Personal Update

I wanted to write an entry a day for all of April. I’ve been using the schedule system for that, writing when I have something to write about, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’ve lost the will to do things. And that goes for everything, not just blogging. I feel like I’ve gone numb.

Yesterday a friend asked me to come with her to one of our uni campuses to sit and work from around noon, and I didn’t answer her because just the thought of working on my thesis made me feel tight chested and brought tears to my eyes. I feel bad for not working, but the thought of working sends me into panic, so what am I supposed to do? For now, I’m just avoiding it. When it came down to fight or flight, I fled. And I’m not proud of that. But I don’t know what to do.

I spent a lot of Easter watching Grey’s Anatomy and going on trips with my parents, visiting my grandparents and my great-grandmother, taking our car to a service shop, driving to a place in the middle of nowhere where someone’s made an American Diner where people come from far away to eat and see. And sleeping. A lot of sleeping. 8-10 hours a night of sleeping.

Since I got back to the city I’ve been hiding in my room, when I’m not out shopping. Yesterday I went and bought some stuff and walked around town for a while. After I’m done writing this entry I’m going to do that all over again.

I’m working this weekend, at the museum. And I’ve got two weekends in May, since a girl quit. I might as well sell tickets and glasses and books, and make some money, since I’m incapable of working on my thesis, right?

My heart hurts, and I don’t know why. My parents, uncle, and grandfather put my grandmother’s urn in the ground earlier this week. That might be a contributing factor…

How are you all doing, dear readers?

~ Julie

Student housing, room mates, and thoughts from a 5th year

I’m in my fifth year of uni studies. I moved out of my parents’ house when I started studying English, because it would have been too long of a commute, too expensive, and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything social with new friends. I spent some time looking for places to rent, and sent out a couple of applications. I didn’t hear anything from the student housing I applied for, but I did get a call from a private renter. He had converted the basement of his house into student housing and was renting out to three people, as there were three bedrooms, and a shared kitchen and bathroom. I moved there in August 2012.

I lived there for four and a half years, with 9 other girls, none of which stayed longer than a year. The landlord’s kids were loud, his wife was a yeller, and the house was on top of a hill 7 minutes from a bus stop, and the connections to the city weren’t great; if you stayed out past midnight it was expensive to get back there and the stores weren’t close enough. Everyone wanted to live walking distance from town and have to take the bus to uni, at least that’s what they said when they moved out. I enjoyed living walking distance from uni though. It was a nightmare in the winter when there’s snow, to walk the shortcut was nearly impossible, but they usually cleared the sidewalk by the main road early enough so that it wasn’t a problem. I walk a lot less since I moved, and I’m not too happy about that.

I became friends with some of my roommates. With a couple of them, we’d all go on grocery shopping trips together, getting the items on special offer from the different stores around, and watch movies, and sit in the halls and talking for hours. With others, we coexisted in total silence. Some resulted to slamming doors in my face so hard that the walls would move, because I put up a couple of notes with tape about turning off the lights and cleaning – nice notes, but I guess they were perceived as passive aggressive, or something. I have a lot of good memories at the old house, but I also have a lot of bad memories. The last semester was good, the year before it was really bad, roommate wise, but good in other ways – boyfriend wise.

All of my roommates at the old house were girls. Since I moved, I’ve lived with two guys. It’s a different experience in some ways. I put up a cleaning sheet on the fridge and a note on the door reminding everyone to lock it when they leave – but no one is slamming any doors in my face and we still sit in the kitchen and talk. Sometimes I get annoyed at dishes in the kitchen or loud screaming due to a football match, but I guess that’s always the case with roommates. But you deal with it because it’s a part of being a student.

I would love nothing more than to get a house, or at least an apartment, with a bedroom that I don’t have to be in for anything other than to sleep. I want to have a couch that I sit on when I watch TV, and to not have to sit at my desk for anything other than work that requires a desk. I don’t even like the desk as a piece of furniture, but I have this amazing desk chair. Perhaps I could get a proper computer, with Photoshop that doesn’t crash and where I can play Cities: Skylines with actual mods and assets without it taking ages to load. That would be a good use for a desk. But I hate sitting at my desk day in and day out. I want a couch and a coffee table and a TV screen that’s larger than 15″.

