Friday, 31 December 2010

---> Insert Cliche'd New Year Reference Here <---

Well here we are at the end of another year waiting to see in the next one and hoping it will be better than the last. For me 2010 has not been so bad, it has certainly been better than the few before, my recovery from depression has come a very long way and I know it will only improve in 2011.  That said it still feels that my life has been on hold again and Iwant to start living again I want to mix with other humans more, which means I have to overcome my insecurities which sometimes stop me from getting involved.

I have achieved some really good things this year, I have travelled by myself further than the shop at the top of my road, I have been as far as to Germany and back several times.  I commited to a degree and I have worked hard to receive some great results for my efforts and I didn't give up when it looked to hard, instead I took time out to calm down and to find a solution. i am quite proud of how far i have come.

I am not really sure if I will write any New Years Resolutions, pretty much they are the same every year aren't they?  Mine usually are anyways, I just want to continue to step forward, but perhaps some directions would be good.  I will think about it some more, but goodbye 2010... Happy New Year Everyone!

Monday, 20 December 2010

I get knocked down, but I get up again...

Most of the time I am excited and motivated about moving to Germany, but every so often I am reminded about what an absolutely mammoth life changing decision I have made.  Yesterday for example we had dinner with Uwe's family, seven of us in total, the food was lovely and I wish i could comment the same about the company. Now don't get me wrong I didn't hate the company, far from it, the lack of commenting is because I didn't understand the company.

I had really hoped that after a year of learning German that my understanding would be better and I would have the confidence to open my mouth and let some words of my own come out. Unfortunately none of the conversations over the dinner table involved booking hotel rooms or purchasing a train ticket, well unfortunate from my grasp of the language side of things anyway.  I could understand the odd word here and there, but mostly I was blankly smiling at people wishing that Star Trek universal translator thingies had been invented.

I think what disappointed me most was that even the few questions aimed at me sparked an internal panic, Uwe's half sister asked me when I flew over to which I turned immediately to Uwe and said "ummmmm Mitwoch?" I understood the next question too about the weather and I really should have been able to answer it had I tried but I didn't. Instead I ummed again at Uwe and he took over answering for me, which I was mighty relieved at.

I was pretty depressed by the whole thing, and I really don't know what is stopping me. Yes part of it is this panic, but I think part of it is because I don't want the attention on me and on my inability to speak their language.  Everything will take 10 times as long because i can't get my point across.  I totally understand why babies scream to get their point across, I felt like crying the entire time :(

I was totally exhausted after the experience but it isn't going to stop me, it just reminded me that things are a lot harder than I sometimes remember but I will get there in the end.  Although it didn't seem like it I am pretty sure I understood far more than I did a year ago, it's just that I still don't understand enough to be useful yet.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Schnee und Glühwein

Well I have been in Germany for a couple of days now, didn't do much though as Uwe is still working and I have an essay due soonish, we did get to Esslingen Christmas market last night though and it was very lovely, albeit cold.  I wanted to take some pics to post on the blog but unfortunately both our camera's had dead batteries so perhaps we can go again this coming week.

It has a medieval theme so there were a lot of people dressed up and plenty of entertainment, from musicians to fire jugglers. I of course had to sample many different yummy treats but was disappointed not to find Reibekuchen and Apfelmus which I had been promised by my German teacher that all German Christmas markets serve.  I did however have some Wurst, Käsespätzle and Stockbrot.  I also managed to recognise the German for that old, ahem, English christmas favourite Turkish Delight, which Uwe was not convinced about meaning more for me! Mind you it was -6 and the Turkish Delight was hard.

Just a short one for today, will write something more interesting, with pics, soon!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Big Read Challenge - #75 Bridget Jones's Diary

What better way to replace one Darcy but with another? Having watched the film a number of times i thought I knew what I was getting with the book but was surprised by quite a number of plot differences.  The film - which I think I am more fond of -  is certainly more like Pride and Prejudice than the book, which isn't surprising as the guy who penned the BBC adaptation also collaborated with the screenplays.

One thing I noticed whilst reading the book is how dated it has become, there are a lot of references that had I read it back in 1996 when it was published I would have immediately recognised.  At one point she starts to keep count of the the days "instants" and at first I was confused, I knew that I should have known what she was talking about as it was quite familiar.  It wasn't until later when she explained about the national lottery that I of course knew what she was talking about, back in 1995 the whole lottery itself was new and Britain was lottery crazy, I used to work in WHSmiths on a Saturday and often manned the Lottery till and we had queues winding around the shop and right out the door every Saturday for the couple of years I was there. Had someone mentioned instants back then I would have immediately known what they were referring to.

The other reference which i have to admit to identifying with is her 1471 obsession, and I cannot remember the last time I ever used 1471 not really needed with caller ID, which got me wondering how Bridget would have coped with the myriad of ways to be spurned by possible love interest.  It is set before mobile phones, texting, email and the internet were commonly available.  Facebook was at least 10 years away with it's status updates and relationship indicators.

It isn't too surprising that it has aged when you take into consideration that it started as a newspaper column reflecting the life of a mid-nineties thirty-something and therefore detailing current trends and national obsessions.  Pushing those aside Bridget is still as identifiable in her hang ups as a thirty-something woman 15 years later, remembering she is a caricature and not a real representation, and there are certainly traits and insecurities I can recognise in my own behaviour and that of my friends. I very much enjoyed reading it, and now really want to watch the film again, and after a little Googling am quite excited at the prospect of a new film and a possible west end musical to come!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Big Read Challenge - #2 Pride & Prejudice

It seems quite fitting to post this first review today as Google helpfully informs me that today is the 235th birthday of Jane Austen. I must admit I struggled a little when I started reading the book, I think it was due to my preconceptions that it would be an easy read and that even though I have been studying the history of English, I am embarrassed to say, I didn't think that the language used 200 years ago would be much different to now. I was also reading at bed time so my tired mind was a little perplexed at first.

