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I Finished My Degree!

Hi guys!

I’ve gotten the urge to write a bit on my blog again and first thing’s first – I FINALLY finished my degree!

I know there’s only like 100 odd people who follow my little blog, and most of yous haven’t been here since my first posts, but I began this blog back in the winter of 2014, while on a foundation year for a degree in Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex. In total, I’ve been in further and higher education for the past 7 years – yes, SEVEN! At 19 years old, I jumped back on the education bandwagon after dropping out of school when I was 14, and am now 26 years old and have finally completed my degree. If you think about it, it actually ended up taking the expected amount of time – 2 years for GCSE’s, 2 for A levels and then 3 for a degree is the norm – and it took me 7 years too. I went a bit of a different route though – starting with a year doing intensive GCSE’s in Mathematics and English alongside an Access course to Higher Education in Biological Sciences, followed by a year spent on the foundation year of the Physics & Astronomy degree at the University of Sussex, followed by a year spent studying A level Physics & Mathematics from home, followed by a year spent on the foundation year of a degree in Physical Sciences at North Hertfordshire College, and then finally 3 years on a degree in Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire.

It’s been a very long journey, and I didn’t expect it to be such a long-winded, twisty path, but I think every step was necessary to allow me to be in the position I am now.

I’m hoping for a 2:1 – my possible degree classification grade range is from 56.5% – 74.9% based on my degree classification safety net and based on the 6 pieces of work I have left to receive a mark for. I was so dead-set on getting 70% (a 1:1, highest possible grade classification for a degree) for the entire time I’ve been back in education, but I’ve done my very best and I’d genuinely be happy with a 2:1 (60-70%). I think I’d feel pretty upset if I got a 2:2, not going to lie about that, and feel insanely happy if I somehow managed a 1:1 (EXTREMELY unlikely given the amount of questions I couldn’t answer in the 3 exams and that I’d need something like 90% or more in them to get a 1:1 overall at this point), but I feel comfortable with a 2:1, knowing that it was the best I could reasonably do without losing my mind in the process!

I can honestly say that I’m really, really flipping proud of myself aswell. For many different reasons.

1. I may be lucky to not have any extreme disabilities or any incredibly disruptive situations at home that would greatly impact my degree, but I have had a lot of mental health problems for this duration that have definitely affected my learning. I’ve also not had any friends or family nearby (actually, I don’t have any super close friends altogether) so my support system hasn’t always been the most in place. I’ve also experienced a lot of hurt in my last relationship for these past 7 years, including several break-ups, and a year ago our engagement was broken off. It wasn’t the path I wanted for the relationship, which has meant it has been EXTREMELY difficult to focus on my degree for this final year. Coronavirus has also impacted my exams and the majority of my second semester pieces of coursework.

2. I could have worked harder than I did during my degree, but I still worked harder than I thought a human would be capable of in the same circumstances I have been in honestly, and looking back, how good some of my grades are is actually shocking considering how extensively my mental health and personal life was impacting my life at the time, and I think it would have been entirely normal to have deferred the second half of this past year of my degree altogether.

3. Some of the grades I have received this past academic year include 100% in all 3 of my particle physics assignments (2 problem sets and a presentation), 96% in my condensed states of matter assignment ( a problem set), 95% in my space dynamics interim workbook submission, 92% in my computational physics star formation report, 92% in my quantum mechanics coursework problems, 90% in my quantum mechanics presentation and 90% in my cosmology practical.

4. My grade average for second year was 53% (I really struggled mentally last year and had to defer a lot of work – this also means this grade average doesn’t include the module Quantum Mechanics that I deferred to do that this year instead). My grade average this year (including the Quantum Mechanics module and its weighting, and not including any marks I haven’t gotten back yet) is 69%. I have raised my grade average in final year, the most challenging year of a degree and whilst struggling with mental health problems and a failed 6 year relationship, by 16%. I am so incredibly proud of that!

It’s been an insane journey – astronomy never ceases to fascinate me, and I’ve learnt about so many different interesting topics.

