Friday, March 26, 2010

Regresa!

So I haven’t written for awhile (for my blog at least, I’ve definitely been writing a lot) and things are in full swing now!
I received multiple emails from Hugo and my supervisor Juan Pablo. They have been in Spanish, so it’s been a bit difficult to understand entirely because I’m always afraid I’ve missed something. I met with Joanne yesterday to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, and she quelled some of my concerns in that regard. I am definitely living in Quilino, and I will be working in Quilino and Dean Fun├ęs with el Centro Cultural Quilindo. I will be working with the local artists, which include my host family.

Some more exciting news is that I will be taking 36 hours of class while I am down there and I will get 3 Spanish language credits! I’m extremely stoked about this because by the end of the summer I will have completed half of the requirements for my minor. So as frustrating as it will be to be speaking Spanish constantly, it will be even more worth my frustrations now.

Also, I FINALLY began my volunteer work! Last week, procrastinators united and Raquel and I motivated each other to start our shifts at St. John’s Kitchen! It was the absolute best experience. I went twice last week, and I was hoping to go again this week but a gazillion papers stopped me. I’m hoping to go back sometime next week. I love it there, everyone is really great to work with and talk to. It was also a good precursor to the type of situation I will be in this summer. When we first got there we didn’t really know what to do. One of the things that first threw me off was first thing in the morning. Raquel had a coffee but couldn’t take it into the Kitchen area so Gretchen asked her to drink it just outside in the eating area. I then followed Gretchen into the kitchen because I had thought she would want some work to get done. However, I got into “trouble” because I didn’t stay outside and keep my friend company. I thought that it was so unheard of! In any other jobs I’ve worked in if you chose socializing with friends over work then you made a bad decision. From speakers that have come to my classes that have worked in volunteer positions abroad and others I have learned that it is common to catch up on each other’s social and family life before you start the day. Also, the more relaxed environment was something I am anticipating this summer. If you weren’t comfortable or even didn’t want to do one of the jobs that Gretchen suggested she would let you take a break or do something more attuned to your needs and wants. My favourite part is serving lunch, because I get to say “Hi” to everyone who comes through. I also liked on our first day when we took lunch. Raquel and I sat with two older gentlemen and learned a lot of...life lessons (I suppose they could be called). It was really amusing. I love it there and I plan on going as a procrastination tool during exam period even after my hours are done.
One of the other aspects about my volunteer experience thus far is how welcoming and kind everyone was even though I was only there because “I had to be”. One of my biggest fears all term, which kept getting worse as I tried to avoid it even longer, was being stigmatized for only being there because it was a requirement of the program. I really did want to be there and learn but I wish it had been on my own terms so that I didn’t feel so guilty. I didn’t receive any such stigmatism at all though, and that made me love St. John’s even more. They don’t judge against anyone and I think that’s very admirable.

I did my placement presentation on Monday which means over the last couple of weeks I was doing a lot of research about Argentina and my placement. It was really interesting. One thing that I have been craving information on is the state terrorism in the 1970’s. Being a political science student and having such a desire to learn about cultures, I find it fascinating that Argentina was on the same track as Canada and Australia in terms of development in the early 1900’s but because of the shift in its political system changed completely and is considered a developing country. I am reading a book called, God’s Assassins about the political systems in Argentina that led to the approximately 30 000 Argentines that “disappeared” during a military dictatorship in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Well that’s all I can think of for now,

¡Nos vamos!

PS Check out some of the cool artwork my host mum did! This is one of Joanne's photos from her trip there this December (just to make sure credit is given where due)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ayuda!

I am in the very epicentre of a mental breakdown. I came home this afternoon to go my physical tomorrow that is needed for this trip. So after spending the night with my family I go to bed and just wait for sleep. However, for some unknown reason, all I keep thinking of is everything I need to get done in such a short amount of time, all of the time I’ve probably wasted, and everything that I’ve failed at so far. And throughout all of this stress the only other thing I can think of is that I really don’t have anyone to talk to about it all. For at least the last week, although it’s likely been longer, I’ve just wanted to talk about some of the things that were stressing me out right then and there but I couldn’t. There are some people that I know have announced themselves as being there if needed but I just can’t take them up on that offer because I never know where to start when they ask and I never believe that they will understand what I’m frustrated about unless they know the whole story. I’m so emotionally and mentally exhausted that I’m starting to just want this whole experience to be over so that I can come back and just focus on the things I need to, which is a healthy balance between school and my personal relationships without anything else in the way. I want to just feel as though I can have a fresh start where all of the assignments and commitments of this term will be gone.

