Essay submission.

I find it odd that no other universities seem to use electronic means of essay submission. My neighbour’s daughter is at uni in Manchester but was at home to finish an essay. She believed it was due in on Friday. On the Tuesday her friend texted her and asked her if she had submitted it. Turned out it was due in on the Tuesday. So her mom had to drive her all the way from Earlswood (on the Warwickshire/West Midlands border) to Manchester uni.

This is so bizarre. It’s 2011! Deary me. Thankfully the OU uses electronic submission which means you really can leave it until the last minute to submit your essay (although of course, computers and the internet aren’t infallible).

I got my latest TMA back on Thursday and it was great to be able to check my result on my iPhone on the train on the way home from work.

Well, what else have I been up to? On Saturday I had a few friends round and we watched Eurovision. I was unimpressed with Azerbaijan’s entry, and I voted for both Sweden and Ireland. I really liked Jedward’s song, which disgusts me in so many ways haha. I was sort of gutted Sweden didn’t win because I had planned to go to the Eurovision next year if they were hosting it.

I also booked my Stockholm holiday for August on Saturday! 25th-30th and we’re staying on a yacht! Well, it’s a yacht that is permanently moored and has been converted into a hotel. It’s in the centre of Stockholm, and we picked it because of the price. For a hotel within walking distance of Gamla Stan you’d pay triple what we did. The hotel is called Mälardrottningen and this is it:

I went to Stockholm last year and I am going again because I hope to study for a masters there. I speak a little Swedish and am hoping to take classes at Brasshouse from September instead of doing drama. It’s a little bit more beneficial than being in the chorus for Me and My Girl 😉

Nikki x

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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in OU, The author, TMAs



When I tell people I study at home with the OU, I often get the response, ‘Wow, you must be really motivated.’

Well, yes and no.

For example, I no longer have to get up at 7.30 am, get showered, dressed and walk twenty minutes up the steepest hill you could ever imagine in time for a 9 am lecture. If I want to read my course books (our version of lectures, I guess!) in my PJs, or in the garden, or in bed, I can.

When I was at Kent, I would rarely get any work done, because I was living with friends. Especially in first year. There is so much to do, so many people to meet. You are on your own for the first time and you want to push the boundaries as much as possible. If that means getting slaughtered the night before your dance lesson, so be it! If that means feigning an injury (I ‘slipped on ice’) to avoid going to a really dull lecture, so be it!

At home there is less temptation, and I feel more guilty when I don’t study with the OU than I ever did with Kent. Why? At uni, as long as I went to my lectures/seminars/tutorials/rehearsals, I did no other work that week (unless I had to read a play or something). They say students ought to be doing 40 hours of personal study a week. LOL. That never happened, ever. Maybe like 4.

But now, I have to get my books out in order to learn anything. So as long as they are out, I might as well read around the subject a little as well!

And the final reason: I find it easier to let other people down than myself. A lecturer with a class of 60 isn’t going to notice you missing their lectures (although some evil ones took registration!) and you have loads of people who you can ask for notes. Not so with the OU, so you have to study, unless you want to learn nothing!

Nikki x

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in OU, Universities


Three Things I have Learnt at Work.

Learning at Work Day is on May 19th and in honour of it some of us are posting things we have learnt at work. My jobs to date are as follows:

Waterstone’s book seller (loved this job!)

Barmaid and waitress (liked the barmaid side, detested waitressing. I have no grace and no patience.)

After School Assistant (this job was ok, I had some great kids)

After School and Holiday Club Assistant (meh; hated the early mornings during the Holiday Club)

Shop Assistant and Ghost Tour Guide (yet to do the ghost tours, but the shop is nice and easy and relatively laid back).

So, the number one thing I have learnt at work: I work best on my own.
Now, this isn’t to say I’m not a team player, but I definitely prefer working on my own and being left to my own devices. I think this stems from 2 of my jobs having very bitchy characters and I just couldn’t be bothered. I go to work to make money and do my job, not to start backstabbing and telling tales about colleagues. Some of the people I have worked with were like children, and I thought we had all gotten past this stage. Some people will never grow up, unfortunately!

