Friday, 14 June 2013

14th June 2013

Well, I know I always say things have been busy...but they really have! Right now I'm in the middle of exam season. Actually, I'm 8/11ths through the exam season. But as I did my last ever maths exam yesterday, I guess I don't need to get into fractions :)

My exams started waaay back on May 7th, with a Spanish speaking exam, and finish this Wednesday with two hours of Chemistry. This week has been the worst, with four back-to-back exams. But the end is now in sight, and I do believe that light at the end of the tunnel is Spanish sunlight!

*Massive hint* I got a job in Madrid! I'm working as an au pair looking after 3 boys for 3 months. I'm pretty nervous - I've only met the family for a few minutes on skype, and like me the mother is pretty busy so we've only exchanged a few short emails. And I have So. Many. Concerns. I do have the advantage that I already speak Spanish reasonably well - although the family employed me so I can speak English to the kids mostly. And the family seem normal. I can see their house on Google Maps. I've been able to find a clear record of the mother online (confirming where she works and that she's a real person :P ), although not the father as he has a very common Spanish name. And googling *name* Madrid just didn't narrow it down enough. Oh, and I've organised the whole thing through a reliable agency.

But...what if the kids don't like me? What if I don't get on with the parents? What if living with my employers is a disaster? Also, explaining "vegetarian" to anyone Spanish is always a teensy bit problematic. Once in a cafe, after explaining in great detail just how vegetarian I was (no como ni carne ni pollo...) I was presented with a cheese and ham toastie. Apparently, ham isn't really meat. Don't get me wrong, I'm really not a picky eater! I will eat pretty much anything (and usually too much of it!) but no meat, and no fish. And I'm not even super picky about that - I'll eat sweets with gelatin in, or Worcester sauce - but I'm not going to eat a cheese and ham toastie. Eventually I picked the ham out (okay, at that moment I may have looked like a picky eater...) and enjoyed my ham-tasting cheese toastie.

I have to say though, I'm really looking forward to getting a proper summer. Here in England, we've had one of the coldest, snowiest, rainiest, nastiest winters on record. Followed by the coldest May on record. Pretty certain we're currently in the middle of the coldest June on record too. And I really feel the cold. So moving to a city where the temperature's going to be a nice consistent 30-40'C. I think I can live with that :) Also, I can appreciate any culture which includes napping. I'm also really looking forward to experiencing central Madrid from a native perspective. And hoping I can get out to some of the mountain ranges nearby! I get the impression my employer family head out to the mountains a fair bit in the summer, so I'm taking my walking boots :)

But the really scary part? I'm flying back to England for a few days in August to pick up my A level results. If I don't make my AAA offer, I have literally no idea what I'm going to do. I'm so reliant on getting those grades to move on with my potential future career. And no uni will accept resits for medicine. Spanish I'm not too worried about - I only need to get a C in my exams this year to get an A overall. Maths I sat one really good paper, one really bad paper, and then a middling paper yesterday - my grade looks borderline. Chemistry, so far I've only sat 2/3 papers. Both seemed reasonably good...but I can never accurately predict my grades on these papers! Biology I've also sat 2/3 papers. The longer paper was way too easy, which pushes up the score you have to get to achieve your grade. And that paper determines 50% of my grade this year. So I'm really freaking out. I'm so worried I'm going to get Bs! I know that sounds ridiculous, but both of my uni offers are AAA - and my favourite specifies I've got to get one of those As in Chemistry. My nightmare is to get back here, miss my grade, and then have to go back to Spain to finish my job...with no idea what I'm going to do at the end of it all.

And Fathers' Day's on I'm leaving pretty soon I wanted to do a family weekend out. We never really do anything like this (so it could be an unmitigated disaster...) but I think I've got a pretty good plan together. As this weekend I really need to be studying, its being given as a gift this Sunday, to go away the weekend after. I'm sticking with the theme of doing new stuff, so I've got a pretty cool schedule lined up... We're starting with a walk at a forest halfway between here and where we need to end up, to break up the driving a little bit. We're going to take a picnic late breakfast type set up to eat as we go. Then, we finish driving to Norwich - which is where we used to live, so always feels a bit like going home. Then, we're going to this Japanese place for a very late lunch, or very early dinner, depending on your philosophical mind set. I've been there once before, so can vouch its good, but for everyone else, its their first time trying Japanese food! (And don't worry, its noodles and Japanese curry rather than sushi...). Then we're going to see the new Star Trek movie because my Da really enjoyed the last one. I was hoping we could see the Monsters Inc prequel but the release date got pushed back and this is just as good :) After that, I've booked us in to a (surprisingly cheap!) hotel right in the centre of town...meaning we can go to one of my Da's favourite cafes for breakfast. And then head home. In time for me to pack before I leave for Spain on Tuesday.

