23 October 2015

We went shopping today! *fireworks*

Before I continue, let’s get this out of the way: no, I haven’t re-started my novel. Soon. Really. Pinky promise. (Confused readers go here.)

Now let’s get back to today’s topic: shopping.

I rarely go shopping. Only on national holidays with my parents (read: mom). Unlike most (?) girls, I never feel the urge to go shopping. I never look into my wardrobe and think, “Ah, I don’t have this in that colour; I need more of this; That’s getting old; so on and so forth”. I’m as far from a fashionista as can be and I usually make do with whatever I find in my closet (synonym for ‘wardrobe’. I don’t like repeating words; a habit from my IELTS days perhaps).

But I had fun today. In fact, I always have fun going shopping with my mom. It’s a fun activity to do together. (That’s three ‘fun’s in a row – for shame.) In fact, I generally enjoy hanging out with her: my mom can be really cute, in a very good way. I have gone shopping alone in the past, when I was living abroad. But I didn’t really enjoy it and I only went when I really had nothing in the closet. (Two ‘really’s – what’s up with me today!) I’d buy a million things at once and that would last me years. One of the items I wore today actually came from a shopping trip four or five years ago. It’s funny; I always wear the same clothes but they never wear out. Not that I’m complaining; that’s more money I can spend on books.

Today’s trip to the department store was unexpectedly productive. I hadn’t planned on buying anything; I had recently gained weight (hospital food was amazeballs) and in an effort to commit to losing it have pledged not to buy new clothes that accommodate my protruding belly. But I found this really cute longish white shirt that conveniently makes me look not fat. And then there were two other shirts which were okay but one can never have too many shirts. So yes, three shirts in total.

Then my mom reminded me that I needed a black eyeliner (which I do) and we went over to the MAC counter where we forked over THB 765 for this. For some reason, way back when I first encountered the concept of face paint, I started using MAC eyeliners. And I’ve stuck with the brand since. Not that it’s especially good (it always smudges). It’s just that I’ve formed a habit and I do not have neither the desire nor the patience to research on alternative eyeliners. I just can’t be bothered. (That’s behavioural economics for you.)

So yes, we bought the eyeliner. Then we went over to Daiso. In case you’re not familiar with the store, it’s a chain from Japan where you can buy most things for THB 60. (Though not in Japan obviously. They don’t accept the Thai baht over there, though who knows what will happen with the constant influx of Thai tourists; you cannot go anywhere without bumping into Thai people, and stores usually have signs written in Thai.) Tangent over, guess what was the first thing we saw when we went inside the store?

Yes, an eyeliner. A whole rack of them. THB 60 apiece. That’s THB 705 cheaper than the one I had bought not even a half hour before. I could trade the MAC eyeliner for a dozen of these Daiso ones. So I bought one. And if it turns out to be good (made in Korea; I have high hopes), today will be the last MAC sees of me. Gosh, I am getting mildly distressed thinking of all that money I’ve potentially wasted.

It’s crazy how much three letters cost: M-A-C. And it’s not even one of the more expensive cosmetics brands. Or maybe it is? I’m really not learnt in the economics of cosmetics goods. Maybe you could enlighten me as to the relative ranking of MAC compared to other cosmetics brands. I would appreciate it. *smiley face*

Anyways, let’s talk of better and brighter things: books! I bought books! So many books! I was extremely pleased to find that Sophie Kinsella’s latest Shopaholic book (THB 595) is out. This is the second Shopaholic book (after Shopaholic to the Stars) she’s released this year (money, money, money). And for an avid reader of the series such as myself, this is excellent news. So I bought that. Along with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (it’s tiny!) and a bunch of other classics. I’m especially looking forward to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (THB 125). I read The Great Gatsby some years ago and it was a powerful read (yes, powerful; I cannot think of a better way to express the book’s impact on me).

Note how classics are so much cheaper than modern reads. Interestingly, books become cheaper, rather than more expensive, the older they get. Hail to the printing press! May no books ever go out of print. (I’ve had to track down out-of-print books before. It’s more expensive of course but if you don’t mind the condition of the book you could usually find willing sellers of second-hand copies easily enough.)

What else did we do? Ah yes. We ate. A lot. So much food. So much good food. Hmmm. No wonder the weight-losing has been so many months in the making. I do exercise a lot. Just not enough to outweigh the food intake. (Eat less. That’s one more thing to add to my to-do list after ‘write novel’.) It doesn’t help that I bought snacks to stock up at home. Oops. My excuse is that we rarely go out and that I deserve a treat from time to time. (I convince no one.)

This has turned out to be a lengthier post than expected. Well, it’s been an eventful day. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s time for me to get on with my German. (Yes, I’m still doing that every day. A hooray for me!) Today’s word to master is der Magen (stomach). It looks easy but for some reason it’s resolutely refusing to enter my memory. Urgh. I hate sticky words. Then I also have to memorise which prepositions are followed by the Accusative case and which by the Dative case. I have a feeling this will be one of the more difficult tasks yet. Good. I like difficult. The more difficult, the more fun (it’s got to do with a sense of accomplishment you see).

I’ll stop blabbering now.

Tschüss!

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.