But that’ll have to be in the future. Slow upgrades, one at a time. I went from having a room in a basement, to a room in an apartment building. I still have 2 roommates, but I no longer live underground, and I have a personal sink in my room. In July, I’m moving again. I’ll still be in an apartment building, but on the 3rd floor this time. I’ll be living with 6 other people, so technically that’s a downgrade when it comes to the shared kitchen, but I will have my own personal bathroom, with a shower and toilet and sink that I don’t have to share with anyone, and I cannot freaking wait!

One step at a time. One dorm room at a time. The good thing about moving is you get to redecorate your living space, make it into who you are, and redo it all over again! And that, I am excited about. Room tour, anyone?

~ Julie

Pouring My Heart Out

If you’re unsure whether to do a masters degree, my advice is don’t. Don’t do it unless you’re 100% sure that’s what you want to do. I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t even thought about it until it was time to figure out my next step towards the end of my BA. I figured I’d do it, because I wasn’t ready to be an adult and go out in the real world yet. Now it’s just over a month until my thesis is due, and I’m having panic attack after panic attack, because I don’t t think I can do it, and I don’t know what to do.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with a guidance counselor, after advice from my thesis supervisor. He says he’ll support it if they ask him his opinion on whether I should get an extension. I just decided to Google thesis extensions, and now I’m sat here panicking because I’m worried I might not qualify. And that terrifies me. Because then I have to do this in the month that is left, and I don’t think I can do that. There’s too much work. And I get terrible anxiety every time I show up in uni trying to work. My chest and stomach hurt. My vision goes blurry. I can’t breathe. My entire body aches.

The website says I need academic reasons if I want to apply for an extension. Alternatively I can get two weeks with a doctor’s note for documented health reasons. And I don’t know if there are any. I don’t know if they qualify. Because I just want to blame myself… I always do when it comes to, well, anything. I don’t want to blame anyone else. I want to blame myself. But I don’t think I can take any more blame. I’m breaking down. And I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go from here…

A Busy Couple of Weeks!

Good afternoon, readers! It’s been almost a week since I last posted, and I apologize for my absence. I just thought I’d take some time to explain what’s going on in my usually not-ever-busy life.

Last Friday I was in uni – I had to come, someone brought cake! Then I had about a dozen errands to run due to being away for almost a week beforehand. I bought a new pillow! And let me tell you – a medium high hotel pillow, it’s the width of my bed, it is like sleeping on a cloud! I had planned to relax and maybe do some thesis work over the weekend, but that didn’t happen as I got a call from work asking if I could come on short notice, something to do with a mix-up of who was supposed to work and also someone being sick, so I had to fill in but yay money!

Then there’s this week… Monday started with me having to juggle two laptops and a USB stick in order to get an antivirus program downloaded, that was a nightmare… but I made it to uni at around 1pm! And I stayed until 6.30. On my way into my apartment, I met one of my roommates who informed me he was leaving to pick up his girlfriend from the airport so she’s staying with us for a week. I can’t complain – my boyfriend was here for two weeks in January (but the first week we don’t count because my roommates hadn’t arrived yet so it wasn’t overcrowded). Yesterday, that’s Tuesday, I got to uni at around 10pm and stayed until 6.40 and then walked home with a friend who lives close-by. Yesterday was a very good day, I got a lot of stuff done! But, as I’ve mentioned on here before, a productive day for me usually results in an unproductive one the following day, which is why I’m writing this right now. Yesterday I wrote 1000+ words on my thesis – today I’ve got less than 300. But I don’t want to go home, I don’t feel like I can be lazy, because I have to exploit the time I have to work while I can due to how the rest of the week and next week look:

