My name is Anna. I’m new to this blog. I’m a part-time MFA Art and Humanities student and mum who commutes from Edinburgh, so I have quite a different experience to most other students on campus. It’s a bit like living a double life: I hop on the train to Dundee for classes twice a week (although I have been rather lax about getting there twice a week recently – thank goodness my tutor is understanding) and hang around in the studio chatting to my course mates, then it’s back to Edinburgh to pick up my four year old daughter from nursery and make tea for us and my husband.
Snapping between mummy persona and student persona can be challenging, to say the least. After three years as a full-time mum, I was dying to get back to studying. When I’m excited about a project and ideas keep piling up in my head that I can’t wait to get down in my sketch book it can be hard to get enthused about yet another game of trains or reading my daughter’s favourite book for the fifteenth time in a row. Likewise, if I’ve had a great weekend with my daughter and husband and I just want to keep on playing, I have to really force myself to trek to the station and drag myself onto the train for yet another trip to Dundee.
I know travelling to Dundee twice a week doesn’t really sound that hard, and I didn’t think it would be when I applied for the course. It’s more all the other things that complicate it – real life, you know how it is. Getting my daughter to nursery in time for me catch a specific train is the main issue. Young children are very unpredictable and something always crops up at the last minute that needs dealing with just as we’re rushing out of the door. At least having to sprint to the station is keeping me fit! Then I have a class that runs from 5.30 until 7.30 in the evening, meaning that I just miss one train and have to wait an hour for the next in the dark and cold. When said train arrives it is always guaranteed to be full of drunken men trying to down as many cans as they can before they have to stop, by law, at 9pm, and I don’t get home until at least half ten after my half hour walk home from the station at the other end. I’ve thought about dropping out of my course a few times already, believe me, and we haven’t even finished the first semester!
At the end of the day, though, it’s actually really fun leading this double life. I get to do what I love three days a week with fantastic, inspiring people at one of the UK’s best art schools. The train journey can even be a blessing as it gives me a whole hour and ten minutes that I wouldn’t usually get to catch up with reading, sketch out ideas for my art project or just read a book and relax. One of the best things is being able to put on my headphones and stare out of the window at the trees and beaches whizzing past.
Then when I arrive home and pick up my daughter I get to pretend to be running away from monsters and read the Worst Witch (one of my favourite books when I was a kid that my daughter now loves, too) and act like a four year old all over again. Life is very different now from how it was the first time I was a student, but I wouldn’t change it. Although perhaps don’t ask me whether or not I still agree with that next week when my essay is due in and I have to stay up all night to finish it as I’ve spent too much time playing and not enough time studying…