Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open Uni: Week 13

This week has been a bit of a hectic one for me, with OU study thrown in as an added bonus of course. There were lots of sections of my life that needed sorting out, either changing completely or spring cleaning. My world had become a bit of a tip and it was well overdue a good dust and polish. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s been polished to perfection yet, but I’d say I’m well on the way to getting it squeaky clean.



As for OU, well, I’ve been focusing on TMA04, like I wanted to, and reading the relevant chapters from the textbooks for that. I decided, when looking at the assignment question for the first time, that I’d do the first option which concerned Irish nationalism because Shostakovich’s music seemed something I’d have no clue about or interest in. After reading the Ireland chapter, though, I felt even more confused than I had before I’d started it. The assignment question asks for information on language and symbols. The language was no problem – it was mentioned every five seconds so I had loads of notes – but I couldn’t find any information about symbols, except one line. I don’t think one line for a 1200 word essay would really cut it. So I decided to stop frying my brain and start reading the Shostakovich chapter. I finished that, also, and feel a little happier with that one than the Ireland one. So it looks like I’ll have to reconsider my choice on assignment option purely on the fact I have no idea what I’m doing with the first option and a tiny clue with the second. Hopefully that tiny clue can form into a coherent essay and plan before February 5th. I’m currently doubtful about that so will spend every motivated second next week and the following week dragging something together.


Even though the assignment is a bit of a sore subject, both chapters I’ve gone through for it haven’t been too bad. I mean, I’ve been generally pretty knackered this week anyway, which is purely my own doing, so I felt quite bored and tired reading them. To be fair, though, after last weekend coming back to OU study was never going to be massive bundles of overexcited joy. But overall the chapters weren’t too bad. I’m still slightly baffled as to why you have to study half this stuff if you’re headed for a Literature degree, which a lot of members on the OU Facebook group are. I probably should’ve gone for a Literature degree, too, but mixed modules still seems like a good idea, even if it over-complicates everything. But I need a challenge right now, something to keep me focused, so I guess everything is coming at the right point. I may have made a hash up of a lot of things, causing a lot of hurt in the process, but I think I’m making the right decisions for myself. Maybe that’s a bit selfish but I want to take everything this life has to give. I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities out there, even if they’re the smallest most worthless wastes of time. They’ll be an experience and something to add to the “things I did” list whether they’re good or bad. Maybe OU is just another one of those experiences. I don’t know the answer to that one yet but maybe in a few years I will.


Similar to last week, I still haven’t had any acknowledgement from the OU that they’re even bothering to look into my broken PDF issue with the poetry anthology. I’d really hoped that I’d hear something from the visual impairment adviser this week as it’s the second working week back in January. I’ve lost all sense of caring about it because I’ve raised the issue with them so many times and every time all they say is that I’m waiting for this adviser to get back to me. My previous experience with him seems to be proving too true again. I don’t want to be pessimistic about him or the whole situation because, with everything, I’m pretty happy right now. But it is pretty frustrating that I haven’t even had an email from him to apologise and say he’s ridiculously busy with the new recruiting students. I mean, that would irritate me too, seeing as I’ve been waiting like 2 months to hear from him, but at least something would have been welcomed. I feel like I might scream at him if he ever gets back to me, which I know is selfish but I’m pretty fed-up with the whole situation at the moment. How hard can it be to get a published poetry anthology in an accessible format?



On a more upbeat note, with another week passing, I’m thrown ever closer to the start date of K101, my second module. The 6th of February is fast approaching and I’m really looking forward to it. Again, more work will keep me focused and doing something practical with my life. I won’t just be wasting my days watching Jeremy Kyle and reading comical autobiographies when this second module starts. I don’t think I’ll have time to breathe let alone watch daytime  TV. That’s OK, though, because that was all a part of this crazy plan.


The module website for K101 opened on Thursday. I was hoping to be able to see the assignment booklet, study companion and PDF versions of our course materials. I was being far too impatient, apparently, because none of that seems to be available yet. The despach dates for the print materials was 13th of January ready for 30 January. I haven’t received anything yet so will wait patiently. It says on my student profile all about my accessibility requirements so I know they know what I need. Fingers crossed the module starts on a positive note, though, because I don’t want my optimism ruined by accessibility issues. That got me pretty down with my current module so I don’t really want to have to do that again. Apparently, according to a lady I spoke to from the K101 student support team, most if not all of our module materials will be available on the website in accessible formats. So I’m clinging onto what she said and praying she’s right. I don’t fancy another battle of “yes, yes I know you’ve sent me the print copies of the books but unfortunately, due to the fact that I’m registered blind, I can’t see them. Your font 12 isn’t really big enough for me.”. I’m never too sure why they can’t understand that. But I will continue doing my best to be patient and understanding.


Tutorial details aren’t available yet either. I can’t really remember with Aa100 how things worked. It seems so long ago and a whole roller coaster has been ridden since. So much has changed in my life since October and that first month of getting used to how things worked with OU seems such a blur looking back. Hopefully, as I seem to be doing things at a good level with Aa100, when it comes round to starting K101 I’ll start on a good foot. I shouldn’t be anywhere near as clueless as I was starting the first time round, anyway. If not, I’ll just ask my new tutor lots of questions. Hopefully they’re as understanding, helpful and accommodating as my Aa100 tutor has been. When we had our first conversation, the line “well I haven’t really dealt with a blind student before…” kinda terrified me. Now I know she was probably just as terrified as I was and I don’t blame her really. I’m sure my accessibility queries have taught her a thing or two. As long as I haven’t been too much of a pain or burden for her I’ll be happy. She’s been good to me, though, and very eager to understand how things work for me; I’m very grateful for that because she didn’t have to try so hard. I’ve heard of lots of OU students having awful tutors. I think I’d cope alright from now onwards, as I have a fraction of experience in what I’m doing, but I think I definitely would have dropped out if my first tutor had been uncooperative and/or unwilling to try to understand.


So for the next two weeks leading up to the start of K101 I will work hard on Aa100 just so I’m up-to-date with that when my work load doubles. If I’m behind with Aa100 then it’s most likely that progression with K101 will be slow. Our first assessment for that is due in on 25 February, only 19 days after we start the module so I’m hopeful it won’t be anything too long or difficult. Either way, I’ll just have to work flat out on both modules to get everything done. I want this degree, now more than ever, and I don’t intend on letting anything stop me in that aim. I want to prove quite a few people wrong; I want to show that actually, although they thought I’d never do it and it’d be a shambles, actually I can do exactly what I intended. I want to have the degree to wave in their faces and just to be able to say “yeah, I got a degree with the Open University working from home and not letting every other aspect of my life wait for me”. So although quite a few things have changed this week and it’s been a pretty emotional one all round, I feel more empowered and motivated than I ever have to do this thing. I want a decent job, a little place I can call my own with a picket fence and a back garden. I would just like any ordinary life, really, surrounded by the people I love. Seeing as most people want to be mega rich and famous, I’m hopeful that’s not too much to ask.


