Summertime

Summer

The post exam entry is always a nerve wracking thing to write because reflecting on myself in an exam isn’t easy and I worry about being too over confident, about jinxing myself. They went ok, pretty sure there is no failures in there. As for actual marks? We’ll see.

So that is the end of year three and there are no resits in sight for the first time in 3 years. It is a glorious feeling knowing that my summer is completely free. It’s even better knowing that I go on holiday soon for two weeks in Tenerife. I can’t remember the last time I was away for two weeks. One week always feels too short, so really looking forward to the longer break – and after this year it feels very needed!

I have a lot of things I want to do this summer; explore, make home made ice cream, write, online projects – and I’m doing my best to do things in my own time without getting totally overwhelmed. One thing I do plan to do is blog more often; hopefully once a week and I have a growing list of topics I want to write about. The biggest of course being the new Star Wars films and the debunking of the Expanded Universe – but I won’t get into that now. It deserves and requires it’s own entry. So while I have lists of things to do this summer I am trying to spread them out and not stress when I don’t get things done.

I will still be working in the school until about the 20th June when the year ends and all going well will be back in August for the new year. I need to confirm it with the department head but I really want to continue doing it if I can. I’ve gotten so much out of it and I love it.

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 πŸ™‚

 

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 πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚ 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.

 

 

 

And just like that it’s December…

December

I don’t even know where to begin. That is what happens when you don’t blog for several months at a time :-/ /facepalm. Let’s start with the simple stuff; I’m now 28, I am just finishing my first term of my honours degree in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. My birthday was lovely with a great night out with friends and spoilt rotten as usual. The notable presents include a brand new gaming pc which is awesome – my last one was on it’s last legs and was dangerously overheating constantly. It has been great to be able to finally play games on high quality and see them all in their beauty. The downside was windows 8 which is slowly growing on me; the handy way to view pdfs while keeping other windows open is very useful for studying and essay writing. But the lack of a traditional start menu is just ick.. that got changed straight away thanks to an addon.

The other notable present was tickets to see Nickelback live at the new Glasgow hydro. I’m still a little annoyed at the level of sneakiness employed by my fiancΓ© Chris to ensure I didn’t get the tickets for him. During a concert related discussion in the summer he swore blind that he really didn’t want to see them, even though they were one of his favourite bands. That’s how early he was planning this! Yes, I am a very lucky girl to have someone who puts so much effort into presents and knows me so well. The concert was on 27th November and we had amazing seats. Right in the middle of the first tier facing the stage. And the concert was fantastic!

University has been a mixture of good and bad, the bad mainly being health related. It has been a constant struggle with a lot of things going on but despite that the grades for assessments have not been too horrific. My first two assignments, an essay for Medieval Literature, and a mid-term for Victorian Literature, were rushed to say the least. I ended up with a C1 for the essay which was far far better than I imagined and a B3 for the mid term. The mid term was a mini-essay comparing two recent articles on one of the texts we had covered. The aim was to evaluate and summarise while showing our own voice and the later I did pretty well according to my tutor. I am currently working on the second essay for Victorian Literature which is due next week, and I’m really enjoying it because we got to create our own questions. It feels less stressful and more of a fun challenge compared to previous essays we have had. My question is “The emerging voice of the late Victorian ‘new woman’ in the work of Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle.”.

I have no exams for either modules until the spring, so that just leaves this final essay. I am supposed to have two and I have chosen not to do the second one for medieval literature. As much as I would like to refine my essay, to gain a better grade, I have realised that I would be mainly doing it to prove something. To prove that I am capable of better and that despite missing so many classes I can still do well. But who do I need to prove this to? By choosing not to do the second essay – the best grade of the two essays is chosen – I am saving myself a long period of stress before Christmas. A C1 for something worth 25% is pretty good and right now I would rather relax and get better. Next term is going to be as difficult, if not more, because I will be also doing a teaching placement. This time also gives me the chance to start looking for that placement and also preparing my reading for term 2 so I can get ahead.

