Study J(OU)rnal

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I feel like I only just wrote one of these, but I’ve checked and it really has been one whole entire week since the last post…and what a miserable week it’s been.

This week’s studying was dedicated almost exclusively to mathematics. Now, I quite like a bit of maths. Nothing too intense, but sort of GCSE level maths, I dig it. I like order, and rules and things that make sense. So a week’s worth of maths lessons isn’t something that should inherently upset me. However.

As you may, or indeed may not, know, I am currently studying an Access to Sciences course. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a course designed to help people who haven’t studied in a long while to prepare for study at the university level. Which means getting back to basics. Which means that this week, I learned how to use a number line. 

Something else you might not know about me. I used to be a teaching assistant in a primary school, and I took maths for my A-Levels. I used to teach number lines to kids aged 5-11. I won’t lie, it was a little humiliating, I am trying to be charitable and remind myself that some peoples maths skills are not as sharp as mine, but it leads me to one of two conclusions. Either my degree is going to be absolutely child’s play when it comes to maths OR the poor folks who are just now learning about number lines now are going to be absolutely slaughtered when the course kicks in proper.

On a more positive note, I’m still enjoying learning biology, and I have been looking up the requirements for the Open University’s biology courses, just in case I feel like switching from computers. I’m feeling a real desperate need to learn everything there is to know about sharks, and a biology degree might let me do so.

Finally, my biggest competition for the trans officer position on the PLEXUS society (The OU’s LGBTQIA+ group) has withdrawn as a candidate, so my odds went up! Fingers crossed.

Study J(OU)rnal, Week 3, Year 1

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This has been a good week for study. I’ve been keeping on top of my workload, even though it’s half term and my sisters are at home, and I’ve been studying more effectively too. I’m actually writing down my answers to questions I’m asked, I’m highlighting as I go so I have something like notes, and I’ve even started on my first assignment. I’m definitely getting much better at the study skills side of things compared to during my last degree.

I have also had some nice evidence that my new study skills are helping the material sink in. I am the first to admit that I know less than nothing about gardening. My granny, by contrast, knows a whole lot, and keeps a very tidy and pretty garden. But somehow I was able to explain to her some of the basic scientific principles of compost and compost heaps, as a result of studying it as part of this module. Needless to say the random knowledge impressed and amazed my family, and I was incredibly pleased to see facts sinking in, despite not being part of my preferred topics!

Finally, the OU LGBT society have re-advertised three of the committee positions for self-nominations. I know at least one person who has put in for the trans officer post, and since I’d rather do any role with the LGBT society, even if it’s not my preferred role, than I would to lose the chance to do anything I am now going to be putting my name up for some of the other positions just in case.

Bring on week 4.

Personal: Study Journal

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Introduction.

On the 6th of October I will be starting work on my next degree withe the Open University. The aim is to earn a BSc(Hons) Computing and IT within the next 8 years (part time, obviously…)

 

First lot of materials.

When I started my previous degree in what…2010, I made a blog post about it, with the intention of writing about how my studies were going. I would be able to look back when it’s all done and see – in my own words – how far I’ve come and what challenges I’ve faced (and hopefully beaten). Then, as it turns out, I completely forgot about it.

BUT I didn’t have a shiny website to write it on last time, and now I do, so guess what somebodies – now you’re gonna get a more-or-less weekly post about what it’s like to study with the Open University and such. Won’t that be fun!

Bring it on!

 

Personal: Graduation

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So, yesterday I graduated…

After 7 years of hard work, I finally graduated from university!

I studied for a BA(Hons) Humanities with Religious Studies and Philosophy specialisms, for which I received a 2.1.

I have been dreading this day…

I have been saying for years I didn’t want to attend graduation. It’s too many people, it’s lots of pressure, smart clothes…all things I struggle with. I wouldn’t say  I was forced to attend, but I was very strongly pressured into it. I’m really glad that I attended.

On the day…

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The ceremony was held at Ely Cathedral – an absolutely beautiful building about 6 miles down the road from me.

The sun was shining all day (until literally the second we got in the car to come home). As you can see, the place was packed out, and it’s not even half full in that picture.

First, I had to get my robes. It was about a thousand degrees in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral where the robing happened – I genuinely thought I might die. It all felt a bit weird, and I really wasn’t into it until I got outside with all the other graduates in their robes.

I have never really felt much university pride, what with the Open University being a distance learning provider – but suddenly I was brimming with it. I felt so proud to be walking around in my robes with my fellow grads. It was awesome.

We had to sit through a great deal of organ music – which I’m not a fan of at the best of times, but it was certainly loud.

As an autistic person with a serious anxiety disorder, I find change and the unknown impossible to handle. As such, I was incredibly fortunate to have the support of the Open University staff in order to get me through the ceremony.

They organised it so my mum and dad could sit next to me – on the front row no less – then they ran through exactly how things where supposed to work. When it was my time to hit the stage, a staff member came and found me and took me to where I needed to go, reminding me exactly what was going to happen.

They took our pictures of us shaking the hand of the pro-vice chancellor of the University as he handed us our certificates – I’ve only seen such a genuine grin on my face a couple of times in my entire life.

The awards went on for ages. There were just so many graduates – every one looking so proud and happy.

IMG_2374.jpgSomewhere in the middle, they awarded Baroness Rebuck ‘Doctor of the University’ (I think). She has worked really hard to stress the importance of reading and literacy and to encourage people to read – especially those who can’t or don’t – I really respect that and was inspired by her, as reading has been such an important part of my life. I had a bit of a chat with her afterwards which was pretty cool (I never strike up conversations with strangers). To the left is a picture to prove it actually happened!

To close the ceremony, the pro-vice chancellor gave a speech about what the Open University means, and how we should be proud of our hard work and proud of our University. At this point I was absolutely overflowing with University pride and it felt amazing. I felt part of something bigger, something precious. Something I didn’t want to let go of. Something I want to be a part of for years to come.

When the ceremony was finished, all the graduates and collected staff had a procession through the cathedral. Since I was at the front, I ended up second in the procession after the staff and such – if I felt important swanning around in my robes, it was nothing compared to that procession. It was awe inspiring. There I was, in the midst of my fellow students, parading through a sea of well-wishers. It was easily the most incredible experience of my life.

Afterwards, we went through to the garden of the Old Palace – I have no idea what that building actually is or indeed was.

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This was a really beautiful moment – just to sea so many of us in our blue and gold robes. A display of hard work and dedication. Champagne was kicking around, although I don’t drink so I had apple juice.

It was a truly spectacular day. I feel proud of what I have achieved. I feel proud to be an Open Universty Alumnus, and I hope to be able to play a part in the universities Alumni Association. I cannot wait to dive right back in to my next degree with the OU – a BSc in Computing and Information Technology.