readingredhead: (Default)
Not much to say, other than that I've returned to my third home (first being Mission Viejo, second being Berkeley) and class starts up tomorrow. I've actually got a Monday class this semester (last semester made me lazy without them) but still nothing on Fridays, so still weekend travel! I'm looking forward to resuming my two year-long classes and starting up my two new courses for this semester, but I wish that I had just a few more days before everything got going...my jet lag is worse than it usually is and I've been procrastinating for a while on a paper that's due on Thursday. I know that it will get done, I just can't bring myself to focus on it. Also, everyone is now back in my flat, which is great because I love hanging out with them, but also not so great because aforementioned hanging out takes up a lot of my free time, which is inconvenient when I have aforementioned essay to complete. I'm probably just going to go to sleep now (assuming this is possible, over the noise of my flatmates) and most likely wake up too early again in the morning to get to work on some of this stuff before my 10AM class.
readingredhead: (Talk)
The plane leaves today at 3:45 and whisks me away into an adventure, the magnitude of which still hasn't quite hit me yet. I keep telling myself that this is it, this is when I feel it, but I don't know when I'm actually going to have that moment of sudden clarity in which I actually realize that, oh shit, I'm boarding a plane that's going to take me to London and when I get there I'll really be on my own.

I don't even know that I feel excited, or anxious. If anything, I just feel ready. I'm in a zone that no one can disturb -- because in less than 24 hours I'll be in London and everything will actually start to begin.
readingredhead: (Talk)
It was great to be back in Berkeley, and terrible at the same time, because after five days I had to leave. I love the city, and I find out new things about it every time I visit (for example, this time I made my first visit to gourmet ice cream parlor Ici). It'll be good to leave it for a year -- but I have a feeling it'll be just as good to return.

*

The seventeenth gets closer and closer each day. It's almost officially September. That's crazy...but also good. I'm starting to prepare for London in earnest. It's so weird because it's like being a freshman all over again, but with the benefit of hindsight upon the whole college freshman experience. I think I'm going to like 'freshman' year 2.0 even better than I liked the first iteration.

*

Dinner tonight was definitely cinnamon pecan waffles with peanut butter and syrup and milk and bacon. Yum. Life rocks.

*

I'm teaching myself Italian (conversationally, using CDs borrowed from a neighbor) and finding it pretty easy. I've always wanted to learn more languages; the whole grad school language requirement thing is just the incentive I need to start picking them up! Frankly, the real list starts with refreshing my Spanish and then learning French, followed by Italian (and then Latin if I'm not dead yet), but I figure there's no harm in learning some conversational Italian even if I can't actually spell most of the words. Apparently I remember more Spanish than I thought -- sometimes when asked how to say a basic phrase in Italian, I can only remember it in Spanish! In my defense, the languages are remarkably similar. If Italian is spoken slowly enough, I can understand two out of three words.

*

While I'm studying abroad, I will be keeping up with this journal, though it's quite possible I'm (finally) going to make it friends-only. I'm also going to be keeping a public blog that will consist pretty much of condensed and edited LJ posts. I'll still post randomness and rants and hopes and fears on here...but the study abroad blog will be kept free of anything I wouldn't want to share with my distant relatives, parents, and former schoolteachers. Still, if you're itching for someone else to follow on tumblr, my journal is When In London.

*

I got my first check in the mail from DemiDec today! Yes, guys, they're legit, and I'm $700 richer -- and that's only the first of four checks that I'm due. Some of them may be for even larger installments (I confess I don't know exactly). Also, aside from making requested revisions on the three projects that haven't been completed yet (which takes little to no time compared to actually producing the content to begin with), I'm no longer working. This gives me ample and abundant free time. I hadn't realized how much I missed that. I'm looking forward to getting in some beach time, some reading time, some writing time, and some general time to relax.

Berkeley!

Aug. 20th, 2009 09:57 pm
readingredhead: (Milo)
I'll be back up in my second hometown from tomorrow through Tuesday, hanging out with friends and getting my last glimpse of the Bay Area for just under a year. Wow, that's a depressing thought. But you know what's not depressing? I definitely just got my visa in the mail today...for LONDON! It's pretty awesome, they put this special stamp thingy in your passport, and it takes up an entire page.