My health has not been disastrous, and some of it has been improving. Primarily my hypermobility syndrome because I have been seeing a private physiotherapist who has worked wonders with me. I have begun to get better muscle strength and have been working my way up from the lowest weights to about the 3rd now. And I FEEL better. I am actually able to walk now without having to constantly use my asthma inhaler due to the pain, and I don’t have to stop every few minutes. After 8 years someone has finally been able to offer me hope and help to something I thought would never get better. It’s a long journey and the next step is to begin to loose some of this weight now that my body can actually handle exercise again.

Once that essay is finished that is me done for christmas and we’re going away for it this year. We’re visiting some relatives in Harrogate before spending the Christmas period with both families in London. I also get to see my best friend who is pregnant and expecting in January! I am so excited πŸ˜€ I’m taking part in three secret santa this year; the TFL one, one over at Obsidian Butterfly an RPG I’m in and the RPG secret Santa we’re running over at Distant Fantasies: RPG Resource. We’re also currently working on a massive move and overhaul of Distant Fantasies which should be ready for the new year.

This will probably be the last topic for 2013, I may sneak another one in after Christmas. But if I don’t; I hope you all have a wonderful holiday period and new year!

All Change

Uni Updates

In the past few weeks I’ve had to change my class timetable several times, so the post I previously wrote about classes is now pretty much null and void. One of the changes I had expected; Creative Writing Dissertation is for 4th years or 3rd years doing a general humanities degree. Since I am neither it means that I don’t need to take it this year. The good news is that I don’t need to resubmit a portfolio next year; I just need to email to say I’m still interested. While I was looking forward to it, I have to admit I am a little glad of the delay. The last year has been very difficult and while I’ve been planning my novel out in my head, I’ve not actually touched it for months. So a year of getting involved with it again will really help πŸ™‚

The other change is that I am no longer taking comparative literature courses. I received a very unprofessional and condescending email from one of the senior lecturers. There was a specific bit where my disabilities were mentioned and that is all I am saying. I felt extremely uncomfortable after this and have therefore chosen not to take the courses. I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to them, but the bad outweighed the good. It has actually worked out in my favour because it meant I was taking an extra course due to the weird 20 credits for comparative literature modules, where as english literature ones are 30 credits. That means two courses per semester, where as with the comparative literature I was doing 3-4 – the comparative literature ones lasted 2 semesters. Each english lit course is just one semester. It likewise has given me a much nicer timetable; I’m off both wednesday and thursday, with one 10am lecture on fridays.

So what am I actually taking now? I’m still taking Victorian Literature. This term it is accompanied by Medieval English Literature:

On this course Honours students will have the opportunity to explore texts from the period of Chaucer’s lifetime, when English literature exploded into life. The texts selected will be contextualised within the fourteenth-century cultures and societies within which they were produced and received. Themes and theories covered will be based on topics such as authorship, patronage, sexuality, gender, piety, personal identity, historicism, legend, medievalism, audience, manuscript production. At the end of the course, assessment will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability (1) to translate and comment on select passages of late medieval literary texts; (2) to discuss and locate select texts within the culture, society and linguistic and literary milieux in which they were produced; (3) to discuss the approaches and techniques available to and used by critics and commentators in the interpretation of these texts.

 

For those of you who don’t know; I did my history of art dissertation on manuscripts. Apocalyptic manuscripts to be precise. I also really enjoyed a manuscript based course I did in third year, so this is essentially looking at manuscripts from the opposite side; literature rather than art. I also took a previous medieval studies course during the same degree, so I figured this would be building up on knowledge I already have.

In term 2 I still have Humanities in the classroom, and now also Modern Literature 1945 to Present.