Open Uni: Week 12

Here we are then, with the Christmas festivities well gone and the New Year’s buzz quickly fading on everyone. Most people went back to work yesterday and the schools, colleges and universities are back by today too, I think. I know my little sister went back to school today, which is great because it means she’s getting on with her education and more importantly out of my hair. The Ou, like every other week, had to be awkward and start back up on a Saturday so our official calendar started back up on the 2nd. It’s quite a shock back into reality starting on a Saturday – and even more so when that Saturday is the day after New Year’s Day – and trying to get your head back into study mode when the Quality Street tub downstairs is still half full and you know for sure there are at least two strawberry creams left. I’m lucky, though, that the only other person who likes them in my family is Cameron and he’s still with his mum, probably raiding her tub for strawberry creams too.


Naturally, I had to be even weirder than that. By the afternoon of New Year’s Day I was bored so decided to start working again. I’d been very fortunate before the Christmas break I gave myself – from the 23rd Dec until 1st Jan – that I actually finished TMA03 completely. If it was to the highest possible standard I could’ve moulded it to is debatable but I was more than happy with my 594 words for Part 1, 600 words for Part 2 and bibliographies for both. The fact that I managed to have it submitted by the afternoon of the 23rd made me very happy because it meant I didn’t have to worry about OU work at all over my break. Of course, with loads of people posting on the Facebook page and wondering what I had to do for the next few TMA’s, it never really left my mind. But I was able to stop work for a while, which is the first time I’ve been able to since starting the course in October. Anyway, the fact that I’d nicely tidied everything up before the Christmas break meant that I could start afresh on Friday. So this week, so far, and the week before the Christmas break, are the material for this post. Obviously, it’s only Tuesday so this week has plenty more time for more work but I didn’t document anything about the work before the break and thought I might as well. This week, on Friday, started with reading the next chapter in the textbook, Chapter 4, which was about the architect Pugin and his want to revive the Roman Catholic churches to a Gothic style. I think that’s right, anyway. The chapter wasn’t very exciting, again, and focused on a lot of religious material, obviously talking a lot about buildings and their designs too. When I signed up for this course, that was also something I wasn’t aware I had to study. But I’m not complaining as I’m not tested on this chapter, thank goodness.


While reminding myself of the next assignment task in the Assignment Booklet, I discovered that Assignment 05 could be difficult to complete as it includes a visual analysis of some sculptural work. However, I think my tutor sent me the alternative task option when I had problems with the first assignment so I’ll talk it through with her over email when it gets closer to that writing time. I have to complete Assignment 04 first and hope Assignment 03 was good enough. I was actually quite pleased with it when I submitted it so hopefully it will grade well. A similar grade to my last assignment’s mark would be really nice but I’m not going to hope too high just in case I’m thoroughly disappointed and the grade is awful. After the hard work I put into it, though, I’d like to think it won’t be too terrible. As well as that, I also took a peak at the remaining assignments – because when Assignment 04 is complete I’m over halfway there! – and found that the last few are considerably longer, starting with 04. They go up to 1700 words, I think, and for 04 I have to compose an essay plan before I write the essay and then submit it with the essay so my tutor can see how I construct my essays. The problem with that, of course, being that I’ve never been a person to plan things through before I write. I just hope for the best as I’m typing that something legible and half decent comes together. Usually, I’m lucky. But with this assignment I’ll have to think harder and write properly; it could be a good way to get a high grade, I guess.


I was also looking at my final assignment for the module, TMA07, which is due in on the 29th of April and is another reflective assignment for us to look back over the tutor’s feedback for all our assignments and document our progress. I was getting a bit worried by the Assignment Booklet and all of the post on Facebook with people panicking they aren’t doing enough to prepare for the assignment. This concerned me as I haven’t started any preparatory work; the only thing I’ve done concerning that assignment is briefly read the section in the Assignment Booklet about it. So I took some time out of reading the Pugin chapter to reread that section with more focus, just in case I needed to take some time this week, which is technically written as another Assignment week, to prepare some material for it. But it looks like we just talk about our progress, struggles, feedback and opinions on how things have gone over the duration of the course. Although the Assignment Booklet and Study Planner clearly show that there is no allotted time to the assignment, I’m not particularly sure what everyone is freaking out about or why it is made such a big deal of. Unless the ETMA suddenly takes up all our time, I’m sure I’ll be able to fit a 750 word reflective commentary in nicely, obviously with the recommended quotations from my tutor. It doesn’t seem like the big deal everyone is making it out to be at the moment.


The only negative I have is that, as of yet, I haven’t heard from the visual impairment adviser about my issues with The Faber Book of Beasts and DVD ROMs. It obviously isn’t a priority of theirs considering the new students they’re currently recruiting, which is understandable I suppose. I’m over the part where I’m angry about the situation because there obviously isn’t going to be any imminent action that actually helps me. My sister has received the print copy of the book and is hopefully going to have it scanned to me as soon as she can, but I’m fully aware that she has her own busy life to juggle as it is so there’s no pressure for the book. When it arrives, I’ll try to set aside some time to read it and complete the textbook chapter, but work for the assignment takes priority. The time when the anthology and the textbook could have been helpful to my work are long gone so it’ll just be for my personal satisfaction and to tick it off on the Study Planner that I bother to read it. Anyway, it’s a part of the course so I want to have done it no matter how pointless it is to do by the time I can.


As I mentioned last time, my second module start date is fast approaching. I went on to its website today to see if there had been any updates and apparently the module website opens on the 14th of January and materials will be despatched to us from the 16th of January. So everything is starting with that very soon. I’m looking forward to starting it a lot, because it’s going to be a very different challenge to Aa100, but I just hope I’ll be able to keep up with the workload and get good scores on my TMA’s. Currently, the website says there are only 5 assignments for K101 and they look a bit more spread out than Aa100 so hopefully I’ll be OK. The only concern I have is that my second TMA for K101 collides with the submission date for my ETMA for Aa100. I’ll just have to allow more focus for Aa100 as the ETMA is more important but make sure the K101 TMA isn’t too shabby. I don’t want to fail at either course and want to show all the people I’ve spoken to on the phone that completing two modules side by side will be fine. I’m not saying it’ll be a breeze, because I’m very sure it’ll be the opposite, but I want to prove I can pass both.


