Trent Building seen from the bottom of a hill.

May 14, 2024, by UoN School of English

Walking up the hill

It’s already feeling like winter, late October bites and drives its breath down the wide walkway. I’ve just got off the tram and I’m heading up to the Trent Building; onwards to the clock tower. The geese are a thick flock, stretching and strutting around on the lawns; the lake a black shimmer, occasional ducks float on its surface. At least it’s not raining. I’m about to have my first PhD supervision. It’s a long time since I’ve done anything like it, ten years to be precise. I’m not alone, according to The University of Nottingham website, 10% of the students here are mature. Of course all PhD students are mature, but I’m – what can we say – slightly more mature than average.  

It’s daunting of course; every smell and sight somehow bringing up something from the past. The dreaded return to school. I imagine it’s even more of a jolt starting as an older undergraduate – being thrust into a group of young people and trying to keep your balance. As I begin the climb up the hill, I wonder what it will be like when I get there. It’s been a long time since people have read and critiqued my work. Will I be able to take it? Will I be able to keep this up for six years? All of the questions swim around. I wonder why I decided to do it. It seems a long way from the tram to this building. It always feels that way, when you don’t know where you’re going. 

I’m pleased to reach the top of the hill. Perhaps I should have cut across the grass. Perhaps I should have gone home. No. No, I’m glad I didn’t take a short cut (always messy and not worth it in the long run) and I know I can’t go home. Gaining a PhD has been a life’s ambition and now it’s in sight. I don’t doubt it will be hard – I have to work, walk the dog, carry on a life that would already be full, without the huge stack of reading and the endless nights peering into a computer screen. But, learning staves off no end of mental and physical ailments. Pushing beyond and overcoming obstacles keeps us expanding; living on the forefront of our own precious lives. I might be longer in the tooth than 90% of the other students, but I’ve seen and done a lot. I have a lot of weaponry in my armour. As I make my way to the entrance and step over the threshold, I know I have it in me to get that doctorate. I’m happy to have arrived.   

— Katherine Wadsworth, PhD Creative Writing

Posted in Student Words