So here we are, 2 months in, and things are better than I ever thought they could be. Seeing as at the beginning of this module I had no clue what I was doing and hardly had the work in accessible formats, I’d say things have improved massively. There are still small things, like the fact that I don’t go to tutorials and not all of the materials are accessible yet, but I think we’ve taken a big step since I started, especially as I’m now preparing to start my second module in February – a quick but clever decision, I think, that could very well turn disastrous…
This week, I continued studying the given materials from the study planner. Our chapter this week was on the Dalai Lama and Buddhism. Personally, I’m not a religious person and I don’t think I ever will be but it was quite interesting learning about religious views that contrast so strongly with western beliefs. I felt that the selection process for the Lamas was strange, but that’s just because in western society that I live in taking a small child from their parents, believing they’re the reincarnation to the previous Lama and then forcefully making them learn and practice Buddhist beliefs until they’re old enough to become what they’ve been shaped into all their life is foreign and cruel to us. However, it is a strong tradition for the Tibetans and it seems to work well for their culture and religion. We had to watch some videos that explained some of the practices that take place in Buddhism and for me they weren’t very useful at all as there wasn’t much description on what was happening onscreen. But I tried my best to take coherent notes from them and a large amount of notes from the chapter in the textbook to refer back to. I discovered that my third TMA focuses on the Dalai Lama’s reputation for the first part and then some poetry for the second half. I haven’t studied the poetry yet – that’s on the calendar this week – but am hopeful about the Dalai Lama reputation question as I’ve read the chapter and taken notes which I can call upon when writing. I might need to go back over the chapter to gather more information to make my essay more meaty. I don’t want it to be all waffle just like the Cezanne one and then I get less marks again.
The poetry part of my third TMA makes me think that actually I could get quite high marks because it’s a “compare and contrast these two poems” question, which I did to death at college in A Level Literature. After all that practice, I’d be really disappointed if I can’t still compare a poem like I could then. I only got a C overall in Literature, which I was slightly disappointed about, but I think my knowledge of comparing and contrasting poems could be a serious advantage here. I’ve studied one of the poets, too; W.H. Auden wrote “Stop All the Clocks” and he also wrote one of the two poems I have to compare in this question. Even if I couldn’t do it straight away off the top of my head, I’m sure the chapter and set book I have to read will helpfully jolt my memory and it’ll be just like I’m back in one of those early morning Literature lessons again, trying to focus my brain on the task in front of me. The only issue I have with studying poetry electronically is that I can’t compare the structure very well. If I had the poems in hard copy Braille, I’d be able to look at the structure properly, noting the length of lines, the syllables in each line and all the other poetry jargon you have to comment on to get a good grade when comparing and contrasting. I’m pretty glad I did Literature at college now because I think I’d be pretty stuck if I’d never learnt how to analyse poetry before being presented with this question. I feel quite sorry for other students doing the module that have never done it before. However, it’s quite a good skill to learn and once you have it I don’t think it ever goes away. You just look at poetry and think “hmmmm, that poet’s used very long lines without much punctuation that have rhyming couplets…” and away you go, theorising on what the poet meant by doing this, how it affects the reader and what this means for the poem. All of this said, I wouldn’t like to say I feel confident for TMA03, because I never feel confident on an assignment, but maybe I will on the day it’s submitted.