I really hope this works though, because sometime's in the past I've felt like we replaced actual thought with just buying stuff my Da doesn't need. So I'm hoping what I'm *actually* getting him here is a nice memory. Now I just need to think of a way of wrapping my gift to give it to him on Sunday!

So that's my life right now. I should get back to revising. I have Biology: communication, homeostasis and energy on Monday, and Chemistry: rings, polymers and analysis on Wednesday. And I'm terrifyingly aware that these could be my last chance to scrape As in those subjects.

I'll try and get some posts up while I'm in Spain, update you on how that's going. I'm sure there'll be teething problems, so don't panic if I don't sound happy at first! Remember, I'm moving to a nation without tea or Marmite o.O And I'll let you know after 15th August where my future's headed. I don't know if its acceptable to ask for prayers to improve my grades - but I'm desperate right now! I really feel that as a doctor I could help so many people around the world! And right now that's riding on my grades. Wish me luck x

Sunday, 28 April 2013

28th April 2013

I'm still here! I know its been a while since I posted, but I haven't had a lot to say. Right now I'm mostly stressing over exams. And that's it. I have so much to learn, not enough time and if I miss my grades I lose my place at uni. Its fair to say I'm a little bit stressed.

What else has happened in my life? Um. I quit my job! And I feel totally indifferent *guilty face* When I went in on Saturday - my first day since I gave my notice in - everyone knew I'd resigned. Including a lot of people I don't actually know. Which would be sweet and all, if it wasn't for the fact that my line manager hasn't officially confirmed that he's received my letter yet. I sound bitter and grumpy right? Judge me when you've seen the wisdom teeth I'm cutting. They look volcanic, and as Jose (my new, and somewhat attractive dentist) put it, they are both impacted and partially erupted. In normal-speak, that means its going to hurt for a couple of months while they cut through my gums, but it'll be fine after that. But I still deserve lots of sympathy!

But in conclusion, although I've now done this job for the best part of 18 months, I'm not really at all even slightly attached to it. I'm grateful I've been able to use it to save up a lot of money. But I can't say I've really gained anything beyond that. In some ways I find it quite sad there - a lot of the people who work there seem kinda trapped. Its a comfortable place to work, with no stress, no pressure and good job security. I can't help but wonder if some of the people there had a bit more self esteem, would they still be there? I've worked in academic libraries before, and this kind of atmosphere is always there. And people stay in these jobs forever. There's more than one person in my office who's done the same job, same department, same desk for over 30 years. And I don't think its because they enjoy it. A lot of people from my college do similar part time jobs to me, and we joke that once you've stayed for 3 years you're in for life. Only, its totally true. The staff are either the transient part-timers like me, who take the job to support themselves through A levels or a post grad. Or they're taking the job for life.

Don't get me wrong, I like most of the people I work with. Sure, they kinda lack people skills, but they all seem to be genuinely nice. They all have their strange little ways (they're librarians) and they all have some insane ability to make their work fit the time which I still haven't mastered (which is why 2 hours into most shifts I'm desperate for *anything* to do). But I think when I leave in 3 weeks time, it really will be without a backwards glance.

Actually, I guess I have learnt something. However comfortable or easy a job may be, this life is too short to settle for doing a job you don't really enjoy, or aren't really inspired by. I've no doubt that necessity will mean that I'll do more dull, minimum wage jobs in my time. But my end goal has to be something I love, something that can help other and something that has some kind of meaning. I'm now 6814 days old. If I live until I'm 70, I've got less than 20,000 days left. Or I could die tomorrow. Its not in my hands. But I'm going to go and study now, because even if I don't make the grades, I want to know I gave it my best shot.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

31st March 2013

The decisions have all come through on UCAS. I've only cried happy tears. And I think I've picked where I'm going to study for the next five years. *Drum roll*

The University of Glasgow, Scotland.