But for now I’m going to crack on with the next chapter in the textbook, on Ireland, and start notes for TMA04. More importantly, I’m going to fill my time up with work, music and Skype before Friday morning dawns and I can finally head up to Hereford for what will be a great weekend. 3 more sleeps!!!

Open Uni: Week 11

Again, I’d hoped for a really productive week where I’d completed everything I could so that I’d have a nice break for Christmas. Apparently, I’m being over ambitious concerning my talents. Not that I haven’t gotten anything done, because I have, but I’m not completely finished in time for Christmas Eve on Thursday.


Firstly, and most importantly, the visual impairment adviser has not phoned back. I haven’t had any contact from the OU this week and really hadn’t been expecting any. I know there are courses that start in the new year so they’re focused on making sure the new students settle in OK. But when it’s a whole book you’re waiting on, or even a conversation to see where you stand, it’s pretty frustrating that there’s been no acknowledgement of the situation. From memory, he only works Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. So I’m not expecting to hear from him next week either considering Christmas Eve is Thursday. If some miracle happens then maybe I’ll get a conversation on Wednesday but it’s not like anything drastic will happen. As a last hope, I’ve brought a print copy of the book and am sending it to my sister to scan into make a Word file. Hopefully, she’ll be able to send an email copy and I’ll be able to read the book. At least then that’ll be done even if the assignment doesn’t take any material from it. Luckily, the Braille copies of the assessed poetry were waiting on my desk when I got home and they are AMAZING! I’m so grateful for them and my sister scanning the book. I think I’d have had some kind of meltdown without their help.


On the academic side of things, I made a better go at Part 1 of TMA03. I have over 500 words worth of essay now so should be able to polish that up by Christmas Eve. It went quite well, actually, until the Christmas spirit set in on Friday and I felt too lazy and disinterested to carry on. Instead, I relaxed on Cameron’s sofa with my I’pad and a good book. But tomorrow or Wednesday I’m going to focus very hard on essay writing and probably spend the rest of the week until Christmas on it. I’d still like to have the majority of TMA03 written up by Christmas so that afterwards I’ve not got to panic too frantically about spending hours thinking of essay material and the correct way to phrase things. Hopefully it’ll just be tweaking at the start of January and it’ll be perfected – or as good as – and submitted on the 7th. It feels like it’s going to be a busy few weeks now up until I start my second module. That’s only 6 weeks away, starting on the 6th of February, which I think is also the deadline for TMA04 of Aa100. I’m also glad about the way I’ve staggered these two modules so that they only have 4 months overlapping time. At least then I’ll be well established in doing things with Aa100 and then will sit my EMA and be able to solely focus on K101 after that. I think doing two modules side by side from the start would have been a nightmare but I’m confident that, as long as there’s not too many accessibility issues, I’ll be just about OK. I think the work load may be a bit of a shcok to the system to begin with seeing as I’ll have been out of college 8 months by then and routine has gone out of the window, but I’m determined right now to study hard and actually get grades from these modules. I don’t want to have to admit defeat at some point and find an alternative. I want to prove that actually I can complete this mission I’ve set myself. I will and can do it, I just have to be patient and dedicated. Anyway, K101 looks really interesting and it’ll be a good contrast to this all-over-the-place module with its varying subjects. It’ll be good to be studying a solid module that isn’t jumping from one subject area to another with no obvious pattern.


Strangely, I’m not sure where all this optimism has come from. It’s very well-known, if you know me or of me, that I’m not an optimist, ever! So why I’m feeling this sudden burst of hopefulness in my bones I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit and the fact that actually I’m not that behind on work and I’ll have a few days off from all of this over the festive season. Or maybe it’s the fact that friends and family are being brilliantly helpful and supportive, even if they don’t really understand what I’m doing or that yes, yes, actually my deadlines are as important as a “normal university’s deadlines”. But anyway, I’m going to try and keep this happy vibe going and fingers crossed things keep running well. Hopefully the scanned version of the book will be good and the visual impairment officer will get back to me so I can complain about their awful service. Even if nothing gets done about the book, at least a complaint can be launched and maybe things will have improved for another student in the future.


But for now MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’ve got my fingers crossed that 2016 will be a good one academically, socially, financially, with good health for everyone I love and with good prospects for times to come.

Open UNI: Week 10

So week 10 wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped it would be. In fact, it wasn’t anywhere near it and I’m not totally sure why that happened. I felt like I struggled to get motivated to do anything despite the fact that I know full well how little time I have to do this next assignment, especially with the Christmas break right around the corner. I think, if this were any other year, that would be the thing I was looking forward to. I’d work flat out on whatever set work I had to complete in time for a nice relaxing festive break. But that’s the problem with OU study. It never really goes away. Even when there are scheduled holidays going on around you, your work is still at the front of your mind, nagging you to get it done or you’ll miss deadline day and consequently fail miserably.


I shouldn’t be feeling like this this week as everything seems to be calming down. Life at home, from what I can tell from down the phone, seems to be balancing itself out and working out a bit fairer for everyone, even if the circumstances still aren’t resolved completely. I got a really high grade on TMA02, which made me really happy after all the effort I put into it. My tutor’s feedback was really uplifting and motivating so why I didn’t take that as my catalyst to work really hard and get loads done this week is beyond me. My grade for TMA02 was 82 marked out of a possible 100. I think that means it’s a distinction in that assignment, which made me smile a lot. Also, after the not amazing but not terrible grade of 59 last time, I was glad I made this one a lot better. I wasn’t penalised for the excess amount of words, just firmly told to try and keep things in the boundaries in future, which is fine because it’s my intention to anyway. I just got fed-up with editing last time. This time, I won’t be so complacent.


So after the good news from my TMA, I tried to crack on with writing my next assignment, the one split into two parts: Part one on the Dalai Lama and Part two on comparing and contrasting poetry. The progress with this was slow until this morning when I sat down with it again. I now have a solid 250+ word start on the Dalai Lama piece. I was also overjoyed to hear, from my mum who collected the parcel, that the Braille copies of the two poems we’re being assessed on so kindly made up and sent to me by the teacher from college have arrived at home. So my plan is to crack on with the Dalai Lama piece as much as humanly possible this week and start the poetry piece as soon as I get home at the weekend. If I motivate myself and work extra hard over the next week and a half, I might even be able to enjoy Christmas without panicking constantly about my assignment and falling behind. With the small start I’ve made so far on the Dalai Lama piece, I’m hopeful I’ll actually be able to achieve this aim and enjoy Christmas with my family.


As well as starting the Dalai Lama part of the assignment, I also finished the chapter on Plato and, for lack of nothing else to do, read the Christianity chapter in Book 2 Tradition and Dissent, which is the scheduled task for this week coming. I didn’t particularly enjoy either chapter, as I’m not really interested in religion or philosophy, but the Plato one was the more interesting out of the two. Some of the philosophies it mentioned made for good reading and contemplation afterwards.