This course offers an opportunity to study the key writers, genres and movements of the immediate post-WWII period through to the contemporary moment. Through an extremely varied programme of lectures and seminars, students are introduced to a range of literary texts (poetry, drama, novels and graphic novels), placed in relevant historical and cultural contexts and critical debates. Students will be encouraged to read widely in order to understand the diversity and innovation that characterizes contemporary writing. Lectures will address the impact of a range of important cultural and political concerns (e.g. war, racial and ethnic diversity, national identities, changing attitudes to sex and sexuality, ecological crisis) as well as changes (and continuities) in the forms and genres through which writers have engaged with these issues.

I like my literature the opposite way to my art; I prefer modern literature, especially this time period. Plus getting to study Angela Carter, Neil Gaimen and graphic novels is just awesome.

The class changes are not the only changes. For the past month and a bit I have been working at my university as a part of the enrolment and registration support team. And as of today, that job is officially over πŸ™ I really enjoyed the job and met some amazing people who I intend to stay in contact with. It just feels so weird now that it is over!

I also had my assessment with the private physio and wow, just wow. I don’t remember ever not feeling some sort of pain or discomfort, and she did some nerve work on my arm/shoulder/neck where there is pressure on the nerve. I felt pain free for a while and it was blissful. She was lovely, so understanding and not at all judgemental. So I’m just starting a new period in my life; she’s the first person in 8 years to actually help me battle against my hypermobility syndrome. I have my first proper appointment on monday, and I just hope I can go. All that time around freshers has inevitably given me Freshers Flu. I’m due a new flu vaccine and it only covers the most popular forms of flu, so this one has managed to slip in under the radar and I feel terrible.

 

Advice for new students to the University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow: Advice for new students

The idea for this blog post came about after talking about safety with Jen. There are some aspects of student life I have no experience with (i.e. halls/student accommodation), but there’s also a lot I do have. Some of this post will be useful for all students and some will be tailored to those taking literature courses. If you have any questions feel free to comment or ask me a question on tumblr.

A few key terms

To start us off there are a few key terms that you will hear throughout your time at Glasgow University.

GU – Glasgow University.

GUU – Glasgow University Union, one of the two university unions (more later).

QMU – The Queen Margaret Union, the other university union and also known as ‘The QM’.

UG – Undergraduate; if this is your first degree/first time at university this is probably you.

PG – Postgraduate are students who have completed an undergraduate degree and have therefore graduated.

GUID – This is your student number, also referred to as a matriculation number. This number doubles as your username for logging into any of the university computers and services. If you forget it, don’t worry because it is printed on your student id as well πŸ™‚ To log into any computer or web services you need to put your student number and last initial – i.e. Sally Smith’s GUID would be 5566777S.

Seminar/Tutorial – Tutorials/seminars are classes you take alongside your lectures and follow the more standard ‘class’ setting you’ve had at school. Depending on your degree you may have labs instead of tutorials. Both the names are used by different staff and departments, but a tutorial and a seminar are usually the same thing.

 

Information & useful websites

At the University of Glasgow (also referred to as Glasgow Uni) there are a couple of key websites that will make your life a lot easier. First up is your student center which you can access through this website (it requires a working GUID). If you’re already registered and enrolled for classed you’ll probably already be familar with your student center. It is the place where you can enrol in classes, view your grades, pay fees, and also houses all of your personal details.

Next up is Moodle 2. Moodle 2 has a very funky long winded title and explanation, but the majority of the times you will just hear it called Moodle 2. New students are generally told about it in their induction sessions at the beginning of term. If you want to get a head of the crowd and want to hunt d0wn reading lists, you can access it at http://moodle2.gla.ac.uk/. Moodle 2 is the online center for course information, lecture hand outs/slides – anything to do with your classes.

Need to set internet up on your laptop or mobile phone? No problem. You can find this out and other technical information at the IT Helpdesk website. There are also print out setup details for using the wireless internet and printing available outside the IT Helpdesk on level 3 of the library. There are also student mobile apps available, including a timetable and room locator which is brand new this year. You can find these here: http://www.gla.ac.uk/apps/

The library website. Need I say more?

