Posted in Blogging Challenge, Education, Musings, University

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 25

Your Biggest Regret

While it’s not good to have regrets about things we can’t change… what I do regret is all the times in my life where I took the passive route instead of being more actively involved in my own life.

Times where I left early to go home and nap (I do love to nap btw), or missed out on opportunities because I couldn’t be bothered or didn’t feel like it. How often do we have to do things we don’t feel like doing because we must? Therefore when there’s the chance to do something fun but we’re not quite feeling up to it, then surely the right answer is just to do it anyway.

A lot of my regrets are linked to choices I made or didn’t make related to school, college, and uni. I wish at school I could have been more involved and invested in what school represented instead of being distracted by stupid arguments and dramas I can’t even remember anymore. If only I hadn’t taken the easy route, I could have gained a load of highers in fifth year instead of running out on the classes I did well on simply because I couldn’t face another year with said teachers. This is how I ended up being a fifth year with a free period (because I dropped music class), left Int 2 Maths instead of trying to work at it, and taking Int 2 ART in sixth year. What the hell! I wish I hadn’t drifted so much, school wasn’t a means to an end, it was just clocking time until my real life began. (It hasn’t really, yet.)

College the first year was great, I picked a bunch of subjects I was really excited about but then even though I had more free time than I did at school (but with an hour’s travel each way) I still looked to skin more time for myself, which meant leaving at lunchtime instead of spending time with friends – this could have solidified relationships more, gave me more time to study, made me feel less guilty about not studying at home. By the second year, I chose to resit classes I did in high school simply because it meant I’d already completed the course assessments and effectively would have more time to study for the final exam. That’s how I failed higher geography twice, upgraded my higher French and Biology from Cs to Bs… not that anyone bothered telling me they wouldn’t count. Not that anyone ever bothered informing me that four years of highers did nothing for me but kill time and make me realise I never wanted to study Psychology again. Le sigh.

In terms of Uni, I’m still in a love/hate relationship with Spanish. I really wanted to study Italian and preferably in Glasgow… yet every uni in Scotland that offered Italian to degree level all flipped me off and that’s how I ended up doing Spanish at Aberdeen. My consolation to myself was that at least Spanish was a language, it was related to Italian and it was better than doing a degree in something I had little interest in. And again, we come back to the same problems I did at college and school. I buried my head when things got tough and I coasted instead of facing and owning up to the challenges I experienced. I was taking 25 hours of classes a week, working 25 hours a week, travelling to-and-from work for around 12 hours a week and living in student accommodation where I was only allowed to sleep for about 4 or fewer hours a night. Thanks to all this effort just to make ends meet and maintain my place at uni, there wasn’t a lot of time to study… not that I usually had the energy left to study… it was difficult to keep up my great grades and I passed well enough, but it only made subsequent years harder as Spanish got harder and the dreaded year abroad loomed closer.

When I started second year, I had my adviser meeting on the first day of freshers where my tutor (who was also my Spanish teacher) asked me if I was still happy doing Spanish. I said yes without hesitating, and honestly that moment has haunted me ever since…

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Posted in Education, Goals, Late Nights, life, Musings, rant, University

Smart and Imperfect

There are many misconceptions about what being smart is. The idea that the grades you earn in school or even university; that they can somehow define your potential, your essence is absurd. You may not have paid attention in school, uninspired and left behind. You may have scraped by and gone on to a University or College into whichever course seemed like a good idea to 17 year old you and you may have graduated/passed with average grades from an average, uninspired performance. You might only have discovered your true passions from a chance encounter well into your 20s or by a passing comment from a teacher on graduation day when it was ‘too late’ to do anything about it.

But what will you be judged by by future employers and puppet masters? Those grades that merely state what you obtained from one day’s exam performance. How well you understood/didn’t understand the course work in a twelve week semester, with a shitty essay that you tried hard on but the teacher was never going to be gentle with her marking.

And doesn’t it seem ridiculous in the end?

I didn’t manage too well in high school. I performed fairly well for most subjects in standard grade and intermediates for fifth year, but in sixth year I was suffocated, desperate to escape the petty associations of high school while my life was falling apart outside of school. Did it matter to the teachers? Nope. It bothered them more that I wasn’t walking around with a smile plastered to my face. They saw my average grades for the prelims and accused me of sabotaging my future by not working ‘to my potential’. They blanked me when and if I tried to explain how I felt. They shamed me for wanting to go to a Further Education College after school instead of University. I was told I would never achieve anything in my life if I didn’t go straight to uni.

Ahem.

So I’ve attended a lot of colleges, I’ve been to Uni in several capacities, including abroad, and while I am not a perfect student or have ever had PERFECT GRADES. I’m still smart.

