college


it feels like only yesterday that it was September and we were moving into our new house – yes, you can see the theme here. Where DOES the time go?!!! Seriously though, I promised Stoney an update a while back, and someone else some photos of our new home, so I’m combining all this and a year review in one blog post. And then I shall probably go silent again till I get another break at Easter…!

Anyway. Be warned. This is a VERY photo heavy post, which is why they’re all behind the cut. the page will take a while to load…

First of all, though, an update. The last three months have been very sad ones, as well as busy. University studies have taken most of my time, and are mostly going well – you can look at the Education page to view marks for specific assignments. But outside of studies, they’ve been sad because I lost both my grandmothers: my paternal grandmother at the end of October, and my maternal one just 2 weeks before christmas. Both had been ill towards the end; Nannie (Paternal grandmother) had broken her other hip and was in a great deal of pain, Grannie (Maternal grandmother) had had a spell in hospital a few weeks before but had just given up, mentally. For both, death was a release, a blessing, so to speak, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that this year has been a very bad one for our family, especially as I lost my father in January 2011. I just hope 2012 will be substantially less painful.

Dad, in one of his favorite places in the world, Scotland.

Christmas was especially painful – not just because of Grannie’s funeral, just a few days before Christmas, but because, as a cousin of mine put it, “there were too many empty chairs”. I know exactly what she meant. It will take a while to get over this. I was far closer to Grannie than to Nannie – Grannie was the lady who owned Stoneheads house, the inspiration for this blog, and a woman who was also directly responsible for my childhood love of history and who never stopped encouraging me to learn, to develop, to make the most of myself. I shall miss her greatly.

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Well the move… ain’t moving. not yet, anyway. Its all been caught up in ifs-n-buts with trying to sort out exactly what our financial situation will be after I start at uni – which is vastly complicated by Housing Benefit and all the ifs-n-buts surrounding that. However, I think we’re getting towards the point of getting it ironed out now – so much so, that I’ve actually started looking again. So far we’ve found quite a few possibles: we’re having to contact each agent with a “will your owner consider a couple with a pet?” email first before we go any further, and unfortunately, we’re not getting much in the way of responses. Having said all that, we have found one gorgeous house that isn’t too expensive in a small village outside of Leicester which would be ideal (except for the fact that the last bus is at 8pm, but that’s not insurmountable) in many ways, and the agent is actually responding to us. He’s contacting the owner to see if they’ll allow Jess in there – fingers crossed that they do cos we both really like the look of the property. But there are other irons in the fire so if it falls through it won’t be the end of the world.

We’ve also found a removals firm – they need two week’s notice, so as soon as we’ve found a house we can sign on the dotted line, hand in our notice here and book the move, and we’re off, off and away!

In terms of college, the last two exams? I got distinctions for. Don’t think anyone would be majorly surprised by that! I’ve had the official results letter: a certificate should be arriving at some point in the next couple of weeks. I’ve had an official letter from UCAS confirming my place at Leicester University so its all officially and stuff now.

Its just dragging on long enough now that i just want to move and have done with it. We’re living in limbo here: not knowing where we’re going to be in the next few months is seriously starting to pall. On the plus side though.. for the first time, we’re actually starting to think about where we’re going to be living, and planning, and daring to hope for somewhere nice. Before, it was a case of dreaming of not being HERE, of getting out of HERE, without any real thought as to where we would go. Almost anywhere would be better than HERE. Now, the focus is switching, and for the first time in a long time, there feels like real hope in our future.

Well.. its over. the Fat Lady has well and truly squawked her last…. Until October, anyway.

I took the last exam this morning, the Neo-Assyrian exam, although I didn’t need to. I got into a stubborn mindset and wanted to complete the lot (although I do feel a tad sorry for our very stressed-out-looking teacher, handing him marking he didn’t technically need to do). I’m still waiting on some results: the Neo-Assyrian and Early Empire exams from this morning and last monday, and the results of my Independent Research Project (the disability one I’ve posted here) and the core development module (which involves putting together CVs n stuff like that), but I know I’ve passed those two, and really, at this point, the grades for them are almost irrelevant. I’ve passed the course. I’ve got the credits needed to get into Leicester Uni for the next stage. That’s all that’s relevant. (except a little matter of pride, which wanted distinctions across my whole certificate.. and I’ve got that, which I am so pleased about. And if I get distinctions for the remaining marks.. I’ll be almost happy. (Is it bad that I so want to go back and redo that first essay, to get the Merits pushed up to distinctions, so that I get distinctions across the board? it is? oh. um. well.. I’ll shut up then. But I do. Sorry. Can’t help it.)

