October 2010


well.. its half term. Already! we’ve six weeks of hard work behind us, and the pressure isn’t letting up any. I have a list as long as my arm of stuff that has to be done, but at least i don’t have to go into college to do it, apart from one appointment on monday with the student counsellor (i need some advice on going to uni) and probably going in on friday to get some stuff printed out – thankfully the “learning resource centre” (the library, to you n me!) is open during half term…

So this half term, this is what i have to do:

1) complete a quiz that has been set by the tutor on Archaic Greece – Module 2 of the Ancient History class – which means reading through the pack that he’s given us. This needs to be done for the 1st November class.

2) Finish my Archaeology essay. This is due in on 2nd November, so I really want to have it done and printed before i start again on 1st November (that way, if there’s a problem with the printer at the library on Monday morning, I’m not panicking), especially as we’re not in college on 2nd November, we’re going on a field trip instead, to a museum (that i’ve not been to before), to do some pottery drawing. This is going to be so much fun (not), cos anyone that knows me, knows my drawing is absolutely laughable. But i’ve been reassured that the drawing thing isn’t a pass/fail requirement, so as long as i give it a go, i’ll be okay. I’m planning to stay behind after the class finishes at lunch time that day in order to go round the rest of the museum, it looks rather good… Anyway. The essay subject is around the developments of archaeology, from antiquarianism to modern archaeology. [for those who are going “… huh?”, antiquarianism is to archaeology what alchemists were to modern day chemistry: the forerunners of the discipline that is modern archaeology.] Its a fairly straightforward title, and one i should be able to do fairly easily. Whether i’ll be able to do it to the level I expect of myself, though, is a whole other thang….

3) As part of this i need to finish off the final notes for Archaeology Module 1. shouldn’t take long, especially as i’m paring back on final notes. I don’t have a final exam for the whole year, so i won’t be using these notes to revise from in June or anything like that, so that takes a great deal of pressure off in terms of what the final notes need to include (much less than i was including before!).

4) Ancient History essay (covering Module 1). this is due in on 15th November, but since we still have another essay for Near Eastern Archaeology heading our way, and we’re about 3 classes away from another essay from Archaeology, i want to get at least a first draft down before the end of half term, while i have the time. I’m not going to give the full title of this one as its a rather lengthy one, but its basically to do with historical sources – how to assess them, the validity of them, the difference between the various kinds of sources, and using an article and an ancient historian to illustrate these differences. Again, a fairly straightforward title, but, again, whether I can do it to the level that I expect of myself is something else….

5) Again, I need to finish off the Final Notes for Module 1, especially as we’re starting Module 2 on 1st November, and i don’t want it hanging over me. Again, that shouldn’t involve a great deal of work…

6) Near Eastern Archaeology: finish module 2 Final Notes (module 1 is shared in common (on historical sources) with Ancient History, so with NEA, we’re launching straight into module 2). Again, not a lot of work – mostly some notes on pre-dynastic Egypt, as i’ve covered archaic Mesopotamia pretty thoroughly. just incorporating my class notes and any other information and then printing it for my file.

7) Make a start on Archaeology Module 2 notes. Again, not a lot of work – we’ve had 2 classes on this already, so its mostly just bringing my class notes together plus any other information from the books.

8) Finish my UCAS application for uni (mostly done, just have to check through it) (and that’s number 8. silly auto thing turned an eight and a closing bracket into a 8) … lol.)

9) prepare a first draft of my personal statement. For those who don’t know anything about the university application system as it currently stands in the UK, you have to apply through one body, UCAS, who deal with ALL university applications. Its not possible to apply directly. When I first applied to go to uni, when i was 17, if i recall correctly you made your choices, and then you had a couple that you went to interview at, and on the basis of those interviews, you got made a firm conditional offer, and an insurance offer. These days, the sheer numbers of people applying to uni means that interviews aren’t really possible, so they’ve instituted personal statements instead, which they use as the basis to give offers. Because of this, personal statements are really really important, it can make or break an application, and they recommend you go through a couple of drafts and get them read over by other people. Its about giving the university an idea of who *you* are – not your qualifications or employment experience, but the you behind the facts and figures… so this is important and i have to get it right. With the numbers of people applying to university this year (higher than ever, they say), competition is going to be especially intense.

