Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Wrap-Up | Oxford Adjustments | 2016



Vacation | I might as well declare to the world that I was able to get an extra two weeks off of school. The english school district was a bit slow to process our paperwork, so my sister and I got that time to relax and become accustomed to the culture of this new place. We spent more time with each other in January than we have probably November and December combined mostly because we were all each other had and at home, we don't have a single lunch or class together. Whereas at home we are individuals, in Oxford school and life, we are a package deal. This is sometimes fun, sometimes annoying as heck, and most definitely... interesting.

Adjustments | In terms of my overall demeanor and outlook on my three months in Oxford, England, I had only shared pure excitement and exuberation towards the experience. However, during the first month of me being here, I went through the natural period of adjustment which, I'm going to admit, involved some resentment towards my parents, the situation, and the school my sister and I are temporarily attending. The reason I was so reluctant to make the move in the first place was because it felt as if I had just settled down in Syracuse, made friends, and actually love school only to be torn away from everything I had built. While there are still many moments I want to return to my freezing cold home of Upstate New York, I think I'm finally coming to terms with the reality of me being here in England and using my time in accordance. In essence, I have the power over my education and everything I learn from now until I return. I'm determined to better my French and even get ahead in Spanish. My schedule will have me finished with all the math work by mid February, and then I'll move onto Global and Earth Science - two subject I know I must begrudgingly carry out. Nevertheless, it's exhilarating to have so much power over my intellectual experience here. I had/still have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings towards my present school but I don't want to voice them because of the negativity it would impose on all of you as well the fact that the mindset will most likely change. In short, I'm making the best of what can truly be labeled as the experience of a lifetime, and I'm still connecting with my friends from back home - some of them on a level even deeper than when I had left because the new medium of communication required improvisation.

Duolingo | Considering the fact that I'm on a 23 day streak with a total of almost 7,000 experience points from Spanish and French instruction, I would say I'm only slightly obsessed with this app. Essentially this is the most perfect app for me that could ever have been invented because it gives me the personal validation of a game while also being educational. I swear through duolingo as well as my personal research, I have learned more french in the month of January than I have the 12 months of french instruction I have received through school. With my precursory knowledge of the language, Duolingo was really the best thing ever to have walked into my life because I'm learning by doing. The app provides speaking, listening, reading, matching, and writing activities and I honestly think my overall comprehension of the language has doubled if not tripled. January was the month I discovered my avid interest in languages and linguistics and I'm beginning to consider it even as a possible career path seeing how much I adore learning the intricacies of not only the language, but the way they're used and the various connotations of translation.  

A Sonderous Denouement | As seen in the quotes above (which are indeed original), I have been quite busy this month with my second marking period writing portfolio. I went with every single bell and whistle I could think of for my 68 piece compilation of prose, poetry, and creative non fiction. It was quite a time consuming endeavor but wholly worth it. The portfolio genuinely encompasses 20 of the most volatile, important weeks of my life in terms of my writing and development as an adolescent. I'm hoping to make a version available for the public soon with slight changes to retain my privacy. 

BARD COLLEGE @ SIMON'S ROCKOf Silence and Shatterings | I heard about this three week, intensive writing camp back in September and had been eagerly awaiting the time when I could send in my application. Naturally, I procrastinated until the first week of January to actually get the most important aspect of the application written. This turned out to be Of Silence and Shatterings, an extremely personal memoir and one of the best pieces I have ever written. I anticipated and hoped for the two weeks between the application being sent off and hearing a reply, but I am so happy to share with all of you that I got in!


Living Deliberately | I think I put something along these lines in my December Wrap-Up, but I'm too lazy to check. I expressed last February how it seemed I was all gung-ho about the new year in January and then fell into a slump. However, I believe my inspiration slump occurred from mid-January to now and I am extremely eager to arrive into February, armed with my mission statement (see below). I'm keeping up with all the schoolwork from New York which is a test of time management and delegation. As I also mentioned, I spent a lot more time on Duolingo and in depth analyses of both Spanish and French. I want to mentally allow myself to do something like that in February, veer way off course from what I hoped I would do, and be absolutely okay with that. 

Scholastic Writing Competition Results | It's forward thinking to hope any of my pieces I had entered won, but the results are made live on the 3rd of February at 5pm. You can bet I will be on the website at 9:59 pm, Oxford time, eagerly waiting for the webpage to reload. The thing about the writing version of Scholastic Awards is that it features the entire region versus a local competition, so essentially all entries are competing against the entire Northeast of the United States which is what would make the win all the more meaningful.  



