'll work next year and study my lit subjects online - and finally finish my Arts degree.

However over the last few days, for a number of reasons, I've been thinking about things a little more seriously and carefully. I've decided to do nutrition. So why am I still mucking around with a literature major? So I could do a postgrad course in literature somewhere amongst the nutrition studies? I am making Bertie wait for those babies while I dabble about in this and that at uni, and it's really not fair on her. The pressure for her to come up with the money for everything we want was making her consider another year on a campsite job, away from me, and boy have I had enough of that. I realised that it's time to get all growed up...

So yesterday I began the process of finding out if I can get those credit points back, and graduate from my Arts degree. I'm pulling back from the Cert IV to a Cert III, as this will allow me to get the knowledge I need to survive at uni next year while also allowing me to work part time through Nov & Dec (because for the last few months since Centrelink recognised our same-sex relationship and cut me off, Bertie's been supporting me financially). That way Bertie can put that money into our savings and our travel plans, and I can financially support myself.

And I will apply for biological sciences at Latrobe, or Nutrition & Food Science at Deakin (no science or math prerequisites for either of them), and get on with the job of getting a job.

Now that I've finally made this decision, I feel hugely satisfied. After all, there is nothing stopping me from having passionate side projects once I'm working in nutrition. I can start writing articles for online literature journals. I can get those singing lessons I've always wanted and try to get a gig or two. I can get better at knitting and try to sell a few things online. I can do a short course in poetry and write a collection. I can do what I want, as long as I'm also doing what we need.

I feel a little like an adult. I feel like someone who's ready to get married. I feel good, gosh darn it (and I haven't felt good about my life's direction since high school, when I thought my road stretched straight ahead of me, clear and visible and easy to follow). Hell yeah.

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