My awesome Katherine friend from Indiana/St. Louis (depending on the season) just left today, and was not here long enough, but we still managed to cause some serious fictional damage. I don't know about you, but I fight monsters in the wastes.

Anywho...the real point of this was supposed to be that I'm not taking my laptop with me to Berkeley (mostly because it will keep me from reading George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings -- yes, so sue me, I'm hooked!) and won't be online until I get back Tuesday night. From there, everything starts happening too too fast -- the packing, the unpacking, the re-packing, the emotional moments, the arguments over why I can't possibly fit two pairs of rainboots into my suitcase...and then before I know it, I'll be gone.

*shakes head*

BUT ANYWAY. Now, to sleep. I have an early morning tomorrow...
readingredhead: (Talk)
I went and saw the university where I'll be spending the greater part of this school year, and I think I might be falling in love. Seriously, it's everything I could ask for -- but then again, so is most of this country!

a few of the many many pictures )
readingredhead: (Default)
Not much update time, but I have to say -- I never really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream, and then I saw the Globe's traveling company perform it at the Globe last night and it kinda blew my mind. Can we say 1920s theme? A cast of 8 people portraying all 20+ characters through some pretty fantastic costume changes? Aforementioned actors singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments in addition to acting some of the best Shakespeare performances I have ever seen? SO AWESOME.

Also, I ate lunch at a restaurant looking out directly across the Thames at Tower Bridge. We ate on the south bank before crossing the bridge (in an intermittent thunderstorm) and getting on with our day, but it was nice to just sit for an hour, rest our already-tired feet, and look at what I would argue is the awesomest bridge in London. The Millennium Bridge may be stylish, but Tower Bridge...I don't even know why I like it so much. It just rocks.

Today I am heading into East London for my first look at the school where I will be spending most of next year! And tomorrow I finally get to see the British Library.

Addendum: I have the WORST INTERNET ACCESS EVAR right now. And it kinda makes me want to die. Might have something to do with being on the top floor of a building with wireless coverage that's poor to begin with -- on the bottom floor a few rooms away from the router I only get three bars. BUT STILL. It is making things like paying a deposit for housing at Queen Mary incredibly difficult, and if there's one thing I hate, it's technology that I spend money on and rely heavily upon not working in the way that it should. I hate that this is enough to make me angry on any given day, but it really is.
readingredhead: (Default)
Today, I have slept in, talked with my sister about the new Star Trek movie in great detail, discovered that there are two different projects going on right now to try to make Paradise Lost into a movie (Milton would die if he weren't dead already), watched an old Star Trek episode while eating breakfast and folding laundry, e-mailed Queen Mary's study abroad people about housing information, looked up books about Milton, and sidetracked my attempt at studying for my Romantics final by instead looking up course descriptions for graduate English classes at Berkeley.

Finals? What finals? You mean it's not already summer?
readingredhead: (Default)
--If I were a professor, I think I'd totally check my profile on RateMyProfessors obsessively at first. And possibly throughout my career.

--If I were a famous published writer, I would want to read the fanfiction people were writing using my characters just to see what strange happenings were going on, but I wouldn't want to for fear that I would want to borrow one of the fanfic writers' ideas!

--This Milton class might be turning me into a Miltonist. But I don't know if that's because I actually like Milton enough, or because this one class on Romanticism has been disappointing when compared against the Milton class. And I don't know if it's fair to think about what I want to do with my life in terms of a single professor who blows me away. (But then again, my initial interest in romanticism was caused by just that -- thank you, Professor Goldsmith!)

--I used to be dead on my feet by 11pm at night, incapable of coherent scholarly thought after 8pm, but now my brain doesn't wind down until after midnight, even if my body's too tired to do much about it. I think this might be why I have had an increasing number of scholastic revelations in the middle of the night or as parts of dreams.

--I bought a plane ticket to London. In less than five months, I will be leaving the country!

--The weather today made me feel complete. It was sunny and warm and I got to wear a skirt and sandals. It's time to bring out the summer clothing, and I am so ready for it.

