10 years ago I was preparing for my first degree

Uni Updates

… and now I’m preparing to go into the final year of my second degree. Since my last entry I’ve completed my exams, gotten the results, been on two holidays (Tenerife and then Norfolk) and moved house! My exam were results could have been better and definitely reflected the amount of classes I missed, but they could have been worse. I passed and no resits so I am heading into my final year – and I am beyond relieved to be doing the creative writing dissertation rather than the “normal” dissertation. I have absolutely no clue where I’d even start with that.

 

I’ve already had my classes confirmed and will be studying these alongside the creative writing dissertation; Children’s Literature, Popular Victorian Literature and Science Fiction (wooo!). I’ve not got the reading lists yet but I have started some prep reading which so far includes H.G Wells’ Time Machine and The Beetle by Richard Marsh.

 

I start back at Uni around 20th September, and in mid-August I’ll be back volunteering at the high school for one day a week. I’m also working on the university campus again this summer as a Frontline Assistant for registration and enrolment (the same job I did last year) and I’m currently in the middle of the training for it. It’s great to see some familar faces from last year and meet some awesome new people too, so really looking forward to it again.

 

Our new flat is awesome and we just moved the cats into it, and I’m happy to say they are settling in absolutely fantastic. They are loving the space and it’s great to have them around again, rather than poor George being stuck downstairs away from us (our desks were in the same room as the bed, which he likes to pee on…). In two weeks they’ll be able to go out in the gardens (both front and back are fairly large) and they’ll have a blast. There’s a tree at the end of the garden as well which I know they’ll be climbing when they’ve settled in. There are dogs on either side of us though so they’re going to need to get used to that, but it’s a good thing as we’re planning to get a dog in the future so this gets them used to it.

 

This is just a quick entry to update you all about stuff, more updates coming soon and maybe a topic or two of discussions.

2014 so far

World of the Year 2014

Where to begin? As you can probably guess from the lack of posts since December it has been a busy and chaotic 2014 so far. Health has been up and down, lots of changes and moving home. The later came as a massive shock and couldn’t have come at a worst time. We’re all settled in now though and life is moving onwards. I am currently in my exam period for year 3. All assessments have been handed in, although I’m waiting for grades for them still. I have 3 exams; two from Semester 1 and one from Semester 2. I was fortunate enough to have the exam gods bless me with one exam a week, which gives me plenty of time to revise for each one individually. The downside? The Medieval Literature one is first up. It’s not too bad; it’s just the translation part of the exam which has me pretty nervous. I’m not to bad reading Medieval English – in my head. But I need to write it down in modern prose… not so easy. The other two are a matter of re-reading, remembering themes and planning questions.

 

At the beginning of the year I was invited to choose a Word of the Year by Haley. To read more about this idea see this useful blog post. Googling word of the year gives you a range of different websites; dictionaries mainly but also spiritual and it isn’t specific to one religion. For me it’s spiritual, it has it’s roots in Paganism but this is something you can do whether you’re religious, spiritual or not. At the end of the day it is about positivity, making steps towards something better for yourself.

 

Change

 

That is my word of 2014 and it has so far been an apt choice. This year has already brought about some changes, whether I’ve wanted them or not. I chose it because I knew this year I would be starting two things which would have big influences on my life; teaching placement and creative writing dissertation. I’ve been at my placement at a High School since February, initially starting for just the required 25-30 hours for my Humanities in the Classroom module and then being invited to stay on for the rest of the year. I’ve also been offered the chance to return next year, which I would love to do, but I need to take into consideration that it will be my final year and that means insanity in general. Plenty of time to decide about that anyway 🙂

 

I am absolutely loving my time at the school. I really lucked out and have had the opportunity to work with an awesome department full of supportive and friendly teachers of all levels and styles. It really helped to be working alongside two student teachers currently working on their PGDE as a lot of the work they had to do, I was also doing i.e. reflecting on lesson plans and working with certain classes. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I can finally say ‘I found it’! That thing I want to do for the rest of my life. I’d love to end up an author full time, but I’m nearing 30 and it’s time to settle down into a career that will last. It has been a long time in coming but I have finally found it; Teaching. After the first day I had fallen in love with it.

 

I had been worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle it physically but another change, a positive one, is that my Physio is working. I have the loveliest Physio and cannot recommend the team at Glasgow Physio Center highly enough. They’re awesome 🙂 I have a 30 min session every week in which is usually spent 15 mins working on my problem areas with massaging techniques and stretches and then 15 minutes pilates. I’m hoping to move up to 30 mins pilates over the summer.

 

This should hopefully break my lack of blog entries record now. I have a growing list of topics I want to blog about so I’ll try and get started on them soon! 🙂 At the moment I’m getting over a bug that I’ve had for 3 weeks – yep my entire easter break, which sucked – and during my recovery I have gotten addicted to pinterest thanks to Haley and Claire. You can find me over here.

