Saturday Tutorials

For one of my modules (A150-Voices and Texts) all the tutorials were on a Saturday. Last Saturday was my third and final tutorial for this module, that’s not many, but it is only a 30 pointer. In my opinion, we should have had more, 6 hours of face-to-face time just doesn’t seem enough to go through the sheer amount we’ve had to study. This course is comprised of a number of different academic disciplines, although this make things interesting, it can also be quite challenging at times.

This tutorial was held at Leicester University, about half an hours train ride from where I live. At the moment I’m doing two modules- A150 and AA100, it’s quite a balancing act to keep up to date on both, and more often than not, I fail! I ended up using the train journey to do some furious reading of the chapter I hadn’t got around to… Finding the tutorial spot was a bit of a nightmare, wandering around a city the size of a small country in the wind and rain, with no map… let’s just say it took a long while and a great deal of panic before I could find where I was supposed to be.

Once I (finally) got there, the tutorial was pretty good. I was a bit of a lone wolf, the sole hater of “Hard Times”, everybody else raved about how hilarious it was…. Despite me not really enjoying the book, I’ve decided to do the Literature option for Assignment 3. Bouncing around ideas with the rest of the group reminded me how much I love analysing and picking apart literary texts. The fact that I disliked “Hard Times” should just give me more to say!

I definitely came out of the tutorial feeling much more optimistic about our next assignment. I think it always helps to hear that everybody else has worries, just like you. I won’t get to see most of the people from the tutor group again, as only a couple of them have the exam in the same place I do, it’s kind of sad… I got along with some of them really well, but we’re from all over the country. I think that’s a good thing about the OU, you get to meet such different people from such different places.

One thing about the Leicester tutorials that I’m glad to leave behind? The football fans. Every single time I’ve been, there’s been a big match, and there’s nothing quite as confusing as getting lost in a ridiculous crowd of chanting men while trying to navigate a strange city.

So that’s all for now, not a riveting blog post, I know. But this is one of the day-to-day experiences of studying with the Open University, so I thought it should get a mention…

Ciao, Darragh

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Hard Times

Disclaimer: This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a proper, in depth, book review. It is merely a collection of thoughts, nothing more.

“Hard Times” by Charles Dickens, and let me just say, I had a very, very hard time getting through this one. As this is a set book for my second module (A150-Voices and Texts) I really had to just power through. This happened to be my first venture into the world of Dickens (I’m not including the numerous Christmas viewings on the BBC), and I always thought I’d start out with something that sounded a little more optimistic… “Great Expectations” perhaps.

I was quite surprised by his character development, on TV Dickens always seems to have the most ridiculously, fabulously vivid characters, but in “Hard Times” this was absolutely not the case. By the time I finished, I don’t think I liked a single character, it was more a question of who I despised the least… it was very difficult to bond with any of the characters, as there were so many, and none of them seemed to be explored in much depth. Another thing I noticed about these guys were the overwhelming clichés, there was nothing even remotely unexpected about anyone- the poor people were leeches, the rich people were unbearable snobs and the carnies were delinquents…. everybody loves the occasional cliché but this was just too much! I would say that this could be explained by the unapologetic class divisions of Victorian Britain. I have to admit that I did like the description of the ’eminently practical’ Mr Gradgrind, a phrase that seemed to be repeated about 50 times over the span of two pages. The incessant mentioning of Mrs Sparsit’s ‘Corinthian eyebrows’ did not have the same effect, I truly came to hate that woman and her hairy face!

The first thing I noticed when beginning “Hard Times” was the sheer amount of words! Charlie D seems to have adopted the attitude of why-us-one-adjective-when-you-can-use-four, something that may have been slightly more effective had he not done it in every sentence… “Hard Times” was originally published as a serial in “Household Words” (1854), which in my opinion was a great idea, I think it would have been much more manageable to read in bitesize chunks. I’m not sure how I felt about the ending… I won’t spoil it for anybody but I was rather disappointed, all the loose ends seemed to  get tied up in the last 2 pages, making it all seem a bit rushed.

There is definitely something positive that has come out of me reading this thing… (drumroll please)… I am no longer a Dickens virgin, and now that I’ve read one, the rest seem much less intimidating… and of course I am also now prepared for the next section of A150!

P.S. Something that I’ve noticed while reading the chapters about “Hard Times” in my text book- I would always recommend buying the OU versions of the books, they do tend to be a little more expensive, but it makes it much easier to keep up with the page references, etc.

Ciao, Darragh

Hello world!

So this is my first ever blog post. I thought I’d start out by telling you why I decided to study with the Open University, rather than following the more traditional route of running away to study in a faraway place. Last year, when I was finishing my A-levels and appling to Universities I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I managed to talk myself into applying to study Psychology, but the time I realised I’d rather shove a rusty screwdriver through my ear than do that, it was too late to change my mind. After hyperventilating for about 3 weeks, I started discussing my porblem with the family. My aunt suggested that I look into the OU, as she had had a great experience doing her second degree that way. I wasn’t completely convinced at the time, but I read around, and talked the ears of many a friend and family member. In the end it was my grandad that tipped the scale, I found out that hundreds of years ago (in the 1970s) he did his degree with the Open University. Before he told me this I sort of had the preconception that getting an OU degree wouldn’t be as good as with a “proper” University. He showed me a couple of articles that put OU study on a level with Cambridge and Oxford, which I have to admit, made me much more open to the idea. After reading about a thousand course descriptions I finally settled on AA100 (The Arts Past and Present), as it seemed to contain a little bit of everything that I love. I was completely convinced that I had made the right decision when I got my books delivered in September. It hasn’t been plain sailing, but I’ve loved every moment so far, and I hope that now you guys can enjoy it with me.

Ciao, Darragh