--My summer schedule is awkward. I technically have a longer-than-usual summer because I don't leave for London until September 17th, but I'm spending most of July on a family vacation so although I will be home for June, portions of July, August, and portions of September, I probably won't be able to get a job. Grar.

--Script Frenzy is just not as easy as NaNoWriMo. You'd think that, if I could write an 80,000-word novel in a month, I could write what amounts to a 20,000-word screenplay. Well, I can -- it's just a lot harder than it sounds.

--I should stop this and go to sleep.
readingredhead: (Burning)
Thanks to some conversations with Katherine Fosso and Natalie, the Satan story is starting to iron itself out. It probably won't be under 15 pages like it's supposed to be for this class, but seeing as how other people have ignored that requirement and I haven't yet, I think I'm okay as long as I don't go over 20. Granted, that might be a problem, but we'll see. I'm working on this a week in advance for a reason -- the critical idea-mass has finally been reached in my mind, and I'm making things work.

Also, I'm trying something that I've never done before, switching between two timelines rather consistently, and I'm kind of excited for how that might work out. I usually write very linear stories so playing with time is something new for me, but something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm just happy that I finally found a story that lends itself to some temporal fun.

In other news, yesterday marked the first day of Script Frenzy, the Office of Letters and Light's other creative writing adventure, in which participants write 100 pages worth of a script for a movie, TV show(s), radio play(s), stage play, or comic book. I am engaged in writing an adaptation of my first completed NaNoWriMo novel, The Printer's Tale (formerly called The Printer's Daughter), WITHOUT actually looking back at the text of the novel I wrote! I'm looking forward to seeing what my dialogue looks like in this new version, how it changes, and to see if I can get any really good lines out of it or new insights into character or scenes.

Also for Script Frenzy, Corinne wants me to write her a telenovela -- a Spanish soap opera -- for her friends to film. They've been watching awesome telenovelas in their Spanish class and want to make their own for extra credit. She hasn't given me details yet, but it will likely include long-lost twins, sordid love affairs, people awaking from comas, death threats, people accused of crimes they did not commit, a court scene, a deathbed scene, family drama, and much more! It will be an amusing respite from my more serious projects.

On another note, I've been officially accepted to study abroad at Queen Mary University of London! I am so ridiculously excited and looking forward to this grand adventure. It's funny, the only real work that I want to be doing now is prepping for this! Paperwork? Busywork? Appointments? I don't care, it's all for London!

Finally: today is sunny and not as warm as yesterday, but I'm wearing a new shirt and some old boots and I feel good. It's strange how sometimes the right outfit can just make a day.
readingredhead: (Default)
I've got a lot of disjointed thoughts that I'm trying to manage in the hour before tutoring starts and I start earning money. In some kind of organization, then.

I heard back from the study abroad office, and I'm 99% guaranteed to be attending Queen Mary University of London. I'm incredibly looking forward to going abroad, and incredibly nervous, though not for the things that I should be nervous about -- mostly about how I'll deal with it snowing in the winter, and how my folks will handle an empty nest, and other unimportant details. Oh, and perhaps how I will eat. But that, too, is not such a big deal. All I know is, it's gonna be crazy and it's gonna be scary and it's gonna be good.

I don't have very much homework to do this weekend, which makes me feel very strange... There is nothing for me to be frantically working on, and that is not a common feeling! But I don't have any major due dates until after spring break, which is very nice and only slightly eerie.

In other news, we have yet another personal-soul-searching journal prompt from my creative writing professor: we're supposed to write about the one time we were totally and completely wrong. My response to this is summed up best by the response made by one of my classmates: "Professor Farber, anything I turn in will have to be fiction!" Not that I've never done anything wrong. But I can't believe I've ever been completely, one-hundred-percent, this-really-matters-and-you-screwed-up wrong. I take great pains not to be that kind of wrong. And if I had ever been that kind of wrong, I can promise you I wouldn't be telling Farber about it.

I'm really frustrated that we don't get to write about fictional characters in these journal entries; I kind of want to talk with him about it, but I don't think he likes me very much, and I think I've snarked my last snark (out loud, that is) about the journal topics.

If anyone knows of a time when I have been particularly wrong, please tell me. I am currently and honestly at a loss.

