Might Have Missed the Deadline

As it turns out, I didn’t apply correctly for my student loans. Because I’m too independent and under-educated for a PLUS loan, I had to apply for Sallie Mae, which I indicated in the weird spreadsheet Durham’s Financial Aid sent me to fill out. They also sent me a flow chart of directions, telling me to follow it to the letter. I did so. Apparently, what was left out was that I was going to have to apply for Sallie Mae loans separately, on a separate Cost of Attendance spreadsheet as well as on a different website all together.

I set to work on that. As it turns out, because it’s an international school that I’m going to, I have to apply on a special version of their website, or something of that matter. I can only get to it through Durham’s website. I followed the link, clicked the dreaded “Get Started” button, and it took me to a page which had a message pop up reading:

“Invalid Offer

The offer you’re responding to is either invalid or no longer available.

For more information about our current products, go to SallieMae.com. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
I went to the Sallie Mae website, which gave me no information whatsoever regarding what I was after.
I think that I might have actually missed the deadline. I think I missed the cut-off point for the loans. I’ve emailed the contact person for Durhams’ Financial Aid office, and since it’s a little late in the morning, I’ve got to wait until potentially tomorrow for him to get back to me.
Always a waiting game.
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Jenny Saul on Brexit — Feminist Philosophers

This I felt was a good sharing of thought on the Brexit. I personally have a great deal of difficulty with the decision made, as it affects me on a financial and emotional level. I do believe that part of the problem was so much misinformation flying around that no one knew what to believe. I think that’s something that should be completely eliminated from any campaigning process. Only strict, interpenetrated facts should be used.

Jenny Saul has written a fantastic piece over at Huffington Post about the complexities of Brexit. Racism and xenophobia are, she agrees, a part of the explanation for the success of the Leave campaign, and was doubtless a major motivator for some (though not all) Leave voters. But, she argues, it would be far too simplistic […]

via Jenny Saul on Brexit — Feminist Philosophers

 

Red Cross Poster

As many people might have seen, the Red Cross is under scrutiny for their “racist” poster. I didn’t know anything about it until one of my friends posted an article about it on Facebook, saying that people were just being overly sensetive at this point, and choosing to get offended.

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So here’s what this picture depicts: individuals following the rules and breaking the rules of the pool (such as no pushing, no diving, no running, no….don’t whatever that kid in the middle of the pool is doing that’s labeled as not cool). However, it’s clear that the majority of the “not cool” actions are being performed by non-white kids.

Sure it could just be a coincidence, and one might argue that it’s great that they included different ethnic backgrounds on this poster. However, when those that are not white are not seen as doing anything “cool” or correct in accordance to the rules, there is a subliminal message that goes along with this, and that is why people are offended, and openly calling it racist.

There are a huge amount of people who are jumping on the Politically Correct bandwagon because it makes them feel as though they have power in the world. However, there is an even bigger group of people who legitimately have the right to voice their complaints, and this is one of those cases. This is a prime example of White Privilege here. My friend who said people were being overly sensitive is white, and thus doesn’t have to worry about the subconscious programming that happens–either purposefully or accidentally–since, as seen in this poster, the vast majority of the time it’s saying people who are white are “cool” and “follow the rules”.  However, when we’re in a world where people of color are getting shot for far less than people that are white by the police, then yes, posters like this absolutely matter.

Yes, equality of people of different religions, different colors, different/fluid genders, etc, is the name of the game–ensure they have equal right and equal pay and equal opportunity. But there is a deeper level here. Calls for attention to White Privilege and Third Wave Feminism and true religious freedom all have to do with our attitudes toward one another, and undoing the programming that has been instilled over the past decades and centuries. It’s about getting rid of the mentality that “Sure, every one should be able to be with who they want to be, but I just don’t want to see two men kissing”, “Yeah, I suppose women need to work too and get equal pay, I just don’t want to hear about them griping about their periods”, “Of course black lives matter, but so does every other life.”

There are a lot of people who don’t understand the Politically Correct movement’s philosophy, which isn’t just to avoid words which might trigger people (though that is a part of it), but rather to undo social subliminal programming with the words we use in every day speech, which alter the views we might have of those next to us that might just be different in some way.

