Year One Officially Over

Hey guys!

I finished my finals about 10 days ago but I just got my grades yesterday (B, A-, A-, A-, pretty good!). I’ve spent the last twoish weeks relaxing and catching up with video games and anime, but it’s pretty much time for me to kick myself back into gear and start working again…

But before I do that, I wanted to recap a bit on the year and what’s been going on.

So I’ve been going to UBCO to study creative writing. Had to take a second language, chose Japanese, am having fun but am also struggling to hell with it (guess which grade was Japanese, hah). I’ve been excelling with the creative writing side of things though, which I’m happy with.

A quick mention of all my classes. I’ve taken three Creative Writing classes (intro to fiction and drama, intro to poetry and creative non-fic, and second year writing popular fiction with an emphasis on writing young adult), an introduction to Anthropology, an English focused on narrative and writing essays, and two first-year Japanese.

I’m only briefly going to mention my endeavours with Anthropology here– I planned on writing a whole post about that but haven’t gotten around to it yet, so maybe if that’s something your interested in hearing about, keep and eye open for that. That said, a bit on anthropology… I decided to take it this last semester and probably will take more classes in the future, not really because I have a distinct interest in anthropology, but because culture is something I really want to ingrain into my novels because it’s important for character and worldbuilding. Plus theorycrafting¬†and all that stuff is lots of fun.

I’ve probably mentioned it before but I really dislike English courses. Unfortunately, they are a heavy requirement for my major, so I’m kind of stuck with taking them. I don’t mind the reading or the discussions, but the essays are brutal. Honestly the writing itself I can handle, research is a bitch but I can do that too, I just really really hate the stupid citation styles that are used. They’re different for literally every class (and reasonably so, but still) and I hate it. Takes whatever bit of joy I have for writing essays and throws it right out the damn window. Ah, well… I’ll probably get used to it.

That said about essays, I was considering taking a minor in history but seeing as that’s my boyfriend’s major and all he does is write essays for those courses, I’m not so sure that’s what I want to do anymore. But my first history course isn’t until this summer, so we’ll see how I fare with that before I jump in either direction. Anyway, with that, I wandered off a little from what I was talking about.

Creative Writing was straight forward; Wrote some baller short stories my first semester (one that I’m going to try and get published this summer), started learning how to write poetry (still got a lot to learn but I’ve improved– I even did a reading in front of the class! I’ll talk about that sometime), tried and failed to write creative non-fiction (it’s fun just not my thing, I enjoy making shit up too much), and made some excellent progress on one of my novel works in progress, Desolace. I’m going to make some more detailed posts for these things individually later, I think, because there’s a lot I want to talk about in regards to that.

Then there’s Japanese. What a bitch. I really love the language, it’s just super hard. I’ve fallen off a bit with my practising and studying since the end of the semester, but I think I needed a break after all the effort I’ve put into it over the last eight months. I intend to continue studying Japanese over the summer and next year so I can still use it as my language credit for my degree, but I’ll talk about my plans in more detail later on since I’ve put a lot of thought into that and I’d love to share a bit.

AND, with all of that, I’ve earned 21 credits, which is 6 short of completing a full first year. I’m not too upset about that because I only took three classes for my first semester, as I was worried about becoming overwhelmed and doing really bad. But because three classes went well first semester I went up to four in the second semester, which also went well and gave me enough free time to not burn out on school. So next year I’ll likely end up taking four classes each semester. That’ll still leave me three credits short of advancing another year, but there are a couple classes I want to take that are offered over the summer, so at least for this year and next year I’ll be set to advance to second and third years with no problem (fourth year is a big fat unknown until I get to that point).

So yeah, summer classes. Those start on May 15th and I’m taking some less academic stuff that’ll keep me busy and still work toward my degree. I really don’t want to work full-time over the summer, so this gives me a perfect opportunity to do half and half. ūüôā But with three classes this summer and at least one next summer, I should be set to advance to second-year by the end of summer, and third-year by the end of next summer, assuming I stick to my plans and take a total of eight classes next winter and fall semesters.

