Ready to begin… almost!

Posted: September 27, 2015 in OU Life

I’ve been wanting to post for a while now, but I have been so stupidly busy I just haven’t had the time. We are now 6 days from starting and the tutors have finally been allocated, but therein lies the problem.

For DE100, the tutorials are nice and local, just a mile up the road. Even if they are on Saturday mornings! The Day Schools are not so great, being in Brighton, Crawley or Gillingham. Gillingham? What happened to Canterbury like last year? All three are an arse to get to, so chances are I probably won’t be going to them.

DD210 doesn’t have any Day Schools, only tutorials. Are they local? Nope, they are an hour’s drive away in Tonbridge which to be honest is taking the piss considering there is another tutorial happening in Canterbury. So I have asked to be moved to that group, tutor included. I really want to get to the tutorials for this module, but I shan’t be going to Tonbridge for them.

I haven’t really gotten ahead with the modules yet, though I think I am just about done with Week 1 for both. DD210 looks fantastic and I really can’t wait to knuckle down with it. Let’s hope I can find the time!


Posted: August 27, 2015 in OU Life

Just a quick post as I am on my phone. Today the first parcel of books have arrived at my parents house, which is good as they are off on their holidays tomorrow morning! This parcel is for DD210 which is a brand new module so there aren’t any PDFs out there to have a preview, unlike DE100 which I have already read. That parcel can turn up whenever it wants. I the meantime, I have new material to read- once I’ve finished work and can go collect it!

The Believing Brain

Posted: July 26, 2015 in OU Life

The Believing BrainIn my last post I said that I was planning to get a few extra-curricular books to read over the summer break. Well, yesterday I received my copy of The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. I’ve only really read the prologue so far but it does look like it’s going to be a good read. To be perfectly honest, I am already on the side of the Skeptic when it comes to beliefs and other such things. I don’t believe in ghosts or an afterlife and I don’t believe in God either.

When I was a child, I went to Sunday School, attended church with my parents, went to a C of E primary school. I can still recite the Lord’s prayer. It is fair to say I was brought up as a Christian, but as I have developed my own mind and opinions and generally learnt more about the world, I have come to dismiss the Bible (and the Koran and all the other religious texts out there) as little more than a collection of nice stories with a moral at the end of them. Much like Harry Potter. The human brain wants to believe. It likes to find meaning in everything that happens around us. Could the collective consciousness of the world really accept that there was nothing before us and therefore nothing after us? That when we die, we just die? That there is no meaning to life, no reason for us to be here? History suggests not. The majority of people believe in something, have some sort of god that they pray to each day, and for the most part that makes their lives better and more bearable. Good for them, and far be it from me to tell them they are wrong. I believe they are wrong, but it isn’t for me to prove or disprove and honestly, I can’t prove they are wrong.

I don’t really want to get in to a theological debate about it all. The point I am trying to make is that I am not a believer in religion or conspiracy theories and I think I will find this book very interesting and much aligned to my own viewpoint on the world. My mother, on the other hand, with her beliefs in ghosts, astrology, and that if she doesn’t share the random photo of a four-leaf clover to all her friends on Facebook within 10 seconds the world will crumble around her (face palm), would definitely disagree with me.

I will try to remember to post my thoughts on this book once I have finished it. It’s not like I have much else to do for the next 10 weeks, so I should be able to get through it fairly quickly.

On a separate issue, if you haven’t already seen it and have an interest in psychology, go and watch Inside Out. It’s a great interpretation of how the mind works and there is a little Pixar Short at the beginning that will leave you wondering why you’re crying over a volcano!

Reading ahead

Posted: July 18, 2015 in OU Life

There’s 11 weeks to go until the start of the new academic year, which is a long time not to be studying anything. Money right this moment is stopping me from buying extra books to read, but it’ll soon be payday and I may treat myself. The two books I want to have in my collection are Gross Psychology 7th ed (I always like to have the latest edition and have it from new, even if that does mean shelling out £30 a go) and The Believing Brain by Micael Sheerer, which I am reliably informed has relevance to DD210.