So yes, this poster is racist. It’s extremely likely that the Red Cross had no idea what they were doing when they created and published it, because maybe they were acting on subliminal cues. But either way, it’s not something that people are being overly sensitive about. This is a matter of quality of life for millions of individuals within our own supposedly civilized societies. In a time now where fear is ruling our political decisions, we need to make sure that we are uniting to fight against those who are dividing us, be aware of what advertising and media are telling us, and work together to create our own harmony.

Gender-Swapping (In Writing)

A few months ago, I introduced a book that I adore to my boyfriend (The Black Jewels: Trilogy by Anne Bishop), which he began reading, and enjoyed. When he was first delving into the first chapter, I eagerly asked, “What do you think?”

“It’s good. Very obvious that it was written by a woman,” he replied with the massive compilation of the trilogy in his lap.

I was really curious about this. I wanted to know what elements about it revealed the gender of the author. I thought that perhaps it was about a little girl which gave it away. I tried to ask him, but he couldn’t really put his finger on it, and since he’s new to the literary analysis world, I did’t press him too much.

I began wondering about my own writing. Does my writing give my gender away? Should it? Does it matter? In theory, it shouldn’t matter, and there should simply be a compilation of literautre out there that simply reveals different aspects of humanity. However, a fair few podcasts I’ve listened to (and I do listen to a lot), talk about how books/movies/shows/comics are generally seen as for-women. Unfortunately, I can’t pinpoint which podcast it was which specifically said that (I listen to a few: Writers on Writing, The Partially Examined Life, and The UnMute Podcast–all of which are likely candidates), however the one that sticks out in my mind is A season 11 episode of Writing Excuses called “Examining Unconscious Biases with Shannon Hale.”

In this episode, I do distinctly remember how they talked about women in science fiction and fantasy either being the maiden fair who needs saving, or being overly-compensated to be 110% badass in spandex (which you can absolutely see in most pop-culture media). The writing prompt at the end was to take a story that’s already been written and swap the genders.

I thought it was an interesting prompt, but I also didn’t feel like I fell into that category of writer.

However, for whatever reason, yesterday I realized that I absolutely fall into that trap. Three out of my four novels have male-dominated characters, or at least, male leads. So I took the one that I’m mostly focused on now, which is my NaNoWriMo attempt from 20015, and am slowly going through and changing the pronouns to feminine ones and altering the name. I’m trying not to alter the motions and mannerisms too much (though there are some things that simply can’t be avoided) to see if I can successfully portray a realistic, independent woman.

What’s more, is that I began wondering why I felt like I couldn’t successfully write a strong female lead in the first place, and why me default was a male. I think that female characters are often too close to home for me, since I am a woman, and thus I worry that I’ll put too much of myself into these characters. Though that’s just my five minute pondering on the subject matter.

However, the exercise is interesting. I plan on printing out a couple of chapters, handing them to different people and seeing how the response goes for each gender, then maybe give them the other copy and see how their ideas of the story changes.

FAFSA Application Completed

Ugh. I just finally filled out my application for Financial Aid. I’m looking at having to pay back about $200 a month just in federal loans, and another $550 a month for Sallie Mae. I feel sick.

Kids, save up your money and pay for tuition out of pocket.

A Personal Worry About Brexit

While I sit here and wait for updates regarding the vote count and outcome of the EU Referendum which I wrote on earlier today, I can’t help but consider how this influences my unique situation.

Given that I’m a dual citizen, holding both an American and a British passport, I have the liberty of being able to live an work anywhere in the EU as well as any of the common wealth nations under the Queen’s rule (e.i. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). If the UK succeeds in separating from the EU, then my personal dreams of living in France are done, unless I manage to go to school over there (which is just a passing whimsy since my French just ain’t that good), as well as my hopes to live on a river boat in Holland.

However, my direct situation is greatly influenced by this as well. I’m looking at taking out an extremely hefty loan from Sallie Mae, about which I literally have read pages and pages upon horrific reviews on Consumer Affairs. I’ve been terrified to take out loans with them, but they are literally my only option since they’re the only non-federal student loan company that works with Durham University.

So while I’m sitting here, trying to convince myself to bite the bullet and just send in my FAFSA application already so that I can know that I’m going to school this fall, I am suddenly struck with the horror of how this EU thing is going to possibly screw me, personally, over.