Anyway, back to the TMA I actually have to seriously knuckle down and concentrate on this week. TMA02 is due in by midday on Friday and I haven’t finished it yet. Really, I only give myself until I go to bed on Thursday because I always worry I won’t have submitted it by 11.59am on the Friday morning and feel it leaves me less stressed on submission deadline day. I see a lot of posts on the Facebook group on deadline day panicking because they’ve submitted late and think they’re going to be penalised. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know, but I do know that we have a deadline and I’d rather be a few hours early than be in a frenzied rush to submit at 11.59 and be late, just in case we do have marks taken for late submissions or a bad report written against us because we can’t keep to the deadlines set. Plus, I was never one who liked to hand in work late unless there was a serious reason why I hadn’t done it. For these assignments, there’s no excuse. I don’t have any reason why mine should be late. I have a constant Internet connection, the ability to write essays and the technology to make everything work. Two years ago, there’s no way I’d have been able to easily say that, but now I can. This week, I focused on editing the essay, chopping out words to shrink the word count and taking out bits that really weren’t necessary or didn’t make sens. I seemed to have written a lot of stuff that didn’t make sense. As it stands, the word count is at 666, a lot closer to the allowed 500 than it was this time last week. I really think the essay is looking so much better now I’ve edited it and had the help of my notes to make it better. I also started writing my small 200 word commentary on why I’d changed the things I have. We’re supposed to use our tutor’s comments in our explanation but I feel that seeing as I pretty much changed the whole essay it’d be silly trying to quote everything my tutor said that made me know everything needed a serious face lift. If I did, I wouldn’t have any room for the personal comments we’re asked for. Anyway, if it’s wrong then I’ll be told in my feedback. I also enlisted the help of my IT genius buddy to help me sort out the word template file that contains the header and page numbers he created for me. In my feedback, it was mentioned that we needed to put the date submitted and the date due either side of the page number in the footer of the essay. I have them on three separate lines, which is good by me, so the tutor should have all the information she’s supposed to when I submit TMA02. I’m glad IT glitches aren’t called upon too harshly and we’re just given the opportunity to fix our mistakes. This gives me a chance to learn skills or enlist help if I need it, which is usually the case. I have also set up the file on my Apex that will contain the TMA before I put it on my computer and add in the formatting stuff. We have to have our original essay, tutor’s comments, new draft and reflective commentary in one file. I’m glad I’m at a good stage of getting things done otherwise this week may have been a bit of a struggle…
This week, I have to finish and polish up TMA02, like I mentioned, for Friday’s submission deadline. I also have to start work on TMA03, which I have until 8 January to submit. The 8th of January, though, happens to be the day I’m travelling back to Hereford for what will probably be the very last time to celebrate K’s birthday, which is already guaranteed to be a lot of fun and the break from life that I really need. Naturally, I will not be finishing the assignment on the 8th and rushing to submit it before I catch my 9.10am train; again, it’ll have to be polished up and submitted by the time I go to bed on the 7th. This isn’t a problem, it just means I’ll have to work extra hard from this week onwards over the Christmas break to get it written and to the standard I want it. But that shouldn’t be much of a problem because the only days I really need off are Christmas and Boxing Days themselves. Although I will probably go January sale shopping and be busy sorting out new presents, I shouldn’t need any other full days off. Even if I only work an hour or so a few days while I’m enjoying the festivities, I’ll still be putting the effort in and the small bursts of work time will help things come together nicely. I feel that I work better in small bursts, anyway, because my brain gets tired and distracted if I’m working for too long. As well as that, I also need to read the relevant work from this week’s calendar and make notes that I can refer back to if I need them. I’m trying to make notes on every chapter I study, even if I’m not assessed on it, because it gets me into the habit of doing it and means that they’re already there if I do need them.
Other than uni stuff, this week has been a chaotic but exciting one. With everything else that’s already going on at home, I also had a general information meeting with Guide Dogs in Chilworth. After applying and being told no 4 years ago, I decided to leave that idea alone for a long time, especially as I was going away to college and wasn’t very mobile anyway. But recently I came to the conclusion that I’d like to revisit that idea. So I rang about a month ago and applied to start the process, fully expecting to get the same answer as last time as my routes haven’t increased and I don’t go out But I was willing to take that risk and see what happened. It was a good morning. I met a trainee Guide Dog called Scooby who was lovely and also some of the staff. I didn’t see anyone I’d met 4 years prior which is good I think. Their new mobility instructor seems very enthusiastic and is going to call me back about arranging route mobility as soon as she can. Even if at the end of this I still don’t get a dog, the route training will be great because at least then I’ll know where a few places are. Even if I don’t appreciate that in 6 months time, I’ll still have done some exercise if nothing else. It’s the start of a journey that could lead to anything, with or without the addition of a dog.
It was also a week of firsts in the technology world for me. After a long time telling myself I didn’t need one and would never be able to use one, I finally did something spontaneous and bought a Macbook. It’s an 11inch, 2014 model and I love it already. . I don’t know how to do much on it but managed to set it up, send and receive Imessages from it and change the VoiceOver voice to one I like better. I’m hopeful that I’ll get used to that too and, again, if I don’t like it then I can sell it on and it’ll have been a good experience.
Nothing has changed dog-wise here yet. But yet again, I’mm hopeful there will be progression in that department over the next few weeks too. Gradually, things should get easier and better. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway.