Saturday, 30 October 2010

My blog isn’t even two months old, and I’ve already broken the (self-imposed) rule of updating it on a weekly basis. But this lack of activity isn’t because I’ve lost interest in blogging, nor am I suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. It’s just that I’ve been busy planning a little something I like to call the rest of my life.

Ironically, the language barrier has proven to be a bit of a problem. Are grants, fellowships and scholarships the same? Do I qualify as graduate or undergraduate? Should I go for a minor or a major? What's more, the world of academia is all about acronyms. Am I looking for a BA, MA, MFA or MLA? What do GSAS and GRE stand for?  What is the difference between the PB, the CB and the IB versions of TOEFL? So all my extra time and energy have been spent on thinking, researching, planning, dictionary-consulting and email-sending. 

But all this work hasn’t been without reward. My mental crossroads has morphed into a more recognisable form, that of a map of the United States. I have thus narrowed down the once numerous possibilities to a handful or so.  So, what’s next?

1) Sit for TOEFL and ace the damn thing.
2) Pray that at least one of the dozens of scholarships that I’ll apply for consider me worthy of their money.  
3) Pray that at least one of the dozens of colleges that I’ll apply for consider me worthy of their high educational standard.
4) Hope that immigration doesn’t realize I’d do anything for a green card (just kidding! Or am I….?)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

I solemnly swear I am up to no good

Warning: the full understanding of the following anecdote, its lexicon and references depends entirely on extensive knowledge of all things Harry Potter. Failure to comply with this criterion may result in puzzlement, head-scratching and loss of interest in the author’s work. Therefore, e-readers who lack Potter literacy are strongly advised to look the other way –or down, as the case may be– to more conventional posts in this blog.

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The end of term was fast approaching, and with it came the NEWTs – Nastily Exhausting Writing Tests. This was the only reason why the creative writers found themselves working hard in the junior common room one Saturday night while the rest of the student community engaged in more traditional –albeit health-detrimental– nightly activities.

The monotonous sound of quills scribbling away on scrolls of parchment filled the otherwise silent room, until overpowered by the more appealing sound of dance music, which was coming from somewhere within the school grounds. Unable to resist the temptation, and ever eager to procrastinate, two of the students set off on a quick recon mission and found out that a wedding reception was being held in the Forbidden Forest. At the mention of this information, four of the ladies there present exchanged impish glances and, without uttering a single word, rushed out of the room.

The fantastic four reappeared only ten minutes later dressed to the nines, wearing posh gowns and high heels fit for the occasion: they were up for some serious wedding crashing. Some compliments and a few warnings later, a tap at the marauder’s map told them the exact location where the joyous (?) union was being celebrated. With a look of unflinching determination off they went.

Once inside, so gorgeous and so beautifully dressed was one of the girls –let's call her Bethany– that she attracted the attention of a handsome young gentleman the minute she set foot in the dance floor. He approached her and after exchanging greetings, to the sound of music, their conversation ensued: 

“What’s your name?” asked the man pleasantly.
“I’m Bethany. And you?”
“I’m Travis. Are you here alone Beth?”
“No, I’m with my girl friends.”
“And who are your girl friends?”
“These right here,” she said pointing in their direction.

How confident her demeanor, and how friendly her manner. But had Bethany taken another look at the map, she would have realized that she was talking to none other than the groom, who was quickly joined by the bride herself. Luckily, the couple was too happily in love to make a fuss, and simply explained that that was a private event which they couldn’t attend. Embarrassed beyond belief, and upset that their mischievous adventure had been cut short, they turned back and ran in hope of finding a portkey that would apparate them right into a hole in the ground. Sadly, they found none, and had to sprint their way back up to the common room, where their assignments awaited, still undone.  

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Disclaimer: all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons (ie: Stephanie, Camilla, Lorenza and yours truly),  is purely coincidental. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Life after Oxford: the good, the bad and the unthinkable

Had you been in Oxford, you would have heard me grunt and curse miserably as I reluctantly rolled my suitcase down the stairs on the rainy Saturday morning of my departure. Yet luckily for my mental well-being, my Eurotrip didn’t end then and there. After leaving Oxford, I met two of my closest friends - who had been studying in that other place – and the second and more hectic leg of the journey thus began: six cities spread across three different countries and hundreds of miles travelled in every means of transport known to man – plane, train, subway, ferry, cab, water cab, car and gondola – all in a staggering two weeks. 

Next in the itinerary was Paris, which became the undeserved recipient of all my anguish. However, once I got over my feelings of (non)homesickness, I enjoyed myself tremendously. Despite being rainier than Oxford and London combined, the so-called city of romance proved to be as posh and compelling as it is said to be, but offered no romance whatsoever. Rome and Venice, though not as elegant but equally quaint, awakened an unprecedented interest in my Italian roots, the Italian language, Italian history, and basically anything Italian. And it was impossible to hate the sunny beaches of Santorini and their crystal clear waters, in which I scuba-dived and over which I parasailed. 

Argentina, on the other hand, proved far easier to despise. Upon setting foot in my homeland, I was welcomed by a freezing cold wave, torrential rain and the worst traffic the highway has ever seen at four am in the morning. Having taken a month and a half off work, I was asked to resume my teaching position at once, thus plunging headlong into the hectic pace of my routine b.o. (before Oxford)

And that’s how life’s been since then. My European extravaganza left me in dire straits, thus keeping me from reducing my workload to a normal amount. Those Exeter cookie binges finally took their toll on me, and now on top of watching my pocket I also have to watch my weight. Not that looking well really matters, since the men here pale in comparison with their European counterparts...

Granted, the Oxford experience made me realize writing is what I want to pursue, and I’m looking into the possibility of doing an MA abroad (yet another reason why I can’t quit any of my multiple jobs). In the meantime, I’ve started this blog, in the hope that I write more regularly. And last but not least, I now walk on grass guilt-free, not just because I can, but because it is not nearly as green as on the other side of the Atlantic.
Photo by Ma. Eugenia J.