Outside of college work, there’s a pile of housework that needs doing, and various other things that i just don’t get time to sort out when i’m at college, like the contents insurance for the house (which is due for renewal on 31st October). It also transpires that we’re effectively paying three times for mobile phone insurance – once with the mobile phone provider, once with our contents insurance and once with the bank account (mobile phone insurance is a freebie with it). What i have to do is to go through and ensure that we have the best level of coverage for the smallest amount of money.. and then cancel the rest. seems silly to be paying three times over for something with three different companies!

Having said all that… i’m still enjoying college work. I’m looking forward now to Uni, considering where to go (Michiel is happy to leave Manchester), and of course, that brings a whole new set of worries – where do we go? while some unis have accommodation (especially for mature students) for couples, they won’t allow dogs on campus, which means we need to find private accommodation, and pay for it. Of course the news from the government is at the back of our minds as well, and there’s a lot to worry about. i just hope that when the time comes, we don’t get priced out of the whole thing.. as that would negate all my work this year. This year’s qualification is only “good” for a further three years – after that, universities would want to see further evidence of “recent” study, and I won’t qualify for funding to study free at this level again. If i don’t take advantage of this in the next couple of years, i won’t go to university at all, and the more i study and work, the more convinced i am that this would be a really life changing thing for me to do, in a really positive way.

and i suppose, in the middle of all this, i need to take some time out for me.. to sleep, to rest, to read a book that’s nothing to do with ancient history or archaeology, to catch up with TV viewing…!! Once this week is over, its back on the treadmill until 17th December, when we have a 2 week break for christmas – and i fully expect to have a pile of work to do over that two week break as well…

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The college work is hitting hard. I went through a phase of panicking because i had a pile of books about a foot high to read, and no time (or so it felt) to actually sit down and read them… at least until i realised where i was going wrong.

the whole thing prompted a bit of a melt down on friday, and a bit of a lesson learned for both Michiel and myself. I still don’t handle stress very well, and we’ve realised now that i needed a bit more help than i was asking for (and getting) and i’m now getting that help that i need. Not so much with college work, as in not trying to be superwoman!!

So, bearing in mind that i lost friday and i lost thursday afternoon (because i was so tired, not getting enough sleep due to worrying that i just crashed on thursday) i knew that yesterday and today i would have to do some major work to stand any chance of being where i’m supposed to be.

Part of the reason i was going wrong was in not sticking to the syllabus as laid out by the teachers. There’s this feeling that i have to read ALL of the books NOW – and of course, that’s ridiculous. Yes, there’re set texts that i probably do eventually have to read all of, in order to get a handle on – say – ancient greece – but if another book (not a set text, but a recommended book) also contains information on the Aztecs of south america (unlikely!) then it doesn’t necessarily follow that i need to read – and make notes on – the entire book.

So that was mistake number one.

mistake number two involved not really being able to get a handle on one of my three classes, if only because there isn’t really a set text for it, and the booklet that we’ve been given doesn’t lay things out for you nice and easy. you gotta work for it. This is where the syllabus comes in useful – what i’ve realised is that i have to use the structure of the syllabus as laid out by the teacher, to get what information i can from the various different sources i have available to me, and to merge all of that into a final set of notes, which i will then use, along with maybe some further research, to do my final assignment.

So that’s what i’ve spent yesterday and today doing for two of my classes (the ancient history and the archaeology ones – i’ll do the same for Near Eastern Archaeology on my next day off, on Wednesday. I’m actually feeling a lot better about the whole thing – I’ve started the final module notes for the ancient history one, and am about 70% of the way done on that one, the archaeology one i haven’t started the final set of notes but the class notes on that are much more comprehensive, so making final notes from my class notes should be somewhat easier.

I still have a lot to do but i feel much more positive about the whole thing, like i have a much better handle on what i’m supposed to be doing.. just have to keep ontop of the bits i am supposed to be reading and watch for those feelings of being overwhelmed again..

On the plus side, i got my college ID blurb thing on friday morning, which means that tomorrow i can get my formal student ID and then i can (finally!) borrow the books i need from the college library… i just hope the others in my class haven’t nabbed all the ones i wanted!!!