Done Gone Got Sick

Ugh, I did it. I got myself sick. Well, no–I tried very hard not to get sick. I went to bed early, I drank lots of water and vitamin tea and ate tons of vegetables. However, the people around me that so kindly coughed into their hands and put them on a surface, wiped their nose before using the keyboard, and so on–those are the ones that gave me their lergy.

I nearly didn’t come to school today. The only reason why I’m here is because I know that I’ll be missing two days in November, and I can’t justify missing more days. That and I need the money for the few hours of work I have today as well. I just can’t talk. My throat hurts too much, I’m trying not to use my vocal chords. I’ve had one class today so far, and I couldn’t tell you what we were talking about–and I was trying so hard to pay attention and keep up! I was hearing the words as they were said, I was putting together the sentences. But I could not for the life of me figure out the ideas he was poking at. I couldn’t comprehend why he was talking so much at us, or what the point behind his words were.

My brain isn’t braining, my throat isn’t throating–am I even here if I can’t participate or function?

I woke up, unable to breathe last night. It took me an hour before I finally found a way that I could sleep somewhat sitting up. As tired as I may be, I factored that into my reasoning when deciding whether or not to come to school today. What else would I do? I wouldn’t sleep because it’s just too difficult with how congested I am. I’d stare at a television that I wished to God would shut up. So if I’m going to do that, then I might as well come to class and get some points for showing up.

Man, I hate being sick.

Religion and Nature

I’m not really sure why I didn’t realize just how much religion I was signing up for when I registered for my classes during spring quarter – but there’s a lot of religion in my classes this quarter. I suppose the term in each of the course titles should have given me the heads up.

Any way, so far my Introduction to World Religions class is more about the world view of everything, and the importance of understanding history in order to be able to attempt to form and participate in a functioning society tomorrow, rather than any particular religion(s).

My Religion, Society and Self class, on the other hand, is proving to be a little bit more into the philosophy of religion itself (Ironic since it’s the only 5 credit non-philosophy class I’m taking).  The premise of the class is very similar to the premise of my World Religions class, which is that we need to know our story in order to participate in the world in the future. However, it’s taking a more specific approach. Whereas my World Religions professor is looking at all the dots that make the main big dot, This teacher is going over specific views of the world.

So far, after reading two chapters into the text book, Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction, it’s talking about the reasons why we have religion. The author, Will Deming, begins by talking about the importance of studying religion as well as the philosophical reason it came about. Considering that it influences how our cultures have developed, it’s fascinating to realize how much we neglect it.

He defines religion as the “orientation of ultimate reality.”

I spent some time thinking about this –really thinking about it. What struck me was the use of the word “orientation.” I wanted to examine what that meant to me. It means to become acquainted. It causes me to think about when new students begin school, there is an orientation which shows them their resources, where things are, and how to go about their college experience. Or perhaps when a person is hired on to a corporation, they might attend an orientation which tells the company’s history and philosophy. So the orientation of reality in this definition would be to become acquainted with the layout, philosophy, and history of reality.

Sounds about right.

Religion tells us our myths, our why-so stories, and our attitudes towards existence. For example, in an interview with Joseph Cambell, he explains that in western religions we’ve separated ourselves from nature, viewing it as a source or original sin; though in the East, there is an evolution with nature. They accept that the world is shared.

The separation of nature idea is that if we were lured into temptation to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (it was the snake, and the snake is part of nature, and the fruit was of nature as well), then is what gave us original sin. We are born with this sin, which is our nature, and we must reject our nature in order to live in virtue.

How does this effect our society? Well, look at how we treat the natural world. Look at every one that has no qualms pouring chemicals down the drain, throwing their trash out the window, raping the earth for its oil, for its resources, giving little thought to the future of it. Look at how well we destroy the earth. Would this attitude have been gained had we not viewed nature as the source of sin?

This is just what is being said between the two classes. However, it’s an interesting thought.

Now, let’s look at the cultures of Native Americans. Beliefs throughout the land incorporated the earth into their every day living. They relied on the land, the rivers and seas to survive, and thus honored them. They honored the animals they ate, they materials that grew, the seasons that brought new years. They honored all of it. Before Europeans settled, they were healthy, and so was the land. In more modern times, the Native Americans that have adopted the American life style, the way we eat – have higher rates of heart and immune system diseases as well as diabetes.

The World We Inherited

One thing my professor has mentioned at least once in each of my classes is the idea of what it is we are inheriting. Many people are keen to shirk responsibility of the state of our world, both the natural one as well as the one structured by our individual cultures. It is not an uncommon attitude that this is simply not our mess, so we don’t have to hold responsibility for it.

There are few things which will make my face turn red in anger when it comes to debates. I am a huge believer that every one has a valid view and point, and part of what helps us all to grow is to hear each other out. However, this is one that I am a brick wall about.