The Student Representative Council, fondly known as the SRC, is pretty much what it sounds like; a council of students. They are here to help every student and are your representatives if you have any problems. They are always fighting to help students and their website is armed to the teeth with useful information. Definetly check it out, especially the advice section as it covers a bunch of stuff that new students need to know such as council tax, academic appeals, accommodation and much more. Don’t be afraid to go see them or get in contact with them; they are friendly and extremely helpful πŸ™‚ More importantly they genuinely care about each individual student’s case.

Lastly, there is an online help center where you can log support calls for help. If you’re a new or returning student, this is a very handy website to remember. It is located here and it means you can sort out any problems without visiting the campus. So if you’re at home for the summer, or you’re an international student not coming to Glasgow until the start of term, you can get quick and efficient help from where you are. Just remember if you do log a support call give as much information as possible, including course names and course codes or screen shots of errors. This helps your problem get sorted quicker!

 

The Campus

We are blessed with a gorgeous campus with loads of facilities and even our own Howarts (yep, that’s right, the Main Building was J K Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts) – but it is very confusing. Don’t let this put you off Glasgow Uni; all campuses are the same and we’re fortunate enough to have one of the most beautiful ones. If you’re a new student you’re most likely going to be on campus for Freshers week (see here for more info) and I really advise taking the time to explore the campus. There will be loads of student helpers around (decked in brightly coloured shirts and high-vis vests) so if you get lost just ask. You’ll generally find that most students are friendly and have been in your position, so don’t be afraid to politely ask someone for directions. We’ve all been there πŸ˜‰

I really recommend printing off a copy of the university campus map (the pdf is here) or taking the one you got with your information booklet. Even now in third year I still carry it with me, and have a pre-term date with my best friend to find out where our classes are. They change every year and I don’t think even the staff know every inch of the campus πŸ˜› If you’re worried about getting between classes take the time to route your journey before classes start. Each class is supposed to finish at 55 minutes past the hour and start 5 minutes past; however, it isn’t uncommon for lecturers to run over time. If you have to make a mad dash between classes make sure you’re sitting close to the stairs and leave 5 minutes early. The lecturers are not going to be offended, if you’re worried that they may be, speak to them before they begin and just explain.

As mentioned in the key terms the University has two unions; the Queen Margaret (QM) and the Glasgow University Union (GU). In general terms you will find the geeks, nerds, gamers, roleplayers, punk/metal/rock fans at the QM. The GUU tends to appeal more to the opposite type of crowd. That’s not to say these guidelines are specific or requirements of either Union, that is just how it tends to work out. For example, the QM is where the GUGs (Glasgow University Gaming Society) have their weekly events/meetings.

 

We’re no longer in Kansas Toto

University is not high school – it seems obvious right? Wrong. The biggest bit of advice I can give to new students is that everything is now your responsibility. You need to locate your classes, you need to have your reading/tutorial work prepared and yes; you will be expected to do an oral presentation. Don’t expect your tutors or lecturers to spoon feed you. If you don’t understand something ASK. Your tutors are usually Post-Grad students so they’ve been in your position before.Don’t be afraid to email and ask questions!

This bit of advice is especially important to remember in year 2 when you start thinking about honours. Some courses may require submitting a separate application or portfolio. If you want to ensure you get a chance to apply then it is YOUR responsibility to ask someone about it. I know that some people missed out on applying for the Creative Writing Dissertation option because they waited for the university to tell them.

 

Facebook Groups

My biggest pet peeve is students relying on facebook groups for answers to questions related to courses (such as exam dates, timetable clashes, reading lists) – don’t. If you have a question email someone. It might be your tutor, the course convener, your advisor of studies, or even the department secretary. That being said; facebook groups are useful for asking your peers for help with work, notes from lectures you missed, or trying to track down that awesome quote that you can’t quite remember. You’ll also find older students offering copies of texts as well. You can find all the groups for Glasgow university here.

