What I’m Up To These Days….

I’ve been in England for two weeks now. Lectures began last Monday.

This is my final year, and I’m determined to make the most of it – which means I’ll try to find the time to visit galleries and museums in London, read all sorts of books, and concentrate more on my studies.

Anyway, my room is such a mess that taking this little picture was not even easy. A Manual for Cleaning Women aside, the books arrived on Friday. I hope – I will try my best – to read all of them before the year ends. I initially wanted to read the Booker Prize nominees first, but I lost my debit card and couldn’t order anything for 1 week! So it would’ve been virtually impossible to read them in 3 weeks or so with my lectures.

books

Here is why I bought these books:

A Manual for Cleaning Women: I bought the book in Waterstones during the Fresher’s Week because I didn’t have anything to read in my room. I’m halfway through it, but I’ll read it sporadically now that I’ve received my other books – the reason being that reading nearly 400 pages of short stories can get very tiresome. I like it though.

This Is How You Lose Her: I had already added the books I wanted to read to my Amazon basket even before I actually obtained my debit card back. However, when checking out I noticed that two collections of short stories present in the cart were by Irish authors. So I kept one (Young Skins by Colin Barrett), saved the other (Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry) and added Junot Diaz’s short stories, because he writes from a different background and I was very impatient to discover his writing. I’m currently reading and loving it!

The Vegetarian: The Man Booker International Prize 2016. At first I didn’t want to read it that bad. But I read how the translator, Deborah Smith, learned Korean shortly after finishing university at 21 and how she ended up translating The Vegetarian. I can completely relate to her feeling that she needed to do something different, that will make her stand out, after graduating. I can’t wait to read this book!

The Glorious Heresies: Ah, another Irish author. I somehow forgot this book but I saw some people around here who were reading it. It won the Bailey’s Award despite not even featuring in the Booker longlist, so I have a feeling it might be a book that divides opinion. But,anyway, I am very much looking forward to reading it. (I wanted the other cover, but that one was cheaper.)

The Art of the Short Story: I’m loving reading short stories at the moment so I was very interested when I saw this book on goodreads. Paris Review is synonymous with quality and its selection of short stories (twenty in total) looks very promising. I like how each of them is given an introduction, so that we can witness the art of ”shortstorytelling” in different settings and styles.

The Sympathizer: This book won so many awards, among which is the Pulitzer. I added it to my tbr list because I wanted to read more books by Asians or authors of Asian descent. What made me want to actually read it now is simply the fact that it is one of the best books of 2016. In 2017 I’ll have my eyes set on different books and might end up forgetting it. So now is the right time, I think, to read it.

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A Look Back at 2014(Part 2): Uni Life,Blogging and Bloggers

Uni Life:

I couldn’t make it to any American university,despite spending the last days of 2013 writing my applications.I didn’t have the extra curricular activities required.Or put it simply,I just wasn’t good enough.I’m not one of the top minds of my generation; I’m just average,or below maybe.

So I ended up in the University of Kent.Well,yeah,I had quite some choices,but I (or my parents) opted for Kent because of the year in industry inclusive in my course.Gutted as I was at not being granted a seat in a top American university,being offered a seat in a British university meant little to me.I went there with little expectations.

But I was proved wrong.The university campus is pretty big and I’m just in love with Canterbury’s landscape.I like the politeness of the people and the value for money you get for mostly everything.I couldn’t stop ordering things there,and the receptionists at my accommodation don’t even require me to produce my identity card as they already know my name by heart.It’s always something like: ”Oh it’s you!”, ”It’s parcel time!” or ”What do you order???” At first I said ‘books’. ”For study?”,’Yeah.”  – I sounded like an angel.

I took some time before settling in at university.For two months,I spent my week-ends at the shopping centre and slept at 2 in the morning.I did my homework on the day before the deadline and woke up only to go to lectures.Worst of all,I didn’t have time to read.Well,my life was a mess.

Things are a lot better now.I sleep at 11,wake up early (at 9:30),contact my lecturers when need be and stay on campus during the week-ends so as to revise and work on my assignments.I also have time to read.Next year,I plan to participate in volunteering activities more and I hope I’ll come up with something great for the forthcoming Enterprise Challenge; I have to make a remarkable pitch interview.

I also witness or experience some funny or peculiar moments on campus,and I wish to share them with you.That’s why I’m thinking of creating a personal blog which will follow my life in university! I hope you’ll like it. 🙂
Blogging:
I didn’t blog as much as I wished this year.I was a bit depressed during the first weeks of my university life.Then I was overwhelmed with work and was too exhausted during my free time to write something interesting enough to catch your attention.But I’m happy with my posts.My reviews are how I want them to be; compared with my reviews of earlier days,they are pretty well written,I think.

Also I wrote some interesting posts,like the one with the epitaphs or the one about the Nobel Prize.By interesting,I mean I learned a lot while writing them.I hope you did too when reading them.In 2015,I want to write way more posts though.