As well as all the academic work, I also managed to get hold of student support to see if they could help with the serious issue I was having concerning the inaccessible PDF. Also, while I was there, I thought I’d mention the DVD ROM situation as that too is a pressing problem. I’ve realised that there seems to be interactive DVD ROMs for quite a few of the chapters in the textbooks, none of which I can access. I felt quite sorry for the guy on the other end of the phone when I first rang up to enquire on Monday afternoon because he really had no idea and said that he’d have to refer me to an academic adviser, whom I had a voicemail from on Thursday as I’d be unavailable (rearranging bedrooms) on Wednesday and then again (in the shower) on Thursday. On Friday I acted upon the voicemail and called them back on the number they’d left for me. The woman I spoke to basically reiterated what the guy on Monday had said – that they couldn’t help me and would have to refer me elsewhere – and said that I’d have to wait for the visual impairment adviser, who I haven’t had a great experience with in in the past, to get back to me to “discuss the situation”. I’m feeling slightly passed the point of discussion but it doesn’t look like I have much choice in the matter. The visual impairment adviser only works part-time, too, so when I’ll actually hear from him I have no clue. Even then, the likelihood of anything actually being resolved swiftly is not very high. Maybe I shouldn’t be being so negative but the situation is worse than frustrating and for once I really wanted this to work.


The fact that I finished both the chapters in the textbook and have done all I can about the accessibility issues means that from now until deadline day TMA03 is all I have to concentrate on. If something is done about The Faber Book of Beasts before January 8th then of course I’ll be reading that too. But studying some poetry will be a nice break from all this stuff I wasn’t actually aware that I had to study in the first place. I’m happy, too, that I’ve made a decent start on the Dalai Lama piece because that means that I have a little less to do or at least a strong starting point to carry on from. Really, I’m not happy with the outcome of Week 9 and especially not of the phone conversations with the support team. The fact that the visual impairment adviser is the only person who can now deal with the query is quite frustrating considering his working hours and my previous experiences with him. To be fair, whenever we’ve had a structured phone conversation the requests I’ve made have actually been fulfilled. So I guess there’s hope in this yet. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, anyway. But right now I could’ve done without the extra stress from the OU and am so unbelievably grateful to the teacher from college who’s sent me those Braille copies of the assessed poetry. They’re gold dust to me and will be treasured and looked after to within an inch of my life. You, who may be reading this, may think I’ve gone crazy. Well if I wasn’t already then yes, yes I have. That’s what this OU course seems to be doing to me anyway. Hopefully the accessibility issues are ironed out soon and it’ll be a little smoother from here on in.


So for the next few weeks all I’ll be doing is TMA03 work. We have 2 weeks scheduled Christmas break from the 19th of this month and then the week beginning 2nd of January is an assessment week dedicated to writing TMA03. So that is that for a while.


PS: just a little disclaimer to say that “I am crazy” was supposed to be the name of this blog but due to my reading skills of the translation that day from my friend, it did not turn out to be “je suis folle”. “Je suis foole” probably means absolutely nothing in French, but “foole” is very close to the English fool, which I definitely am.


PPS: Apologies for any spelling issues or typing errors.


Anyway, thanks for reading!

Open Uni: Week 9

I really hoped that, due to the last few weeks being quite productive, this week would be a success too. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.


Despite the fact that I did manage to submit my TMA right on time, everything else didn’t go according to plan. When looking at what is required of TMA03, I realised that the book that my IT genius friend had to convert himself due to the uni sending an inaccessible copy, was the book I needed for the assignment. Sadly, the PDf version sent by the uni was so messed up that the conversion software didn’t pick everything up properly so the book is in bits, with certain poems missing and words auto corrected to others that have no significance. It’s really annoying, too, because when my tutor contacted the alternative formats team on my behalf, the email I received in response from them was really disappointing and quite frustrating. It basically said that I should just use the DAISY format version that they’d sent ages ago. As I’ve said to loads of people plenty of times before, I’ve never used DAISY before and am not really comfortable with it. I prefer having either hard copies of the files or text files that I can put on my BrailleNote or the laptop with my Braille Display so I can read it myself. The idea of having it read to me in a very annoying slow voice doesn’t really float well with me. Obviously, I’m going to listen to the DAISY recording of the anthology but I’m not confident it’ll help in any way with my TMA or my general studies. I’m really disappointed, to be honest, because I really like poetry. After studying it at A Level and GCSE, it’s something I’m half confident about, which doesn’t happen often, so I’m quite gutted that I may not be able to study this chapter as well as I could’ve if the set book had been accessible. The fact that the alternative formats team pretty much refuse to do anything about it is the most irritating part. They said that the publishers of the book have only provided them with that PDF copy of the anthology and they’re trying their best to get a better version. But that doesn’t really satisfy me, which may seem unfair I guess, but right now that isn’t good enough to solve the problem that poetry week is this week and the assignment is due in on the 8th of January. If they could actually solve it soon, or something was in progress, I’d be a lot happier. But nothing’s happening that will result in anything drastic changing in the next few weeks. If the assignment doesn’t require references from the textbook, then I should be OK because a very kind teacher from my old college is sending me hard copy Braille versions of the 2 poems we’re being assessed on. At least I could make a serious go at writing an assignment on them without battling the chapter in the textbook. But it would have been nice to be able to bring in other poems as comparisons and contrasts to the 2 I’ve been assessed on to bulk out the assignment a little bit more. It adds to to the skills I’m using in the essay and might even bump my score up a bit higher. So I’m just going to do  my absolute best with what I’ve got. Hopefully, I’ll figure out a way to read the poetry anthology in some form of Braille. For once, I’m actually kinda excited about a chapter and of course it happens that that chapter is the inaccessible one.


As well as battling wit the alternative formats team this week about the anthology, I also came across the fact that I have no idea how to use DVD ROMs, and that for the Plato chapter that was this week’s focus, I had to use them in conjunction with the chapter. I contacted my tutor about this, too, and she said she passed it on to the disability services team, whom I haven’t heard a word from. So I’m behind on work. Not only am I going to struggle with the poetry section, but the Plato chapter looks as if it might be a little bit of a disaster too. If I don’t get an answer from the disability support services tomorrow, I’m going to take some advice from someone on the Facebook page and call the computing help desk. I’ve never spoken to them before but hope they might have some sort of answer. If that fails, I’ll ring disability services myself and find out what’s going on. While I’m there, I can ask about the PDF or text-based versions of the anthology. Maybe I’ll get some answers that mean I can move on with my studying. I don’t like this feeling of being behind and not being able to do much about it.