While the state of our economy might not be what we created it to be, if we don’t work together to fix it, then we are all f’d. What’s more, the same goes with the environment. I read an article a while ago that said that because the ice caps are melting, the weight of the ice is no longer pressing down on the earth’s crust. This is allowing the tectonic plates more mobility, which is allowing them to shift more freely, which is why we’re experiencing an influx of earthquakes. The environment is important, and what’s more, it was the choices of yesterday which yielded the great problems of today. Continuing on supporting those choices is only going to cause bigger problems tomorrow.

I was in a conversation with a friend of mine. We get along in every aspect except for this one, during which–and I’ve told him this–I want to strangle him, and I’m not a violent person. His argument is “I am just one person, what I do doesn’t make a difference.”

How many thousands of people say the exact same thing?

My instructor says concisely what has taken me speeches to express. “If there is I, then that implies that there is not-I.  We need to stop thinking in terms of I and  thinking in terms of us.”

Everything is bigger than each individual. It took a mass of people to get us to where we are, and it’ll take a mass of people to get us out. So why are we considering ourselves as I, when clearly that creates a divide, which puts the individual us outside of the playground from the rest?

Let’s consider what my friend said, but replace the singular, first person pronoun, with a multi-person pronoun. “We are just one person, what we do doesn’t make a difference.” When there are thousands of people saying what my friend said with their singular personal pronoun, they are really saying what was just reworded. And it sounds ridiculous.

We have inherited a broken system. But no one’s going to fix it but us. Look at the pronouns you use, how do they define your reality and your perception of the world around you?

How to Apply to Universities in the United Kingdom (for International Students)

Having just gone through the long process myself, I would be more than happy to share the experience. It does take a little while to gather the resources together, so be prepared. I’m coming at this from an American’s perspective. The application procedure might vary depending on where you’re applying from (those from Canada, Australia and New Zealand might find the process a little easier, for example).

Here’s what you need to know and do:

Application Dates

First thing to keep in mind is that application due dates are going to be a fair amount of time earlier than the University application deadlines in your own country. I’m applying to get into programs that start in the Fall of 2016, and my deadline is October of 2015. To be on the safe side, I set my own deadline of September 30th, and was able to finish a little early.

There’s another thing to consider along these lines as well. If you are applying to schools both in your own country as well as in the UK (or anywhere else other than your own country), you need to keep in mind that you might get accepted at different times. This might seem like a no-brainer, but when it comes down to having deadlines regarding when you need to accept your acceptance, they might conflict.

For example: I don’t need to apply to my US schools until January. While I’m anticipating going to school in the UK, if a particular school in the US accepts me, I’d be an idiot to turn it down (long story, one you can piece together by reviewing past blog entries). However, because I’m applying to my UK schools earlier, I’ll hear back from them earlier, and might have a deadline to accept them which is before I hear back from US schools. This means I have to gamble and make a choice early. If you find yourself in this situation, I don’t have an answer for you – yet. It may come with time.

Where to Apply

Do your homework. Make sure you find the programs that are best suited to you and at which schools. It’s easier if you do this before hand, but you can do this while you’re filling out your application (I’ll get to that next).

The way the application process works in the UK, is fairly brilliant (at least, in comparison to the way US university applications work). You need only go to one website ( www.UCAS.com )  and apply to the programs you’re interested in. there are some stipulations, however.

You can only apply to five programs

Chose your programs wisely. You can apply to one or two universities if you want, or five different ones. However, it counts the programs you apply to. For example, two programs I was interested in were the English Literature program and the Literature and Philosophy program at Durham University. While they’re both at one school, they count as two programs.

You don’t need your letters of recommendation.

As I scrambled to harass my teachers to gather my letters of recommendation to upload to the server, I realized that they didn’t want any files or PDF’s at all. Instead, they want you to chose a person they will interview. For this they require that you firstly get permission from your reference to give out their contact information, as well as ask them when they are not available to take calls of this nature. Then the site asks that you pass along your reference’s email address, phone number, and address. After this is done, you are able to send out an invitation to your reference, to which they agree to, and then “they” (the website? The administrations department of the Universities? I don’t know) contact your reference and get their glowing review.

The Cost of Applying

It is normal for there to be a processing fee for any university you apply to. I happen to know that the university in my hometown of Bellingham – Western Washington University – charges $55, while other schools like Cornell and Columbia Universities, can charge an upwards of $75 processing fee.

With UCAS, there too is a fee. However, unlike applying for schools in the US, you won’t be paying per university. You’ll pay a one time fee of £22 for your application, which translates to (approximately, with the exchange rates current to the date of this post) $33.54 (USD), $44.79 (CAD), $47.92 (AUD), and €29.84 (EUR).

How Long To Expect to Wait

I won’t lie, I don’t have an exact time frame on this. However, many of the answers I have found have estimated between 10-14 working days. And I assure you, they will be the longest 14 business days you’ve ever encountered. But once you know, one way or the other, it’ll be worth it.