As mentioned in my previous post (which I linked further up), the decision for the UK to leave the EU has an extremely strong possibility of dropping the pound’s value. This could actually work out for me, since it would mean I have to take out less in US Dollar (USD) loans to cover my tuition. However, the bigger picture is that if the pound’s value drops, then that means the economy has dropped, and it has been suggested over and over again that a recession will follow. In 2007, a recession hit the UK, as well as the EU, and on to the US. If one has a recession, then the rest follow. That means that my likelihood of finding a job after college is less, which means I’m very much less likely to be able to pay back my very steeply interest-rated student loans.

So, I wait another day, sitting on my Financial Aid spreadsheet, hoping that I’m not waiting too long before I have the door shut on me for starting this year at Durham University. I feel like I would be silly to apply the day before I find out I’m 100% screwed with debt. This is a huge decision. I’ve never had to deal with this much money before, and the implications of what tomorrow could be like are absolutely terrifying to me.

For information of how this will influence students, I have found the following articles:
The Complete University Guide: EU Referendum – How does the European Union affect universities and students?” This is mostly about how it affects students in the UK and in the EU.
Fortune:Why U.K. Universities Are Really Worried About ‘Brexit’
Student World Online:How Will EU Decision Affect International Students in the UK?

The “Brexit” and Why It’s Important to the Rest of the World

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From Global Research.ca, “Brexit Market Volatility? The Big Financial Blockbuster. Three Scenarios”

While many of you might not be in the U.K., or a part of the E.U., the E.U. Referendum influences us all. For those who are unaware, today, on July 23rd, 2016, England is voting whether or not to stay a part of the European Union.

The E.U. was formed just after World War II in an effort to boost economies after the devastation of the war. The United Kingdom (Comprised of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland) was crawling, economically, as was Germany and a great many other countries. The joining of forces, and the combining of one currency (the Euro) brought Europe back into a good place. In comparison, it has usually always been of a higher value than the American dollar (though to be fair, has sometimes been equal to). The U.K. kept their pound, which has kept doing better than the euro (at least during my lifetime), though has participated in the other benefits the E.U. has offered.

The European union also allows all its members to be able to cross boarders within its countries to work without the “red tape”. This means that people from France can go work in England, in Germany, Spain, etc., without a work visa, for example. The complaint by many of those in England, is that this is the downfall of their membership in the E.U..

The claim is that too many people from outside the U.K. are coming and taking their jobs, shipping their money back to their own countries, and bleeding the economy. However, what is neglected to be mentioned, is that just as many, if not more, citizens of the U.K. are doing this to other countries.

So what does this have to do with the rest of the world?

Coming from an American standpoint, we are allies with the U.K., and thus, we are obligated to help them in their endeavors, and that might include a recession which is very likely to follow should they separate from the E.U.. What’s more, since all countries are connected by their trade, if one country goes into recession, they all do (recall 2007?). An article posted by The Gardian states:

The biggest concern in Washington is not just over the waning influence of its most important diplomatic ally within Europe, but the destabilising effect an exit could have on the continent as a whole. If other member states follow suit, the EU itself could slowly unravel, leaving it vulnerable to growing Russian economic influence and perhaps weakening Nato too. The western alliance, constructed after the second world war and a cornerstone of US influence in the world, could have a deep crack running through it by Thursday.

Now, combine this with the potential of Donald Trump becoming president, who is already on very thin ice with the rest of the world, and the U.K. parliament has already had a vote as to whether or not they want to let him in their country, and this could end in a sever break up of world alliances. Throwing Putin, in Russian, into the mix, makes for an extremely dangerous combination. What’s more, since this move is unfavorable to those in power in London, their Prime Minister, David Cameron, would no longer be P.M., and thus, as a new U.S. president steps up to the plate, as would a new P.M..

If circumstances were different, the changing of the leadership guard in both the U.S. and the U.K. at the same time would not be a bad thing, or really anything to note. However, with the anger that is in both countries, the rashness without full education which is rising up, this could severely devastate everyone involved.

You can read more information on how it will influence the world at this very informative Wall Street Journal article, “A British Exit From the EU Would Have Global Consequences.” You can also view a projected financial analysis from the Global Research website’s article, “Brexit Market Volatilit? The Big Financial Blockbuster. Three Scenarios.