(Provisional on me achieving AAA, in subjects to include Chemistry and one of Maths/Biology).

I'm kind of excited. But mostly terrified. The grade requirements are all big and scary, and I've had to wait to chose my accommodation so I might end up on the dodgier side of town, and it rains all the time in Glasgow. Like, literally 80% of the time. Okay, I admit that my biggest fear is the weather.

But being the biggest city in Scotland, Glasgow does have a lot of hospitals. And a really very good music scene. And living in Scotland would be pretty neat. I could learn to ski, or snowboard; and I love the Highlands! Or go out to some of the islands to watch seals or surf. Although apparently I have to do some studying as well? Anyway, Glasgow has also got a University Air Squadron which I'm defs going to try out for - RAF subsidised training, trips and sports teams, which stand you in good stead to join up at the end of uni...but without any obligation to join up. I've often thought about whether a career in the forces would suit me, but would like more time to think about it, so this kind of no-obligation structure sounds perfect. And means I can make sure that whatever medical career I go for, I definitely won't be sent to any front line locations!

And I just found a society that trains people as mountain rescue workers! Sounds like the right mix of medicine and the outdoors :) And there's a group which prepares students to work for medical charities, something else I've always wanted to do! And it looks like they've got a great Medicine Society. Yeah, I'm not going to be bored...

Its just a bit scary that now I need to achieve those grades. And get ready to move to another country. The other day, my mam bought a new grater and gave me the old one - for my flat. Now that's a weird thought.

So while I go and panic in the corner, here are some pretty pictures of Glasgow and the University...

Thinking this looks a bit like a scene from Harry Potter? Guess what...

Remember Harry's first quidditch lesson?

Pretty certain I've seen Harry and Ron walking down this corridor.

So while Glasgow wasn't originally my first choice, in a way I'm happy that life has taken this direction. Nottingham may have the better reputation as a medical school, but it sure was bland in comparison! And while I had my Glasgow offer, and was waiting for Nottingham to make a decision, my prayer was that God would show me where he wanted me to go because I couldn't decide between Nottingham and Glasgow - I changed my mind about which was my favourite every day! And while the rejection (and after interview!) from Nottingham kinda hurt, I knew that God had given me a nice clear answer. And looking at Glasgow, and all its opportunities now, I feel surprisingly confident. Although I'm still worried about the weather...

And for my non-UK readers, this is the Highlands. The word you're looking for is unsurpassed.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

21st March 2013

I made a big decision the other day, one I should probably have made long ago: I deleted the Twitter app from my phone.

Sunday is my one (generally) commitment free day, and usually when I try to do most studying, but last Sunday I didn't manage to do anything, and just couldn't figure out where the time went. I mean, I literally hadn't done anything! So I deleted a couple of the apps I use more on my phone, just out of curiosity. It felt insignificant. I carried on with my life. Thirty seconds later, without thinking, I picked up my phone and without thinking my thumb hit the gap where the Twitter app used to be. And again, figuring it hadn't loaded.

My phone background is a photo I took of a stream while walking in Yorkshire and I love it. You know when people say go to your happy place? Well, that's my happy place. The gap where Twitter used to be now shows the flow of water down this stream and into England's biggest waterfall. I don't want to get any more melodramatic about this, really I don't, but I think there's a bit of symbolism in know, from little acorns great oaks grow?

I know, its just another pointless social media overshare tool, but just today I must have gone to Twitter a dozen times, to find it wasn't there. Which makes me wonder, just how much time did I throw away on that? I'm a notorious procrastinator, but I just can't believe how much I let that become a part of my life. I met some great people through Twitter, and I did enjoy the sensation of being slightly ahead of the rest of the world on current affairs, but so what? I can't say it actually enriched my life at all.