Anyway, I think this turned into a big ramble, but it’s one am and I just felt like writing something. Will be posting regularly again!

~Erynn

 

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Wahoo!

Yesterday was my last day of classes for the second semester. I suppose the year isn’t officially over since there are still exams, but without classes left, I feel like it’s close enough to the end to start celebrating.

It feels pretty good to have made it through the whole year. I mean yeah, I’m still taking summer classes, but that’s a little different. I was expecting to make it to the end and absolutely dread the coming year, but it didn’t end up like that at all.

Okay, so kind of a funny story. Last summer when I was deciding what classes I was going to take this year, there was this creative writing class (the second year one I took this semester) that I really wanted to take. The pre-requisite on it was two completed English courses, though, and since I really don’t like English, I was most definitely¬†not going to take two in my first ever semester.

I ended up emailing the prof, she’s pretty great and said I could register without the credits, I just needed to sign a prereq waiver. After that, it was all said and done and I didn’t think about it again until a couple of weeks ago¬†when I started thinking about what classes I want to take next year. Cue absolute panic.

Let’s take a few steps back for a moment. I wanted to take my second English class over the summer, but no first-year classes were being offered. I was kind of upset about this at first, but in the end, I decided it was fine and that I could just take the second English in the first semester of my second year. But the reason I was trying to take the second English over the summer was because I assumed that I needed two in order to take any second-year Creative Writing classes, and I’ve taken all of the first-year ones already. So because I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to take any Creative Writing classes in my first semester next year, I was really, really upset.

But of course, I’m just a fucking idiot. After about a week of worrying, there was one night that I couldn’t go to sleep because I was super stressed about this. I ended up logging into the university website and browsing the course catalogue, which is where I discovered my idiocy. Only¬†some classes had two English courses as prereqs, there were many with one or none. And the two that I would want to take next year only required the completion of the corresponding poetry or fiction first-year class, both of which I’ve completed. So all that panic for nothing.

Now, I’m¬†really looking forward to next year. I can’t wait to get into some intermediate workshops and work on some new short stories or continue with my novel. I suspect that with this to look forward to, the summer will be long, but enjoyable. I’ll get into more detail about that in another post, but for now, let’s just say I’ve got a couple writing goals in mind for over the next couple of months.

~Erynn

A Japanese Journal

I’ve been considering for a while getting a journal for me to write exclusively in Japanese since I want to get into using the language regularly and improving upon my use of grammar, kanji, etc. When I first had this idea, I was pretty sure I had an extra notebook laying around and went to go look for it, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find it. So, for the last couple weeks, I’ve been thinking about buying a nice cute one that’s actually Japanese and uses Japanese inside the notebook.

What I ended up getting was a Hobonichi Techo, a planner, not a notebook, but one that has note pages. Since I was considering getting a handwritten planner anyway, I figured this would be a really good in-between and guarantee that I’ll actually use it. I’ll post pictures of the one I got on Instagram once it arrives– it should be here in the next couple of days. ūüôā

~Erynn

Summer Classes

So I guess it’s official that I’m taking summer classes.

I decided a couple of months ago that it makes more sense for me to go to school for as much of the year as possible. As much as I love writing, when I’m writing for work I’m more focused on writing for other people than for myself, even if I¬†do make time for my own writing. But so far this year with school, even through all my classes and assignments and other bullshit, I’ve made quite a bit of progress without any additional stress. That’s actually because in one of my creative writing classes I haven’t really had to write anything new, but rather I’ve been able to work on Desolace and flesh out scenes I’ve already got in my head. I’m not sure how much¬†more of that I’ll be able to do, but I think that as I get into the higher level creative writing classes, things will become more focused like this, rather than super generalised like both of the first-year creative writing classes I’ve taken. Fingers crossed!

But on top of that, school, overall, has kept me productive and active. I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff– writing (personal and for school), drawing (personal and for school), I’ve been actively studying Japanese¬†— rather than playing lots of videogames. You know, I would like to have time to play games every now and then when I want to, but right now¬†about 80% of my time is devoted to school related activities– mostly because Japanese is a pain in the ass.

