Risk to Reward

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 15:22

On sunny days like this, when I'm forced to sit inside and do work, I can't help but let my mind wander. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon are all lined up to keep me entertained, but, the main thing that's keeping me chipper is the fact that I am rewarding myself pretty soon!

Foolishly (some might say, thanks to Eyjafjallajökull), I've gone and booked a flight to Mallorca to go and stay with a friend out there. I figured, I keep complaining that I need a holiday, so I may as well get myself out there and practice my Spanish and Catalan, and not have to say that I've had yet another summer spent in this country.

This also seems like the perfect time to give my blogging abroad skills a test run, though I have no idea how that'll work. I kind of managed to cause a nice bit of 'damage' to my laptop, unintentionally snapping one of the hinges. I don't think the old girl would be up to the 2 hour flight, 2 hours of hanging round in Palma at midday, an hour and a half on a train-bus combination, all the while being tapped away at, in the hopes that I can keep up with what I've done.

I suppose I have three options open to me, though:  One, I find the nearest internet cafe and blog (or I try and find a PC whilst in the airport on the way back) ; Two, I ask to borrow my friend's laptop while I'm staying there, and just do one or two 'mini-blogs'. Three, I invest in a larger SD card for my camera and Vlog it. That'd still mean radio silence for a week, but, at least it could all be uploaded into one post including everything. And, I wouldn't have to ham it up on the adjectives...

I suppose that after the summer I'm going to have to invest in a new laptop, so I've got some machinery to be able to blog about life closer to the Med. Until then, I'll just try and keep up with my shoddy post schedule; perhaps even try to do something a little more interesting than sitting in my room, up to neck in three languages worth of revision. I'm sure something can...be arranged...

On Frabjous Days

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 17:58

So University life starts back tomorrow, and I'm in panic work mode. I've managed three of five chapters of an Italian novel. So far, so good. I get the gist, so that's what they're getting - gist. I've got everything I need this week printed out, and the sun is shining. Remixes on the stereo (read: Spotify). Cider about to go in the fridge. Barbecue on the cards for tonight. In short: it's going to be epic.

I don't have much to offer in the way of a blog post though. I've managed to fill my cupboards to bursting with only £50; I've got a clean room, smelling like "Cotton  Breeze" whatever that is; I've got a bottle of Gin almost polished off, a bottle of Whiskey to work through; there are only three weeks left of work, and I am happy as can be for some reason. I can't put my finger on it. I know there are still things missing in my life (it's the usual thing. I like to keep reminding myself, otherwise it's a bit pointless making absurd "Te prometo que no voy a coger un chino..." style promises. Despite all that, I am the happiest I've been in a long time.

The big news is, however, that I'm looking at a nice wardrobe reshuffle. I quite like being able to open my wardrobe and see all my shirts in there, but I need more casual ones I feel. I have quite a few really nice 'evening' and 'formal' shirt/tie combos, but you can't wear them to lectures without looking like a tool. A nice undershirt/shirt combo would really make my summer - so, tomorrow I'm heading into town with a bit of money and picking up some things I've had my eye on. Sort. It. Out. Non?

But, with all this student loan money I feel like I'm burning holes in my pockets. I've worked out I can spend up to £160 a month without hitting 'empty'. So, I'm aiming to do that, or less. But, there are some things on my mind: I've been on deviantArt in some form or another for 5 years or so. I think I'm due a membership, no? But, I don't seem to use it enough to warrant one. I suppose that can wait til June or July and then, even if I don't use it much in Italy, I know I can cancel it when I'm back from there (and it's only £20 for a year). The more important membership would be Plaid Cymru - I'm fed up of touting my political allegiances and not having something to show for it. Filling out a form doesn't seem like fun however - maybe I'll get onto it though.

Speaking of memberships: the Spanish-Italian Society is re-electing. Obviously, I can't stand for anything this year, but, I'm considering getting back into it in 4th Year, applying for President or something. I feel like I could add a few more things to my CV. We'll see how Lleida and Pavia go, though. Maybe by the end of it I'll hate Italian and Spanish. Maybe I won't.

I'm dry now. I have nothing else I can pull on to make this any longer. So, roll on BBQ. Happy days, etc!

On vorpal swords and tulgey woods

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 9 April 2010 at 02:21

I'm still awake at 2am, so what? It's really only 1am, right? Am I right? I am...

Anyway, the point of this whole blog isn't to say anything much. The only good thing that's come out of today has been the fact that the Italian ERASMUS list has been emailed to everyone. I'm quite happy with my choice. I didn't get Parma because the entire student body put down Parma. Obviously, by taking the time to ask people about the Unis I missed the 'first come first served' deadline. I'm not complaining, however, because I ended up getting Pavia, my second choice.

A wee geography lesson: Pavia is in Lombardy, which means it's very close to Milan. In fact, I think it's only about forty miles to the south of it. This gives me a brilliant stepping stone for travel. To the North, as the map shows, there's Milan,and Como; to the North-east, Bergamo and Brescia; while to the East is Cremona and Mantova. Not on the map, however are the other things I'm close to: Genoa to the south; Turin to the West; Parma is about an hour or so away to the South-east; Nice is away in the West, too, along with the rest of France.

I suppose I have a perfect point from which to leapfrog around Italy, if I can find the funds to do so. I'd really like to get around a bit, see new places and actually explore while I'm there. I doubt I'll see the South, but, a tour of the North wouldn't go amiss. I've already got friends in Parma, so I'm sure I could ask them nicely if they'd set me up with a floor in their home for a night or two while I get to see where I could have been studying. In fact, there are plenty of ERASMUS students from Cardiff around northern Italy, so I'm sure I could call in a favour on my travels...

