The Five Senses Tag

Thank you over at Planet Hana for the tag! I was nominated by Hana to do the ‘Five Senses Tag.’ It works like this – tell your readers about your favourite smells, sounds, images, textures and tastes.

RULES:

1. You must thank the person who nominated you

2. You must write five things for each of the five senses

3. You must nominate five other bloggers.

 

Easy, peasy! First up we have…

Sights

  • Seeing an octopus do its thing
  • Watching that special someone sleep
  • Flowers and gardens in general
  • My granny’s cute drawings
  • Sea-greens and sea-bluessea.jpg

Sounds

  • The chatter of people’s conversations in coffee shops
  •  The sound of a koto/guzheng (awesome music here)
  • Debussy’s piano pieces ❤
  • People laughing
  • Le boif’s music (check out his Facebook page here)

 

Scents

  • Freshly mown grass
  • Freshly zested lime
  • Cinnamon
  • The sea
  • The smell of old books book

 

Tastes

  • Ice pops
  • Sorbet
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Sweet potato
  • Strawberries strawberry.jpg

 

Textures/Feelings

  • Having someone play with my hair
  • Kissing someone’s cheek (and face in general)
  • Holding hands
  • Lightly touching my hand on the surface of water
  • The feel of a petal

 

So there you go! Now for the bloggers I tag to do this Five Senses thing:

dontletmyparentsreadthis.com

wilddaughterblog.wordpress.com

thingsyoudidntneedtoknowaboutme.wordpress.com

justaoifethings.blogspot.com

mommyste.wordpress.com

 

 

Anki (Saver of Lives)

This post is dedicated to one of my best friends, who has saved my skin countless times before – Anki. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Anki, it’s an app for both desktop (PC and Mac) and phones. And the best part? It’s free (on desktop and Android)! The iPhone app costs a fairly hefty €25 or so, but before you say no, remember the desktop version is completely free, so if you can’t afford the mobile version, that won’t get in your way! I stumbled across Anki a couple of years ago when one of my best friends linked me to this video by Abroadin Japan here. At the time I was learning Japanese (and struggling very much) and so this was right down my street.

screen322x572Let me explain how Anki works. Anki is a memorisation app with a smart spaced repetition algorithm that is the key to its success. It’s been found that soon after we learn something new, unless we review it within a day or two, we forget it. If we review it the next day (and get it right), we can wait, let’s say, 3 days before reviewing it again. So on and so forth, with the spaces getting bigger between each review. You could do this yourself, but if you have the time to keep track of every individual word or fact you learn and when to review them – you have too much time on your hands! So Anki does this for you. As you get the words/information right, it spaces out the next time you’ll see it again. And if you muck up, it’ll bring that ‘flashcard’ right back to square one, to learn all over again in the same way.

Most people use Anki for the purposes of learning a language. In which case you can create your own digital flashcards, or if you’re feeling lazy (or think your flashcards are shite) you can download shared decks that other people have made, and uploaded. However, Anki is an invaluable tool not only just for languages but for any fact/information based subject. I was sceptical of how to use a flashcard system for things like chemistry/biology diagrams, learning English quotes, or maths theorems – but that’s exactly what I ended up doing.

Anki became my favourite study tool for my Leaving Certificate exams. I made HEAPS of Chemistry cards, Maths cards, English quotes cards, and language cards. Day in day out I made more cards for different chapters, and I reviewed a billion cards a day (or so it seemed). I gave myself 3 months to learn eveything on my Leaving Certificate course. In other words, I seriously left everything to the last minute. But with Anki by my side I not only prepared myself for my exams, I felt unafraid and even confident going into each exam because I had all of those cards deeply embedded in my memory. Not my short term memory – my long term memory. That’s what Anki really helps with – converting things in your short term memory into something that’ll stay in your long term memory for as long as you need them to.

Because of Anki, I didn’t pass my exams, I aced them. Straight As without the stress.

The fact is that education revolves so much around memorisation that it’s often our memories, and not our aptitudes that let us down in exam situations. Yes, I put in a lot of effort into essay writing, maths problems, and accounting as well as using Anki – but Anki is what really gave me that extra push.

It makes memorisation feel not only possible, but natural and effortless.

So that’s my success story with Anki. We spent so much time together in those few months, and I’ll forever have a fondness for you in my heart, Anki.

photo-1444839368740-f0d3572f8067.jpg
Me and Anki celebrating our 2 year anniversary ❤

I’ve recently been back to learning Japanese so I pulled Anki out of its (metaphorically) dusty case and hopped right back on the horse.

