At the end of my post on Wednesday I mentioned that rumour had it Thursday would bring my university results. Rumour was well and truly right for once, not long after 9am I was able to log in to my student record and find my results. To my surprise, and great delight, I found the news waiting for me that I will be graduating with a First class honours.
I’m so thrilled by this news. I knew there was a possibility of it based on the results I’d had for my modules, but I wouldn’t let myself think about it actually happening – the fear of expecting to see those words and them not being there was far too great.
My parents have been abroad for the last week so the first thing to do once I’d pulled myself back together was to call them and tell them the news. Then, whilst I was pulling myself back together again I took the opportunity to let my nearest and dearest know via text or email (all people I couldn’t phone for one reason or another) before doing the family ring around. Once they all knew I could take to Twitter and Facebook to share the news – I often find talking about achievements to be a bit squirm inducing, but this was news I wanted to share with everyone. From that point on I spent the rest of the day feeling incredibly lucky to be surrounded and supported by so many lovely people. The messages I received were so nice, and a lovely reminder of how so many people have been rooting for me and sharing in the ups and downs this degree has brought.
Some people have been asking what’s next for me. I have my graduation ceremony in the middle of July and in the meantime will be continuing with my job hunting. It’s going to be really nice to be able to put a confirmed degree result down of forms now instead of a conservative predicted one. I’m keeping everything crossed I’m successful sooner rather than later, I can’t wait to get out into the grown up world again and start putting what I’ve learnt to use!
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged! I’ve been thinking about the need to do a bit of a catch up post for a few days now, so this afternoon I’m finally writing it whilst I watch some of the tennis.
I submitted my dissertation, the final piece of my degree, on 10th May. This was the very last bit of a very long few months of studying – towards the end it felt like I was even breathing my degree. The next few days involved doing not very much at all, though I did seem to eat quite a lot of cake!
The weekend after I sent my dissertation off I went to Birmingham for Asylum 12, a Supernatural convention. It was the same one I went to last year, it seemed a little unbelievable that they’d sold even more tickets (the number I kept hearing quoted was 1,800) – the room where the guest talks were held was not actually big enough to fit everyone in. Both mornings started with some combination of Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki, understandably they were a big draw to everyone and both mornings saw lots of people having to stand round the edges of the room because there were no seats left. After the stresses of last year I decided I wasn’t going to get any autographs and instead just enjoy the talks, this was a great strategy – the timetables all went to pot but it didn’t matter ‘cos we could just stay put and enjoy whoever came on stage whenever they appeared.
Following this I spent just over a week and a half with some friends, Sarah and Al, first they were holidaying near where I live and then I went back with them and spent a few days in Bournemouth where they live. We had a few lovely days out, we went on the Severn Valley Railway, visited a farm park, went up the Weymouth Sea Life Tower, and visited Sandworld. The latter was a really lovely visit for me – Sandworld is home to a set of giant sand sculputres, each year they choose a theme and the 2014 theme is books and authors. Strolling around I was thrilled to see lots of books I hold dear featured, and the fact they’d kept the Doctor Who themed sculpture from last year’s science fiction theme was the icing on the cake. I took lots of photos, like always, they’re here for anyone who wants to see.
The original reason my trip to Bournemouth was arranged was because Sarah and I had tickets to see McBusted at their final Bournemouth date. I’d wanted to see McFly live for a while but their tour dates had never worked out well for me. After watching them perform as McBusted on last year’s Children in Need we decided we wanted to see this new supergroup, after they released a second set of dates we managed to get tickets. The evening was an interesting one, mainly due to the antics of other audience members, but most importantly McBusted were brilliant. Their energy seems to be boundless and they were clearly having an amazing time which meant that we had an amazing time too. It was my first live music event like that for a couple of years, it won’t be anywhere near so long before the next time – I’m off to Hyde Park in a couple of weeks with Gemma, McBusted are headlining along with a whole host of boybands (both ones we loved when we were teens and new ones too).
