niko

This post was originally going to be about January’s reads, but because of the insane hours of the audit busy season, I’ve only managed to finish one book…

Dmitri Nasrallah is an author from Montreal Quebec, Canada. I met him at, of all things, an academic event. I was taking a Legal Studies elective at university which was cross-listed with an English course, and my professor ran a reading series, where the school brought in established authors to talk about their books and give writing advice to students. We got extra credit in her course for attending the events, so you can bet that I was at every single one of them.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog now, but growing up I had always dreamed about becoming a professional writer. As I grew up though, I left that dream by the wayside in favour of less creative subjects (ahem accounting). That’s why it was so interesting to hear Nasrallah’s story. He wrote his first short story when he was 20 while taking a creative writing class. The creative writing class was his elective while he pursued a business degree. The similarity between his past and my present intrigued me, so much so that at the end of his reading I bought a copy of the only one of his books that was still in stock –

Niko, by Dmitri Nasrallah

Here’s a book trailer in French (the book has been published in both English and French):

Nasrallah signed the book for me, and with his blessing I started Niko’s journey.

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Niko is a young boy who, with his father, leaves war-torn Lebanon in search for a brighter future. Niko has not yet started school at the beginning of the book, and by the end he is an adult. The story of immigration resonated with me and because I moved to Canada around the same time he did and was the same age as what he ended off at when I finished the book, I kept drawing parallels between my life and his. On the other hand, Niko’s history was a lot more coloured with violence and hardship than my own, so it was a little shocking to read about a man getting decapitated in Lebanon, then flip the page and be at a grocery store in Canada.

Favourite quote (this contains minor spoilers so you may want to stop here):

“They say you live in Canada. Tell me, how is your life now?”

“To be honest, it’s not so good.”

“You know,” Baba says, “when I sent you there, I thought you’d forget all about me and become a doctor. I thought you’d have everything waiting for you there, opportunities at your feet. You were supposed to go on and do great things.”

“Life is different there,” Niko shrugs. “There are too many rules, and no one is happy, but we all have a lot of money to live well and we all complain. I don’t know how to explain it, but even though there was no danger to our lives, we still found ways to make mistakes.”

“I’m disappointed to hear that.”

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lazy university study routine

As the winter term starts, I wanted to share my study routine to hopefully inspire some procrastinators into changing their habits in the new year. I’m in my third year of university now, and my study routine has evolved as much as I have. I’m what you would call an amalgamation of a keen student and an extremely lazy one; I’m always starting to study just a tad too late but I’m always aiming for a high mark. The result of this is I tend to get very stressed before examinations. I found this method to be extremely effective in easing my stress levels, and it works for all subjects, from English to Science to Math. I hope it helps you too!

How to approach examinations

I never consider final exams different from midterms, from tests, or from quizzes. Even though some may impact your mark more than others, in the end, you should be putting your 110% into all of them.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

As with most people, I find it extremely difficult to remain focused on one task for an extended period of time. This is why I love the Pomodoro Technique. It consists of six steps (from Wikipedia):

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
  4. After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
  6. After four Pomodoro’s, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.

Instead of a Pomodoro timer, you can just use your cell phone timer to keep track, or if you’re working on the computer you can use http://e.ggtimer.com/25min (change the “25min” to whatever length of time you want).

Completing readings before class

When you read, don’t bother to try and understand every sentence or paragraph. If you’ve read to the end of the paragraph but don’t understand, just keep going. Your brain will have already tried to process this information so that when the professor brings it up in a lecture, you’ll be learning it for a second time, which is often a lot easier.

During class

If your professor has notes or a Powerpoint presentation he or she refers to during the lecture, download it beforehand. This way, you can follow along from the beginning of class instead of rushing to find the right file. Also, it is important to actually download the file: you want to have it in a format that is easy to write/type notes on.

After class

I’ll be honest, I do nothing here. Nobody has time to prep before and after class.

Before an exam

(As I’ve said before, I treat all exams equally, so these tips also apply for quizzes and tests.)

There are two pieces to my preparation for an exam. The first piece is to learn the theory of the course, and the second is to learn how to apply the theory. For every day that I am preparing, I will try to hit both pieces.

