Sunday, April 10, 2016

Broken Hearts & Broken Art : A Poem | #NaPoWriMo Camp #NaNoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 



This is a poem I actually wrote and didn't particularly like but when I made the video, I somehow fell in love with it for the first time. This is the first real reflection of transition into a more slam poetry style and I really like this phase. 

Broken Hearts & Broken Art

My poetry and my heart are never broken at the same time
Maybe then, I could get some work done
When I fall in love
all the nutrients - that could go
to the brain that might actually need it
are instead detoured, no devoured
by the selfish butterflies in my stomach
and the time it takes to wonder
what my first name would look like with your last
When I fall out of love
I am too busy - reading affirmations
about independence and starting that couch to 5k program
we said we’d  
always try together
then relapsing when I see the polaroid from out first date,
still taped to the mirror - then I speculate about what you’d say
about my body, which worked so hard
to squeeze into the jeans I would have begged
you to take off of me,
So I guess my only choices are to join a convent
where I can dedicate my life to an eternal husband
and dream about living the one I always wanted
then trying to attend enough hours of confession
to make myself feel worthy,
or I could look myself straight in the eye while removing
already cried-off mascara and telling
the actually angst-ridden teenage girl
not even close to approaching middle aged woman
the truth ; that it was worth it.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Understandings | #NaPoWriMo Camp #NaNoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 




This is as close as I'm ever going to get to a volume two of the poem Outlier. It's actually based off the format of a poem from the person who Outlier was based off of. He's a brilliant poet and I was trying and pretty much failed to emulate his style. It's different but it most certainly is a poem for all the complicated people in your life. 

Understandings

I read it again
Read into it, I guess
Would be more accurate
I've spent the past 2 months
Analyzing every moment
Of silence hung between
Two confused people
On a wash line
Desperate,
I ramble and I wonder
What it would be like
Again to have someone
There for me
But that is the worst part
Because you are
The closest thing I've got,
I have tried so hard
Not to make this about me
Tried not to succumb
To wanting a legacy
And I'm trying not
To use you like a cigarette
-another way to alleviate
The people I have struck
Down as items on my to do list,
I want to explain
Why I've sent you paragraphs
Of a person I won't remember
By the time regret
Kicks in tomorrow,
I want to tell you
The delusions are not
My attempts at squinting
To see what has never been
There, but the only way
I know how to tell you
That I have tried to understand



Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Cynic Returns Home : A Poem | #NaPoWriMo Camp #NaNoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 




I wrote this poem not necessarily because this is the way I felt about the day but because it's the way people do feel when cynicism kicks in. It poses the question - is cynicism are requirement of making art? I most definitely think that it isn't, but it was fun playing with the topic.

The Cynic Returns Home

After a day of being with people
I go to the dark room,
hang up the happiness
I decided to try on today
- a free trial
some lady offered me
in a department store,
I dump the film
into the only substance
I’ve ever known
to yield a solution,
then - I wait
for the man scraping
his dentures in the train seat
behind me an d the pained expression
responds to the gaudy tie you purchased
at the thrift store next door
to show up in the background,
that’s why I don’t
like photos with extreme depth of field
because they fill in the blanks
we were supposed to paint
with independent thought,
and accidents don’t happen
when the somber shows the score
of who sold themselves out
for a bit of verification
that they told the truth,
they told me to never end a story
with “and then they wake up”
but guess what? not doing so
is what makes this a story
because we don’t get photos
mid laugh, mid cry, mid conversation
without posing for them


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Windipop : A Poem | #NaPoWriMo Camp #NaNoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 




This was written to the prompt of writing about a word that has taken on a completely different meaning in your family or culture than the one that is commonly known. Coincidentally, the photo used for the thumbnail is one written exactly 10 years ago from the time the video was posted, give or take only a week.
I haven’t thought of her in ten years
The little girl whose grand plan on a Friday night
was family dinner at The Only Place in Town
where she was happy to order sprite, a hamburger,
and fries with a spice something like paprika
Who was guiltiest about the cartoons she watched past her bedtime
and holding one parent’s hand longer than the other,
Her mother imagined the word as a way to preserve innocence
while having a jolly good time doing it
I hadn’t actually realized there was any other term
for that bodily function we like to call a fart
and giggle hysterically whilst placing the blame
on the criss cross apple sauced person that’s most annoyed you today
After everyone asks what I could possibly be referring to
I stop using it
and there designates where that little girl died
Sometime when I began giving a crap.


