Study Update / 01

study update

Study Update is a new series to help hold me accountable for my studies while also sharing how University is going. I debated a little about posting a series that’s so ‘me, me, me’, but I do get asked about my studies, especially as I have health issues and study online. So maybe my study updates could actually be useful for anyone else who is in a similar situation to me. Especially because I’m not the perfect student – I fall behind and get overwhelmed and everything else – and I think a lot of people need to be reminded that it’s okay not to be. Regardless of how I handle my studies, I’ve fallen completely in love with my education and feel extremely grateful that I’m able to access University despite my circumstances. Some days it amazes me how I went from University drop out who dramatically declared studying THE WORST!! and that I would NEVER go back!! Things have changed and I’m really, really happy they have. So, on with the show!

What I’m Studying

I study Politics and History at undergraduate level at Macquarie University through Open Universities Australia. I have a big post coming up about my experiences studying online with Open Universities so far, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested! (And let me know if you have any questions about it too, I know I had loads when I considered studying through OUA but couldn’t find a lot of information.)

It is currently Week 5 of Study Period 2 (out of 4). This study period (SP) I’m taking the classes ‘Introduction to Global Politics’ and ‘Critical Thinking’. It’s my first SP not taking any history units, and it feels like I’m on holiday! I love history so much, but there’s so many readings that I always find it hard to keep up (and often don’t manage to). Politics and philosophy are far more easy-going in that regard, though they are still challenging in their own ways! Since this is my first post I’ll go over my classes first and what I think of them so far, and then go into how my studies are going.

My Classes

Critical Thinking is my absolute favourite class, perhaps the favourite out of all I’ve ever taken (sorry Worlds of Early Modern Europe!). I’m naturally a critical thinker and jump into debate and in-depth discussion at the drop of a hat, and this class focuses 100% on constructing and deconstructing arguments (in every area: debate, marketing, politics, etc.) to strengthen our critical thinking capabilities. It’s amazing. I’m so in love with this class! I like to think I’m already pretty skilled at constructing arguments, but everything is explicitly laid out and analysed. After every lecture I feel so excited because I feel like I’ve levelled up. As dorky as that sounds. I even said to my mother, ‘this class is going to turn me into a monster!‘ Honestly I can barely even think about the end of term and everything I will have learned in this class by then, it makes me so excited – I’m like a child anticipating Christmas! The lecturer is also fantastic, he’s really good at explaining everything and has a great sense of humour that definitely contributes to the ease of grasping the analytical concepts.

Global Politics is also very interesting and I value everything I’ve learned so far. International Relations is such an important part of politics today, and it’s something I really need to get a better grip on. In particular, I’m really hoping by the end of the semester I’ll have a clearer opinion on globalisation. I can see the good and bad of a world that is less and less defined by state border lines, and this seems to be something a lot of people are advocating for, but at the same time our entire system (including individual & cultural identity) is built on the notion of territorial states. There’s a lot to consider! I also tend to pick and choose what political areas I am knowledgeable about, so I hope to gain a broader scope of knowledge in general. My wild, passionate love for Critical Thinking does sometimes overshadow Global Politics, but I still really adore this class.

How I’m Going

As mentioned above, it’s Week 5 and a (minor) piece of assessment for each class has already been submitted. For Critical Thinking it was a quiz, which I received an 8/10 for. I’m kind of annoyed at myself because I got a 9.25 on the practice quiz! But I genuinely thought the answers I gave were correct, so I tried my best – and that’s meant to count for something, right? Results aren’t back yet for Global Politics because of an error in the assessment system, but the bright side is that this resulted in a week’s extension on the next piece of assessment! Maybe the system should mess up more often…

I’m especially happy about the extension because I fell behind a bit in the last week or so. I had a sudden bout of tiredness and struggled to concentrate on my work. My participation marks will have taken a hit (usually accounts for 10-15% of the final grade) because of it. However I’m slowly feeling better and have been catching up on last week’s work. My coffee intake has increased because my tiredness usually hits really hard in the afternoon (tfw you run out of spoons, am I right?!), which helps get a little bit of extra work done. I have a bit under three weeks to get my next pieces of assessment done which I hope will be ample time, even if my fatigue drifts in and out (as it probably will).

I do miss history a bit, despite the massive workload that comes with it. Learning about the past is so important to me, and every week I’d feel so much more connected to the world and the people in it. I think it’s that feeling I miss the most! I’m planning on taking a history unit next term though, so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much. I’ve also noticed my history studies have helped my politics studies so much. There’s a lot of historical concepts that politics lecturers only briefly touch on, but I knew about it all in-depth thanks to my history classes; I think these disciplines compliment one another perfectly. I would have a far less confident grip on what I learn in my politics classes if I didn’t also have such a solid understanding of how society functioned in the past and how/why it changed.