Learning the theory

  1. Use the notes you made from reading your textbook chapters before class and your notes from class to create summary notes for every chapter you are being tested on.
  2. Once you have created summary notes, use the margin of the column to write up questions which your actual notes would answer. This is an example from one of my courses: IMG_20170121_212719.jpg
  3. Try to answer your questions in the margin without looking at the answers in the actual note. If you can’t answer without looking, write that question down.
  4. Go through the list of questions you couldn’t answer and try them again. If you get them this time, delete them from your list; otherwise, leave it there.
  5. Once you’ve successfully answered all the questions, highlight the actual note based on what you think is most important. This is an example from one of my courses: IMG_20170121_213156.jpg
  6. Using your highlighted “v1 notes”, create a second version of your summary notes. This is an example from one of my courses: IMG_20170121_213237.jpg
  7. Read your “v2 notes” out loud. This is supposed to help enhance memory.

If the exam covers a variety of chapters, I like to make the following chart to help keep myself organized:

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This chart comes in especially handy for when you’re studying for a final that includes material you’ve already studied for the midterm. Instead of starting back at square one, you can focus your efforts on whatever the material that came after the midterm first, until you reach whichever step you stopped at for material before the midterm.

Finally, remember to do all seven steps on seven different days. If you manage to get all the way to the last step before the exam, you’re probably already a master of the material.

Applying the theory

One of the most helpful ways to study for an exam is to complete practice problems. Sometimes the professor will give these problems free to you, but sometimes you have to dig for them. Upper years who have taken the course will often have old midterms, and your school may have an exam bank that contains questions for practice. You can also go through homework or assignment problems the professor gave to you throughout the year. I always like to do all the new problems I can find and only do problems sets twice as a last resort. I wouldn’t do problems sets more than twice because by then your brain has likely already remembered the exact way to solve the problem and you’re no longer exercising your critical thinking skills.

If the problems come with a recommended time to complete them, time yourself and try to finish within that time frame. This will help you learn to complete problems in the expected amount of time as well as mimic the testing environment.

Also, the professor will often tell you how many questions you can expect on the exam.Try to do the same number of problems per day leading up to the exam. The day before the exam, aim to complete twice the amount of problems, and the day of the exam three times a number of problems.

And that’s it! I hope these tips were helpful. If you have any questions about my method, feel free to comment below. Also, let me know if you have any helpful study tips to share!

br’s: december

The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan

This book details the life of two sisters growing up in the slums of Paris and their journeys in taking on various jobs (ballet dancer, laundress, prostitute, etc.) The male characters are mostly used as symbolic props here, and the critical thoughts of the girls are the focal point. Nevertheless, the historical context of 19th century Paris forces the girls to at least partly rely on the various men in their lives. It was a beautiful if heartbreaking novel to read.

Favourite quote:

“I want to put my face in my hands, to howl, for me, for Antoinette, for all the women of Paris, for the burden of having what men desire, for the heaviness of knowing it is ours to give, that with our flesh we make our way in the world.”

The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss

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I talked about this in my previous post about getting a virtual assistant (experiment is still going strong, by the way). This book is a “how to cut yourself away from the corporate world and achieve true happiness by running your own business and traveling” kind of book. After I finished it, I went through a bit of a Ferriss craze by listening to a bunch of his interviews (he also wrote “The 4-Hour Chef” and “The 4-Hour Body” but I didn’t get a chance to read those yet). I found a lot of his advice a little too extreme for me – some of it came off as pushing responsibility onto others rather than being accountable – but his confidence in his teachings reinforced a lot of the lessons that I already knew. High recommended read.

Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles

I feel like this book is rich enough to be studied as part of a high school curriculum. Think Great Gatsby but with more in-depth characters and likeable storyline. It’s a very classy and clean read, which reflects the main character, Katey’s temperament. Katey slowly winds herself up Manhattan’s social ladder in an entirely hard-working and honest way – but not without temptations. The ending of the book’s various characters leads to a lot of discussion, so this would be a great book club read.

Favourite quote:

“You see that thirty-year-old blonde next to Jake? That’s his fiancée, Carrie Clapboard. Carrie moved all manner of heaven and earth to get into that chair. And soon she will happily oversee scullery maids and table settings and the reupholstering of antique chairs at three different houses; which is all well and good. But if I were your age, I wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to get into Carrie’s shoes – I’d be trying to figure out how to get into Jake’s.”

i got a personal assistant

 

No, this isn’t a joke.

I should probably start at the beginning. A book I’ve picked up recently was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It was recommended by a consultant I met who said he swore by this book. I’m not done reading yet, but already it has caused me to rethink my life and work habits.