 

 

 

I have classes!

Postgrad

It’s been a small nightmare getting my classes sorted out for this year. Due to the resit I had to wait for someone to progress me onto the next year, and this was delayed by some major problems with the entire system. Those were finally sorted at the beginning of the week and mine wasn’t. It took all week, but finally Friday I got my classes sorted. So now it’s time for the annual pre-term what is Heather studying this year blog post.

I actually have no idea whether some of these courses are for both semesters, or if I need to pick a semester to study them in. Likewise with the two core English Literature lectures I’ve no idea whether I need to take both or one per semester. As for whether there are tutorials and assessments for them (just confirmed that they are not assessed) – your guess is as good as mine. So there will probably be another update in a few weeks before classes start.

Let’s start off with the two core lectures – basically the ones the department force you to take:

 

ENGLIT 4060 – LC01   Introducing Forms and Genres
To introduce students entering the Honours English Literature Programme to the key literary genres and forms that they will encounter in a range of course options within the programme: to present and analyse examples of a variety of literary forms and demonstrate how they have evolved within literary history; to introduce students to the critical debates that relate to the study of  literary form and genre.
ENGLIT 4061 – Introduducing Concepts and Approaches
To introduce students entering the Honours English Literature Programme to a set of key literary concepts and critical approaches to literature that they will encounter in a range of course options within the programme: to present and analyse examples of a variety of concepts and demonstrate how they have evolved within literary history; to introduce students to the critical debates that relate to the study of  literature.
Everything else was up to me and I chose:
ENGLIT 4014 – Literature 1780-1840 (aka Victorian Literature)
This course addresses prose, poetry and drama from the Nineteenth Century.  Students can expect to study the work of major novelists, such as George Eliot, as well as poetry by figures such as Lord Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Rudyard Kipling.  Students will be encouraged to place their understanding of such literary writings in context with some of the major social, historical and political developments in this period;  they will also be encouraged to draw upon the work of authors across the period, from the early novels of Charles Dickens in the 1840 to fin de siècle writings by Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson from the 1890’s.
Creative Writing Dissertation
Creative writing, taught through workshops, is a valuable discipline in developing editorial, critical and creative skills. Students facing the demands of genre and the challenges of form become differently aware of the dynamics involved and of the values inherent in different kinds and combinations of creative work. They grow alert to issues of diction, syntax, tone, rhythm, structure and progression in their own and in their fellow students¹ writing, and this experience feeds into their reading and criticism. In seeing how form has been and can be honoured, subverted, developed and disrupted, they come to discriminate between authentic and factitious experiment, and to understand by imitation and example.

This dissertation course gives students an opportunity to build up their own work within a strict critical workshop context, and to become part of that context in appraising and encouraging the work of fellow writers. Each student, in relation to the writing of others, develops editorial and critical skills, while learning to work to length and to deadline. More than an exploration of self, the course is an exploration of the art of writing and an exploration of its techniques.

COMPLIT 4017 – LC01   The Brothers Grimm and the European Fairy Tale
This course will examine some of the tales written down by the Grimms and others, and students will discuss various interpretations to which they have been subjected. By focusing on various interpretations of tales (for example, psychological, literary, folkloristic, formalistic, feminist, Marxist) students will begin to see how this simplest form of narrative can carry so much importance for informing just how it is that we humans make meaning through telling stories.
COMPLIT 4016 – SM01   Infidelities
This course explores treatments of the theme of adultery and infidelity in some depth and across a wide range of texts and genres. Taking as its starting point representations of adultery in European narrative, the course will encourage students to analyse parallels and contrasts between the texts on thematic and stylistic levels and in relation to socio-cultural contexts, but will also require them to go beyond a mere thematic
reading to consider questions of gender, class, identity.
ENGLIT 4052 – LC01   Humanities in the Classroom (with work placement)
This course examines the effects of educational policy and methods on discipline formation in Scotland and Britain, from 1850 to the present.  It encourages all students to reflect critically on their own attributes, skills and experiences in learning and teaching, and gives those with an interest in a career in education an opportunity to become more familiar with aspects of professional life.  Working in groups as well as individually, students consider their disciplines from the outside, learning to explain key elements of them to a variety of non-specialists.  The course will include institutional visits to educational institutions.  It gives students an opportunity to apply and adapt their disciplinary knowledge to problems demanding multidisciplinary approaches.  The course’s emphasis on enquiry-based learning and assessment methods aims to improve students’ confidence, teamwork skills and presentation skills.
This version of the course includes a voluntary work placement in an educational institution or other location where education is provided.

