It is almost exactly eight weeks until my first exam. The schedule is printed and framed on my desk so there is no mistaking the timeline. Since the last few weeks have been so busy professionally, I have had to adjust my study plan. An hour each morning and an hour at night have been all the time available. I do not feel too far behind, but I also feel that I am a bit behind. This weekend I made some notes about how to manage the next four weeks then begin to revise in April.
Last week was full of professional deadlines and next week is going to be even busier while exams are just 9 weeks away. It is a major crunch and I wonder how to manage it. The first quarter of the calendar year is usually rather quiet professionally but not this year. The projects I am working on are very exciting and stimulating but they require a lot of time. With just a few weeks to go before my first exam and a mountain of secondary reading on my desk, it feels like I need to regroup a bit to be sure my study outcomes stay on schedule. Read the rest of this entry »
This week my reading and study time settled into a particularly productive schedule. It is kind of a relief because I have been waiting to hit this study sweet spot. Something clicks, the penny drops, it all comes together – whichever phrase you think best describes that moment of increased confidence in, and command of, the topics and texts I am studying. How and why it happens is an open question. How to maximize this opportunity and develop a better grasp and expression of my material is the more urgent one. Read the rest of this entry »
Do you know that first line? Today I read that Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets have some of the most recognizable first lines in the English language. This week I decided to add some Valentine’s Day appropriate study – Victorian love poetry. Do you have a favorite Victorian love poem? Victorian poetry, or even Victorian sonnets, is a wide topic, surely too much to study properly in one week. To narrow the field somewhat and make the best use of my time, while still being a bit indulgent, my focus will be on Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. Theirs is a love story in verse if ever there was one. Read the rest of this entry »
After some seriously cold and snowy weather, we have just had two or three rather warm days and steady rain. Jelly Bean and I were going to play outside all weekend in between study sessions. She is not feeling well and most of the snow is gone leaving some good, thick mud. Staying inside, cuddled on the sofa seems like the better plan. It was Super Bowl and Ground Hog Day weekend here in America, which means spring must be around the corner, if we can just be patient for it to arrive. It is also my ‘Odd Man’ weekend and time to dedicate study resources to Victorian Literature, the course that was carried along in the wake of my focus last week while preparing three other units for exams.
What a difference a week makes! Jelly Bean and I are snuggled up like two bugs in a rug watching the snow come down thick and fast outside of our window. We decided to enjoy a week or so of winter on the farm, nestled in the Laurel highlands, among the highest hills in Pennsylvania. This is a great place for winter sports, and we do enjoy a frolic in the snow of an afternoon, but Jelly Bean is more an observer of winter than a participant. There is about a foot of new snow on the ground today and a second ‘Polar Vortex’ is expected to drop our temperatures dramatically over the next forty-eight hours. There is nothing like a pot of stew, a cup of tea, and a dozen or so good books on a cold winter’s day. Read the rest of this entry »
It is a truth universally acknowledged that things do not always progress the way we intend them to. My exam registration is formally complete and a good case of nerves is setting in right now. On certain days, it feels like I have let a splinter swerve my academic project from its groove, especially if I do not review my progress in each course regularly. Several strategies that I thought were going to be quite useful have turned out to be less helpful than planned. Sometimes they seem more like impediments than aids to effective study. Two things are certain: 1. if a portion of my study plan is not working then it needs to be changed and 2. I have to manage the pre-exam nerves to optimize my study time. Read the rest of this entry »
I always get a little nervous at this time of year – It is sixteen weeks until my first exam. We just enjoyed the long holiday season that, at my house, begins in mid-November, and now are settling into a cold, snowy winter. January can leave me feeling a little disengaged from my study process and maybe even in a bit of a panic, especially with four courses to prepare for exams. It is time to consider how I study, what methods work well for me, and how I can make the best use of my time over the next three and a half months. It is important to develop a method to manage the work over the next sixteen weeks, and ensure my time is used wisely.
It is well below zero and snowy here in Pittsburgh – great snuggling whether if you have a little friend like Jelly Bean to curl up beside you. It is finally the New Year, and all is settling into that lovely quiet that we enjoy so much in the winter season. This seemed like a very good week to share the story of Jelly Bean, since it is as heartwarming and touching as any story about a dog can be – a great way to start the new year and the new term!
It has been a very interesting week for me. It started with some excitement, when the notice that exam registration is now open arrived in my inbox, and ended with several inches of new snow and an ice storm while I was traveling home from Florida. On the days in between, I worked with a dance troop to develop an entertaining conservation program, helped host a gala for the organization I work for, and decided to spend an extra day touring the first, and just recently opened elephant sanctuary in the United States. The sanctuary is also in Florida, not too far from our endangered species reserve, which explains how a very big ice storm got between me and my home in Southwestern Pennsylvania, leaving me stranded at an airport in North Carolina for a few days.
From Friday to Sunday I had a lot of time to listen to the news, read the book I packed for the road, and think about how to manage exams. As it turns out I am rather glad I ended up stranded for 36 hours or so, because otherwise, I would not have had a chance to read Wilkie Collins The Woman in White cover to cover in one day, listen to a very interesting TED talk about narrative and memory, or paid such close attention to the moving tributes to Nelson Mandela. Strangely enough this odd combination of events really helped me make some sense of narrative strategy and exactly why novels are so captivating, and stories are such a powerful part of our lives, and more fully appreciate the kind of powerful impact a life like Mr. Mandela’s can truly have on us, whether or not we have a personal connection.