There is an entire chapter of his book devoted to the art of automating. Automating essentially means designing your work in such a way that it will run itself and no longer need decision-making input from you. One of the ways to do this is to outsource more mundane tasks that still need to be done at a rate lower than what you earn. Here’s a diagram from the book which details the thought process Ferriss wants you to follow (this is also currently taped to the front of my desk as a reminder):

Automate-Flowchart.PNG

But how does one outsource tasks? One of the techniques used by Ferriss and his clients is actually to send the tasks over to assistants in third-world countries, where labour is cheaper! I was intrigued and wanted to experiment – as a student I may not have as much to do as, say, a working mom, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to improve on the skill of delegating so that when life does ramp up I can become more efficient. As I went throughout my day, many things started to crop up where I’d think, “wow, I could definitely automate this.”

Ferriss had provided a bunch of assistant services in his book. I decided to choose among them mostly because of security reasons. My criteria were: 1) they had to be cheap (student budget yo), 2) flexible hours (I did not want to commit myself to outsourcing 10 hours of work when I wasn’t sure about the quality of the work or if I’d even have that much to assign), and 3) the ability to assign non-business tasks (some services only performed administrative duties related to work, but I work with confidential information so that would have been a no-go, and I didn’t think it would be effective or ethical for me to outsource my assignments to India). I ended up choosing AskSunday.

Some news outlets actually covered AskSunday a number of years ago. Some things have changed (for example, they now charge by the hour instead of by task), but for the most part the service is the same:

I signed up on AskSunday’s website over the weekend. Monday morning I got the following message from a Customer Service representative and then from my Personal Assistant. He actually tried to call me but I was in class and didn’t answer. Instead, we chatted over Skype to set some expectations. I sent him my first request – to research volunteer opportunities relating to women I could take part in.

I’m excited to see if this experiment will actually significantly improve my life in any way. Updates to come!

br’s: august

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Before I started reading, I had already heard lots of murmurs about how it reads like fanfiction… and I’d have to agree. The logic behind timeflow isn’t consistent with Rowling’s original series at all, and all the characters were surprisingly flat (but maybe that’s because it was meant to be performed instead of just read).

I do have to say that Scorpius is just the gosh-darn cutest thing and reading any of the passages with him in it just made my day.

l-r_Harry_Potter_(Jamie_Parker),_Albus_Potter_(Sam_Clemmett),_Ginny_Potter_(Poppy_Miller)-large_trans++P642x9a4zXQRkyaVdo3I2TWirqIBi3L-jQ5m0Ctq1mo

My Fight/ Your Fight, by Ronda Rousey and Maria Burns Ortiz

I’ve written about Rousey before… since that post (and the publishing of this novel) she’s been defeated and sat out of the competition for awhile. Everyone’s been anxiously waiting for her return, and we recently just found out that she won’t be back for UFC 205 in November.

You can tell that Rousey treats life like a long extended fight. There is always adversity to overcome, an enemy to defeat, an authority figure to prove wrong. Whenever she’s not crying, she’s pissed. Like the promo videos before her Octagon fights, it was entertaining, but unlike those videos, it wasn’t especially inspiring.

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Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

I’ve instagrammed more than one quote from this book, so I’m clearly in love with it. I’m just a sucker for those “no regrets” and “stop and smell the roses” types of stories. It also appeals to the YA book monster living inside me.

I found out after finishing it that this is getting made into a movie (coming out 2017)! The book reminded me of Anna Akana and RWJ’s Riley Rewind, so I wonder if the movie will be like it as well (except extended, of course). Riley Rewind was awesome, so I hope it is.

 

 

In other news, I created a Wattpad account! Hopefully some short stories will be up soon.

my foray into polyphasic sleeping

I was initially hoping to post a much longer entry much later, but unfortunately my self-experiment was very short-lived and so this is all there is to say.

How I discovered it

I heard about polyphasic sleeping the same way that I hear about most things – a Buzzfeed video. I then went down a dark tunnel of internet research.

