Janathon Day 4 – Walkies

So my hubby kindly let me have a lie in this morning, after feeling decidedly ropey the day before, the small people don’t start back at school and nursery until tomorrow and he’s taken some holiday so doesn’t have to go back to work until next week!

When I got up (and had eaten breakfast), I got on with some Open University study, as I have thoroughly neglected it over Christmas and the New Year, with the intention of going for a walk later, due to the fact that thankfully I was feeling better than yesterday but still rather tired and didn’t want to over do it. Typically whilst I was studying the skies were blue and the weather was dry, as the morning became afternoon I could hear the tell-tell sounds of raindrops on our conservatory roof! Such joy, this made me feel rather less enthusiastic about venturing out (venting my frustrations on Facebook).

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Networking studies

Eventually I got ready to go, finally getting out of my PJs and into some clothes – and I dressed appropriately for the possible weather, which for the time being had stopped raining, but I took my umbrella and wore my waterproof jacket to ensure I was prepared for the weather to turn again. I also wore my Buff, which kept my ears lovely and warm!
WalkI needed to take my watch to the menders for a new battery, so used that as my reason to get out – I hate being without my watch, and the battery in my spare had also stopped.  So I took a the normal route to the repair shop and then took a longer route home.  A very pleasant walk as the weather was kind to me and it didn’t rain, though I did have to avoid a few puddles here and there – in total I covered 5.55km! Not a bad effort in the end after all my procrastination!
Activity

 

What to do for Janathon tomorrow? 🙂 xxx

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So you’ve decided to be an OU student…

Firstly – well done you!!! You’ve some exciting times ahead!!!

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I’ve been studying my first module (TU100 My Digital Life) with the Open University (OU) since 31st Jan 2015 and one thing I wish I’d come across was an advice list in the few weeks before I started my course! There probably is one out there somewhere – but in the event there isn’t, or like me you’ve not managed to find one – I’ve put together a list of the sorts of things I wish I’d known, from the position of a newbie, nothing scary I promise, just hopefully some advice that will help at least one other person feel a bit more prepared on their new learning adventure!

1. Be organised!!!

2. Take advantage of Freshers week – you’ll be sent emails about them – I didn’t have time leading up to starting, with two young kids and finishing the last few weeks at work I didn’t get the chance to enjoy what was on offer!

3. Take a look around the OU site as soon as you have your log in details – set up your email, your google apps, check out the forums – there’s an early bird forum which I’m sure would be useful! The OU library has a wealth of information (check out Harvard referencing – trust me! This is the referencing style the majority of OU courses use, but do double check, just in case!) I didn’t do this so literally spent the first week or two chasing my tail – trying to setup all these things, read all the paraphernalia emailed to me and the sites that are suggested you look at whilst trying to study my first session and get used to learning again – I ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering what I’d let myself in for! It worked out in the end, but if I’d been a bit more prepared things might not have felt so manic!

4. Be organised!!!

5. I got all my stationary and study supplies together early (asked for the majority for Christmas – exciting I know, but it was practical!) I got:
Folders
Lever arch files
File dividers
Biros
Highlighters
Fine liners
Post it notes
Pads of A4 lined paper
A year planner – highly recommend this – I put the coloured sticky dots to show me when Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) needed to be submitted by and the dates of the ‘school’ days – more on these shortly! I programmed these into my phone calendar too!
A week planner – this is a magnetic one, which is on my fridge, but I’ve not been so great at using this one! Oops!
A pencil case
A ruler
A calculator
A headset – this is useful for any online tutorials that your tutor might provide.

The majority of items were purchased from Amazon and some bits from my supermarket – which in this case is Morrisons (they do erasable highlighters – this made me way more excited than it should, but I have a thing for stationary! What can I say!?!)

6. Prepare your family and friends – this is going to take up quite a bit of your time (I’m sorry to say, probably more than you think) – have an idea in your head of when you are going to do your studying and try and stick to it.  I’m currently aiming to make sure I don’t study on Friday evenings so I can spend sometime with my husband and watch a bit of crap telly (I cannot tell you how grateful I am that we have a 2TB Sky+ box and can Sky+ all our favourite programmes – we’ve got a lot of programmes to catch up on it’s ridiculous!) not quite there yet, but hopefully this will be reality soon!

7. I am not doing paid work currently whilst I am studying, instead I have a full time job with motherhood (the holiday plans and pay suck, but my co-workers are kind of cute) – I am lucky that one day a week my in-laws look after my kids – well mainly my Blue One as my Pink One is now at school – but I don’t know how I would have done my studies without their support.  The Blue One is also back with his childminder one day a week as she accepts the 15 hours from the government, so this covers the one day and gives me some additional hours left if I need them to complete an assignment – if like me you are a stay at home mum and studying and your child is 3, they are entitled to the 15 hours of free childcare the term after turning 3 – it’s worth looking into!  Those who work full time, have children and study – I am in awe of you, that’s amazing and I don’t know how you do it!

