Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Things that make you go wowzers!

The past few days have been dotted with unexpected surprises.  Sunday I was woken by the doorbell ringing, I padded down the hallway in my PJs to have a nose through the spyhole at the cold Jehova Witnesses but it wasn't them.  It was the postman!! My immediate thoughts were that I must be mistaken and it is Saturday, or that I had managed to sleep right through to Monday, but no it really was Sunday and the postman handed me 2 packets.  One of Uwe's crimbo prezzies had arrived and so had my new glasses! On a Sunday!!

I excitedly explained to Uwe what happened and he being used to the 'odd' things we can do on Sundays in England said "wow and even you are surprised by this happening on a Sunday"  In Germany Sundays are still days of rest, not only do the shops not open but well anything that involves too much noise as I can see is also a no go.  It is actually one of the things I am looking forward to, enforced laziness!  Seriously though it gives people time to do non-shopping-related stuff together as a family, besides café's and restaurants are open so what better time to discover new towns?

My gorgeous new Black/Brown Jessica's from Glasses Direct, a bargain to boot!

Yesterday I was surprised by my Mum, I had spent about 3 hours trying to teach her how to use MSN Messenger a week or so ago.  I thought it best to get as much practice in before I go to Germany rather than afterwards, this way I am actually here to sort out any problems she has in person.  I wasn't entirely convinced she had the hang of it, especially as later the same day she'd logged into msn, I sent her a message which she seemingly ignored before logging off.  Later she told me she'd seen the message and was replying but nothing had got through, a quick explanation that using the 'enter' key is a work around for a lack of a 'send' button solved this problem the next time.

I hadn't moved on to the more complicated step of sending me a message without being sent her one first, but she managed it anyway! Her and my step Dad have been in Scottland for the last week and I have received a couple of email updates telling us what she's been doing.  Yesterday I saw her log on and about 20 minutes later a message box popped up which just said "Love Mum xx" an admittedly odd opening line to which I replied "Hi Mum xx" which she followed with a "This is so much quicker!", although at her typing speed that is slightly debatable (love you Mum!!).  I find it very cute that she does a proper written ending to her messages, more as if she were writing a letter or an email instead of a phone call.  This makes me feel much more confident she'll be pro by the time July comes.

This morning I woke up to the sound of excited children squealing outside my bedroom.  In a B-movie zombie like style I dragged myself to the bathroom, noting that the light outside was brighter than the past days.  You could see the cogs moving in my brain.  Screaming happy children... brightness... the rest of Europe being covered in snow... **CLICK** omfg we have snow!!  A whole inch of white fluffy loveliness!! As an adult my inner child is always impressed that having my own garden means I have my very own personal patch of pure, white, uninterrupted snow.  It has had the added side affect of the temperature warming up from a chilly -6 to a heady -1 degrees.

I had hoped that the surprises would continue and I'd log on this morning to find out my English assignment had been marked but nope not yet.  However my first OU German mark is awaiting release so I will be staying up late tomorrow night to grab it the minute the submission deadline passes!!

Monday, 29 November 2010

So this means we're grown ups now...

On Saturday morning I found out that one of my best friends from school is getting divorced after being together for 15 years.  They are the first people I know of my age to go through it and unfortunately it isn't going to be amicable.  He cheated on her with someone else we were at school with, her part in this doesn't surprise me as she was only interested in attached guys even back then, once she had them she didn't want them, so the soon to be ex will hopefully be in for a lovely surprise when she gets bored and he finds himself alone.  However he has emptied their bank account without a thought for how my friend will provide for their child and is sending threatening e-mails, I fail to see it from his point of view at all and believe he is probably being manipulated into doing it.  What I find worse is that he was absolutely appalled by the similar behaviour carried out by his father on leaving his mother, so I add hypocrite to the list of smaller more Anglo-Saxonesque words I have taken to referring to him as.