But do you know what the worst of it was? When I realised the loss of Twitter felt like losing a limb, I didn't have anyway to share this shallow, vapid piece of information. So I leave you with a beautiful, if somewhat blurry, picture of the Yorkshire Dales, an inspiring verse I read today, and the reminder that only one thing is forever: God.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away."
Revelations 21:4

Sunday, 3 February 2013

3rd February 2013

Well, I've come to a reasonably satisfactory conclusion to my job conundrum. I'm going to keep at my current job until late April, and then take 2 months off from everything for exam season. After that, there'll still be a job for me with the old people if I want it, or a job in Spain if I can get that. But I have to say, sometimes this whole 'being a grownup' thing sucks. Because really I just want to go and do the more fun job and not worry about hours and pay and holidays and exams. But this seems like a reasonable solution, right?

Also! This year my da's birthday falls right next to mothers' day. I've taken the two days off work, and we're all going to center parcs! For non-UK readers, this is like a holiday park, but so much better! There's a massive swimming complex with slides and rapids and rides; every type of stupid outdoor activity you can imagine, and I love; and a variety of boring indoor artsy type activities I hear other people enjoy. Me and my friends wanted to do center parks as our end of exams/school/all-going-to-different-unis holiday, but they wanted two over 21s in our group. Anyway, I still get to go, so I'm very happy!

But it does present an issue I've given a little thought to before, but not yet had to deal with. I don't get a chance to go swimming very often, and when I do I'm normally in a swimsuit or bikini, depending on how much actual swimming's going to be involved - seriously, if diving/rides/front crawl are involved, a bikini is not the way to go unless its actually glued on. So I need an outfit that's a bit more modest. Because let's face it, most swimwear covers the same surface area as underwear. And I would not wear my underwear into a busy swimming pool (apart from the time I forgot my PE kit, but that's a whole other story...)

I've never actually seen anyone in any kind of modest swimwear in real life, apart from the occasional Irish kid who's been made to wear a t shirt to keep the sun off. On the Duggars' TV show I have seen the older girls wearing those modest swimdress things. They look pretty before they get in the water, but once in the pool they just look like they have the potential to cause a drowning! And just in case you missed this, I tend to be quite athletic! I want to swim, and do dangerous stuff on the flumes, and try the new ride, which promises me a 650ft drop, with 7000 gallons of water at 24mph! And one of those pretty swim dresses just ain't gonna be practical for that. I'm thinking for the balance of activeness with the levels of coverage I would wear on the street, a pair of guys swim shorts with a rash vest is going to be the way forward. But I would love opinions! I have a pair of plain blue, knee-length swim shorts, and I thought I'd try and find a vest something like this:

I'll probably wear a full bikini underneath anyway, just so I'm really fully covered on the more fast moving rides. And I don't think dressing like this would stand out too much. Because I'm all for modesty, but going for something like a burkhini, or a full length swim dress would attract so much attention there's no way it could be considered modest anyway! I know my measure of modesty is very different from that I read about on some of the blogs I follow - but if everyone's staring at me, I feel like I've chosen to dress in an immodest way anyway. And I would feel comfortable wearing knee shorts and a t-shirt to college or whatever. Its also worth noting my da'll be in shorts and my mam and sister in standard swimwear of swimsuits/bikinis, so its not like I'll be fitting in with the group...But what do you think?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

30th January 2013

So I got offered a job today. I've volunteered at this old people's home for about 18 months now, but I haven't been able to go in for a while after some bus timetable issues (*not happy face*). Anyway, when I went in today, I found there was a new manager, and it was all a bit awkward as I'd wandered in like I'd known the place for years (which I have!) and found her there! But it was all ironed over, and I had a lovely time there. I always love working there, which is why thus far I've done so for free! As I was leaving, a senior staff member called me back and asked me how old I am. 18, I said. She took me back to talk to the new manager who asked me if I have a part time job on the side of my A levels.

I do, as it happens; I work in a library. The hours are non negotiable, 4 hours every Saturday morning, but the pay is good - £2 over minimum wage. The manager told me to think it over, and call her to arrange an interview, because there was a job for me there if I wanted it. She was happy for me to work around college - all 6 or 12 hour shifts on Saturdays or Sundays. Both her and the senior staff member were really very nice about me, and my work there (although I'm really trying not to let flattery influence my decisions!)

So I'm stuck. Do I quit my reliable, better paid job that I don't enjoy? The work is boring, if there even is any, the other staff are civil but downright strange, and I would have only kept the job for a few more months anyway. My original plan was to work at the library until May, and then hand in my notice to start studying for exams - and then move to Spain and work there over the summer!

