The turn of another Open University year

I am sometimes confused for being younger than I am, in looks and how I act. But I feel every one of my 27 years and more, in fact I take a sort of perverse pride in being a young fogey, having quite old music taste and just generally breaking the mould in what people expect of twentysomethings, or people generally sometimes. Often people ask what I’m studying, somehow getting a student sort of vibe off me. I am of course studying for a degree in history from the Open University but it’s not the main thing I do in my life.

Sometimes my studying gets neglected because of one thing or another. There are days when I can’t face opening my books, when getting lost in the Internet, writing or going off somewhere on a bus appeals more. Luckily, as I’ve written here before, I tend to do a lot of my best studying sitting on buses and trains. A lot of my best thoughts have come either while out walking or in transit, scribbled into a notebook. More than once, assignments have been written on the hoof, submitted on returning home.

For me, writing assignments is often a rushed process, with the process of research, planning, composition, referencing and submission done within a period of a couple of days, even a few hours when my back is really against the wall. Strangely, my last assignment, the first for my current module, A223 Early modern Europe, received the best mark I’ve ever had in a second level module and some of the best comments I’ve had ever. Yet it was written in just shy of four hours, sat right here on my bed with my laptop on my knees. Submission is usually a massive weight off my shoulders, a sense of peace and contentment rushing over me as the pile of papers and notes can go for recycling and the assignment wends its way across cyberspace into my tutor’s inbox. Often I couldn’t care less about the mark. It’s the getting it done. The mark is just a bonus, in a lot of cases.

I was like that with my last module’s final grade, which was quite a good one, let’s say. Getting the revision done and then the exam was just a huge relief, it was done and over and done with. I was confident I had passed but didn’t really care exactly what I got. The grade was a shock because I felt I hadn’t put everything I had into the module as a whole but yet I had done well. Sometimes it just comes down to that burst of work and being jammy. What the Proclaimers once described as ‘with a faith and a bit of luck, and a half-tonne bomb in the back of a truck’.

This year, I have 12 days off over Christmas and New Year. Some of them I have plans to go see the Hibs, others will naturally involve family, presents and the like. I have to have a clear out as I have too much stuff (I am not even joking – I don’t kid when I say I don’t want anything, especially books) but I hope to spend at least a day or two catching up with A223 and getting myself up to speed for the New Year. The course calendar generously specifies this week and next week as the Christmas break but I will quietly ignore that. I plan to relax and read and reduce my formidable to-read pile but studying is a major priority. I honestly enjoy studying and get a lot of satisfaction from it. I just need to structure it into my life better. But then again my studying successes this year have come from keeping my back against the wall so I may have to be careful about being too good.

2016 has been a good year for me personally, if not so much for the world. Two of the four major things I wanted to happen in my life in its current phase have happened, one in the last couple of days, the other on 21st May, plus my family has grown too. 2017 will hopefully see me put one of those major things into practice and also finish this OU module. Next September I will hopefully embark on a level 3 module, the first of two that will lead me to a degree, with any luck just prior to my 30th birthday in 2019. In the meantime, though, there is some solid work to be done first, a few more rushed TMAs and hopefully some shocks at what I can achieve when I have a hard deadline heavily on my horizon, with more than a few good intentions to work more consistently while I’m at it.


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