Smiling Clare

Living Life, Within the Limits of Chronic Illness

Category: My Open University Journey Page 3 of 16

A Challenging Start

The start of this module hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. Not only is it different to any Open University module I have previously encountered but my health hasn’t exactly been playing ball.

Virus after virus, a flare up of shingles and another virus have resulted in a ‘blip’ (I’m hoping not a relapse) which has meant at times an hour’s study a day has led to total exhaustion for the rest of the time.

Trying to come up with a suitable project topic, then make a project plan and start on some project work has been immensely challenging to say the least. There have been times I’ve come ever so close to packing it all in and giving up on my degree. It’s just seemed too difficult, too stressful and at times I’ve wondered why I’m doing this?

But with the help of my family, friends and tutor I’ve found a suitable topic, I’m feeling slightly less stressed about it and have decided to stick at it. After all if you never try you’ll never know what you can achieve.

The trouble with having such limited energy, struggling to come up with a solid project idea until quite late in the day and generally being so unwell all the time is it leaves you very little time to start on project work and complete the first TMA. As I have discovered. I’ve pretty much had two of the four weeks available to actually start some work and complete the TMA; the other two were spent trying to come up with a decent idea and being too unwell to even consider studying! That’s with me pushing through the tail end of viruses, something I shouldn’t do as it risks delaying recovery but if I hadn’t I’d have had less time to complete the work.

It’s been quite a palava getting everything done in time as it is. My self-imposed time limits don’t help matters either; I like my assignments in a few days early to be sure I don’t miss the deadline due to losing my internet connection or whatever! As usual I’ve managed to submit a few days early but I’m not sure I’ve done enough to get a decent mark, which is why I’m relieved it’s ‘only’ worth 5% of my overall grade for the module. However I’d rather get a decent mark since every little counts especially when you never know what’s round the corner health wise!

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Preparing for TM470

Well it’s almost that time again; new year new module! This will be my penultimate module of my degree!! This one’s rather different to my previous modules as there’s next to no learning materials since it’s an individual project on a subject of your choosing.

Preparing for this project is proving more difficult than usual. Not only am I fighting another decline in health (after a period of improvement it’s plummeted again!) but due to the nature of this module and a change in household routine since I last studied it’s proving hard to know where to start.

I’ve started reading through the resources provided on the module website and have come up with one project idea I think could be viable. The problem is I can’t start on that project until I get the go ahead from my tutor, who isn’t assigned until the last week of January so what do I do in the meantime?

I’ve been trying to come up with alternative project ideas, just in case this one isn’t actually possible but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. I bet once I start the module and get stuck into the project I’ll see potential project ideas everywhere! But for now I’m struggling rooting around looking for problems which I.T has the potential to solve and I have enough knowledge of and interest in to make a project.

Without developing my project idea too far I’m trying to get as prepared as possible. I’ve installed a program, recommended to me by the forum moderator of TM470, which could help me if I go ahead with the project idea I have. I’m hoping in the coming days I can have a play and get to know how to use it so I haven’t got that steep learning curve during my project.

I’ve also made a note of all the key dates in my diary and on my calendars (both electronic and paper) so anything else can be planned around those. I’m planning on researching Project Life Cycle Models as one of these will need to be used whatever project I do and despite reading through the resources provided by the module I’m still at a loss as to the benefits of each one and how they work.

I’m setting up my android tablet to help with studying and planning. Mind mapping, referencing and note taking apps have been installed and I’m slowly learning how to use them. The ones which also have desktop applications and synchronise between devices will probably be the most useful but I won’t make that judgement until I really start using them!

As part of the project you’re encouraged to keep a project log. This is another thing I’m not sure where to start with but I have a diary dedicated to study related things so it might get kept in there. But I also hope to keep some kind of record on this blog as I progress through the course. We’ll just have to see how much time and energy I have to dedicate to it!

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T320 Results…

Around this time last year I was writing a blog post about how it felt to have only just scraped a pass on B203, but that considering the circumstances at the time I needed to remember just how amazing it was to have actually passed that module.

What a contrast a year makes. This year is a totally different story and I’m writing this still numb with shock and amazement. Not only did I pass T320 this year, I got a distinction!! Quite honestly I’m finding it hard to believe, so much so I had to get my Mum to read the results page to make sure I wasn’t seeing things!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the circumstances surrounding my End of Module Assessment were difficult to say the least. My health had taken quite a significant decline following the sudden loss of my Nan, so I was working on my EMA while coping with that and attending her funeral. It was a bit like deja vu; I went through similar during my revision period last year with the loss of my Grandad on the other side of my family, the only difference being I managed to cope better this time round.

I still can’t quite believe I got a distinction in this course, although that result makes me feel a little more confident on embarking on a project in the subject for my next module. I’m pretty confident I have done all my family proud too.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t got the result you hoped for, I quote from my blog post last year:

“To anyone struggling to come to terms with an exam result that was worse than expected, don’t worry about it. What’s done is done. If you failed and you’re offered a resit spend the time revising and know you can do it. Someone somewhere will always be rooting for you. And if you’ve passed but not received the grade you expected, wanted or dreamed of it’s not the end of the world. It may well feel like it but it’s not. Focus on the fact you passed. You can put those course books away and move on to your next module or the next stage of your life. You did it. You passed. That’s all that really matters.”

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The Trouble with Freedom

12pm June 1st 2015 – End of Module Assessment (EMA) DEADLINE

For me that marked the beginning of freedom from university studies for 7-8 months. I’ve been looking forward to it. Heck I’ve longed to have some study-free time. Yet now it’s here I feel lost.

You see for me doing my degree, studying a little each day, provides me with a lot of things; a sense of purpose and achievement, something to do and most importantly of all some structure to my day. I’ve developed a routine based around studying. I can’t manage much else. Physical tasks take too much out of me. Getting a job, even a part-time one, is not an option as travelling to it would leave me exhausted before I begun. Studying from home is doable, and at times even that is touch and go. Ideally I will eventually find a job I can do from home. But that still leaves me without something to structure my day around until my next university module begins in January 2016.

I know I need to rest. I want to get better, see my health and energy levels improve but moping around focusing on things I want to do but am unable to physically manage does me absolutely no good. So I’ve signed up to a few free online courses over the coming months. Something to keep my brain ticking over until my next module begins. Something that gives me something to focus on achieving during these months where I find myself with nothing to structure my day around.

Sure I have other things I want to do, heck I have a list.

  • Sort and tidy my bedroom (no mean feat believe me!)
  • Grow vegetables
  • Cook and freeze some meals I can reheat when I fancy them but can’t actually make them (OK so I may need a bit of help with this one!)
  • Finish painting the shelves I started doing last summer
  • Enjoy at least one barbecue with family
  • Rest
  • Bake a cake (or two…)
  • Generally enjoy life as much as possible

But I can’t say anything on that list really gives me something to structure my day around, they’re mostly one off events. There’s such a thing as too much free time. Especially when your so restricted on energy. At least when I’m studying I know what to spend my limited energy on, sure I do indulge in doing things for enjoyment but for the most part my energy is taken up by studying. To have to decide what I want to spend the energy I’d usually use studying on is actually quite difficult. Of course I can do things which are technically too much as I don’t have to worry about not being able to do things the next day. Although overdoing it will ultimately do me no good, sometimes the enjoyment outweighs the payback.

Anyway right now I’m nervously awaiting news of finance for my next university module, and of course the seemingly long wait for module results has also begun! I’ll try and update this blog as and when I can. My energy levels are currently low and symptoms are high but I’m doing my best to rest til they improve again!

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