Since I had a very catholic upbringing, this time of the year combined with the gloomy weather makes me a little bit depressed, gloomy and I feel lonely and even secluded. The good thing is, this year I can skip the grave’s visit tomorrow on All Hallows (is that the right term?!) thanks to my thesis. My family “let me out” because I have so many things to do. But in my mind I am still there and it occupies me to the point where I actually don’t get anything done. Which is even more depressing and self destructive. But when I am this way, I cannot possibly bring my body and mind to function and be active. I am just lazy and try to detract myself from gloomy thoughts. I know this sounds strange, but visiting the family grave is just the worst thing for me and on All Hallows there are so many people at the cemetary, dressed in black, the marching band (again I don’t know if that describes it right) is playing funeral songs and I just have to relive my dad’s funeral all over again. Last year I actually cried there which left me beyond embarrassed since there are so many people and I wanted to be strong for my mom, but failed. I really dreaded the day this year so I am very glad to being allowed to pass. I just hope that this feeling goes away after tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, since that day is All Souls’ Day, and also a holiday.
Monthly Archives: October 2010
Today is Austria’s national day which made it very hard not to feel lazy…The combination of quietness, bad 90s movies, parades of the army, a national speech from the president and a visit from the Jehovah’s witnesses (yes, they were here today) made the feeling just too “holiday” for my own good. The only thing I did was to brush my Chinese for a bit, which isn’t much, but I’m glad I even accomplished one tiny little thing 😉 I watched “我們這一家” (We are family), which is originally from Japan but I watch the dubbed Taiwanese version… It is very funny and would be even funnier if I could understand the whole thing…You can check it out here 😉 http://www.im.tv/vlog/personal/613573/1581447
Leaving the house today half an hour before my course started, I expected to arrive 5 minutes ahead to chitchat a bit and look very “collegiate” and earnest. It was raining today so I didn’t want to go to University by bicycle but chose to use the streetcar instead…which turned out to be a big mistake. Arriving at the station, I decided to pass time until the streetcar arrived by checking out the office supply store beside the station. Checking out the latest “birthday calenders”, the nice lady from the speaker at the station informed me and my fellow streetcar travellers that we had to wait due to some hindrance in the streets of Vienna. I thought for a moment about going back to take the bike, when the streetcar finally arrived. Enjoying the warmth within the streetcar I settled for my quarter of an hour ride and watched the stores fly by when, in a curve, the streetcar hit a van’s mirror. We didn’t even get to the next station. We were kindly asked to leave and I, weighing my options which were closing down, decided to walk. Two stops from there I saw a crowd waiting for the next streetcar to arrive. Pitying them for knowing for a fact that they would soon walk behind me, I passed by feeling a tiny bit superior. Which hit me in the face because just one minute thereafter, my shiny streetcar passed me by. Which is why I decided to wait at the next station to get on the one after that one, since I assumed that the service was recovered. Little did I know that the next but one was again 5 minutes late, which prompted a woman with a huge dog to also go by foot, which she discussed beforehand with said dog for a little. Seeing him hanging his head down and slogging away beside the woman, she didn’t seem to have understood him the right way. So when finally the next streetcar arrived, I again settled down and thought that I would get to my destination in one undisturbed ride, passing the lady with the dog which again made me feel smug. Which again bit me in the ass when one station down, there was a driver’s change, and the driver seemed to be late. Which didn’t seem to bother him much, besides the angry mob which was building inside the streetcar. Finally, nothing hindered the streetcar for the next three stations and my transfer also was quite smooth. In the end I was 45 minutes late which earned me the evil eye of the lecturer and a loss of important knowledge since next week’s the exam. The lesson I learned seems to be: Regardless of weather conditions, still go by bike instead of streetcars, which are very unreliable. As the man behind my seat noted to his wife: Everyone just thinks about themselves, that’s why nobody bothers to bend mirrors back when parking besides a streetcar track. You can make the world a better place by just doing the little, heroic things like bending back the mirror when parking!!