A quieter more secret part of me is pleased he is gone. I think my friend was always too good for him, and although it is all too raw for me to say it to her right now she will meet someone far better, having a little fun along the way road-testing - if you catch my drift ;)  Myself I have had many break-ups in the past to know that the feeling that no one will ever find you attractive again is not true, and I know that the pain gets less with every passing day, that I am better without every one of them, but 15 years of being with the same person, the person you promised "'til death do us part." I cannot imagine the pain.  Then there is the practical stuff that needs to be sorted, the legal things, the day to day things, the question of who gets what and on top of that carrying on and putting a brave face on for her son, when I am sure all she wants to do is stay in bed and eat cheesecake for a week.

My own parents have now been divorced for almost twice the amount of time they were married.  The first time he left - which incidentally was for a woman that shares the name of the husband stealer above, a woman that also stole the husband of my step-mum in an unrelated event - he came back home a short while later, by that time my Mum had accepted it was over, realised they were better apart and they split for good. They remained amicable and neither ever tried to turn me or my brother against the other, of course there were the odd irritated grumbles, but they'd be there even if they were still married.  The funny thing is that I find it quite alien to think that they could have ever been dating let alone married for 14 years with 2 kids, but I suppose that is down to them divorcing when I was 5 and spending the past 27 years getting to know them individually.

Ironically Saturday was also the day that my teenage crush got married, we had one of those Joey & Dawson things going on for a while and I was convinced we'd end up together and although we had moments of shared teenage fumblings we never did.  I haven't seen him since last millennium (haha how old does that make us sound?) and I have no interest in seeing him, but still it felt a little bit odd.  I do however wish him as much luck and happiness and hope that his new wife is every bit as amazing as my beautiful boyfriend.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Feeling Festive

My Nigella books turned up today, which was a nice surprise because with my goldfish brain I'd forgotten they'd be coming.  The first book I have looked at is the Christmas one and it really got me excited I love, love, love Christmas, and it is a sign that I am getting out of my depression as the last year I wasn't so excited and the year before I spent it alone, my Stepdad making a delivery of a portion of Christmas dinner which was really sweet of him and my Mum.

This year I will be spending it in Germany for the very first time, which I am looking forward to as their traditions are quite different to ours, food and presents are done on Christmas Eve and of course they don't have Boxing Day, but then I can live without Boxing Day lol.  I am looking forward to nosing around the Christmas Market in Esslingen too, it apparently has a Medieval theme, I probably won't get to any of the others in the area but Mum will be coming over next year especially for them so I'll see plenty then!

Uwe doesn't share my excitement for Christmas, I think for him there have been some family tensions which have made things uncomfortable, but I am looking to change this for the future so as Christmas Day will be just the two of us I want to plan a wonderful day which will hopefully be the start of some traditions of our own.

Talking of traditions, I was told that in Sweden they have a rice pudding at Christmas which contains one almond, and whoever gets the almond in their pudding makes a wish which the others eating the pudding have to make come true.  Obviously it has to be a realistic wish, but I thought that really encompassed the season of goodwill.

I am not sure if anyone will read this but I would love to hear your Christmas traditions.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Black Friday

Yesterday was the first day of Amazon's Black Friday promotion, every hour on the hour between 7am and 9pm they release 3 items which are sometimes heavily discounted, sometimes not so much.  There is limited stock so you have to click pretty fast to get one, I managed to get Photoshop Elements 9 for Uwe at £22.99, Scrabble Trickster at £9.99 for my step Dad who pretty much always comes last at scrabble but this version has cheat cards and 3 Nigella Lawson books for £15, the original price for the set was £81, but individually they could be bought for about £40 so even still it was a bargain.  Unfortunately I missed out on the Wii for £50... £50!! There were some lucky people who must have been very happy with that.

As with anything there were a lot of losers moaning about it being a farce, and even one person spamming Amazon message boards saying that everyone that said they got a bargain was lying and an Amazon employee because no one he knew managed it.  I find it quite amusing how people don't think outside their little bubbles, there are more than 60 million people living in the UK, if 1% of them decided to try for an Amazon bargain that would still be 600,000 people clicking add to basket when the offer starts of course not everyone is going to be able to get the item.  Some people are saying Amazon must have only had 5 items of each product, but even with 10,000 items - with a 1.6% chance per customer - they would still be gone within one minute by this system.