What it is

For those of you who don’t know what polyphasic sleeping is, here is a quick run-down:

Most Western people are fixated on the adage that it is optimal to get 8 hours of sleep a day in one block of time. Polyphasic sleeping is spreading out your sleep into several smaller chunks of time, and ultimately decreasing your total sleep time by making yourself sleep more efficiently. Here are a few of the most common types of polyphasic sleeping:

chaseSleep
Source

The cons of polyphasic sleeping overwhelmed the pros. I’ve heard stories of a classmate’s brother who tried the Uberman schedule. He ended up getting constant nosebleeds and eventually had to go to the hospital. I wasn’t willing to mess myself up this much to satisfy a little curiosity. In addition, through my masterful internet research process, I wasn’t able to unearth many people who were able to 1) sustain polyphasic sleeping for more than a few months and 2) do so without side effects, such as abnormal weight gain. All the hype about polyphasic sleeping was mostly from people who were just starting it. There seemed to be no scientific evidence supporting it at all. Most website claimed that there were famous people who slept polyphasically like Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Nikolas Tesla, but the thing was that none of these famous people were still alive for me to judge whether they were living a happy and healthy lifestyle or not.

In the end, I decided I didn’t want to risk messing my body up just to satisfy a little curiosity.

Biphasic sleeping

In the Buzzfeed video, the doctor mentioned how many cultures do biphasic sleeping and how our bodies are actually wired to do so. Their definition of biphasic sleeping was going for 6 hours and then taking a 20 minute nap sometime throughout the day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to make this habit conducive to my lifestyle, as I would most likely be having a 9-5 day and then be doing something afterwards. It would be too difficult to set aside a time every day to have that 20-minute nap.

Our natural sleep cycle

While doing research on biphasic sleeping, I noticed another sleep cycle that was less talked about but had more scientific backing. It was another form of biphasic sleeping, but involved sleeping for four hours at a time, waking up for one to two hours, and then sleeping again for another four hours. So you were essentially still getting that required 8 hours of sleep, just in two blocks instead of one. There were two main reasons behind this way of sleeping:

  • This is our natural sleep cycle. According to many articles, this specific type of biphasic sleeping was what all humans did before the invention of the lightbulb. When there wasn’t any artificial light, the days were shorter, and so people went to sleep earlier. There were historical references to “two sleeps” in old literature, which is how we discovered this historical phenomenon. In addition, when psychiatrist Thomas Wehr did an experiment where he shut people in darkness for 14 hours a day (how long natural darkness is). After people had paid off their sleep debt (the combined hours of missed sleep we have wracked up over the years), they started to go back to this historical sleep pattern.
  • Better sleep quality. Throughout the night, we’ll go through several cycles of sleep. At around four hours, this is when we enter into one of the lightest sleeps, which makes it very easy to wake up. I have actually noticed that I will wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, something which through my internet research I’ve realized is quite common. Instead of sitting in the darkness waiting to fall back asleep, it seems more sensible to get up and do something with this twilight time.
  • Boosts creativity. People who do sleep in four-hour blocks like this have commented that they are able to be the most creative in the middle of the night during those few hours. Whether this is because there are no distractions from the outside world (duh, everyone else is sleeping) or just because of the mental state our brain is in after having a few full cycles of sleep is unknown, but who doesn’t want to be more creative?

My experience with biphasic sleeping

After reading so much about it, I was really excited to try biphasic sleeping myself. I always want to be more creative and efficient when doing my work, and I really dug the whole “our natural rhythm” aspect. Also, I had found myself waking up in the middle of the night a lot lately, so I figured it would not be too much of a stretch to actually get up and do something with my time.

Before biphasic sleeping, my bedtime ritual was this. I always tried to get 8 hours of sleep, and I liked to give myself half an hour to fall asleep, so I would budget 8.5 hours in bed. I liked to turn off all electronics about an hour before I got into bed in order to prepare myself for sleep, and take the hour to wash my face, brush my teeth, settle into PJs, and read a book. Sometimes if there were menial tasks around the house that didn’t require electronics like ironing clothes, I would fit that into the hour too. So my schedule looked something like this:

10:00 pm all electronics off, prep for bed

11:00 pm sleep

7:30 am wake up

For my experiment, I decided that I would do four hours (or 4.5 including getting-to-sleep time) with a one-hour gap and then another four hours. The reason I decided against anything more than an hour was because I had to wake up at the same time the next day, and adding more hours meant that I would have to sleep even earlier. I figured that I could start out with one hour, and if necessary slowly increase it.

My modified schedule looked like this:

9:30 pm all electronics off, prep for bed

10:00 pm sleep

2:30 am wake up

3:30 am back to sleep

7:30 am wake up for real

For the hour gap I was awake I also steered away from electronics in order to make sure that I would be able to fall asleep immediately afterwards.