I overcame this little drawback very well, when, in the evening, I became aware of the new budget 2011, which was decided by the government over the weekend. Hearing the decision to cut the family assistance payments for students over 23, I wasn’t that alarmed. But then I discovered that this also implies losing my half-orphan pension, the privilege of a student ticket for public transport, insurance and I would also need to pay television license fee, which is the smallest part but still… This all starts in January of 2011 and it gave me a chill all over. But instead of hurrying to my desk frantically starting to read and write, it just made me depressed. I thought I could spend my last year of student life in comfort, only having to worry about my thesis. Instead it gets to be a very cold winter. But as my situation is still pretty good, it makes me even more depressed that those decisions ruin somebodies plans and life decisions. And even families, since there are also significant cutbacks with children. We can just hope that it doesn’t get worse…
Today our shower head broke which left us with a very unsatisfactory cleaning regimen. There was no water pressure whatsoever making it feel like showering under a hose. I couldn’t stop laughing at first but in the end I was shivering all over. It felt like “The Shower Head” Episode of Seinfeld. Luckily my hair wasn’t stuck to the head like theirs 😉 And luckily, cleanliness is not a prerequisite for learning…not that I’m not clean, which I’d like to stress…it just isn’t the same 😉
Yesterday’s “happy accident” really turned out to be a jewel. It seems to have everything I need and for the first time I have the feeling that I can use this in my thesis. It is comforting to finally have some hope…
What bothers me is that while I genuinely want to read I still drag away and do other stuff like trying to make a poached boiled egg with my boyfriend where we tremendously failed but which takes up precious time… what’s worse is TV, computer games, (bless mario 😉 … and my worst guilty pleasure, gossip sites. I know (^_^’) It is just so silly and I am mad at myself for being so inconsistent…have to work on that one…or juggle to even out fun sparetime and serious work time…so many bad habits 😛
Today is my grandma’s birthday. I phoned her and she was really happy and seemed to be very excited. My aunt sent her flowers, the people dearest to her visited and she ended the day in style with a glass of sparkling wine!
Why am I writing about that? Well, she made it her goal to live until I graduate…. That sounds very morbid and weird, if not creepy, but I really think she sets herself goals to keep her going. If it wouldn’t be me she would find something else to claim. But it still makes me thinking…I am the first in the family who went to University, so it is kind of a big deal to finish this. If I graduate, find a job and have security, she can die a happy woman. Right now she is always concerned for my future. So I really hope that I can make her happy soon….not that I want her to die 😉
Regarding my progress: Today I went to the library and somebody blocked the section I wanted to search in. So I wandered around and accidentally stumbled upon a few excellent books which I hope to use in my thesis. Seems to be a “happy accident”!
Today I started my regimen with reading, lots and lots of it. But as always, I do not know what to make of it really. That is and was my problem from the start. As always, I would like to find help in guides. I am a sucker for self help books so it was only natural that I purchased a few regarding scientific writing. Which is not easy, since there are so many of them. Our professor provided us with the “classic” by Kate L. Turabian “A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations”. It seems that in the US students read this in their first year…that would have been great for me 😉
I also purchased “The Craft of Research” by Wayne C. Booth et.al and the “classic” for scientific writing which is recommended in Europe: Umberto Eco‘s “Wie man eine wissenschaftliche Abschlussarbeit schreibt” (“How to write a scientific master thesis”). It is funny to compare those books because Eco’s book is so Europe, in my opinion. It has this, as I like to call it, “lone wolf” feeling of a student being left alone and fighting alone to complete his/her degree. And that is basically the way it is done around here. So it is pretty comforting to read his book because you get the feeling of not being alone. In stark contrast are the books from the US, because they stress group works, exchange with others, talks with your professor, and also getting help from your professor, which is unimaginable here. It has to do with the University structure and everything, I don’t want to be critical about that, I just want to stress that I am not blind to reality. The way in which the US books are written is very laid back and also comforting, but as they do not grasp the reality of European universities, I still felt a bit alone and didn’t know what to do with it.
Then I also bought a few books regarding writing scientific English. The first one was Tim Skern‘s “Writing Scientific English”. This really helped me a lot. A friend already told me that he is a very good teacher, so I did not hesitate. He is a professor in Vienna but is a native British (I hope that is true 😉 The main thing I learned was not to use the word “get”…but also to not use negative words such as not…I have to work on that…It is very helpful that he knows both sides and his examples of bad English writing give me hope that I can master to write scientific English sometime, hopefully… He also recommended “Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr., which I of course bought immediately…It seems to be a classic and is also helpful to native English speakers, which is a bit comforting.
Oh my, there are still many books I want to buy, mainly “Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day” by Joan Bolker and “Frei geschrieben” (something like “Writing yourself free”) by Judith Wolfsberger. That would be another fellow Austrian which would be rather helpful…but it still costs 16 Euros and I am too thrifty right now to lay out that kind of money for something I am not sure will help me or not…And since I already possess so many books about the same topic and nothing is coming from it, I really should use those that I have better..or even better: just get started!
Ok…so for the first day of “taking it seriously” I think I did pretty good. I read three chapters which is spectacular for me…I still have to find out what to do with it but I am here to learn, so let’s be positive about that 😉