In the meantime, I have procured copies of the DE100 course books and also the books for DD307- a module I am planning to do (or its replacement; I have a feeling it’s running for the last time this October) next year. This degree is going to be a hard slog, so I am trying to get as much reading done as I can and be as prepared as I can be. It’s all very well and good coasting through the first module because of a lack of interest in the subject matter, but that won’t get get me the First I want in three years time. I do wonder if I would have worked harder if the level 1 modules counted towards the final degree classification?

Also, despite my complete disdain for them last year, I have signed up to a multitude of Facebook groups, including DE200 and DD307. These are the two modules I am planning to do next year. A level 2 and a level 3. If I can follow the courses from time to time over the next year, by the time I get to do them for myself I will have a solid understanding of what to expect and will be able to (hopefully) perform better. Actual participation in these groups will likely be kept to a minimum as there is still plenty there to annoy me!



Posted: July 12, 2015 in DD102

Well, the results have been released- 8 days earlier that scheduled and I can happily report that I passed DD102. Although Level 1 modules are either a pass or a fail, and not counting towards the overall degree classification, my score was worthy of a 2:1 grade. To be fair this is more than I deserve and I am just so happy that this first year is out of the way now! The feedback I received from the EMA was very useful, basically criticising the structuring of the essay. Basically I jumped around too much, back and forth and they didn’t like it. For as little as I cared for the subject matter in this first module, I have learned a lot about how the OU expect to present your work, which I am sure will hold me in good stead for the remaining five modules.

And now it is just a case of waiting until 3rd October. The new course books should arrive at the end of August but that’s still a good seven weeks away in itself, so aside from a little light reading around the subjects over the summer, I can relax and enjoy the time off.

Someone on one of the Facebook groups did a mini survey to see who would want to do back to back modules all year round, rather than having a summer break. Being not the most patient of people myself, I can understand those who want to crack on, but I do think that 52 weeks of study per year, cranking out TMA after TMA would lead to major burn out pretty quickly. I would have liked to have done the degree in three years, but I will settle for four. It’ll be done before I know it.

So, to everyone who has just finished DD102- well done for getting through it, enjoy your summer.

An apology

Posted: June 20, 2015 in DD102, OU Life

Ok, so it’s been quite a while since my last post. If fact it’s been quite a while since I even looked at this blog and I am quite impressed to see it has had nearly 2500 hits since I first started it. So I would like to apologise to one and all for the lack of new content. To make up for it, I am sure this is going to be rather a long post.

Right, so what’s been happening then since my last post nearly, ahem, eight months ago? Well, the first year is obviously finished, and I can honestly say thank f*** for that! I completely lost interest in DD102 right around the time I stopped posting, and to be honest, it didn’t improve as the year progressed. I did my assignments but that was pretty much it, and now I wait for the EMA result which is due in approximately four weeks from now.

So let’s go back to where I left off in November. My last post talked about the upcoming first tutorial, which I did attend. In fact, it was the only one I attended. Only about half of the tutor group turned up. It was cold, dark and damp, and the sky was full of fireworks. As far as tutorials go, it was alright. Our tutor knows his stuff and can teach very well. I just didn’t care for the subject matter. As you know, I signed up for a degree in psychology, but as of writing this, I still haven’t studied any psychology, and that is why I lost interest in such a massive way.

For anyone reading this blog over the summer that has signed up to DD102 and is trying to gain any sort of insight as to what lies ahead for them, I have one word: SOCIOLOGY. DD102 is designed to ease new students back into the world of academic study, and for the most part it does this very well. It gives you all the necessary tools to learn or relearn how to write effective essays and to use your study time effectively (not that I did. More on that later). The module is meant to be an umbrella module for anyone who is studying Psychology, Sociology, Economics etc, and that is where, in my opinion (and I am not alone) the course fails. A good 95% of the subject material is Sociology, and quite frankly I have no interest in it. My advice to anyone starting a Psychology degree this autumn is to not choose (or switch away from) this module if you don’t have an interest in Sociology. Choose the (I think) Intro to Child Psychology module instead. I wish I had. I never want to hear or read the term “inequality” ever again!