Yay for learning.

33599Here are some links to satisfy all your Anki needs:

Anki Desktop

Anki Mobile (iPhone)

Anki Mobile (Android)

 

5 More Lessons from the Dalai Lama

In my previous post I spoke about reading The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama (actually written by Howard C. Cutler about his discussions with the Dalai Lama), and what I’ve learnt in the short 250 page read. As far as journeys into the world of Buddhism, The Art of Happiness is definitely inspiring enough to make the reader hungry for more. In this post I’d like to add a little more of what I’ve taken from this book, and decided to adopt into my own life.

 

1. Dealing with Anxiety

The Dalai Lama explores methods to reduce anxiety in general, and social anxiety in particular, lin a few different manners. As someone who’s not a stranger to social anxiety myself, I paid particular attention to these sections of the book. The most basic way to get over this feeling of being unable to talk to people, for whatever reason, is to realise the value of humans in your life. Our fellow humans are the source of our entire happiness. Wealth, material goods, success may add to our happiness in some cases, but it’s the people we love that we really base all our happiness on. Think of the importance of family in your life, how much you care about your significant other, what you would do without your best friend. People are so valuable in our lives, so meeting new ones is vital, and to be enjoyed and encouraged. Another way to immediately reduce anxiety is to think of the commonality of all humans. You and I, the Dalai Lama, your worst enemy, your lover – we’re all just humans, we have so much in common. We all strive to be happy, even if we may get lost along the way. We all have hopes, dreams, struggles and successes. We are the same. Thinking like this takes away the barrier that anxiety puts up between you and the rest of the world. It helps draw us closer together.

One last way of dealing with anxiety is to take a moment to explore your motivation behind what it is you are anxious about doing. Let’s say for example you really want to strike up a conversation with that girl/guy over there but you’re waaaayyyy too scared, and all you can think of are all the things that could possibly go wrong:guy Stop for a minute and examine your motives. Why do you want to do this? If your reasons are sincere, and to increase happiness (or at least not to decrease happiness) – then you have every reason to do it. Chances are, you want to talk to that guy/girl because you want them to be a part of your life. You think they could increase your happiness, and that maybe you could increase theirs, right? In that case your motivation is sincere and honest, so remove the barriers you keep putting between yourself and your goals.

 

2. How to Deal with Negative Emotion

The most difficult thing we can imagine is controlling our seemingly beyond-control emotions. In my last post I mentioned how education can really help in situations like these. Once you educate yourself about the negative effects of anger and hate, you start to feel passionate about cleansing your life of them. A very effective way to take action against these feelings is to use different perspectives when looking at a situation. Stand back (metaphorically) and realise that it’s probably not personal, that the person causing you strife is probably having a bad day – maybe they have money problems, or had a fight with their partner the night before. The more you analyse the situation, the more reasons you find to refrain from getting angry or annoyed, and to keep your cool.

 

3. Romance Should not be Your Goal

To quote the Dalai Lama: “The idealization of romantic love can be seen as an extreme. Unlike those relationships based on caring and genuine affection, this is another matter. It’s something based on fantasy, unattainable, and therefore may be a source of frustration. So, on that basis it cannot be seen as a positive thing.”

This is a tricky one to embrace, because romance is everywhere we look, so much so that we expect it. We watch our movies and imagine ourselves in the place of that lucky girl, with the handsome boyfriend, who has an amazing physique, is a millionaire who never lets us buy dinner, or our own drink, and who spurts the cheesiest, most over-the-top lines one could imagine. Romance has become so divorced from reality, that it’s now entirely fantasy. And we project these fantasies on everyone we find attractive. Not only is this unrealistic, and naive, but it’s also missing the whole point of how relationships and love should work. Sincere, healthy love is one based on mutual respect, genuine feelings of compassion towards one another, and an honest appreciation of one another’s quirks, personalities and true selves. If you truly care about someone, for who they are, perhaps you will organise a special ‘romantic’ dinner, or a candlelit bath – but there is so much pressure on people to do these specific things that instead of these being sincere loving actions, they are now purely superficial.

romance.jpeg

4. Anger in Rare Circumstances can be Positive

Anger is to be avoided at all cost… Unless it’s a very specific type of anger that comes often as a result from education. An anger that is fuelled by compassion and motivation, which creates a sense of responsibility. For example, I am a vegan, because I have educated myself on the cruelty that is inflicted on animals, routinely, and unnecessarily, that is meat.jpegfully accepted in society. After witnessing the suffering we inflict on animals, I became increasingly angry – and this anger caused a call to action. I eliminated all animal products from my diet, as a result of the ever so rare positive anger, and I’ve become much more aware of animal rights. This kind of anger is okay, good even, it makes you motivated to bring about positive change.

