Thursday, 18 December 2014

Couldn't wait any longer....to be a basket case again!!

....I signed up for TM129 - Technologies in Practice today.

I have had agreement locally from my office manager to pay for the remaining courses, but as I needed to be registered by 8th January, I didn't feel like I could safely wait much longer for higher approval.  So I have signed up online and paid for it myself, in the hopes to recoup it in the New Year.

Whichever way things progress financially, I would be studying the course anyway - I've come too far to 'step off' the mad bus ride that is my degree now.

Feeling like the downtime isn't really 'normal' this year, but then nothing else has been normal for the last year or so anyway.  Still not really got my crafting 'groove' on, although I have sudden flashes of inspiration, I never quite have the energy to follow them up with actions!  Maybe after Christmas eh?

Strange to think that, by the end of this course, I will have enough points to graduate with the basic degree.  And then only 2 more left.....Level 3 unknowns again......to get me the long awaited honours degree.

I occasionally have these moments....where I realise that it will all have been 'real' - somehow distance learning has some kind of a sense of unreality about it, except for those rare moments of interaction with other students on our chosen modules.  Don't get me wrong, I know exactly how much work I have put into this convoluted path of mine over the years, but somehow the reality of the actual degree still seems quite hard to grasp!

Looking forward to the day when I can say 'I achieved that'.  I am immensely proud of the journey, and I forget that sometimes in the reality of the daily 'doing' of life.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Back in the basket!

Well the results are in already.....drum roll please......Grade 2 pass!! With 81% for the exam score, the distinction remained close but decided not to supply the cigar.  Ah well, considering the traumas in personal life, along with the added 'bonus' of extended travelling time to work....I am more than overjoyed with the Grade 2 and the 81% to be honest!

The housework is under a reasonable level of control, having retreated to it somewhat as a comfort zone of something I could control during 2 periods of Dad's hospitalisation which of course I couldn't control. Not so much procrastination as avoidance of thought...if my hands were busy then my brain didn't have to process the horrid stuff we were dealing with.  Whichever way....grateful for the improved living space anyhow.

So now it's the 'downtime' phase, not quite got my head back into craft mode as Dad's only been out of hospital for a couple of weeks and I don't think I have wound down yet. Consequently I have hit "couch potato" mode with lots of no-brainer TV being watched.

Not signed the papers for next course yet as I do believe that work are going to support me financially with the last 3 courses....which would be great and give us a little financial leeway to get our own house in order..literally and figuratively...kitchen tap looks in need of replacement but our friend the plumber doesn't seem to be around at the minute.

But I shall look forward to the rest of the deep winter off, and to renewed energy for my studies next February.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Out the other side

When last I posted I was having a bit of a....nah let's be honest and admit it, a massive..crisis of confidence.   To the point where I had even contemplated pulling out of the course before the exam.

Dad came out of hospital eventually and although he has a long road of recovery ahead of him, the immediate terror and danger have lessened somewhat.

That being the case, I am happy to say that, having given the matter a lot of careful and honest thought, I decided that, as the presentation of the course where I would have registered to sit the exam on its own would doubtless be the very same one that I would attend as a resit if the unthinkable happened and I failed, it would be worth just getting down to brass tacks and getting through the exam.  Which I did, earlier today.

And whilst I would never rate any exam as a pleasant experience, it went pretty well, I think I may have managed a half decent score in fact.  Could this be the course with the ever elusive distinction?  Not sure about that but hey a girl can dream eh?

Time for a well-earned rest for the winter, and to allow other obsessions to take over for a while.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Stop the bus I wanna get off!!

Having a crisis of confidence and time and everything else right now.

Dad is still in hospital, being given mixed messages about timescales for release which has him down and depressed (understandably).

And of course not knowing the timescales of anything is making it ridiculously hard to plan or even concentrate on studies when all I am doing is worrying about my family. 

I'm seriously contemplating deferring the exam till another time, for this course you can do that, and bank your scores up to the point where you make that decision.  I don't have a lot of time to decide so I guess it's a case of assess progress by next week when we might know more about Dad's prognosis.  Can't make a hasty decision as Student Support only work Monday to Friday.  Dunno if that's a good thing or bad right now as I would just like progress of any kind.  Coming to hate weekends and the way they grind everything to a halt. ;(

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Once more into the abyss?

Yahoo! I finished the TMA, on time and hopefully fully completed.

It's been a weird old week, my Dad's been in hospital for the whole week, with a very 'touch and go' period at the start where he was in intensive care.  Around that I have somehow managed to pull together a little more ability to focus on  my studies, which is weird.  I guess it's a way to escape from the reality of 'reality' and focus on something else which I can control.

