Top Fives..., Uni Life...

A few thoughts on graduating…

I graduated last week. It was a great day shared with great people and most significantly I didn’t fall over when I walked across the stage. I cannot tell you how many times I had nightmares about falling in front of hundreds of people, I need to get a grip!

Anyways, I’m taking to my blog today to help me process some of the thoughts I’ve had about this whole graduating thing. For the sake of tradition I’ll put them in a nice numbered list although there may or may not be five, we’ll have to wait and see.

1) First off it seems appropriate to say how astoundingly grateful I am to the people who helped me get through four years at university. The Vice-Chancellor of my university asked us, the graduates, all to stand up and applaud our friends and families before we left the ceremony last week and this couldn’t have been more of an appropriate way to end my university career. Particularly in my final year my parents and boyfriend read every single piece of work I handed in. They corrected it, gave advice and generally made me feel like I had a shot at doing ok…which I needed….a lot.

And even if they hadn’t done all that, my parents made it financially possible for me to go and live in America for a year, something I’d been dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and my boyfriend put up with a long distance relationship so that I could go and live that dream. So to them and everyone else who helped out and gave support, thanks guys-you’re the best.

2) My second observation about being a graduate…it’s not actually as scary as I thought. In fact, maybe it’s even a teeny tiny bit exciting. I thought I was the kind of person that needed to know exactly what my next step was because I guess that’s all any of us have ever known until we leave full-time education, but it turns out that I’m kind of ok with not being certain.

3) So here’s something of note. I assume it’s down to the fact that you automatically become a proper adult when you put that gown on and manage not to fall over while crossing a stage wearing heels but I actually do seem to be sorting my life out.

Since leaving Nottingham I’ve applied for several jobs doing really cool things that I actually really want to do. I’ve started selling all my worldly possessions on Amazon (this is a big deal for me, I normally vehemently resist getting rid of anything). I’m reading more and trying to use what limited spare time I do have now that I’m working full-time to do useful, grown up  things like read the news and make my CV look cool. I guess I got used to having a clearly defined goal last year…get that 2.1. Now that I’ve left I need loads of little goals, sitting around watching TV all evening just doesn’t cut it.

4) That kind of brings me onto this blog. I’ve been writing about it in my CV and covering letter but I sometimes imagine potential employers reading it and I wonder what they’d make of it. I guess it’s kind of lost its direction. I’m torn over how I should continue with it but I know that I don’t want to give up on it. My final year at uni confirmed how much I like writing and now that I don’t have essays to write I know that I’ll be craving an outlet every now and then.

I guess the thing I’m unsure about is what I’m trying to make of myself through this blog. On my CV I describe it as a place where I talk about my experiences on my year abroad and what it was like coming back to the UK. Well that just isn’t really the case any more is it? Do I need a clear thesis? Does the top fives thing confuse things? Does it need to be a blog about something other than my life? I’m not sure so I guess the next few months will involve me trying to work out the answers to those questions.

5) Wahoo I made it to number 5. My final thought on my experience since leaving uni is that the pain has most definitely been eased by the discovery that I’m going to be an aunt next January. I suppose if you don’t know me you won’t realise how much of a big deal that is for me. But trust me, I’ve been waiting for this a long time and I couldn’t be happier. That baby is going to be loved so much and I really can’t wait to meet him/her. (I’ve had a fairly convincing dream about it being a boy so I reckon I’m having a nephew).

So there we have it. For now, from the graduate…

My family

My family

 

My American Studies Buddies

My American Studies Buddies

 

And Me!

And Me!

That’s all for now

x

 

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Uni Life...

Hi again…

I’ve been reading blogs on and off for a long time. The thing I always find most disconcerting about them is when they stop. You’ve been reading along with someone’s life, learning about what they do and who they are, then suddenly the posts get farther and farther apart. Then they stop altogether.

You keep checking back and scrolling through the last few posts trying to figure out what might have happened. What stopped this person from wanting to share their journey with you. Of course it’s not just with you, it’s with the whole internet, but it feels like it’s just with you. As if you’ve learnt so much about their lives that you start to feel as though you’re part of it, as though they’re a friend you’re looking out for. Part of me wants to email them and ask them where they went but I realise that they don’t know me, they don’t feel like I’m their friend, I’m a stranger.

