She’s probably more unay than you
Jane Betts is like any other fresher: she bunks off lectures, skips deadlines and is worried about making it to second year.
But unlike most freshers, she’s only five years from claiming a free bus pass and winter fuel allowance.
Jane, 59, did her A-levels in the 70’s, studying French, Maths and Latin, before going to North London Polytechnic. But she dropped out before finishing her studies, and moved to Nottingham to revive her education.
Until September last year, she lived in a council house in Mansfield before giving it up to finally get her degree.
She had to get rid of most of her furniture, only managing to bring her piano and guitar to her large study room in Nightingale Hall.
Jane, who’ll be 60 within the year, is studying French and German and although Freshers’ Week was “a bit noisy”, she said it’s not too bad living with those a third of her age.
She added: “I get on with most of the younger ones, but I don’t go out with them really. I didn’t go out to clubs in freshers’ week.”
Just like most freshers, she’s found the adjustment to halls strange after living in a house her whole life.
She said: “The food’s alright, sometimes it’s really nice, sometimes it’s not, but it’s pretty decent value either way.
“It’s strange living in one room though, but we have a pantry. There’s no oven, the porter took it out because people kept leaving it on overnight.”
Despite having a daughter and two grandchildren, Jane still has to deal with the normal course problems.
She said: “I was doing beginners’ German and I asked if I could drop it at the beginning of the year. But they said I had to carry it on, it’s looking like I’m going to do first year again, because I haven’t been to any classes.”
But despite issues with her department for the most part, Jane seems to enjoy it.
She added: “I get on well with people on my course. They probably think I’m a daft old bat sometimes, but the thing is I can more or less keep up with them all.”
While she’s never done an all nighter, Jane admitted she’d stayed up until “about two or three” doing essays.
She said: “I’ve got coursework due, but I haven’t started it yet. The first term was a bit of a blur, we all found the work a bit much, but I felt up to it.
“The volume of work has surprised me though, we’ve all been getting in trouble because people are skiving.”
Unlike most people her age, Jane is unsurprisingly complimentary of young people: “I think young people today are the same as when I was younger, but courses focus on different things, I don’t know if I could do an A level today.
“Young people today do a lot of sport and I always see them in the library working hard, especially the Chinese students, they’re always sleeping because they work so hard.”
But it’s not all plain sailing for Jane and she has found some parts of uni life hard: “One of the hard things is not seeing my family, I do miss them and sometimes you wonder if you’ve made the right choice.
“The grandkids still haven’t been to my halls to visit.”
She also struggles to keep in touch with friends from home, but has been getting involved with the Christian Union and choir as well as going to the Spoons in town and bar on Broadgate.
Thinking about the future, Jane doesn’t really have many plans, free from the pressure of pursuing ever elusive grad schemes.
Provided she makes it through first year she said: “I’ll probably do a bit of tutoring, but If I was still young, I could see myself living in France. But now I’ve got my daughter and grand-kids though, so its hard when you have ties.”
Additional reporting by Bradley Deas