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Graduation Ceremony - The Sage Gateshead, November 16th 2017

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How to organise the tumble of my thoughts around graduation then?


I think this picture says it  best - happy, happy, happy!

Made the ever-familiar metro journey with hubby and child by my side this time, then abandoned them so they could do a bit of shopping in Newcastle, whilst I did the official bits of registering my attendance and getting dressed officially in the academic robes.  Mortarboards (or motor boats as my BFF calls them) are not permitted for the ceremony, they can be hired at extreme prices if you're so inclined for photos though.  (I was not so inclined..).  Had my first couple of 'moments' in this bit of time - firstly at catching sight of other graduates in gowns outside the Sage (our venue for the day), and then standing in the queue for my gown fitting.  I've said it a few times through this journey, but occasionally it all feels a bit surreal, like it happened to someone else.  As distance learning students, often the graduation ceremony is one of …

T minus 1... And counting!

Well, it's nearly almost here now!  Graduation day tomorrow - yippee!  The final step on the OU road, and one I've looked forward to for so long, it seems almost unreal that it's happening.I'll update again in the next couple of days with some pictures and feelings from the day, but I just needed to share in the buzz of pre-graduation excitement.See you on the other side of the gown!

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 view, I have a job I love even though changes are making it a bit of a roller coaster ride again.  Still no further forward getting the grade side of things permanently though.

From an OU point of view - only one more VERY IMPORTANT step to go - my graduation ceremony on 16th November.  Do I want more study?  I'll admit, there's a very small part of me that hankers after a Masters, just to say that I did it.  But I think it's unlikely to happen, the day job is requiring constant learning, which probably gives me (at times) more than I can take in at one go.  So for at least this year, I can give a definitive answer that no, I am not planning to add to my degree with more formal qualifications.

(Eeek - I have a DEGREE!!  Sorry, every now and then the 'bigness' of that hits me..mostly when I am blogging, bizarrely..)

From a home poi…

That Back To School Feeling

The schools went back this week, and my 'baby' started the comprehensive school!  So smart in his new uniform, and so far seems to be armed with a new positive attitude towards all the changes too.  I'm very proud of the way he's embraced it all.

September normally brings that back to school feeling for me too, the eagerly anticipated course materials dropping through the door just as I drop the child off at school.

So this September start is just WEIRD.  I can't think how else to phrase it.  I've felt such a slump since finishing the last module, like the normal summer slump but much longer lasting.  Without the discipline of the new module to begin, I have to admit to an awful lot of couch-potato moments lately.  I've been working on a cross stitch project with a deadline, which is slowly forcing me back into action, but I have to admit I am still finding it difficult to motivate myself.

I've changed teams at work too, which I have to admit is not hel…

An apology and an update!

Wow - I knew I had been off my game recently - but I have just realised that I have not posted here since mid - July!!  So my readers are left hanging as to my results... sorry about that folks!

Module results came out and I did much better than I had expected on the 'examinable component' - making the final result a Grade 2 Pass.  For a module that I had no real love for from the early stages, I'm impressed with that.

That also meant that my predictions were true for the overall result of the degree, I'm therefore the proud owner of a Bachelor of Science Honours degree, Upper second class (a 2.1 in real money...).  When I stop and take into account that I did this in my own time, mostly at my own expense, and whilst working and bringing up a family, it occasionally hits me just how big an achievement that actually is.

More in my next post about life after graduating... and the plans for what is next.

Is there any energy left?

Wow - for some reason I am completely wiped out lately!  No particular reasoning behind it, that just appears to be the way of things.

I'd like to blame the quilt, or the weather, or the child, but none of these things are really to blame. I just feel washed out for no reason at all.

Waiting for the final course results is of course not helping, it's like a 'side order' of stress while hoping for the best!  And of course, it being the last module, I need to pass it in order to finish off the degree.  So I will admit to a small amount of trepidation - I don't think I have done badly enough to fail, but I will still worry till the results are here and gone.

And then I can start to book graduation numbers etc.  Eeek!!

I love it when a plan comes together

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Cue the A-Team music and start recording the montage.