5. Spirituality and Prayer in the Life of a Non-Believer

As someone who doesn’t believe in a deity, and takes karma and reincarnation as metaphors (with a serious pinch of salt), I have never found any reason to pray, and I feel funny with the whole idea of spirituality without religion. The Dalai Lama said something that really resonated with me on this topic: “True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time.” In that case, spirituality it is then! On the subject of prayer, the Dalai Lama described his daily prayers as reminders of the principles and values he wishes to carry with him throughout the day. In this way, prayer is therapeutic, and can help any individual, regardless of faith. It serves as a personal reminder of what sort of person you want to be, how you intend on reaching happiness, and why you strive for your goals.

pray.jpeg

So there you go folks, that about wraps it up. I hope this has helped you on your journey ❤

 

The Road to Happiness the Dalai Lama Way – 5 Things I Learned from His Holiness

lOne of the main things the Dalai Lama emphasises from the very opening of The Art of Happiness is that the pursuit of happiness is natural, positive, and common to all humans, and that it is possible to attain the ever-illusive state we call happiness. So far so good. As books go, this one has challenged my thinking a great deal, throughout, making it a worthwhile read – however, in order for it to truly help you, you must think about what the Dalai Lama is saying, deeply. You have to pause and contemplate all through the book, and try to apply his tactics and reasoning to your everyday life instead of letting the concepts float over your head like a lonely balloon. For that reason, I wanted to write about what I personally learned from this book.
Perhaps you don’t have the time to read the book, or you want a taster first, or perhaps you are being put off by the Buddhist theme, no matter – sink your teeth into this.

1. The Importance of Self-Education
Now we aren’t talking about strict academia here. We’re talking about reading books about other cultures to reduce racism, visiting impoverished areas to increase your compassion, reading texts and talking to people to help increase your empathy, learning how to meditate, thinking deeply and analysing why we are feeling angry or hateful and applying tactics to eliminate these feelings. The Dalai Lama repeats over and over again that the main enemies to our happiness are anger and hatred, and his solution is to combat these harmful states of mind with understanding. When you understand that anger and hate are negative not only to those around you but to yourself, and even your health, then you can truly start to reason with your emotions and challenge them.

2. Pleasure vs Happiness
One of the first things I found helpful and easy to apply to my own life was the Dalai Lama’s decision-making question: Will it bring me pleasure, or happiness? In order for this to mean anything you have to first understand the distinct difference between the two. Happiness is what we all strive for, it’s more than a momentary feeling, it’s a state of being, a goal. We’re talking long-term here. Pleasure, on the other hand, is momentary. It’s extremely short-lived and often shallow. So for example, let’s say you are eyeing up a piece of cake in a cafe. You want that piece, you know it’ll taste so good. But should you get it? Well, would eating that slice give you pleasure, or help you in any way along the road to happiness? Pleasure of course. Adding it to our waistline won’t get us that nice body we are working towards, nor will forking out the money for it add to our savings account. Now this is basic logic, but the reason it’s so useful is that it’s simple, and can be applied to anything from that slice of cake, to weighing up whether or not to marry someone, or take up that job offer. Just ask yourself: Will this bring me pleasure, or happiness?

3. Your Enemies are Valuable
This may seem hard to swallow at first but give it a chance. Generally we surround ourselves with friends and loved-ones that add to our happiness, and because we have a natural aversion to those who mistreat us, we don’t have many people in our lives that we could call enemies. But we all have a few. Maybe it’s a condescending boss, an annoying classmate, a b
ully, a relative that you can’t seem to agree on anything with, or even a parent. These people are so often the cause of our anger and hatred, and perhaps even our envy. All negative emotions. However, these enemies can play a major role in your spiritual journey to happiness. Just think of all the opportunities these people provide us with to practice our patience and tolerance on! If you can learn to appreciate your enemy and show them compassion, you can be sure that you can do the same to an ally. Now it’s difficult, I know, but that’s why it’s so important! Our enemies evoke so much negative feeling in us, imagine if we could eliminate that. If you think of it as practice towards your journey, that can help. Or you could think more closely about this enemy and realise that their sole purpose in life is not to annoy you. They have friends, family, their own troubles, and they in many ways are good people. Once you find some positive qualities in someone you just can’t stand, you’re a step in the right direction. I’ve even used this myself. This thought that my enemies are still humans, who also only want happiness, and are obviously very lost on their journey really softened my feelings of anger and hatred towards them. And even those little annoying things the ones you love do are good practice for developing patience! I think this is the most important thing I’ve learned from this book, it’s invaluable.