The summer, though, will be pretty light on class time, so I’ll be able to get lots of writing done on the side and (if I want to) even some work. I’ll probably make time for both. I’m planning on taking a history and two arts classes– one drawing, the other digital media. I’m not really sure what the second one entails, but it’s required for my degree, so I figured it would be good to get that out of the way over the summer. The history I’ll be in is about the ancient world, like Egypt and Rome and a couple other places. Pretty generalised, but I’m still looking forward to it, nonetheless.

~Erynn

My Progress in Japanese so Far

I’ve been studying Japanese for about five months now so I thought I’d give a little update on my progress. The first few months were really easy, as everything I learned was very basic and pretty much just an introduction to the language. However, things have started getting a little difficult, and unfortunately, my dyslexia has¬†not been helpful with trying to remember all the little grammar rules and such.

I know about 150 kanji now, and while I don’t think I’ve really mastered any of those just yet, I know most of them well enough to write them, read them, and know what they mean all from memory. I’m pretty pleased with that achievement even when 150 is hardly a fraction of the 2200~ or so kanji that need to be mastered in order to be fluent in Japanese (at least for reading and writing). I think my reading and writing is still really strong, even if I’m struggling with some aspects of the grammar¬†because my kanji vocab is currently a little larger than it needs to be for my current progress through my Japanese university courses.

While I’m struggling a little bit with the speaking and listening aspects still, this is mostly because of my issues with mastering the grammar rules that we’ve been learning in class. I’m not sure that there’s really an equivalent to it in English, but in Japanese, generally speaking, the longer the tenses and conjugations of the words your speaking or writing, the politer you are being. Polite (long form) Japanese is what we’ve been learning first¬†because if you use anything else, you run the risk of offending someone, which you don’t really want to do. Some words in this form end up being a bit of a mouthful… such as “yoroshikuonegaishimasu” which is more or less said in one breath. But despite the tenses being long, they’re pretty easy to remember and use, so it generally ended up not being a problem.

The issue, for me, has come with the casual form, which we’ve started learning over the last three or so weeks. This new form ends up cutting a lot from words and phrases that I’ve previously learned, which ends up making them shorter and therefore less polite. You’d think that would make it easier to remember– and I thought so too at first– but it’s ended up being really tricky because you need to combine a bunch of things together to get different forms of the casual tense (such as negative and past, etc).

This can be really tricky because 90% of the verbs we’ve learned conjugate different from one another, so that’s another eight forms of each verb that we need to know, or at least remember the rules for, in order to talk or write in this new form. That’s without mentioning that in Japanese, adjectives are also conjugated, so eight different forms for the two different adjective types need to be remembered as well.

Ugh.

Overall I think I’m doing alright, but I’ve been a little stressed about it and I don’t remember things as well when I’m stressed, so that’s made it a little harder. But I’m slowly figuring it out, and I’m working on it every day, so I’m sure it’ll work out. ūüôā

~Erynn

The Different Writing Genres

So I mentioned in my last post that there are several types of writing genres (outside of fiction genres, ¬†such as fantasy and the like) and that I’m currently working on deciding what else I want to write besides fiction.

I’m going to detail what the other genres are and what they do, and maybe laying everything out will help me make a decision. And, maybe even you’ll learn something.

So let’s see. There’s fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, drama/ playwriting, poetry, music/ lyric writing, and comic/ graphic novel writing. I’m sure there are others, but those are the one ones I care about right now so we’ll pretend the rest doesn’t exist.

Fiction is pretty straight forward. Made up shit in a variety of sub-genres, there’s pretty much nothing you can’t do because no one cares about the rules of this genre and they’re broken all the time.

Non-fiction I suppose is factual shit. No bullshitting allowed. This is pretty important to the genre, but otherwise there’s a lot that can be written about. Memoirs, essays, articles, etc on whatever topic, as long as it’s true. Creative non-fiction and non-fiction are really closely aligned, the creative option just isn’t so bland and can take some pretty interesting forms, as I have learned recently.

