I wanted to make this first blog post something personal and useful to look back on. After all, blogs are a bit like online diaries aren’t they? They document your life for the viewing pleasure of anyone, anywhere, with an internet connection. I’ve been wanting to create a little space online for me to share my thoughts and general ramblings for a while and now we have it. Hello Bexa is here.
Next on the to-do list is to create some actual content. Although that’s not as easy as it sounds… I went on the search for blog inspiration but returned with the conclusion that no-one would benefit from knowing what I was wearing today (jeans and a jumper, for the record) nor did I feel the urge to share the items in my makeup bag (it would be a very uninteresting short post, I assure you). Instead, I thought I would share my wisdom on what I have learned from my seven years (and counting) of studying with The Open University.
If I start running out of ideas, I’ll go get my makeup bag, ha ha.
Oh before we start, this is my study buddy: Simba.
Let’s just get right on with it. The first and most important tip, in my experience, is make sure you are studying something you are interested in. A huge part of distance learning is self-motivation. So if you are eager to read that next chapter simply because you find your subject fascinating then learning becomes a joy and not a chore. Don’t despair if you haven’t found what your thing is just yet. The Open University is so awesome in that respect, you can pick and choose your courses as you go. If you are totally undecided then an Open Degree might be for you; this is where you can select modules from all the courses available to make up your degree. At the start of my Open University journey, all I knew was that I had recently developed an interest in fitness and healthy eating. This motivated me to enroll on the human nutrition module way back in 2010. Five years later I graduated with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) Health Sciences degree.
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
I’m a bit of an self-confessed stationary addict and generally enjoy making plans and lists with pretty coloured pens in fancy notebooks. If things are neat, tidy and organised, I feel I can focus better. At the beginning any new module, I have found that it is vital to make a plan for the weeks/months ahead. This plan can be reviewed and updated as you go, but having a rough guide in place helps you stay on track with the course material allowing you to meet upcoming deadlines. If you know what is coming up and then there are no last minute surprises or panic. You can study at a relaxed pace, enjoy your course and produce your best work.
I have learned over time that I am a visual learner. I learn most effectively from re-creating diagrams, doing little doodles and drawings and writing up notes by hand. I know that if I read something without note-taking then I pretty much haven’t read it. Instead, if it is all recorded in my notebook, I can return to specific topics when necessary in order to refresh my knowledge. Not everyone is a visual learner however. You may learn best from listening to tutorials and presentations. Or, things may sink in better if you can discuss ideas and collaborate with peers. It may even be a mixture of different methods. Do whatever you need to do. Buy revision cards, pretty notebooks, coloured pens, designer post-it notes, anything! – any excuse to fuel my stationary cravings.
As with everything in life, if you continuously keep working on something, you will finally achieve what you set out to, even if that day seems like an eternity away. Studying with the Open University is a very rewarding experience but like anything it does come with its fair share of personal challenges. There will be days where you struggle to get your head around something. There will be times when you don’t want to switch on your computer. There will be occasions when you question the point of it all. I know, I’ve had my moments. And all this is okay, so long as you take a deep breath and carry on. Remember why you wanted this in the first place. It will be so worth it in the end. Don’t give up on yourself.
Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.
Finally, its so important to recognise when to take a step back from studying and simply chill. As with the muscles in our body, our brain also needs a rest after it has been exercised. Sometimes we just need to sit back and reflect on what we have read, rather than cram in more and more information. And sometimes we need a complete break from learning so that we can feel refreshed and energised when we return to it again. I like to break up my studies by going for a swim or a walk, or just reading something completely unrelated to science. Whatever you like to do to chill, make it a regular occurrence. Studying should be an enriching and rewarding experience, not a stressful and exhausting part of your life.
If you are interested in studying with The Open University take a look at the undergraduate and postgraduate courses they offer here.
Your new and exciting life changing journey could just be a click away. (…wow, that sounds cheesy but I like it so it’s staying in, heh)
I would love to hear your tips and experiences with distance-learning, or any kinda learning really. Whether you are a student with The Open Uni, another uni, even the university of life – feel free to say hello bexa and share your comments below.