Monday, April 4, 2016

And Look... | #NaPoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 


I didn't actually write this poem to any particular prompt except for the feelings I had towards the school and my life in New York versus England.

And look, they didn't know she was coming
With a purple jumper in her suitcase
And skin cells that have sunk beneath stereotypes to feel the satisfying squish of English soil,
Instead of a one way ticket from somewhere she never took the time to know
And a caucus of politicians, too clawed into campsite trash bags to make any decisions
So when they ask her - jokingly - if she's learned the language
She will have to admit; she didn't allow herself to become fluent
She's always imagined them catching their reflections in her armor
too absorbed to notice the coagulated rust, let alone the person underneath
Once again, she has the chance to invent the piece of themselves they manage to see in her, which is all they will remember anyways,
or so she hopes.
It started in Spanish class, when Ahmad is defeated by the predicate tense and announces to everyone that she would have known the answer.
Then it was to object of her objections, who texted, to ask how she was doing.
After, it was the guidance counselor, who received email number seven and told her to stop writing.
That's when she realizes, her arrival will be noticed
And that is the misery, or the miracle, of being missed

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Where I Haven't Been | #NaPoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 


This poem was prompted by a poem where someone who had never been out of England and pretty much remained in their small town all their life started listing all the things he hasn't experienced and places he hasn't gone but then writes about all the ones he has which are truly remarkable and irreplaceable in terms of the grand scheme of his existence.

I have not been among
the chosen ones, clad
in the colors and confidence
of those comfortable in climax,
I have sat next to a girl in Spanish class
and learned what it means to love.

I have not been a recipient of the most
recognized award on the east coast,
mispronounced name crackled and crunched
over the intercom as the few who care
to listen learn my worth, but I have
sat on a grassy hill, overlooking the formerly
strange city, writing a goodbye to the boy
who bought me ice cream at the Lan
and shared it there.

I have pedaled the Erie Canal on Christmas Day,
desperate to get away
from the fibrous shadows floating across
my consciousness like a tumbleweed,
passing every mile I have already run,
until my inbox tells me; I must return.

I have not been the one whose name
everyone greets as they shuffle down the hall,
who is tussled about tongues and tangled
itself in tension; but those in the english class before
me know I am the bane of Mrs. Eaton’s existence.

And I guess having my first kiss in the rain
and reading my poetry in a room full of strangers
proves I can be both vertices on a chevron plain.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Outlier | #NaPoWriMo


For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 

This poem was inspired by "Full Length Portrait of the Moon" by Alice Oswald.


Outlier

He could be any child at all;
The class president type
With a smile like ‘salutations’
And a heart of hindrance,
Or the pop culture enthusiast
Who is assumed to have nothing to say,

A voice like stepped-on broken glass when he does.
A touch always trailing after
The left impressions of
Penciled intentions
Already erased and erased

And what they think he’s after
Is you
To leave him
Alone.

He forgets he’s supposed to feel grateful
If the people who chose him
Would actually choose
To provide the care they signed for
Maybe then

The unbearable would become tolerable,
When you ask him a question
He replies flatly
Generating surprise
He expected to hear.

“Brother can you spare a dime?”
On the archaic game known as apathy
For he lost his own
Around the same time
He gave up thinking you would care,
Now you will only hear loose change
When he spends the residue of hope
And it clanks against the empty efforts
You had promised him.

You know what “children” are like;
Misunderstood. Angst-Ridden. Tired.
They carry on as they’ve been taught
Heads down the depths of disapproval
And tongues tied between
Choked on charity and
Silicon slicked slivers of ‘sorry’

As they grow into people
You wouldn’t recognize,
His story is lost
Amongst BREAKING NEWS and
Other things that matter more
But what’s the use of deliberations

When all he’s ever wanted
Is an end to the lonely.

Version Revised by Kate

He could be any child at all;
The class president type
With a smile like ‘salutations’
Or the pop culture enthusiast
Who is assumed to have nothing to say,

A voice like stepped-on broken glass when he does,
A touch always trailing after
The left impressions of
Pencilled intentions
Already erased and erased

He forgets he’s supposed to feel grateful
If the people who chose him
Would actually choose
To provide the care they signed for
Maybe then -

You know what children are like;
They carry on as they’ve been taught
Tongues tied somewhere
between choked on charity and
Silicon slicked slivers of ‘sorry’

As they grow into people
You wouldn’t recognize,
His story is lost
Amongst BREAKING NEWS and
Other things that matter more
But what’s the use of deliberations

When all he’s ever wanted
Is an end to being lonely.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ask About When | #NaPoWriMo

For the next 30 days on my YouTube channel Loving the Language of Literacy, I will be posting an original poem of mine along with behind the scenes knowledge of my inspiration, the creative process, and any other lessons / tips & tricks I have to offer. 

