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

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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

A Friday Spent in my Bathrobe

Today is one of those days where I feel like all I’ve done is procrastinate and eat. And procrastinate by eating… I am terrible when it comes to giving myself credit for the things I’ve actually done, because I keep feeling bad about all the things I haven’t done.

  • I’ve eaten breakfast.
  • I’ve put up one painting and moved another so that the three paintings on my wall are equally spaced out.
  • I’ve done two loads of laundry; whites, and a high-temperature one for towels and “unmentionables”.
  • I’ve eaten lunch.
  • I’ve folded the laundry and put all the items where they belong.
  • I’ve walked to the pharmacy and the grocery store and back.
  • I’ve eaten dinner.
  • I started thinking about packing for the trip to England that I leave for on Sunday.
  • I’ve paid two bills.

I guess I feel bad because I haven’t done too much academic work. I’m supposed to be writing my master’s thesis, for crying out loud! I have done something…

  • At one point I had about 20 tabs open when searching for something (a friend had to send me the document in the end).
  • I’ve rearranged some things in my literature review document.
  • I’ve read some parts of a thesis my supervisor told me to read
  • I’ve written about four lines of text, plus another three that need to go in the introduction, not the literature review.

My supervisor thinks finishing the literature review (after receiving feedback on my first draft last week) should take no more than two weeks. Which means I should be done by the time I get back from England and be ready to write the methodology chapter then. I’ve figured out that I need to write down exactly everything that I need to be and be as specific as possible and then break it down into when I plan to do it, otherwise I’m not gonna get anything done.

So I guess I’ve done some things today. I’ve not done literally nothing although that’s the feeling I’m left with a lot of the time. I haven’t done nothing, I just haven’t done enough… Does anyone have any tips on combating that feeling, that I haven’t done enough, and the general anxiety that comes with the feeling? TIA.

~ Julie