It's therefore heading towards the time of revision.  For a couple of days though, I intend to do nothing with my studies or my books.  I am starting a new job tomorrow, and between that and hospital visits, I believe I should have enough to keep my brains more than occupied.

Then it's down to some serious revision - I think this course may need more structured revision as there is a lot of information to take in.  Right now I can't quite work out a path through it all, but I keep having to remember the mantra of "40% is all it takes to pass" - in this case "Good Enough" may have to be good enough for me.

More in a few days when my head recovers from trying to do it all at once!!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Basket Case? And a return to the Old Normal.

Ok - state of the Washing Basket - empty.

State of the TMA - progressing too slowly.

State of my brain cells - eroding too quickly.

I'm hitting that state of mid-assignment, mid everything else, pre-exam panic.  To which the only solution is wresting control in the only place I can manage it - the Washing Basket.  And obsessing over tidying silly things in the house that have lived happily in cupboards or drawers for years, why do they need to come out and play now?  The house may thank me but the studies won't.

The long commute is soon to be a thing of the past as I return to a much closer office, though to do what is not yet quite established, as I have applied for a temporary promotion opportunity back there too.  I'm hoping to have news on that quite soon.

So it will be a return to 'Old Normal' - the 'New Normal' never did quite settle in, it's been more a case of chaos and shoving in study wherever I could for the last 7 months.  But hopefully the change back might make enough difference at the right time to help fit in some decent revision time and get me out the other side of the exam with enough marks to pass.  Somehow I very much doubt that this is the course where I achieve that elusive Distinction.

(I hasten to add that blogging tonight was done after as much TMA work as I could stomach for the evening, lest the Procrastination Fairy get her wings too firmly established on the desk).


Friday, 22 August 2014

Hobbies, obsessions and the Washing Basket

On the way home from a quilting evening last night, I had time to ponder on my many hobbies, and to question myself even more than usual on my OU journey.

I have what can only be honestly known as an obsessive personality. Whatever (old or new) hobby I am currently busy with is usually my focus to the exclusion of many other things. When I am sewing the rest of the crafts take a back seat, when I am gardening it's from dawn till dusk.

Which leads me to wondering when I stopped feeling that way about my OU journey?  It seems that the closer to the goal I get, the less enthusiasm I have for the task. Studying is currently feeling akin to the washing basket, a task that needs to be coped with or got through.

I would dearly like to rekindle some of that earlier enthusiasm. I still love the learning but am taking less joy from the journey to get there.

But there still lies that feeling of how sad it would be to get so close and then stop. And so onwards I go again.

Someone please give me back that spring in my steps on the road to knowledge?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Relief, trepidation and the great unknown

Relief - I got my latest TMA results today and achieved 98%, which, considering there was an awful lot of sketching involved, I am very happy with.  The random 2% missed was just for not including more options, I can live with that!

Trepidation - I'm still not entirely convinced that I actually KNOW any of this!!  It's OK learning as you go and completing the assignment, but I'm not sure how much is actually going in at the end of the day.  Which fills me with pre-exam panic before the last assignment has even begun.


The Great Unknown - not so much study related as life-related.  My job (with its associated long commute) has been extended till the end of September now - not bad for what began as a 6 week interlude.  I've also been allowed to stay with my current employer, so there's no longer the fear of going back to a dead-end job in my old place.  There is still a question, however, as to what I will go back to (and indeed whether things may end up being extended further into the winter).  A very big part of me is ready to be back in our office closer to home, with a 30 minute commute instead of 3 hours.  But another part of me, that part that is finally starting to come alive as a management grade, would happily accept any chance for it to continue.  But with that some trepidation with regards to the travel when it involves snow and ice, the days are too long now.

So a few wobbles along the way of the student this week, hoping for an injection of confidence from somewhere soon!!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Survival skills

Having recently been watching a TV programme about a bunch of Englishmen surviving on a remote island, it leads me to think about survival.

Not the machete and 'man-make-fire' type thing though.

More the - I dunno - get through the course and exam and come out the other side relatively unscathed type.

Survival skill 1 - most importantly - have people around you who understand (or at least sympathise) with what you are going through.  If you have an 'other half' who objects to an overflowing washing basket at the time of an assignment, then you are in trouble.  Thankfully my other half is very accepting of my domestic failings, whether they be at the time of assignment or down to general 'life is for living not washing' moments.

Survival skill 2 - remember that it IS voluntary!  Sometimes it's hard to remember this one, especially this far down the line, and it can feel like someone has a gun to my head at times - particularly assignment times.  For most students though, including myself, there is always the option to simply walk away, from the course, from the whole study plan.  If your job and livelihood is not directly dependent upon it, then leaving it all behind is always an option, even if it's the last option I would ever consider in real life!