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the blood bank at 1.30. That means I need to get work done before 1pm – which in all likelihood means I’ll not be going to uni tomorrow, but working from home for maybe two or three hours beforehand; I also need to make sure I eat two decent meals before going down there… And in the evening I’m supposed to be going to a social thing with JEF (Young European Federalists) where a woman is supposed to talk about EU for a little while and then we eat pizza and drink beer (or not, since I’ll be donating blood earlier in the day)… but we’ll see how I feel. On Friday there’s girls’ night at a friend’s house at 6pm, which means I need to study earlier in the day and go home and eat and possibly get my wine if I decide I want to drink that. And on Saturday I’m going out of town at 2pm so I need to have packed and bought the things I still need to buy before Saturday which, with the rest of my week, means I probably need to do that today! Which makes me want to just leave uni right now to get that stuff done… but I feel like I need to work on my thesis since I’ll be away from Saturday until next Thursday and I have so little time left to do things!

Last week I wrote about how I feel like I don’t have enough time to finish my thesis in time because my supervisor wants each chapter by the end of the month and there’s no time to work on the feedback he gives on the previous chapter (at least I think I wrote about this…)… Yeah. All the work I’ve done this week has been on the literature review chapter I sent in at the end of January; I’ve not worked on the methodology chapter I sent in last week at all, and I’ve not started on the chapter that’s supposed to be due at the end of this month either! I’ll have a week when I get back from my trip… I don’t understand how I’m supposed to be done with my entire thesis by the end of April! Well, it’s due on the 15th of May, but I need to send the whole thing in to my supervisor, work on the feedback he gives me, and send it to print by the 10th or 11th, since the 15th is a Monday and they don’t work weekends! I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to finish on time, but I just have to try, and if I can’t then I can’t… It’s my supervisor who’ll be the one to tell me whether he thinks I need to take more time, and I do want a good grade, but I also just want to finish…

Anyway, that’s my rant of the day! How’s everyone doing this week?

~ Julie

Master Depression is Real

Good morning to you, wonderful reader!

It is Wednesday morning, nearly 11pm, and I’m sat on a couch in my parents’ living room. I was supposed to go back to the city Monday morning, but on Sunday night we heard that the wind had grown stronger and found out that we were going to have a little storm, wind-wise, and although we didn’t get any notifications about the ferries being cancelled I didn’t particularly want to go out on the water in wind that strong, and especially not after my mom told be about one ferry that had a window taken out by a big wave not long ago. So I decided to stay here a little longer. Just as well, actually, because on Sunday I ordered my new phone, which I mentioned in this entry here. It said it would arrive in 1-3 working days, so we were hoping it would arrive yesterday, but when dad came home from a work trip he said the tracking said it’s in the city and therefore he thought it’d be on the first ferry out to our town today. He’s the one who’ll get the message about it though so I just have to wait… I did get a few other things done the past couple of days as well, so my time here hasn’t just been an extension of the weekend; yesterday I had a dentist appointment (and was told everything looks great), and I went with my mom to a meeting about noise reduction/isolation of houses, because our town is right next to an air force base which is getting new F35 fighter planes which will make a lot more noise than the F16s  I grew up with.

On Monday, I felt that I did good work wise. I wrote three paragraphs on my methodology chapter, and sent it in to my supervisor (it was 6 pages long, not finished, but he’s been asking for it). Then I wrote about 600-700 words more on my literature review, which still needs about 8 more pages before it’s finished, but I’m getting there, and that one doesn’t need to be finished before the end of April when my supervisor will get my entire thesis, all chapters put together, for one final reading. So I felt good! That was until my supervisor sent back the methodology chapter with his comments yesterday.

I read the email, and then all the comments on the chapter. Then I started to cry. My 16 pages long literature review needed to be restructured (which actually means rewritten, because most of the parts had to be changed as well, not just moved around), and rewriting makes it shorter, but it needs to be about 20 pages long, so I need to write more. That should’ve taken about 2 weeks, he said, and I’m sure I could have done it if each day consisted of about 40 hours instead of 24, but it doesn’t, so I’m not finished. And now my methodology needs to be rewritten, clarified, a lot of stuff needs adding and explaining… a friend of mine told me to remember that I’d written it in a hurry so of course it wouldn’t be great, and another told me to just go into robot mode and get stuff done, and my ever-supporting boyfriend told me I always react like this, I just need to remember that I’ve always been fine in the past and I will be fine this time too, it just feels like I won’t because it’s my master’s thesis. My mom told me that it sounds like I just need to sit down and work.