Once I got home again I realised very quickly I needed to do something to keep myself busy – I spent over a week systematically going through all the posts on Juniper’s Jungle, changing categories and adding or improving tags. All that sort of background stuff that takes forever to do. I’m really pleased with how it’s all turned out, there are now menus to guide you to reviews of books aimed at a specific audience or in a particular genre and other things like that. Next week will see me going back to a full blog schedule over there – here I plan to blog more often than I have been, but still on an as needed basis.
Doing all of that only put off the inevitable emotional drop that came from finishing my degree. I did pretty well, filling my time for a few weeks after everything was handed in, but once I’d run out of distractions the realisation that it was all over and I’m now in a transitory phase hit. It’s odd, for nearly 4 years my identity has been dictated to a certain degree by my status as a student, now that it’s all over I’ve felt a little lost. I’ve been job hunting for the last six months or so, being a distance learner meant that I would have been able to start working whilst still studying if I’d found a role. I haven’t had any luck yet, but now I’m shifting into a far more active job hunting mindset – the more applications I send the sooner I’ll find a great job and get to move to London. Rumour has it that tomorrow will bring my university results news, maybe having a confirmed classification will be just that extra push needed towards my next step.
I went back to Aberystwyth today. I needed to look at the stack of dissertations they keep as reference documents – I’m nearly halfway through my first draft and had some questions about layout that I knew I could only answer properly by looking at examples. It was a long way to go for a couple of hours in the library, but luckily my parents will take any excuse for a day by the sea.
I was last in Aberystwyth in June, I had to go and sit my final exam for this course. (I’d love to think it was my last ever exam but I’m sure at some point I’ll be doing more studying). It was another brief stay, I was there for less than 24 hours. I found it a little weird to be back after a year away, today it was weirder still.
So much has changed since last June. Departments have changed buildings and even campuses. The little library I spent so many hours in both studying and working is now home to the law library amongst others. With the huge collection of books has come a new computer room, new desks and even a mini branch of the student union shop. The desk I used to sit behind whilst at work doesn’t exist any more, the very fact I was able to go in on a Sunday is as a result of this progress. To my utter shame the photocopiers have all been upgraded and were entirely beyond me, another student had to take pity on me and show me how to get my printing!
The changes didn’t end there. Once I was finished with the dissertations, and my parents had been and seen how the seafront was faring after the huge storms earlier this year, we called in to the restaurant attached to my former halls of residence for a cuppa before we got back on the road. Ta Med Da has also had a face lift; warm terracotta walls have given way to trendy blues, the old comfy leather seating has been replaced by slightly less comfy seating covered in bold stripy fabric and are now partnered with brightly coloured plastic chairs. Even the food has changed, they now have a “cake of the day” – we all spotted the fact that today’s was gluten free carrot cake and remarked about how far they’ve come.
For two years Aberystwyth was my home. I moved there to start my new life, the fresh start that I desperately needed for so many reasons. I had happy times there, I had hard times there, but regardless I began the process of working out who I was going to be there. Like all best made plans mine changed, distance learning was never meant to be part of mine. Whilst I’m glad for the perspective it has given me, a part of me has found it hard to let go of the idea of how things might have panned out if I’d been able to complete my third year in Aberystwyth.
Today was a great reminder that this time is now firmly in my past. It was nice to go and visit, but it no longer feels comfortable and familiar. Aberystwyth has changed, and so have I. It’s time to look to the future and new pastures rather than continuing to wonder what might have been.
I spent Thursday and Friday of last week back in Aberystwyth chatting with the relevant people about my change to being a distance learner and attending the workshops run by my department to introduce us to our dissertations. The dissertation’s a big module for my final year, it makes up one quarter of the marks and is the only module with such a big weighting attached to it. Whilst I have a few butterflies floating around in general I’m actually feeling pretty excited about it.
This isn’t my first time writing a dissertation, I had to do one for my first degree and whilst it was on an interesting topic it didn’t really work for me and I ended up not enjoying it at all. I was so relieved when it was bound and submitted, to this day I don’t know what mark I got for it – you had to apply for your marks for it and I didn’t really want to know! I’ve spent some time thinking back to those days though, I’m determined that this time I’m going to get it right and end the module still feeling passionate about the topic I choose rather than never wanting to hear another thing about it.
