By David Wells

Meet my goats: Elma, Joan and Gladys. Not only much-loved pets and vital hedge trimmers but also my most recent study partners. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

As we were having a series of long overdue renovations completed on the house (a 140-year-old farm which was starting to literally crumble in parts) I was unsure where I could relocate to ensure maximum peace and quiet. I’m not suggesting that my four-legged companions were much use when it came to drafting TMAs or loading up Word documents but I was forced to make use of their outside barn space whenever my studies for DD308: Making Social Worlds were coming to an end.

Animals as study buddies

I’ve seen plenty of pics on social media of fellow OU students working on their computers while cats, dogs and all other manner of creature proudly perches on top of textbooks or proceeds to rapidly destroy their carefully crafted paperwork. Some of these snaps are amusing, others cute while the odd ones get an eye roll. But I am now a convert to the therapeutic qualities that animals can provide as study buddies. Quite often one of the goats would plant their hooves on top of the pallet door and peer over the top to check on my wellbeing. Of course that’s what was happening, I mean they weren’t just looking for another bundle of hay or bucket of food – no not at all.

Your favourite Study Space

My change in scenery was of course enforced but I am sure that whenever you started with the Open University one of the first things you do is designate a spot to do the bulk of your work. During the summer perhaps you gently recline under the shade of a tree in a field or out in the back garden? Yeah right I hear you say, more like on the kitchen table at 10pm with the unwashed dinner plates pushed against the wall.

Whether it’s kitchen tables, the library, bedroom, coffee shop, back of the car…I would argue that we NEED a comfortable, familiar study space to focus and get the best out of ourselves.

Moving back into civilisation

The time eventually arrived when my housing renovations were complete and I had to move back into the house. I suppose I wasn’t compelled or cajoled into returning across the yard to my de facto study room/play room, packed full of the kids’ toys, but my wife was starting to get a little concerned about the amount of time I was spent hunched outside in my new domain. The dog was also a little miffed as I was using the roof of his sleeping quarters as my desk. Elma, Joyce and Joan were probably not too bothered. A TMA passed for me and a bundle of straw for them. Everybody’s happy.

David is the editor at Surviving the OU. He graduated in 2013 and has been busy promoting the value of Open University study ever since.

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The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.

The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.