The one criticism I have with the whole process is that some people decide they are going to click the 'add to basket' button regardless without looking at the price that pops up at the very same time, this results in them dismissing it later which means that someone who actually really did want the item is potentially left disappointed. The deals on Amazon.com have a waitlist option so if someone adds to their cart but dismisses it it defaults to the next in line as long as you are still browsing the site, seems like a good idea to me.

Yesterday was also a day of deliveries for me, most of my Christmas presents for people turned up and I only need to buy one more.  One of Uwe's presents was a little larger then I expected and quite heavy so not sure if I'll have much room to take clothes lol.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Was ich heute gelernt habe

Today was my first tutorial for L193, I was a lot more nervous about this then I was for the English one even though I was pretty comfortable with the topics covered in Thema 1.  I think it is because the dreaded speaking is involved, and with language classes you're usually made to get up and wander around asking everyone the same questions, which we were and as usual it wasn't as bad as I anticipate it to be.  It is always good to meet people that are also learning and sharing tips.

I did learn a few new bits of vocabulary which I have written down and will add to my flashcards, speaking of which I was recommended a site called Quizlet to use which has the L193 vocabulary set up by a course tutor but it can also be used by everyone to create groups and add vocabulary for any subject they like, I will add this address to my links on the right hand side. There are 299 terms in the set and I managed to get 59% (177) correct in the first try, so will be doing that as often as possible, a lot of the wrong answers were due to giving the wrong gender article or spelling mistakes rather then not knowing the word at all, which was encouraging.

In fact I was so encouraged I have submitted the first TMA which has 4 parts to it, Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking but we are only marked on the Reading and Speaking parts this time.  I think I did okay in the end, I am happy with what I submitted but time will tell, this first TMA is only worth 5% of the continuous assessment mark so not much pressure if I find I have messed it up.

I have now posted part 2 of U211's TMA02 and submitted it as a whole, and the deadline isn't for a few more days yet which is very pleasing.  I had been absolutely dreading part 2, and I changed which person I was replying to more than once and even after I had settled on the word I changed the angle I was taking with the investigation and stumbled on some really good finds.  I really hope I have done well in this TMA as I worked hard with the research aspect and really enjoyed it a lot so it would be a shame to find out I have done poorly.  Just playing the waiting game now I don't expect to hear anything for about 3 weeks... will I be able to stand the wait?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Investigative Happiness

The last week or so has been spent doing a mini research project for U211's TMA02 into a word from a non standard English variety.  I have to admit to have been dreading this task, although I drop my t's and have an estuary like accent, the majority of my spoken language is what I would regard as standard.  However that was until I contemplated my online gamer side and realised that I spoke a very non-standard and creative variety.  I picked a word which to me was interesting and reflected that creativity and started from there.

Usually when it comes to word counts I am struggling to meet the limit, this time I could have easily gone over it and had to cut so many bits that I had discovered to fit the meagre 600 word limit.  Once finished the most scary part of all arrived.  This assignment is not just written in word in the safety of your own space but instead posted on our tutor group forums for your fellow students to read! I know we are all in the same boat, that they post theirs for me to read but it doesn't make things better, especially when you're the 20th person to post and you can see how everyone else's compares.

So why is this so public? Well the second part of TMA02 involves replying to one of the other threads with further investigation into their word/phrase/etc.  I haven't had a chance to look properly at them all yet, I didn't want to scare myself too much by comparing what I've written to what they have but I hope to have as an enjoyable time researching this part as I did with the first.