I realise I have not done a geography lesson on Lleida, so it's only fair the Catalans get one too. Lleida is a bit of a complicated town: It's in Catalonia, which puts it in north-eastern Spain, but, it's in the West of Catalonia, pretty close to the Aragonese border. Close enough to the mountains for skiing, and close enough to the sea for there to be a beach in the summer, it's perfect for the time of year I'm going - late ski season right through until summer. What makes it special is that it's a town where they have their own dialect of Catalan: Lleidata. Travel-wise, again, it's brilliant:

I'm an hour away from Barcelona in the East, Perpignon is just to the north-east, across the Pyrenees in France, and Zaragoza is just over the regional border in Aragon. It's positioned nicely along a high-speed rail line, as a major stop between Barcelona and Madrid, with 3 hours from its terminus to the capital. From there, it's no more than 4 hours to get anywhere within Spain, it seems anyway (apart from perhaps Galicia). I could theoretically see anywhere, if I so wished.

What this ultimately means, however, is that everything has suddenly become tangible. It's no longer a case of "I get a year abroad soon", it's "I am going to Pavia and Lleida". I have to knuckle down and learn; I have to get a good mark. I have to get out there, and get stuck in and come back a different person. It's really daunting, but I don't show it - maybe I'm braver than I think. Maybe I've fought off my Jabberwocky already?

On Slaying Jabberwockys

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 6 April 2010 at 05:51

Well, I suppose this is a first...at least since I started writing this thing. Well, actually a second and a first. The original first, which I have just downgraded was "seeing 5.35am and still being awake"; this has happened numerous occasions, though once in this house before so it is therefore a 'second'. The new first is "writing a blog at 5.35am to pass the time until I can hop back out of bed and let the day reset my body clock".

Yes, I've resorted to the old Jetlag Solution. That is, I am forcing myself to stay awake a whole extra day, and going to sleep at the time I wish to reset my body to, in order to permanently reset it for the Good of All Mankind. I'm hoping to live through til about 10.30pm tonight, and then I can hopefully crash out til 8am tomorrow and all will be spiffing and back-to-normal. One hitch though, I have to survive an entire day. At the rate I'm going, it doesn't look good.

I've survived two hours since making the decision to pull an all-nighter. Yes, two whole hours! That's only...17 hours until I can finally doze off and go to the land of nod, which means having to find lots of things to keep myself entertained over the coming hours. My, my, I'm going to have to be a busy little beaver.

Of course, with only two pieces of 'homework' left to do: rewriting an essay, and reading a book, I'm not exactly going to be doing those. They may just put me back to sleep, you see. I am, however, in the mood to get out, so I may find myself dressed up to the nines wandering lonely (as a cloud) around The National Museum of Wales, since there's a new Impressionist Exhibition on - and I do so love my Impressionists. A nice bit of Monet, Cézanne, Rodin and Degas will go down a treat I think.

After that, I suppose I have plenty of time still to kill - after all, one can only saunter aimlessly for a few hours, can't one? So, I may just bulk up my poetry collection or something along those lines. In fact, today I added to my deviantArt portfolio with this gem, knocked up in about two hours or so tonight, mostly from total nonsense that swam around my head once I got myself started. I do so enjoy writing poetry; if only I were good enough to be published, eh?

I suppose there's not much more to say at this hour, except that I am eagerly awaiting my first cup of coffee once the sun comes up. I think 7am sounds like a spiffing time for a steaming cup of Java. After all, sun's up at 6.37am, so it's less than an hour away - in fact, it's just over an hour until I can sit with that cup of coffee and make my day seem so wonderful.

'O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy.

Day #215: My Manic and I

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 3 April 2010 at 14:47

It's two weeks into my trial run of 'living alone'. I started, considering it is the Easter recess, just so I wouldn't have to travel home, unpack, travel back, unpack; be bored etc. It evolved from there into this whole idea of "Well, you're going to be in a strange country without people you know next year", and from there became this. And so far, I'm pretty damned good at it - I feel like a whole new person; well, maybe not a whole one...maybe like a Toulouse Lautrec-sized one.

I wake up, I shower, I spend the day with things to do; I venture to the shops, I drink tea more times than is necessary, I spend so very little (and when I do, it's a treat); I just get on with my life. I don't see the big hoo-hah of having to see my parents three times a year as dictated by the University Code - "You must go home at Christmas, Easter, and Summer Recess and spend every hour with your parents telling them you miss them and cannot live without their help". Pah, sure, love thy mother and thy father, but don't rub it in so much that you appear needy.

But, it's not all fun-and-games here at the O.K. Corral. Admittedly, I'm only "doing fine" because my parents had to sub me £190 to tide me over on my rent. And my sleeping pattern has gone all out of shape - I'm up til 2am trying to fall asleep, then don't wake up til 12.30 the next day despite two alarms (one at 8 and one at 9.30).  Sure, it's the same amount of daytime, but, it's the wrong times of day - I totally miss the morningtime, and I'm still awake when the rest of the city is mostly asleep. What gives?  Tonight, I think I'm going to force a large mug of Valerian and Chamomile tea down, and see how sleepy I get.

Also, since I'm half-a-new-me, I figured once I start getting money in I'm going to budget like a pro and try and sort my life out, both academically, fashionably, and inexplicably. All I have to do is get through the next two months on a budget, and then I am free to be a little more 'lax' with my spending. Here's to a hopefully good summer...because it's bloody miserable weather outside.