7 May 2017

We had a blast last night.

We had the center kick-off meeting, after which there was a team-building exercise in the form of beer pong.

It was a massive success.

Turns out beer pong is a bloody tricky game. And I was sober. I can’t imagine playing it drunk – oh deary.

The others left after the first game but the teachers stayed behind for 2 more games. I participated poorly. God bless the soul of my team mates for keeping giving me balls when I was throwing them everywhere but at the table.

Everyone had a fantastic time. The teachers had a heart-to-heart, which was very nice to see, but which I not so subtly interrupted because the security guard wanted us out of the mall.

I wonder why… it was only 1am. (The mall closed at 10pm.)

Didn’t have much sleep last night so I’m feeling the aftermath. Plus I drove for four hours today to go to a famous 100-year market in Suphanburi. It was a struggle to stay alert.

Anyways, it’s dinner time.

Speak later.

Love,

Val 

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4 March [I meant April] 2014

I’m back.

Where did two days go?

This is my catch-up post. It serves the ostentatious purpose of explaining my absence, but really it’s to help me make peace with myself over my manifest lack of organisational skills.

I mean, how difficult can it be to set aside 30, 40 minutes each day to write a daily blog? Not to mention a blog about myself.

Overwhelmed with guilt and disappointment with said lacking organisational skills, I had originally planned to write two posts today. I had even titled the post ‘4 March 2014 (1)’, thereby implying a (2) to follow over the course of the day. Then I changed my mind.

Better not count the eggs before they hatch. Events may yet unfold in such a way as to deprive me of my quality laptop time this evening. Was that a correct application of that saying? Somehow I don’t think so.

To return to the ostentatious objective of this post, let me attempt to explain my two-day absence without it sounding like an excuse. It’s a narrow rope to walk, but a girl can try.

It has been a whirlwind two days. Actually, this whole week has been a flurry of events. Monday was crazy revision day, as some of you might remember (ah, good old times). You don’t know much about my Tuesday, though you may actually know more than you think (despite the disclaimer, the post did reflect some of the events that transpired on that April Fools’ Day).

In fact, two things that happened on Tuesday account almost entirely for my undue absence:

  1. UCL published my exam timetable which at first solicited a huge sigh of relief, but then launched me into a fit of panic anyways. (More on that in a bit)
  2. The British Embassy announced in great fanfare that they have “made a decision” on my visa. And I was to wait two working days before collecting my passport and other returned documents at the visa application centre.

Both announcements caught me by surprise. As the old adage would have it, a watched kettle never boils. For differing reasons (too mundane and detailed to recount to you in full), I was not expecting either the timetable or the visa decision on that particular Tuesday. And yet, there they both were, in black and white, staring at me from my laptop screen.

This was always going to be a busy week. Extraordinarily, I had two social engagements planned for the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday. This was to take away at least 6 hours of revision time, the realisation of which had already put me on a bit of an edge going into Tuesday. Then came the timetable plus ensuing panic and visa business which always stresses me out (I really don’t like the possibility that someone may decide not to allow me into the country, just because they can).

First the timetable. I don’t want to bore you with details, but I’m going to do it anyways. So I have 5 exams: 2 French, 3 Econ (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post). My worst fears were that the 3 Econ exams would fall in the same week. In which case I am utterly [insert rude word of choice].

As it turns out, they don’t. UCL was kind enough to give me a space of two weeks between my fourth and fifth exams. And two weeks to revise for that particular Econ module will do just fine. Hence the relief.

As I noted down my various exam dates, I began to calculate how much time I had left to revise for each module. My first exam is on May 1st. The second on 6th. Both are French. Then I have two Econ exams the following week. I’m flying to London next Saturday. Going off to Lake District for four days over Easter weekend. Subtract some days for jet-lag recovery, settling into flat, seeing friends, seeing boyfriend. I suddenly realised: I don’t really have that much time left.

Especially for my French exams which require skills you need to build up gradually (translation, redaction, synthesis – if you were wondering). One does not, cannot, cram for French. And considering I haven’t touched my French folder in almost a week, which – trust me – is a really long time in revision universe, this realisation was somewhat disconcerting.

That’s when I panicked. And imposed a golden rule: every day between now and 1st of May, I will do French. And doing French does not include reading my French fiction which, albeit altogether enjoyable and useful in terms of vocabulary acquisition, doesn’t really help with the skills requisite for the exam. Not if I’m honest with myself. And at this late stage in exam preparation, dishonesty comes at a high cost. So it was resolved: at least one French exercise, translation, or oral preparation per day. Every day.

Jeez that was long. Are you still with me?

Now for the visa business. The Embassy said my visa would be ready to collect at the application centre after two working days. The centre itself offers an online tracking service which would supposedly notify me when my documents have been delivered back at the centre.

And here’s the situation as it stood on Tuesday. Last time I applied for a UK visa, they managed to spell my name wrong and I had to send my passport back to the Embassy for them to correct it, which took a few days. This time, I was applying for a visa category I had never applied for before. And I was applying under rather extraordinary circumstances: in short, I had interrupted my studies the previous year and was flying back just for the exams. My flight was on the following Saturday, which gave me a margin of exactly 8 working days for whatever it was that might go horribly wrong.

And I could think of plenty of things that could go wrong. The application centre had moved while my visa was being processed (I almost went to the wrong place to collect it yesterday). Maybe they’d lose my passport, deliver it to the old office, lose it in the old office, lose it in the new office, spell my name wrong – I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time. Plenty of things.