***The next couple of paragraphs come with a health warning to anyone reading this who has also just completed DD102 (ok, to any OU student) as I am aware (now I’ve been told) that this could piss some people off, especially those who worked really, really hard and didn’t get the marks they were hoping for. Also, if my tutor happens to read this, I apologise to you also.***

Since I lost all interest in the module pretty early on, you may be wondering how I managed to get through the rest of the year of study. The lazy way if I’m completely honest. One of the things critics of the OU mention is their ability to hand-hold students through the modules. I don’t yet know how true this is of later, higher level modules, but for DD102 it certainly was the case. For each TMA, the student notes tell you exactly where to go in the study materials for the relevant information to base your essay on. For all intents and purposes, I had stopped studying. I went for weeks at a time without logging into the website or picking up a book. I found that I didn’t need to. For each of the essays, my submission consisted of a day of reading through the applicable materials with a highlighter followed by a couple of hours typing up an essay and clicking “submit”. I should point out that I don’t condone or recommend this way of working, and I am certainly not trying to brag about it here, and I really don’t want to undermine the hard work that pretty much everyone else on the module put in. I just hated the module and couldn’t bear to pick up the books. But I didn’t want to drop out. I know that for the remaining five modules I will be totally engaged with. I have seen pdf copies of the DE100 module materials and can’t wait to get started in October with a renewed enthusiasm. So this first module is akin to paying my dues, I suppose.

I have survived though. I didn’t go to any more of the tutorials or Day Schools, or even any of the extra nights out that were arranged by others in the tutor group. My job has been pretty intense over the winter so all my effort went into that. Despite my lack of effort, I do have an OCAS average that would equate to a 2:1 for all the TMA’s. This is largely due to my ability to write coherently and the fact I was always “academically minded” as a youngster anyway. What my score tells me is, not that I can get a good mark without really trying (I did actually try to write the essays as best as I could when I was writing them), but give me some material I *am* interested in and actually enjoy, I can do so much better. I am still determined to get a First at the end of all this.

***End of health warning. I bet you read it anyway!***

So here we are, coming towards the end of June. The quiet time, academically speaking. Perhaps not the best time to resurrect a student blog, but there we go. I have signed up for two modules starting this October and my student finance has already been approved, with none of the fuss that went on last year. The first module is DE100, which is the compulsory Level 1 module: Investigating Psychology 1. As I mentioned, I have pdf’s of the course books from 2012, so I am sure they will have been updated by the time I receive hard copies at the end of August. I’ve only flicked through them so far but it looks like it’s going to be a great module and exactly what I want to study. The other module I have chosen is DD210: Living Psychology; From the Everyday to the Extraordinary. I think this is a new module, so not completely clear what is contained within it, but the module description looks good, so I am expecting great things. That said, the description for DD102 looked good too and look what happened there!

Ok, so I’m at over 1100 words for this post already. I did say that I could write and I did say that this would be rather a long post! I did just want to say that in my last post I mentioned that I was seeing someone. Well, that didn’t really work out (it lasted till the day after the 40th birthday party I went to!) I am happy to announce that I am in a relationship now though. Monday will be four months and I couldn’t be happier!

Thank you to all who have stuck with this blog. I promise I will try to write more often. I’m sure that if I stay enthused with the modules, I will be posting aplenty on here. If I go silent after October, you may assume I’m hating it. One thing is certain though- I’ve started so I will finish!

If anyone reading this has just finished DD102, please do share your thoughts on the module in the comments, but do be aware I need to approve any new comments before they appear here (it’s a spam thing).

