The next decade was pretty typical for a New Zealander of my generation. A few years working, then a "Big OE", off to Europe to travel and work in a range of jobs successively further removed from my degree. Finally at the end of 1999 I ended up back in New Zealand with an administrative job in a university. And that's where things started getting interesting.
On my first day, while showing me around, my boss mentioned one of the perks of the job, "By the way, if you're interested in studying anything while you're here, the university will support you." That support turned out to mean my fees would be waived on up to two papers a year, provided I made up any work time I missed while attending lectures.
I jumped at the chance, and in the first semester of 2000 I officially became a part-time mature student. I'd been away from study for long enough that the thought of carrying on with Maths at a higher level was way too intimidating. And anyway, I was only doing this for fun, so I thought I'd just take a couple of Arts papers that sounded interesting. Which of course led on to other papers that sounded interesting, and before I knew it, it was 2011 and I was graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, with minors in Spanish and Psychology.
And by then I was totally hooked. So last year I took the next step, and enrolled in Honours (at my university the BA(Hons) degree is a separate degree from the BA, intended as a stepping stone between undergraduate and postgraduate study). Normally it's a one year course - I'm going to take four, doing one paper a year. And then... and then I have big dreams. A Masters degree? Perhaps even a PhD? Who knows where this could take me?
Except, of course, that at the current rate, I should graduate with my PhD right around the time I'm ready to retire...
[Photograph courtesy of my sister-in-law.]