I’ve learnt what topics in astrophysics I really, really do not want to pursue unless it’s in my free time and is entirely non-obligatory, and the topics that really amaze me, and that I yearn to delve deeper in and explore further than I have done. It’s given me a bit of sense of direction, and I’ve learnt a lot along the way.

I’ve learnt that I sort of really do not enjoy being obliged to study pure physics topics, and would much prefer to learn and read about those topics in my free time. I’ve also learnt that I really enjoy (and am quite good at) data sciences, and aswell as still enjoying astronomy in general and astrobiology, I also really find cosmology fascinating.

I’ve learnt how important ecology is to me and the need for me to somehow integrate that into my life in order for me to feel fulfilled.

I’ve learnt that I am absolutely rubbish at exams and exam based,  face-to-face, taught, conventional education – and that that’s absolutely okay!

I’ve learnt I’m really, really good at coursework and research, and that I learn better with having just a few face-to-face taught interactions, and most of the time learn better and produce better work when I work fairly independently – at least for astronomy.

I’ve learnt that although I am capable, I’m not mentally well, and so I am less capable than a healthy person is and will therefore struggle more with the same work, and am likely to do worse in some pieces of work due to this despite working harder, and that that is also okay.

I’ve learnt that full time education is a bit of a pressure cooker situation for me due to my mental health, and leaves me with absolutely no time whatsoever to focus on any hobbies at all. I haven’t read a non-university related book in around 6 years. I haven’t played a computer game in maybe 4 years. I haven’t watched Star Trek – my favourite TV series of all time, in maybe 3 years. I’ve learnt only 10 seconds or so of a song on my guitar that I’ve had for 4 years, etc, etc, etc.

I’ve learnt the impact of my mental health on every aspect of my life, and that it absolutely must come first if I’d like to soon be capable of having enjoyable, fulfilling days.

I’ve learnt that I absolutely WILL stick to and complete anything I really want to, but that it will take a lot of time and work.

I’ve learnt that just because I am fully capable of commitment, not everybody else wants the same things as I do, and that I shouldn’t base my decisions on a life with somebody who thinks it’s wrong to prioritise love.

I’ve learnt that I am beautiful, inside and out, and that I only require myself to believe in that for me to feel it.

I’ve grown, and my life has changed a lot, but in other ways, it and me are exactly the same. Before I started my education journey, I was single, and am single again. I started it out without friends around, and again, don’t have any friends around me. I started my journey out homeless and again, I’m without a home. I started my journey off independent, determined and strong, and again, I am independent, and hopefully the determination and strength will come with a bit more time.

So, that’s first thing first!

TLDR; I finished my degree, it took me FOREVER, it was difficult because I have bad mental health and my relationship failed, but I’m hoping to get a 2:1 and am proud of myself.

– Storm

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The Start Of Revision

Hey guys!

This post is just one big ramble/rant about what my first step for revising for my final exams is going to be. Consider yourself warned!


 

As some of you may or may not know, I’m a student studying in her second year of a degree in Astrophysics.

I thought I’d come on here and write about how I plan to begin my revision for my end of year exams. I think sometimes taking the first step is the most difficult, so I want to make sure I have everything in order for when the time comes. Unfortunately, I won’t have much time to revise because the entirety of second year for me has been riddled with bad mental health spells and tons of coursework .

As an example, between the start of last Tuesday and the end of this Thursday we will have had 1 class test to revise for and 5 coursework deadlines (a class test in Optics along with four weeks of lecture summaries to hand in, a Differential Equations assignment to hand in, 10 hours of CV enhancement to complete along with an updated CV to hand in, a Nuclear Physics assignment along with a Quantum Mechanics assignment along with like 4 pieces of Python code to hand in and an observatory log book along with an observatory report to hand in).

So, as you can see, even within those pieces of coursework there are usually multiple components, so in that space of 9 days I will have completed 10 different components of coursework.

Which is difficult for most courses but let me tell you, Astrophysics is no joke.

