And Still the Sleigh Bells Ring

  • 17 December 2013, 09:37

I was going to add the next installment to “Ch..Ch..Changes”, but ultimately decided that I was feeling a bit too festive to be maudlin. Plus, being with my kids for the first time since the summer has narrowed my thinking to an all-together more jolly perspective. My boys still have a few years to believe in Santa and all the magic, so I am helping my ex-partner (their mother) to decorate the house, maxxing out the credit card, stuffing my face with mince pies (I can’t help it… It’s an addiction), and maintaining a cheery level of hyperactive glee. It could be argued- and has been mentioned- that I am the biggest child of all.
It’s nearly Christmas, and I’m delighted to be back on the Emerald Isle.
Indeed, the economic crisis in 2008 did extensive damage to the country. The effects are still obvious (it was also one of the cathartic events that ultimately resulted in my new status as a student…I’ll follow that up in my blog next semester). But in a sea-side town one hour south of Dublin, all concerns for austerity and penny pinching have been brushed aside. The air is permeated with carols and frantic shoppers are pounding on pavements that have been fairly empty for a year. “Fairytale in New York” is the most played song on the radio. I’m well on course for my annual expanding waist-line.
There will be no snow this year. Thankfully! It was 14 degrees when I flew in last week. 14 degrees in December (in Dublin), and my thoughts on such have definitely been influenced by my Geography module. Global warming or a fluke pre-cursor to an unexpected cold snap that will leave us all shivering in our thermals? Either way, the less snow the better. Sure, it’s magical on the first day when it’s all white, pure, and pristine and I’m in front of the fire, clutching a single-malt and staring out the window…but after that? No thanks!
(My fellow student, Clark, has the right approach for a warm Christmas. He’s gone down under, to Australia, for bbq turkey on the beach and bikini clad elves. Totally surreal to a Northern Hemisphere lad like myself, but I fancy trying it one day!)
But the temperature has dropped in the last two days. Logs are crackling on the fire and, baby, it’s cold outside. Santa will need to wrap up warm.
It’s good to be finished with the first block of modules in time for the holidays. Like everyone else, it was a bit of a slog to get all the papers submitted in time and study enough to pass any exams. But that final push has paid off as the results are coming in. Thankfully, I can start the second semester with my head held high, knowing that my marks were good, and comforted by the fact that I have learned in the process. A step closer to the PhD! However, there were other lessons learned. All of which are held in agreement between myself and my late night study-buddy Adina.
Firstly, it is essential that I (we) return to the diligence held initially in regards to attendance at lectures. It can be too easy to give them a miss when you know they are not compulsory. Then you get a test and realise that, despite endless catch-up reading, you’ll be fortunate to even get a pass. This also has a knock-on effect. The time that you spend cramming for a test eats into other module study time. Uni subjects are far too comprehensive for a laissez faire approach.
Secondly, time management needs adjusting. Thankfully, essays are a strong point of mine, and I can hammer out a good 2000 word paper a day before the deadline. But, they are normally written over night in an exhaustive mental workout that entails zero sleep and far too much coffee and nicotine. I like my bed and the routine of my relationship with it, and I hate being too tired the following day, so something has to change.
Finally, although my reading habits are good, there is room for improvement. Towards the end of the semester, I had my core books constantly opened on the coffee table and would read a section at regular intervals. History is all about reading and writing, and I aim to better this routine by allowing more time for a second, or third, deeper reading. I even brought the book for the next module on holiday with me (although admittedly this is also due to completing Game of Thrones and not allowing extra time to get to Waterstone’s).
That’s the plan. Re-adjust, persevere, and keep moving forward.
But for now, like you, I’m on a break. I’m already enjoying it immensely.
And while Clark is in the sun, Adina is in Romania- set to stuff herself with roast pork and cozonac and gogosi (I hope she brings some back!) and my friends Miska and Simon are bound for Slovakia to see their families, I’m here in Ireland, feeling good.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and the best of luck for the New Year.

Written by:

Mature undergrad studying History with Geography. Originally from Dundee, but have spent most of my life living in other countries. Love reading and writing, am a total sci-fi geek and comic book fan, and an amateur film buff that loves all genres of cinema. Trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but it's a work in progress...old habits die hard!

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