It’s been a while since I mentioned my course so I thought I’d give you a bit of an update.

For those that don’t know, in September I started an English Literature degree with the Open University. It’s always been a bit of an ambition of mine. I would have done English had I not needed a Law degree to be a solicitor and last year it crossed my mind that instead of dreaming about it, I could actually just get on and do it.

At the outset, I teetered between wild excitement at the prospect of being able to spend all day reading books and deep trepidation about the whole madcap scheme. Where did I think I was going to find sixteen hours a week? Could I really take on a commitment for six long years? Would I be able to concentrate long enough to read my books let alone come up with anything sensible to say?

I calmed my nerves in the stationery department of WHS as I salivated over lever arch files and highlighters and suddenly it was October and I was off!

It’s a slightly peculiar experience to be studying with the OU. Last time round I sat in lecture theatres scribbling frantically and had lots of people to chat things through with over coffee in the Union bar. With the OU it’s just not like that. I have a pile of course materials, a book of assignments and a timetable of tutorials. The rest is up to me.

And so far so good. This year’s course (AA100) is the foundation for all arts based courses and is designed to help learn the skills needed to complete a degree. It does this by introducing the students to a huge range of subjects. From Plato to Irish independence, from Cezanne to Christopher Marlowe we have scooted about the subjects spending a week on each before flying off at a tangent. It’s fascinating and most of it has been completely new to me.

Every five weeks or so, I hot foot it to Bradford University for a tutorial. Whilst there are twenty people in the group, only eleven have ever put in an appearance. We know absolutely nothing about each other, our tutor being a gruff Lancastrian with no time for small talk. I have no inkling why any of them are studying, what they are aiming for or how well they are doing. It’s all slightly strange. Still, I suppose they know nothing about me.

I am managing to keep up with the timetable by trying to keep a week ahead of the game so that I have time in hand for unseen eventualities – sick kids, work, half terms. And now, with the end of the first year in sight, I am starting to look at what to do next. There is so much choice that it’s hard to know which direction to take. I could choose to study virtually anything I want. It’s so exciting.

 Next year it all steps up a gear – less hand holding, higher standards and an exam. It’s a bit daunting but not as scary as taking that first step was. In the meantime, I shall continue to follow my timetable  religiously and enjoy getting a discount at the cinema with my NUS card!