Screenwriting is writing a script for a movie, short film, TV series, or whatever kind of video you could make. Screenwriting can be either fiction or non-fiction. ¬†I’ve never tried screenwriting before because I wasn’t ever really interested in it, but last semester I had to write a play script (a little different but still similar) for an assignment and I kind of piqued my interest. I’ll talk more about that further down.

Drama or playwriting is like screenwriting, but generally for a live performance, not something recorded. At least that’s my understanding of it. I don’t really care for this because I feel like you need to be good at choreography in order to be good at playwriting and that seems like a lot more work than I’m interested in.

Next there’s poetry. Usually cryptic, flowery language regarding a theme or topic and together everything represents a whole image or little story. There are many different types of poetry, and because of the common use of improper sentence structures a lot is left up to the interpretation of the reader. Poetry can be beautiful, visual, emotional, educational, or even all of the above. I really don’t give a shit about most poetry but lately I’ve come to appreciate it a little more, mostly through my attempts to write it.

Music and lyric writing is similar to poetry, but with a singsong spin. Generally songs have an overall theme and are written in a way where the vocal glow of the words is pretty important. Usually the writer had an idea of how the music will sound, or the lyrics and song are written at the same time and tweaked at the same time so they complement each other.

Graphic novel and comic writing is really similar to screenwriting because you rely on visuals to tell part of the story. Essentially what you are writing is a script because 90% of it is usually dialogue, that is, language spoken by your characters. The big difference between screenwriting and graphic novel writing (besides the fact that it’s a physical medium) is that there are opportunities to get inside your characters head, which are usually absent in screenwriting unless one of the characters is the narrator.

Alright, so now that I’ve kinda outlined the genres that I think matter, let’s narrow it down to the ones I’ve at least got some interest in. Those would be fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, poetry, and graphic novels. I’d love to be able to write music but I’m a little musically challenged so u don’t think it’s something I can manage right now.

Fiction is an obvious choice–I love making shit up, so this is something I’ll always be writing. No reason to stop, really. Creative non-fiction is a recent interest of mine, from one of the creative writing classes I’m currently taking I’ve learned that it can actually be quite enjoyable to take boring shit and make it interesting. So this is something I’d like to experiment with further.

Poetry and screenwriting are kind of in the same boat; I’ve learned just enough about them to want to pursue more knowledge on how to write them, and then maybe from there I’ll be able to figure out if any of them are something I want to write seriously.

Graphic novels are a little different, though. You don’t necessarily need to know how to draw to write them–lots of writers pair up with artists and work on these together–but I feel like knowing how gives you a lot more room to experiment and practice. So that’s what I’m doing right now (learning how to draw) so I can play around with this genre for a bit.

So deciding on another genre is still a work in progress, but no one said I only had to pick two. I’m going to stick with poetry for now and see what happens in the future as I get the chance to experiment with the others.

~Erynn

My Experience With Poetry

I never liked poetry. I always played it off as a dislike of flowery language (which is the truth, but avoiding the actual problem) and that it was too much work to decrypt that language into something that actually made sense. Because you know, in high school, we always read those stupid poems that didn’t make any sense unless you were a professional. And believe me, none of us were professionals.

It’s a¬†little different now. I’ve come to appreciate flowery language for what it is (even if I’m not too fond of writing it myself) and have begun to recognize that poetry does, in fact, have its uses in the world of prose, and when the time comes, I will utilize it for those purposes. However, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about¬†because I haven’t actually gotten to the point in my writing where I’ve felt the need to incorporate that into the text.

I intended to exclusively write fiction because that’s what I’m best at and have the most interest in writing. However, when I was registering for classes at the beginning of the year, I was looking at the creative writing degree requirements. According to UBCO’s website, in order to register as a Creative Writing major when the time comes, I need to have a portfolio that consists of at least two different writing genres. Genres being fiction, ¬†creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, etc.

Well shit, right?

That made me pretty grumpy. I wanted to learn how to write poetry, but I really didn’t want it to be forced on me. And since even now I’m still iffy on screenwriting/ drama and the like, that was pretty much my only option.

