Growing Pains

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 30 April 2011 at 12:29

I always feel guilty when I don't blog. It's not that I have an avid fanbase who awaits the next installment. It's just that I feel I am neglecting those who actually do enjoy reading about my mundane life. Since, as my last post put it, I have very little doing -- I would like to thank the ever-prudent Student Loan Company for this; damned QUANGOs -- I guess there's not much of an "I did this, I did that" post coming up. In fact, I'm going to hypothesise instead.

Ever since my first day in Spain, which was spent in a hotel in Barcelona, I've been asked by friends "So, what are you actually going to do when you finish your degree?" It's a fair question. A lot of my friends who went off to study at the same time as I did will be finishing their degrees this year; in fact, most of them will have graduated before I get home no doubt. They probably have career options lined up, internships, Masters degree applications on the go. Me? Well, I have another year left in Cardiff, so I've not really put any concrete thought into what I'm going to do with the rest of my days. However, I have narrowed things down.

  • Journalism: I know, I know, the world is full of two-bit hacks. I originally wanted to apply to university to do a degree in journalism and Spanish, but JOMEC (Cardiff's journalism department) said that such a degree combo was impossible. I have a lot of friends doing media-based courses, or who have really geared themselves towards a career in journalism through writing non-stop for student publications. I guess, I've only really written for myself. If it came to trying to get onto a Master programme, or even just another undergrad, the most I would have to prop me up are my sparse tumblrs. It's an option, but it's one of those ones where I'd really have to put in the effort.
  • Teaching: The bane of my life would be teaching just Spanish forever. I've slowly fallen in love with Gallo-Romances, that's to say Italian and Catalan. I can't exactly teach Catalan anywhere, because most Catalan tutors are brought into the UK via the Institut Ramon Llull (and the lovely Nuria Corominas). The same goes for Italian; there isn't that much of a demand for a single-serving Italian teacher. All of the teachers I've know who speak Italian (all one of her) actually taught French, and I never heard her speak a word of Italian, and just had to base it on what other teachers told me. I suppose I could teach Spanish, but it would end up with a feeling of self-loathing, that I had somehow lost control over two far more beautiful languages.
  • Lecturing: It's a step up from teaching, I'll grant it that, and so the workload to get there is much higher. In order to get even a chance at a Master or PhD, I need to be maintaining an average of 68+ from now on; heck I need to be maintaining a 70+ just to stand out from the crowd. I'd be looking at dropping out of Spanish, and concentrating solely on Italian. From there, it's just work, work, work; eat, sleep and breathe Italian, which is something I'd be very happy to do. But, being very happy to do something, and being good enough to get a doctorate and a teaching fellowship out of it are two different planes of existence. On the one plane is George Bush Jr, happily chuckling that politics is like playing soldiers in the garden; and on the other plane is Barack Obama, trying his hardest to make a Utopia out of a country where the very word only seems to transliterate to Commie Bastards.
  • Writer: Colin Meloy once wrote "I am a writer, a writer of fictions; I am the heart that you call home." For me, that is exactly where my heart lies; in writing. Of course, when you lack the inspiration and self-confidence to see something through to the end it can be a torturous process where you think that you are the worst of the worst. Obviously, this is just a pipe-dream, but, hey we can all chalk up dreams on the board and say "When I grow up I want to be [x]", right? So, mine is "When I grow up, I want to be a writer" -- I guess, aside from teaching, all of the potential futures I have in mind involve some kind of extended writing; albeit journalism and academic articles are far more factual than the subjective poetry and prose that a writer presents. I realise that saying this is like saying "I want to be a rockstar," because the chances of success are slim-to-none, unless you have a sob story...
And thus we reach the conclusion that my life outlook doesn't involve anything that doesn't involve writing or informing people of things to a certain degree. If there was a Venn diagram for this, one side would say "Careers that inform people of things" and the other would say "Careers that involve writing things" and I'm sure you could fit all four of the above into the overlap in the centre. Such a great scope of the 'World of Work' eh?

On that note, I'll leave you get back to your day, which may or may not involve working!

Return to the Doldrums

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 23 April 2011 at 17:14

Every April I hit this horrible financial low. It's usually because the Student Loan Company thinks it's a brilliant idea to space loans four months apart, unaware that Easter tends to mess things up. Some years you can finish your second semester early, and it doesn't matter that you only have £50 to your name. Others, you're hanging around til the end of April, living off Tesco Value tinned beans. This is one of those years.