Ask About When

They ask me to bare the innerworkings of my mind
So that they may glimpse the generator,
The creator, Some kind of all-satisfying answer,
To the demands and prying eyes that come with age.

Yet what they should not be asking is
Why I say what I do
How I come up with the notions
Where this supposed wisdom is born

Those are easy.

#1. Because there is so much idiocy in this world
That frustration has become the motivation to speak
#2. Because someone or something else’s words
Have inspired ones of my own;
I am no original, but the culmination of
Trial, Error, and Observation
#3. Because I am just another marionette
Turned martyr, and remain as one of the few
That have learned to tug on my strings,

Yet no one has ever questioned the When.

If they think for one second of any day
That I have no filter
That I have not carefully
Calculated, Whittled, and Re-Sculpted
My words
Constantly gambling on every
Bat of an eyelash,
Fluctuation in frequency of tone,
Strike on the scoreboard that is
Their impression of me,

Then they are even more moronic than I had thought.

I used to be the girl
Whose only mar on a perfect record
Was due to the fact that I had been
Bursting to contribute my opinion
From gun control to the structure of the word purple
And then one day, I stayed long enough
To gauge their opinions of me
Those subtle eye rolls only apparent to
Everyone in the room except for myself
Those imperceptible exhalations of “that’s just Sofia,”

Now, in a new time, new place,
As a person whose definitions of the world have been
Through the laundry machine of time

I still don’t reveal what the answer is in slope intercept form
And wouldn’t dare unfurl my opinions on the 6 ‘o clock news

I guess that’s why they see me in the light that they do
As I have been in charge of every utterance of
Thought that has ever touched down on a page,

Maybe now they’ll realize that opening up means nothing
When those answers have always been there
And there are still less complicated questions to ask

Because I am only just Sofia.

——— Sofia Shohue Liaw

They ask me to undress the innerworkings of my mind
So that they may glimpse the generator,
The creator, Some kind of all-satisfying answer,
To the commands and prying eyes that come with age.

Yet what they shouldn’t be asking -
Why I say what I do
How I come up with them
Where this supposed wisdom is born

Those are easy.

#1. Because there is so much idiocy in this world
That frustration has become the motivation to speak
#2. Because someone or something else’s words
Have inspired ones of my own.
I am no original, but the culmination of
Trial, Error, and Observation
#3. Because I am just another marionette
Turned victim, and reman as one of the few
That have learned to tug on my strings

Yet no one has ever questioned the When.

If they think for one second of any day
That I have no filter
That I have not carefully
Calculated, Whittled, and Re-sculpted
My words
Constantly gambling on every
Bat of an eyelash,
Fluctuation in frequency of time,
Strike on the scoreboard that is
Their impression of me,
Then they are even more moronic than I had thought.

I used to be the girl
Whose only mar on a perfect record
Was due to the fact that I had been
Bursting to share and contribute my opinion
From gun control to the structure of the word purple
And then one day, I stayed long enough
To gauge their opinions of me
Those subtle eyeballs only apparent to
Everyone in the room except for myself
Those imperceptible exhalations of “that’s just Sofia”
Now, in a new time, new place,
As a person whose definitions of the world have been
Through the laundry machine of time

I still don’t reveal what the answer is in slope intercept form
And wouldn’t dare unfurl my opinions on the news

I guess that’s why they see me in the light that they do
As I have been in charge of every utterance of
Thought that has ever touched down on a page

Maybe now they’ll realize that opening up means nothing
When those answers have always been there
And there are still less complicated questions to ask.

Because I am only just Sofia.

The Creation of Ask About When 
This is an exact copy of the explanation I wrote in April of 2015 and handed in along with the rest of my poetry portfolio. My voice is a lot different even then and while some of the things I said are no longer true, they were at the time and that's the point of writing, to see how far we have come.

Ask About When is one of the few poems I have written and genuinely felt proud of from the moment of conception, which happened in the midst of Mr. K’s lesson (you can’t deny the muses when they strike), and throughout the lengthy revision process.

