To complement my last post, I decided to write about the most helpful resources I used this year in order to prepare the two modules I had registered for (‘Intro. to English Language’ and ‘Renaissance & Restoration’). Almost all of these are specific to the BA English degree syllabus, but perhaps students from other disciplines are curious about what we read or may be interested in some of the topics. Prospective students of these two modules may find something interesting among the titles I mention.
My, my. What a roller-coaster this year has been, phew! I see myself now in a very different place from the starting point of my journey. Throughout this year I have reconnected with myself, learned one or two new things and basically enjoyed getting lost in books. If you are anything like me, you probably spent the two weeks after your last examination cursing yourself because relevant ideas for your essays kept popping up in your head. We went to Spain to visit relatives and to enjoy the warm weather there (warmer than Luxembourg, at any rate) and I still could not shake off this feeling of having lost the opportunity of getting a better grade.
To get the much-needed closure on this year I canalized my energy and my concern for my studies in an evaluative effort, trying to ascertain how realistic I was in my initial appraisals, how I have adjusted to changes and how everything turned out in the end. I think it is wiser to do this before getting examination results, that way the evaluation is less mediated by the final outcome. You know I am a firm contender for focusing on the process instead of results.
My examinations are over.
It is hard to believe, and right now I feel a bit lost. Suddenly my mornings are free, and although I have a to-do list for the forthcoming months (a pretty long one), there is some weirdness in this sudden lack of structure. I wanted to write here in part to counteract that feeling, but also to share with you some words of encouragement.
With level 5 formative assessments already handed in and the looming date of formative assessment for level 4, it seems that the reality of examinations is sinking in. Perhaps you are already drafting your revision plans, or maybe you are still considering how to approach the task of organizing revision time to make the most of it. In your plans, do not forget to take in to account the help you can get from family and friends. They are there not only to cheer you up, but they can also be an invaluable help to optimizing revision.
I remember having one of those books of Choose your Own Adventure when I was a little girl. If you also like reading, these books offered an exciting new possibility over the universe of just one closed end. As I was uploading the formative assessment essays of Renaissance and Restoration, it just occurred to me that formative assessments are a bit like these books. As the date for uploading essays for level 4 draws near, I thought I might share with you my thoughts and try to give you an insight in this crucial process of our studies.
You know that expression that tells “you should stop to smell the flowers?” Well, I wish we had flowers now in good old Luxembourg, but it turns out we are covered in snow. So instead, I am smelling the snow and trying to devise a plan for the second half of this course year.
As every year, I had promised myself that I would try to open the books and study a bit through Christmas break, and as every year, I only managed to read five to ten pages of material in the two weeks out of the house. As expats, Christmas break is one of the few opportunities we have to gather with family and spend some time with them. This was The Little One’s first Christmas and everybody wanted to take part in it, so we had to make room for multiple family engagements.
I am one of those people sensitive to the amount of chaos around. If things are tidy and clean I find myself in good humor, but if things get out of hand, I turn into a grumpy, muttering Grinch. I know life can be messy: clothes running around, wrestling my dear dog into taking a bath, guests coming to visit, the garden getting out of hand now that all the leaves are off the trees… You tell me. However, I try not to let Chaos desecrate my haven of mental peace: my desk.
Having my own desk with an organized system is one of my non-negotiable needs. This space allows me to switch on to “study time”. When I sit there, my goal is to get in a mindset of focused mental activity, and knowing myself, if there are things scattered around I will not be able to concentrate on the task. Even if I am not distracted by the mess itself, my mind wanders more easily to issues unrelated to my studies.
When I wrote my first post I told you that my main concern as a studying mum was making space in my brain for knowledge when the ups and downs with The Little One were barely leaving any space available in said brain. After more than a month of daily study I think it is about time to make an evaluation.
In the past few weeks The Little One was going through the “adaptation period” at daycare. She had to get used to new people, new food, new patterns, new rules… And it was a lot to take. Interestingly, this adaptation period is also designed to help parents in coping with the difficult feelings of leaving their progeny in the care of someone unrelated to the family circle. My mind wandered off easily and I asked myself repeatedly if she would hate me for “abandoning” her like that.
By now, I guess many of you are already panicking about the workload of this year. For me, it is usually around this time of the year when the sheer reality of the task sinks in and so I feel myself doing reckless things, like waking up in the middle of the night and considering going to my desk to put a few hours in the books when I should be sleeping. The problem with stress, apart from the unpleasantness of feeling at the edge of the abyss, is that it clouds our judgement and it is easy to slip and make wrong choices (like extending our reading list unnecessarily, sleeping less or second-guessing our elections)
If this is your case, in this post I aim to give a few pointers on how to avoid feeling stressed or how to cope with the feeling if you ever get to feel this way.
Five years ago, if someone had told me that I was going to live in Luxembourg and raise a baby girl while studying English with the UoL International Programmes, I probably would have laughed. Yet here I am: a Spaniard based in Luxembourg studying English and, yes, raising a baby at the same time (six months now and going strong!).
The truth is I studied to become a teacher back in Spain. I got my teaching degree there but life brought me to this little country and, after a while, I decided to enroll in the International Programmes to widen my knowledge in English. Continue reading