Let’s go round again: another OU module starts

Next weekend, my new OU module starts, just shy of three weeks since the last one finished. A longer break would have been lovely but this is the way it’s going to go this time. This module is a second-level module so it will take over my life a bit more plus it is straight history again rather than the interdisciplinary malarkey of A105 Voices, texts and material cultures, with linguistics, literature, philosophy and religious studies joining history. TMA 06 is still quite fresh in my mind. I got exceedingly grumpy writing about the philosophy of displaying human remains and it ended up becoming quite joyous, ripping the piss out of philosophy, which I always think is a discipline better suited to earnest people in pubs than relating to actual real life. But it’s done. As a module, it had its moments. Groupwork is fine but the wiki process was just irritating. I prefer to work with people in person when I can read their body language (or try to). Plus some of the chapters could have done with a good editor. That aside, it wasn’t too bad. Some of it was genuinely interesting, particularly the sections on early printing and linguistics, which I wrote about for the exam, and at some point, I will have to read more into them. It might need to wait a few years, mind.

The new module is called A223 Early modern Europe, society and culture, 1500-1780. To be honest, I haven’t done much reading so far, partly because I was busy finishing A105 and also due to thinking about other things. Procrastination hasn’t happened yet, though I fear it is coming. I practise procrastination to an Olympian level. It isn’t for nothing that a lot of course book chapters get read sitting on buses or trains. The last module I could get away with that. A second-level module is a fair bit harder. When I did A200 (Exploring history: 1400-1900) a few years ago, I spent many afternoons sitting in the Central Library in Edinburgh and I remember working through a section about slavery, which is fascinating, and about to throw it out of the window because part of the chapter involved working with statistics. I was working in the Edinburgh Room of the Central Library which is about six storeys above the Cowgate. What a confetti those papers would have made as they fell to earth. But I didn’t.

Doing an OU degree is hard. I already gave up once. But not this time. The reason I got back into finishing my degree was because I wanted an intellectual challenge. A lot of my life is challenging. I’m autistic and I do a job which at times can be hard dealing with people. But there was a part of my brain that wasn’t getting stretched and I recognised that studying was how I could stretch it. I was walking around the Mitchell Library one day last autumn thinking about how much I wanted to study again. But how to do it? Then luckily I could work it out that I could finish my OU degree and so in January I started A105. Shockingly for me, I have a sort-of plan. If I keep to it, my degree will be done in June 2019, just shy of my thirtieth birthday. After this module there’s two more after that then it’s done. I prefer to look at it that way than thinking that right now I am half-way through.

More than once during A105, I thought about giving up again. I am sure during A223, that will happen too. It is worth it, though. It is like opening the wardrobe door into Narnia. It’s better than watching Coronation Street, much, much better. I have a lot of things going on in my life and being able to turn into a student in my quiet moments helps. I have two jobs and a lot of people seem to be around me. I do the OU bit, at least at the moment, entirely alone, dealing with my tutor occasionally and maybe other students now and then, but it’s mainly me sitting with my laptop and a book getting it all done. My ideal time is a Sunday morning in many ways. Waking up before 8 is good, being able to sit while the world is quiet and do some work. I tend to write then too but often it is a good OU time when I can just blitz through. Luckily I have other mornings in the week when I can work but sometimes a lie in is just what needs to happen.

There will still be a fair bit of travelling going on. It is one of a few things that keep me sane, to be honest, just as the OU is both sanity-enducing and depleting it at the same time. Invariably, I will be sitting on buses and trains the length and breadth of the country making notes from a textbook, being a silent traveller and a student at the same time, with a degree of pressure coupled with the relief of actually getting the work done. That emotional state pretty much sums up the OU experience and probably the next few years studying-wise. A wee bit of guilt, that’s the stuff.


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