Also, the centre had a new website which wasn’t completely glitch-free. So at times I couldn’t access the tracking page. How else am I supposed to know if I can go collect my documents if I can’t access the only place that gives me that information? Oh, did I mention they don’t have a phone number for the new office? And when I called the old ‘call centre’ number, I was greeted with a recorded message in English and Thai that they no longer offered this service.

I mean, one would think a phone line is a pretty basic service to offer for the amount of money they’re charging for their ‘services’.

Needless to mention, passport-collection-related anxieties made me rather nervy the whole of Wednesday. I couldn’t focus very well on revision, so I decided to channel my anxiety into more gym time (which turned out, as always, to be a good decision). It’s a good thing I had social engagements planned. I wouldn’t have been capable of much otherwise.

Finally, after checking the tracking website a gazillion times, a different message popped up on Thursday, late in the morning, informing me that my documents were ready for collection. And by the time I got myself to the new centre, waited (45 minutes) for my queue and for the extremely bored-looking staff to dig up my documents from the back room, checked that everything was in order, and squeezed myself into the packed sky train (it just had to be rush hour); I only had two hours left before my dinner engagement.

Two hours I could have spent blogging. But the disciplined (read: panicked) student that I am, I spent the time on a French translation and some practice phrases.

A small aside, in the two days post-golden rule, I have spent more time on French than in the whole of the preceding week. It’s always a question of time allocation, isn’t it? You’re never too busy for something; you’re just choosing not to make time for it. All those days where I thought ‘I could do some French now’ but didn’t actually open the folder. Well, better late than never, as they say.

To sum up, the French golden rule and the visa, plus the social engagements which fell into my prime time blogging slot, are why you didn’t hear from me for two days.

Sounded a bit like an essay there.

It’s 9.30am right now and I am extremely tired (a combination of too little sleep last night and the 10% Belgian beer – why did I not take my Tylenol before I went to bed? WHY!?!). This really does not bode well for today’s revision. Maybe I’ll go to the gym now to wake myself up. I probably should.

I’ll try revising for a bit, see if it works. If not, I’ll get myself over to the elliptical. Listen to French radio while I ellipticalise my way through yesterday’s fries, and the beer. Oh God the beer. And then there was the spaghetti… and the…

I’d better stop myself there.

Have a good day everyone.

Until tomorrow,

Val

p.s. There’s not going to be a second post after all. Given how long this post was, I don’t think you’d mind too much. I can probably just cut it in half and publish it in two posts. But that’s overcomplicating things.

p.p.s. Having gone through the post once to make final adjustments, I’ve decided to go to the gym after publishing this. The amount and silliness level of typos and other mistakes were horrendous. I don’t think my current brain state lends itself to productive revision. See how I’m rocking time management? (Excuses, excuses)

p.p.p.s. I just realised I thought today was 4 March. Out of wishful thinking for my revision time possibly, but more likely because I’m really tired/hungover. I can feel my head throb. Why do I do this to my revision? NO MORE BEER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 March 2014

I. Am. So. Hungry right now.

Today is Sunday. Like most of my Sundays, it is spent at home. For two main reasons: (1) it is my dad’s day off (so, like a good daughter, I stay home to spend some quality Sunday time with him), and (2) I’m too lazy to leave the house.

I mean. Why would they call it ‘lazy Sunday’ if you’re not meant to be lazy on the day? (Actually, come to think of it, I wonder whence the expression came… A religious reference, most likely?)

Getting back to my Sunday, it was much like any other Sunday, except that I annoyingly woke up really early (tends to happen when I’ve had something to drink the night before). Waking up early in itself I am fine with, though not when I haven’t actually had enough sleep nor when the first thing I feel, eyes open, is the after-effects of that pint of beer.

Not enough to call a hangover, just enough to annoy and irritate.

So, I proceeded to do as best I could to have a productive Sunday. (See, I’m not actually that lazy. I just pretend to be. Or so I claim.)

I might have mentioned to you before that I’m a morning person. If not, “I am a morning person”. So, naturally, I expected that getting up early today meant that I could take advantage of my morning-person-ness and get some revision under the belt by noon.

Oh no. No no no. Doesn’t work when you haven’t had enough sleep. And yesterday’s pint didn’t make things any easier either.

After trying for a few hours to plough through a reading, I decided that my time would be better spent on other things. So I went to the post. Washed the car (for the second time this week, thanks to it conveniently raining the day after I gave my car a thorough wash).

Having done all that, it was still only 2pm. That’s how awesome waking up at 6am is – despite the almost-hangover and the not-getting-enough-sleep. See why I’m a morning person?

So I decided to go help my dad with the gardening. And the following two and a half hours, maybe three, were happily spent cutting, trimming, and pulling various species of trees and herbs. I can still feel it on my finger. No blister this time though (unlike two weeks ago when I ended up with a hideous blister the size of a really small pebble on my middle finger – damn oversized tree trunk).

Have you tried using physical activity to stimulate your brain’s capacity for mental activity? It usually works for me. After the gardening, I came back to the reading, and it’s like I’m another person.

Everything suddenly seems interesting. And I’m no longer just typing my notes up so I can finish the damned article and move on. I actually feel like I’m learning things.

The wonderful effects of physical exertion shall never cease to amaze me.

But now I’m hungry. Like, really hungry.

They say the brain consumes the most calories of all your body parts (well, it’s actually a scientifically-backed fact, but “Scientists say” just reads weird).

So me being hungrier now than before I started this post can only mean one thing: it’s a brilliant post.

Since, you know, my brain used up so much energy writing it.

Don’t we love logic. *wink*

Seriously now, though, let me go eat something before my stomach eats itself up. I’ve been told that’s no good.

Until tomorrow,

Hungry Val