I’m smart because I’m passionate. Most people have things that interest them, and we’ve all had to study and learn things that bored or frustrated us, but I can talk endlessly for hours, days even, on the things that truly spark me. Is that stuff quantifiable? No. Sure, you can give me an Italian grammar test, or tell me that my ability to speak Spanish is shite, but does that take away my abilities to manage or enjoy these languages? NOPE. If my Spanish is so awful, how then did I manage to survive living in Spain for a year in a town that refused to speak English? I still got my coffee and tomato toast every morning and managed to argue with the cashiers in Mercadona that my Post Office Travel Money card is mine and linked to my passport but doesn’t have my name printed on it because it just bloody doesn’t.

I did the PLIDA exam at B2 in Granada, and I passed 3 of the 4 elements with flying colours to the surprise of my lecturer, but then because of a random, sudden change in the format of the speaking exam I was TWO points shy of passing the oral segment and thus failed the whole exam. Inside it destroyed me. I had worked relentlessly for weeks, to the point I was sick with the stress… and for a part of an exam that lasted about twenty minutes, they basically told me I wasn’t good enough. My Italian wasn’t good enough. My effort wasn’t good enough. Had they heard the whole half an hour I spent speaking in Italian to my speaking partner before the exam? No. Did they know that I had made friends with an Italian in Granada and I asked the others in my Italian class to speak with me in Italian and not Spanish because it was suddenly like someone had turned down the static on a fuzzy radio. It took me a long time to get over the pain of the set back, but then I finished my year abroad with 88% in the C1 Italian language class which took into account my whole ability, for the whole term… and my passion.

I lost a lot of my interest in Spanish because of uni. Because every piece of Spanish work came back covered in red pen and bad marks. Because my oral work was criticised because of nerves or a lack of confidence… and in the end a lack of fucks given. But I got through it, I have that damn degree, and slowly over the last year I’ve allowed myself to remember the good points about it. Every extra Hispanohablante is one more person pissing off Trump. I enjoy Spanish music, I love my Italian singers who also perform and release their stuff in Spanish. I love my original passion for languages, once I realised I could… I couldn’t stop at just one or two, it’s still my goal to dabble in as many languages as possible. I’ve even told a few people that the Netflix show One Day at a Time is helping me enjoy Spanish again… because it’s about the thrill, the education for enjoyment’s sake and not about using the fucking subjunctive perfectly! (I seriously don’t think anyone can!) Plus, Despacito 😉

Another whole pathetic example is my undergraduate dissertation. Now to point out, I was trying to hard to still care about Hispanic Studies at all and so I started researching things I was already interested (Ancient History/Italy) in to see if I could tie it all together. Thus it became about the Roman Conquest of Hispania which by the way took 200 years to happen. Who knew?! It’s a thrilling part of history that not many are fully aware of. Sure, most people have heard about Hannibal crossing the Alps, but do they know why? Or that it was during the second of three Punic Wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Empire??? I’ve probably lost you now but this thrills me. Gives me actual goosebumps. I daydream about what would have happened if Carthage had won.

The whole project was about 11 months of work, research, planning, and writing because it could only be a measly 10,000 words. So I had to be as economical as possible. Ultimately I handed in something I was immensely proud of, worked ridiculously hard at, missed shifts at work, turned my day into night, didn’t see my flatmates properly for weeks, and despite all the passion and inspiration, what happened? I got a shit mark. Not a D but still, after everything… And the feedback? Well the first paragraph could go on my gravestone and make you think I was a saint, but then the negativity came. Nothing about my actual work was faulted. It was all about what the tutor thought should have been put in (but I’d filled the whole word count), a few stupid comments about using ‘this’ alone, and other daft things that would have taken the research in a whole other direction. Pathetic. Considering two factors; the tutor had NO knowledge of Ancient Roman History, nor the narrative I was following; and had no idea that Carthage had a base in Hispania which was one of the precipitating factors of the damn Punic Wars and the whole freaking conquest! -_- Also while describing Scipio’s week-long surround-and-starve tactics on northern natives, my writing was apparently ‘too dramatic’.

But!

I’m still passionate about all my interests and hope to expand on my dissertation (because I can) and without the fear of some lecturer and their red pen trying to tell me I’m not good enough.

And please, dear readers, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t measure up. That your smarts and abilities aren’t good enough because you don’t have a degree certificate or some other numbered sticker that is meant to tell the world which box you fit into for the rest of your life. Before I started uni, I had people who were astounded (and told me to my face) that I could form an intelligent opinion about something I literally can’t remember now… the difference was that we were the same age but she was attending uni and I was only a lowly college student. HA!

If anything, attending FE colleges helped me develop myself and my life skills more than university ever did. I had more fun nights out at college, had more fun mucking about the photography studio, and spent more time learning about languages, again, than I did at uni. Uni is like a treadmill set on a ridiculously fast pace, and the goal is just to hang on, eventually you stop trying to run at that speed and you find your own way of clinging on for dear life, until someone calls the race to an end and you graduate with whichever number they’ve deigned to put on that yellow piece of paper.

