Friday, 26 November 2010

University Years

Oh well, we are actually talking about the next 18 years or so. Told you I'm rather a failure in that respect. I took up Chemistry. Not because I wanted to be a chemist - I wasn't entirely sure what these people actually do - no, it was my best subject and I didn't know what else to do. My marks were good enough to get into it, I guess the pride to be accepted played a roll as well. Bad, bad choice - I ended the fiasco after 3 semesters.

Firstly, I had moved in with my boyfriend, and although he was a great support and helped me with my learning and how to find my ways at university, it was a bit of a distraction as well. The love wasn't as big as we had thought either, so after a year we split up. Luckily we managed to stay friends, and he became the dad of my gorgeous goddaughter.

I had realised that I didn't want to go to University. I could see the first glimpses of my dilettantism of which back then I didn't know I had. I didn't want to use my brain, I wanted to use my hands - to the huge disappointment of my parents. Sure, they meant well: Study, make money, no worries ever again! But I hadn't succeeded in my best subject, what else could I do? They thought I was too lazy - I became stubborn!

Compromise! They paid for homeopathic school, 2 years in weekend courses and during the week I would have to earn my living. Idea of the whole thing was not to throw away what I had learned already. Little did I know that the stuff you really like is not lost because you will remember when you need it and the rest doesn't matter anyway.

So I gave private tuition to pupils and was half day mum for toddlers. Studies were interesting, but far too expensive. As it turned out, one had to attend additional courses and do voluntary work taking away from earning money to become good enough for the exam. The two years were up, I was 22 and still three years to young for the exam  - hmmm, that wasn't really well thought through, was it? And then I met the guy who later would become my hubby and I was not keen to go ahead like this for another three years.

He allowed for my first time out from career finding. We met when he was still a school boy - how cute is this? And when he went to the army for two years we lived of his salary, did some saving for later university times, I went on with part time toddler care and used the rest of the time to be a traditional housewife. 

It was a good time. We got married and my parents were happier again. Realising that I was seeing a school boy it didn't help to ease their sorrow about my future and added to the tension, but he gained my mum's heart by using his size 11 feet to step on her toes, bless him!

Then I came up with a genius plan. I would study the same thing that hubby would decide for, either medicine or computer science. Come on! How could I even consider computer science - I was crap at school in math and physics! Nevertheless, I went through with it.

Worst times, weight went up and down although I had started to do Body Building, obviously not regularly enough. Exams always got into the way. Those were the times when I started fine tuning my dilettantism. Whenever there was an opportunity for a break I took it and took on some job, attended to my hobbies, or helped someone out with something. These were my little islands of success. At University I only just succeeded. 

Hubby got through University very quickly and started work as a research assistant aiming for his PhD and later habilitation while I idled along. We did a lot of travelling in allocation with conferences abroad, and we had our friends and parties, but whenever I enjoyed something there was this little bit of guilt sitting in my neck. Whenever we met people who we hadn't seen for a while I had to find reasons and excuses why Detlef already was 3 steps ahead while I only just had started. In the end one Professor kicked my bum - and I finished. I actually have a degree in computer science - sometimes I can't believe it myself.

And my parents were right: It is nice to have something finished. It would just be nice if it were something in which I'm actually good at. Shortly after we moved to England and settled, got the house and the pets which I had missed a lot, but couldn't have in our city flat. I'm working as a secretary in a research lab full of computer scientists - and it's a bit like coming home. It's a service job, the same rules like in our village shop apply. Customer is always the King. That is something I'm good at. Not a career, but something satisfying. And my boss is proud that even his secretary has a degree in computer science - things are falling into place!

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