So for the time being, poetry is my alternate genre. I’m going to discuss the other options in a separate post later on¬†because there are some other routes I’m considering, they just aren’t really related to this so I don’t want to drive too far off the road. Anyway, the second semester has come around and started, and thus so has my first formal poetry writing class. You know, it actually isn’t so bad. A lot of the poetry we’ve read so far has been rather pleasant and not too difficult to understand (although maybe that’s because I’m not as lazy nor as stupid as I was in high school).

The most important thing so far, though, has been the discovery of the real reason why I’ve never liked poetry. Now that poetry is part of my weekly required readings, it’s become a part of my routine. And because I have a poetry assignment due sometime in the next couple of months, I’ve begun to try my hand at the writing part, as I know I’m no good at it and that I’ll probably need some time to get the hang of it before I’m comfortable submitting anything.and

My god is it hard. Coming up with something that makes sense, flows, and doesn’t sound absolutely corny as shit is next to impossible. I’ve gone through a dozen pages in my notebook trying to write two poems, and I’ve ended up with six parts of six different poems, and one completed piece. Just last night I started rounding out the second poem I was working on, but it took so much longer than I feel was necessary. Ugh. Still, the difficulty isn’t really what’s on my mind. Writing fiction isn’t easy, either, I’m just used to it now, so it’s more that it’s just a familiar kind of difficult, rather than it’s actually become easy for me.

The reason I don’t like poetry, I have realized, is because the flowery language often evokes¬†emotions I don’t want to think about or feel. I was a difficult teenager. I’m a difficult adult. More often than not, the only place I ever expressed what I felt was via the written word, usually in the form of a story that never saw the light of day. And while, when I was younger, I always thought that poetry was complete bullshit, I’m now discovering how easy it is to drop myself in the world of those shitty, cryptic words, and let all that bottled up emotion flow free.

The poems I’ve been writing are filled with angst and emotional torture and depression and it¬†sucks to read that and know that it’s the truth about what I feel. It’s not even just because it’s the truth, it’s also because most of that shit has been shoved so far down inside my pool of emotions that it’s almost painful to bring it all back up like this. I don’t want any obvious evidence of my emotional failings written up and shown to the world– at least with fiction, I can argue that world and those characters are just fucked up and that it has nothing to do with me– and yet the words just keep coming. And coming. And coming.

I feel like the first poem I wrote expresses the sadness that I’ve hidden. The second, though still a work in progress, the anger. The third, still in conception, the disappointment. Every time I write a new word down, even if it’s not something I think I’ll end up using, I feel like I’m getting closer to that happy place. There is a happy place in the world of poetry, right? Well if there isn’t, I’ll sure as hell be making one, ’cause the moment I’m done getting all these shitty feelings out I’m prepared to write a thousand sonnets of joy.

~Erynn

A Strange Memory

It was 3:26 PM and I was in one of my two creative writing classes, waiting for the professor to begin the lecture. I was on my phone, listening to music in one ear, listening and observing through the other. 

It was then,  for some reason, when I recall a strange memory back from the days where I actually attended highschool, so perhaps grade 9 or so, of when I was first actually discovering music that I liked– music that actually interested me up until that point had been a foreign concept. 

I listened to mostly J-pop and classical, although I eventually moved on to a playlist that consisted of Rise Against, Breaking Benjamin, and Celldweller. I’m now a little more sophisticated in my musical tastes now (and by sophisticated I mean that I don’t usually prefer one genre over another, I’ll really listen to anything that sounds appealing), back then that was my jam. There was a point where I listened to exclusively Owl City but I’m not sure where in the timeline that period of my life existed. 

Anyway, what I actually was thinking about when I started writing this, is that I was sitting in class listening to music and no one gave a shit. I remember in highschool several instances where I got shit from the vice principal for listening to music in the hallway, although this was a time before smartphones dominated the world.

There had to be a half a dozen times where my DS or phone was taken away from me because I wanted to listen to music. I wasn’t even a bad student at this point. I had good grades, attended pretty regularly, and was on good terms with most of the teachers. I only had detention once throughout the whole five years I was there. And still I got shit for listening to music. 

