Wednesday, 29 June 2011


We’re both sitting at our desks studying, side by side. 

I study for the toughest exams this year, economics and statistics. To be honest, both exams are from last year when I was too lazy to sit down and study hard. If I don’t pass these two exams I’m stuck in my third year which isn’t what I want. I don’t like numbers and I’ve always been bad at mathematics and stuff like that. That’s why I’m studying political science, I’m good with words. 

He is studying for some exam which I don’t know exactly how it’s called, shame on me. Numbers are involved, that much I do know. I feel bad for not knowing the names of all the classes he’s taking; everything seems the same to me. I know it isn’t so but engineering is very far from my comfort zone. 

We don’t talk much, just a couple of words every few minutes but it’s good to know he’s here. I’m easily distracted so I’m happy to have someone who’s also studying around, it keeps up my motivation. 

I can’t wait for the 8th of July when all this will be over. 

Photo taken from here.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Guest post 5: The Plane Trip by Barbara

Today’s guest post, written by my lovely friend Barbara (you can find her here, here and here) is about a different kind of studying. People often forget that we learn and study every day; we don’t have to go to school to study and to find out new things about life and people… This fictional story tells us exactly that:

The woman does not like to fly. She does not trust airplanes. And now there is the whole security check thing. Of course, Brenda would never try to take anything on the plane that she shouldn't. It is just very disconcerting to have to go in that machine.  Not because of the machine, but there is no one watching your things while you are in there. Ah well, it would seem all of her belongings had made it safely back to her this time.

The woman sat studying her fellow passengers. The flight had been delayed for about 30 minutes. This left everyone a little restless. After all, you were expected to get to the airport early to get through security. It had already been a long morning and no one had started their trips yet.

There were 3 couples with small children, and one Mom with a baby. Okay, this flight was shaping up to look fun already. One couple looked tired to the bone. Must be their return trip, and not the start of vacation. The second couple was busy telling the children about what they would be doing when they arrive at vacation land. The third couple, hah, the kids were asleep on a blanket on the floor. The woman with the baby was discreetly nursing the child.

The woman's attention moved to the singles in the group. At least they were, like herself, traveling alone. A young man, late teens perhaps, was listening to his music and oblivious to everything around him. There was a middle aged man who seemed to be a golfer. An older gentleman who seemed sad and just sat and stared off into space. Maybe he was just tired.

There were the two guys, in their twenties, that were going on vacation somewhere together. They looked like they had been friends forever. Brenda imagined the two getting married, maybe to high school sweethearts, and buying houses next to each other. Playing cards or fishing on the weekends, their kids going to school together. One day, years from now, one would attend the funeral of the other and would tell stories of the trip they took back in their youth.

There were three middle aged women, including Brenda. The other two were together. They seemed to be related. Either they were sisters, or maybe cousins? Too close to the same age to be a mother/daughter.

And then there was an older woman. She sat looking though her purse for something. Ah, she found it, whatever it was. It was hard to tell what the object was from Brenda's vantage point. The older woman looked up and saw that she had someone's attention. She motioned for Brenda to join her and showed the stranger what she held in her hand.

It was a ring. A man's wedding ring. The woman's husband had died and she was returning from having his funeral back in their old home town. The couple had retired several years before and had “moved South” to enjoy their retirement. They had made trips home to see family and old friends. In turn, family and friends had traveled south to see them many times. Ties were still strong to their home state. Years ago the couple had bought cemetery plots, not thinking they would ever move away. So, when Sam died, his wife of all those years took him home. The older woman spoke in a soft voice and told Brenda about how she and Sam had met, all those years ago.

As the flight was called for boarding Brenda and the older woman walked up together, walked down the small hallway to the plane's door together. As the line would pause, more of the story would be told.

As these things happen sometimes; when they got on the plane, it turned out Brenda and the woman were seated next to one another. The two women took their places and got buckled in their seats.  As the plane began to take off the older woman turned to Brenda, “Are you married?”

“Why yes, I am, happily married for many years. I am going to visit my sister.”

“So, how did you meet your husband?”

Brenda shared her story and the short flight passed quickly. The two women were in the process of exchanging addresses and phone numbers when it became apparent something was wrong with the older woman. By the time the plane landed the woman was gone.

They told Brenda the woman's heart gave out. She had been ill for a while but had insisted on taking her husband to be buried. It would seem she had held on to fulfill this one last act of love.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Guest post 4: They never told me by Shopgirl

Today’s guest is Shopgirl who is an incredibly talented writer. Her blog is called  A blessing a day and those of you who haven’t been there yet should pop by as soon as you read this:

They never told me going to school meant answering questions.