Good luck applying!

All Over The Place–Making My Blog More Prolific

This quarter is going to be rough, but at the same time, fairly simply. I’m taking four classes, all of which are proving to be reading and writing intensive. However, two of them are Philosophy classes (Critical Thinking and Introduction to World Religion, both taught by the same professor – who I had during Spring quarter in my Gender, Science and Literature class – and one of my classes is an IDS class called Religion, Society and Self, and my fourth is an honors English class. Really, I have a quarter filled with analysis which simply involves philosophical thinking.

However, after hearing essentially the same lecture each day from my professor who teaches the same class, though in different contexts, I have realized something not only about myself, but about this blog: there is more to this that I am giving credit to.

My instructor for the two classes, Watters, is filled with little applicable sayings. Granted, due to the nature of his classes, he ought to be. However, a few of them are allowing me to connect some dots, allowing me to realize how much every aspect of my experience is intertwined and contributing not just to the me, but to the we.

Watters made mention of this, though didn’t go into as much detail during my Gender, Science and Literature class from a couple quarters ago. This time, he actually explained it in full. He called himself out on the main critique many students and faculty have about him – something that I have heard from co-workers in the Writing Center as well.

He cleared the whiteboard, grabbing a pen at random and began throwing up random dots all along the blank slate.

“People say I’m all over the place.” He put more dots on the board, scattering them vastly. “I’m here, and over here – no one knows what this point over here is – and then I’m way over here, and there–” more dots. He turned to us. “I’m all over the place. But what is the key word here?” He eyed us, challenging the answer. “The. And what does the associate with? Place. I’m all over the place. How many places is it? One.” He paused, in his classic way of allowing us to digest this. “If you stand far enough back, all of these points come together and become one point.”

And thus, I wish to rename my blog.

I am not just the student–or rather, I am a student (as should you be), but I’m not just the individual currently enrolled in the American educational system. I am a thinker, I am a being curious in the workings of reality, material and metaphysical, known and unknown. All these things contribute to that which is me.

The idea that is presented by Thomas Berry in the movie The Great Story is the idea that one is all. if there is truly one deity, this deity is limitless. If this deity created the universe, and did so in its image, then that is the universe. We as humans cannot be its image, because we are limited. Thus, everything in creation holds and aspect of this deity, and where one thing ends, another begins. The Universe is limitless, as we understand it.

Let us consider this as a plausible theory. If this is so, and I am an aspect of this deity–just as you are, the banana you ate for breakfast, the computer you’re typing on, and the socks you discarded after stepping in a puddle and soaking them–then why should I limit myself–or this blog–to one definition?

I’ve been finding myself struggling to write. I do want to write, I do want to blog, and over the last year – particularly after Toby and I split up, I’ve struggled to know what to write about. I have defined this blog as my journey through higher education, and that which contributes to it. So I write about how I survive–working with goat cheese and as a tutor–as a student, and what I learn as a generic student. But there is so much more to the experience. I want to write about the science articles I come across on break that are simply something interesting to consider. I want to talk about the change of the seasons and how they contribute to my belief system. I want to talk about the zealots down town that picket the farmers market and tell us we’re all burning in Hell. I want to talk about compassion, stationary (I have a very odd passion for stationary), what I do to keep warm instead of wearing socks, the vegan Thanksgiving I enjoyed, and so on.

This needs to be more than simply the student experience as one might initially consider. This needs to be the human experience, since we are all students of life–and if we’re denying that to ourselves, then we ought to just jump ship because what’s the point?

So, I have decided to rename the blog (if I can figure out how) to All Over the Place. This is in part in tribute to my instructor who talks in circles, repeating the same thing over and over, and bringing us to different understandings each time; an in part because I simply am all over the place, and I just can’t limit myself any longer.

Struggling with deadlines? Write down a to-do-list!

Source: Struggling with deadlines? Write down a to-do-list!

Arrogance 

For work at the Writing Center, our boss wanted us to go to the Personal Statement workshop – which makes perfect sense, seeing as we see tons of them every quarter. Personal statements, for those who aren’t sure, are the essays students have to write when trying to get into a University. 

A lot of it I already knew. However, the presenter said something which suddenly made me doubt myself. Not so much my role in the Writing Center, but my own personal essay I submitted to the UK schools. 

I’ve been so confident that I will get into one of those school, even if I don’t get into the U.S. Schools, that it never occurred to me that Iight actually not be good enough to get into any school. Or, perhaps I am, but my essay wasn’t up to snuff (though in all fairness, it’s one essay going to five different schools and programs that only allowed for 4,000 characters). What if I don’t get into any school at all?

It’s a possibility I didn’t even consider considering. That’s arrogance. And something that could potentially harm my future plans. It’s a terrifying thought.