Mary Wyllie

At 85, I keep myself open to everything that I can learn in life. I want to keep up to date with the world and new technology, even if that means pushing myself past my boundaries. I could easily go down, but it’s a case of not getting bored. I love reading, photography and every craft – the more difficult the knitting the better. When my friend suggested university in my seventies, I thought: “Why not?”

It was a challenge, stepping back into a classroom environment after being out of education since I finished high school in 1950. Those were the glory days for me, but university never seemed like an option at that time. When I was a child I developed epilepsy and hearing problems after a bomb hit my home in Maryhill during the Blitz. Studying at university meant I would have to prepare myself for listening and using the computer every day in classes which made me nervous.

I enrolled in classes at Strathclyde University in 2008 called Lifelong Learning, aged 75. Learning has always been important to me, whether it’s reading books, writing stories or picking up new hobbies, though, I didn't know what to expect from university. My friends and family were quite surprised when I told them I was starting university classes because it was a whole new ballgame for me. My children and grandchildren have all been, so I felt it was my turn.

Everything was very new. On the first day, the lecturer asked each person in the class to share their story and I met people from all walks of life. Most of them were in their fifties upwards; if we finished class early we would enjoy a coffee and listen to each other’s stories. Everyone had something interesting to say about life in the past and we had great discussions.

Class term lasted for eight weeks and it was one subject from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. The classes were geared towards, learning later in life and at the end there were assessments. I passed each one which encouraged me to start other studies including classes in creative writing and genealogy. Genealogy involved searching for death and marriages on Scotland’s People and using diagrams to trace the family history. I learned all about my family tree and that my own family was originally from Orkney which inspired me to visit.

University opened new doors to me. I love that I can now take photographs on my tablet, edit them using Photoshop and create discs on the Movie Maker for my family and friends.

One of the best things about student life was discounts. I booked a spontaneous trip with my friend to Paris and when we purchased tickets for a boat ride, I took out my student card and got mine for seven euros cheaper than everyone else. I guess I get away with many things. I still have the urge to do everything I did when I was a teenager, I could even dance with my rollator.