I dunno, I guess I gave up after a while and then eventually I just stopped going to school. I just wonder what it’s like now, does that still happen? Have most schools begun to accept technology? Have adults in a position of power over students finally allowed them to pursue their interests when it doesn’t affect them? 

I guess there wasn’t really any point to this point. Was just an unusual memory that sparked a question I felt like writing about. 

~Erynn

Learning Japanese

I never wanted to learn a second language.

Nothing against other languages or cultures or anything. I suppose it just stems from the terrible, mandatory French classes from middle/high school. More often than not the teachers were awful, and there was a new one each year. Never knew what to expect.

It’s more than that, though. I’m pretty dyslexic and one of the things I really, really suck at because of it is grammar. I’m mostly okay with English because it’s what I use every day and grammar check is a thing, but I still struggle with some of the basics, and that definitely carries over into learning a new language. It was the main reason French was hell for me, and it’s no different with Japanese.

So– why, Erynn, do you put yourself through such hell if you don’t even want to learn a second language?

The answer is simple: Because to get an Arts degree of any type, a second language is mandatory. Pretty shitty. I mean, for most people it’s probably not a big deal… They could just take French, and it’s no big deal because they probably learned something in high school and can bullshit their way through half the course, anyway.

I have a friend, who is probably an exception to anything regarding languages. She knows French, Spanish, English, and is currently taking Japanese with me. Oh and she’s a science student, which I’m pretty sure does not have a second language requirement. I kinda wish I could learn languages so frivolously, I think it would be fun to learn a dozen languages and travel the world and actually be able to communicate with people who don’t know a word of English.

Japanese ended up being my second language choice, surprisingly enough. See, because I’m going to school specifically for creative writing, I’m trying to make sure every moment I spend there benefits my writing in some way. Learning a second language has a LOT of potential to help my writing simply because the diversity of language I could use in the text. I actually really really wanted to learn Greek and Latin so I could pull some shenanigans with writing magical spells and such, but unfortunately it was not offered at UBCO, at least this year.

So Japanese it was. A good second choice, I feel, because Japanese is a beautiful, visual language with a relatively simple pronunciation system. That was one thing I really hated about French, too. Everything sounded fucking different, and I could never remember how to associate the various sounds with whatever combinations there were.

I started learning Japanese in the summer before classes started. Because of my previous interest in anime and manga and the like, I already had the pronunciation down, and even a few words under my belt. I started with learning hiragana and katakana, which are two of the three writing systems in Japanese, but they are more like a phonetic alphabet than anything else.

So those are stuff like…. „Ā≠„Āď (neko = cat) and „Ā®„āā„Ā†„Ā° (tomodachi = friend) for hiragana, and stuff like… „āĶ„É©„ÉÄ (sarada = salad) and „ā®„É™„É≥ (erin = Erynn) for katakana. Hiragana is used to spell words that are native to the Japanese, whereas katakana is used for foreign words, hence my example being my name.

In addition to taking the Japanese classes, I’ve been using two online self-teaching websites called TextFugu and WaniKani. Their focuses are much different from what I learn in class, but I find that they are excellent for reinforcing what I learn outside of those lessons. TextFugu seems to be more focused on grammar and vocabulary, so it’s somewhat similar to what I learn in class, which is a more generalized approach that gets all the basics down. WaniKani, though, focuses exclusively on kanji radicals, kanji, and kanji vocabulary, because it’s kanji that makes learning Japanese a bitch.

Kanji are Chinese characters that have more or less been assimilated into the Japanese language. So that makes kanji complicated because not only do they have Japanese readings, they have Chinese readings, both of which are used when speaking, writing, and reading Japanese. That means that a single kanji can have more than two readings, depending on the context, and considering there’s over 1000 basic kanji that need to be memorized for you to “know” the language, that’s a lot of shit you’ve gotta memorize.

I haven’t had too much trouble with kanji so far, but I know I’ve barely touched the subject. I’m careful about what kanji I learn outside of what I need to know for my classes because I don’t want to get in over my head with learning stuff I don’t need to know just yet. That runs a significant risk of me getting overwhelmed, which is a big no-no that I’d very much like to avoid– and have thus far.