Anyway, other than the negativity of this week, I did submit my TMA on time, like I mentioned. It was still over the word limit by 83 words so I might get penalised for that but I was really happy with the reconstructed essay and felt that if I took more sentences out ans shortened others down by erasing words, then it would then become a waffling load of nonsense like the original draft in the first TMA. I was quite proud of the amount of words and rubbish I deleted from the essay, anyway, because it started at 1125 words and I got it down to 583. When I first started editing it, after receiving my feedback, I never thought I’d submit an essay that I was proud of. I did everything the assignment booklet recommended: pasted the original essay with tutor’s comments; the form with tutor’s feedback; the new draft of the original essay; and my reflective commentary on how I’d edited and improved the essay according to the tutor’s feedback. The only worry I have is that my tutor will say I didn’t really edit the essay using her feedback, rather edited it to what I wanted it to be. That is true, to a point, because the original essay was awful and I knew I wanted to make it better. But the tutor’s feedback and suggestions were what enabled me to know how to improve it. Whether it’s an improvement in the tutor’s eyes is up to her but I feel it’s a lot better than the original. If I was allowed a lot more words, I think my 1125 word essay would have been an even better improvement on the original. Although, saying that, quite a bit of that was waffle and repetition. I juggled the original essay about quite a bit and I don’t think it even resembles what it once was. I feel that’s for the best, though, considering the lower grade I got for the original.


I received an email from my tutor this evening saying that she was hoping to have our marks back to us by the end of the week, which is earlier than her allowed time. I’m pretty chuffed about that as it means I’ll be able to review her marks, decide how I feel about that TMA and then put it in a box so I can concentrate on TMA03. As I felt more confident with this submission, I’m hoping TMA02 will bring in a better score than the first and TMA03 can be even better than that.


TMA03 is split into 2 parts – like TMA01 was – part 1 on the Dalai Lama and part 2 on the poetry. I’ve started making notes on the Dalai Lama section and wrote 2 sentences as an introduction for my essay. Hopefully, I’ll be able to crack on with that section if nothing else happens this week. I’d like to get it done as soon as possible so that I can focus all my time over the festive period and the time leading up to submission deadline on the poetry section. Although, I’d like to think a poetry essay will come together quite quickly as soon as the Braille versions of the assessment poems are available to me. If things go really well, I may even have time to revisit my Dalai Lama essay afterwards to touch it up and make minor improvements where I find errors or weak points. I don’t feel that confident about the Dalai Lama essay but hopefully it goes well. If not, maybe the poetry essay will be that good that it bumps the bad Dalai Lama mark up higher.


So this week I hope to crack on with textbook studies, with or without the poetry anthology and DVD ROMs, and work hard on making my Dalai Lama notes into a coherent essay. I will also contact my tutor about the parts of TMA03 I’m not sure about and ask her to chase up the situation with alternative formats and disability support. If they’ve got both of us gunning at them about the same issues something is more likely to happen about them. I’m staying at Cameron’s this week so hopefully not having the distractions of home will be an advantage for studying here. My ultimate hope would be that by the end of the week I’ve caught up with all my work and am no longer behind. But I’m not holding out my hopes for that one. I’ve already missed 3 days of this week and a lot of last week. Admittedly, last week’s missed working time was due to the fact I was too busy trying to sort out the accessibility issues stopping me from completing set work and battling through the problems currently occurring at home. A lot of people would say that I should probably put my degree before my home life but sometimes certain things happen and they have to come first. Family will always come first to me, especially when a member of that family who I care about very much and love unconditionally has been hurt through no fault of her own. They need me right now, a whole lot more than I need to be flying ahead and doing really well in this course.

Open Uni: Week 8, my adventurous week

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.

Open Uni: Week 7

Just like last week, this week was a really productive week too. It started on Monday when I received my TMA results. I got 59 out of 100, which, thankfully, is a pass. I was so glad it was a pass. It wasn’t a significant pass, just one that scraped me through. But when I think about that, it doesn’t matter because it’s a pass anyway which is a great start to the course for me. It means that I’m not doing everything wrong. Even if there was a lot of notes scrawled across my work and the score was quite low, the notes were really constructive and helpful and the lower score made me want to do better next time.

As I’d predicted, it was the Cezanne that cost me the most marks. Really, both essays received a lot less marks than I would have liked, but the Cezanne was the lowest. Naturally, that was the essay my tutor decided she wanted me to revisit. So I started there and then on Monday, thoroughly reading my tutor’s comments in the body of the essay itself and then on the big comments sheet. Mostly, it looked as if I need to back all of my points up with references and bulk out the essay more. Of course,I already knew that because the essay was barely a skeleton of what it should’ve been and I just gave up with it too soon because I didn’t understand the art stuff. Now I realise that I don’t even need to understand the art stuff, not really. The textbook gives me everything I need to say. With my tutor’scomments and a lot more notes, I managed to pad the essay out to a 1125 words. I’d just carried on writing and editing and not bothered with worrying about the word count because I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near it despite the fact that I was already on 454 words. To be fair, I did take almost 75% of the original essay out, rewriting it or dumping the point altogether. It turns out my Cezanne essay was a lot more rubbish rambling than I thought. Consequently, most of it needed to be ditched and I needed to seriously concentrate on making it a lot better, which, in the 1125 words, I think I managed. Of course, when I realised the word count was that high, I was pretty gutted. I was really happy with the essay I’d shaped and didn’t want too change it. But the word limit is 500 words so clearly I needed to edit and delete a lot more of it. So I spent about 45 minutes just swapping words about and taking out rubbish to shrink it down. It’s now hanging around the 800 word mark and at some point this week I’m going to take the time to sort it out a bit more.

As well as working on my next assignment, I also had to complete the tasks on my study planner which included reading Chapter 6 entitled “The Diva”. I had no idea what this was about before reading it but soon realised it followed the stories of three very different musical artists. Madonna was the first so I knew a little bit about her. But the opera singer and the three female sopranos were knew territory to me. I don’t think I understood all of it, but got the gist of what it was trying to teach me. We were supposed to listen to performances by these artists but I have to be honest and say I didn’t listen to any of them. The songs by Madonna on the CD that we were set I’d heard before but I didn’t get round to the opera singer’s day at operatic school or the other singers stuff. I read all the written sources in the book, though, and it seems as if all of the women were highly talented and appreciated for their respective eras and all had quite a lot of fame. I have to say that this chapter wasn’t one of my favourites. After redoing my notes on Cezanne this week, reading the Stalin last week and the Christopher Marlowe chapter previous to that, I definitely didn’t enjoy “The Diva” as much as those. But I felt like I’ve really got into the swing of things, reading the chapters, trying to remember to take notes, do the activities and then work on whatever else I have to complete, like the TMA. The result I had from TMA01 gave me that added boost of confidence to strive to do well. If I work hard and try my best, I might actually be able to get somewhere with this course, actually pass the qualification each year. Obviously, it’s a little too early to say yet if this ambitious streak will continue or even if I’ll carry on to pass the next TMA. But for once in my life I’m hopeful.