Bloggers:
It was fun taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday.I met some great bloggers whose opinions on books I want or apprehend to read were very helpful.I’m glad as well that I was able to keep in touch with bloggers I met in late 2014.Their opinions on my posts are very precious to me,as they themselves read a lot and are highly knowledgeable.I regard them as my friends.Also I occasionally look for new bloggers on wordpress.People fond of reading classics or award-winning books are pretty rare,so I’m always delighted whenever I stumble upon one.

Despite all these positive points,I regret being rash.I try my best to avoid having regrets,but I end up acting the wrong way…sometimes.No one but a once-close blogger of mine will understand this – well,I hope.

 

 

Want to know how life is on campus?

I’ll try to post as per my usual pace from now on.It has been a long week,perhaps the longest and hardest in my life,but for the sake of my dreams,I cannot let these obstacles I’ve come across get over me.If need be,I’ll seek help.

During the week-end before I reached university I was really dazzled by London.I had been there before when I was a kid and obviously forgot mostly everything I saw,so it was like a wholly new experience to visit such a lovely and busy capital again.An altercation between a member of the EDL – which was holding a demonstration before the Prime Minister’s Office – and a civilian was perhaps the only smudge on my memories of my days there.

My Dad accompanied me to the university for the first week – well,he stayed in a ‘lodge’ at Canterbury.He wanted some vacations and also wished to show me the procedures that one goes through when boarding a plane.I quickly caught a cold as the weather in England,although it is not winter yet,is a far cry from that in Mauritius.Also as said in my previous post,it was hard to get some good reading on the first days as the guys were partying till late in the night.

On my first night at university,I was invited to a drinking game.Once I understood the rules of that game,which was hard to do,I saw it as very ridiculous.If you know that game,then yes,the pigs were drunk and drinking some bizarre mixture (including chilly and Pringles) literally like dogs – there is a rule which states that you should drink only with your mouth and without your hands.Also the kitchen was teeming with people from other parts of the campus.I don’t drink and am far from being a party animal,so I had a hard time there.Besides nobody was getting my name right.

On the second day,there was another party,but (luckily) I was not invited.They probably understood that I was not of their kind.At three o’clock in the morning however,I was awakened by a terrible ringing noise which was none other emitted by the fire alarm.Security guards started banging on our doors and everybody from the block had to gather outside in the cold immediately.The guards took a while to find the cause of the incident,so we shivered in our pyjamas,waiting.It turned out that a stupid girl had left her hairdryer switched on in the kitchen! (Can you believe this?)

Day Four.A Bangladeshi joined our corridor.Others apparently told him how I was,as he came knocking at my door and told me to come in the kitchen more often.That day was pretty cool as I received my second-hand Folio books in fine condition! I went to the kitchen in an attempt to chat with my neighbours and was disappointed to see one of them already drunk.I finally got to see all my neighbours together and was quiet surprised to see that all of them,minus the Bangladeshi who was absent,are British – one is Welsh.They asked me some questions and were shocked when I told them I had no girlfriend,as I have other priorities.When I stated that if a girl in my country sleeps around before being 18,people will inevitably call her names.This further baffled them and one even asked if there were ‘arranged marriages’ where I live! I also started chatting with a rather cool guy who was much interested in Mauritius and the culture.And yes,they were all very unimpressed when I said I read a lot.

Day Five.I came to the kitchen at night and was told that the Bangladeshi’s food was partly eaten and then dumped by someone presumably from outside.I was annoyed because parties were not supposed to be held in that kitchen – which only the 8 of us could access – but surprisingly the new guy didn’t mind much.At the moment I’m typing,he is probably drunk and shouting how much he loves UK somewhere on the campus; yeah,he too is a party animal.

Day Six.They again made noise at night.I was disgusted by their disrespect shown to those who were in their rooms (apparently me alone).They set up a Ping Pong table on the corridor and the balls were irritatingly knocking at my walls.The rule of this game is that you drink a tall beer every time you lose….

Day Seven.At night,all the idiots went to a ball and returned at three or four in the morning.They were drunk as hell and I heard people having to carry their friends – they could not walk properly and bumped on the doors.The girls were also crazy and a heavy footed one was running and screaming,”I want you to fuck me in the vagina.” My sleep came to an abrupt end and my right eye is still hurting as a result.

Day Eight.Today.They are all seemingly tired and none is going out tonight.I was in the kitchen today to socialize,but they barely spoke to me.I tried to start some silly conversations with them,but as I’m not good at that,it was to no avail.I was particularly annoyed when a girl who was packing her ”Chilli Con Carne” told me that the food was for her boyfriend who was coming (again) on Wednesday and maybe another time I would taste it. ”Not this one though”,she said,thinking I was eyeing her food.