8. Did I mention be organised!?!

9. Connect – use social media – the Open University has a Facebook Page, Twitter Page and Instagram (these are the ones that I know of so far – there may be more) and I am also part of The Student Blogcast (which may be where you are already listening to this post) but if not check it out.  Connect with other OU students – it really helps you not to feel alone.
Once you are studying, make use of contacting your tutor, mine has been exceptionally helpful and they are great as your first port of call. The next is your Tutor Group Forum – really useful to know you’re not alone and these other people are in the same position as you.
Also, if you can, as you start studying, try and make the Tutorial ‘school’ days – this gives you the opportunity to meet your tutor in person and other people who are studying the same module as you and you can make some great friends.
Finally if you are feeling at the end of your tether be aware that the OU also have a nightline.

10. Be organised!!! I know I have joked all through this post about being organised, but for me this is the crux of the whole thing – work out how you want to record your notes and do your activities, for me my notes are typed and my activities I handwrite – unless otherwise stated – if you are not organised things will soon run away from you and you won’t be able to keep up – so focus, prepare and be organised!

Good luck with whatever you’re studying and feel free to contact me if you’d like! I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has helped you in some small way!

Also, don’t worry if you do fall behind a little, life happens – the OU will help you in everyway they can.  Finally it is perfectly normal to procrastinate no matter how organised you are – what do you think I am doing right now!?!

What would you have liked to have known prior to starting your studies – or what do you wish to know before you start? Comment below – or email me (You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!)

As I included some topical lyrics in my last Student Blogcast, I thought it was only fitting I do the same again here so this time we have some words from the Beatles

“Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone, help

When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind I’ve opened up the door

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me”

Please like, comment and share this post – it would be much appreciated!

🙂 xxx

Find the audio blog post here

The times they are a-changin’

Or so Bob Dylan sang! This is exactly what is happening in my life currently – I’ve been going through a massive period of change and it’s very exciting but also in equal parts terrifying!

Towards the back end of 2014 I was struggling at work – not with actual work based aspect of it, I’m very good at what I do which is data analysis – I’m not bragging just being truthful, my issue lay with how stressed I was, the work life balance and to be totally honest the monetary reward against the amount of hours/work I was putting in was pretty pants. I’m not greedy, but it would be nice to actually feel slightly valued! I am sure you would agree.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of my work history…
Just before I had my Pink One in 2009 I was working full time for HSBC Global Asset Management – where I really liked working and the pay was very good. After my maternity leave I went back part time doing three days a week which was perfect – the money was still good even at the reduced hours.

HSBC Global Asset Management

I then went on to have my Blue One in 2012. Went back to HSBC starting my hand over – then the phonecall came. The department was restructuring and my job was at risk – after a very strange month where I went into work to job hunt – it is very surreal to be sat at your desk at work with you CV out looking for a job I can tell you – it all came to an end and I was made redundant. I went away with a good package and no hard feelings, I would be happy to work for them again in the future.

So I continued job hunting – I didn’t need something too urgently, but with what our mortgage payments were at that time, the sooner something came up the better.

After what felt like ages, but was literally only about a month I found the role I have just left. A data manager for a school. I found it in the jobs and careers newspaper – which I bought very rarely as I think it’s a rip off at about £3.99 for about what feels like six pieces of paper!

I liked the idea of a job in the school – and everyone tells you how lucky you are, it’s so hard getting a job in a school and it’s the perfect job to have with kids, and on paper this seem to be the case, I was only having to do 14 hours a week, term time only – so school holidays off, fantastic!

Though as time went on and I sat down and worked out what I was actually earning, especially once childcare had been paid, and the hours I was actually putting in, it was actually pretty pointless – it would be a great job if you didn’t have childcare to pay or young children of school age – as we’d also sorted out our mortgage so that payment had fallen to pretty much half – I might as well work in a supermarket again a couple times a week like I used too – less stress and not bringing work home with you (and if I did, my friend pointed out that’d be shoplifting!!!). The holiday that was most important to be off was the summer holidays but that was my most busy time doing the analysis on the A Level and GCSE results.

So I started considering stopping work to be with my kids, discussed it with my husband and checking we could financially cope for a couple of years and we could, but then I started to worry – what would I do when I wanted to return to work? What would my skills be? What work would I be able to do? As you can see I am a bit of a worrier!

Then an idea came to me, maybe I could be at home with the kids and study – so be there for them but also be doing something for me, as I don’t currently have a degree, which hopefully will make me still employably attractive when I want/need to return to work (and show that I am really good at working at home too 😉).

The Open University

So that’s where I am now, I resigned from my job in November 2014 finishing up January 2015, I am a stay at home mum and I’m doing the first module (TU100 My Digital Life) of a BSc in Computing & IT with the Open University part time – my current vision is to return to work as a Data Analyst in London, but things change as time goes along, but having an end goal in sight it helps you focus! It’s not been easy and definitely has taken some getting used to, and remembering how to learn but I’m adjusting! I must say the Open University is very supportive and I’d highly recommend them!

This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, I’ve had some sort of job since I was 16 (pretty much half my life) but I pray and hope it has been the right decision, I am so grateful for my husband’s and family’s support!

As I started with some lyrics it only fits to end with some, so in the words of Bon Jovi – “it’s my life, it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live for ever, I just want to live while I’m alive

http://youtu.be/vx2u5uUu3DE

Check out my LinkedIn profile!

😊xxx

You can hear an audio version of this blog post on iTunes and do check out The Student Blogcast on Twitter.