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What does ‘studying from home’ really mean??

Posted on 11/11/2010 by

Margaret Wilson, an Auckland mother of five, recently completed distance learning studies with The International Travel College of New Zealand, achieving the highest “Distinction” award for her efforts.  Here’s what she had to say about her experience:

“Because I have always wanted to work in the tourism industry, knowing this course would help me work towards it, and being able to study by distance learning was the perfect solution.  Knowing that I could study during times that would suit me, and I didn’t have to leave home was the best.

I had a study plan made up, tried that on my first week, and found that did not work.  Especially with a 5 month old at the time, I mainly had to work around him, as his routines changed, or if one of my kids became ill, I had to change my study time plan.  I knew I really wanted to make this work, so I had to put in the odd hours, here and there. 

Before my course started I phoned my family and friends to tell them I was starting a course, and was committing myself for the next 5 months studying and had to put them on hold if they were wanting to do the social visits. I was unavailable and strictly concentrating on my studies, and my children.  My family offered to take the kids during some weekends, which I appreciated and of course said “Cool, I will not say no to that.”  My husband offered to cook our family dinners every night, so that helped me out.  My older children would always help me out with the house chores in the weekends, as they knew this was important to me, so every fortnight I would treat them something small to say thank you, and that I appreciated their help, which made them want to help me out more.  My eldest daughter took on making her siblings’ lunches for school.  Together we made a weekly roster for dishes after dinner.  Some nights we were so lucky our family and close friends dropped by to drop off dinner made for us, so I was very lucky and blessed.  I still attended school concerts and games.  I found napping in the day with my baby while my older children were at school was where I was going to get my rests in between studying, as I found studying from 10pm – 2am was the best time for me to concentrate without distraction and noise.  Some nights I would get carried away because I was enjoying myself so much, I would find I was still up until 4am, or even when my kids woke to get ready for school!  Then, after seeing them off I would do breakfast for my youngest, he would play a little, than get tired, and we would both sleep.  I had to make these changes, as I knew it was only going to be for the next 5 months until my course ended, once I finished all would be worth it, especially when I secure my dream job.  I was invited to social gatherings that I had to say “NO” as the weekends I gave up most of them to catch up whenever I fell behind, wanting to reach my deadlines. 

Early in my course my youngest got sick a lot.  Winter was starting, it was getting colder, and we were heading into flu season.  Being at such a young age, all my son wanted was me there next to him by his side.  During those times, no one could help me, as all Benson wanted was his mummy.  I did go through thinking I could not continue and found it difficult, and felt the stress coming on.  I got a lot of support from our tutors, who were very understanding, and seeing them, and my online classmates believe in me with their kind words, I knew how far I had come, and I was not going to give up.  I fought the challenge, gave all the attention I could to my son who was unwell, stayed calm for both him and I, and every little nap that he took I used for study, even if I was tired.  I had people that believed in me, and I knew I could do it, especially my children.  I kept going, and knowing I was getting back to being up to date, and the feedback from my tutor, – it just made me proud of what I had achieved, that kept me going. 

My husband and children were excited for me.  I guess that’s a great thing about studying at home, no one else can see the dark circles under your eyes and tiredness during times like these.  Hahaha!  As we also received study books for almost each topic, when my son was wanting me to lie with him, I would use those times to read these aloud, as he loved hearing my voice.

I found putting a washing load in at night while I was up studying these late hours helped, so first thing in the morning, everything was washed, I just had to hang them all in one go.  So that would have been like a break for me to get up walk around, and change a washing load. 

It was not easy, my sisters thought I was crazy with the hours, but I had committed to doing this course, and they could all see it, the support just fell naturally.  Late nights, I had no choice; I was still there to help my children with their homework.  A lot of the times they would turn to their eldest sister (they look up to her and think she is the coolest), so she helped me through this so much.  My children put up with their dad’s cooking, which was not bad at all – he did a good job making sure every night was something completely different – but probably why my children chose Valentines for lunch for their big treat of me completing the course at the end!

I am overjoyed I have completed my National Certificate course, and am now taking on the challenge of continuing my studies to the next level, this time on-campus at ITC’s Auckland City campus!!!“


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