Memories are just a memory (Things are looking up)

Memories

There! You see I did get to use the title after all… sort of 😉

I may be a little hyped up on coffee right about now. I had some after waking up from a nap feeling really yucky and while I do still feel sleepy, the coffee and food helped a lot. So instead of heading to bed here I am right now writing a pretty damn perky blog entry. The positive mood is not just down to the caffeine though; it’s a general feeling that hit me yesterday when I realised how much better I was feeling. Physically I’m not doing so good – ear/sinus infection & my dodgy knees playing up – but emotionally I’m good. It’s the first time since the start of this god forsaken year that I have felt happy and confident. I still feel guilty considering what happened to Az… how can I be happy when something so horrific has happened? I am still mourning him, I probably always will because the loss of a loved one – human or animal – never truly leaves us.

But you have to go on living, looking to the future rather than the past. That has been a very hard lesson for me to learn, especially as I have a photographic memory and can picture unhappy memories in a flash. It isn’t a flash back, it’s just a memory in great detail. I remember the first time I was bullied when a kid stuck pencils through the hole in the school chair when I was 5. I distinctly remember 5 years later when I stepped oddly on a stone while walking to Churchfields park and had my first hypermobility caused injury; a hairline fracture in my ankle. What I don’t remember is which ankle it was because that was the first of many ankle/foot related injuries that eventually stopped as my foot became strengthen through years of physiotherapy and wearing sports support bandages for years on end. My first day at St John Rigby and the years that followed, making crazy friends who are still with me to this day. The good memories and the bad memories. Then Hayes, Leeds and the last six years with my amazing fiance.

I’m tearing up as I think back over all this – but they aren’t tears of sadness. It isn’t my depression raising it’s ugly head. They are tears of joy, of understanding of being able to lay some demons to rest. Why has all this suddenly happened recently? It’s been a stepping stone of different stages, of long term and short term events that have built me back up from rock bottom. I’m far from perfect, far from healed and as I have always known, my depression will still be there. You can’t wash away all the bad things, you just have to learn to handle them with the help of others.

I’m probably feeling even more philosophical tonight because I just watched the first episode of the new Rizzoli & Isles series which starred the actor Lee Thompson Young. For those who don’t already know; the actor was found dead this week from apparent suicide. The details are still a mystery but it does seem that it was depression that led to his death. I know how it feels to feel that bad, that alone and that powerless. I am fortunate that people have been there to help me up, to support me and kiss away my tears. I will always be grateful to those people. When I hear that someone was unable to stop the pain and felt that their only option was death… it breaks my heart. It’s one of the reasons why I always offer people a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and I speak openly about my problems. I’ve even heard someone crying before in a toliet at university and asked if they were ok. I know it sounds stupid but my hope was that the girl might register that even a stranger could care about her, that she wasn’t alone.

Since officially being accepted for honours I’ve had to sit and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for my academic profile to be progressed onto the next year. It has apparently been fixed, however, until mycampus (the system) has been updated after a major error happened, I won’t know for sure. It means I’m stuck waiting to find out what classes I actually have as no one has confirmed anything with me at all. I know I have creative writing both semesters and in semester 2 a course called “humanities in the classroom” which includes a work placement. I only know this because I had to apply separately for both of these. So I have no reading lists, which is a good and a bad thing. It means I get to read whatever I want to read – currently the Iron Druid Chronicles – but it also means less time to read stuff before the beginning of term. I’ve also heard that one course – the vampire literature one – may not even be happening this year *cries*. This means I may need to find another course from somewhere as well… but I will know nothing until mycampus is sorted. I am hoping – just like everyone else – that this will be the start of next week.

Wow.. this entry is going on for ages. I still have two more points to get through before I finish and head to bed. The first goes with the general feel of this entry; the future. Next wednesday I have my first physio appointment and I’m hoping praying that they can actually offer me something useful. This will be the third time having physio on my knees… having is actually the wrong term as the previous ones didn’t actually do much apart from show me how to do exercises and send me off to do them. The one in Leeds spent most of his time lecturing me on how I wasn’t standing/bending/moving correctly. Dude, you try having this condition and then tell me it’s easy to re-teach your entire body to stand/move/bend differently. Guilting someone into fixing their body when they cannot help it – my body thinks what it is doing is the natural normal behaviour of a body – doesn’t HELP. Anyway… rant over 😛 I was supposed to be talking about how I noticed this week my sudden vocabulary changes from “if I do creative writing, my novel/protagonist will be…” to “my novel/protagonist is going to be…”. No honours went losing out on the chance to start down the official creative writing road and while it is scary, it is damn exciting too. I can’t wait to get started!

And the last point finally; work and how well it has been going, and then that rant stole the show. Everyone is really friendly, and the only down side is the lack of stuff to do sometimes. However, the next few weeks will see that changing and I’ll probably find myself wishing for the good ole quiet days.