 

Contacting the University

I’ve already mentioned a few ways to contact the university (support calls, emailing) but I feel that I need to pass on an important lesson I’ve learned – go to the department office. If you’re waiting for the department to reply to your email or you’ve been trying to phone them without – just go straight to the department office. The same goes for tutors or lecturers; go see them during their office hours. Don’t sit waiting for someone to realise you’re waiting because it could be weeks.

 

Journals & Databases

This is more of a specific one for literature or theory based subjects. Online journals are collections of articles and databases of electronic data which you can use for secondary sources in your essays. The biggest one is JSTOR but you can view a list of them over here on the library website. Just select your institution (the university of Glasgow) and log in with your GUID. You can also sometimes find some hidden gems in Google Books.

 

Books

As a literature student you will find yourself spending a lot of money on books. However, there are a few legal ways to lessen the cost. Any books over 100 years old are no longer copyrighted and this means free e-book versions. You can find a lot of these on Project Gutenberg and also the Amazon Kindle store. You don’t need a kindle to use the Amazon Kindle store; just download their computer version.

There are also a few online sites where you can swap books for free. Bookmooch works on points; you earn points for swapping books and use these points to “buy” books. Readitswapit is similar, but you swap a book for a book – so you’re only paying for the cost of the postage.

 

Disability & Long Term Illnesses

If you’ve had a hard time at school due to health problems, you’re probably feeling pretty jaded and fed up. I know how you feel; I had the same problem. High schools and colleges are just not equipped to understand or help students with disabilities or long term illnesses. Thankfully universities are better and I really suggest contacting the University Disability Team. They will offer you an appointment where you will meet with a disability advisor who will discuss the various ways that they can help make your studying easier. This could be listing you as flexible attendance so you don’t get in trouble for missing classes, getting the library to collect books for you to pick up, or giving you extra time in exams. These are just a few exams I am aware of personally and I really do recommend these guys. They are extremely supportive and understanding, and most of the time they have heard of your health condition/s before. So you don’t need to sit and explain every little detail to them. Also, each college and department have an assigned disability coordinator who liaise with the Disability Team and your tutors. They are easily reachable via email and are very helpful and understanding.

On a similar note the Counselling and Psychological Services is also brilliant. Mental illness gets a lot of bad press and stigma attached to it, but these guys are here for any students who need help. They have drop in sessions, one on one appointments and group sessions available.

I recommend both these teams with a lot of personal experience. If you have any questions or worries just ask πŸ™‚

 

Safety

And finally we’re at the topic which started this whole advice idea. My friend Jen was asked on tumblr whether Glasgow was safe and here is her response. It got us talking about safety advice for students, so here’s a few key points on that subject:

  • Lock your doors and close windows. This may seem obvious but if you’re not from a city you might not be used to doing this. Get into the habit!
  • If you need to walk home alone then choose a direct route through public areas. Avoid parks, dark alleys and so forth.
  • Always keep your keys or an umbrella at hand; if you’re worried about being followed holding these in your hand can act as a deterrent and as possible weapons.
  • There are always self defence classes available and I highly recommend anyone taking them. You don’t need to be super fit or an awesome fighter to pick up a few defence moves that could save your life.
  • Always keep an eye on your drink when in a pub/bar; take it to the bathroom with you if you have to! Also, covering your glass with your hand stops someone from dropping something in it.
  • Don’t flash your electronics about in public or on public transport!
  • If you feel uncomfortable anywhere then leave. Preferably with other people, but if not then make sure you’ve got a safe way home. Real friends will look after you, not force you to stay somewhere/with people that make you uncomfortable.

 

Questions?

If I’ve missed something or you want to ask something I’ve not covered then just leave me a comment πŸ™‚ You can also follow me on twitter @jadedlioness