It's a bit different now, of course. For one thing, I know none of my classmates from last year will be joining me in this class - they were all full-time students, so will have graduated and moved on to work or higher degrees. But a lot of the causes for first-day nerves are still the same (right down to having a new teacher - I've never taken a paper with this particular lecturer before): Will I understand the work? Will it be hard? What if I've forgotten everything over the holidays? Will the other kids like me?
And then there's the fears particular to part-time study: Will I be able to juggle work and study without either suffering, and without dissolving into a giant puddle of stress? Will my friends give up on me when they don't hear from me for months on end? And the really big one: will I start off far behind the other students? They'll all have been third years last year, so it'll have only been a few months since they took the sociolinguistics paper that this course builds on. And they probably took it with this lecturer. I took it way back in 2007, when it was taught by someone else and had a completely different focus. What if there's stuff I should know that she didn't cover? What if the field has moved on in the intervening years? What if I've just forgotten everything I ever knew about sociolinguistics anyway?
Of course, I know that in reality I'll be fine. I'll start off slightly on the back foot, but a bit of hard work will soon have me caught up with the others and then I'll be able to settle in and enjoy the course. And just like every year, I'll find a way to balance my responsibilities, see just enough of my friends, and stay sane. But whether you're 5 or 45, the first day of school is still a bit scary!
How do you feel about first days? Does fear or excitement dominate? Let me know in the comments.