I have returned to study after being in the workforce for about twenty years. I’m from Melbourne originally, but moved to Edinburgh in 2004.

I had been travelling around the world in my late twenties and made it to the UK and never really left. I met my wife when I was living in England and we moved here because we were looking for an interesting and beautiful place to live. We lived in Melbourne together for a couple of years, but in 2009 decided that Edinburgh was home so we moved back here and got married. I’ve been at university before and was excited, but a bit daunted, to come back to study. I’ve enjoyed using my brain again and learning new things.


Most of my hobbies and interests are about getting outdoors and exploring the world. I do lots of hiking in the Scottish hills and cycling around the country. I go rock climbing and canoeing occasionally. I run regularly to keep fit and go along to parkrun at Portobello on Saturdays when I can. I ride with the Musselburgh road cycling club when I’ve got enough time. I live near Holyrood park and ride and run there, and use the park in summer for picnics and relaxing.

I have a part time job as a healthcare assistant working in different Edinburgh hospitals. I mainly help with personal care for patients and helping with meals and mobility for people who need assistance.

I love living in Edinburgh, I think it’s an amazing city. There are so many amazing places and its association with Scottish history is fantastic. The views that you get of the city, and in all directions, are beautiful. Athurs Seat is an amazing landmark and it adds an excellent quality to the city to have such a fantastic park right in the middle. It’s also nice that Edinburgh is a small city, sometime it feels like a village. You can bump into people you know on Princes street.

How did you come to choose this course and why QMU?

I had worked in retail for a long time and was looking for a change of career. I had completed a university degree in Melbourne about twenty years ago, but never really used it vocationally. The aspects of retail that I enjoyed most were the interaction with people, helping customers and problem solving. Nursing is a good opportunity for me to get a transferrable qualification using the people orientated skills I have from working with the public for many years. I like the prospect of helping others and feel privileged to be involved in caring for others.

I chose QMU because of its new, good quality facilities and the small class sizes. I was offered places in nursing courses at other institutions, but was also keen to undertake an honours degree. I think this extra study will help with my education as a nurse.

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?

As a mature student, Edinburgh was the only real option as the location for my studies. I have a house and family here and didn’t want to commute each day or live away to do my course.

Living Away from Home

If you are living in halls what’s the best part?

If you are NOT living at home (either in halls or independent flat), what are the top three items that you packed that you wouldn’t be without?

Living at home requires discipline at times to make sure that I’m not distracted by family when I’m supposed to be studying. I find that I am able to study on campus much more effectively as at home there are always other things that need to be done.

My top three items are:

  1. My phone with my timetable of lectures on it so I know where I’m supposed to be
  2. My bicycle for getting to uni without having to pay for the bus and stay fit
  3. A stapler for keeping all of my lecture notes under control!

Life in Edinburgh

What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?

Edinburgh is an amazing and beautiful city to live in and explore. There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink, lots of museums and galleries to visit and the Old Town is great to wander and explore. The Pentland hills on the edge of the city are an amazing feature of Edinburgh. You can catch the bus to the hills for a walk or run and get right away from the city. A great place to relax and unwind.

"Meeting and working with patients in hospitals has been the highlight of my course so far. In nursing we spend fifty percent of our time on practical clinical placement and it’s a great place to learn."
Gareth Pocock

The Course

Did you attend an Open Day? If so was there any aspect of the University which made up your mind for you?

I didn’t attend the university wide open day, but when I attended the nursing interviews I was impressed by the staff I met and the facilities we were shown. I thought that the clinical simulation suite with mannequins to practice nursing procedures was very good. I was impressed by the newness and the design of the campus. It’s certainly all much more high tech than the university where I studied the first time, twenty years ago.

What’s been the highlight of the course so far? What have you learnt, or which particular activity has been the most interesting?

Meeting and working with patients in hospitals has been the highlight of my course so far. In nursing we spend fifty percent of our time on practical clinical placement and it’s a great place to learn. I’ve had placements with community nurses, in a respiratory ward, in a neurology surgery ward and in A&E amongst other places. Watching brain surgery has certainly been one of the interesting highlights of the course!

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Taking advantage of any opportunities that present themselves is important. There are often extra talks, lectures and events happening on campus and elsewhere that are interesting to attend. Similarly there are opportunities to attend events while on placement and do interesting things. I’ve even hitched a ride in an ambulance on an emergency call to see what it’s like.

Any future plans after graduation?

I still don’t know what area of nursing I want to work in when I graduate, but my nursing degree will give me the flexibility to work in different parts of Scotland, or perhaps the world. I’ll see what positions are available when it’s time to start job hunting.

Life as a Student at QMU

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

Staying organised and knowing when your assessment deadlines are is important. Writing everything down in your diary means you know what you need to be working on and when it’s due.



Story published 2016-2017