Erm well...not quite.
But finally, I have begun the part of my OU journey that appears to have caused me the most trouble, or at least certainly had as many false starts as any of my modules along the way.
What gave me this much stress?   Deciding upon a plan for my graduation quilt, mentioned in a previous post.
Now, I knew only for certain that there should be frogs... As my reader will know, frogs are where the whole Object Oriented Programming world began for me.  So they hold a special place in my heart when thinking of the journey as a whole.  But how to incorporate the frogs, and what else alongside them?  How to make it significant and meaningful without being twee?  How to not make it into just a frog quilt, but something that told more of the tale?
I looked at frog panels, hmm too froggy.  I looked at frog pictures to quilt as outlines...either too childish or too complex.  Nothing was quite right.
Then, finally, after f…

What lies beyond? A big box of mojo please?

Well, the deadlines have come and gone, the assignment was submitted and the family holiday has been had and returned from.

And to be honest the blogger in me went a little quiet there, not quite sure what to say for myself as I was shellshocked or battle-weary or some such military thing, suffice to say I was knackered after so much intense study I couldn't quite think what to say beyond 'Phew!!' or what to talk about now there wasn't a next module to plan for.

But having had a week off to recover from the holiday, I'm ready to pick up the keyboard again, if only to remind myself how to type before I return to work next week!

So - now for Life Beyond the OU Basket. (or at least as beyond as one can get while awaiting the final results...)

I have to admit to a fair amount of couch-vegetation, such is the way after most assignments to be honest, so this one was no different.

But slowly, gradually, I am beginning to realise that there is actually still a bit of me le…

The Big Red Button

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Eek - it's done!  Having worked my butt/socks off on lots of extra daytime study sessions, the assignment is finally finished, and before my own deadlines too!

It's been safely parcelled up and set to one side, with backup copies made just in case.  Then it will wait a day or two, get passed through one last final common-sense check, and then - the button will be hit, sending it on its merry way to await marking.

It's still all a bit surreal, can't quite put together in my head that it's over - the OU study journey is finished, although there will be a most pleasant journey towards the graduation ceremony still awaiting me after the results.

Overthinking and Dreaming in Code

Oh, you can tell the assignment is getting to me now - 3 nights in a row I have been dreaming of data analysis in Python.  Very frustrating, particularly as it never solves any of the problems and just wakes me up unrefreshed.

Today however in my studies, I was the victim of my own overthinking.  Spent 2 hours or more undertaking a chunk of data mining to predict some missing data from one of the EMA datasets.  Thought that I had 36 things to predict, so hey good practice with the data mining, right?

Err - not quite!  Turns out I had 4 things to predict, which I could find on a simple Google search within 5 seconds!  So this fact has also been written in to the final report as a warning to would-be users of data mining.

I have a couple more major tasks to do (statistical testing and possibly some data mining if I can bring myself to return to it yet again), and then a lot of pulling together and tidying up the final report and folder structure.

But feeling more positive now (thanks t…

Louder and Louder

... the ticking of that clock.  Ever and on.

Sat down today to put a proper start on some of the 'words' of my final EMA report, given that a lot of the choices I need to document are those I've already made by now.  If I can pull the majority of the background stuff together, then it should be a case of simply (hah!) slotting in the official findings of the analysis I've still got to do.

I have to admit, having a third or so of the words together is helping a little with the inner panic.  The fact that I shouldn't then have the whole 3000 words to write after I finish the analysis might help me to focus on the analysis in a more logical fashion.  My head's been fluttering about like some mad butterfly, one minute on one part of the analysis, then to another part entirely, never quite settling on any one flower.

I get the feeling I'm never going to feel entirely satisfied with the resulting report, as word counts have a tendency to do that to me anyway - I …

Tick tock ...

Oh dear that countdown clock is ticking faster than I would prefer now.  On the one hand - yippee, the countdown heads towards freedom, from the world of study and deadlines and assignments etc.  On the other hand - it reminds me just how little time is left to complete the final EMA.  I remember being very happy that my final module had an EMA instead of a final exam.  Right now I think I would have preferred the short sharp shock of the exam.

Suffice to say, this final module has not exactly filled me with joy and delight.  There have been some satisfying moments along the way, but the very structure of the course has been difficult to balance with life.  Particularly a life which now has my working days being filled with learning.

The final assignment requires some data analysis, some use of data mining techniques and a formal report.  The data sets are based around the EU referendum, which I have to admit I was sick of the first time round.  And now I get to pull it all apart and …

A happy second....

Results are back for TMA02.  A damn good 81%.

I'm overjoyed with that result on two counts.  Number one - it's high enough to feel like it's a darn good result.  Number two - it's low enough that I'm just below a distinction.