Survival skill 3 - Good Enough is good enough.  Another one that's easy to say but hard to believe in.  It's hard for a perfectionist not to strive for perfection.  But when the stress ball hits you hard in the head, sometimes it's worth remembering that a passing mark is still a Pass whether it's a 40% pass or a 97% pass. Finishing an assignment or an exam with that in your head can be helpful - especially for exams, where the result is further away than that for a TMA.  It's something that I tend to include in my revision too, I will focus on whichever areas would get me the most confident 40% and work upwards from there.

Survival skill 4 - Anything is still better than nothing - when it comes to studying (and to motivating yourself to study when you don't have to do so to keep your job), remember that every little bit counts.  So even those 30 minutes on the train or bus, or the half hour of reading you crammed in while you had a bath, will achieve more than simply not having done anything.  All the little bits add up - and in fact occasionally, the context will aid with the memory of something - for example, I will remember a particular paragraph of a book by the song that I listened to on my MP3 player at the time whilst on the daily commute.

Survival skill 5 - Plan as if you've already succeeded - you may have noticed by my earlier blog posts, but I have a tendency to plan well ahead.  I dunno if this is technically a survival skill but it appears to work for me anyway.  I don't have a 'what happens if I fail?' plan, I refuse to accept it as an option, I'd simply have to deal with it if it happened.  So far this appears to have worked, and I don't plan to change this way of thinking.

Oh - and if all else fails, procrastinate well and keep the washing basket empty!!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

How did I miss that?

Well, having spent much of the evening reading and working on TMA2, I've now hit that period of the night where the 'what nexts' are coming out again.

Having recently spoken to my tutor (who is of French origin) and mentioned that I was considering the beginners French course next, (to be met by a sharp intake of breath and that even she didn't like the look of some of the questions when her hubby took the course), I have been wondering again about the choices for the 'mandatory' course.

And this time I spotted a potential....TM129 - Technologies in practice.  Dealing with 3 diverse bits, Linux, Networking and Robotics, it sounds interesting and practical and...well...maybe easier than Beginner's French in a twisted fashion that possibly only a fellow programmer might understand.

So I dunno...again!!  I know there's plenty of time before I have to make a decision, and the course has both an Oct 2014 or Feb 2015 start option. 

Why do this to myself so far in advance you may well ask?  Well the answer is something akin to positive thinking, if I make decisions now which assume that I have passed the course I am currently working on, then my brain is fooled into believing that I can pass the course and doesn't hit quite such a state of panic and what-if type behaviour.  And the goalposts look that much closer!!  !!Dunno how much truth is actually in that but hey it seems to have worked so far.

I'm in the process of wresting back some level of control on the washing basket...of course....TMA procrastination!!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Exhaustion or procrastination?

I've hit a lull lately, a period where, for whatever reason, I just can't seem to get my head in gear with regards to my studies.

It's not the course - got through the TMA in plenty of time before going away for a weekend break (and had it back with great results - 97%), I'm enjoying the reading that I am cramming in whilst journeying to and from work.  I just seem to be feeling the increasingly desperate need to simply STOP.  Everything.  The studying, the quilting, the stitching, the washing and ironing, everything.  Stop the world, I wanna get off!!

Is it simply procrastination (which does hit from time to time for all students) or have I finally broken my head and hit the point of exhaustion?  Who knows?  And why won't they tell me?

Hoping I can pull myself out of this slump as I really can't afford any lengthy downtime in Level 3 courses.  I think the extra 2 and a half hours travel every day, although it is giving me much needed uninterrupted study time, is seriously taking it out on a body that already felt overtired, overtaxed and overworked!

Adrenalin shot required please - stat!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

En Francais, sil vous plait??

The strange machinations of the mind immediately upon submission of the TMA.  What do other students do on that particular night, I wonder?

I would hazard a guess that some people read, re-read and read over again their submission, till they are in a blind panic state!

For me, however, finishing a TMA almost always triggers the 'what next' vibe.  So I find myself perusing the course descriptions for whatever I am fancying next.  Well, as you know, I had decided that 'next' is likely to be the mandatory Level 1 from the prescribed list.  So off I go down the list to see what the options are.  There appear to be an abundance of Business Studies courses (yawn), a couple of maths ones (nope - been there with S151, learned my lesson and won't repeat the experience).  Unfortunately the only IT one is a 60-pointer which, as well as giving me 30 more points than I would need, would also be out of my budget, there's a hefty financial jump between the world of 30 and the world of 60-pointers.

But languages...hmm ..there are lots of language courses.  So my current front-runner is 'L192 - Bon Depart - Beginners' French'.  I did a GCSE at night school about 16 years ago and loved it and came out with decent results, so I think it might be just the course for me.  And as a foreign language, I think it might not let my mind slip entirely back into Level 1 thinking, so that after Graduation Phase 1, I can still think hard enough to get back to those final two Level 3 courses aka The Honours Part (courses yet to be decided as the syllabus is changing so I'm hoping there may be new things out there that take my eye by the time I need to make that decision).

