My, my. What a roller-coaster this year has been, phew! I see myself now in a very different place from the starting point of my journey. Throughout this year I have reconnected with myself, learned one or two new things and basically enjoyed getting lost in books. If you are anything like me, you probably spent the two weeks after your last examination cursing yourself because relevant ideas for your essays kept popping up in your head. We went to Spain to visit relatives and to enjoy the warm weather there (warmer than Luxembourg, at any rate) and I still could not shake off this feeling of having lost the opportunity of getting a better grade.
To get the much-needed closure on this year I canalized my energy and my concern for my studies in an evaluative effort, trying to ascertain how realistic I was in my initial appraisals, how I have adjusted to changes and how everything turned out in the end. I think it is wiser to do this before getting examination results, that way the evaluation is less mediated by the final outcome. You know I am a firm contender for focusing on the process instead of results.
Two sides to one story
When I wrote my first post I told you that my main concern as a studying mum was making space in my brain for knowledge when the ups and downs with The Little One were barely leaving any space available in said brain. After more than a month of daily study I think it is about time to make an evaluation.
In the past few weeks The Little One was going through the “adaptation period” at daycare. She had to get used to new people, new food, new patterns, new rules… And it was a lot to take. Interestingly, this adaptation period is also designed to help parents in coping with the difficult feelings of leaving their progeny in the care of someone unrelated to the family circle. My mind wandered off easily and I asked myself repeatedly if she would hate me for “abandoning” her like that.
Five years ago, if someone had told me that I was going to live in Luxembourg and raise a baby girl while studying English with the UoL International Programmes, I probably would have laughed. Yet here I am: a Spaniard based in Luxembourg studying English and, yes, raising a baby at the same time (six months now and going strong!).
The truth is I studied to become a teacher back in Spain. I got my teaching degree there but life brought me to this little country and, after a while, I decided to enroll in the International Programmes to widen my knowledge in English. Continue reading
What if I tell you that you actually enjoy studying more than you realise? What if I tell you that scoring distinctions aren’t exactly the contributory factors to the fun of the course? All the hours you have spent boning up a text; compare this to that few minutes of bliss when you realise you score a distinction for your paper. What if I tell you that you actually enjoy the former much more than the latter?
The truth is, I have been putting off writing this blog post. In fact, it is not just this blog post that I have been putting off!
We are all quite familiar with the formula: write every day, as it is the only way to hone the craft. And, keeping a diary is the best method to do this. Quite convinced that regularity is truly the way, I too, have been keeping a diary for about six years, to persuade myself to write something every day. Recently, however, I had not written a word in it for nearly 20 days.
Eventually, I decided that it was time to finally extinguish that flame of December festivity, which I figured was where the heat of playfulness got a little out of control. I had allowed it to foil my plans for too long. But, when I decided to pick up my long neglected writing, as well as my studying, I was shackled by lethargy. I could not get into my stride. I could not read even for 15 minutes without feeling restless. I somehow managed to cook up an avalanche of excuses – I need to go to work, I need to cook, perhaps I should rest for awhile before I begin, etc. “Awhile” became “a day”. By bedtime, the panic mode would take over. I would try to redeem the hours lost in a day, all in that few hours before bedtime. It would never work out well: reading was done in a haphazard manner, without registering anything; writing was insipid, lacking in texture. I realised that I could not cheat myself any longer.
Who would actually be interested in knowing the mundane details of another person’s daily life? Well, I do. I do, especially if that person is remarkable, someone who has made astounding achievements in their lifetime. I do, especially if that person is a writer, a musician – someone whose creativity is celebrated, commemorated and revered for years, and many more years to come. I have always found it very fascinating to know how these people manage to find time to work on their creations. Just how did they do it?
It is for these reasons that I bought a copy of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. It is a book that tells us everything about what great minds like Hemingway or Beethoven do daily. We have all heard about the geniuses of these people, and I have always wondered just how they achieved it.
I love books. I mean I really love books. I admit to being perfectly happy losing myself in a bookstore or library. And I am happy as a kitten whenever I get the chance to curl up with a book on Saturday afternoons. I love the feel of a book in my hands but I can also comfortably carry them with me on my tablet or listen to one in the car. All these stories and adventures give me the chance to explore life through the eyes of fellow human beings, share in their knowledge and feel their emotions all from my comfy chair. I guess you could say I am passionate about literature.
So much so that I decided to get a degree in English. At times however (and I have seen this in comments on the VLE and conversations with fellow students) it can be difficult, even for the most passionate among us, to explain exactly why we chose to study what we study. Others might even question the wisdom of doing an English degree in a technological world.
He looked at me for a second, probably it was for three seconds. And just when I thought he was beginning to look at me a little longer than before, he turned his eyes away. He picked up his phone, his fingers did the swiping motion; right to left and top to down. It managed to hold his eyes with the intensity I had known so well. It was the kind of concentration I used to see years ago, whenever he had his eyes on me, listening to my every word with fascination.
Again, he looked up at me for a second; two seconds; his hand was still holding on to his Blackberry. Perhaps it was work, some important email that he had been waiting to receive, I thought. I tried to put my words across, but before long, I lost him again, “My true name is so well known in the records…” Beep. Beep. In an instant, he picked up his phone again. It seemed to possess a way of controlling his reflex. It dominated his every move. He sat up. OK, finally, it looked like he had decided to pay his attention to me. But all he did was to flip open his laptop and start surfing the net.
No, this is not the rumblings of a neglected lover. Neither is it of a child who is deprived of the parent’s attention. It is from one of the books that sit on your shelf; one that is lying on your coffee table, on your breakfast table; by your bedside; or (for those with the habit of reading while ‘expelling’), by the toilet. It is that book which you have always wanted to finish reading. You have had that book for almost two years, which is a long enough time to read all its 200 pages, the average length of any book.
The days are getting shorter here in the Midlands. And somehow it feels like the nights are getting darker too. Summer is gone and buried…. that much is clear now. And it has taken the light with it. There is this eerie silence in the village as I stare out the window. Clouds have descended on the green and it is hard to make out any shapes through the mist. The one tree I can still discern looks like a mere shadow of its former self. Winter is coming. The damp and cold are sneaking their way in and taking hold. I decide to turn on the heating but still can’t shake the sensation of impending doom and ‘all the happiness’ being drained out of me……
Hang on! That sounds suspiciously familiar. I am getting carried away, it seems, by my current module ‘The Novel’, as I sit a comfortable chair reading up on its history and narrative technique.
Words are ever present in our lives. From the first successful ‘mama’ that rewarded us with ‘oohs‘ and ‘aaws’, even applause, they follow us wherever we go. And words have power. They earn us smiles and hugs, create expectations or reap tears.
Then there are those words that shake our very foundation. They bring us insight, turn our worlds upside down and sometimes touch our very soul. At times they have such an impact on our lives that we are changed forever. They can come from parents, spouses, siblings or friends. We cross paths with them in the books we read. Sometimes they are from a teacher or mentor. And at other times, as it was in my case, from an almost complete stranger.