I think this would make more sense if I talk about the things I’m stressed about, “wasting time” and my failures. I don’t mean more sense for you, the reader, but for me. Tonight (while cursing this blog) after I started writing this I have finally realized what Joanne has said about using this to vent and that it becomes a good way to get through this experience and analyze how I’m feeling. I have just discovered that this blog is the one person I can “talk” to at any time of the day and I don’t need to start at the beginning because it won’t ask any questions or give me any confused looks.

Why is there so much to do & who thought up this kind of society?

This is the section where I will discuss the main things on my To-Do List that are going to make my brain explode. Blogging! Having to write this thing and being almost two weeks behind in my posts. This is the bane of my existence. I have very high expectations of myself, and meeting deadlines really isn’t that high of an expectation (that’s not what I’m referring to), but when I don’t make one I come down extremely hard on myself. So one would think, that if I am hard on myself for not making a deadline then why wasn’t this blog written two Saturdays ago? This is because, when I miss a deadline and I know I have to face my iron-fisted self I make up excuses. By making up excuses to tell myself then it seems legitimate for missing the date...and then prolonging my procrastination. And then, to make it worse, I tell myself that other people miss deadlines all of the time so missing one or two when I am so prompt every other time isn’t a big deal. However, then I think that because I missed one that I “deserve” the break of missing another one after all of my hard work before annnndd this is what happens: I become behind (which stresses me out), then I panic because I know I need to get it done (more stress), then I reach the stage I am in currently where I have a breakdown and think of how stupid I’ve been for procrastinating so long and make lists that are multiple feet long in my head of everything else I have to do and how impossible it will be to get them all done (peak of stress), and then I finally start tackling something on that list and I realize I have been ridiculous all along because they really aren’t scary monsters and I could have handled them all along with the stress (this is the stage I am currently transitioning to while writing this blog. The second thing on my list is volunteer hours. In 3 weeks I need to complete 20 hours of volunteer work. This would be fine if I didn’t have at least 4 major assignments also due within these 3 weeks – which I do. I have made efforts but nothing is coming to fruition, partially because of my fault and partially not. The third thing on my list is the minimum of 4 assignments due that I have coming up and need to start so that I’m not procrastinating and begin the vicious cycle stated above. The fourth thing is fundraising and just money in general! After producing the first payment, with a little over $1000 and becoming so relieved I have found myself still living in the glory days of reaching that first goal and forgetting that I still need to get $826. I am so scared of not making this goal because I hardly even have enough money to go away this summer (and that is the honest truth, I’m not just saying it like some people do who actually have a couple of thousand dollars in their bank account). This leads to point numero cinco, fundraising events. Our band night at the Bomber is coming up on Saturday and then we are planning a yard sale for the weekend after (which everyone should come to!!! – especially if they want me, and probably the rest of the group also, to stay sane). These are added time suckers, they are taking away time from all of the other things that I already mentioned. And they have the added frustration that once they get done, they may not be a success and therefore not eliminating the previous stress. Fundraising initiatives are not the same as an assignment (such as a blog, paper, presentation, or volunteer work) once that is completed (whether it is good or not) it can be crossed off the list, but if a fundraiser fails then really it just adds even more stress than before. The sixth thing on the list is other extra-curricular activity responsibilities. And the final thing (that I can think of at 2:30AM in the morning) is maintaining personal relationships. This would include my friends at res, my friends from high school, my Beyond Borders group, my four younger siblings, my divorced parents, grandparents and other extended family, and my boyfriend or partner whatever is politically correct these days. I will talk more about this in the next section, but it is still a part of my list. In short: I’m freaking out! Which leads me to the second half of the proposed question/subtitle of this section, “who thought up this kind of society”. HONESTLY, WHO?!?! Who in their right mind would think that these kinds of expectations would bring happiness – which should really be the only goal in life? Why, would I want to pay to come to university or college after I have been forced to go to school for at least 13 years already (especially when those 13 years really didn’t prepare me for anything in the school I now need to pay for)? Why would I then want to get a type of job that EVERYONE says is bogus but still wakes up and goes to work every morning and conforms to? Finally, WHY would I want to do all of this schooling to get that job that will last me 40-50 years so that the only time that I have to relax and enjoy life without distractions is when my body will not physically work properly, and most of my family except for those younger than me, and possibly some friends will be dead? And then the killer question: if this is what our life is subjected to, and the majority of people agree with me, why do we continue to do it?