To me it always feels like something a little sinister even though I know that in reality whoever it is got busy just like I did. Their life was suddenly too much to get down on a website at the end of the day. Or maybe they ran out of inspiration and couldn’t find the words to make anything sound interesting. But I guess to the reader it just feels like a story left unfinished.

And I am living proof of that, I just got so distracted. I can’t believe it’s been six months since I last wrote anything, it does not feel like six months.

When I say wrote anything, I obviously mean wrote anything on here because I’ve actually written several essays and a twelve and a half thousand word dissertation since then. Now it’s all done and we’re in the painful process of waiting for results.

2 weeks tomorrow.

In the meantime I’m going to be turning 23 and having major freak outs about where my life is headed now that I don’t have the safety net of further education to catch me.

I have big plans for sorting my life out this summer which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks. If you’re a long time reader of this blog and have managed to stick around for this 6 month dry spell then you’ll know I’m pretty much always trying to sort my life out. I guess that’s just how it goes, my life is a work in progress.

Sorry for being so quiet for so long, I’m glad to be back, it feels good to write again.

That’s all for now

x

 

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Uni Life...

Time to get serious…

I’m backkkkk

Hey guys,

I’m finally getting round to doing some blogging. The past few weeks have been horribly hectic and once I’d let it go a week or two without blogging it seemed like the easiest thing to put off you know? But I promise I am now back on it once again and I’m hopefully gonna do a bit of a blog redesign in the coming week, new year-new blog layout and all that.

I’m putting my serious face on now because I’ve decided it’s time for me to take this blogging thing seriously again. The past few months have not been my finest, I’ve been too distracted and now when I read back over the blogs I was writing they all seem kind of half-hearted and boring. Sorry about that.

I might not be able to do more than one a week but we’re looking for quality not quantity righttt? Right.

I had my one and only January exam on Tuesday which, for me, signalled the official start to ‘my new year’. Meaning that before that I was too focused on essays and revision to do anything good for me or anyone else.

I have a really good feeling about this year, I just know that it’s gonna be a year that holds a lot of cool and exciting things for me and the people I know. Maybe it’s just because I’m at an age where big life events are actually starting to happen, people are graduating and getting jobs and moving in together and going travelling…it feels like whenever I see someone I haven’t seen in a while they’ve got an exciting piece of news to tell me. This year is 2014 – Year of Positivity.

Since I’m yet to say it, HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR to you, I hope it’s being exciting and positive for you too!

Right now I’m off to do a bit of reading on sexism towards First Ladies…don’t pretend you’re not jealous (I’m kidding, it’s actually really interesting).

See, even Eric's enjoying it

See, even Eric‘s enjoying it

That’s all for now

x

 

 

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Uni Life...

My top five ways I deal with stress…

1) Cry

2) Have a lie down

3) Denial

4) Drink unholy amounts of tea

5) Complain to anyone who’ll listen

Hey friends,

Just checking in.

I’m on the home stretch with two essay which are in next week so my life has been pretty boring. I can’t get over how quickly the time has gone, how is it nearly Christmas?!

I hate that all this work has got in the way of blogging. It’s not even just that I’ve been too busy. I guess it’s mainly that after spending all my time reading and writing for uni I don’t really feel like doing more of it when I could be sleeping/watching TV etc.

The other annoying thing about having all this work to do? It makes me eat about 10 meals a day simply because that’s an excuse to have a break.

Anyways, I’m finally taking my work seriously. First year didn’t count for me so I never had to do much work. I always did fine and besides it was first year – you were supposed to be having fun. Then second year started and I was having a bit of a rough time and spent most of term time going out and drinking too much. I did the minimum amount of work necessary to get through and that was reflected in my distinctly average grades. Last year was America and once again I had not a care in the world.

And now here I am and I haven’t felt good about anything I’ve done academically in years. Not since I somehow aced my A levels, which, given the lack of anything else to back them up, I’m beginning to think might have been a fluke.

Suffice to say I’m beginning to feel the pressure, hence all the work I’ve been doing.