Normally, I'd say 'sod it' and keep spending, and just live off the 4p-a-can spaghetti-o's from LIDL. Being in Spain, though, I've decided I'm a little bit further from 'the norm' than usual. So, while everyone I know has had the chance to visit Andalucia and the Basque Country, and hop off to Prague or Rome, I'm left stewing in my own juices on the sofa in my room, trying so hard not to spend money. I can safely say this has been the most boring Easter on record.

This explains the lack of blogs. I haven't been "too busy" to write. In fact, I've had a lack of anything to write about. I haven't had the funds to go gallivanting off to more interesting places. I haven't even had the funds to do something interesting in Lleida -- tapas, variat, xurros -- nada. Damn and blast! What's worse: it's 8 days until rent/bills, and then it's another week until I will have any funds beyond what I am hoarding to be able to do my usual €20 Monday shopping.

So, the only half-interesting piece of news I can give you is that those applications paid off. Well, one of them did at least. I am assuming the worst (as there is only a best and a worst with applications) and saying that I did not get picked for Erasmus Soc committee -- I guess telling them that you think their society could do better to integrate with non-Erasmus Societies isn't the best way to apply for a position. But, on the plus-side, I did get selected as President of the Spanish-Italian Society for next year! Huzzah! It also seems to be run by all fourth-years, without the input of any 2nd years -- Freshers, I am disappointed you didn't have the balls to apply, and if you did: Spanish-Italian Committee, I am disappointed you didn't think any Freshers were good enough to take on the challenge. I kid, I kid; it just means keeping our heads about us, and remembering we have to cater for everyone, not just us post-Erasmus folk!

Any other business? Subjects have been picked for next year. I'm back on to Catalan, since I may as well stick it out and parlar molt bé rather than waste what I know in favour of cinema or political history (though that module will be the one with the best stories, considering both Andrew Dowling and Montserrat Lunati are teaching it). On the Italian side of things, I've got a semester of Art History, and I foolishly picked up a dissertation -- they say you have to meet certain requirements before you can do one, so I'm just hoping that I have met those. No idea what I'd write about though -- Dante as Literary Critic in De Vulgari Eloquentia? Dante as linguistician in the same book? Interpretations of Risorgimento in Post-Unification Literature? Marinetti and the Futurists? I have so many interests I would like to pursue, but only my tutor will be able to tell me what exactly I am allowed and not allowed to look at. Maybe I'm thinking too broadly, on more of a PhD thesis kind of exploration, when really I need to be thinking of something very focussed that will give me 6000-8000 words. I have time, I guess...

Anyway, I suppose that's enough about my boring life until May, unless something amazing happens and I win the lottery. Until then: what's going on with you guys? Facebook me, tweet me, comment me; I am genuinely curious as to what other human beings have been doing with their time!

How Not To Live Your Life

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 1 April 2011 at 17:42

It's Friday, Friday, Friday...

And I'm hungover. What's new, world? I guess this is what happens when you live with people, rather than going at your own pace. I'm not complaining. I guess lying in bed until 3pm thinking "Kill me now" is a good enough way to pass the time here. It's not like I can do anything else today because, shock horror, I've gone and lost my keys. I assume they're in Fissure, on the floor somewhere, lost to the world. But, they might well be somewhere, lost to the world, in this sty of a room -- I always say I'll clean it. I never do.

Today is our rent day. Shockingly, with rent and bills, we only have to pay €160 this month. That's hardly anything. I was expecting to pay a lot more. But, since it's 25degrees outside, who needs to have the heating on anymore? All I need is my key back so I can go out and enjoy it! It'd be nice to spend these lazy days down by the river; actually only been into the Camps Elisis twice in the last two months, and even then I was only passing through.

What other news do I have? Nothing much really. Applications for next year's Erasmus and Span-It committees have been out. I decided to fill in one for each, just in case I get lucky and can have another year on an Exec Committee. Absolute power corrupts absolutely? Perhaps, but it's something to do, on top of next year's classes. Either way, even if I'm unsuccessful, I'll probably end up a member of both societies anyway. I mean, why not?

Any other business? I think not. I guess I shall be heading on my merry way to Fissure in the hopes that somebody found and handed in my keys. If not, then I'm a little bit screwed and will have to go crawling to the dueña about it. Not exactly the best impression to make at the end of my 2nd month here -- "Sorry, seems I lost the keys. I'm sure they'll turn up...but they are no longer in my possession. Sorry!"