A Day in the Life of a Betonica Student – Maria

“I love plants; I love all aspects of them – what they look like, how they smell, what they give to us in terms of food, medicine and well-being, and the fact that, whatever we may think as we pull them up as ‘weeds’, if the human race were to disappear tomorrow, plants would quietly reclaim the planet as their own. All these aspects, added to my ‘vocation’ to help & heal people, led me to this herbal medicine apprenticeship.

For a long while I have wanted to bring together and consolidate all the knowledge that I have accrued over my years of using herbs, gardening, cooking, yoga teaching and complimentary medicine, so that I could develop a deeper, wider knowledge and appreciation for herbs and their benefits, and feel confident in the advice and help that I give to people. When my daughter went off to university and the opportunity to study with Betonica came up at the same time, it felt as though the time was right.

The course itself is what I had hoped it would be, with a good balance of plant knowledge/anatomy & physiology, and how they relate, and a good amount of practical work & reading. There is quite a lot of homework and self-study required – some subjects I find easier than others – and it is frustrating at times when you want to study but it doesn’t align well with what is going on at home. This is where organisation and self-discipline help.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy trying to fit a heavy reading course around working, and also running a home full of animals, and typically all my days off/weekends are mostly spent reading or working on the next assignment. I try to plan my reading and assignments into my week, and, luckily, I have a husband who will cook dinner if I’m on a roll!  I do try to get out to play in my garden and go for walks in the countryside as much as possible, or I start to question what I’m doing this for – I need to have that connection with physical plants in order to make it relevant for me.

Being a mature student has challenges of its own – I find that studying in the evenings is not always possible, especially if feeling tired after a day at work; and my memory is certainly not what it used to be. Not being very computer literate has also presented issues, but I usually manage to find someone to help me with this.

All aspects of the course are interesting, but those aspects of the course I enjoy the most are those that involve the practical application of acquired knowledge, for example, finding a plant in the hedgerow, examining in detail, reading further about it, and then using all of that knowledge to understand and utilise the medicinal/nutritional properties of that plant. Knowing that we are being taught by highly knowledgeable herbalists helps me to feel confident and safe in what I am learning. I also greatly enjoy discovering new things about plants I am already familiar with.

I find anatomy and physiology fascinating, although it is sometimes a struggle to remember it in as much detail as I would like. But the aspect I find very difficult is the chemistry – it was never a strong subject at school, and continues to be an issue now. I am hoping that as I progress on the course, I will develop a working understanding of this area of herbal medicine.

I feel that committing to the full course was the best thing I have done for a long time – though it was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly – and I am greatly looking forward to the next three years of my herbal medicine adventure.”

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