Number two: The customer isn’t always right.
In any job dealing with the public, you have to keep the thought in your head that majority of the public are absolute idiots.You have to be very good at putting a smile on your face and keeping these thoughts well and truly locked away, otherwise you would go insane at the sheer stupidity expressed by some people.
The number one thing that bugged me working with the public was people who thought something was your fault, when it most obviously wasn’t. Most people understand this, but I have heard, and experienced, people being rude to me because the food wasn’t up to scratch (I’m the waitress, not the chef), people being annoyed that I didn’t know the title of a book (your description of ‘What’s that new book by what’s-er-name? It has a white cover.’ was in no way helpful) and people who think you shouldn’t make one mistake, ever. I’m only human!

Number three: Kids are hard, hard work.
The saying that kids are the best contraception out there is 100% true. For me, anyway. Before I started working in nurseries, I was quite broody. It’s a phase a lot of girls go through in their early twenties, I think. After working with kids: no thanks! I love kids, I really do, but my god was I glad to give them back at the end of the day.
Also, it’s very hard to work with a lot of children who have all been brought up in different ways. Some have had no discipline at home and run absolutely riot. Some are extremely sensitive. Some think they are invincible and think jumping off a high surface onto a wooden floor with a lollipop in their mouth is a brilliant idea.
People who work with kids do not get paid half as much as they deserve. It’s not an easy job!

Nikki x

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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in The author


The Royal Wedding.

So I do hope everyone’s Royal Wedding day was nice, whether you are a monarchist or not. I’m apathetic about the monarchy, but I must admit I do enjoy the history and tradition, and no one, no one, does pomp and circumstance better than the Brits.

We had a party in the field next to our house. Lots of people came and we had food, Pimm’s (of course!) and played rounders. My throat is a bit hoarse today though thanks to getting a bit too over excited during rounders and because I was used as a raffle announcer, since I know how to project my voice 😉

I think the wedding ceremony was nice but it did drag on a tad; the pair of them looked exhausted bless them. I bet they had next to no sleep the night before; I know I wouldn’t have. And that dress; my god. Stunning. I’d love to get married in a similar style dress, but in blue. Oh well, there’s always Harry! 😉

Anyhoo, I was reading a blog about today’s front pages and how almost all papers put the same image on the front cover; that of Wills and Kate kissing on the balcony. Nice, but safe. The Independent went with this by Tracey Emin, which I must admit I depsise:

I think I dislike it (a) because it looks like it was traced, (b) because it looks smudged and (c) it’s so impersonal! They’re a beautiful couple (even if Wills is losing his hair) and this just completely depersonalises it. I have never been a fan of Emin though so no surprises there.

However, The Times went with a fantastic photo which is completely candid and really captures the spirit of the couple. This is what good photography is all about:

Who could not be moved by that photo? Gorgeous.

I have a TMA due in on Friday and I haven’t even looked at the question (so disorganised at times), but I’m hoping to make a video about the process so look out for that sometime next week!

Nikki x

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Posted by on April 30, 2011 in Art, The author, TMAs



I didn’t end up going on my tutorial to the Tate Modern last Saturday 😦

I have been suffering with an infection that made me feel pretty rubbish and tired. I knew that if I went, I would be like a zombie and would take literally nothing in. (I am on new antibiotics right now that are working great, if you’re wondering!)

So I emailed my tutor who had already sent us out some worksheets for art galleries, and she emailed me back telling me she has set up a thread in our tutor forum with some notes from the tutorial and a discussion. This is the great thing about education in the 21st century; if you have to miss something in person, there will always be the added provision of online notes and videos.

So anyway, of course I haven’t been able to make a video of my visit. However, I am hoping to make my own way there next month, and I will try and make a little video then. Just hope I don’t look too weird talking into a camera on my own ;D

I am also hoping to do a video of my studying and TMA preparation habits within the next two weeks. I definitely want to make more videos, I just keep forgetting to do them!

Anyway I hope you all have a great Easter weekend 🙂

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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in OU


I’m still here!

I have not left you dear reader, never fear! I haven’t even been very busy, I have no idea what my excuse is.

I’ve been slacking off on the studying front the past few days. This happens every so often and I find it difficult to get back into the habit. However, on Saturday I am going to the Tate Modern with my tutor and our group so I am hoping this will give me the kick up the derrière I need! I am hoping to film a video of my day out so stay tuned for that sometime next week.

