Saturday, December 7, 2013

Finals, youtube subscriptions, beating up racists

I'm at the end of my first full time semester, halfway through finals and with a Youtube watch-later playlist of 200 videos. If you're looking for me over the Christmas break I'll be cuddling with my laptop with tea.

Life is good! These past four months have been some of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. Of course I'm stressed about finals. Of course I've cried in the library because I was sleep-deprived and beyond stressed out. Of course I've complained bitterly about my courses.
But really? When I look back on it, it's been exactly what I wanted.

I feel like I've made a lot of new friends as well as gotten to know old friends better this term, I feel surrounded by awesome people, and people that share many of the same goals and interests I do. I even broke my 19 year streak of singleness! WHAT?
I know enough about myself to know that the best way to make me happy is to give me lots of social time, and I really managed to do that this term. I had a class with my best friend, a boy to watch Doctor Who with on the weekends, and an awesome, lovely group of people to study with.

I'm most in love with philosophy, although I felt that all my courses this year were worthwhile. I feel much better equipped to deal with racists and general discrimination since taking Anthro 150 (Race and Racism), I know so much more about western religions from the first half of my world religions course, and despite the prof being pretty bad I still increased my knowledge of psychology a LOT.

Next term my plans are to take two philosophy courses (Epistemology and The Human Person), the second half of Relig 101, and my second junior English requirement. I'm hoping to also do PAC (I think that stands for Physical ACtivity?), this one is all about yoga, which would be very interesting and would maybe be a nice de-stresser.

Then if all goes according to plan, I'll be headed to Germany for the spring term to take my 200 levels! It's an immersive program where you can't speak English at all when you're with the group or your host family and there are excursions to the major cities on the weekend. 6* in 6 weeks plus an opportunity to see more of Europe? Sounds good to me!

I should be writing my philosophy paper and not this blog post, so I'm going to go now, but please let me know how your semester went, whether you're in school or not! Was it the best of your life, or have you seen better terms?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On post-secondary education and becoming a Student With A Backpack

This is me on my first day of school...ever. Note the messenger bag. That didn't last long.

For most kids, university is a natural expectation. You go to elementary, junior high, highschool, and then some sort of post-secondary is the next step. Duh.
For me, though, I never even really thought about doing a degree. I thought maybe a technical diploma or certificate sometime in my twenties, but I honestly never saw myself as the sort of person who would stagger into the university straight out of Grade 12, backpack weighing heavy on my shoulders, automatically marching my way from lecture to lecture. I had never even been to school!

And yet, somehow I find myself in the last weeks of my first year of university (I decided to do 3 semesters), staring at my full-time fall and winter schedules, my time filled with the requirements to eventually be handed a piece of fancy paper that reads Bachelor of Arts. My backpack is loaded for tomorrow, Contemporary Linguistic Analysis, notebooks, pencils, novels for English, endless granola bars. And a bike lock.

When I first started going to the U of A I had this strange feeling that soon enough someone would figure out that I didn't really belong there. They would tackle me somewhere along my wandering path through the arts quad and remind me that I wasn't REALLY a university student, that I didn't belong. That because German 111 was my first classroom experience instead of the usual Kindergarten I couldn't possibly be attempting to fit into the university flow.

But the weird thing was, I started to feel like I DID belong. What was supposed to be a year of spontaneous language learning through the Open Studies program has turned into a 4+ year trip through the education system. I fell in love with the libraries, with the campus, and with the wide variety of course options. I fell in love with learning German every morning and ASL every night. And this term I've fallen in love with scribbling IPA alongside my notes on Jekyll and Hyde.

I gave up rebelling with my etch-a-sketch themed messenger bag and bought a backpack. I haul myself from building to building, bitching about profs and essays just like the rest of the students. But I'm not doing any of this for any previous expectation or even to be successful later, hell, even the degree is more of the icing on the cake than the real reason I'm here.

I'm here because I was tackle-hugged by university. It sneakily grabbed me and pulled me under without my permission. It knew me, it knew my goals, and it knew that I loved to learn. And that was enough to hook me.

