University. Uni. Vic. Victoria University of Wellington. Et al.
Oh look, there's a Latin term I learned at university. There's so many names for university and even more for tertiary education.
As nervous and relieved students arrive in Palmerston North for another academic year, I've been reflecting on my five and a half years at university.
Yes, you read that right – I was there a long time.
I don't remember there ever being a question that I would go to university, even though neither of my parents had degrees. They did both do tertiary study though.
My seventh form geography teacher was aghast when I told him I was going to do a bachelor of arts majoring in history.
No, you need to do more, he said. Do law. This is despite the fact he had an arts degree.
So like a sheep I enrolled in law too and that meant Massey was out. But I felt too many of my fellow Taranaki classmates were like sheep going to Massey. So I was only half a sheep.
Two law papers were compulsory in my first year. One, law in society, was fascinating and I breezed through. The other involved interpreting statutes and making arguments. It may as well have been in baa baa language and I got a D. That was the end of law for me.
A master of arts in politics in hand, I remember being mortified going for a job interview with a healthy number of As and being asked if the D was a typo.
University history was nothing like school history. More arguments and new lenses. So that went out the door too as I found politics, not a subject offered at secondary school.
Living away from home was fairly easy for me as I had done it before at boarding school. But not being a drinker or a party animal I struggled with the social side. It probably didn't help I'd been bullied the two years previously at school.
But there were upsides. Doing my washing on a Friday night meant there were no queues and I could watch Coronation Street in the neighbouring lounge.
Wellington was a marvel compared with small-town Taranaki.
The history, the historic buildings, the politics, the buses, being able to walk to the movies.
But the wind was nothing like I'd experienced before or after. The wind was horizontal and I can still remember trudging up Bedford St barely able to breathe as the southerly twisted and twirled straight into my lungs.
Then there were the mysterious black marks that appeared on my toes. I eventually worked out my feet weren't used to walking downhill and my toes were constantly banging into my shoes.
At the hostel I discovered capsicum and people who looked nothing like I did. One fellow student was a Fijian albino who must have got sick of people looking at her. But she just sailed on regardless.
I also discovered the joys of group exercise with its contagious energy. The sweat was something else but I felt alive in my one-off T-shirt I'd got at Auckland's Victoria Park Market.
I'd lumber back to the hostel eagerly looking forward to a shower and would feel like I'd achieved so much.
We can all achieve something over the next few weeks by extending a Palmy welcome to new and returning students. Let's remember they will be a bundle of emotions.
And to the students - enjoy discovering new pathways and gratissimum (yes, that's welcome in Latin but I had to google it).