Anyway, so I won’t have had any time to revise for the finals until I’ve handed in my last piece of coursework which likely won’t be until the deadline (Thursday).

I think the first step I’m going to take once I’m in my exam revision period is, before anything else, to give myself some self-care. I can hear some of you being all like “NO, DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON THAT WHEN YOU HAVE SO LITTLE TIME AS IT IS!”

Well I’m about to change your mind!

You see, with my crappy mental health and insane amounts of coursework, I haven’t even actually left the house since that class test last Tuesday – not even to go to my local supermarket (which is a 2 minute walk from my flat!) I haven’t been taking care of myself at all, and with my partner being in the same situation as me (not the best mental health and extremely busy with work) even the everyday things have really been swept to the side.

I will still be super busy with revision once I’ve finished with the coursework (as in, now I’m completing around 1.5ish percent of my overall grade in coursework per day, and it will be around the same  during the revision period in terms of what the final exams are worth vs the days I have to revise for them). However, I still really think this is the most important first step.

I just need to really quickly take a bath, y’know? I need to do the laundry. I need to tidy up. I need to take bags of clothes to the charity shop. I need to load the dishwasher. I need to leash train my kitten. I need to entertain my kitten. I need to create a revision plan. I need to take that VARK test and work out HOW I’m going to revise. I need to get my weight back down to what’s healthy for me. I need to stock the fridge with healthy food. I need to do a BIT of cleaning.

I don’t want to go nuts, but honestly, it really needs at least a bit of work because it’s like a mad house in here, and I have no idea how I could reasonably begin to revise without taking care of myself, my partner, my flat and my kitten in these ways first. I would just feel far too anxious and wouldn’t be able to leave the flat to go to the library to study anyway because I’d feel gross and wouldn’t want to leave the flat messy or leave my kitten needing attention, ugh.

It’s very stressful and really does need to be done, and I won’t be able to do it before then because I have 2 pieces of coursework to begin and complete within the next 2 days so I can’t really be thinking about revision before the 11th April, and only at that time onwards can I really revise…

So, hopefully you all agree with me now that this is the first thing I need to do once the revision period begins. I know logically it seems like the best thing to do would be to just fit in as much revision as possible considering how little time I have to study for these exams (one of my single semester modules contains 2 subjects (Quantum Mechanics and Nuclear Physics), and I only have 3 days to revise for each of those subjects), and I do see how this would ordinarily be the right thing to do. I just know that realistically, if I were to do that, I’d actually get less work done overall because I’d be super unfocussed.

I guess I could see that preparation as revision in itself? I mean, it isn’t REALLY, but then it sort of is because revision is technically anything that will bring your grade up in the exam right? All of this preparation will definitely ease my mind and make me far more comfortable which I think will definitely cause me to have a better grade in the exams!

I’ll just spend from whenever I give in my final piece of coursework until Friday for this preparation, so less than a day, which is enough time to make a real difference in creating a good, calm, happy and healthy brain environment for me to revise and not so much time that it actually does more bad than good. A good sweet spot.

So I have the first day of revision planned – I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing the day after but I guess that’s what the planning day is for.

Storm

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Blossoming As A Type 4.

Hey guys!

So, I recently discovered that using Enneagram typology, I am a 4w5. I’ve already learnt a lot about this type and after learning about the different levels of healthiness of my Enneagram type, I decided to write a blog post on blossoming as a type 4 as soon as I could.

I believe I’m at level 7 on the four’s levels of development scale.

I think if I were on any level below a 7, I would basically feel much worse than I do now (although I do resonate a lot with level 8 too). In fact, I definitely feel everything written that a level 8 feels, apart from I don’t feel that I am closed off to receiving help – which I think is the biggest distinction between a level 7 and a level 8 in my opinion. In fact, I absolutely love being helped and actively ask for help often, and although sometimes it is difficult to receive it, I’m always happy and grateful once I have. Definitely not a level 9 at the moment though – I think that level is reserved for the lowest of the low points I experience in my life (such as during my foundation year at my first University…) Although, I definitely do experience the odd emotional breakdown every now and then!