4. Suffering is Universal and Unfair but we’re not Helpless
The Dalai Lama spoke quite a bit about suffering and how it is a part of life that every human must endure but we can severely reduce our suffering by changing our negative perspective on it, and our self-destructive habits. For example, what most people have an issue with is how utterly unfair suffering is. It’s sporadic, it’s random, and we don’t deserve it. But the thing is, there is no ‘deserving’ suffering. It’s inbuilt in life. Look at death for instance. Every single person on earth will have to mourn someone they cared about, it’s a universal fact. You may say things like ‘why should I suffer but not him?’ or ‘why should I help him if it means I’ll suffer instead?’, which all boils down to: What makes him more important than me? And here’s the answer: He is not more important than you, no. But he is also no less important than you either. This evens the playing field. We’re both just humans. If we think useless thoughts like how unfair suffering is, or ruminate over events and stresses, it only increases our suffering tenfold. And this part of the suffering we can eliminate. If we look at suffering objectively, and take suffering as what it is, we can get out a lot less wounded.

5. Patience and Tolerance are Key
These two babies are not only the antidotes to hatred and anger, they are crucial to maintaining peace of mind and can heal events of the past that still haunt us. Being patient and tolerant, as opposed to confrontational is often seen as a weakness, in Western society. This is so wrong, and it’s so easy to see why. If you are patient and tolerant, you are not only refusing to fuel any already heated situation, but you are actively preventing any disturbance to your own personal calm, and peace of mind – which, let me tell you, is not easy folks, and is the definition of self-disciplined. This is not the same as being too terrified to confront someone, or some situation – this is knowing you could confront it, but choosing not to. Patience and tolerance, according to His Holiness, also creates and nurtures forgiveness. As you become more and more patient and tolerant, you naturally are more forgiving. Patience, tolerance, and in turn forgiveness are key to helping you let go of any negative feelings you may have associated with past events, helping you to leave the past in the past and finally move on.

buddha

These are only a small portion of the things I’ve learned from this book, and I plan to add to this list in my next blog post. This is the first proper Buddhist/personal growth book I’ve read, so I’m very open to suggestions for more titles like this! Thoughts? Opinions? Comment below.

Peace, love, light ❤

Unique Drawing Challenge May 2016

Drawing and reading are my two all time favourite hobbies, as anyone who has met me will know, but I have a terrible habit of neglecting art for long periods of time. Since the run up to the Leaving Cert, I have been rudely ignoring any drawing impulses, and I’ve decided to turn that around! By doing a drawing challenge for the month of May, that goes a little something like this:

1. Self-portrait
2. Favourite animal
3. Favourite food
4. Favourite character from a book or song (no help from movie adaptations)
5. A couple
6. An elderly person
7. A baby
8. Flowers
9. Something sentimental
10. Something sad
11. Design a tattoo
12. Something consisting of only 2 colours
13. Sexy/handsome man
14. Sexy/beautiful woman
15. An embrace
16. Something loud
17. Favourite author or artist
18. Obsession
19.Something you can’t resist
20. An animal that freaks you out
21. A blast from the past
22. Something ridiculously colourful
23. Something Japanese
24. Love is love
25. Dancing
26. Draw from a photo you took
27. Something completely un-you
28. [Day off]
29. Musical instrument
30. Family portrait
31. Make a comic of your day

So far, we’re on day 12 of my personalised drawing challenge, which means le boif and I have numbers 1 through 11 completed. Fancy a peek?

Self-portrait
Favourite animal: Octopus

The first few were pretty straight-forward, and not too strenuous, although I am a major newb/baby when it comes to Adobe Illustrator, so from day 1 I’ve been trying to learn the tricks of the trade. I’ve been testing out different styles, trying new techniques and basically trying to get the computer to do what I want it to. It takes time but honestly it’s really fun.

Favourite food: Strawberries!

 The character from a book or a song was suuuuuch a difficult decision. As a major reader the obvious choice was a character from a book, but I just couldn’t call any strong imagery to mind, so I had a think about the songs I knew that featured a main character. I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan since I was a baba; my dad used to play his songs around the house, and they would always make me cry. The song Big Iron came to mind, a song Cash only covered, and the Arizona Ranger, the extreme underdog of the tale, really stuck out in my mind, and it’s such a fantastic story of a song that you just must listen to it. I cannot do it justice.

