Studying by train

Studying on a train
Studying on a train is fun 🙂

The new OU term started on the 3rd October, but I’ve been working on M208 for four weeks now (although am yet to really do much other than skim through the introduction for DB123).  I had a grand plan of confining my studies to the time I spent commuting by train and tutorials as I knew that I would have very little time outside of these short windows to dedicate.  So how have the past 4 weeks gone?

I commute to and from London each day by train.  In the morning, I can pretty much guarantee a seat, if not a table1 and I get half an hour with one of the thin module books rested on a knee and a hardback notebook to do the exercises.  So this morning train journey five days a week contributes 2.5 hours to the 30 hours a week study the OU recommend I should be doing for 90 points…

My tube journey is just under 10 minutes and not really enough time to get into any exercises, although I ought to use this time to read through the DB123 text book2.

The train home is more of a problem.  “Standing room only” underestimates quite how overcrowded these trains are.  I’ve had evenings where I’ve been unable to stand without treading on somebody’s toes and have had to get to the station at least 15 mins before the train is due to leave.  This allows me (and many many others!) to sprint for the train as soon as the platform is announced and have any chance of a seat, let alone a table.  However, this has been working.  I’ve got a seat pretty much every day and, other than the day I was too absorbed in a problem and nearly missed by station, I’ve managed to get another half hour a day.

I’m not quite as far ahead as I was hoping I’d be3, but I am getting about an hour a day focused study.  I’m working through all the exercises in the books, which is far more than I ever did for MS221, MST121 or M140.  At present, I’m hopeful that I can keep working by train as the way to go, but we’ll see how I feel when the first TMAs for both modules have been submitted!

  1.  Or those small table substitutes that commuter trains sometimes have that are neither use nor ornament…
  2.  I  ought to listen to myself here and start doing this!
  3.  I wanted to hand in the TMAs at my first tutorials last weekend, both of which were at the same time…

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Dr Janet is a Molecular Biochemistry graduate from Oxford University with a doctorate in Computational Neuroscience from Sussex. I’m currently studying for a third degree in Mathematics with Open University. During the day, and sometimes out of hours, I work as a Chief Science Officer. You can read all about that on my LinkedIn page.