In conjunction with this biphasic sleeping experiment, I also decided to employ the help of an app I had discovered and thought was helpful: Sleep Cycle. It tracks your sleeping throughout the night in order to wake you up at the optimal time (when you are in a light sleep stage) so you can wake up feeling restful instead of cranky.

The effects

It was surprisingly easy to get up in the middle of the night – I wasn’t fighting to open my eyes. In fact, it was easier waking up the first time than the second time, which might have been an issue since the second time waking up was when I had to actually pull myself out of bed for work.

The first night, I wasn’t sure how my brain would be feeling, so I just scheduled reading. The next night I tried some light physical activity like folding laundry, and the night after I tried to do some creative writing. My brain felt really clear during that hour, but it was almost like that clearness you get when you’ve had to get up at 3am to go to the airport. I can’t say that I feel any enhanced creativity. I was a lot more calm than I usually am, but I also felt as if I was working more slowly. There was definitely no bursts of divine inspiration that I’d read about, which is a little disappointing.

During the day, I was fine. I never experienced that “jetlag” feeling that polyphasic sleepers they say they have to go through. I’d attribute that to the fact that what I was doing was the natural rhythm of my body, instead of artificially introducing a new circadian clock into my system.

What I really loved about having that hour in the middle of the night was that I never felt pressured to get anything done. Before this experiment, I’d had the “restful hour” before my sleep time in order to get ready for bed, but too often I would have to interrupt this time because there was some task that was just urgent enough for me to spent an extra ten minutes doing it. That ten minutes would sometimes stretch into the full hour, and I’d just have time to do a quick wipe of my face before heading off to bed. When that restful hour is in the middle of your two sleep blocks, there is no longer that lazy “getting-ready-for-bed” attitude that can seep into your alone time. I was free to do whatever I wanted that was just for me. Hell, I was so calm that I could meditate for an hour if I wanted to – something I would never be able to do an hour before bed.

Why I stopped

While my new sleep schedule was a pretty interesting experience, a week in I was already noticing the one glaring problem:

I couldn’t get myself out of bed.

And it wasn’t because I was tired – it was because I was just too lazy. My mind was awake, but my body just felt so warm in its cozy cocoon. I didn’t want to fall asleep, but I also didn’t want to flip open the covers and start being productive either. The last night before I gave up the experiment, I just lay in bed for the full hour, staring at the ceiling and trying to will myself to sit upright. I realized that while I might be able to do work, the fact that I didn’t have the motivation to get up would suck that hour right from my schedule. I might as well have been sleeping for 9.5 hours instead of 8.5 then.

Me now

Even though I’ve stopped sleeping in two blocks of time, I’ve kept up my use of the Sleep Cycle alarm to wake me up in the mornings. It’s super nice to wake up in a good mood, and also be able to flip through all the stats from your last night’s sleep to see what went on. I find it super satisfying to see how many times I hit the deep sleep stage, almost as if it’s an achievement.

What I learned from this experience?

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” -Homer

 

br: life of pi

So this isn’t going to be an actual book review because I know I’m late to the party. The book was published more than a decade ago, and even the movie came out 3 years ago.

To be honest, Life of Pi was never something I was curious to read. I hadn’t heard of the book until the movie came out, and the trailer didn’t exactly get me too excited:

I remember thinking, “Why would I want to read or watch something that’s literally about a guy being on a boat the entire time? No thanks, I’ve already been through 127 Hours once.”

But it was always in my face. I remember attending a Key Club event where one guest announced he was celebrating his nephew’s success as a musical producer for the movie. When it won a Golden Globe, my university put it on our front page. Finally, when I saw it in the “Must Reads” section of the library, I figured I might as well give it a try.

Sidenote: I know it’s degrading to mention someone’s accomplishments in context of their significant other, but I still have to say: did you guys know that the author, Yann Martel, is married to Alice Kuipers?!

Alice Kuipers wrote one of my favourite YA books, Life on the Refrigerator Door. It details the life of a mother and daughter who are struggling to communicate with each other while dealing with their respective problems, all through notes on the refrigerator door. It’s definitely 5/5 stars; cannot recommend it more!

OK, so the fact that Martel’s married to a literary genius aside…

He’s such a trickster.