In a class discussion, Mr. K brought up the observation that the particular 2014/2015 class was the most closed-off of any he had encountered so far in his teaching career as well as his opinion that most of the poetry that had been submitted throughout the unit was mediocre at best. From the very first line, Ask About When is my own answer to his statement, on levels both as a student and a person, where I present the issue at hand, and then combat it, all while spiraling deeper into why this topic has so much personal meaning. It addresses the crippling part of my personality - the reluctance and actual fear of participating in class - that I have dealt with since 2nd grade.

There are two impressions of who Sofia is that influenced word choice in the second and third lines. The first being that I am a machine-like perfectionist (generator) and the second being that the words I speak and write are somehow insightful or intelligent sounding (creator). From the moment we are born, we are in a constant state of sensory overload accompanied with living that makes the commonplace person not as trusting and naive, which is what the first and fourth lines suggest, as I have been asked to put the way I think on display because people question my word.

The second and third stanzas cover the questions people have always asked, the ones that beat around the bush and don’t actually fulfill their inquiries. This is simply because if I’m willing to answer you, whether out of the need to impress or compassion, that is answer in and of itself.

The fourth stanza addresses the questions from the second in a more slam-poetry style and are some of the most important lines in the poem. In short, the only reason I seem “smart” is because I have realized that I have to play the game of life if my favor in I ever want to establish some sort of independence from others, but that doesn’t mean that I am any better or try to be.

The fifth and sixth stanzas are the funnel of the whirlpool as I delve deeper and deeper into my social anxiety that comes with participation in class as well as showcasing my personal snarkiness that ties back to my frustration with idiocy. Furthermore, it alerts readers of my self-awareness and lets them know of my best attempts to draw a favorable hand.

The seventh stanza is truly where I hit home as an explanation to what controls when I speak. In Kindergarten, I had perfect grades in every standard, both social and intellectual, except for the one concerning speaking out of turn. I had been a constant fireball of positive energy, continuously eager to learn and contribute my opinion. In 2nd grade, I became aware of my surroundings and the people around me, the fact that I wasn’t “normal,” and through the use of irony, lay my fear of judgement out on the table.

The eighth and ninth stanza attempts to portray the gap of both time and personality that sits between my New York and Californian lives. I had thought it would be different coming to a new school, but the fact of the matter is that I’m still afraid and my teachers have picked up on this as well.

The tenth stanza is my three line ode (even though I could have used 3,000 lines) to my passion for the written word and writing. As someone who considers themselves a poet (being good has absolutely nothing to do with the declaration), I love nothing more than being in control. I will tell anyone anything about myself through writing, but reader’s must remember that that is my own conscious decision to do so.

The ending to Ask About When is something I struggled with because I thought, “Well, I’ve written all of this and made some pretty bold statements. How the heck do I wrap this all up?” The classic ending designed to make readers think was the original cutoff for the poem. Upon a peer editor’s suggestion, I spun the poem’s conclusion into something I feel sums up (as well as continues to perplex) its message. I am just a teenage year old fangirl who is learning how to navigate the waters of young love and spends her free time running and making videos, who uses the written word as her currency through time, who is stubborn and passionate (which keeps things interesting for my teachers), and who moved to Syracuse in the first place because I lost my mom (yes, I know that’s a euphemism).

Lastly, I think Ask About When is my own angst-ridden teenager-y shout into the void that’s supposed to alert people (who actually cared to read this far into my portfolio) of the fact that I have a problem and am doing the best that I can to do deal with it. And I hope, 10 years from now when I’m digging through old school assignments and poetry (once I’m a New York Times Bestselling author, of course), that this will only be a time capsule of the person I am today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A February Wrap-Up... Of Sorts | A Sonderous Denouement


So the first thing I should probably say is that this post is entirely for myself. I'm pretty sure no one even remembers when Loving the Language of Literacy was a blog. It's 5:30 pm GMT on a Tuesday afternoon and I have a few things to say. The first probably being that an actual February wrap-up will be coming your way on this blog. As I said when I put Loving the Language of Literacy on an indefinite hiatus, the one thing I will always post here are my monthly wrap-ups as they are a concise way to see exactly what has happened as well as what my current interests are at the moment, and as a teenager, that's probably one of the most important things. 

What I have always said without an exceptions is that I will always be a reader and any old slump isn't going to squash that. I've also always said I would do BookTube indefinitely until I no longer had the time or interest to invest in my channel. That being said, since posting my first video in October of 2014, I have never really had a BookTube slump. Of course, there have been the months where I'm absolutely swamped, but in those cases, it's always been a situation where I wanted to, but just didn't have enough time or energy in a day. 