So although I didn’t complete all of the activities on the study planner, I felt like I really did well this week, focusing hard on the chapter in the textbook and working hard on the rewrite of my TMA. Next week, which is now a day into this week really, I have to do the chapter on the Dalai Lama, all the activities on the study planner and sort my TMA out as much as I can. It has to be handed in at the end of next week, I think. I’m at home this week so have to battle with the dog and everything that’s going on here. It’s been a tough weekend all round so I’m hoping I’m not too drained to focus this week because I’d really like to keep my momentum up. I’ve enjoyed feeling like I’m actually doing something positive. I’d be worried if I can’t work as well here as I can at Cameron’s. I have my desk here and the TV on low depending on what’s on and everything set up. But of course I also have the dog howling relentlessly downstairs and No matter how many times I let him out into the garden, bring him back in and retreat upstairs, he doesn’t stop. There still seems to be nothing I can do to silence him to allow me to work productively. I seriously think that soon we really will have to consider rehoming him because he’s just a nightmare and I really can’t cope with him during the day with his barking and he worsens the headache and hatred in the evenings by never sitting down. The constant clicking of his claws on laminate flooring adds to my tiredness and it worries me because at some point, if this carries on, I just won’t be able to work here and I need to be here because this is my home and I have everything here. Not that I don’t enjoy staying at Cameron’s, because I absolutely love it there, but I also enjoy being here when the dog isn’t winding me up and it’s not tense. So I’m hopeful that at some point the dog situation will be solved and I’ll be able work hard to carry on getting passes. I’ll let you know, anyway.

Open Uni: Week 6

I can’t actually believe I’m 6 weeks into my course. It’s crazy where these 6 weeks have gone while I’ve tried to get to grips with the OU and how it works. But here I am, 6 weeks in and cruising through the set work. I’m not actually sure how well I’m doing as I haven’t received my TMA back yet but I’m patiently waiting to find out.There’s been a few students on the Facebook group getting their results so I’m hopeful I’ll get mine soon.

I think this week has been the most productive week I’ve had so far studying. Apparently sitting on my fiance’s mum’s sofa in their living room with my laptop or Apex is working a lot better than my nicely set up work station desk at home. This is slightly confusing and annoying because I put a lot of work into that desk and sorting my room out for study. But whatever works, I suppose. I guess it just goes to show that the stresses of being at home on my own with the stupid dog really have a negative impact on my studies.

I’m up-to-date! I think this is the first time in several weeks that I’ve actually been up-to-date with OU study. I’ve lacked motivation in previous weeks or have just been too tired to care. That’s not a good attitude, I know, so this week I tried to sort that out. I tackled the Doctor Faustus book fiercely, managing to read it in 2 days. I also did the chapter in the textbook on Doctor Faustus and listened to the audio version of the play online. Because my speaker volume for media things was kinda messed up, I didn’t manage to do this very well but as there’s no assignment on Doctor Faustus I’m not going to worry about it for now. If I have to revisit Doctor Faustus for any reason I’ll try to do it then. I also tried to complete an online activity that went outside of the OU website to the Oxford English Dictionary website. Apparently, there’s a biography of Christopher Marlowe on there that we’re supposed to read but the stupid website wasn’t cooperating – or maybe I was being the stupid one – so I’ve decided to leave that for later as well. The brilliant thing about the study planner is that it has almost all of the study materials attached to the week you’re supposed to complete them in so all you have to do is click on them and you can view and complete them there and then. As well as this, each activity has a check box that you can tick each time you’ve completed an activity. I think it’s mostly to track your progress but it also gives me a rewarding feeling each time I tick off an activity because it means I’ve completed another tiny step towards my degree, or at least this module. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Doctor Faustus, despite all the good things I’ve heard about it, so was pleasantly surprised when I did. It took me a while to get used to the layout on the Apex of the play and I may have not understood everything about the play but I’m convinced I definitely got a relatively good understanding of it.

Not only did I do the Faustus stuff, but I also completed the chapter on Stalin, which, although he is one of the world’s worst leaders, was actually quite educational and enjoyable. It took me back to my GCSE History days at school, where we studied Stalin, Russia, the Revolutions, Lenin, Trotsky and all that stuff quite in depth. Our massive controlled assignment was on the Bolsheviks and I remember being terrified at the time that I wasn’t going to be able to make 2000 words and coming out of it wishing I’d had more words. That particular controlled assignment was a bugger, though, and I remember being massively grateful when it was finished and I’d handed a print-out of it to my teacher for the final time. Needless to say, I got a B in GCSE History overall, which I’m still massively proud of really. The Stalin chapter was a pleasant reminder of those days, which at the time I didn’t appreciate very much. Doing work on Russia first thing on a Monday and Wednesday morning wasn’t the highlight of my school days. But this chapter was quite enjoyable, especially as I had it done in 3 hours and have actually retained some of the information from it.

This week, I have to complete a whole host of activities on a subject entitled “The Diva”. Because I’m a very terrible student, I haven’t looked into any of it yet so have no idea what it’s about or what it entails. But hopefully I can keep up last week’s momentum and complete all this work like I’m supposed to as well. I should get my TMA back as well so will try my best to crack on with TMA02, which focuses on reflecting on TMA01 and improving one part of it with my tutor’s guidance. If I get a good grade then this shouldn’t be too difficult. On the other hand, I wasn’t too confident with the work I submitted so that’s not likely. AS long as she doesn’t want me to amend the Cezanne part everything will be OK. I really don’t want to go back over that painting stuff! It was pretty painful the first time round so revisiting it doesn’t seem like the wisest idea to me. But I’ll just have to see what she says.

