In the first entry for our love to learn competition, Patricia talks about how returning to learning re-invigorated her thirst for knowledge! 

When our daughter, the youngest of our two children, left home for university, it left quite a hole in our lives. Encouraged by my late sister, who was then a Professor of Art History and lectured for the Open University, I decided to follow my pre-children passion in art by enrolling on an Arts Foundation Course with the Open University.

I had left school aged fifteen so felt totally unqualified to take on such lofty ambitions. I told myself I would study for one year as by the end I, and our finances, would be struggling.

From the very first module I was hooked! Like a sponge I absorbed the world of academia and the information laid before me! I worked more hours to earn more money to pay for successive modules. My whole outlook on life and my knowledge of art broadened beyond belief. Soon, I was working towards a degree! Not only that, I started interim weekly classes at Birkbeck College, London, in order to broaden my understanding of Women In Art. I finished worked, caught the London train to attend my class and returned to fall into bed at midnight - tired but buzzing. I was hooked on learning. I couldn't get enough! I read books about my chosen subjects that weren't even on the reading lists!

My interest had evolved into a passion for History of Art with a feminist bias. My dissertation was about Camille Claudel, the French sculptor and artist. After five years of study, both in the UK and research in Paris, I graduated with the Open University at the Palais des Congres in Paris! My husband and sister at my side. A truly momentous occasion for us. I had also earned 2 Diplomas from Birkbeck College, one with Merit, This fifty year-old Mum who left school, aged 15, without any qualifications, was now BA (Hons).

I couldn't have done it without the support of ALL my family, who were very proud of me. It changed my life, as I went on to re-train as an EFL teacher (the most rewarding job I've ever done), taking me later to live and teach in France.

My love of learning stays with me now in retirement, where I still grasp every opportunity to learn or take part in something new. I'm currently learning how to play lawn bowls and how to paint in acrylics! Diversity is the spice of life!

Love of learning REALLY changed my life - for the better.

Do you have a story about learning that you'd like to share? Submit a blog of your own and enter our competition.