Character from song (Big Iron by Johnny Cash)
A couple: le boif and moi!

An elderly person
A baby

Flowers (sakura)

When it came to the flowers I always knew I’d draw cherry blossoms but I hadn’t really decided on a medium. I didn’t want to use *just* Illustrator for my drawings so I thought I’d give watercolour pencils a go – which makes up the branches, and then I found a stain in my sketchbook left by a Promarker (they have a habit of seeping through the page), that looked like a perfect petal. So I played about with all of this on the computer and came out with a very mixed media type of image. 
Something sentimental: my old ballet dress

When it came to something sentimental I was really at a loss. I don’t have any ‘ones that got away’, I don’t have any dead relatives or friends that I was close to, nothing really to go all mushy over. Rooting through my room, I eventually found my old ballet dress and ballet slippers, in perfect condition, from when I was just 4 years old. I used to love ballet back then and always got extra excited to go to class every week. Unforch the ballet school moved away just a year later, and I was left ballet-less, and have been ever since. Now I feel far too old to learn, and seeing my little outfit did make me tear up a little.

Something sad: a lost mitten

The bench and lost mitten drawing is probably my favourite so far, because I honestly don’t think there’s anything more sad than seeing a lost mitten, in the snow, no less. I love mittens. I just want all the mittens to find their owners.

A tattoo
So that brings us just about up to date on the challenge, and to the present moment, where I’m sitting trying to figure out what on earth to draw for today’s challenge, something using 2 colours only. I’m also maaaayyyyybeeeee working towards an Etsy shop… And it maaayyyybeeee is live at http://www.etsy.com/ie/shop/korknykreations ……..
If you want to keep up with my drawing challenge, my Instagram is @korkny and le boif’s Instagram account is @surfbluestudios 
I’m open to requests, and I’m quite friendly so feel free to message on Instagram or comment on here! 

Snobby Little Me reads the Fault in Our Stars (Finally)

Artwork courtesy of le boif, check out his Instagram
@mrgeraghty to see more of his mad skillz

After a brand new copy of The Fault in Our Stars lay undisturbed on my bookshelf for the guts of, say, 2 years, I finally admitted to myself that I would never, voluntarily, pick it up merely to satisfy my curiosity as to what all the fuss was about. After all, YA (young adult) fiction is far from my comfort zone, and I’m ashamed to admit I always thought it below me – less stimulating, less challenging, compared to my beloved classics. Even apart from that, it’s popular literature after all, about a teenager with Cancer who falls in love for goodness sake – seemingly so cliché. The usual PS: I Love you/The Notebook style ‘tear-jerker’. Bleh.

Our paths were fated to cross eventually however, The other day, whilst going through the lengthy process of cleaning my room, the thought of listening to an audiobook occurred to me (as I haven’t gotten quite so good at reading that I can do it without looking yet). However, I would never settle for just listening to a book I’m actually excited to read (because it feels impersonal and, frankly, like cheating), I decided to stick on a YouTube video of a lassie reading the first chapter of The Fault in Our Stars – just for curiosity’s sake, and to make the time drag by a little faster.

I spent the first little while marvelling at what a fantastic idea it was, and how much of the story I was absorbing, unconsciously, without any effort whatsoever, while the boredom was stowed safely away. A few minutes in, I actually found myself smiling at a few of the witty remarks made by Hazel (the protagonist, and narrator). I slowly developed a slight interest in the characters, but mostly, a new-found, wholly unexpected respect for the author, John Green. It impressed me that he could write on behalf of the teenagers of today, without being condescending, tiptoeing around taboos, or being too annoyingly teenager cringe-y. But as my tidying task was nearing its end for the evening, and chapter 3 was brought to a close, I was quite happy to put an end to the whole thing, and dismiss it as quite an entertaining teenage book. As in, entertaining for, y’know, YA.

A Fault in Our Stars-esque pic of  what appears to be
 a cloud producing factory. 

That night I snobbily returned to my usual sort of book, but found my mood to clash drastically with it. I entered into diagnosis mode and prescribed myself a comfort book. On the journal to grab one of my Fifty Shades books (blatantly unashamed), I caught a glimpse of The Fault in Our StarsI grabbed both and settled back into bed. Faced with my heavy decision, I decided that I had over-indulged my beloved Fifty a tad too much, what with the new Grey book, the movie, etc. So I gave The Fault in Our Stars a test-drive. And then I kept reading. And kept reading… Before I knew it I was reading late into the night (a thing my brain rarely lets me do with classics after midnight). It was entertaining, I won’t deny. Entertaining enough to make the hours whir by and for a lie in to be needed to recover.

