My Year Abroad..., Uni Life...

In Progress..

Sorry to diverge from the theme so soon, another top fives will be here over the weekend. Today I just had an experience which I felt like writing about and where better to do it than in my blog? So I’m sure this will make it into a top five eventually, hence the title. Right now though it’s just a bit of a ramble on my thoughts today.

Junot Diaz is the author of several books, the most recent of which being ‘This Is How you Lose Her’ which is a collection of short stories. Today Junot Diaz came to Albany as part of the New York State Writers Institute to talk to my lit class and members of the public about his work.

The main thing which Diaz draws from in his writing is his background. He’s Dominican and most of his stories focus on the character of Yunior, a young Dominican guy growing up in America. I finished the book a few hours before I was due to hear him speak and the last story, called A Cheaters Guide To Love was amazing. Completely heart wrenching but in a way with a glimmer of hope right at the end. Anyways, I’m not about to write a book review, all I would say is it’s definitely worth reading!

The reason I’m writing about this is actually because the person I saw speak and was lucky enough to meet briefly today was someone incredibly inspiring. Despite the fact that the world he writes about is a world which differs drastically from the world I’ve been experiencing for the last 21 years, I felt a connection with almost everything he was saying. I guess the sign of a great writer and speaker!

Listening to people, like Diaz, who have created something which I’ve loved to read or experience and who speak so intelligently and basically are just really cool, always gives me this feeling like I should be doing more to try and be just a tiny bit as great as them one day. Maybe I won’t ever even come close but the one thing I do know, the thing I’ve always known, is that I want to spend a significant portion of my life surrounded by people who make me feel that way. People who have so many more interesting things to say and have experienced so much more than I have (luckily I happen to have a few of those in my own family!). Sitting in that room earlier, I really wanted that hour and twenty minutes to never end.

Something people who know me will be all to aware of is my conviction that ‘i’m not good at anything’. Sorry guys, I imagine that’s pretty irritating! But the main lesson you could take from Diaz is that he only got good by working hard. Obviously he’s a smart guy, but he told us again and again that his love of reading is what makes him a great writer. The key, he seemed to think and I think he’s probably right, is to keep on doing the stuff you enjoy doing and you’ll find what it is that makes you happy enough to keep doing it every day for the rest of your life and hopefully you’ll get pretty good at it.

One of the main problems with being a student is having too much time. This sounds strange; all this time is something which I know all the working people in my life would love to have, but all this free time has done to me is breed a kind of apathy and utter laziness which I almost feel ashamed of. I used to be interested in so much stuff and when I came to uni I was convinced I was going to take every opportunity, go and see every guest speaker and work really hard but since starting uni, the majority of my time is spent watching TV, sleeping, drinking and basically doing nothing. Sounds great for a day or two but this seemingly infinite amount of free time has prompted me to over and over again put things off ’til tomorrow’.

This probably sounds all a bit ridiculous and I feel sure that to really get it, you had to be in the room with this guy. Maybe I won’t find what it is that I want to do but I feel like the hours and hours of free time I have right now is a good time to start trying!

As for my time in Albany, I just hope that this feeling lasts long enough to leave next year feeling like I’ve really made my time here everything it could be. I’m having fun and meeting new people, going out and enjoying uni life, but I also want to go back to Nottingham still feeling inspired. Hopefully enough so to write some amazing dissertation and do well in my degree!

Lucky for me, over the next few weeks there’s a load more authors coming in to talk to us and as geeky as it sounds I can’t wait!

That’s all for now.


Junot Diaz’s signature in my book!


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