Overall, I really think this week has been a really positive and productive week – like I said, the most productive I’ve had so far. I suppose that reflects in the tone of this piece and how short it is, too. Usually, I’ve got lots to complain about but as this week has been relatively smooth and enjoyable, there’s no need to rant about anything because there’s nothing worth ranting about. Apart from the minor technical hiccups with my computing illiteracy, everything has been good. Keep your fingers crossed that the weeks to come are as good for me, please? 🙂

Open Uni: Week 5

I started this week mostly thinking where I was taking my degree, what my actual plans for the future are. Like a lot of 18-year-olds, I have not a clue. I still know that I want employed work one day – I don’t just want to be another blind statistic, sat on my arse at home watching Jeremy Kyle, ordering takeaway, drinking several pints of alcohol to cope through the day and going to bed that evening happy with that outcome, probably because my brain’s too melted by fast food, alcohol and shit TV that what I have actually seems like an achievement. I’m talking about the blind people who haven’t even tried, who failed most of their GCSE’s, didn’t bother with further education and haven’t tried since. If they’ve actually done something, anything that a potential employer can look upon as an attempt, then at least they’ve got that, at least they tried that once. I can’t be one of them. I want my own home, family, pets and all the other seemingly luxurious pleasures that come with adult life. Most people take them for granted every day, not knowing how lucky they are to have their own funded roof over their head, three terror children running around after them and a kitchen that’s always well stocked with food and working appliances. They probably left school with a good amount of grades, went and did an NVQ course that qualified them in some profession and then got snapped up by an employer and have been working happily ever since. Fair enough, if that’s what they had to do to get that lifestyle then that’s great. But I just wish our current society and economy allowed people with any kind of disability to do that too. Why can’t we get an NVQ in hairdressing and get a permanent job immediately after we’re qualified? Oh yes, because blind people can’t cut or style hair. It’s a health and safety risk and no customer would put their hair and safety in the hands of a blind person with a pair of scissors. I can’t blame them, of course, because I’d be fatally dangerous with a pair of scissors but it’s just saddening and frustrating that it’s not so easy for us. If you’re middle aged and needing a career change, looking for a new job, all you have to do is study a little qualifying course, pass and either get employed or start up your own business. I’m not sure it’d be so simple for someone like me, probably because I’m far too negative, or maybe because I’m realistic? Either way, it’s unlikely. I’m not saying impossible, because I don’t like the definite in that word, but I don’t know that many people right now happily in employment.

However, this was not meant to be a rant or a whinge about society and letting my most miserable feelings about employment flow out. I need to be more positive and hopeful, I know that, so I’ll stop going on about it now. Maybe I’ll finish this degree, collect my qualifications and be snapped up like that. I’d love that. But obviously I’m very happy to work that little bit harder just to get someone to recognise that actually, yeah, that blind girl’s got a degree and A Levels and study experience, maybe she’d actually be worth looking at twice after all.

So after my long and rather painful consideration of the future, I actually decided that it was time to get down and do some work. I’ve made a healthy start on reading Doctor Faustus this week. Really, that’s the only academic study I’ve managed to do this week, mostly because I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of other stuff but partially because the stupid text is so difficult to keep up with on the Apex. Where it has been converted on the Apex from PDF to Word file, it hasn’t really got the layout right. The character’s names don’t coordinate with the text they speak properly so I have to do a bit of guess work and this particular version of the text has guidance notes, exam-style practice questions for GCSE and language clarifications thrown in all over the place. They pop up wherever they like, pretty much, disrupting the text and flow of the play. Also, the page numbers appear randomly and the line numbers just turn up in the middle of lines. It’s quite confusing and has taken me a while to get used to. I know that all of this is just the way the Apex converts it and how the printed version hasn’t really been adapted at all for Braille users, whom seem very few to the OU. The fact that I use Braille seems like an alien concept to all of them, even the alternative formats team and disability support services. I find this quite strange, but suppose it’s because most people stick with screen readers and scanners these days, which is possibly a cheaper way to do it. I’d feel really lazy if I didn’t have Braille. To me, if I’m using a screen reader to listen to a text or a book or anything that needs reading, I feel like I’m cheating; I’m not really reading it myself, I’m having it read to me. Now of course for people who haven’t or can’t learn Braille or simply prefer this method for whatever reason, that’s fair enough and I’m not saying they’re lazy. I’m just saying that I feel lazy if I’m not reading things myself, the way I was taught to read. Despite all of this, Doctor Faustus actually seems like a really good play. I’m hoping that at some point I’ll be able to listen to the audio versions of the play that OU have provided and that might give me a better understanding of what’s going on than my broken up text has. I’m about 30% of the way through the play, which according to the study planner means I’m behind, but I’m enjoying it so far.

As well as the Aa100 stuff, with advice from one of my lecturers at college who I’m in touch with, I decided to look at taking another module this academic year. I found that most modules that start in the January/February intake end around September time, which means that I’ll finish it just after the end of this academic year. The plan at that point was to fight through and get two modules done in this academic year, so a lot before September, so that I could apply to regular uni, taking my credits with me, and hopefully start in the second year of a degree there. If I had to start over then that was OK too because at least it meant I’d have finished a degree in 4 years rather than 6 with the OU. Although this seemed like a nice idea, when I looked at the modules, like I said, none of them finish in time for that plan. So, for now at least, I’ve decided it’s safer and better if I carry on with the OU. Just because this module had a rough start and I still don’t know where I stand with life, it doesn’t mean more modules would be a waste of time and painful like this one has been so far. After a long hunt through the OU’s suggested second first level modules for the BA/BSC Open Degree, I decided on a Health and Social Care module, primarily because the other Arts and Humanities one looked awfully boring and secondly because I really like the look of it and it was the only social care-type module that didn’t require previous or a placement experience of working in a care setting. As well as this, if I pass it, I also get a recognised Health and Social Care qualification, which is a good help in getting into social care settings of work. It is another 60 credit module, which means if I pass both Aa100 and it by September I’ll have completed enough credits for my first level of university study, so I will have done the first year of a degree. I also think that K101 (the Health and Social module) opens up a list of other modules I can take for the second level of degree study alongside the arts and humanities stuff that will also be offered due to the fact that I’ll have done Aa100. At least then if the arts and humanities options are a bit bleak I’ll have a second branch to go from. I’ve been warned by several staff members that doing two modules together is a lot of hard work and dedication. But I think I can do it with the motivation that if I don’t, that’s another year of study added on to complete the degree. I’d like it done in as few years as possible, really, so that it doesn’t drag on forever and so that I can carry on with the rest of my life earlier. Anyway, I’m not doing much with my time so more studying is a good thing.

The second module starts in February so I had to sort Student Finance out quickly. I was worried I’d have a big problem with my loan but it was so much simpler than I’d thought. All I had to do was talk to a nice Scottish man from Student Finance on the phone and then talk to a member of staff from the OU and it was sorted. Apparently, my record is updated automatically and the extra money is requested from SFE, who just have to approve it by getting verification from the OU that I’m actually studying the course like I’ve said I am. It’s as simple as that! And next year’s application process is apparently a lot easier and more straightforward than the first application was because I’ve already applied and have previously had verification from the university. That cheered me up because applying this year had been a pain.