With a plot twist I saw miles ahead, a rather cute life goal, and some complex ideologies about death and the universe, I softened to the genre. They even stuck in a ceci n’est pas une pipe reference – major brownie points. Hazel is intelligent, if a little self-sacrificing for my liking; meanwhile Augustus is charming, open and very boyfriend-material-y. Hell, I even started rooting for the young lovers.

Did I shed any tears? Well, no. But I did well up at one point if that counts. Green called to mind the closeness you can have with one particular person (whether it’s le boif, le girlf or le bff). A connection you share only with them. You tell them everything, they become an integral part of your life, and then – they’re gone. And in their place – well, nothing. Your own private interactive diary, missing. The one person you share all your hopes, fears, and secrets with isn’t around when you face your biggest plunge – to paraphrase Green – the scar they’ve left behind for you to bear.  The only person you want to talk to about how you feel can’t indulge you. The thought of that raw loneliness in an encouragement to all the rest of us to cling to those we care about and relish what time we have with them.

So while I may not have broken down in tears whilst reading Green’s best-seller, I did get something from it. Namely, I got that same childish glee, the reading frenzy feeling that I haven’t felt in years. More importantly it was a little reminder to me to appreciate those closest to us. Because an infinity of time with the one you love is never enough, and one day that infinity will come to an end, and the two are forced to part.

I also learned a valuable lesson: don’t judge a book by its genre.

One word review: surprising
Star rating: 3/5

Semester One = Done

As semester one draws to a close, I believe it’s about time to reflect on my initial college experience. Over the past 3 months, I’ve witnessed the vast majority of the initially over-zealous, intensely studious folk around me crumble with exam stress and fret about whether they have chosen the right course, whilst binging on Reece’s Pieces and ready meals. Oh and I’m one of those, by the way. College has hit hard, and we’re all struggling to keep on its good side, but we stand united. There’s nothing more comforting than hearing the words “I haven’t started yet either” from a fellow student, or lying in bed missing your 10am, knowing your also-still-in-bed roommate is doing exactly the same. We thought this would be easy, now that the dreaded Leaving Cert has been conquered. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, they say. College is a walk in the park after that nightmare, they tell us. Lies and deceit.

Let’s take this one step at a time. Attendance for example. First few weeks – perfect, ‘golden weeks’ all round. After that, people start missing their 9ams because they were out the night before – I’m baffled and even appalled, I mean think of all the vital information they are missing out on!? Eventually a night out breaks my streak, and next lecture I realise I haven’t missed anything much at all, no harm done. Then the essays and sleep deprivation kick in and we get a little lax on the ‘golden week’ idea. 12 weeks deep and there’s only one person turning up our Irish language lab (not me), and the debate to go to a lecture or stay in bed or Christmas shop is a valid, heart-breaking one. Now those of you who don’t go to college may judge us, but we know what we’re doing. If a college student feels a wave over productivity coming on, and is so in the mood to make a start on that essay and get shit done – we know full well that this is a rare blessing, one which much be respected and rolled with, even if it means sacrificing some note-taking practice. And if it’s one of those days when we really and truly can’t drag our ass out of bed into the cold, ever-raining outside world without crying, we give ourselves that time to recuperate, mentally. In other words – we got this, we’ve been playing systems for years now, college is no different.

Except college is so different. Not even the course itself, but the very idea behind it. This is what we have chosen to do for the rest of our lives, like as a career… Or at least it’s what we have committed to doing for 4 whole years of our valuable, unrefundable youth. So if we’ve made the wrong choice, we’re to blame, and we’re pretty much stuck here. Yes, yes, change of minds, I hear you say – but the deadlines for that kind of stuff is pretty early on and once they are gone, the deal is sealed, and short of dropping out and paying full fees to do something else (every mommy’s dream, right?) we’re sealed in tight. So we are all one by one coming to terms with the consequences of that decision, and eventually accepting and dealing with it, in as positive a light as we can muster.

Also, college is the place where straight A kids start to see the value in just passing – a concept which filled us with horror a few months back. One must bear in mind that it’s a Trinity experience I am telling here, and that I spend my days surrounded by the contents of the extreme right of the bell-curve. You need to be smart to get in here – that’s a given. But you need to work your little tucus off and possibly sell your soul to the devil to be one of the smartest of the smart kids (most of the time we can agree that having a vaguely active social (and/or sex) life is more important).

