Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If there was one piece of advice I could give everybody...

It would be to value your health. Use it. Take care of it. Thank whatever deity you may believe in for it. Because once it is gone....it's like air- you don't notice how much you need it until you can't breathe. Or your knees...you miss them when they're gone. I hope nothing happens to my knees....

Sadly, this is something that I only realised once my health was taken from me. I sit now, barely able to type because my hands are in bandages due to chronic eczema. BIH and diabetes has robbed my of my youth. I can't have kids because it's too dangerous and nothing works properly anyway. And mental illness has robbed me of...everything.

I remember the days when I could still run and climb trees and when I took no pills. They seem incredibly far away.

So, yes value your health. It is one of life's greatest gifts.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Top ten most unusual degrees

As hard as my degree is I choose it because of it's exclusivity. Very few people will have a degree like mine. Doesn't change the fact that it can be as boring as hell at times or really tricky. When I was at school I really looked forward to university because it meant that finally, I could study something that I wanted to. But in the end common sense told me that Drama and Film Studies was not the most practical choice to put bread on the table. And unfortunately I wasn't blessed with the brains it that would require me to study Psychics or Astronomy. But despite all this, being unique is something that I have always tried to go by in my studies and soon I will have to make a decision on what to study further once I have my degree. I had this on my mind one day while I was trying to avoid studying for my Integrated Organisational Communication exam ( having written the exam, I STILL have no idea what that's about). I googled the ten most unusual degrees. The results I got really surprised me....

The Beatles, Popular Music and Society (MA)

Are you a fan of The Beatles?. I mean, are you really, really a fan of The Beatles?. Enough to spend a year of your life studying everything about them?. This degree examines the impact The Beatles had on music, society, fashion...everything and it's offered by a university that is based in none other than their hometown, Liverpool, England. Beware though and I know this from experience...a way for you to stop becoming a fan of something is to study it academically. You might just land up hating The Beatles once you are done.

Egyptology (BA)
Remember the nerd in Stargate?. Well he was an Egyptologist. There are several universities around the world that offer this degree and you can also do a Masters and even a PhD in it. I will confess that back when I still wanted to be an actress, a singer and an astronaut this is something that I wanted to do because I was fascinated ( and still am ) by ancient Egypt. As fascinating as this degree may be...exactly what you would do with it- besides telling people all about ancient Egypt and maybe write a book- I'm not sure. It mostly goes hand-in-hand with Archeology and I would think that you would have to make some great big discovery to be noticed and for it to start paying off. Right now I think more attention should be given to what is happening in present day Egypt than to what happened in it's past.

BFA, MA, MFA Puppetry
The University of Connecticut is the only university in the world that offers a Masters in...making puppets. Having seen the photographs of the students work I will say they are absolutely stunning. I don't think a degree is required to be a master puppeteer- some of the best puppets I have ever seen were made by South Africa's poorest who pretty much taught themselves how to make puppets. In fact South Africa are rather famous for their puppet shows, some of which have gone on world tours. Still, I think that this could be a hard business to break into and having had an actual academic education in something so unusual could say that you have perfected your craft and will put you a cut above the rest.

B.A. in Enigmatology
This degree is so unique that only one person in the world has it!. Will Shortz always had a passion for puzzles and somehow convinced Indiana University to let him design his own curriculum and he graduated in 1974. Today he is the the puzzle editor for The New York Times. Shortz is said to have been able to solve any type puzzle or code given to him, in record time too. I attempted one of this guy's crossword puzzles on a flight from New York to San Francisco a few years ago- I'm not exactly a master code cracker but I have solved a good puzzle here and there. Two hours into the flight and after bugging the passengers on either side of me and a couple of air hostesses I was stumped and had to give up. So it seems that this unusual degree is paying off. My question is why hasn't anyone else done it?.