And here I am, blogging. This entry has passed 600 words by now, so I know I am capable of writing lots of words fast, so how come everything on my thesis is going so slow? I think I know the answer to that. I don’t want to write it. I don’t want to do the work. I just want to get the degree so I can move on with my life. I’ve been in school for 19 years, that’s 3/4 of my life, and the 6 years before that I can barely remember, apart from some glimpses here and there. They say that university, the years spent as a student, are supposed to be some of the best of your life. But they’re also the most stressful. I constantly have the feeling that I’m not quite done for the day because there’s always something that needs doing, because you’re never done, but you can’t spend all your awake hours working, either. But when I’m not working I feel guilty. And then I struggle to work because I feel so bad about myself. And then I feel like I’m stuck in this vicious circle that I can’t get out of, I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, everything is just black, the air is black, and it’s pushing down on me and I can’t breathe and I just want it all to end.

I never thought it was possible for me to not want to live. I’ve always been the person who looked forward to growing up, to being my own boss, in charge of myself, able to go wherever I want and do whatever I want. And at 24 I’m supposed to be able to do that. And in a way, I am. No one forced me to do this. I did this to myself. I chose to do a master’s degree because I didn’t feel adult enough to start working at 22, almost 23, when I was done with my bachelor’s degree. And I wanted to spend more time with my friends. But now I’m sat here, it’s March, spring is on its way, I have 9 weeks until I should be done with my thesis and send it to print, and everything feels so undoable. Like I’ll never be finished. Like no matter what I do, I’ll never get done, because something will always need restructuring and rewriting. There are days where I wish I could just quit, run away, but I can’t, because I have half a million of student loans to pay back because I chose to study instead of finding a job. And because of that, there are days where I just wish I could end it all…

sometimes the day just ends

Destructive Living

Sleep. Eat. Study. Repeat.

That’s how it feels, a lot of the time. That feels like what life is all about… And I know it’s temporary. I know there will come a time in my life when it’s not all about studying and getting my degree, or the next degree. But here’s the thing. I have some certain destructive tendencies, which make it to the surface despite me working on burying them as far down as humanly possible, sometimes.

Let’s start with the first one: sleep. Everyone knows the importance of sleep, right? We need REM sleep in order to process memories, to transfer knowledge from short term to long term memory… In order to recover muscles and our bodies in general. Sleep is important. Some also say that teenagers sleep the most… but when I was a teenager I could sleep 5 hours and be good to go and feel great the following day – that is not possible now. I can’t tell you how many times my day has been ruined due to lack of sleep, or bad quality sleep for one reason or another, and when I make it through that day I can sleep 8 or 10 hours the following night and still be exhausted when I wake up. But maybe that’s because I’ve slept too long. It makes no sense. Sleeping is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world – you just fall asleep, and then you sleep until you wake up. Yeah, not so much…

Next, eating. When I was younger, I didn’t eat much. I went through a period a couple of years after I stopped eating meat where I noticed I lost a lot of weight and it became an obsession to lose weight and at a point I pretty much only ate dinner with my family because that was mandatory. Going to America for a year when I was 17 helped a little. But what helped the most was starting exercising when I was 19-20. Most of the time I eat good, and a friend of mine started calling me a hobbit, because I am short and I eat very often! But sometimes I slip up. Last week I had one of those. I’d even brought lunch with me when I went to a friend’s house to work for the day, because the last time I did that I didn’t eat enough throughout the day. But I didn’t eat dinner that day. I was so hungry when I got home, but my roommate was cooking and I didn’t want to intrude so I sat down. My two roommates and I talked for a couple hours but my headache, which arrived after the gym, was getting so bad, and because I didn’t eat right away I got nauseated and couldn’t eat. So I took a shower and went to bed. My actions were very noticeable the following day, with more headaches and extreme hunger, a so-called “hollow day”.