All of this, coupled with the actual experience of living away from home is pretty overwhelming, I’ll admit. One never realises how costly it is to get around, or to feed oneself until they move out (parents, we now appreciate you raising us, but question why on earth you signed up to this in the first place #didyouchecktheexpirationdate?). Not to mention that the prospect of having to make dinner day in day out is frankly preposterous and I refuse to believe anyone actually goes through with it. Pasta is dinner – we have spoken. Don’t underestimate its power to fill bellies in minutes.

With all of the above sounding quite on the ranting side of things, it’s understandable to assume college is terrible and we all want to drop out, but that’s not entirely true. These are the things we have all had to come to terms with, and grow accustomed to in the past few months. Valuable life lessons are being learned, yada, yada, yada, and we have our (almost) fair share of fun. And the most important thing of all: we get to claim the #studentlife as our own, an extension of ourselves, if you may, adding to our legacy.

Sláinte, Sickness and Student Affairs

Remember when I said I wasn’t missing home? Well scrap that. And about that sore throat I referenced in my last post, well, it turns out that it’s most probably tonsillitis. What wonderful news to hear three days before lectures start, right? So now I’m just one week into living in the big bad world of independence, and am faced with sorting out doctor’s appointments and medication, frantically, on the last day before the weekend, in order to try to survive next week’s lectures, which I’ve been looking forward to for months. Right now, I want to run home to mummy, let her work it all out, and mammy me by bringing me soup, and tea, and stroking my probably feverish head (what college student actually has a thermometer?).

But alas I sit in my empty apartment with no salt, no honey and no cuddles. My housemates are all either gone home for the weekend or out partying arís (mar is ghnáth), which means I’m admittedly a little on the lonely side (bad health does that to you), but at least I’m enjoying the most peace and quiet I’ve had in over a week. Main concern though: I really didn’t buy enough ice-pops to quell my darn tonsils’ tantrum.

In less self-pity wallowing news, I’ve now attended both of my course meetings, and I’m more than psyched to get down to it. The lecturers have explained explicitly that while yes, us art students may have a ridiculously low amount of lectures per week (nine, not even kidding), we are expected to put in a 40 hour week, what with reading, studying, writing etc. I’ve already gone on the search of English books – and I care not if you think it’s a waste of money, the library only has a limited amount of copies, and do not want to feel under pressure to hand them back in, nor do I want to settle for retaining less information just to save a few bucks by getting a digital copy. Third year students are a fantastic resource, with many unwanted second-hand textbooks that they are willing to part with for a very reasonable price, but some books you just have to go all out and spend that large wad of money to attain them, sadly.

Agus mo chúrsa Ghaeilge? Buel, bhí an course meeting ar fad as Ghaeilge (just as I feared), ach thuig mé gach rud a dhúirt an léachtóir (pleasant surprise). But yes, tá sé fíor – tá gach duine (almost) atá ag déanamh an cúrsa sin after coming out of an Irish secondary school, has many Gaeltacht experiences under their belt, or at the very least has gone to a Gaelscoil primary school. But I could keep up thankfully, bhíomar ag caint as Ghaeilge ar feadh cúpla nóiméad tar éis the course meeting, and it was such a refreshing, but strange experience, to have that opportunity, and to feel safe enough to break in and out of Irish as I please gan bhreithiúnas (without judgement), with people who crave that opportunity too. I’ve been very concerned that I’d be completely out of my league, or that it would be just like the Irish oral practice we did in school, but now I’ve realised that mo chuid Ghaeilge isn’t too rusty after all, and that the Irish Leaving Cert oral preparation was so restrictive and confined, not to mention leadránach and intimidating.

Until next time (probably not too far away if I keep this frequency up), I wish you (and me) dea-sláinte.

Can We Skip Freshers’ Week Yet?

College is strange. But what’s stranger is this modulating point between holidays and actual lectures. As a Trinity student (yes I got in – no I won’t develop a D4 accent, don’t worry), I’m obviously a bit of a nerd. I mean it’s practically a prerequisite. So I’m in an awful state over here dying for lectures, essays, tutorials, studying – you name it, to take over my life. My waiting continues to complicate things further, whilst I spend my time living in Trinity Hall, the home of nearly all the non-Dublinese Trinity freshers, who are throwing their heart, soul (and livers) into clubbing, and ‘prinking’ (predrinking). To sum it up: it’s loud, and nobody sleeps. Not even this little nerd – who tried to club, I swear, but after two nights, realised it had made her physically ill, and pretty miserable – can curl up in bed and read her latest Hardy book without having to reread each sentence at the very least ten times to combat nearby chattering/screaming.