The big first step is picking the topic. I’ve spent some time this summer having a look at a variety of journals that all focus on literacy and libraries for children and young people, I’ve drawn up a pretty long list of articles that jumped out as being of interest to me. From this I worked out the sorts of topic area I was interested in, I arrived on Thursday morning with 5 distinct topics. By Friday morning I’d refined this list to 2 topics – the activities we did on Thursday along with coming back to thinking about this after a break away helped me to see how 3 of the topics were actually all parts of 1 topic, and abandon 1 entirely! I explained the two ideas I had to the lecturers running the workshops and they were really positive about both of them, so now all I have to do is choose.
The topics I have in mind, in their broadest possible terms, are focusing either on the portrayal of minority groups in young adult literature or on censorship of young adult fiction. They’re both things I care about deeply and I feel confidant that spending the next few months immersed in either of them won’t put me off. I’m looking forward to getting to chat with the lecturer I hope to have as a dissertation supervisor, hopefully he’ll be able to help me make up my mind.
It’s less than a month now until the start of term at university and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into my third and final year. I won’t however be returning to Aberystwyth in person. I will instead be competing my degree as a distance learner, an option taken by the majority of people studying with the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University.
It’s not been the easiest decision to make, there are a lot of things I’ll miss; living by the sea, wandering around town listening to the pleasing mixture of Welsh and English conversation, L and D the two lovely friends I’ve made on the course, my landlady and her amazing cat. I know though that for a variety of reasons it’s definitely the right decision for me.
Since officially making the decision a couple of days ago I’ve begun to think of how the year will pan out for me. Next week we are going to work to make a suitable study area for me and then as soon as term starts I should be able to get started. If nothing else I’m exciting to try out distance learning, it’s going to be a completely different sort of educational experience, one I’m looking forward to throwing myself into.
Four weeks later and my placement is complete. I’ve had a lovely final day, a great way to end things. I spent virtually the whole day working on project boxes, I completed the requests for a couple of schools and made a start on another couple. There was a really nice mixture of straightforward boxes, boxes I’d already had the chance to prepare for other schools and boxes that I had to really think laterally to work out what to put in them. At times I had to resort to standing in front of the shelves, subject index in hand, hoping for inspiration to hit.
I was given a copy of the report that will be sent back to uni, it was very pleasing and said nice things about me and what I’ve done over the last four weeks so that was all very nice. I’ve had such an enjoyable time with this team and I’ve learned lots. My learning has been both identifying gaps that I have in my knowledge, I already have a plan drawn up for how I’m going to address these over the rest of the summer (this will be a combination of reading and trying to organise to spend a day or two at some school libraries), and in recognising the things I do now know and increasing my confidence. On top of this the placement has given me the opportunity to meet and chat with a lot of school librarians and to attend some great additional training opportunities, and to actually spend some time with children and hear about the books that they love. Best of all though this placement has confirmed for me that this is most definitely the right career path for me, and that this is something I really am passionate about. I’m certainly going to go back to Aberystwyth in September buoyed and keen to make the very best of my final year.
And so I have only one more day to go on my placement. Today was really good, I spent a lot of the day working on more project boxes – I covered so many different subject areas today which was good as it meant I got to find books all through the Dewey sequence, something which I’m still rather shaky on as we use Library of Congress at university.
The highlight of the day however had to be meeting an absolutely brilliant and very inspiring secondary school librarian. She visited the SLS base to return books and to deliver the list of topics for the books they’ll have in September. It was great to get to chat to her and to learn about some of the initiatives she’s introduced into the library in the time that she’s been there. She’s also very involved with the Federation of Children’s Book Groups – I’m going to be getting in touch with her in a couple of weeks to offer some social media help.
Tomorrow will be my final day, I had to say goodbye to a few people today as they won’t be in the office tomorrow. I know when I leave at the end of the day I’m going to be feeling really sad – I really feel like I’ve settled in as part of the team!