An RSPCA van pulled up. I knew that I looked rough because of the long early morning commute, but I couldn’t already resemble a rabid dog could I? Thankfully the officer was just looking for directions to somewhere on the campus, this being day one of my PGCE course, I was unable to help.
I was a little early so wandered the University’s corridors, reacquainting myself with student life. Dotted around the walls were the usual posters, a form to join the Student Council, pictures of naïvely excited students looking forward to the workplace and adverts for gonorrhoea.
My stomach was playing ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’, not just because of nerves but also the poor choice of a hot curry the night before. My whole demeanour had not been helped by the journey into University. I’d been surrounded on the bus by Secondary School kids, who furthered my reasons for choosing a Primary PGCE.
One of the kids was excitedly telling his mates how he was dating his teacher’s daughter. Stuff like this never happened to me while I was at School and judging by the reaction he received, it wasn’t happening for him either. As part of the course we’re encouraged to read children’s literature, I did feel self-conscious reading a copy of ‘Has Anybody Seen My Umbrella?’ The kids around me spent much of the journey guessing what kind of accident I might be recovering from.
I bumped into the course leader as I headed towards my first lecture. Speaking of bumps, I noticed she was no longer pregnant, so asked if she had a boy or girl. “You’re thinking of Caroline” she snapped “she’s still on maternity leave”. “Oh, because you look in a kind of bloated post-pregnancy shape” I may as well have then said, judging by her stern reaction. Way to go me.
The first week is always the toughest. Thankfully I’ve made some friends and successfully avoided others whose loud, opinionated stance makes them the equivalent of box office poison. Despite the assurances from the course leaders, something wicked this way comes in the form of an unnerving amount of course work.
It was nice at the end of the week to sit with a few fellow students over a beer. One pint, four straws, student style. One guy was reminiscing about his earlier School experience. “I was once asked to remove a splinter from a boy’s penis!” he told us to shared amusement. None of us expected what came next “so along with another teaching assistant I removed it”. This was definitely above the call of duty as far as I was concerned. We never did find out how it happened, but I couldn’t resist asking if he was trying to “get wood”.