Yes, I do have a roommate. I’ll admit I liked the idea. Y’know, you see it all the time in American college movies, people rooming with one another, bonding, having not-so-secret signals to indicate that the other is ‘getting lucky’ (that tie though, sooo discrete lads). I wanted a roommate, so I got a roommate. What confounds me is what exactly I must have said in my application that inspired Halls to throw me and Roommate into each others lives. Roommate is lovely, I don’t deny that. She’s bubbly, kind, not too messy (so I don’t have a nervous breakdown), not too tidy (so I don’t feel like a slob) and we don’t clash at all. But as far as people go, we couldn’t be more unlike one another. Even on first glance you can tell we’d been put together by an outside source. She’s tall, blonde, and beautiful in the celeb-hot style way – while I would probably fit better in the short, brunette, cute in the looks-like-she-is-still-in-primary-school category. Even our heritage stands on different sides of a fence. I’ve been raised in such a patriotic, Irish family, that I cannot possible allow myself to study English in uni without studying Irish as well – while Roommate is as Bheal Feirste. Not to mention  hobbies: clubbing vs reading, socialising vs writing, I think Trinity’s computer got lazy. But Roommate and I are good, we get on, it’s just really not what I had expected.

Everyone else in my apartment could also be placed on one of two poles. The three of us English lit scholars take up the quieter pole, while Roommate and the two others operate on a much more demonstrative level, which frankly exhausts me just to watch them – no idea how they do it. People talk a lot about Hall not feeling like home. Some think we have to adjust, others think it’ll never be home. I’m of two-minds. While I have no routine as of yet (meal-wise, arising-wise, exercise-wise, or even reading-wise) here, which doesn’t exactly provide a feelings of being adjusted and settled-in, I don’t miss ‘home’. I’m drained, from the extreme amount of socialising that goes hand in hand with freshers, and hand in hand with sharing an apartment, not to mention my throat is sore, from two nights of clubbing. So I’m not exactly comfortable. But I went back to Cavan today, for a couple of hours, had lunch with my mom, and chatted, and I felt even more out of place there than here. It’s like I’m taking up residence in a town called Purgatory. Not fully immersed in college life, but so done with life at home.

Coming back to Dublin afterwards led me straight to my first ever Dublin city sunset. I have a terrible habit of missing the sunset by a few minutes, or getting too impatient to wait for it to start, so I needed this. It reminded me that home is much larger than we seem to classify it as generally. Sometimes all it takes is a peek out at a blushing horizon to bring you back to earth.

Book Review 3: The Time Machine

The Time Machine, by HG Wells, is worlds apart from my usual read (I’m not a sci-fi kinda gal) but it was a nice little breather from the heavy reads I so love. Why, Silly Little Lady, what on earth made you choose such a book? I hear you ask. Well, my lovely inquisitive audience, I’ll tell you why. One Christmas many moons ago, an even littler Silly Little Lady strayed away from her crowd of festive relatives in order to fetch something or other. She happened to glance at the TV, and found herself lost in the most enchanting tale of Eloi and Morlocks and the ever lovely Weena. She could hardly tear her eyes away from the Time Traveller’s antics, and lost most of the afternoon engrossed, while her family was nearly about to file a missing persons ad. I do believe that a story that can tear a child away from her brand-spanking-new Santy presents on Christmas morning is one worth taking a little time to get to know. That, and I had a ‘book set in the future’ box just begging to be ticked off on my 2015 Book Challenge.

The Time Machine is simply about a unnamed time traveller (unless Time Traveller was a popular English name in the late 1800s) who begins to tell his sceptical acquaintances (can you blame them?) all about his awe-inspiring experiences in the year 802,701.

As a piece of literature, this is pretty basic. The writing style is simplistic, the characters undeveloped, but it’s the plot that saves this classic. It’s this novel that is alleged to have made the idea of time travel popular, and Wells even considers some interesting philosophies about future civilisations, and muses the purpose of intellect in nature: “It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change.” It’s thought-provoking ideas like this that many futuristic novels and movies today lack, and instead stick to the tried and tested. Y’see, time travel, I can take it or leave it, but when you turn time travel into a hypothesis of the future of humanity, count me in.

Overall, I did enjoy this novel, as silly and little as it is. As far as recommendations go, if you’re looking for a nice little 2 hour read that’ll give you a short break from tragedies and tearjerkers, and don’t mind a kids book type read, go ahead and give The Time Machine a go.