Au revoir mon cheries!!  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Welcome To The New Normal

..or the first attempts at 'New Normal' at least.

The life/work/study week used to work something like this:

  • Mon - cram an hour of study in after work and before heading to folk club.
  • Tue - cram an hour of study in after Weight Watchers meeting which was after work.
  • Wed - night off from study, off to share crafts and lots of nattering with my best friend
  • Thur - a decent 2-3 of hours study on the night time after catching up on lost housework in the day
  • Fri - a bit like Thursday but maybe not so intense
  • Sat - alternating between resisting study and having a day/night off, and mad panic where half the day gets spent at the books
  • Sun - a bit like Saturday but only on a night time.
In between this of course there is the cramming in of extras in the bath, and, prior to my last job where I was getting a lift to work, cramming in extras on the bus journey.

The 'New Normal' seems to look a bit like this:
  • Mon - read for 2-3 hours on the commute to and from work, collapse on the sofa till folk club time
  • Tue - read 2-3 hours on the commute, collapse on the sofa till about bedtime
  • Wed - read 2-3 hours on the commute, collapse on the sofa till craft time 
  • Thur - a couple of hours during the day, then a mad panic to catch up on lost housework from all the sofa-collapsing earlier in the week
  • Fri - just like Thursday but, having caught up a bit, an hour or two in daytime and 2 or 3 on the night
  • Sat - much like the 'old' Saturday but with more tiredness
  • Sun - same as the old Sunday I guess
(I'm only guessing, of course, that this is the New Normal.  In Reality nothing is ever Normal for long enough to become officially Normality - we only need one missing link in the chain and chaos ensues)

There may actually be more physical time spent studying in the New Normal. I certainly seem to have to pay more attention to structuring the time.  But doing less on an evening just feels wrong so far - It just doesn't feel Normal yet!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Life, the Universe and Everything

If only I knew the answer.

42.

No, not quite!!  Currently wishing that I could reverse the order of the numbers of the hours in the day though and make it 42 instead of 24!!.  (did I tell you about the new job?).

The job comes with a hefty extra commute, and with it a new puzzle.  How to fit in life?

The first couple of weeks of the job have been manic, and we haven't quite found 'the new normal' as I have dubbed it.  I've tried to attempt normality today by doing some study on the bus and train.  The reading part has gone OK, but obviously evaluating websites etc is something I am going to need to do at home, when it's quieter.  So a bit of jiggery-pokery required to Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays, methinks so that I can get that kind of study in.

Hoping I can assimilate all of this before the TMA is due on the 18th though!

But if you ever find an app that makes for more hours in the day, please let me know!!


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Where did all the hats come from?

2014: M364 - Fundamentals of Interaction Design

And so, it hath begun! There are now words cluttering up the pages of my delightful new notebook, and the studies are underway at last.

(Screeching of brakes)

However, I picked just the wrong time to start what feels like 'the right job'.  It's potentially only a temporary post for 6 weeks, so my brain seems naturally inclined to give it perhaps more time and attention than would be ideal at the start of a new course.  In addition there is a much longer commute involved, meaning I am coming home more tired, so when I do switch off the day-hat then I just want to play games and hit the couch.

Welcome back, procrastination fairy!!

I think it will settle down after a couple of weeks, but as you may have noticed, I am prone to severe over thinking and over planning.

Part of me longs for a 'normal' balance but then I think that I would be bored if I ever were to achieve such a thing.

I'm glad that I only do part time work, I think my brain would explode if not!!

Washing basket is chaotic too, might have to wrest back some control at the weekend! 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Welcome to another year and another course!

Well, it's been over a month since my last post, so I thought I'd better get started again even though the course hasn't quite started yet.

I've made the most of the 'time off' with lots of quilting, even bought a new sewing machine which is proving to be great fun.

Have to admit, I'm ready to be back at the studies, albeit with the usual 'how am I going to fit it all in?' panic which seems to hit at t-minus-a week or so.

I attended my 'baby' brother's PHD graduation ceremony a couple of weeks ago, which of course has me thinking and planning and hoping for 2015.  (I get the feeling I might have to wait till 2016 for a ceremony though as there seem to be limited ceremonies up here in the North East).  I can really start to taste the results now, which is an incredibly exciting feeling!

Next posting will get an official 'course title' kind of title like the historical stuff.  But for now I just wanted to say hello again after my long rest!

What's next?

To answer that - I don't have an answer for anyone yet.  That question is still remaining mysterious to me too. From a work point of v...