My first day at school.  I sat in the front row with my back straight, knees together, eyes forward, hands behind my back.  I can't remember much about my first teacher except he made us sit like those baby trees tied to a stick.  So I thought about the summer days of jumping into the fish pond with Tyler and Po, catching dragon flies and stealing walnuts from the tree hanging over our yard.  I listened to birds that chirped chirped outside calling me to go climbing and in case another abandoned nest awaited me in the crisscrossing branches. 

The teacher must have asked a question so everyone's hands flew up.  I caught the sight from the corners of my eyes and quick as a flash I pulled my right arm out and raised it up high. 

Of course I didn't know the answer - I hadn't even heard the question.  Only that dad had told me to raise my hands and stay engaged.

They never told me going to school meant doing homework.

As the bell rang, my heart leaped out of my throat and my steps carried me like the wings of those birds that flew away as I ran across the school yard. My schoolbag flapped against my back and the bees chased me part way through those yellow and white flowering bushes. Grandmas walking home from getting vegetables at the street vendors shouted at me to slow down.  I passed the shop that sold fried bread and soy milk in the morning, and smelled the sticky sweetness that wafted through the windows.  I passed the popcorn guy who sat at the curb with his hand cranked stove that looked like an ink well inside and out.  It exploded when a batch was ready, popping out sweet, fluffy and white corns wrapped in newspaper cones for fifty cents.  When I got home,  I gather with "my team" and we play until all our moms grew horse shouting out our names for dinner. 

The next day, the teacher asked us for our homework and he looked at me until I bent my head to hide my shame.  I didn't know what he meant and I didn't know how to ask.  No one ever told me to ask questions or how. 

They never told me going to school meant carrying notes home.

For the first year of school I gave back no homework.  The teacher shook his head and wagged his fingers.  The class peered down at me calling me the "idiot" or worse, "baby".  I wanted to kick them but dad told me to get along with others so I hold myself back but I had to grind my teeth to get through the day. It  felt like jail to be sitting still from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon and I can't possibly imagine any more "work" at "home".  Mom fussed over dinner and dad fussed over my jackets and socks, everyone said I was too young to go to school yet I liked it so much better than the alternatives and no one made me eat anything like tomatoes or cabbages. So they let me sit there everyday staring into the space in front of the blackboard dreaming of swimming, running, jumping or escaping. 

But the teacher eventually got tired of explaining homework to me and got nothing back.  In my second year they finally sent a note home for my parents to sign.  Mom had been teaching me to write my name real good, and she showed me how she write hers.  I copied it so many times I could write it just like her, with the curves and messiness that only adults allow themselves.  I practiced it again on the note the teacher sent me, as I saw a blank line at the end, next to the word "name".   I made it so good it looked like mom had written it. 

When they find out I signed the note they got really mad at me and called me a liar.  I had never been called that and it felt rotten like those tomatoes I left sitting on the window sill all summer.  I didn't know what the note said, but I didn't want to find out anymore.  I just wanted to throw everything from my schoolbag into the murky lotus pond under of the White Tower Bridge and ran away.  

They never told me going to school meant admitting you made a mistake even when you didn't mean to.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Guest post 3: You have to be taught how to study by Jewels

In the past few weeks I haven't been around here as much as I would have liked because I have to study for my exams. I also don't have time for commenting and reading your posts and I hope you understand. My last exam is on the 8th of July and I'll be back then. I feel really bad for neglecting your blogs and also for neglecting my own blog. That's why I asked you all to write guest posts for me about studying/learning and some of you kindly helped me out. 

I already got back results for three exams and I'm very happy to say that I was quite successful; for one I got an 8, for another 8/9 and 10 for the third one. It's good to know that my blogging abstinence is paying off.

Today’s guest is the lovely Jewels, whose writings you can find here and here.

"Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance." 
Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian

I was that girl in school, that girl that got good grades without studying. I never learned how to study, as most kids did. I never learned how to take proper notes, highlight important passages, or make note cards. I will not apologize for being semi-brilliant. I always did well in subjects that I was interested in. Subjects I didn’t care for well those I really didn’t care how I did in anyway.