I just keep thinking that my excuse about not having done any work in second year is really a big lie, maybe I didn’t do very well in second year because I’m not good enough. Then I think maybe if my A levels were a fluke then I shouldn’t have even got in to a university like Nottingham in the first place. Then I think that maybe however much work I do I’m never going to do as well as I want to. Then I think that I’m going to let myself/everyone else down. Then I think I’m never going to get a good job. Then I have to have a lie down because I’m getting all freaked out.

So yeah, safe to say final year’s already driving me a little insane. Looking forward to round two when I have this PLUS a twelve thousand word dissertation to write…WAHOO!

That’s all for now

x

P.s Yeah, you know that thing I said about complaining? Well it’s the internet world’s turn to listen to my whining, I applaud you if you made it this far.

P.p.s I feel like I should mention that despite being quite stressed, I’m actually finding my essays quite interesting, maybe I’ll write about that once they’re both finished!

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Uni Life...

What do you see…

As international students who’d travelled to America with just a suitcase, none of us had any essentials when we arrived in Albany last year. On our very first day there we headed off to Walmart to get everything we needed and, among many other things, we all bought the same full length mirror. 

After we each got our mirrors home and installed them in our rooms we began to notice something. All of the mirrors either lengthened and slimmed or shortened and widened your reflection just enough to be noticeable – think ‘House of Mirrors’ at a funfair

We discussed this occasionally and whenever we were in each others rooms we would comment on how different the reflection was to our own Walmart mirror.

My mirror was one that lengthened and slimmed and, after a while, I would forget that it was making me look longer and thinner than I really was. I liked what I saw and was only reminded that it wasn’t quite accurate when I looked in my roommate’s mirror, hers being the opposite to mine.

When I came back to England, coincidentally receiving comments about how much weight I’d lost while I’d been away (unintentionally, I might add, thanks to bad dining hall food), I looked happily at the reflection in my mirror in my bedroom and trusted that what it was showing me was real. For the whole summer I happily saw my reflection and felt good about myself.

Since moving back to Nottingham I’ve started to feel less confident about my body, I’ve started to make that wincing face when I see my reflection again. I’m not putting on any weight, I’m eating healthily, I couldn’t work out what was going wrong. That is until I went home this weekend and realised that the mirror in my bedroom at home is much more flattering than the one in Nottingham and as a direct result my self-esteem has taken a hit.

This has given me the disconcerting feeling that even what I thought I knew; that looking in a mirror will show me what I look like, might not be the case.

All I can think is how strange it is – that the slightest difference in a mirror, the smallest bend or curve that warps the reflection just a little can have this much of an impact. I keep thinking back to the more confident person I was over summer and wondering if there’s a way I can get back to that.

Maybe this is an opportunity to free myself from the scrutiny I give my body everyday.

What I need to do is adjust my way of thinking. So what that I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, who knows if it’s showing the real me anyway? As soon as I walk away I should assume I look great. We all should.

Of course, in an ideal world I wouldn’t be bothered about being ‘skinny’ at all, I’d be happy with the strengths of my personality and wouldn’t care what I looked like. But this isn’t an ideal world, I am the product of a society obsessed with image and that has placed my appearance as a factor which influences my happiness. Trust me, I’m working towards that ideal, but for now I’ll settle for being healthy, happy and trying to believe that the girl I saw in the mirror this summer is the girl that everyone else sees.

That’s all for now

x

Daily Prompt

 

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Top Fives..., Uni Life...

My top five reasons you should look forward to graduating…

Hey guys!

Just a quick one today to tell you that I’ve written a top fives for the Nottingham University chapter of Her Campus all about graduating.

You can find it here so give it a read!

Proper post coming in a few days…

That’s all for now

x

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Politics..., Uni Life...

First Lady love…

I’m currently in the process of beginning research for my dissertation which is handed in next year. I’m writing mine about the role of the First Lady (I study American Studies).

From the small amount of research I’ve done so far I’ve learnt some things about them which I didn’t expect at all.

Things like…I don’t like the sound of Jackie Kennedy nearly as much as I thought I did and yet Nancy Reagan sounds a lot nicer than I was expecting. Or the heartwarming fact that these women have something of a support network with previous First Ladies assisting and advising the new one to the role. This comes regardless of differing political views.

