Seminars

The beginning of the new University term has brought along with it a new thing which I’m not used to: seminars. They are hard-core, intense periods of discussion with a tutor who is a particular expert on a field. So you’re expected to come prepared.

The problem is that next Monday I am giving the seminar paper. It’s only a small group, so there’s no chance I’ll be intimidated by that. No. I’m used to presenting in front of groups these days. That used to be something I struggled with… I have extremely bad memories of having to give speeches to my English GCSE class – panic attacks and general lack of confidence were my forté. But thankfully, things are OK with that.

I’m more worried about having to present this topic, researched all of my own back, in front of the tutor who is an academic legend on this subject. I’m sure the facts are going to be wrong somewhere, and the analysis will be sub-par. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Even better is the fact that it’s not graded. Hoho. They’ve missed a trick there. It’s going to be… interesting.

In the meantime, I have received a CD and DVD from one of my bosses in the USA which has on it tonnes of pictures of the summer. This is pretty neat, and there are a fair few of me. I might actually do something about sharing some pics now. Will save me having to do a lot of scanning in.

Anyway… the university term seems to have finally taken off. It’s been extremely dull so far: once again this year I have only one module out of four this semester that I got to pick, and even then this pick was from a limited list. As a consequence, I’m not doing subjects that I really want to do. It’s bearable, but I’m not feeling very optimistic or confident about this year, mainly because of an increase in difficulty and little change to the boredom level. I just need to keep telling myself that it will fly by as quickly as the last one.

Progress

Something wonderful happened a couple of days ago.

I had a pizza. But not just any pizza.

A classic pizza done in my own oven. Yes, the cooker is finally fixed. It only took eight weeks or so since the landlord was first told about it.

More great news came in the form of another wheelie bin. Now we have six people in this house it means that we’re allowed another bin. Although we recycle tonnes of stuff, we always make slightly more than just one wheelie bin full of rubbish. Now we won’t suffer with backlogs as we did last year.

In the meantime, the academic year has properly begun. Although this week is not particularly intense because the tutorial sessions haven’t begun yet, it’s starting to shape up that this year is going to be pretty tough. I kinda expected it, but it’s still not nice to finally be faced with the realisation that I’m going to be pretty busy from next week on. The only good thing is that I have every Thursday and every alternate Friday off. This gives me extra reading time so I don’t need to ruin my weekends as I had to for most of last year.

I’ve finally been paid for the job I’ve been doing for a friend. On top of my student loan and grant I’m in pretty good shape right now. I’ve stuck most of it in my savings account… I’m definitely going to need some of it when I have to work in London next year. That ain’t gonna be cheap.

Pain

I’m very happy. My fingers are in immense pain, but I’m very happy.

The reason is that, at last, my guitar has returned from its repair and service. I hadn’t played it for around four weeks, and so the hard skin on the ends of my fingers had started to disappear again. It feels like I’m starting to play all over again… but the difference this time is that I know what I want to play and I know how to do it. So it’s even worse. When you start, your fingers hurt, but at least you don’t know much and so you don’t know what you’re missing. I do. Anyway, it’s been great to be able to play all the songs I’ve learned over summer. Brought back some good memories.

Next week starts University proper. This week has been a bit of a delaying tactic and a false alarm. I had to go in twice, but for nothing major. So my holidays properly end tomorrow. I’m rather dreading getting back into academic life. Right now I’m too engrossed in reading books of fiction than to get back down to reading dull books about facts. Or rather, the opinions of the author dressed up as fact. Ack. Give me an easy life for a change.

My To Do list is remarkably small. For now. I think I’ve got most things sorted out in these couple of weeks I’ve had free. We still don’t have a cooker here, which is just appalling, despite numerous complaints. I’m starting to get used to life without it. I’ve also finished the job I was given, and so the money will start flowing in soon.

It’s now time to consider those driving lessons, as I promised myself.

Back to Life, Back to Reality

These are the words to a song I can remember from my youth. I hated it a lot. Yet, right now, they seem to sum up how I’m feeling really well. As I’ve posted, I still feel like the last three months haven’t happened. They’ve flown by so quickly, and so much has happeened, that it feels a little surreal to be now back here in extremely ordinary circumstances.

Today I register at my University for the academic year. Yesterday I went shopping in the same old supermarker that I always go to. Everything is just so depressing. The dark nights are closing in. The weather is on that cusp between summer and autumn and you can feel the end of this great summer arriving pretty quickly. I’m still readjusting to what feels to me like a new reality, yet I know full well that it’s the reality I’ve been existing in for a year. Maybe more.

So maybe I need to do something about this. Maybe I should be grateful of the fact that this summer has opened my eyes to the fact that my life is dull. I kinda knew it anyway, but only now do I actually feel the urge to change it.

But with what. This is the agonising part. I love music too much, and this summer has sort of proved to myself that I do have some talent in this area. I’d love to do something with that this year. I should try to join a band.