However once I got past that initial bump I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I had some idea of the story from having watched some if not all of the BBC series from the mid nineties. I have been wondering whether I would have been rooting for Mr Darcy quite so much from the start had I not already been aware that he was being misrepresented in the beginning.

Often I found myself a little confused as to who was talking when there were long stretches of dialogue, I am not sure if that is because of Austen's writing or, as odd as this might seem, if it was down to the edition I was reading, I switched from a physical copy to the Kindle halfway through and I didn't find it so much of a problem afterwards.

Like all good books I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading, in fact I still do and I finished it a couple of days ago, and I was quite sad to say goodbye.  It is easy to see why there have been a number of sequels written by other writers over the years. I suppose the only disappointment I felt was with regard to Wickham who at the end seemed quite unaffected by his previous behaviour, I suppose I would have liked him to suffered a bit more, but then in my own personal sequel he does!

I have steered clear of the classics since I left school and I see I have been missing out on some, erm, classics! I look forward to discovering more.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

How to Read

I got my Kindle today, an early Christmas present from my Dad.  He wanted to give it to me so i could set it up before my flight to Germany on Wednesday.  The first thing I have to say is how amazing it looks, I had heard the comments that the screen looks just like paper but really not believed it as how can it, it is a mini computer no? But really it does, which is down to what is called e-ink, a small explanation from the more technical father was that unlike lcd's which refresh a few times per second there is no refreshing of the e-ink until you 'turn the page'. Whatever it is I say it's jolly clever!

It is pretty simple to use I am currently about a 3rd of the way through reading Pride and Prejudice, part of my Big Read challenge, so I have downloaded it onto the Kindle (for free!) and will continue with my bedtime reading from there tonight. I have even managed to work out how to transfer one of my OU textbooks from the student website onto the Kindle, so feeling very pleased with myself indeed. The only thing I am missing is one of those expensive leather covers which will protect it and have a built in reading light.

Being so new I have had a quick check around for questions, like making sure I know how to get it into flight safe mode and as such I found myself on the Amazon Kindle forum and a topic caught my eye immediately called How do you read? No, I'm serious - I've just been told I should relearn! and I have to say it raised a discussion that I have never ever thought about, which is the way we read.  I suppose I just took for granted that everyone reads in the same way, I knew that some people were faster readers than I was but I never thought that they actually read using a completely different method.

Like the poster, I too read each word aloud in my head, but from what I can work out some people read by sight alone and their brain must process the information in a different way. Some people say there is a right way and a wrong way to learn to read and I apparently have the wrong way, which might make sense, I have a mild-ish form of dyslexia, unless I am stressed then it can get much worse. However, surely the way in which one person learns to read is very much personal and works for them, just like the hand we find it easier with which to write?

The question that quite interests me is how our interpretations of what we are reading might differ depending on the way we read.  By reading each word aloud in my head I find I have a narrator voice which is quite expressive, I am not sure if that would translate to someone that reads with just their eyes.  Do they have a more or less vivid illustration of the world they are reading about?  I wonder if thinking is exactly the same, I quite often think in words but I know other people that hardly ever internally narrate their thoughts but instead have images.

It is a subject which just 30 minutes ago I had no opinion of, but now I really want to find out more.  Do you or anyone you know read in the same or different way?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Well I had been hoping to have results for both my assignments in English and German by now but alas I do not. I am happy to report that I did exceptionally well with my German and got 97%, although when converted into final marks it sounds a lot less impressive as it was only worth a max 5% of the continuous assessment mark, which in turn is only 2.5% of my overall score.  Anyway if I get stranded at an airport or need to spell my name or give my telephone number out I am golden apparently...

English is a rather irritating story.  I had hopes that because we had a tutorial yesterday morning that like last time the results might materialise some time on Friday.  They did not.  When asked our tutor said that he had marked them and it must be a computer glitch that we hadn't got them, benefit of the doubt things like that can go wrong. However shortly afterwards he said that the cut off was 24th November and that he'd sent them off about 10 days afterwards which was around Monday... hang on... but yesterday was the 10 day mark.  Okay so he's an English teacher not a Maths teacher, number of days might escape him.  So can he give us our marks individually? Nope they have to go via the system, he isn't allowed to discuss our own marks with us on a one to one basis... erm... oookay.  Lastly, we did have a small discussion at break between us students about the last TMA and the fact we all posted so we could read each others, and bearing in mind this guy is quite passionate about linguistics he didn't mention anything about any of our postings, such as variety, interest etc.  So conclusion? I must admit to thinking he hasn't looked at our assignments yet, let alone marked them.  Oh well the OU says that we should expect to get results back up to two weeks after submission, hopefully I'll have them before Wednesday.

Apart from the non marked assignments the tutorial was pretty useful with regards to the assignment due in January, I just need to find a program to transcribe.  I was thinking of Jeremy Kyle because it is at least linguistically interesting but he's gone and changed the format of his show, they've given him a desk and everything now! I will need to have it transcribed by the time I go to Germany or find a suitable clip I can access while I am over there, otherwise it might put a spanner in the works.

Sorry for the somewhat boring post... seems I needed a rant!