All in all,I’m disgusted I have locals as neighbors.They are truly despicable and ill-mannered,which I didn’t expect,as the British people outside are disciplined and lovely.These kids take education for granted as they benefit from unearned allowances which make them easily go to a university – they are living the dream of many people around the world.I was quite disheartened to see that they picked a course randomly just to have some years without their parents.But what shocked me most was their ill-manners.Licking a strainer after using it, belching like a pig and laughing afterwards,drinking directly from the bottle of Pepsi and then putting it back after on the table,are some of the many things which irritated me.Whatever happened to UK’s youth I wonder.They have no ambition and seem more interested in partying like crazy and acting married with their boyfriends…. (I better not start with the boys)

I guess I will forever be grateful to my parents for spending their money on a meal plan that ensures that I will have lunch and dinner from the university’s countless shops.Oh,I know I must have offended some British people,but the youth is as it is,and I won’t say otherwise.Mothers and mothers-to-be,please see that you inculcate the proper manners to your kids,for one day their actions will coincide with others’ lives; show your kids some respect and self-respect,some manners,and some table etiquettes.

I never thought that my principles in my life – that of not drinking,smoking,or partying like a pig – would one day alienate me from others.But oh well,Nieztsche,who died more than a century ago,once said:

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

On the prospect of being rejected by universities

On the 27th of March,that is,in a little more than 1 week,I will receive the decision letters of the 5 Ivies to which I applied.I am feeling a bit apprehensive lest I will again be rejected.Yes,again.Last week I was rejected by one big university.

To be honest,I am not at all confident in my chances of getting accepted by any of these five universities.I have just gone on collegeconfidential to check the stats of those who got accepted in December (Early Decision) and …. the least I can say is that I am very far from what these universities demand.It is pretty simple to understand the logic behind acceptance: to get a seat you need either solid extras with decent scores or solid scores with decent extras.Obviously you get accepted hands-down if you’re excellent in both areas.

In my case,I have neither solid extras nor solid scores.Instead of being chief editor for a magazine,I run a blog about classics; instead of volunteering in hospitals, I have been experimenting with my camera bought some months ago; instead of debating as a chairman/delegate of the Modern United Nations,I was creating digital works on deviantArt.Even though I showed them who I really am,I realize that my extracurricular activities will be of no importance to these universities.

As for the scores,I got 2000 in the SAT.At first I considered this score decent,but I soon changed my opinion when I looked at the scores of the early applicants.The lowest score was 2150 and the highest was 2360.According to them,a low score ranges between 2100 and 2200.At that moment I understood that my 2000 is abysmal.Sure,I should have felt hopeful when I saw some people with 2340 being rejected and others with 2200 being accepted,but the fact still is that my SAT score falls way beyond the lowest score accepted.The same could be said about my HSC results,an alternative to the ACT and GPA scores.

Though at the time of my application I didn’t know that my chances of getting in any of these Ivies grazed impossibility,I was aware that I had to resort to great measures in order to convince the admission officers to give me a seat.I told them about my distinctions in maths,my love and fascination for statistics,my desire to learn more and to apply my knowledge of stats in the world of economics,and even my admiration of those MIT students who ‘invented’ a formula to beat the game of Blackjack.I also told them about this blog,my passion for art,my intent to meet other people and learn from them and how I think I can contribute to the university.

But in all likelihood,in one week’s time,I will be rejected by all 5 of them.I will not however be disappointed with the universities’ decisions.I was sincere in everything I told them and I did everything to push for a seat,be it in the SAT,the HSC exams or application essays.I knew also beforehand that I wasn’t applying with the greatest of chances.On the other hand,I will be worried if ever I do not get accepted by these 5 universities.I am 100% true to myself and only engage in things I am passionate about.As a matter of fact,throughout my life I have always made sure that I develop a personality of my own and to that end I read much about the lives of Guevara,Kerouac and Einstein.I will never forget the well-known quote from the father of relativity:

Education is not the learning of facts,but the training of the mind to think.

This is what I have strived to do all my life; apply what I learned at school and in books to any trivial experiences of mine.But it is a shame that even with this mindset,I am down the pecking order of students who are likely to get accepted,in the light of the universities’ demands.Even if you think out of the box,are really passionate and have a unique personality,you do not have your place in the elite.I don’t mind so much about not going to an elite university as the lack of opportunities to learn from great students and astounding lecturers and the absence of an environment that encourages creativity and excellence – these are essential for achieving great things.Well I guess I will have to do things on my own…

Do big universities really want you to be who you are or rather who they want you to be? I have a hunch that it is the latter.While other applicants might think faster than I do and even be more intelligent that I am, I am persuaded that I know many things which they don’t.I do not feel inferior to them and am very satisfied with the individual I turned to be.For that reason alone,I am happy and even the rejection letters will not be able to change that.Besides I often think that even Einstein wouldn’t have been accepted in any of these Ivies: he was a passionate but slow thinker, and had poor and ‘hopeless’ results,but ultimately showed the world that one’s worth should not be assessed on the basis of one’s results; one’s worth lies in his passion and desire to go to the end of things,regardless of the number of times he has encountered failure.

Taken from Google Image.