Up until the very end of the book I was convinced this was a true story (or at least based on one – when I got to the carnivorous island part my faith had to let in a little doubt). Who starts off with a fictional note from the author?! I can’t say I don’t feel a little lied to and cheated… throughout the entire novel I was taking so much pride in Ontario and how we ended up becoming the home of someone with such an interesting past. *shakes fist helplessly* At least the story was interesting…

Unlike a lot of people I know, I don’t read an entire book in one sitting – I usually like to ration it out between a few nights. A result of this is that I have a lot of wild thoughts/predictions I will rant to friends about. One such friend suggested (not sure if it was because they actually thought it was a good idea or because they just got tired of listening to me… probably the latter) I write those thoughts down so I could revisit them later and laugh about how wrong I was (or marvel at my genius predictive abilities I suppose). I… did not do that.

Who wants to rant to a piece of paper/word document when they can always find a real life person who will (albeit sometimes reluctantly… apologies to my poor roommates) listen? But I did try to recall some of thoughts I had and write them down. Here they are:

  • I don’t understand how Piscine can follow three different religions at the same time. While there are many similarities, there are obviously glaring differences, or else there wouldn’t be conflict between the different religions all the time. How does he decide which side of the conflicts to believe? Does he just pick and choose particular tenets among the religions? How does he pick and choose… just based on his own morality? But isn’t the point of religion that our personal morality is flawed so we need to follow a higher code? I really wish the novel was more specific about this.
  • How in the world did the animals manage to escape their cages? Did someone let them out? Why didn’t they alert all the humans before that?
  • I can’t believe he has a wife. I wonder if his wife is familiar with all the things he did while on the boat. Is he back to being a vegetarian now? Does she ever doubt his integrity since he broke his diet? Does she ever think, “man deep down this guy is a hypocrite; whenever life gets tough he’ll abandon his peaceful ways”? (Although I guess the theory behind vegetarianism is that there are no reasons for us to eat meat because we’ve advanced to the stage where it’s possible for humans to survive without meat… once it became impossible for Piscine, he had to revert back to human’s primitive ways. Hmm, OK. Resolved.)
  • How did he deduce that the plants were carnivorous?! Just from finding teeth? My inference would’ve been that this tree just happened to grow teeth that looked remarkably similar to human teeth… (Sign #256 that I wouldn’t last two seconds in disaster scenarios)
  • I’m surprised Richard Parker didn’t completely maul him for leaving an island where there’s food and water. Is it only because he’s the Beta in this situation or because he’s also yearning for companionship? If we’re being real about this, when Richard Parker started those mating calls I was thinking he might end up raping one of the meerkats… glad the book didn’t get that kind of dark.

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perks of being a business student

I’d be the first to say I complain way too much. Lately, I’ve been trying to stay thankful for more things, and one of them is definitely my program. I ever had to pick a degree again, business would still be #1.

ONE: the things you learn are applicable to real life.

Doing taxes? Creating a investment portfolio? Understanding what in the world is happening with your paycheck every payday? Unlike other unfortunate young adults, you aren’t expected to figure these things out on your own. Over break one of my friends taking science confessed that she still didn’t understand what a stock was. After I got over my initial shock, I realized that it just shows how this information that we take for granted is completely alien to others. How many times will your knowledge of the scientific name of a particular complex carbohydrate come in handy in regular walking-down-the-streets life? Probably -2. How many times will you be applying your knowledge of finance? Probably every month, when you’re moaning over your credit card statement.

TWO: let’s face it, we have the biggest job market

I have not heard of many business students who end up being unemployed. In contrast, there are so many people from other programs who end up not getting into the career path they wanted and who then… surprise… get a business degree to increase their job prospects!

THREE: you get to dress fancy… a lot.

I guess this could be a pro and a con, depending on your level of laziness. But business = professional, and professional = getting to justify buying a new outfit every time you go out. You can safely get that blouse knowing there will definitely be an occasion in the near future where you can put it on!

FOUR: all the above for way less work.

Every time a see an engineer’s schedule, I shudder and weep a little bit for them. As a business student, you’re expected to spend a lot of your time socializing and networking instead of just studying – all in the name of building up those “people skills” which are so important in your future career.

FIVE: you need way less school

How many years of school does it take to become a doctor? 11+. What about a lawyer? 7-8. Pharmacist? Again, 8. Accountant? 4 years. The numbers don’t lie. (Although if you take business you know you can find a way to make them skirt the edge of lying…)

SIX: and if you’re the type that likes school… go ahead

Even if you end up deciding that one of the traditional business career paths isn’t for you, your degree will still be applicable to literally anything you want to try next. Like it or not, the world is being run by businesses, so if you want to run the world, speaking the business language is an important first step.