Enjoy your weekend!

Goodbye City Road

Posted: November 3, 2014 in DD102, OU Life, Tutorials

We are now on Week 5 of the module, and the first sentence of the material is “This is the last week on City Road”. Thank God for that! Whilst I am keeping up with the workload, I am getting a little tired of this section, so much so, I think I’ll be crossing Cardiff off my future holiday destination list. As I have said before, this module is very much a Sociology type module, and whilst it has some interesting bits, there is a lot there that just doesn’t interest me at all. I shall persevere though. I’ve started so I will finish, as the saying goes. Thankfully, in this early stage, the weeks are interspersed with plenty of Study Skills material, and right now that is the only thing that is keeping me going. Roll on October 2015 I think!

This coming Wednesday is the first tutorial, which I am looking forward to. As a precursor to that, a few of us (well, there was only 3 in the end) met up in town for a liquid lunch on Saturday, which was fun. We talked about the first assignment and the course in general. It does add a sense of reality to it all, as the only downside of OU life is that it can be a little isolating. This doesn’t really bother me so much, but I know it can others.

On the whole, life is pretty good at the moment. My new position at work is starting to gain momentum (finally!), I have a 40th birthday party to go to on Saturday (not mine thankfully, though it’s not too many years away now) and I’ve started seeing someone. Hurrah! I’ve been single since February, and I’ve been out on a few dates over the last few months. I won’t share the horror stories with you all here, but needless to say I’ve recently been reminded that there are some right weird people out there. That said, it looks like this one might have some potential, so watch this space…

TMA 01: The results

Posted: October 28, 2014 in DD102, TMA

Tonight I got my first assignment back and overall I am very happy with the result. We are not really supposed to share our grades, so let’s just say it was a hell of a lot more than the 50 I mentioned in the last post!

Looking at the feedback sheet, I can easily see where I could have got more marks. There was a little bit about structuring, which I can take forward to future assignments without too much bother. Now I am clearer about what they are looking for in an assignment, I can move on with greater confidence (not that I was lacking it to begin with!)

I did email my tutor about a couple of things, mostly just reflecting on his comments, but he did mention I lacked a definition of one of the terms in the assignment. I felt I had to highlight my definition in the relevant paragraph as his comments read as though he missed it. I could, perhaps, have structured the assignment a little better so that the definitions were signposted a little more clearly.

It’ll be interesting what he has to say in reply. I could have missed his point entirely. Who knows?

Next Wednesday is the first local tutorial. As it turns out, I am in Canterbury on that day, so I have given my tutor a head up that I may be late depending on the city traffic. I might try to see if I can finish early.

TMA 01 Submission received!

Posted: October 21, 2014 in DD102, TMA

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. Things have been a little busy of late and to be honest, I’ve put off posting here in favour of doing other things. The good news though is that I am still alive and well, and so is this blog.

I’ve just come along from the OU website having submitted my very first TMA and I must admit I do feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. It was only 250 words, but they’re 250 (well, 267 to be exact) very good words, at least I think so anyway. Time will tell I’m sure. Anything above a 50 and I’ll be happy I think.

Part of the assignment is to write 100 words on a street I know in the OU forum. There are (apparently) 14 or so people in my tutor group. I think only seven or eight of us have popped our heads in and said hello so far, and only 5 of us have posted our assignment posts. With a day and a half to go until the deadline, it’ll be interesting to see if any leave it to the last minute, or indeed if any fail to turn out at all.

Studying itself is going pretty well. I’m still running roughly a week ahead, give or take a day or two. Even though I am enjoying it, I would like it to be a bit more “Psychology” and a little less “Sociology” but hey, that’s what’s what for the first module. Plenty of time for Psychology proper in the coming years.

Living outside the box

Posted: October 10, 2014 in OU Life

Now, if you have been paying very close attention to this blog you will have noticed that a while back I mentioned that I have Asperger’s. So in the light of a rather quiet week of study with not much else to report, I thought I would expand on that a little this evening.

