By Katrina Terawsky
Degree: BBus – Property
Campus: Distance/Online

Modern connectivity has allowed me to initiate change and begin a degree, at an age where many simply elect to settle. All too often we hear about how the internet, social media and our inability to disconnect is destroying our relationships, and limiting our ability to center ourselves in such a fast-paced environment. For me, the opposite is true.

As a mature aged, distance student, working part-time, with a loving husband, 2 small children, and a Sydney-sized mortgage, studying has its challenges. However, it is within the challenge that I find myself. I find a powerful determination to flourish academically, I find myself breaking down my own insecurities, and ultimately I find a successful student, with endless opportunities.

Long gone are the days where distance learning was isolating and incomprehensible, my experience this last year has been the exact opposite. With access to online lectures, stream forums, and Facebook groups I am able to connect with my fellow students despite being overseas. With endless chatter about assignments, challenging concepts, and intellectual debate my social media feed has been transformed. What was once mindless pop-culture streaming is now replaced by academic arguments and supportive students from every corner of the globe, all members of Massey University.

The challenge, it seems has been the integration of two lives, one as an extramural student, and one as a working wife and mother. At a day-to-day level, finding the time, and the motivation to study can be difficult. After work, when dinner is done, the kids are in bed and new episodes of our favourite shows appear on Netflix, a glass of wine beckons. Many times my husband and I concede, we relax and enjoy a quiet night on the couch. But often a Facebook post or Stream notification appears like an invitation, and we hit the books. We are both completing a business degree, I will major in Property, he is yet to decide – he infuriates me that way, how can he not know? Nevertheless, we support and admire each other, and it brings us closer, perhaps as we are becoming a better version of ourselves (without mentioning the middle aged spread that we are still blaming on having kids).

The psychological impact of social media is a consistently hot topic, and it is something worthy of great consideration. I am no expert, but I like to follow the latest studies. However, we all know that you can find a study to support almost any argument if you really try, so what do we believe? Is the lack of down time having negative consequences, both psychologically and physiologically? Is it an addiction? How is it impacting our children?

I am not looking forward to my little ones navigating the online world, because having children makes you worry, about everything. I have some time though, my eldest has only just started school, and I think he believes all grown-ups are still at school too. Perhaps life to him is a perpetual classroom, I do hope he believes that forever. He tells us that he can’t wait to go to “Uni” and buy an apartment. These are the conversations remind me that the example we set for the next generation shapes their future, and the world they will create.

Amusingly, I am about the same age as Mark Zuckerberg, and I remember when Facebook launched. It was back when we didn’t really think it would come too much, after all, we were the generation that started with the live journal, then moved to myspace, how long would this one last? Although the platforms do come and go, with Twitter, insta and snapchat all in the mix, the ability to connect remains constant. I am so grateful for the opportunity to use this technology in such a positive way, and to belong to such a strong student community.

In a world that today seems so at war with itself, where social media can be used to spread so much negativity, I, like so many other students have elected to utilise this global connectivity to engage in such a positive personal experience, to some degree this was almost impossible only a decade ago. Social media and online communities have allowed me to study, something I thought was lost long ago, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.


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