I’m really looking forward to starting K101 because it looks a lot more interesting and gripping than Aa100 is. Although I’m enjoying reading the texts and doing the analysis, I’m looking forward to something that has a bit more real-life to it. I’ll have case studies and documentaries on real-life cases and I’ll learn how to evaluate them and all of the social work values and guidelines. I think it’s going to be much better experience and a more interesting subject. Also, I very much enjoyed my AS Health and Social Care course at college so am hoping this one will be as good. Role on K101!

In the meantime, I have to knuckle down with Aa100. I really need to finish the Faustus stuff soon so that I can start on Stalin, which is the chapter for this week on the study planner. I don’t want to become behind, especially as I’ll soon have a second module to contend with. Today was the first day I’ve studied at my fiance’s house, where his mum’s sofa has become my study area, containing whatever’s on my lap. I felt that I did well for a Sunday, spending 2 hours reading Doctor Faustus. I’m really glad to learn that his gaming doesn’t interrupt me. The only disturbances have been the football scores coming through on my phone. I’m sad to report that Klopp’s unbeaten reign was short-lived. On the note of football, though, everyone is expecting miracles from him the moment he stepped into Anfield and it just wasn’t going to happen. Liverpool need patience and nurture, one of which their fans aren’t very good at. But with time and new players coming through, I have no doubt they’ll be winning again. Anyway, as he said before, it’s not the end of the world that we lost today, there’s always another game.

So, this week I have to seriously crack on with Faustus, try to fit in all of the Stalin stuff and wait excitedly for the results of my first TMA from my tutor. I was happy to have submitted it on Wednesday last week, despite the fact that I didn’t think I’d done that well, because the next TMA is a reflection assignment so hopefully I can take the tutor’s advice and make it a lot better. Anyway, it was the first assignment so it was never going to be perfect, especially as comparing paintings was involved. I don’t think that’s ever going to be my strong point. Overall, though, I’m happy with my progress with this module and proud of the fact that I’ve actually made a decision for once and am going to stick with the OU. It might not have been the most thought through decision and maybe it’ll backfire in my face, but right now it seems to be the right path to take, especially as I’m coping a lot better than I was. To all the people who keep encouraging me no matter how down and defeatist I am, thank you because you’re what made me make the spontaneous – but I think brilliant – move to sign up for a second module and work my hardest on this one. I’m no quitter and the OU are certainly not going to change that habit of a lifetime 🙂

Open Uni: Week 4

This week, overall, has been a little more productive than maybe last week was. Again, just like every week, I had my rubbish down days. But there were also the good days, just like last Monday when I received an email from my tutor telling me that the alternative formats team had actually listened to what I’d been saying for the last month and decided that they would put the set books in PDF as I’d originally been told I could have. Apparently, my fuss-making has changed the way they view things and they are going to make all the materials for the course more widely available in PDF. Although PDF isn’t my preferred format choice by miles, it’s so nice to hear that they actually took notice of what I was telling them and did something about it. It’s also nice to have all of my module materials in PDF rather than needing to worry that I’d have to listen to the awful droning DAISY audiobooks if I wanted to actually read the set books. I’m a week out due to the fact that I couldn’t listen to Doctor Faustus on DAISY but have started reading the PDF version and although I’m massively confused I’m glad I’m making a good start at least.

It is assessment week this week and my first assessment is due in on Friday. Although I’m not totally happy with it, I feel I’ve done a decent job with the Cleopatra and as good a job I can do on the Cezanne. I don’t understand the art side of things at all where tone, lighting, modelling and all the other technical terms they’ve mentioned are concerned. It’s actually quite saddening that for the first time ever, I can’t really do the art thing like everyone else, even with the adaptations I’ve had to the assessment question. If ever I couldn’t complete the task before now, the teacher would make an alteration to it which meant I could complete it. My work would be different to everyone else’s, of course, but at least I’d actually have a completed piece. With this, the assignment is barely finished and doesn’t touch the specified word count, which I suppose the Cleopatra makes up for as it exceeds it, and I’ve basically waffled through the whole thing, hoping it makes sense in the process. After reading it back, I’m not really at all happy with it but I suppose it’s better to submit some rubbish work instead of no work at all. Maybe that’s not the approach I should have but something’s better than nothing, right? Anyway, I’ve been told countless times that the tutors aren’t expecting perfect pieces of work for the first assessment. We’re supposed to improve as we progress and I’m hopeful I can do that too. I wish I was submitting better essays, though, because, as I mentioned last time, my essay skills were one of the few things I was actually good at so submitting scrappy pieces doesn’t feel right to me. Hopefully for TMA02 I can do better. It’s an improvement and evaluation of your own work with the tutor’s comments kind-of piece,anyway, so maybe I’ll actually be good at that.

Last week, I finished off the Cezanne tasks, wrote the essay I now have as my second part to my TMA, edited the Cleopatra assignment, wrote the bibliographies for both assignments and started Doctor Faustus, as well as converting all the PDF’s into text. There was one PDF that wouldn’t convert on my Apex so I was very lucky that my awesome IT genius best friend was able to solve the issue to a decent degree for me though. The PDF version of Doctor Faustus is quite difficult to follow with there being notes intertwined with the body of the text but it’s nowhere as bad as listening to that voice on the DAISY version.

This week, I intend to get both essays polished up, submit them, read Doctor Faustus, hopefully listen to the audio version of the play, read the chapter in the textbook on Marlowe and prepare for next week. It seems like a packed out week even though it’s supposed to be our assessment week where there’s no activities scheduled on the calendar. But I don’t mind because I’d rather get it done. I’m a little busy with a haircut tomorrow, an ESA assessment on Thursday, packing on Friday and then traveling down to my fiance’s on Saturday. I’m staying there for six weeks before coming home here for Christmas and the new year. I’ll have to get used to studying down there without my desk and chair and hopefully without costing his mum a fortune in electricity!

I’ve been advised this week that if I want to swap courses to a different university and degree, the best thing to do would be to complete another module with the OU so that I have 120 credits, the equivalent of a first year of normal university study. That seems reasonable to me but I don’t really know what other module to study and if I can get it completed in time for September study at a regular university. I don’t understand the details of the transition process and am not really sure who to contact about that but think I’ll chat to my tutor about it when I get a chance. Maybe it is possible to do. But really I’m still not one-hundred percent sure what I want to do next year, whether that be more OU, a different uni or something completely different. I feel like I’m in the same position I was last year only I’m doing a module already. It seems to me to make sense to stay with the OU now I’m with them but I don’t want it to take six years to complete a degree or to have this much hassle every time with module material formats. But, like everything else, I guess I’ll just have to figure that one out, and soon.