I think if I were on any level above a 7, I’d definitely be a lot more expressive than I am now, although I do relate a LOT with level 5, and I think a level 5 is basically me on a good day!

A level 7 resonates with me most because it is a state where chaos leads to one disallowing themselves from basically doing anything that they enjoy, leads to anger toward oneself, leads to depression and isolation… It’s just basically a sort of reactionary state to being in a bad situation.

My bad situation? Well, I’m just not doing great at Uni and am just generally really not very happy with my life and how it’s going at all. It could be worse, but it certainly could be quite a bit better.

So, I want to blossom.

What is it to blossom?

Apparently, according to the Google search result for “define blossom”, it means to “mature or develop in a promising or healthy way.” Synonyms are develop, grow, mature, progress, evolve, burst forth, come to fruition, flourish, thrive, get on well, prosper, succeed, be successful, make headway, bloom, burgeon and go great guns… Antonyms are fade and fail.

Basically, I’m pretty bored and fed up of being a level 7. I mean, it’s okay, but there is a lot more out there for me to experience and I know that’s the person I want to be.

I know I probably seem to be taking the Enneagram too literally, or seem obsessive, or maybe it seems like I’m just using this as another procrastination tactic.

It isn’t that I’m taking the Enneagram literally, rather that it has made me feel quite validated and I definitely resonate with this typology system better than the MBTI (it took 4 tests before I got the same result twice for MBTI, and only 2 for Enneagram).

I’m not obsessive about the Enneagram itself – rather about the prospect of being happy, healthy and successful.

I’m not using this to procrastinate, this is something I need to do so that I will find being productive easier and feel less need to procrastinate altogether.

So, I’m really excited about this. I’m excited about working on me. I work on me a lot to be fair, but in a much less direct way than I intend to now do. This should be priority – type 4’s who are on the extreme end of level 9 are LIKELY to commit suicide! I mean, what’s more important than preventing that? I need to climb this development ladder and FAST.

I’m scared of shifting my focus – scared that my future will somehow fall apart, scared that it will lead to me being unproductive, scared that it won’t work, scared that it will be a waste of time, scared that it is the wrong decision, scared that this will just lead me into an even deeper depression, scared that it might go right and I might actually end up being happy through doing this… That’s the scariest thought of all! It means letting go of who I am, who I have been, and allowing myself to live the life I’ve always wanted. That’s scary when you feel like you’re not good enough to live that life.

So, to start my blossoming, I’m going to get myself some routine going. I’ve heard nothing but good things about fours having a good routine to get them stuck into the reality of daily life. I’m not going to go nuts with a routine, but I’ll just give myself the structure that I think I actually need to be happiest.

I also really need to stay on top of my studies. I NEED to stay grounded in the reality that I’ve created for myself, but without TRAPPING myself! I need to be studying, hard, and doing the work I set for myself and meeting those expectations every single day. I need to be kind to myself and give myself realistic expectations and allow myself time to just be free, but sticking to those expectations is essential to me being happy and loving myself.

I need to begin taking care of myself and making me feel good about myself. I need to take my long Lush baths, do my hair and makeup, use my perfumes, take care in what clothes and jewellery I wear, taking photos of myself and being proud of who I am and of how I represent myself with how I look.

I NEED TO BE FEARLESS AND MAKE TIME TO DO THE THINGS THAT I ENJOY! I need to allow myself to READ my books, to write my blog posts, to edit my photos, to paint my pictures, to learn my instruments, to sing my songs, TO CREATE. I NEED TO MAKE TIME EVERYDAY TO BE CREATIVE! How else am I going to express myself? I NEED THIS. I think this will absolutely bring me the most joy in my life. I need this so, so much.

I’m going to leave it there, because I think that amount of focus is the right amount to allow me to thrive.

This is, of course, before the fact – so I will do my best to update ya’ll on my progress at a later time to say how it’s all going.