Right now though.. I’m feeling kind of sad. I enjoyed the studying. Someone left a comment on my blog a few months ago about how I have to make the work my friend. I can’t remember who it was, but whoever it was, thank you, because you’re absolutely right. That’s what I’ve done, gone in there with the right mind set, made it my friend.. and now, like any friend who’s suddenly absent in your life, you find you’re missing it terribly.

I should be feeling exhilarated. After 10 long, intensive, hard months, I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve back in September: I’m going to uni in October, I feel prepared and ready and… I should be jumping for joy. But I’m not, not just because I’m going to miss the work, but because I have enjoyed being there so much: the work was at a level where I felt very comfortable with it, it was interesting, just challenging enough to keep me on my toes, but not so challenging that I was struggling uncomfortably. However, I was finding it easier and easier to absorb large chunks of information – by the time of the last exam I was doing just one day’s worth of preparation, and the last essay was written with just three day’s research. It showed – the essay definitely wasn’t as good as my previous efforts, and I said as much to the teacher (and apologised, but I had to focus on the exams instead, this was a few weeks ago) but she still gave me three distinctions for it. So I think, if I’m honest, at this point, I’m ready to go up to The Big School and start wearing long troosers.

What doesn’t help, is that I felt so comfortable there. I know I’ve said this in the last paragraph, but here I mean it differently. I felt so comfortable in the college building. There’s a nice little cafe in the entrance lobby (which is a gorgeous atrium), where you can buy decentish cheap (70p) coffee or have a proper meal, and its rare to find the tables all completely taken. I could get there at 8.15/8.30 and chill before class started at 9.15. It took a lot of pressure and stress off, in the morning, knowing that I had time and that provided the initial bus made it in, I could walk the rest of the way. The library was a good one, with lots of computers and a printer, which we had free use of, and a photocopier. You could buy office supplies from the libarian too, not too expensively. The whole set up was educational, but adult educational. I felt safe there, and with my background, where I was bullied at school, that’s important to me.

Leicester is a whole new quantity, and although I’ve been there once before, its still unknown. I don’t know where things are. I don’t know what the library is like. I have a whole new learning curve ahead of me, and new people to meet, and that makes me very very nervous. and that’s why I’m sad.. I’m losing my comfort zone.

I have been asked if I would like to return to the college in September for one day, on the induction day to act as a role model, someone who’s been there and done it, for new deaf students, and I’ve told them I’m more than happy to do that, provided it doesn’t clash with moving. I’m incredibly grateful to the college for all they’ve done for me: for the teachers, Kevin, Rachel, and Debi for being so damn inspirational and encouraging, for the notetakers, Eleanor, Georgie, Heena, Jenny and Julia, who have made this experience of education such a totally different one, and have enabled me to relax and not feel as though my deafness was impeding me for the first time in a very very long time (I love you guys. Can you come to Leicester with me?). For the rest of the staff, who’ve been patient with my deafness. I’m gonna miss you all. Thank you for all you’ve done.

Technically… my course has finished. We’ve finished the teaching part of the modules: we’re in the last few weeks now (officially the college year ends at the end of June) where things like last minute paperwork and the last few exams get done, and we all put our portfolios together.

That’s actually a lot easier said than done. I think I’ve explained on the education page about the make up of the course, but in a nutshell, to pass the course, you have to get 60 credits. Those credits are made up via a combination of coursework and exams, and you have to get a very specific combination of them in order to pass. And that’s the part that gives people headaches, trying to get to grips with it and making sure that the portfolios (which contain all our coursework/exams) contains all the various bits of paperwork that we all need.

But… the odd bit of paper apart, I got some results back this morning after sitting the Bronze Age Collapse exam. And those results were the final ones needed. We always do more modules than are actually required to pass the course – it means that if someone falls ill they can miss a module without massively affecting their grades – so despite the fact that I’ve still got some results to come back, I’m now in a position where I have the right number of credits, in the right proportions, to pass the course. And all at Distinction level, as well, which is what I wanted¹.

So, what’s it with the fat lady?

Well, I decided a while ago that even if I got the necessary credits to pass the course, I would not just flake out on the last few modules, but still take exams and put the necessary work in to at least pass the remaining assignments. My reasoning is this: we’ve been told that assignments for any modules that are superfluous to the actual granting of the diploma will still be listed on the back of the certificate, so I have a record that I have studied these subjects, even if the actual grade that I achieved on the subjects is not recorded. So for this reason, I’m continuing the study.. just for one more week (and, I suppose, secretly, deep down in the depths of my soul, part of me is whispering.. “but you enjoy it. that’s the real reason you want to carry on. you’re add-iccttt-eeeeedddd…).