Today I had a training day at my new job. I am to be a Ghost Tour Guide at a tourist attraction/museum/very old building in Stratford-upon-Avon. I was taken on the ghost tour tonight, and I can tell you that it is scary as hell. The building’s cellar dates back to 1196 and the rest of the building is sixteenth/seventeenth century. Old beams, creaky floorboards, ghost stories and only a lantern to see by; you can imagine how much your mind plays tricks on you. I have no idea how I will be able to give these ghost tours but I shall have to do my best!
I also got to dress up in a fabulous Tudor costume; it was a huge dusty pink velvet dress and I had a hoop skirt underneath. I felt like a princess! Thankfully the building is pretty cold so apart from in the height of summer it should keep me cosy!

Tomorrow evening I have the after show dinner with my Oliver! crew. Unfortunately I have to be up at 8am the following morning to go to London but c’est la vie! I might have to have a few cheeky glasses of wine to make sure I send myself off to the land of nod promptly 😉

Nikki x

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in OU, The author


Mickey Mouse Degrees.

I read The Guardian like a woman possessed. After I check BBC News of a morning, I always head to to get my fix of Tory and Lib Dems arguing. It really never gets old.

Anyhoo, I have just been reading a piece about how the government are shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that most universities are charging the top fees of £9k a year. Never mind that anyone with half a brain could see that was going to happen…

And then I went to read the comments, and there are the usual posts of how A Levels have gotten easier and how everyone takes a ‘Mickey mouse degree’ and that the only real subjects are SCIENCE god dammit! And this always makes me angry so I thought I’d write a post on it.

I have no idea if A Levels are easier than in the past. My parents didn’t take them so I have no point of reference. The thing with A Levels are that you are taught to pass the exam. I don’t think the exams have gotten easier, it’s just that teaching methods have changed to help people pass them. I don’t really see what is wrong with this, but of course with this system it does sort of become a competition on who can retain the most information in their head.

This all stops once you get to university, so I don’t think A Levels are ideal preparation. I never did very well in coursework in A Levels but I rocked at exams. Law A Level was 100% exam based and I got an A (there was no silly A* back in 2006!) But I never did well in coursework because it was very much – mention this and you get a mark – based. University work is the opposite; you are graded on putting forth an argument and backing it up with appropriate evidence. I think Law A Level requires you to do this to a certain extent, but I think more A Levels should be like this, if only to stop the grumpy lot on The Guardian!

Then we get to the ‘Mickey Mouse degree’ bit. What older generations forget is that my generation were sold a lie that if we did well in education, the world was our oyster. To an extent this is still true (though most jobs now ask for degrees and experience because apparently they are too lazy to train staff themselves); and most jobs who want a graduate want just that; a graduate. They don’t care if your degree is in Drama or IT; they just want somebody who is intelligent and self motivated enough to get a degree.

There is also the argument that too many people are going to university – but you told us to! When I was doing my A Levels there was absolutely no question of doing anything else. I ummed and ahhed over studying Anthropology, Psychology or Drama, and of course I picked Drama. I WISH I had done Anthro, but there you go! The fact of the matter being that it was unlikely I was going to get a job in any of those areas so I might as well just get a degree in anything.
The stupid thing is that the kids who left school after their GCSEs are now retail managers, and the ones who have degrees are working at the bottom. In the end, a degree never did get them anywhere.

This is why my plan is to get my degree, and then hopefully study a Masters in Sweden. The Masters I have my eye on includes a ten week internship and I am hoping all together it will be enough to get me started on a career over there. It makes me sad to think that I can have it all sorted so easily when I think of moving to Sweden, but when I think of staying here I am at a loss of what to do because everybody keeps moving the goalposts – yes you do need a degree, oh but now we also want experience, and damn why don’t universities train you to be a better employee? (That was never a university’s job and I hate that argument.)

Education needs to be a higher priority in this country, but judging by the fact that comments like the ones above litter the internet, it is clear to see that we don’t hold education in the esteem that it deserves. I believe that if someone is willing and intelligent enough, a university degree should never be denied to them. And yes, £9k a year is denying it to some. I think I would have gone straight to the OU if I had been faced with fees of that much. Or gone abroad!

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Posted by on April 3, 2011 in Politics, Universities

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