So overall I’m loving it and I feel my studies are going well, even if I do fall behind every now and again! I’m especially pleased with how my two chosen disciplines compliment one another, and how much better I understand everything with greater clarity because of it. By my next study update I hope to be on track with my assessment and up-to-date with all my lectures and class participation. Let’s see how it goes!

I Opened a Shop! Miss Black Design

miss black design premade wordpress themes

Yes, I did it! I opened a shop.

The Miss Black Design Shop sells pre-made wordpress themes. My themes are clean and attractive (my friends would expect me to say ‘like me‘ here) with an air of romantic nostalgia… typewriters, old books, love letters. All of them run on the Genesis framework too, a powerful framework that I really love using. Most of all I am enjoying the design aspect. There’s a quietness in the things I create, a collection of feelings. Like reading in front of a crackling fire, or holding someone’s hand, or the way your favourite record makes you feel. Those little moments mean the most to me and I remember life: not as a sequence of events, but as a series of feelings.

I know you understand what I mean. I’m creating themes for the types of blogs I would like to read. Witty, intelligent, thoughtful, calming. All the technical information can be found in the Etsy listings, the short version is that they come with full installation instructions and free lifetime support. Plus each listing has a link to a live theme demo, so you can see it all in action before you buy. I truly think they are fantastic value. And if you do buy, be sure to send me a link to your blog. The combination of my amazing themes and your incredible genius content will obviously create some kind of superblog. (Overdramatic? Me? I can’t believe you’d say such a thing!) 

And if you aren’t in the market for themes, don’t worry!

Because I’m sure you were completely devastated you couldn’t buy anything from me, right? (Ha ha ha…) WordPress themes aren’t all I want to create; I have plans for much more outside of blog-related design. Stationery, particularly for students and young adults, is on my to-do list! I’m very excited about it. I really want to create affordable and beautiful stationery that doesn’t come with a hefty ‘luxury’ price tag. In the lead-up I’m going to be offering plenty of free downloads and printable products, so keep an eye out. Exciting times are ahead!

And I know I’ve already thanked individuals, but I’d like to say thanks again to all the people who have supported and encouraged me so far! I’ve battled a lot of self-doubt and fear over these steps forward, and every kind word and show of support means so much. You’re all the best ever! I would be nothing but a whimpering pile of anxiety without it. And holding this over the head of my future successes will probably only make me feel like a proud Slytherin mama hen, so go ahead. 


How I Prepare For A New University Semester

How I Prepare For A New University Semester

It’s not actually on a typewriter, because I’m not an undergraduate from 1932. I study online through Open Universities Australia, and the courses are structured so that there are no holidays or breaks between study periods. Exams are usually due on a Friday and Monday is the beginning of a new study period. The two day gap means it is essential that I move on from my old units, both physically and mentally, and get myself ready for the next thirteen weeks of classes. My first term and transition were kind of a mess, but at least I knew what to expect and this is how I do it now.

Workspace Organisation

I print out most of my research because I find it much easier to read, annotate, and refer back to (even if it does mean I go through a lot of paper and printer ink). At the end of the term I usually find myself surrounded by piles of academic papers, highlighted and annotated within an inch of their margins. I collect them by subject/topic and put them into basic lever arch binders to refer back to in future. The organisation system is pretty rudimentary at the moment (the main motivator was getting them off my desk and floor), but the more I study the more elaborate I suspect it will become.

I also gather all my pens and notepaper back at my desk, give everything a bit of a clean, and go through my computer and set up my University files so that it’s all ready for the new term. I look at my new unit information and put all due dates into my calendar (I like a month view). I also like to put in approximate ‘start’ dates for my assessment before I get busy.

Mental Organisation

Once I have my physical surroundings and semester plan roughly worked out, it’s much easier to dive into new classes. However, nearly every time my classes have ended I still have a lot of that information going around in my head. It’s certainly a good thing, but when I need to throw myself into new information, I can’t be spending too much time dwelling on information I researched for last term’s major essay.

What I like to do is write down anything I’d like to come back to later. I add related books to my Goodreads ‘to-read’ list and tag them with the relevant topics, I write lists of future topics of research and come back to, and so on with any other information or resources. I think ahead as much as possible, as these topics will probably come up again in my academic life or future career. There have been a few times where I’ve entertained the idea of writing a history book someday, and it will be extremely beneficial to have ordered research already done, along with lists of future topics of research. After I’ve safely got everything documented I find it much easier to move on.

It’s not complicated at all, but it makes all the difference. As someone prone to stress, it’s important to be able to leave it all behind in the past term and move on with a fresh mind. The last thing I want is to carry over my stress, and the best way to do that is with a very literal ‘out with the old, in with the new’ routine.