Right now? It's a different case altogether. I started the year off strong as you normally do, but starting in February and most definitely carrying on until now, I have just been extremely uninspired in terms of reviewing, tags, and discussions, all the things I would have adored blabbing on about for half hour chunks at a time. 

However, this also doesn't mean that I haven't been doing things. In my last post, I Choose to be a Full-Time Student, I speak about my new obsession and hunger for knowledge and learning languages. A preface for all of this would be nice. I am in Oxford, England until the end of March for my parent's sabbatical. It's been a fully immersive cultural as well as educational experience and no matter how much I moaned and groaned about it initially, I've learned to love, appreciate, or at least understand life here. With that said, my time here has been spent doing so many more things I either didn't have to or have interest in whilst I was in the United States.

The first being is school work. My teachers back home sent me to England with a nice (take that with whatever sarcastic tone you would like) suitcase full of workbooks and other study material to keep up with the curriculum while I'm here. When you add in the school work from my school here in Oxford, you come to realize that I'm spending 7+ hours of day in school and commuting home, and then making a dent in all the work I was sent here with. 

The next item on my daily to-do list that seriously rivals my TBR length at times is my language study. This includes French, Spanish, as well as writing in plain old English. I have won NaNoWriMo early two years in a row, I know how much hell I put my sleep schedule, my school work, and BookTube duties during that time. While I'm in no way saying my current studies require the same time and energy commitment, everything adds up. 

I guess where all of this really started was almost an entire month ago. My school here in England made my schedule in such a way that my hands were really tied for getting even the essentials on my to do list accomplished. There was a week of February break, the majority of which was spent road tripping around the english countryside. Upon my return to school was five major tests that required my full attention. Following that was a week of work experience, an incredible program they have in place across Europe where students receive a week or two off of school and working in 9-5 jobs to get experience as being part of the workforce. That leads me up to the present day where I'm staring down the calendar, wondering how on earth we're already almost a third through the month of March and a bit worse for wear in terms of where I should be on all the schoolwork for New York. 

And then as of recently comes my latest obsession. I am in no way making false claims of OCD, but I will say that I have always had obsessive tendencies. I call it passion, others around me call it "dedicating way too much of my time to it or talking about it." My latest obsession happens to be auditioning for my school's spring drama production. Yesterday, I was texting my friend Ella and she was genuinely surprised with the amount of passion I had for it and said to me, "I didn't even know you liked drama so much." I had to pause for a second because I didn't even know I liked it to this degree either and that's when I knew I was invested in another project. 

Aside from everything I have mentioned in this post, daily priority wise, I'm spending the month of March reconditioning myself into the swing of running - a three to four time a week time commitment- in preparation for the mountain goat again which I am quite excited about. With reading, writing, household chores, keeping up with friends and family from home, my schoolwork from Oxford and New York, it's a wonder this slump hasn't happened earlier. 

Now comes the question? What do I do about it? Honestly and currently... the plan is just to hang on for the month of March and see where April takes me in all aspects of my life. I could be completely swamped with making up work my teachers didn't send me with to England. I could be attending rehearsals several times a week if I get a part in the play. I will be running or cross training four or five times a week in preparation for the Mountain Goat. I will also be participating in National Poetry Writing Month along with a little video project I have been cooking up and all the last minute prep work that will entail. I will also be home again with my glorious bookshelves which means a ton of reading of the books I couldn't bring with me to England.

In short, I started this post extremely frustrated with my current situation but have come to the conclusion I had already made for myself before leaving the United States for this terrific journey. I need to live in the moment and appreciate the last three weeks I have here. I most definitely need to finish that schoolwork from New York *raises eyebrow* I have been productive with my days and been accomplishing meaningful tasks as well as pursuing my passions. And I need to accept the future will do whatever future-y thing it decides.

Life will go on no matter how much bitching I do about it.

Tell me in the comments below what your opinions are with the post, how you utilize your time, how to "do it all," and any other thoughts you have.

Friday, February 5, 2016

I Choose to be a Full-Time Student | A Sonderous Denouement


"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." --- Mark Twain

I have been in Oxford, England since the end of December and will be here until the end of March. However, being in a foreign country doesn't mean an extra long Winter break - even if I am skipping out on Upstate New York's extreme snowfall. Today is Friday, which marks the end of my third week attending British school which is definitely the kind of "experience" everyone said I would have. However, before you turn 18, school is the number one place you spend your time besides home and in the 21st century where extracurricular activities seem to be a staple for all... it might even be the number one place; full stop or period depending on what kind of English you speak. 