Also, I don't know what form he wants these "journals" to take. I write mine mostly as prose ramblings (much like this one) but all the other people I've seen write theirs as scenes in which they are characters. I don't know, that just doesn't do it for me. We're allowed to write about ourselves in the first person now, but even that doesn't alleviate my larger complain about these journals. This is a fiction class. Why aren't we allowed to write fiction??

In other news, we're starting to read Paradise Lost (Milton's epic poem about Genesis. Yes, you did just hear me right) in my Milton class and I'm pretty excited. It's part of what prompted me to write the story about the Satan that I'm still mulling over. Right now my problem is that I need to find the character that the Satan would not want to test -- the person who'd make the devil throw his hands up in the air and say, "Enough already! God, why do I have to keep testing this guy's faith? Isn't it pathetically obvious he believes?" I have this vague desire to set the story in New York City without ever having traveled there, and with very little knowledge about the place. Because I can see this Satan hanging out in NYC. Maybe the person that he's tempting is just a regular kid -- but in my head, when I picture that scenario the devil becomes the Lone Power and the kid becomes Kit Rodriguez from Diane Duane's Young Wizards books (which rock so many socks it's impossible to explain or describe).

(Over an hour later, after being distracted by a conversation and by having to go to work...)

So while walking to work I had this idea that chinchillas needed to end up in this story, but then I had this horrible idea that the boy that the Satan is trying to tempt has a chinchilla, and the Satan KILLS IT! And I almost have to die for thinking that. But now I have a strange image of the boy being a smaller boy (which I don't want to do, because not that I've read The Book of Joby, nor do I intend to before writing this story, but the kid in that story is younger I think) who looks like Kit but for some reason has Star Wars bedsheets and a pet chinchilla that gets killed by the Satan. GAH.

In other news, here are some pretty pictures of how I picture my Satan. Because he's a not-so-shameless rip-off of Diane Duane's Lone Power, except not really. I think my Satan looks kind of like if you could mix Satan from Paradise Lost and the Lone One from Young Wizards (come to think about it, on some days that's how I consider my ideal fictional religion -- a cross between Milton's and Duane's perceptions of their various fictional worlds...this does not make me more of a geek or anything, of course not).

I should probably go do my job now.
readingredhead: (Talk)
I had a totally awesome weekend. Steph Brown had an interview on Saturday in San Francisco for transferring to the UCLA theater department, so she and Matt drove up here on Friday and stayed with me. We spent literally ALL of yesterday in San Francisco and I got to see basically all of my favorite parts of the city: the giant Borders in Union Square, Chinatown, City Lights books, North Beach, the street market at Embarcadero, Ghiradelli Square -- everything! Much walking was done, as was some late-night cable car riding. I'd squeal about the details, but I'm supposed to be doing homework right now -- you know, the homework that I wasn't doing when I was having a fantastic time hanging out with fantastic people.

I'm not really enjoying the creative writing class I'm in, but I'm sticking with it because at the very least it'll give me a chance to revise two more short stories, and read what Danica's writing, and maybe more people will turn out to be good? Or maybe some of the people I have issues with now will get better? We shall see. The only problem is that I really don't want to write critiques for the stories I'm reading in that class, because we have to write a full page single-spaced for each story! Three stories a week. And in past classes we've only had to write ~350 words per story, compared to 750 for this class... I just feel like I'm rambling so much to get to the page that my critique becomes insipid. Also it just takes too long!

But, I am loving loving loving both of my English classes (one on Milton, one on the Romantic Period). And although we've only had one meeting of our sci-fi/fantasy decal, I'd say that this semester's group is shaping up to be a good one.

Oh! And I find out about where I'll be studying abroad for all of next year within the next month! It's so weird to realize how soon I'll be leaving, and how long I'll be gone, but I'm so excited by the prospect of it. Also, this semester since I'm finally taking upper division English classes, I'm finally getting the kind of depth of analysis that satisfies me, and makes me feel smart enough to be studying English in another country. This is a silly thing to say, since neither of the schools I plan on attending in London is anywhere near as academically competitive as Berkeley, and my workload will certainly not be harder there, I still have this intense dislike of not knowing things, so I feel better about going abroad to study the romantic period having had some good detailed instruction about the romantics.