But what if I hand in my notice there now and take this job? I don't know for certain, but I don't expect anything other than minimum wage. Picking and choosing on the shifts could be convenient come exam time, but I don't expect that to be a one-way street - I'm sure I'll have to pick up shifts I don't want to. This job is also more convenient to get to, as I can cycle there. But 12 hour Sunday shifts sound exhausting. I love this job though. Sure its demanding, but its also so, so rewarding! The other full time staff do gripe a bit, but that was under the old management. I don't really know the new manager yet. And is it worth starting a new job for a few months? I'd have a 3 week notice period to work at the library, so I wouldn't be able to start until March. And if I was still to go to Spain, I'd leave in June. Theoretically I could ditch the Spain idea and work full time at the old people's home over the summer. But do I want to lose out on my 10 weeks as an au pair in the sun?

I honestly have no clue. Really I need to call this lady back and give her an answer. My mam was all for me taking this job, but she always hated my library job because (and I didn't know this when I applied) she'd applied for several jobs with the same organisation and always been rejected. On a 6 hour shift, assuming minimum wage, I'd make a teeny bit more than I currently do on a 4 hour shift. And there's potential for 12 hour shifts.

Really, I think I'm scared of the unknown, and this is why people never leave the library. Its easy money, and the atmosphere is pretty lazy. I'm set up there indefinitely, literally - my contract termination date is in the 2060s. Taking this new job could leave me with a smaller income doing more hours, and quite frankly having to work for my keep! But I love it. I really don't know. Would someone like to make the decision for me?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

26th January 2013

You may notice things looking a little different round here. I'd been planning on playing around with the formatting for a while, but its one of those things that can seem a bit like effort! So what do you think? I reckon my header needs some kind of slogan, but I have no idea how to summarise the mess that is my blog in a pithy and concise way. Suggestions?

So what shall I do with my blog this year anyway? I keep meaning to do some posts about cooking and sewing and such nots that I'm pleased with. That's pending. Honestly. And I might give this whole religious discussion thang another go. As my slightly rambling post on balancing science and religion didn't cause anyone to shout at me. And I'll doubtless keep rambling about my love-hate relationship with my college workload and medicine application. And since you asked, I got my first rejection. But I feel surprisingly positive about that! Obviously, Bristol was not the city the Lord wanted me to study in for 5 years. I've never actually been there, and now it looks like I never may! Ah well.

Also, I have so much I want to do in life! I want to learn languages! My Spanish is pretty good, my French is appalling ( pomme, por favor?), I have a GCSE in Latin (I'm sure one day it'll be useful...?) and my Chinese could be worse. Oh, apart from the time I got 'gou' (狗) and 'guo' (苹果) mixed up and cheerfully announced that I like juicy dog! I think the teacher just thought I was trying to say chow mein. So I would like to improve my Chinese!

But once I start thinking of languages I would like to learn the list starts getting crazy. It always starts something like this...'Well, I understand the basics of the latin romantic language, so getting my French good should be easy. And Italian and Portuguese are pretty much Spanish, so those too. And I'd really like to get my Chinese conversation good, instead of just repeating set phrases.' And then it gets a bit crazier...'And 1/4 of the world's population speak Chinese, so that'll always be useful. Actually, speaking some Hindi could have helped me out a few times. Or some Japanese. And hey, if I learn Russian I'd pretty much have got the structure of all the Slavic languages down. And French'll probably be good to speak to loads of African countries, but I hear Swahili isn't too hard'. Swahili always leads to this...'but if I'm going to quirky languages I'd love to learn Te Rei. And Tengua. Ooh, and Gaelic! And maybe some of the regional Spanish dialects! They're bound to come in handy!'. Its usually at this point I remember I'm trying to make it through *science* A levels, and my Spanish A level is meant to be a nice aside.

Which brings me onto exams. Ick. Let's move on, and discuss them again after the resits in June, eh?

Ooh, what else? Um. Oh, hey to my Italian reader! Come stai? Ti piace mio blog? Also, serious question: I love recipe surfing online, but don't understand why everyone in America seems to use packet cake mix? Why don't you guys make cake from scratch?