Degree in Anime and MangaOkay, I had to do a double take when I saw this one....you can get a degree in Japanese cartoons and comic books consisting of characters with overcompensating eyes, annoying straight hair and BIG boobies (that magically don't jiggle)?. Then again I shouldn't be very surprised since it does play a big part in Japan's culture and is an obsession of emos and nerds worldwide- I'm one of them by the way. I have loved both anime and manga since I was small but because it is just animation and not live action, you will be amazed at what they can get away with- let's just say that I didn't know people could have sex in cartoons. Some of the stuff is downright disturbing. Mostly it is very interesting and a lot of fun with some really good story lines. But trying to keep a straight      face in front of a potential employer when he says "You have a degree in what!?" might be a little tricky.

Thanatology. The study of death. That's right DEATH. But despite the morbid undertone there is actually a lot of practicality in this degree and there is a huge demand for it. Graduates work with people facing terminal illness and the bereaved as well and generally educating people about death. I have a lot of admiration for people like that but I can't imagine dedicating my whole life to dying and using death to earn a living. I guess it might make the very moment of one's own death kinda like an anti- climax- "I'm dying!...now what did I learn in Thantology 101again?"

MSc in Parapsychology
Staying with death, this degree examines life after death and psychic abilities. It's mostly aimed at graduate students of psychology and sociology. And it's offered online. After having a look at the outline of this course I don't know if could ever get a peaceful nights sleep while studying this. I can't imagine writing an exam on
Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis Research or Studies of Evidence for Survival of Bodily Death. What do you do for a living with something like this? "There's a ghost!....now what was it that we learnt in Apparition class again?".

Complementary Healthcare (Aromatherapy) BA/BA (Hons)
Trying to get anyone to take you seriously when you tell them that you are doing a degree in Aromatherapy and making your parents pay university level fees on top of that may be a little difficult. With this degree you will learn how to blend essential oils for your clients well-being while studying the benefits and philosophies of complementary healthcare. You could also learn all of this during a six month course at a fraction of the price but then again I guess it is all about leading the pack in a tough market.

BFA in Instrumental Performance- Bagpipes
I guess you could see this as a major in any other "normal" instrument like piano or violin...but still bagpipes?... AND it is offered by a university in the U.S. Having looked at their website Carneige Mellon University looks like a really cool, eclectic sort of place to study. I am not ashamed to say that I actually like the sound of bagpipes (might have something to do with my Scottish ancestry). But there us still the lingering question of how a degree such as this will bring home the bacon.

 BSc (Hons) Surf Science and Technology
Surfs up dude. Now you can like, totally get a degree in surfing. Ha-ha, ha-ha. No you can't do it in Australia or Miami or Hawaii...you can like, do it in sunny England. At a place called Plymouth. Ply....mouth. They say it's a "A globally unique qualification"...no sh*t. This degree will offer "Practical beach sessions focusing on scientific method"...say what?, just grab your board and go!. Amongst their alumni a couple of dudes/ dudettes went on to become an "accountant" and a "solicitor"...how in God's name did that happen!?. I grew up around surfers and I know that there is definitely a very unique and dynamic culture that surrounds surfing (and I am not naive enough to believe that nobody surfs in England). But this is ridiculous. When you are dragging your butt off the beach to go and study the science of your surf board....you may just be missing the perfect wave.

Do you have a degree? Are you, like me still in the process of getting a degree. What are you studying?. Is/ was it worth it?

Still climbing the big scholarly mountain

As most of you know, for the last month I have been a slave to studying. I am currently doing a BA degree in Communication Science and Industrial Psychology. That's a long fancy name for a BA for a Sh*tload of really difficult work. As I am someone who does not have natural aptitude for studying- I can't just study my work once and expect to pass, I have to study it several times- everything in my life (including this blog) has been put on hold. I study at night since that is when the house is the most quiet and I literally go from my bed to my desk and then back to my bed.