All through high school I’d have cried at the thought of bringing home anything lower than a B, unless it was in Math, in which case I was and still am, hopeless. In college I breezed through, charming teachers into good grades. I thrived on essays, oral presentations, and multiple choice questions. If you gave me an opportunity to explain why my answer was the correct one…then watch out. I could have the strictest professor tilting their head in thought, eyes darting side to side, and then eventually the nod. I am a believer in the theory, “If you say it with enough conviction people will believe you.” It was a theory that helped me through many a class, test, and out of a lot of jams.

You must be wondering then if I’m smart at all or just a really good bull shit artist who is adept at looking cute and unassuming to get what they want. Well, I ask you, wouldn’t it take somebody really smart to realize and then capitalize on this ability? ;) The truth is that I am very smart. When I put my mind to a task in school, a project, a paper, or a major (I had a couple) then nothing would stop me from excelling. That is until I found alcohol.

You don’t need to know about my downward spiral into drinking…it wasn’t pretty but it sure as shit was fun! *I am not advocating binge drinking…but when you go to an “Art for Kids” class drunk…oh it’s fun!* The end result was a GPA lower than any I’d ever had (think in the low 2’s) and I was NOT alright with it. I was determined to graduate with a 3.5 or above and I only had 2 years to do this in. For those of you who don’t understand GPA’s it’s all averages and numbers and I think I already said I’m not great at math…suffice it to say that it was not going to be easy. It meant I was going to have to…gasp…study!

I quickly discovered that you have to be taught how to study. How to decide what is relevant and what isn’t, how to actively listen and take notes, how to make charts, note cards, outlines, and that I had never learned these things! Teaching yourself how to study is not an easy thing to do. I remember crying, frustrated that my efforts weren’t paying off when it came time to see the grades. Turns out it is hard work when you can’t just float through classes. For the first time in my life my easy to come by B’s weren’t going to cut it; I had to ace every class to get that GPA up.

There were many tear filled all nighters as I struggled to understand concepts that were foreign to me. I never had a problem in my classes that were related to my major, though they required extra work they were never overly difficult to me because I was invested and interested in them; even dissecting a brain and psychology research statistics (these were NOT fun classes) were tolerable. It was the requisites, the Spanish, History, Math, Religion classes that often left me wanting to jump from the nearest roof.

I know that I was supposed to be writing about a study story but they are all kind of a blur to me. I suppose this is more the anti-study story. I am blessed that things come pretty naturally to me. I didn’t have to study much in high school or college. I did however work my butt off all the same. I am proud to say that I am a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology Honors Society, which means I had a 3.5 or above in all classes regarding psychology (a 3.8 actually). I graduated with an accumulative GPA of 3.4. It wasn’t the 3.5 or above that I was hoping for but I am still pretty proud of it and the progress I made bringing it up.

"The result of the educative process is capacity for further education."
John Dewey 
(1859-1952) U.S. philosopher and educator

If I had the money I would still be in school. I’d love to go for my Masters and maybe even a Doctorate. I love school, love learning, love writing papers even and there are just so many subjects that fascinate me that I would like to know more about. That being said there are times when I read blogs, tweets, or facebook status updates and see how stressed people are about their classes and think to myself, “Are you sure about that, Jewels?” To anyone who is out there bettering themselves through education, congratulations and keep up the great work! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look up with pride at that college degree hanging on my wall…I promise you it is worth it.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Guest post 2: Watching by Doria

My lovely friend Doria (you can check out her blog here) wrote a fictional story for my series of guest posts on studying. Her story is lovely so I should stop babbling and let you read it…

She sat alone.  I could see her from afar.  I sat alone amongst the crowds of the cafe.  The smells of coffee and cakes filled the air.  The flowers swaying as the winds blew the trees.  I saw her hair blowing with the wind. Long locks of what I can only call a romantic gold.  The gold of candle light on a romantic night. My thoughts wandered as I tried to remember the last time I'd had a romantic night.  

I could see her mess strewn across her table.  Books of literature, history, mathematics and archeology.  Looking at all of her glory from afar I would never imagine her to be an archeologist.  Then again people never cease to amaze me, surprise me. 

I sat quietly ignoring the beeps and vibrates of the dreaded cell phone laying on the table.  I watched her study while I drank on my coffee for what seemed like hours.   Amazed with her ability to sit and block out the distractions of this big city.  As I sat in awe, she looked up. Looked around and stopped at my stare. Her eyes were as beautiful as the deepest blue seas. She smiled her best smile, closed her books and began packing them away. 

Her study was done, if only for today. It was time for her to let the distractions take over.