The Oxfordian school which I currently attend marks the third school I have been to in the past two years. The foundation years of my education were spent at an intensive pseudo-public-might-as-well-be-private school where the demands of the students both in and outside of the classroom were high, the standards were over the top, and receiving four hours of homework in one night as a fifth grader is not uncommon. In fact, when I transferred to my school in Upstate New York, I was surprised and even shocked at the lack of rigidity I experienced. What I can say truthfully is that no amount of YA novels would have prepared me for British school. 

I am fortunate enough to have grown up in an upper-middle class suburb - both in California and New York. Therefore I have never been exposed to the culture of "inner-city life" and the public school education that goes along with it. One of the biggest shocks at my English school is the diversity of both socioeconomic class as well as race. In California, my school consisted of 70% Asian and 29.9% Hispanic without a single white or black kid in my graduating class. In New York, it's around 90% white, 10% whatever else. Here in Oxford, although physical appearance doesn't say it - we have uniforms perhaps specifically for that reason - the majority of attendees come from working class to below the poverty line families. Forty percent of the student body consists of Muslims, 30% some sort of Asian, and 30% other - which includes caucasians. Being new to the school, I could of course be pulling those numbers out of thin air but it's a general guesstimate.

If you had asked me the first week what I thought of the school, I would have said it is extremely chaotic, disorganized, with dispassionate teachers, and reluctant, disrespectful students. While my first impression is harsh, I have come to understand the culture of the particular school and the way things are run and how they have been established. The sharp edges of my opinion have been hewn into their more empathetic, compassionate offspring, but I still am surprised at times with the way classrooms are run. After conversing with one of my teachers, it seems that is the general culture of British schools. 

One of the biggest struggles my sister and I have at this school is the fact that we have already been taught the majority of the material because English schools chip away gradually at every single vein of mathematics and science whereas Americans tackle each separately. Earth Science is for Freshmen. Biology is for Sophomores. Chemistry is for Juniors. Physics is for Seniors. In Oxford, Earth Science is renamed as Geography and is an optional course. Physics, Biology, and Chemistry are taught simultaneously from (I believe) Year 7 or 8. 

I am not going to say I know absolutely everything I'm being taught because that isn't true. What I will say is that the effort put into mastering the material and completing assignments is notably less. Therefore, when I get home every day from school... I have all the free time on my hands that I have always wanted. Without extracurricular activities or friends (seeing as we have been here less than a month and will be here for less than three months in total), there are so many doorways opened. 

A couple of those doorways lead to idleness, but the ones I have chosen to use are ones that I never fathomed. Since starting school in mid January, I have been studying French, Spanish, and Math entirely at my own pace. Science, History, and English are basically waiting until the last minute :) In the past month, I have tremendously expanded my comprehension of language - both French and English and even investigated an area of study I had completely written off for myself and found passion in it. From numerous tweets and snapchats in January, you may surmise that area is Linguistics. I still have two months here and in that time, I am determined to become as fluent as possible - from being self taught and attending class - in French, as well as be ahead of Spanish when I return to the United States. Forging ahead in math is invigorating because I am in charge. 

I have always shrugged off the concept of being a "full-time student" for any age of education. However, the month of January has caused me to reevaluate this. This is mostly because of how eager I have been to return home from school every day and do... more schoolwork if you can believe it or not. This is because I am legitimately excited by what I'm studying and am allowed to choose. I have spent an extra hour and usually more a day on my French studies. My parents have told me to "get a life," and I think they would even be happy to see me waste away in front of the television every once in a while just for the sake of not having me take up half the kitchen table with flashcards, notes, and worksheets. 

I must confess the combination of a lack of inspiration and this new use of my time is what caused me to be so absent from my YouTube Channel in the latter half of January, but I don't regret any of my actions. I recently conquered all 50 of the skills in Duolingo's French tree and immediately after, asked my parents what to do next. 

I am well aware of the need for balance, and I promise you studying isn't the only thing I do with my time once school is dismissed. Nevertheless, the Mark Twain quote I introduced this post with sums up everything I have learned since the year began. I never want to allow school interfere with the pursuit of knowledge and now that I have experienced the joys of being in charge of my education; there is no going back.

What do you think of the difference between attending school and getting an education? What do you do with your free time that some may consider "weird"? If you study any language(s), which one(s), and how do you go about it?


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