(Does that sound odd celebrating the lack of a distinction?  Well - it means that I can simply do my best for the End of Module Assessment - without worrying is it good enough for a Distinction, good enough for a First?)

Not saying that I'd ever backpedal, cos that isn't my style at all - but I put SO much pressure on myself for TMA1 with the thoughts of a First in mind that I nearly lost my marbles along the way.

But now, as long as I do a damn good job and pass the EMA, I can go off to that graduation ceremony (in November now) with my head held high and celebrate a 2.1.

And I will be VERY VERY happy with that.  To have achieved my Honours degree, to that level, whilst working and bringing up my child - I will be a happy happy girl i…

2 (almost) down one to go!

OU progress has been slow and steady, definitely felt like I managed to understand more of what I was doing in the second TMA.

Putting the finishing touches to it over the next couple of days, but it should be submitted well within my own deadline this time, and give me a chance to pause and catch up a bit before cracking on with the EMA. (End of Module Assessment).

The EMA I can imagine is going to be a big job, but hoping to structure my time so that I can work through it in smaller bites.  Work plans and diaries and online planners at the ready folks....

Submitting this will mark 2/3 of the way through my final module.  I can't lie, I'm ready now to see what life on the other side looks like - it's been so long since I had a life without my studies that I've kinda forgotten what one looks like!  (The small glimpses in the summer hiatus don't really count cos I've always known the structure lay just beyond).

Right now I have no 'next course' to sign up …

The Sunshine after the Rain

Made some decent progress on the TMA tonight, with a lot of the pain I experienced in the first assignment helping to cement in the things I need to do (and get right) on this one.  Still almost a month to go, but - for the first time in this module - starting to feel as though that will be OK, that it is achievable in that timescale.

Had a positive buzz from last week out in the real world, updates as ever in Beyond the Basket.  I think that may have helped to fuel a decent study session today, so long may it continue!!

Making sense of it all

Some days the lightbulb comes on briefly, the last couple of days at work have been a bit like that - I've not posted over on Beyond the Basket about it yet cos the clarity for me this week was kind of a combination of OU and work, so I felt like it sat better over here.

At work I have been writing database queries for the MongoDB document database that underlies our project, and my current OU study Unit is also concentrated around document databases, and MongoDB in particular.

One of those lightbulb moments where you're not entirely sure which part of your life influenced which, but felt like I was getting it a bit more on both sides because I was getting to practice it from both angles.  (hope that makes sense on screen, it did inside my head?)

It's SO nice on those rare occasions when the knowledge overlaps, makes me feel like the OU struggles after the long commute are all worthwhile, and not just for the end qualification.

So I thought I would share it with the world a…

Mid - course blues

Hmph.

I know I have posted similar in the middle of most of my modules, but I am just feeling frustrated and, while not quite 'bored' entirely, just left wanting in excitement about this module.

I need to keep up the progress and am doing so at what I feel is a reasonable pace, but I have reached that mid-point in the course where things just go a little stale and I need an injection of enthusiasm.  I dunno how else to make it happen, but am hoping that it will magically appear from somewhere, in the same way the Procrastination Fairy does.

I think that data and statistics are just not really my thing, despite having done that kind of work in the past, I think it was always the creation of spreadsheets and databases that gave me enthusiasm rather than the statistical significance of anything.

Off to walk to the shops now and see if I can buy some get-up-and-go!!

Wow - the final countdowns....

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Currently wading my way through the beginnings of TMA2, which up to now doesn't feel quite as awful as TMA1 (although I have started on it much earlier just in case).

But it has just come to my attention that there is now a final lifespan to the rest of this module (the timing of which came to mind when planning other family activities which will take place afterwards).  I realised when planning the fun stuff that the countdown we're working on for that also signifies the countdown to the end of my OU journey (well the studying part anyway).  I won't talk about the what or the how long here as this is a public forum but suffice to say that it's later this year....

The countdown begins....

Somehow the 'real' end always seemed like something so far in the future that it wasn't tangible, but now it has numbers attached to it.  Numbers that are real and tangible and reducing.  Wow - just ...wow!

I still can't quite imagine the structure of life without the …

Welcome in the New Year - resolutions of a sort for 2017

Stay focused on what I've done not what's still left to doMake plans and stick to themStart assignments/EMA earlier than I would have doneInclude daytime study in the planEnjoy the new challenges in both OU and the day-job! More in depth over the next couple of days, but I felt the need to get something up there for my first post of 2017 at least!