Lastly, studying. When the sleeping and the eating get disrupted, the studying does too. Studying is pretty much all I’ve done my entire life, for nearly 20 years straight now, in one shape or form of another. In order to relate this to the headline of this entry, let’s look at procrastination, or as I like to call it: completely jeopardizing my future. Because that’s where I’m at. I have this huuuge project that I need to finish in two months now, and I don’t quite know how to do it, so I procrastinate. Or, sometimes, I have really productive days, which are usually followed by another day or two of doing little to nothing because of headaches or exhaustion or depression, all of which are difficult to separate sometimes, they’re not necessarily clear-cut…

And then I sleep. And tomorrow, I have to get up and do it all over again.

Anyone else experiencing anything like this? I’d love to hear from you!

~ Julie

Code-Switching // My Master’s Thesis Project // Sunday Update & Life

Hello you guys!

It is Sunday afternoon here in Norway, and as some of you may know, Sunday is my “get your shit together” day. That’s when I do laundry, change my bedding, sweep the floors, color my eyebrows (because they are practically invisible otherwise), do facials… All that stuff that I never have time to do throughout the week. And I do this on Sundays because I hardly ever make plans for Sundays, and in Norway all shops are closed on Sundays with the exception of some grocery shops, gas stations, and kiosks. Today I also did a little DIY project, which I plan to write another post on later, not quite sure when that’ll be up, but I did take pictures so it’s definitely coming!

However, I wanted to take just a little bit of time writing about what it is that I actually spend my time doing. Previously, I’ve written about the fact that I am in university and that I am writing my Master’s Thesis this semester. But I haven’t really talked about what I actually write about. The answer, as you probably saw before you started reading this, is in the headline of this post, and it is “code-switching”.

So what exactly is code-switching? It’s something I’ve had to discuss in my literature review, which I am sick and tired of writing, which obviously is why I decided to blog about it instead! The easy, simple, answer, which you will find in introduction text books as well as on Google, is some variation of this:

code-switching

Anyone who is in possession of more than one language has the ability to code-switch, regardless of fluency in the languages involved. I decided to write about this because I am a Norwegian person, who speaks Norwegian, but who also speaks a lot of English, due to a number of reasons: I started learning English in school when I was 6 years old, I have lived in America, I study English at university level, and my significant other is from England. So there is a lot of English going on in my life, and it is undeniable that it affects the way in which I speak and write. Obviously, it is difficult to provide an example of the way I speak, but if you heard me speak Norwegian to my friends you would hear a lot of English words and phrases, and often when I talk to my mom on the phone I struggle to find the words in Norwegian so I end up having to say them in English. But I can provide an example of my written code-switching; this happened earlier today, before my DIY project (“DIY” is also the English here, as it is an initialism (not an acronym, as the letters in an initialism are spelled out instead of pronounced as a word) and I didn’t translate it into Norwegian), in the group chat I have with my two best friends, and you can see that I switch to English towards the end of the message:

jeg-cs

I wonder if any of my not-Norwegian readers can understand the rest of that message… let me know, will you? Hint: If it looks similar to an English word, it is probably that word.

So that’s one example of code-switching. Another can be insertion of words mid-sentence, such as the word “whatever” which many Norwegians use as well. So I’m collecting data of written code-switching (also known as CS for simplicity) from the internet and then I’m going to analyze what kind of CS can be found and what sort of identity function it could have for the person using it. The former because it is an interesting thing to research, and the latter because language and identity have always been closely connected and I didn’t want to have just one research question.

So what is it that’s so fascinating about code-switching? For me, it is the fact that many people see it as language decay, or laziness on behalf of the speaker. Many are under the impression that languages such as Norwegian (and many many others) are being cast aside because English is being favored; if you walk down a street in Norway and look in shop windows you will see “SALE” instead of “SALG” when there is a sale going on; it is used a lot in advertisement, news reports… and one thing that my grandfather reacts to, is sports commentators. He says he doesn’t understand half of what some of them say because of all the foreign words. Which of course is really sad. However, for those of us who grew up learning English in school and watching subtitled TV instead of dubbed TV, for those of us who spent our teenage years on the internet, a majority of which can arguably be said to be in English, English is a part of who we are, and many of us would struggle to go through a day in life without using a single English word at all.