Looking back on why I chose this program in the first place, I can see that I already knew almost all of these reasons (except #4 – that was an added bonus). These are some pretty well-known nuggets of knowledge, but a lot of people looking in from the outside assume that at the end of posts like these there’s going to be some “but”. There actually isn’t. A business degree is pretty awesome, and I definitely don’t regret putting myself in the path of getting one.

I usually like to end these things with some pretty picture that can relate to the post but can also break up the wall of text which is this blog. Since business pictures are pretty boring, and National Ice Cream Day just passed (I ate way too much omg), I found one of three ice cream cones instead. You’re welcome.

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br: when everything feels like the movies

I feel like my time management skills this term have improved a lot more. Or maybe it’s because coop slapped my sleeping schedule firmly into place, so I wake up at a decent hour now. I finally started reading again. Our school’s library has a neat little section of novels chosen by library staff. Last week, I picked one out for the first time. I was in a hurry so didn’t get the chance to go through many books, but this was the one I ended up going home with:

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When everything feels like the movies, by Raziel Reid

Here’s a picture of the jacket summary:

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Pretty cryptic, huh? You can’t tell from this that what it means is that Jude is flamboyantly gay.

Jude’s pov is very interesting. If I could put a concrete feeling into these words it’d be like a Marilyn Monroe documentary – a little wistful, a little ironic, and very delusional. There were several times where I screamed out loud and pleaded with the page not to go where I knew it was going (my poor roommates thought I’d seen a bug, which, admittedly, does arouse the same reaction). But nothing could have prepared me for those last few pages, where the story comes completely off its hinges.

This book was awesome. I need to look at recommended books more often instead of just sticking to the niche of ones I like. As an added bonus, I now cannot walk around without seeing everyone as an actor on set.

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that one time at the movies

An incident happened two weeks ago that bothered me for a while, and I just got reminded about it again today. Even though this experience was small, it made me very introspective.

Context: we were celebrating my friend’s birthday and had booked out our student housing’s theatre for the night. We were in the middle of the movie when three guys came in and said that they had booked out the theatre. What was going on?

I’ll spare you the (un)pleasantries and get to the point. Through a long conversation, it turned out that this is what happened: our student housing website had been under renovation for a while. During this time, they had shut down the function on the website where you could book various amenities in the building. Instead, the front desk had a sign-up sheet where you could sign up for permissions to use the amenities. The afternoon of, we had gone to the front desk to sign up. It looked like the theatre was free so we were able to book it. However, it turned out that at some point the website’s sign-up function had been unblocked and you could now book rooms through there as well. The housing company simply hadn’t communicated this fact to the front desk, so both sign-up methods were still operating, which caused a double-booking this particular night.

No one was willing to give up the theatre. From our end, we were in the middle of the movie and were celebrating our friend’s birthday. From their end, the guy who lived in the building had invited his two friends over. This kind of incident had already occurred to him once, and he didn’t want to lose face in front of his friends again. The front desk was closed so there was no one to mediate the discussion. We thought it was reasonable for us to finish the movie first, because we had gotten to the theatre first. They thought it was reasonable to let them finish using the theatre and for us to come back because they weren’t convinced that we had booked the theatre in the first place.

The conversation became very heated and threats started to be thrown around. Both sides were threatening to call the police. One of my friends actually burst into tears, so we let them take the theatre and left. Everyone was in a pretty sour mood afterwards.

I don’t think any of us really cared about giving the theatre up for them. We had a pretty big TV in our living room that we could use to finish the movie. It’s more about the perceived unfairness of the situation that irked everyone. (Imagine a small child shrieking “but… but that’s not FAAAAAAIR!” and you’d be perfectly visualizing what several young adults were doing in that theatre.) If we had signed up to use the space, how was it fair for us to give it up? I kept thinking back to who was right – there doesn’t seem to be a right answer. If we had to put blame on anybody, this mix-up was the housing company’s fault. But could we have handled the situation any better? I don’t have an answer.

For my part, I’m just glad no fights broke out. Towards the end, I was seriously concerned that fists were going to be thrown. And as empowering as vocalizing your rights is, getting someone’s nose broken would not have been a good ending for anybody.

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