I think my writing and reading are superb. Except for grammar, which I sometimes need to think about, but I’ve learned a couple tricks that help with memorizing what is used where. So there’s that.

My listening and speaking, however, need some work. I was doing well enough until November where the transit strike here in Kelowna stopped me from attending class as much as I would have liked, and that was where I was getting the much-needed speaking and listening practice. My listening is absolute trash. ¬†I get so caught up on listening to one part of the sentence that I forget the rest of what was said. That ends up with a confused Erynn since it’s usually the beginning of the sentence that I remember, and in Japanese, it’s the ending of a sentence that determines what a statement or question actually means.

Speaking isn’t so bad, I’ve got a large enough vocabulary to make basic sentences and ask questions and the like. Sometimes it takes me some time to think about what I want to say and what order all the words go in, but my pronunciation is generally top-notch. When I don’t know how to say something, though, all my Japanese gets thrown out the window and I think in English mode. This really sucks because I have a unique way of speaking and it doesn’t translate so well into Japanese while I have a very limited vocabulary. I’m working on it, though, so hopefully by the end of the school year, I’ll be able to work around what I want to say in English and find a way to say it in Japanese without resorting to using English instead.

So that’s that, I suppose. I’m really enjoying the learning curve that comes with Japanese, and I hope to stick it through to the end and eventually become fluent. I’ve got a couple reasons for that, but I’ll talk about that another day. ūüôā

Oh yeah, happy holidays everyone. Hope you have a pleasant break with your family and friends, or have had a good time on your lonesome if that’s your thing.

~Erynn

 

Year One: First Term (Part 2)

Hey again, so I wanted to start where I left off in my previous post. Last time I talked about what led up to me going to school, so this time I’ll talk about my goals for school and about what’s happened so far.

My goals for school, overall, are simple. My writing abilities are self-taught, and I believe there is very little left that I can learn without spending money. Ultimately, that means my priority is to learn new techniques that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to and to practice in a positive environment with other writers.

I have some minor goals that I’ve been working on as well. These go hand-in-hand with the events that have occurred throughout the last couple of months, so I’ll detail them as I go along.

I hate vehicles. It doesn’t matter what kind, they’re all metal death machines in my eyes. But unfortunately the only viable way for me to get between home and campus is via bus, and those happen to be the worst kind of metal death machines. Too many people, not enough space for me to breathe, and they’re never on time.

It took an hour or so of mental preparation every morning before I could handle the bus. For a while I couldn’t even get on unless I had a friend on the phone with me, because otherwise I was afraid of being overwhelmed. Fortunately, this only lasted a couple weeks, and I’m glad to say that I can now get on and off the bus on my own without fear.

Managing the bus, learning how to distribute my time between the homework for every class, and navigating between the buildings on campus were my main concerns during the first few weeks of school. However, it was during the second week where I started getting the idea to expand my horizons. Specifically, it was club day, a day where a variety of clubs had booths outside where they told the students what they did and if you wanted, you could join. There were dozens, but I only joined two– the games and medieval clubs– and I think that was probably a wise decision seeing how much time is eaten away by just those.

So, week two was when I’d heard of these clubs, but I don’t think it was until October where I started to attend meet-ups. This was because while I had an interest in the subject matter of these clubs, I didn’t really have a reason to go. I had one friend who I sometimes hung out with at lunch and after classes, but otherwise I was content to go home and study Japanese and play video games with my boyfriend. One Tuesday night after my creative writing class was over, my friend cancelled on the plans we’d made. I didn’t want to go straight home since I was feeling a little social (it doesn’t happen often!) and so I decided to make the best of it and go to games club for the first time.

It ended up going rather well. Most of the festivities were over as my class went several hours into the allotted game time, but there were two people I recognized from club day, and so I felt a bit at ease. I ended up playing exploding kittens for the second time ever (which is an awesome game, by the way) and then going home. The week after that, I went to the club without any reason other than to see who was there and play some games, but I ended up joining a dungeons and dragons group that would start that very Friday.

This is where my terrible shithole of a second goal was born.