Linguists, however, say that CS is not a sign of languages falling apart or one language taking over, or laziness on behalf of the speaker. Bullock and Toribo (2001) states that:

Those with interests in CS behavior range from poets to neurologists, and from parents to politicians. As should be clear, much is misunderstood about CS and those who engage in it. Thus it falls to linguists and to students of linguistics to unveil the nature of CS – its structural properties, its biological underpinnings, and its social meanings – and to communicate their findings to a broader audience (Bullock & Toribo, 2001).

So that’s basically what I want to do with my thesis. Contribute to the library of research that proves that common misconceptions about CS are wrong. I understand that it can be frustrating to those who do not understand one of the languages involved, but people have to understand that languages are dynamic, they are ever-changing, they will always lose something and gain something else. When I explained this to my grandfather, he told me a story from when he was young, and sports commentators would swear a lot, because that was completely common and nobody cared, but then a swearing ban was imposed on the media (he said, I have not fact-checked this), and they were no longer allowed to. So that was lost. And now the language of commenting has gained words and expressions from other languages. Where it will go from here is impossible to stay, but one thing is sure: languages always change. This, too, shall pass (Persian proverb).

All the research done from the 1970s until now including what I am researching might be great and important for a while, but in 100 years it might not matter at all. Kind of makes me wonder why I’m doing it in the first place. But I had to do something, and there are so many interesting things to do in this world, I just had to choose one. Life goes on. I had to do something to get my degree to move on with life and get a job and a house and pets and a family and then one day I’ll lose my job because I’ve gotten too old and I’ll lose my pets too, hopefully not my family, but you never know. And then one day I will be just another body buried in the ground. But that’s true for everyone. And it doesn’t change the fact that while you are on this Earth you might as well make the most of it and try and contribute with something meaningful; Gandhi said that whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it because nobody else will (and yes, I did get that from “Remember Me”).

~ Julie

Student Life Update

Yesterday I wrote 1000 words on my thesis – 30.000 words, due on the 15th of May. It’s a rather large project. Unless I write a book, I don’t think I’ll ever write anything this big again (although I do hope I get to write a book someday). But 1000 words, that’s 1/30 of the whole thesis, which technically means I could be done in 30 days, if I write 1000 words every day! Thinking this made me feel really good yesterday.

And then today happened.

I didn’t get up as early as I planned, and I kept turning my alarm off and falling asleep. It was 7.20 by the time I managed to wake myself up, and even later before I got out of bed. Nevertheless – I made it to uni by the same time as  yesterday, even though I had to run for the second bus (I really should start to just walk instead of taking the first bus which does a major detour).

I made a plan for the first two-three hours of the day. But before I could start working I realized that I had to call the phone shop which yesterday I found out closes at 5. So I did that, and talked to two different people. Then I decided to just have a quick look at what’s on the marked, because I’ll be getting my money back and I need to buy a new phone so that I can return my friend’s old iPhone 4s to her. I haven’t decided on a phone yet.

Another student came into the office. I just call it the office because I don’t have a good English word for the Norwegian “lesesal” (which translates to reading hall, or study room, or I don’t even know). It’s a rectangular room with desks along the two long walls, we’re currently 8 people who have our separate desks in here. So I talked to her for a bit. Then a second came and we talked to her. Then I did the second person’s experiment for her thesis. Then a third student came in and we talked to her. The third and the first left, and I’ve now been talking to the second for over half an hour. And I’ve had a cup of coffee and eaten lunch.  It’s nearly 1pm and I’ve not done anything that I was supposed to yet.

And I want to leave at 5pm, because that’s the last bus that takes me almost home a lot faster than other buses. So I have four hours to get shit done. That’s almost as much time as I worked yesterday – I was here for 6 hours and had 1 hour and 45 minutes of break so IT’S DOABLE. Doesn’t mean I will… But today is the kind of day that as long as I get SOMETHING done, I’ll be happy.

I’ve been feeling a headache on the left side of my head most of the day as well. I should probably log  that… I’m keeping a headache log to show my doctor to confirm if I can get migraines…

Life is good!

~ Julie