Well, I've got to get back to my books and diminishing bank account now, but if there's anyone reading this, what is or was your university experience like? Did you always anticipate that you would do post-secondary, or were you more like me? Tell me about it!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Learning languages
What everyone asks me when I say I'm learning German, which I find rather odd.

So I'm currently in my second semester as a (part-time) university student learning two new languages! And I love it!
It's made me think a lot about how the language we use influences the meaning of what we're saying, for instance, the sign for "believe" in American Sign Language is literally "thought-marriage", like a commitment to a thought. I'm not sure if a native signer would even notice this, but to an outsider it makes you think about what the word "believe" really means.
Or how in German, word-order is drastically different. Does this change the way you think about your sentence? Just because a German verb generally comes earlier in a sentence than an English one, does it give that verb more weight?
Anyway, I think I need to take a linguistics class because I have a lot more questions than answers!

But I think the point of this post is that learning a second (and third!) language really opened up my worldview, made me think about the way we communicate. Whether verbally or through sign, we all have the same desire for language. I hope to continue my studies to a point where I can communicate effectively in German and ASL, but in any case it's been an awesome introduction to other cultures, vocabularies, and customs.

Well, there's a mini-update on my life! I'll try to post again about some of the other stuff that's been going on!
If anyone's reading this, do you speak any other languages? How have they helped you to think about the world?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Edmonton Fringe reviews part 1!

I realized a few things:
I really freakin' love the Edmonton fringe
I want to keep track of the shows I've seen and my opinions of them
Other people keep asking me what I saw and what I recommend
I have a blog

So Fringe reviews time!

My first 3 shows:

Jem Rolls: Ten Starts and an End

Quite enjoyable. While I've seen other Jem Rolls shows that I preferred, and I don't think this will be my no. 1 show this year, it was a good hour of entertainment. It's a spoken word show, so don't go in expecting a play, but if you like that sort of stuff (I do!) it's worth considering.

A Kind of Alaska

Not AT ALL what I was expecting (I thought it was some sort of mystery for some reason) but nevertheless, a great show. I wished I had gotten a little more into it, and maybe that's my fault and not the play's, but I found myself drifting out of the story a little. Brian Copping was a stand-out for me, he seemed to be a perfect choice for his roles.
It's based on the same story as that Robin Williams movie, Awakenings, so if you're looking for a good ol' drama, this one's for you.

Spare Change

I wasn't planning to see this one, but a guy was giving out comps, and it's hard to turn down a free show.
Wow. What an excellent production. As someone who works in an environment that gets a lot of traffic from the homeless, this was a really great perspective for me to see. It was one of those shows that leaves you thinking and rethinking, not something I'll forget anytime soon. The whole cast was fantastic, and it was a show I could really get into.
This show doesn't deserve a 3/4 empty house, my favorite so far, go see it!

More to come!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia."

If you are a nerdfighter, which many of you reading this blog are, you'll almost certainly recognize the quote - one of John Green's more overused ones (sorry, but it's awesome!) from his novel Looking for Alaska.

I think it's very relevant to what I'm doing right now - looking back at the history of this blog.
As I think about what has changed, I also find myself visualizing what may change in the future.
My excessive commas have turned into excessive em dashes - probably a product of trying to look pretentious in social essays - and maybe this will soon develop into semicolons or parentheses or interrobangs (Seriously; wouldn't that be awkward?!) or punctuation my late-night internet surfing homeschooled brain has yet to uncover.

The point of this is that I try to imagine what I will be like in the future, but just as I didn't see the pretentious em dashes coming, I don't know what this blog, or my writing habits, or to get really philosophical, my life will be like when I go back to read my old posts.
The problem is, just like looking at the past, we can't change our futures, or even understand them correctly. I can look at an old blog post and get a sense of what I was like in 2009, but never go back. We value different things as we grow and age, and our circumstances change too. We gain knowledge and lose innocence, we gain patience but lose that spontaneity we have when we're small. We don't know what we will be like in the future, so it's rather like nostalgia to envision our future, and foolish to assume we know it all already. And maybe that's true maturity - understanding that you don't know it all, that there is so much left to learn.