Remember you are more than that bit of paper.

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Bring passion, bring willpower, and forget the fuck about ever being perfect.

e x

Posted in ASMR, Health, Late Nights, Musings

Do you ASMR?

ASMR has grown in popularity rapidly over the last couple of years, but so have its detractors. It’s a contentious subject if you look at it with too sceptical an eye.

So, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which basically means you get tingles on the back of your head, sometimes down your arms, back, legs; even all over tingles.

We’ve all got experiences of it, my earliest memories are of being in primary school and sitting on the floor in front of the teacher and one of the girls behind me playing with my hair! (I had ridiculously long hair back then, it was impossible not to touch.) Maybe you’ve had a similar experience; at a hairdressers, getting a massage, eye test… the list goes on.

Essentially it seems to be brought on by personal attention, which is something that many of us are lacking in our hectic lives nowadays, so it can be a real treat to have someone take care of you. But really, how many of us can afford either the time or the money to get a facial everyday? Hardly any of us. That’s where the magic of YouTube comes in. There are quite literally thousands of ASMRtists on YT who in my entirely biased opinion are divine creatures spending their time trying to make little old ME feel better when I can’t sleep or I’m stressing out.

This brings us to the divisive part… these are real people who are talking softly to a video camera as if it were a real person. It goes further if you look for the spa treatments, Cranial Nerve Examinations, dental visits, and best friend sleep aids. They all use a variety of microphones which are binaural so it replicates your own ears, and while wearing headphones you really feel they are speaking directly into your ear. It’s this close, personal attention that helps to bring on the tingles – you genuinely feel you are in the same room as them.

Now, I would ask everyone who is unconvinced, please suspend your disbelief, buy into it just for a 40 minute session (with really good quality and comfortable headphones) and use your imagination a little… you’ll see a difference.

Maybe, maybe not. Some people have their minds firmly made up. Some people aren’t able to experience ASMR at all but I’ll use this moment to bring my point back to why I got into these videos in the first place.

CHRONIC INSOMNIA

I’ve been an insomniac for almost all of my adult life, from about 16 onward everything was a struggle related to sleep. I’d be unable to get up in the morning, be late for school despite living a 10 minute walk away, and generally feel crappy and crabby all day long. Then at night, instead of feeling tired enough to go to bed early after a whole long day of feeling tired, I couldn’t sleep. Thus began my routine of staying up late until I felt tired enough to go to sleep. This continued for many, many years.

It got to breaking point when I started university and had a full class load, noisy flatmates, and working 25 hours a week. Despite going back and forth to doctors, they insisted there was little they could do to help and tried some ‘strong antihistamines’ but gave me barely enough to really see if they worked. I tried Kalms, I tried herbal teas, I tried sorting my ‘sleep hygiene’ which I think is crap, presumptuous, and certainly of little use while living in a dorm or student accommodation (the bedroom is only for sleeping – no my bedroom is my everything). There is still a wide nonacceptance of listening to people with insomnia, my phrase was always “I’ve lost my sleepy”, I could feel like shit all day long from exhaustion, but still not be able to sleep AT ALL, not even a nap!

Second year at uni didn’t improve my sleeping habits much as my bedroom was on a main road and I’d sometimes stay up until it was quiet enough to sleep, but invariably there’d be just enough passing traffic to keep waking me up. It was around this time that I turned to YT for chill out videos, guided meditations, relaxing music which worked a bit for a time. However, lack of sleep leads to so many issues including for me, ear, nose, and throat issues so it stopped being as prudent to sleep with headphones in.

Fast forward a year and a bit, I was living in Spain in student accommodation again, and I swear Spaniards don’t sleep! All the apartments had metal staircases which were noisier than you’d believe and all the beds were squeaky metal frames. There was always some noise from somewhere.

That’s when I discovered ASMR.

I’ll even show you the exact video I first watched: My First ASMR

It’s by an ASMRtist called Olivia Kissper. She had only just uploaded maybe a couple of days before I stumbled across the video and it changed everything for me. Two and a half years later and I still listen to an ASMR video every night to help me sleep! (It’s also why I crack up if I don’t have a WIFI signal where I’m staying!)

I will eventually do a top list of my favourite ASMRtists and some videos which have helped me, I just wanted to post about WHY I enjoy ASMR and how I feel it has helped me.

I’ve listened to videos even while studying, writing, or working just to help me chill and focus on what I’m doing… they’ve even helped get rid of tension headaches too.

I understand that not everyone will be convinced, and that’s perfectly fine too, I just ask that you respect other people’s enjoyment of ASMR. I haven’t been asked to write this post and I’m not sponsored by anyone in the ASMR community, I’m just a long-time listener who wanted to share this with others who might be feeling the strain of insomnia too.

Ciao for now,

Eliza 🙂