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

 

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

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

Year One: First Term (Part 1)

I probably mentioned at some point that this would be the year I went back to school. But¬†since it’s been so long I don’t see any harm in doing a bit of a recap on why I started so late, on my goals for school, and then I’ll get into my experiences so far this year.

I graduated high school in 2014. Long story short, it was a shit show that resulted in me questioning whether or not I would ever continue my education. I decided that I’d take at least one year off and see where things went and how I felt about going back to school when that time came around. When I made this decision, I’d already been working as a freelance writer for a couple months. I had enough success to be confident that I wouldn’t need to struggle with the anxiety of finding a ‘real job.’It was a struggle for a while, but by Feb 2015 I had pretty much everything figured out

It was a struggle for a while, but by Feb 2015 I had pretty much everything figured out. I had two great clients who I started working with in that January, and I’m still working with them now. I planned on working for another year and putting money away for school, but by the end of 2015 my writing slowed down, and in January 2016 I caved and decided that I’d apply to university and write part-time.

I believe that’s where I left off here on my blog.

Okay, so I’ll let you in on a little secret: When I applied, I really didn’t want to go. The decision was more out of desperation rather than me actually being ready to return to the hordes of clueless people who didn’t have any idea what they wanted to do with their lives. I mean, I’ve had my plans and goals 80% figured out since Grade 11, and really wasn’t looking forward to the ten thousand protests that went something like, “But Erynn, what can you do with a creative writing degree if being an author doesn’t pan out?”

The answer to that is “whatever the hell I want,” because I don’t ever intend to give up on writing, or on becoming an author, or doing whatever makes me happy. Yeah, I guess money is nice, but in the end, I don’t give a shit about raking in the big bucks so long as I’ve got what I need to survive, and I consider writing and sharing stories as a big portion of the survivability scale.

I applied to one university and much to my dismay, I was accepted. This was unexpected because I figured I botched the application, as I had no idea how to answer half of the questions. I ended up just making some reference to my writing or my experiences as a writer wherever I could make it relevant. Guess it worked.

It ended up not being so bad, though. As soon as my acceptance was handled, I hunted down the creative writing degree requirements, the course selection page, and started browsing. Of course, I couldn’t register for any courses until late summer, but I could get an idea of what I wanted to take. The first obstacle I figured I’d need to knock out would be the second language requirement, as I had no interest in taking French (I think the language is alright, but I had some bad experiences with French classes in high school, so I opted to start fresh). I did, however, have a rather high level of enthusiasm to learn Greek/ Latin, but I was disappointed when I found that UBCO does not currently offer those courses.

The only viable alternative– for me, at least– was to take Japanese, which thankfully, is offered. This was the natural conclusion because I’m a bit of a weeb and love anime, manga, Japanese culture, and all that good stuff. So I made the decision to start taking Japanese, even with the prior knowledge that it’s a bitch of a language to learn well. It’s been good so far, but there’s a lot to say about this, so I’ll go into more detail in a separate post at a later date.

I decided to stick to the bare minimum of required credits to still be considered a full-time student, which is 3 classes (9 credits) per semester. So for my first semester, I went for Japanese, a beginner’s Creative Writing, and an English specifically on studying narrative.

This is getting a little long, and I’m only getting to my goals for school and my experiences over the first semester, so this is going to be the first of two posts on this topic. Sorry, I don’t much like splitting posts up, but I don’t want to write an excessive block of text, either.

That’s all for now, then. I’ll fill you guys in on the rest of the story sometime over the weekend.

~Erynn