I know this may sound really morbid but actually my depression, anxiety and BIH has been doing well. I had to take a sedative before my first exam which I don't like doing but I figured it was either that or failing a R2000 class. Unfortunately  I couldn't escape these exams entirely without bad luck or drama. I have had chronic eczema since I was baby. As a teenager I was covered in it from head to toe ( didn't exactly make me Miss Popularity- I was known as "The Scab" or -the more creative nickname- "The Itch"). But since I have entered my 20's it mostly effects my hands. Every once in a while I get a really bad flare- up mostly because of stress. Unfortunately one of those flare- ups has just happened now during these exams. I have spent most of this week with my hands in bandages. My writing hand is the worst affected and yesterday while writing my exam my hand became so sore from writing that I stretched it out. I don't know what happened but but suddenly my hand started bleed profusely. It really freaked the invigilator out who let me go to the bathroom to re- bandage my hand. I feel sorry for whoever gets to mark my paper that's covered in little drops of blood. Maybe they'll think I'm a Twilight fan!! hahaha!!...okay bad joke.

I am a creepy creepy mummy back from the dead! hahaha!

I was thinking to myself today that it is beyond me that I'm (well my godfather to be precise)  paying an institution thousands of rands for them to give me the work and letting them torture me through exams. What's even crazier is that I am considering torturing myself more by studying further after my degree....TELL I'M NUTS!!!. I just keep telling myself that each successful day I do of studying, each exam I write is a small step closer to reaching a dream and proving those thoughtless doctors, psychologists, teachers and people  wrong who said I would never even be able to go to a normal school.

Anyway I am on a break today and I am not going to touch a book. I thought about writing something fun for this blog since it has been neglected and its a place that I like to practice my creative writing once in a while so.....see my next post!! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Exams aka Period of increased coffee consumption

For the past couple of weeks, I have been metaphorically drilling holes in my brain to stuff in the enormous amount of info that is needed to write my exams. My first one is on the 19th, thereafter they are nicely spaced until the end. Still doesn't make a difference to the amount of work I have to study.

This is not going to be one those instances where I gush about how lucky I am to be getting an education, how hard I've worked to get here. Nope this where I tell you that THIS is the worst type of self- inflicted torture that you can put yourself through. Never mind "Off with your head" back in the middle ages just introduce tertiary exams as capital punishment and it would've put the fear of God into them. Not a loaf of bread would ever have been stolen again.

In my house during the day the T.V , radio, laundry and my grandmother all compete to see who can be the loudest. Not to mention we live in the middle of a very active apple farm so add motorbikes and tractors to the mix, all making it impossible to study during the day. So I have been studying through the night then sleeping during the day. Talk about being out of the loop- my life right now is a surreal haze where I travel from my bed to my desk and back again. It is really difficult to live with people that have not been through this- both my parents dropped out of university. My mom has been extremely supportive, making little snacks to see me through the night. But generally no one gets the gravity of what this means for me. It's not just a little spelling test I'm doing next week.

At the same time there is a lot pressure for me not only to get this degree but to do really, really well. There is no plan B...I HAVE to get it. The job climate in South Africa is such that u don't just need tertiary education to succeed, you need a good tertiary education, something different.

And of course their are also personal reasons- if I ever decide to return to America I would be better off with a college education. Before I can even think of applying for a visa to work in London again I will probably need TWO degrees and A LOT of work experience before they even consider my application. I need a degree to work in Japan.

Then there are the very personal reasons. Psychologists told my Mom I would never be able to go to school. At school they said my best shot in life was to go to trade school, do something very simple to "see me through". I already blew them all away by surviving overseas all by myself for three years, now it's time to prove to everyone that I actually have brains. Overall education is something that I value highly and my life is already better because of it.

But oh, it is hard, back breaking hard. It's hard because studying is something that doesn't come naturally to me, it's hard because of the memory loss I have from the drugs, it's hard to work through the pain of my BIH and it's hard because the degree I picked is one of the hardest!. WTF was I thinking?.

I am actually writing this as a way of avoiding the two inch textbook that has been calling my name for the last half hour. I have already been up all night. The night before last my brain floured and nothing else seemed to go in, I snapped. I hated my degree, I hated my university, I swore to kill my professors if I ever met any of them. I hated my textbook, I hated my computer, I even hated the damn chair I was sitting on!. Right now in the middle of the climb my dreams feel so far away and all I'm seeing is paper with endless words printed on them.

Have any of you done or attempted to do a degree, or even go to college?. Any study advice/ drugs I can take?.

Tell me it's going to be over soon!.


One fried brain
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