Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Weird things about the UK eduation system.

I am just done with my first year as a post-grad and things have been crazy. The hardest part about this year has been adjusting to the school system in the UK because it is so different from my Hippie College and everything else I have ever experienced. So, here is the skinny on being here in the UK.

1. You will probably not see your professors ever.
There are way fewer contact hours between students and the professors. On average, I saw my lecturers for about 3 hours per class every week. At the Hippie College I saw lecturers about 10 hours a week. In theory, students should be spending their time in library doing their own research. But there isn't much guidance in how to do your own research and their isn't an emphasis in teaching study skills. Which brings me to my second point

2. Soft skills are not taught.
Students don't really know how to take information from the lectures and transfer them to notes and then study those notes to know the information. Guidelines are vague regarding writing guidelines, and professors will often tell students conflicting things about assignments. I haven't seen a rubric for any assignments. With the exception of one class I haven't seen a class breakdown. It seems like no one is really talking in a clear or effective way

3. Communication
Getting to talk to anyone can feel like one of two things: a giant Rube Goldberg machine made of paperwork and offices that are on opposite sides of campus, or it feels like Frodo's quest to get to the ring to Mordor. Office workers are sometime surly and sometimes act as if it is a great inconvenience to answer questions.

4. "Not my problem"
This is the weirdest one I encountered. You go into an office with a question pertaining to the things the office does, and they will tell you that it is not their problem. How weird is that? Some people say that there is a culture of laziness in parts of the UK. I'm still undecided about this.

5. You will not have assignments. You will just have tests.
Most classes will will end in a test that is 70-100% of your grade. As a non-neurotypical you can see where this might be a problem.

I'm also on tumblr now, if you're interested. diaryofnnt dot tumblr dot com.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unconventional Therapy

I'm a little old to be in conventional therapy anymore. When I was young, we did run the gambit of regular therapy. Now I'm older, and my therapy is a little less conventional.

Movie and I recently started Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Movie has been doing some form of ground fighting for the last couple of years, so he knows what he's doing. It was way easier for me to start something new because he was there to talk to me about it.

Wikipedia (the oracle of all knowledge) defines Jiu-Jitsu like this:
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique – most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.

What that really amounts to on a day to day basis is me getting flattened by people who have at least 60 pounds on me.

Now here's where this gets interesting, I love it. The amount of pressure from other people moving and working on my joints feels amazing afterwards.

You know how therapists recommend weighted blankets and doing exercises that put pressure on the joints? Jui-jitsu is like that, but on steroids.  

Here's how I know that these classes are good, and more importantly, safe:
Classes are small, and supervised by a black belt. Like bowling and unlike Vietnam, there are rules.
If it hurts, you tap and everything stops.
Before you start a move, everyone checks and makes sure that they are on the same page. 
You can only spar with people who are more advanced than you.
The best part, if you don't want to do something, don't do it.
Boundaries are totally respected.

But this isn't the only thing that I think makes for good unconventional therapy.

SeaStar and I started doing a Bosu class at our local gym.

A Bosu is essentially half of a huge exercise ball. The main focus of the class is to improve balance and build muscle.

It's like an hour of intense balance, cardio and strength building. You end up crossing the midline a whole bunch, which is supposed to be good for you. 

Now I can totally do this:

I actually think that in some ways I get more out of this than I do conventional therapy. It may be because you're thrown in the mix with people who are NT. It might also be because it works more than the parts of me that are NNT. Whatever it is, I know that after practice, I feel better about myself and that's what counts.

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