And I’ve been saddened by the sacrifices some of these women have had to make. Whether it be staying with a man they didn’t love for the sake of the presidency or losing the man they love to the stress and pressure that caused their ill health and eventual death.

I guess it’s easy to forget that these women are just ordinary people who, in most cases, didn’t choose to be there. I’ve found myself going in with a certain expectation which comes from nothing other than what I know of their husband, exactly the problem they were facing while they were First Lady and something I should know better than to do.

The concept of the First Lady is so very American to me. Here people care very little about who the Prime Minster’s wife is or what she’s doing or wearing or saying. Unless she does something horrendously wrong she can live her life fairly unnoticed by the general public. The difference between her and the First Lady is startling.

The First Lady and her family are under the watchful eye of the country constantly. The First Lady must be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect hostess. She is under immense pressure to fulfill those roles along with the knowledge that her actions could help or hurt the country’s opinion on the man she’s doing it all for, the man she happened to fall in love with (or not in some cases), the man she married.

The idea that these women are ‘just a wife’ is bizarre if you learn a little about them. The vast majority of them have worked full time at being the First Lady. They spend hours working for their chosen causes, replying to letters, making visits.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that there’s so much to learn about each of these First Ladies and I’m excited to find out more!

The more I read the more I’m in awe of these women. I certainly couldn’t do it.

That’s all for now

x

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Uni Life..., Weekly Posts...

My top fives of this week…#4

Well I just really suck at doing anything ‘weekly’ don’t I? It’s actually been 3 weeks or something since I last did one of these but then, I figure, what better way to work through my writers block (yes it’s still in full force and I’m going to keep complaining until it decides to GO THE HELL AWAY).

1) I came back to Uni

Here I am back in Nottingham, looking after myself, making my own food, going to lectures just like always.

It’s strange to be back. I’ve seen a lot of people over the past week and a half who have also just come back from their years abroad and everyone’s sort of said the same. Maybe because a year abroad changes you so much, coming back to a place you lived over a year ago seems almost wrong. I feel a little out of step with being here I guess but I know that I’ll get used to it again.

It also doesn’t help that I now feel insanely old…there are people 2 years younger than me in my lectures and 18 year olds walking around campus. THAT JUST ISN’T OK WITH ME.

2) I forgot one of the most important of all mugs from my blog post last week!

My boyfriend came to visit at the weekend and he pointed out to me that I hadn’t included my very favouritist mug of all in my top five mugs…in fact it is the mug which began my collection! I present to you the President of all mugs, that’s right, it’s OBAMA. I bought this mug the first time I went to New York when I was 19 and it has been a treasured possession ever since. I included two pictures of it below, just to emphasise how insanely awesome it is.

obama2

obama

3) I actually went to some non-compulsory uni stuff

I have spent the past three years at university being incredibly lazy and passive. Each year I have all the best intentions but then things like staying in bed and getting hooked into tv shows gets in the way and I just don’t do anything other than what is strictly necessary.

This year is my fresh start and I’m pretty determined to get involved with some extra-curriculars. Yesterday I went to TWO meetings for societies that I’m hoping to join.

For me, going to meetings and stuff is a bit like exercise – I’ll sit around and think about how I can’t be bothered to go and get scared about what people will think of me and then as soon as I’m there I’m so glad I did it. Also, it’s actually like a billion times more fun than exercise, exercise kind of sucks.

4) Really awesome films

Before I came back, my parents and I decided to start watching some ‘classic films’ since we’d run out of House to watch. Despite their frustration with me that I refused to watch anything in black and white (I know, I know I’m missing out on loads of classics but I was born in the 90s, I need full colour to keep me entertained) we managed to find a few that we all wanted to watch.

We started off with Fight Club, which my mum had to leave half way through because it was too violent, normally I can’t handle violence very well either but I persevered because it was so good. I just had to keep a cushion over my face through a large percentage of the film.

We also watched Lincoln (which was great) and Philadelphia (which made me cry hysterically).