I was originally planning on doing a full video discussion and why that may still happen, I might as well get the majority of my points out now considering my track record for BookTube hasn't been the best this month. Anyways, I have listened to the radio theater audiobook of Little Women no less than  probably 50 times. I can recite whole passages and spent many, many hours of my childhood playing on the family room floor and being totally ensconced in the family Alcott created. However, it was certainly high time I crack down on myself and read the actual book in order to give myself credit for Little Women being one of my favorite books of all time in the eyes of certain people. When my friend Ella read the book last year, she expressed her objections towards the lengthy paragraphs of description towards absolutely everything from Plum Field to a character's reasoning for limes. Armed with this knowledge, the descriptions actually didn't bother me that much and I enjoyed the immersive feeling the book gave. 

***Spoiler Alert***

Bhaer had always seemed a little like an afterthought in the audiobook because of the late stage of the story in which he came in. However, in the physical book, as readers, we get to truly see Jo's fascination and adoration of his character and it's quite amusing watching her do what she swore to Laurie and her family that she would never - fall in love in love. While Amy is a favorite amongst readers, I found that after the divide of Meg's wedding and she ceases to be a little girl, she becomes annoying. Her focus is so much on making a rich match and while Laurie's behavior deserves it, she brutally slaughters him. The way the two of them ended up together seemed positively ridiculous and I don't truly understand how Amy and Jo could have switched places in Laurie's heart quite so easily. In a way, the in depth view to characters such as Beth and Meg made me like them a little less, mostly because we actually see their faults and some of the foundation work of who they are that had been excluded from both the movie and audiobook.

***End Spoilers***


During this month, I saw the new episode of SHERLOCK The Abominable Bride in an actual movie theater and the big screen experience was definitely an irreplaceable one. I've been a fan since the beginning, but this was the exact thing I needed to recharge my love. 

Against my parent's better judgement, we went as a family to see The Danish Girl and to some of the scenes all I can say is "interesting." The generation my sister and I are in and the one of my parents are most definitely different in terms of views/opinions on the transgender moment but without a doubt, The Danish Girl is an essential movie for historical and current reasons because of its significance to 21st century society. 

One of my parents took my sister and I to see The Big Short which, to someone who has never ventured into the economy that deeply before, was nothing short of a horror film. That's probably an exaggeration, but it definitely made my sister and I more aware of the adult responsibilities we will have in a few short years. 

And finally, the thing most members of the bookish community have been buzzing about - regardless of being negative or positive - Shadowhunters. Being cheap and in England, I've only seen the pilot and for what it was, what it was setting out to do, and the restrictions, I think it was fine. I'm not in love, but I'm also not about to trash it. What are your thoughts about the episodes that have already aired and the ones to come? 


I am Hamilton trash. That is all I have to say.


When you really know somebody you can’t hate them. Or maybe it’s just that you can’t really know them until you stop hating them.” --- Speaker for the Dead : Orson Scott Card 

"What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.”  --- Speaker for the Dead : Orson Scott Card

"He loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow.
 --- Speaker for the Dead : Orson Scott Card | It's pretty clear that 2016 will be known as the year of my obsession with Orson Scott Card. I don't know what it is, but I've always admired Card's writing style and his understanding of the human condition. He has this way of absolutely destroying the souls as well as lives of his characters but it's utterly purposeful and in other character's perspectives - for the greater good of humanity.

Because talent isn't genius, and no amount of energy can make it so. I want to be great, or nothing.” --- Little Women : Louisa May Alcott | This is one of my favorite quotes from the novel, not in terms of literary progress, but my personal connection with the statement and what I actually want to do with my art. ***Insert overly long essay about wanting to leave behind a legacy...***

It’s not rocket science, Nan. You show someone they matter to you—do whatever it takes to show that.” --- The Boy Most Likely To : Huntley Fitzpatrick | Having been away from home for more than a month, there is nothing that rings more true than this statement. Long distance relationships of any sort require a hell of a lot of effort and people have to be prepared for that.

What is your mission statement for the month of February and/or year of 2016?

"To learn as much as I can with the time I have, take as much as I can from this incredible experience, and work hard towards my goal of being a writer"

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