I am a trained actor and I have been working at various theatres in Germany for over 20 years. In 2005 my husband and I decided to start a family and we moved to Scotland permanently after the birth of our daughter. Until then, our relationship had involved a considerable amount of travelling, moving house and general restlessness. As exciting as it was at times, it required a lot of stamina, time and seriously strained our budget. After throwing our baby daughter into the deep end of this lifestyle, it became soon clear that babies aren’t really designed for airport lounges. Our family grew and so did the out of work gap on my resume. A career change seemed reasonable and coming from a language-based background I soon set my heart on Speech and Language Therapy.
I think the biggest challenge for me was to balance the demands of the course with family life. More than once the morning school run became an insurmountable obstacle for punctual swipe-in. However, my lecturers were very understanding when it came to my personal situation and I can’t thank them enough.
The library- it’s the library that made my heart sing. Aisles and aisles of knowledge, all there to be shared and leafed through. Every day I came to University I felt privileged to be part of this community. However, recording in our studio at the Speech Lab must count as a further highlight of the last four years.
What University services have you used to support you through your university journey and how have they helped you?
With English not being my native language, written assignments were a daunting affair at the start. The LRC was a source of support that encouraged me to share any concerns regarding my written work. They were happy to read over my drafts and provided suggestions for improvement which helped me to progress a long way during my studies. What initially tended to cause me sleepless nights, ended being my favourite type of assignment. This was enhanced by the opportunity to liaise with writers in residence of the Royal Literary Fund when working on my essays.
Above all, our liaison librarian Laurie Roberts helped me navigate through occasional referencing obscurities and pointed me in the right direction when looking for the ultimate article to support my argument, the “golden nugget” as Laurie would say.
The support I received from these sources helped turn the initially challenging way of self-directed learning at University into an enjoyable and creative experience.
What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at University?
My studies made me aware of my resilience and the inner resources that helped me pull over the occasional hurdles. I also learned during the course to challenge my own preconceptions of other people and to avoid making assumptions about their lives. A further important lesson was that self-reflection is a professional asset and an integral part of being a practitioner. Using reflection in a structured way has been a very valuable learning process and I am looking forward to the challenge to carry reflective practice into my professional career.
What comes next?
I always saw my studies as a vocational course geared towards employment in the NHS. As daunting as it is as a nearly graduated student, I am really looking forward to start working as an SLT, being part of a team, helping people overcome their communication problems and removing the obstacles they might experience. If I had a crystal ball, I would like to see myself in the future working as a practitioner somewhere in Scotland, putting my learning into practice.
At the time of writing it is May 2020 and we should be looking forward to our graduation. Covid-19 pulled the brakes on our ambitions and looking into the future became clouded viewing. During the solitary life we are all currently forced to live, it became even more apparent how important effective communication is to avoid frustration, anger, and disappointment. Without the support of non-verbal cues, solely relying on emails and video calls of varying quality, it is vital that the message that was received is the one initially intended to bring across.
Maybe one of the lessons that can be learned from the Covid-19 turmoil is that life is just not as predictable and easy to map out as we often wish. Things can change in the blink of an eye and require us to stay open-minded and adjustable to the new circumstances.
Published in 2020