I liked my dnd group and it inspired me to become more social in general. I wished to try and make friends within my dnd group first, but it didn’t really end up happening because dnd was the only time we spent a significant amount of time together and I felt uncomfortable trying to strike up a conversation with someone in the “real world” while we were supposed to be role playing. Maybe it’ll be a little easier next year, as our group is supposed to continue once classes start again.

Anyway, games club ended up opening the door to my desire to be social. I mean, it didn’t suddenly make me a social butterfly that wants to do everything with everyone, but it did make me realize that I would like to make some friends with similar interests that I could do stuff with. I worked on this until the end of October / the beginning of November, when the public transit here in Kelowna went on strike.

The transit strike had horrible timing. November is a shitty month for me because of some silly things that happened a couple years ago (I’d rather not go into detail, but I’m determined to get over it for next year because it’s getting ridiculous) and the strike forced me to stay home. I was hoping to use school as a distraction, but obviously, that’s not what happened since I couldn’t make it to class about 80% of the time. It was simply too expensive to get Alex to drive me there and back.

It was nice at first, kind of like an unexpected break from class that helped me recover from all the mental strain that had accumulated from being social. But it quickly turned into long periods of alone time, which left me to my thoughts and the stuff I wanted to avoid thinking about. Around mid-November, I fell into the depths of depression that lasted until a good week into December. Thankfully I had Alex and another understanding friend (that I’d made just before this happened) help me through it¬†because the end result could have been much worse than a change in medication and plans to try therapy again in the new year.

Let’s see… So the strike didn’t completely screw me over like it did a couple of people I know, but I missed some stuff that I wasn’t really able to make up for. I was looking at about 90% in Japanese, which I’m pretty sure dropped substantially because I missed out on a lot of oral practice that I had been previously using to nail grammar rules and vocabulary into my brain. It’s really unfortunate, but I’ve got plans for next semester that should keep me from falling behind on the speaking and listening portions of learning a new language, should something similar happen.

Alright, I’m going to backtrack because I’d like to talk a bit about my creative writing course. Before this, I’d exchanged writing with a couple groups online, but never done anything face-to-face. There were three writing projects due for this class– a short story of about 1000 words, a short story of about 300 words, and then a monologue or short play. There was an in-class workshop for each of these assignments.

I was pretty neutral about the people in the class before the first workshop. I had the impression that very few people had any idea what they were doing, but it was only a first-year course so that wasn’t a surprise and I was prepared to deal with it. So the first workshop finally came around in early October. The class was split into two groups of about 25 (which was still way too big) and we were asked to read and critique everyone’s stories before class, so during the workshop we could go through everyone’s stories and discuss them as a group one at a time.

There were a couple stories that were good and that I enjoyed, but overall I’d been correct when I assumed most people had no idea what they were doing. Or, at the very least, they were too lazy to make it look like they had a clue.

I like writing fucked up stories. I mean I don’t think what I write is that bad; I don’t make the writing graphic unless it’s necessary, and I don’t intentionally add adult themes just to make the story ‘edgier.’ But I don’t know, I guess my first story creeped a lot of people out and quite a few people seemed to avoid me after that. It was a little upsetting, but I made friends with the few people who did like my story, so I’d say it worked out. In fact, even with all the negative feedback about how the story was hard to read and stuff like that, I think it’s one of the best short stories I’ve ever written. I have plans to submit it to a few places to see if I can get it published–I’m going to work on that as soon as I’m done with my finals, the last being my English exam on the 19th.

I don’t think there’s much else to say, as I’m going to write a separate post to talk about learning Japanese.

I liked all of my classes and my professors were great. I suppose I struggled identifying with anyone in my English tutorial, which really sucked because there was a lot of group-based work. I was always paired with people who didn’t want to do anything so I usually ended up doing most of it. I made it through in the end, which is what really matters, I suppose.

I’m not sure if my experience with my first semester was typical or abnormal, but it’s mine. Regardless of what happened I’m happy with the results and intend to use the mistakes I made this time around to better next semester¬†and all the semesters after that.

Are there any first-years out there that would like to share their experiences in their first semester?

~Erynn