Do you have a New Semester Preparedness Plan? Let me know, I could always do with more tips!


Literary Snob

1 6 7 10

Tuxedo Blazer

J Peterman

Black Watch

New Look

Navy Sweater

Jill Sander



Tweed Mini Skirt




2 11 3 4

Stripe Shirt

J Crew

Gabrielle Lipstick


D-Ring Trousers


Lennox Oxford

Kurt Geiger

9 8 5 12



Pussybow Blouse

River Island

Wool Skirt

Dickins & Jones

Black Satchel

Cambridge Satchel Co

Endless cups of coffee; hours spent at the library; old photographs; slightly messy hair; precarious piles of annotated paperbacks stacked against walls; days spent at desks writing out essays (and that novel…); should there still be newspapers and cigarette smoke?; long walks; we do it for the novel (not the vine); long baths spent re-reading the classics; learning Latin and Greek just for the hell of it; classical records; casual references to ancient mythology; red lips; the art of the cold glare; rambling discussions about the value of rhetoric; elegant hands and pretentious airs; we know everything and nothing (this haunts us); unapologetic aesthetic attraction to life; bunches of wildflowers; long, slow breakfasts; another 3am existential crisis; feeling old yet infinite; heated arguments and too much to drink; orange leaves on the cold Autumn air; emotional outbursts over long dead poets; boyishly cut coats slung over favourite sweaters; campuses of old stone and new ideas; candlelit evenings…

Some friends on Instagram suggested a ‘literary snob’ style guide when I mentioned the term in a recent post, and it really got my mind going. Usually when I do style guides, they have my flair but I wouldn’t necessarily personally wear every item chosen. In this case, it’s almost like I’m doing a style guide of myself. My style has become very simplistic over the past few years, as I lack the time and energy to dedicate to putting together intricate outfits. Instead, I rely on solid classics, silhouettes I know look nice, and a minimal colour palette. Though it might not be the most individual style ever, I like to think my personality still shines through in the way I put my outfits together. Plus, the older I get, the more I don’t mind being blending in with the crowd and being allowed to quietly go about my business; studying, thinking, reading, dreaming…

Miss Fisher Costume Exhibition

miss fisher costume exhibit 1

miss fisher costume exhibit miss fisher costume exhibit 40

miss fisher costume exhibition

miss fisher costume exhibit 16

miss fisher costume exhibit 32 miss fisher costume exhibit 27

miss fisher costume exhibit 39

miss fisher costume exhibit 18 miss fisher costume exhibit 38

miss fisher costume exhibit 28

miss fisher costume exhibit 30 miss fisher costume exhibit 41

miss fisher costume exhibit 26

miss fisher costume exhibit 4

miss fisher costume exhibit 23

I feel the pictures say it all this time. Good timing meant I was back in Melbourne for the Miss Fisher Costume Exhibition at my beloved Rippon Lea House (also known as the set of Aunt P’s house). The house had undergone a transformation from its usual state: darker, sumptuous, and mysterious, the costumes and props set up in lively displays. It had been raining outside, so my friend and I fairly well rained on during our walk from the tram stop (sadly, I have no communist cabbies at my beck and call!), but a fire blazed in the entry hall and we soon forgot about the cold outside. The weather had made it all the more cosy and atmospheric.

It is clear how much effort and attention to detail has been put into the exhibition. It was set up beautifully with mannequins in character-appropriate poses, props laid out with the exact sense of fun that accompanies the series, and backdrops of the interiors of Phryne’s home that add the perfect final touch. Of course, not to mention the interactive experience – there’s been a horrible murder and you must work with Jack to solve it! I didn’t pay that much attention to the interactive aspect of it, too busy fawning over pretty clothes and touching silk swatches, but it was nonetheless an impressive element to include.

There was an entire room dedicated to glass cases full of Phryne’s accessories, including her gun! Which I tried not to leap over to too enthusiastically as a member of staff was stationed in the room… in fact, being fairly outnumbered by serene older people walking through the exhibition meant I had to keep my nerd level low. A piano stationed in one room made me want to start a loud rendition of ‘Let’s Bisbehave‘. Various costumes met with me cooing ‘ah, Doctor Mac’ and ‘lovely Dot!’.

Honestly, after spending so long analysing these clothes through a screen, working on my Phryne style guide even, it was somewhat surreal seeing them in the flesh. What I was seeing didn’t even really sink in until after I left with a camera full of images. My photos here only cover a small portion of what there is to see, I truly recommend going if you can – and keeping your fingers crossed that it can travel to somewhere near you if you can’t! Miss Fisher is becoming really popular worldwide – there’s even going to be a film! I’m glad my favourite lady detective won’t be leaving my screen anytime soon, and if you don’t watch, now is the perfect time to start.