This TMA also signals the completion of Block 1 of the course, we are a quarter of the way through the module!  The last couple of chapters I have kinda skimmed through but I don't care so much, I have decided that I will not answer a question on the exam from this part, and as long as my glossary is up to date it is fine.  This has the added bonus of me now being 2 weeks ahead of schedule and I hope to stay that way at least so I don't have to do too much while I'm in Germany next month.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

8 Months to go

Well 8 months and 3 days to be precise, but I have been thinking about the move a lot, as you'd expect it is a big upheaval after all.  Originally we had pencilled in a move for November 2010, which means I would be moving right now.  I have been asking myself about whether I would have been ready to make the move right now.

Part of me says yes, the part of me that feels like life is on hold until July, now I am beginning to come out of my depression and starting to want to live in the real world again.  Little things like attending the tutorials for U211, the second of which was this weekend, where before I would have been too scared to probably even go let alone speak in front of people and make an effort to strike up conversations, I am starting to want to be social again.

I spent the weekend in London two weeks ago and even that was not as bad as it would have been, I mostly enjoyed myself, I did have to take some time out to deal with my panic attacks, but I had far fewer then before.  I remember when I suffering badly and my Mum would take me on trips to quietish shops, even  with hardly anyone around I would suffer from panic attacks almost as soon as we'd arrived.

I find it easier to be in Germany, I think because I don't speak the language I find it easier to pretend I'm anonymous, and that in itself has given me a freedom I have not had for a long time.  I do get slightly startled bunny when people start to talk to me and run to Uwe (the part of me that misses him tells me I am especially ready to make the move) and that is one of the reasons I feel better about waiting until July, some more time to learn German so that I might have the confidence to reply.

The other thing is that I am moving because I believe that Uwe is my "soul mate" I want us to be together until we're old and grey, and that means I will be in Germany until I am old and grey.  I will of course visit the islanders regularly but England will no longer be my home and I need some time to say goodbye.  In January I become an Auntie, I want to spend some time with my brand new nephew before am too far away to see him often.  My Dad is 70 in June and I want to be here to celebrate with him, and spend the next 8 months continuing to repair our relationship fully so that it will withstand the distance between us.

This time next month I'll be getting ready to fly over for a month so it is not as though I am far away, and I am going to be setting myself some challenges to do some things on my own seeing how far I can get on my limited German, as Susan Jeffers says 'feel the fear and do it anyway'!

In other news I did get my TMA result back and I did get over the 65% that I had been hoping for, my mark isn't extraordinary by any means but I am extremely happy with it.  Now working on TMA02 the first part of which needs posting by Monday, but I am sure I'll post more about that soon.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The waiting game

I am kind of in Limbo at the moment, it has been over a week since TMA01's deadline and although I read somewhere it should take 2 weeks for it to be marked I am constantly checking to see if my result is back yet.  I think this was not helped by some people getting their result back at midnight after the deadline was up, if I had been given a specific date that the result would be available I could at least put off checking until then, but it could arrive back at any time and I am curious to see how I did and what the feedback is before starting on TMA02.

Most people seem to be disappointed with their results so perhaps not seeing it is for the best, although these are often people that have a result of over 70% which for me would be a great result.  I have been thinking about my own expectations, 40% pass will make me relieved but not really happy, but as long as the feed back is helpful then I guess even that is okay and points me off in the right direction. 50-65% is where I am expecting to be placed, and I would be satisfied with that kind of marking, given that I have found the material rather challenging.  So 66% and above will see me smiling, the higher the number the bigger my grin I expect.

I have been wondering if my degree plan as I have it mapped at the moment is actually how I want to proceed.  I am finding the linguistics incredibly challenging and that has me wondering if I should change to study French and German, after all I do have some experience learning French previously and being trilingual would have its advantages, but would it be too confusing?  Do I instead look at mixing the degree into an Open degree and choose subjects I am interested in? I wouldn't mind popping in some Maths or Psychology units, but then an Open degree does not carry the same weight as a pre determined path.  I am not rushing into making any decisions right now as I do want to give this course a go and from reading reviews of this compared to the Level 3 English courses it seems that they are more enjoyable and that even U211 becomes better to study the further into it one gets.  I wonder how I'll feel when that result finally comes through...