So.. I ain’t singing. not just yet. Just two more exams to go. One on the Early Empire (“Discuss the role and character of one of the Emperors during the period 14-193. Assess the character of the chosen Emperor in relation to the available sources” – I’ll be covering Caligula) and one on the Neo-Assyrian Empire (“The Assyrian Empire was, on balance, a major contributor to the development of civilisation in the Near East. It ill deserves it’s reputation as a destructive force in world history”. To what extent would you agree with this statement?)… and then it really is over.

And I’ll be singing loud and clear!

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¹ Although one of my early assignments gave a result of 2 merits and a Distinction, I now have enough other assignments to relegate that one to the pile of modules that won’t have the result recorded. Of all the ones where the grade is recorded, they will all be Distinctions.

The presentation last Thursday went very well… I’ve attached a copy of the slide show that went with the presentation, if anyone wants to view. Below that (behind the “more” link) is roughly what I said with each slide, although as I did it on the fly (rather than reading from the sheet) the actual presentation would have been different.

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After my B.A.D.D. post on researching disability in Ancient Greece, several people commented that they would very much like to read the finished article. After getting clearance from my teacher, and after doing the appropriate presentation, I can now post the essay itself, and the accompanying presentation slides. Enjoy!

Death or neglect, ridicule and pity? Analysis of disabled people in Ancient Greece.

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Finished an exam this morning (Collapse of the Roman Republic – I covered the Gracchi Brothers), and received an essay back: Hammurabi, where I (apparently successfully) argued that Hammurabi actually wasn’t all that, that he just had good PR. 3 more distinctions, plus the following: “Good. An excellent piece of work, well written and well constructed. I found it very easy to read and very informative. All the evidence here is a very firm grasp of the course material. Excellent referencing and bibliography. A Fine piece of work. Well done!”

So.. I’m pleased with that. Got that before the exam, too, so it was a nice little lift, cos I was a little worried that Kevin wouldn’t like the way I took the essay. Only one little “oops” comment: at the 1,991 words. It should have been between 1200 and 1500. But he did say he’d accept essays up to 2,000. *sighs*. oh well.

On the plus side, I’ve had feedback from Cambridge. As I suspected, there were doubts about my ability to cope with the pressure of study there. Ah well. I am still seriously impressed by Lucy Cavendish, however, and I asked the admissions tutor if the pressure was slightly less relentless at Master’s level (The relentless pressure is partly caused by Cambridge having very short terms, in comparison to other universities), if the terms were longer. She confirmed that it is less pressured, and that its also less fiercely competitive than at undergraduate level, so she thinks my idea of reapplying for my Masters at Cambridge in 3 years is a good one. So that’s that sorted then. All I have to do (heh, “all”) is get at least a 2:1….. yeah.. all. *brain explodes*

At this point I’ve lots more exams to come. One on Thursday, on the New Kingdom of Egypt – I’ll probably be covering what one of my classmates referred to as “the Hippy Pharoah” (Akhenaten and the Amarna Period). On 26th I’ve got the presentation for my Independent Research Project. I think Kevin really wants to hear this presentation. He keeps asking me “Are you doing your presentation today” every class for the last couple of classes. he’s put it in his diary now so that should help. Got a lot of work to do on that this weekend, not least on the pronounciation of some of the names. Still can’t pronounce Hephaestus right, for example.

After the presentation, we break up for a week and a bit for half term. Already? feels like only last week we had Easter. I’m heading down to Mum’s for a long weekend, coming home on 31st, then knuckling down to tackle more exams. The Age of Augustus. The Bronze Age Collapse. The Early Roman Empire. The Neo Assyrian Empire. And there’s the Anglo-Saxon module from Archaeology, although I have no clue at this point whether that’s going to be Essay or Exam based… I kinda hope its essay based. I prefer essays.

The exam this morning.. gah. We’re allowed to take a plan in with us, and we see the questions ahead of time, so there’s a fair bit of preparation still. I overdid my plan. had to leave some stuff out in order to get the essay finished. The essay still makes sense, which tells me the bit I left out wasn’t really necessary in the first place. still, would have added some extra stuff. I just hope I don’t get penalised for that. But really. there’s only so much you can write in an hour and 15 minutes.

Right: onwards and upwards: the HippyDippy Pharoah and the golden city of Amarna…

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