I might even go back to the earlier idea I was considering about helping out in a youth club or something similar. I’m not sure if I might end up disappointed if I do that; kids around here are very different to the ones I’ve worked with all summer, but it might be a different and interesting challenge.

I just can’t let myself spiral back into inactivity and inertia again, because that only brings me down off the high I know I can feel if only I just do something about it.

The Undone

I had high hopes for this week. But they have slowly evaporated. Or rather, they have quickly. The remarkable thing about this is the fact that it has almost entirely not been my fault. This is unusual as I had been the master of procrastination last year… putting things off till last minute, or even making up excuses not to do things because of nerves or lack of confidence.

But so far this week everything is going wrong because of other people’s failure. The oven is still not fixed. The council are refusing to give us a new bin despite the fact that we now have the required number in the house and a lot of rubbish piling up (which is disgusting). Ebuyer.com have not responded to my request to return a broken motherboard under warranty in three days. And the guitar repair people have only just got in touch with me today about collecting and fixing my guitar, one whole week after the money cleared into their account.

This annoys me. I’m really organised this week. I’m making good progress with a job I’ve been given by a friend which is paying very well. I’ve even managed to read chapters of a thoroughly dull book on the British Parliament in preparation for a pretty tough module this semester. This alongside some cricket watching (yes, I am that dull) and now I’ve almost finished the fifth Harry Potter book, which will be the fourth I’ve read since June. Not to mention all the cleaning around here and the various e-mails I’ve been writing since I got back.

But I still have more I need to do. As I said last post I wanted to start scanning in some pictures but that’s been put on the backburner for a while. I also want to investigate driving instructors around here once I’ve finished this job I’m currently working on. I’m also supposed to be researching how on Earth the US visa system works so I can send details to my summer camp to plan for next year. This is a major problem.

In any case I’m feeling reasonably good. I’m sure it will all change when the term gets into gear, but at least I’m starting from a high. This is all very different to how I was feeling this time one year ago today. My final day back at home was happening, and I was preparing to move on out for the joys of Hull…

Weird Feeling

And so here I sit, back in front of my computer in Hull, where so many of my posts on this blog have been written. It almost feels surreal. I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that summer is over. I’m back here in this damn seat again, after such an amazing time the past few months… it just doesn’t seem right to have to hit the earth with a bump, and for everything to be the same once more.

Sure, I have many tales to tell. I think I bored my friends with an almost one hour discussion of American life and my experiences out there. And every now and then I keep coming back with another, “When I was in America…” anecdote because there’s almost limitless things I could keep telling them based on almost relevant conversations. I think they’ll get fed up with that very quickly. I haven’t even showed them my pictures yet. I suppose I might fire up my scanner to post a few on here just to brighten things up.

I have a week in which to get things straight. It’s weird that here in this house I no longer have any more fears. I’m not quite used to the fact that it is now no longer possible for the front door to fly open and my Evil Ex-Housemate to storm in and make a bundle of noise. This house is now free. I can do what I like. It seems my new housemates have also thought the same… the kitchen is a disaster area right now. This will be curtailed shortly.

We are also going to have fun because of the fact that right now we do not have a functioning oven. We’re going to have to pester the landlord. A lot. I can’t live without an oven.

And so… I say goodbye to my family once more. They’ve been a great help as always and have bought me plenty of food and supplies to last me through a week (and beyond in the case of soap powder). Other than that, it’s back to standing on my own two feet again. And working hard. Boohoo.

Home to Home #2

Tomorrow I am going to head off back to Hull. This will give me time to readjust and enjoy a week or two of preparation… I need to buy some new books and do a little bit of reading to get me back in the groove. Year Two is about to begin, and it’s going to be something of a challenge I’m sure. It will probably be easier for me than most because the course I did required me to take three second year modules last year… so I sort of have an idea of the standard required already. But it’ll still be tough.

There’s also been another development in the past few days. A friend of mine from some time ago recently got in touch and has offered me some work that I can do from home, transcribing details from videos into a form suitable for a website. It’s not the most exciting work, but it’s going to pay fairly well. A nicely placed windfall will come in pretty handy, especially since I’ve been strongly considering taking driving lessons these past few days. I don’t actually need to drive (or can afford it), but I just think it would be nice to get it out of the way now so that if it ever arose that I needed it for a job in the future, I would already have it nailed. In any case, I’ve heard it gets harder for you to learn the later you leave it, so it makes even more sense to get it out of the way now.

It’s not going to be cheap, of course. And the roads around where I live in Hull are appalling, so it’s going to be interesting to say the least. But it’s going to be a nice diversion from academic life. That’s assuming I go ahead with it, of course. A voice in the back of my head is telling me not to bother and just keep saving the money. But I feel this should pay me back eventually.

It’s been good to have been back home again. But now it’s time to move back to my life and get on with living off my own energy and looking after myself again. I’m looking forward to it.