When I first started this blog, I liked to write short (but comma and cheese joke laden) posts in which the focal point was a picture of some type. These also tended to be the types of posts I preferred to read.
There's nothing wrong with these, but if you've read any of my "recent" (I really don't blog much) posts, I've changed styles quite a lot.
These posts are rambling and full of asides and jokes and metaphors and weird philosophical statements, and that's okay too.

I feel like I've grown, too. I don't care so much about who reads my blog - I just write for myself and if someone reads it and enjoys it, then that's wonderful. Before I know I would worry about making a post someone wouldn't like, or would make them think I was annoying, and maybe that's just a typical 14-year-old girl thing to fuss about, but I'm still happy that I got over it.

So in light of this nostalgia, both past and present, I'm going to try and continue growing in my rambling writings by blogging more. I've updated the layout and the widgets on the side, and while I'm not committing to a particular schedule of posts, I'll make an effort not to neglect this old blog quite so much!

Thanks for coming along for the ride - it's em dash time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Still alive...

These past couple of months have been full of things I didn't think I could really do.
Most notably, doing nearly 50 hours of diploma preparation classes in about 8 days. I am not the sort of person that has endless mental energy. Put me in a dance intensive and I last pretty well, but a lecture hall and I would have though I'd fade within a couple hours.
But I'm doing well! I have only 4.5 hours left, and I'm feeling good. Prepared, yes, accomplished, maybe, and definitely tired, but still alive!
The night I left for my first class I made a little log of how many hours I would be there because I was weepy and teenage girl-ey and terrified of the diploma and I wanted  to try and encourage myself and somehow make it look less intimidating. It didn't look much less intimidating, but damn, it felt good to cross each hour off like a battle won. Just that little thing made me feel more in control.

I think I've learned a lot from doing English and Social in general, but also the prep classes for them, and I really hope I'll learn something from the diploma too. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but I've kind of learned more about learning than about these subjects in some ways.
I know now that excessive espresso is not a good learning aid, that stairwells are a beautiful, beautiful thing that for some reason make me giddy and foolish, and that exploring and getting lost in a random engineering building can really cheer me up.

What do you do when your brain is sabotaging you after long hours of sitting at a desk? Derp up and down stairs like me, or do you have another method?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The perils of lacking information about Adam Smith's personal cat population

I am assuming everyone reading this blog knows I have been the strange vegetarian homeschooler next door for my entire life- you know, that one you quietly whisper to the neighbor on the other side about- "You know the one. I saw her leave the house in a kilt the other day." "Someone should get that kid a math textbook."- but if you don't, now you do.

That's been me for the past eleven grades, (or potentially more or less since I am forever forgetting which grade I'm in- which numbered slot to use as an identifying feature so people think I'm doing some "real" schoolwork.) and now it is The Final One, the One With The Diploma, the One Where People Ask You Constantly About Exactly What Will Happen In The Rest Of Your Life and you reply I Do Not Know, But I Really Like Matt Smith's Hair So Maybe That Is Something I Can Study and they decide that you are probably a lost cause.

And I am doing my first curriculum course ever. That's right, I sit here eating dairy-free yogurt and organic granola with a large and imposing text book entitled Perspectives On Ideology and many official Alberta Distance Learning booklets and modules and instructions on How To Be A Good Student. I have lists of terms I must use and sample outlines for position papers taped to the wall, and I have the refined procrastination skills of a professional Curriculum Goer even though it is my first time.

And it is strange, and it is awful at times, and I laugh at their misspellings that occur just a page turn away from the lecture on proofreading, and I consider writing a snarky paper about how I was unable to complete my assignments because I did not know what the terms "economci freedom" and "private propety" aimed to represent. And some of it is pretty good, and some of it makes me cry for those that have done this for eleven years, and some of it is just work that needs to be done.

But maybe I am learning more about learning that Social Studies, really. I've learned that sometimes you need to stop digging through your book for typos, complaining about the lack of strange and unnecessary facts ("What were Adam Smith's hobbies? Did he have any cats? They're keeping this from the general public! WHY? WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?") and try to make the best of the course. Get the work done, learn as much as possible, and take it for what it is. This is not a lesson from a shoeless raw vegan who is intensely enthusiastic, this is a dry textbook that may be rather biased, may not dance the way Barefoot Bob did to explain mathematics, but maybe, just maybe, it can still teach me something worthwhile.