A final comment in my long collection of disjointed I-am-procrastinating-doing-my-creative-writing-homework comments: I'm actively working on the writing/revision of this year's NaNoWriMo novel, Gil and Leah, and posting it online chapter-by-chapter at [livejournal.com profile] gil_and_leah. The preface and the first chapter have already been posted. Feel free to drop by and check them out!
readingredhead: (Talk)
Because it's never too early to plan ahead (at least not if you're my mother) I've been looking into options for studying abroad in the UK or Ireland during my junior year. Right now I'm only looking at options that are available through Berkeley's Education Abroad Program, because they're generally cheaper, easier to organize, and credits transfer more easily. When I started researching host institutions, I was so sure I knew where I wanted to go because only one of the universities that offered a half-year program was interesting. At the time, I was sure I only wanted to be gone for half a year because I really couldn't double major and take a whole year in a foreign country. But now that I might not be double majoring after all, it becomes much more sensible for me to spend a whole year abroad, and that opens up far too many options.

The University of London, Queen Mary is a strong frontrunner at the moment, even though it only offers a year-long program. It's got a strong English department, which is a must, but it also has an actual contiguous campus despite being located inside the city of London. In fact, it's the largest college campus in all of London -- which isn't saying much, but all the other London colleges are run out of buildings all over the city, sometimes just rented offices and the like. I actually really liked what their website had to say about what it's like to live there -- the description of the atmosphere made it seem like a quieter, smaller version of London within London. And of course it's London we're talking about here, which is amazing in its own right. The one major downside is that living in London is expensive, so going here would cost more than going to a comparable university in a different setting, simply because of cost of living.

The Unviersity of Warwick in Coventry is the school that I thought was going to be my strong frontrunner from the blurbs in the first brochure I read, but now I'm not too sure what I think about it. It's located in the middle of nowhere -- the university is the town, unless you hop a bus to one of the nearer locations. The closest city centers are about 30 minutes away by bus, and London is over an hour and a half away by train. The University itself seems like all I could hope for, with a sprawling campus and a great English department with innovative course offerings, including creative writing classes! Also, it offers a half-year program, which is one of its most attractive features at the moment.

The University of York also offers a half-year program, which is the reason I considered it in the first place. I've been to York before, and while I liked it, I'm not entirely sure I could spend more than a few weeks there without some degree of boredom setting in. It just feels small compared to a lot of other UK cities I've visited. However, it's English department is very highly rated, and they have a proviso that allows students to submit "supplemental work" in the form of creative writing pieces in any genre they desire. This work is used to help candidates who have borderline grades, and can't be used against you at all (which I think is possibly the most kickass university policy I've ever heard of). It remains a firm "maybe" at the moment.

The University of Edinburgh mostly has its location to recommend it. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Edinburgh, and unlike York, it feel big enough for me to spend a year there -- which I would have to, since they don't offer a half-year program. There isn't a contiguous campus, but most of the college buildings (and all of the ones pertaining to Humanities courses) are located along the Royal Mile at the center of the city. And these are buildings the college owns -- not just some office buildings they've rented (as is surprisingly common in London colleges). I think I'm mostly considering it to keep my options open.

Trinity College Dublin is possibly the oldest college on this list, having been founded sometime in the 1500s (!) before Ireland was technically under the rule of Great Britain. It's got a strong English department and a great location, right in the center of Dublin. The only thing that worries me about it is that it only offers year-long programs and I'm not sure I want to sign up to spend an entire year in a place that I've never been to before. All of the other university locations (with the exception of Coventry, which we only drove through) I have personally had the chance to visit and explore. But at the same time -- TCD is a big deal, possibly the most prestigious school on the list.

By the time I return to Berkeley, this list should be narrowed down to three schools, and I should have a good idea of the specific courses that I would take at each one if I were able to go there. I'm just not sure which schools to narrow it down to.

...and I know I'm totally jumping the gun on all of this, but I can't help it. I just want to be there right now.

(The only problem is, all of this costs money, which my family has, but not in freakishly large quantities, and I'm afraid that if I asked to do something that would cost too much money, my parents still wouldn't say no, because this is too big of an experience and I shouldn't be missing out on it...)

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