For those of you who don’t know, or have only heard about Asperger’s in passing, it lives on the ‘mild’ end of the Autistic Spectrum, so much so that these days it isn’t called Asperger’s (officially) anymore, it is simply an “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” or ASD for short. So what does that mean for me? Well, I’m not some kind of Rainman character or anything like that. If you were to only meet me briefly you wouldn’t necessarily notice anything different about me. These days I fit into society pretty well, and it it only when you spend a good amount of time with me you begin to notice that something is a little “off”.

Basically, my brain is wired a little different to yours. Social cues and body language doesn’t come automatically to me. I constantly have to think things through as they happen to work out what is happening. An analogy is, if you are learning something new, let’s say driving, you are consciously aware of everything you do. You have to think about changing gears, which pedal to press and in what order etc. Once you have been driving for a while, all that becomes automatic and you don’t think about it- you just do it. For me, I have to think about how I interact with the world on a conscious level all the time. I take things said to me literally. Of course, over the years I have picked up on that people don’t generally say what they mean, but every now and then I’ll get caught out. This leaves me exhausted at the end of the day, and occasionally it can be overwhelming, especially in new situations. Familiarity means my brain doesn’t have to work so much, so routine is my best friend.

At 37, I am much better at dealing with life than when I was younger, especially as it is only within the last year that we worked out that I have ASD, explaining everything I have struggled with over the years, especially as a child. I can cope with the real world, but do forgive me if I shut myself away at the end of the day and not speak to anyone. One of the biggest issues I face on a day to day basis is that I have tone of voice problems. If I had a pound for every time I’ve pissed someone off inadvertently because I’ve “sounded condescending” or just “plain rude” I’d have no need for doing a degree, happily resting on my millions in the bank. I don’t mean it, I don’t know I’m doing it, and if you barely know me, I’d forgive you for thinking I’m an arsehole at times. I’m adorable really.

I also have a built in Auditory Processing Disorder, just to make life more interesting (it’s not unusual to have both for some unexplained reason) which means that my ears hear the words fine. It’s just that my brain decides to mix things up as they go in. Song lyrics? Forget it! Speaking on the telephone is a real challenge for me as I really do need to see you speaking to help me understand you. A good example was on the radio the other day. I’m driving to work, listening to Radio 2 as I usually do. Chris Evans was just finishing talking about the Great British Bake Off, and then he started talking about a cupboard contest coming up after the next song. All through that song I was pondering what such a contest might entail. It turns out the word was “cover” and not cupboard. This sort of thing happens all the time.

My life is pretty good, although often frustrating, and I often long to connect with people better. I have few friends, and the ones I do have know that I rely on them to maintain that connection because I can’t. You all know the phrase “out of sight, out of mind?” Well it’s like that I suppose. It’s not that I don’t care about other people or not want to be around them, it’s just that it doesn’t occur to me to text them, or ask how they are or even ask for help. I don’t pick up on their emotions all that well either. Yes I know if you are crying then you are probably upset, or hurt. It’s the subtleties that go way over my head. You can forget sarcasm; you say something to me and that’s what I’ll take. Literally.

I live outside the box we call life. I don’t quite fit in, and that’s ok. My life is like the Doctor from Doctor Who. An alien from another world who looks like you, sounds like you, has different companions throughout his life and has many adventures, but ultimately he is alone, different, but definitely very cool and mysterious. And that’s ok.

Reading back through this post, it’s all a little bit of a hodge-podge, and I don’t really think I’ve explained things as well as I would want to, but it will do for now. Do feel free to drop me a comment and ask anything you want and I will do my best to clarify things. Above all, don’t go away from this entry feeling sorry for me in any way, or thinking that I am unhappy, because I’m not. Life is good. I manage better than a lot of people with ASD, and as with everything and everyone in this world- some things could be better, some things could be worse. Make the most of what you have.