Thanks for reading,

Storm

 

 

5

Leaving University.

So, put as simply as possible, I am leaving University.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love the University, the course and the area Brighton itself. Despite all of this, being at University has been pretty bad for me.

I don’t feel as though I had enough background knowledge of Physics to succeed on the course for one thing. My anxiety levels were also only increasing with time, to the point where I would honestly describe it as very disabling. My attendance and submission rates became low, I began having to leave in the middle of classes and studying became very difficult to do. There were other problems too, suffice it to say that I was having a fairly bad time at university.

Fairly recently I realised that some things are more important than playing ‘catch up’ and passing the foundation year, and so I left.

I’m going to allow myself more time to study physics before entering university, by going back to college to study A levels this year. I don’t want to be pushing myself to barely pass each year of university – I want to enjoy studying Physics and to be amazing at it, and to do that I require more time to become confident with the basics first.

It may take more time, but I think sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward.

I am happy and excited about this decision, and I feel like I have grown as a person to have been able to make it – even if others don’t quite understand. It definitely feels like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders – I was even calm enough to let myself play a computer game for the first time in over a year today!

– Storm

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My work and progress.

Hello! 🙂

So, I’ve made myself a study plan and have begun studying.

Here is an outline of my study plan and how I will continue to progress:

– For Mathematics, we have covered 11 weeks of lectures, problem sheets and problem sheet solutions, so for the next couple of weeks I will study a week of lectures, problem sheets and problem sheet solutions per day. I have 11 days off left, and since I’ve already studied the first week’s work, If I start today then this method should leve a couple of days spare. The work covered up until this point in time hasn’t been difficult because of it being a Foundation Year, so I am definitely capable of studying the work at this pace.

– Mechanics:

Okay, so in Mechanics we covered 12 weeks of work, including assessments, multiple choice questions, workshop questions and lectures. I’m going to try and add in a week of mechanics work everyday along with my mathematics work. I doubt I will be able to keep up with this kind of a workload and I will more likely end up adding half of that to the amount of work I am currently doing daily, but Mechanics is much leas of a priority at the moment so this isn’t an issue.

I am super stressed about Uni. I have a math exam the first week back, we are beginning a couple of new topics meaning that it’s down to ourselves to make sure we are confident on what we have already covered in previous topics – at the same time as keeping up with current work, worried that someone might have broken into my room, worried about living entirely independently again… I have so much work to do at the moment and will have even more to do when I get back to Uni. Sometimes I wish that I could live stress free and that I could just enjoy the moment and live happily. I guess everyone handles life differently!

I love how so many different physics-related movies have been released recently. I saw ‘The Theory of Everything’ the other day. Again, it’s really encouraging and motivating to see a movie about physics – particularly one about a real life physicist with a brilliant mind.

– Storm

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More of my Christmas break…

Hello. 🙂

So, I’m still on my Christmas break and I still haven’t begun studying.

Wow, that was a rubbish opening line. Okay, this blog post is going to be a little bit more serious than my other blog posts that I’ve written so far. Today I’m really not feeling in a very positive mood. I’ve still got a bunch of studying to get done over a short amount of time and I feel like I’ve just been wasting too much time during my break so far. I’ve loved starting my blog so it isn’t that – I’ve just spent far too much time watching random Youtube videos…

I do get anxiety quite badly so studying is actually quite a task for me, but it’s something I’m just going to have to get over because studying is the only way that I can progress in my mission to become an Astronomer.

Me and my boyfriend went to the cinema to watch the movie ‘Interstellar’ yesterday. It really was motivational for me to watch an exciting, interesting movie about space! Space is so incredible… It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even think that I could be happy unless I am studying something space related.

But yeah, to get to the point where I eventually want to be in life, my first tiny step is to go ahead and make sure I’ve learned what I’ve covered so far in my degree, so that’t exactly what I’m gunna go and do. I’ll write a post soon with updates on how my studying is going (y).

-Storm