A few days before I left we watched JFK which is directed by Oliver Stone. For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s a true story about an investigation into the supposed conspiracy surrounding JFK’s murder and it is absolutely brilliant. In spite of the fact that we were watching the director’s cut, which comes in at nearly 3 and a half hours, I was gripped the whole way through. I’d highly recommend it.

5) I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY

That’s all I’ve been able to say/think/feel for the past week and a half. I’m whining, I’m complaining and I’m sorry. But I just can’t find anything to say right here, on this blog. I won’t give up but I’m probably not going to be posting nearly as much as I was until the writing starts flowing again…which will probably happen once I need to start focusing on important things like passing my degree. Anyway, just one final mention of the fact that I’m struggling so much, an explanation for why I’m not posting very much at the moment and no more will be said about it. I promise.

That’s all for now

x

 

 

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Uni Life...

My top five things about going back to university…

Oh the way I clap my hands together with glee when a Daily Prompt lends itself to me hauling something out of my drafts where it has been sitting waiting for the perfect moment to shine…or just get published, can’t guarantee the shining. After yesterday’s thoughts on giving up, I’m back to a good old top five, I can practically hear you all cheering! Number 5 has been waiting in my drafts as a kind of independent thought missing a top fives to fit into.

So lovely people, today it is my (and WordPress Daily Post‘s) desire that I write about going back to ‘school’, which is what these crazy Americans still call it even when you’re clearly years past school and are actually at UNIVERSITY.

1) I get to live all by myself again

Well by myself with three other people. What I really mean is I get to live with the absence of any of those pesky grown-ups. Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite enjoy living with my parents in a lot of ways. I get cooked for, I get my laundry done, I get to watch endless episodes of House with them…it’s a pretty sweet deal. Still though, there’s a weird, prematurely old, part of me that kind of likes doing all that stuff for myself just a little bit. I love cooking and I find tidying oddly satisfying. Point this out to me in a few months time when I’m eyeballs deep in coursework and haven’t eaten anything but chocolate in a week or am on my last pair of clean underwear and I may punch you in the face for reminding me of my naivety, but for now I’m kind of excited.

2) I’m going back to Nottingham

Nottingham is one of my favourite places in the world. To the outsider it may seem like nothing special, just a regular city you might say, but being at university there has been a great experience. I’ve had two of the best years of my life in Nottingham and I have every faith that next year will be just as good.

University of Nottingham campus

3) I get to see my old friends

Many of the people who I was closest to in my first two years at Nottingham graduated this year and I know that being there without them will be hard. They are the reason those first two years were so special and living it without them seems almost wrong to me. On the other hand, there was a good sized handful of people who went on a year abroad and will be back this September. I can’t wait to see them. Being back in Nottingham is going to be different and maybe a bit scary at first, but it’s also going to be fun. There’s no denying that a year abroad is a life changing experience and I’m eager to see how the year has changed the people that are left.

4) I’m graduating

Except apparently it’s against health and safety to throw your hat…i’m definitely doing it anyway

It’s weird and exciting and oh so very, very, very scary to think of myself as being a graduate. I’ve seen how hard it’s been for some of my friends to find graduate jobs and that’s freaked me but it’s also inspired me to try and get my shit together this year so that there’s at least a chance I can get a job at the end of it. And regardless of all that I’m excited to wear a gown and a cool hat and officially have a degree if nothing else!

5) I get to be a student for one more year

So before all that graduating nonsense I get one more year of being irresponsible and having fun (not to say you can’t have fun when you’re a graduate…I’m fairly sure adults still have fun despite what they try and tell you). Being a student is a weird time, you’re kind of stuck in this in between stage where you’re officially an adult and can do all the things you spent your teenage years wishing you were old enough to do and yet no one really expects you to behave like a proper adult yet. A lot of us are still heavily supported by our parents, there’s very little judgement over getting horribly drunk and embarrassing ourselves and although there is much talk of our futures they still very much seem (for me anyway) like an abstract idea which we’ll deal with at a later date. For me at least, being a student feels like an extra stage of life which should be added on between teenagehood and adulthood, where you’re just not quite a real grown up person yet. And I get that for another year. Yay for that.

That’s all for now

x

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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.

x

Junot Diaz’s signature in my book!

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