Is procrastination inevitable?

As I mentioned above, on my To-Do List is personal relationships. It really frustrates me that this is viewed as a waste of time. For example, Q: “why were you hanging out with your friends when you had a paper due?”, A: “because friends, family, whoever, are actually more important than the paper”. Is it because seeing the people we love, need and depend on is enjoyable? Is that why it isn’t viewed as work? I personally think that is my hardest job. Here is an example using one set of personal relationships, maybe if I don't have anything to write for Friday I will inform you on the other ones I mentioned. Since my first term here at university the following scenario takes place:

a)In the 2-3 weeks prior to the end of summer break or the 2-3 days prior to the end of Christmas holidays I spend as much time as possible with my 6 best friends from high school. We discuss how we are going to stay in touch and “actually” text each other all of the time this term.
b)Two-three months into the term I realize I haven’t talked to one of them once. Then I begin to miss them and the texting gradually increases as our reconnection after exams draws near.
c)During our reunification we discuss how “funny” it is that even though we didn’t really talk throughout the term we can still come back from our different experiences and nothing has changed.

I’m worried about when the time comes that our reconnection isn’t enough to keep us together. But the demands placed on us, from schools especially, certainly do not encourage us to remember to call your friend out in Halifax. I just don’t understand how we (human beings), social creatures by nature, have created a lifestyle with the emphasis most certainly not on social relations. The focus shouldn’t be on things such as schools and jobs, those things are there forever; personal relationships are the most temporary things we have and the things we are most careless about. So yeah, I didn’t get my blog or paper done on time, but is that because I “procrastinated” or because I was dealing with something more important on my list. I don’t think that any time is ever “wasted”, how exactly do you “waste” time? We are always doing something, and we shouldn’t be sorry or feel guilty if our priority list doesn’t match up with someone else’s.

Failure stresses me out.

The main thing that I am referring to here is not getting the position of Don that I applied for. I found out a week and a half ago that I was rejected (also coincides with my lack of blogs in case you didn’t notice). Although in the end it works out better and I am really happy about the things that I can do now that I don’t have that responsibility next year, I still failed to achieve something that I put a lot of effort and emotion into. I usually don’t try for things unless I know I can do them and have a good feeling about getting (my pride is too big I suppose) so when I don’t achieve those things I take the general idea of being rejected to heart – even if it works out in the end. So to relate this back to 1700 words ago, this failure has been stressing out. And this failure then makes me think about the other times I have been rejected or failed at something that had a similar sting to it, which stresses me out even more because then I start thinking that all of the things on my To-Do List are going to be failures as well.

It is because of all of these things that my mental breakdown occurred tonight. And as I mentioned 40 minutes ago, this blog and I just became best friends and has become the person I can talk to about my problems (so thanks for listening :) ). It is still a love/hate relationship – as in, I still hate this blog but I am beginning to love it. And I think it’s amusing that a couple of blogs ago I wrote how admitting something usually seems to make it better: after reading our requirements for the credit this summer where we need to write 1 000 000 blogs (I rounded up a little bit), if we want to get an 80%, I did multiple groans and decided to go for a 60%; but now I think I can handle those 1 000 000 blogs. This is way over 1500 words so I hope it can count as my last two blogs mushed together (...please Joanne). Sorry for the disappearance from blog world, I will try not to do it again.

Oh some other things to add to my list that I hadn't thought of before are:
1) Having to get needles at the travel clinic
2) I am trying to set myself a personal goal to give blood at the end of March at the blood donor clinic at SJ but... I do not like blood or needles
3) Not really knowing anything about my placement even though I keep asking people and I keep trying to make connections with people who will know
4) Saying I had 2 volunteer placements last blog and neither have worked so far
5) Ugh.

Nos vamos.