The musings of a silly student... And not much else.

The musings of a silly student... And not much else.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Societies, Ben's paintball, disappointment and Debonairs's after eleven-special...

For the delay, I will now apologise profusely.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!

Now, we get back to business. I have had a few assignments, paragraphs and essays marked and they do not seem to be all that awful. For Economics, I seem to be hanging between B-'s and A's. I have an Economics test on Friday, though, and then I will know for sure where I stand with this dark horse of a subject. For Sociology, however, I have a 50% assignment burning a hole in the lining of my heart... 85% for my first Journalism report, however, seems to act as Burnshield. Tomorrow my first English paragraph will be returned to me. Quite apprehensive.

On a more positive note, Societies evening was held on Thursday evening. I joined two societies: SHARC (Student HIV/Aids Resistance Campaign) and the African Drum Society.

I am joining SHARC because I would like to become a Peer Educator next year. As a Peer Educator, you give talks on awareness and safety, as well as on how to handle the virus. I get to demonstrate fun things like male and female condoms and dental dams. To me, this campaign is very important and I would like to make a difference to someone, somewhere.

The African Drum Society was my "for fun" society. Benjamin has joined as well, and every Friday afternoon at four we will meet at the Botanical gardens, relax, and listen to and/or play some African drums.

The last thing I signed up for is not so much a society as a movement, with one particular event coming up that I am incredibly interested in attending. We will be marching in solidarity for victims of rape, as only ONE in nine women who are raped report the crime, and of these, only 4% are successfully prosecuted. I will have my mouth taped shut and wear a T-shirt proclaiming these statistics. For the whole day.

As part of JMS, I also joined the independent student newspaper called "Activate". I signed up for three sections: Sub-editing, Opinions and Business. After my first "Subbies" meeting on Tuesday, you will know more!

As you might have noticed, I have created a new Facebook account for friends and family that I really want to keep in touch with. I will not really be very active there, but at least I can keep an eye on your events, photographs and news!

Last night, after watching the season finale of Hell's Kitchen (A great show that I do recommend), Benjamin and I made a run for Debonairs, which has a special (for drunken students, I presume) that runs from 11pm to 2am and consists of two small pizzasand a very large cheese and garlic sub. Yum.

Today, I watched Benjamin play paintball with the Paintball Society. It looked very fun! Ben is quite battered and bruised, but he enjoyed it immensely. I am reading Hamlet today, to keep up with lectures that move at a startingly rapid pace.

I miss you all so incredibly much... April is ever approaching, though, and I will be home before you know it. I love you!

PS: Ouma, here is a research project for you:

Assess the importance of the development of writing in human history. What have been its major benefits and what problems has it brought?

Just a few thoughts from you, for if you start missing me too much... (This is for History!)

I love you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Out of gas, out of road, out of car, I don't know how I'm gonna go...*

My pocket money for February has officially run out. No more hiding, no denying. On what, you ask? I have absolutely no idea. I tried to keep my slips, but they got lost with my recycling paper and, as a result, were recycled (at least I promoted the interests of the environment if not the interests of my pocket).

Mom, I think I will make an appeal to you tonight. Be prepared. Both of my pairs of shoes broke, I had to buy laundry supplies, I need to pay Benjamin back my part of our Haralambos, M. and Holborn, M. 2004. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. (6th ed.) London: Collins (textbook), I need water because our water is filled with aluminium to kill all the stomach bugs in it (I know, I thought so too) and I must appeal that one week in February has single-handedly engineered my demise: Benjamin's birthday followed by our ten-month anniversary celebration and a dash of Valentine's Day. A recipe for disaster.

Sometimes I think about money. It is such a bizarre concept. Paper that is utterly meaningless drives people to sleep with, befriend, hurt and brutally murder each other. What for? It would be exactly the same if we were still trading in shells or pine nuts. Why this need for accumulating more and more and more of such an intangible, transient idea? When you remove yourself from the situation, you see how absolutely futile it actually is.

I think I have shown that I, as an 18-year-old student, possess over incredible insight. I think that is more than enough of that. I still need money.

Classes are going very well. Have I explained the concepts of lectures and tutorials to you yet? Lectures are big "talks" we are given in groups of about 200 to 300 students, in a big lecture hall. You all know what a lecture is. Nobody knows if you are actually attending them, no homework is dished out and nobody actually cares but you.**

Tutorials, on the other hand, are an absolutely crucial part of university. For each subject I take, I have four lectures and one tutorial. For English Literature I have three lectures and two tutorials. Tutorials are small classes of about 10 to 15 students and are led by a Masters or Honours student in the subject. The focus is on preparation and discussion. All assignments are handed in here and discussion and understanding takes place here. If you do not attend 80% of tutorials, you lose your Duly Performed Certificate and are not allowed to write your exams.

Sociology: Tutorials require a typed essay once a week.
History: Preparation for the discussion of a certain topic and at times, essays and assignments.
English: Written answers to questions (for personal use) which will be discussed in class and paragraphs (to be handed in) twice a week. Assignments and essays will start soon.
Economics: Two essays and multiple choice questions with typed explanations once a week.
JMS: One or two reports once a week, I'm not too sure about how this one will work just yet.

I need to go have some lunch now, and after that I will start reading Hamlet. Reading? For university? Bring it on!


* Modest Mouse - Out of Gas
** I attend all my lectures, Mom!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week Three

Could I really be nearing the end of another week already? I feel as though I have not even touched ground in the past three weeks... How could they be over already?

But, as I look over my 'Rhodes' folder and its steadily growing contents, I remember why it feels as though my university career has not really started yet: I have been doing too much work! I have been so busy typing, scribbling, printing, scanning, copying, reading, rereading, proofreading, editing, running around, handing in, defining, discussing and describing that I had not stopped to think for one second thus far.

Well, this isn't going to be it. I have to get to the library to print my sociology assignment!

I love you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ice age, heat wave, can't complain...*

The blistering heat that swallowed Grahamstown about a week ago, kicking and screaming, has not let up yet. It showed some promising (yet, ultimately, deceptive) signs of cooling down on Sunday, which was Valentine's Day. Benjamin and I were blessed with some beautiful, lyrical, romantic clouds on this romantic holiday.

I planned to surprise Benjamin at his res at exactly 11:11 with a cactus (the perfect flowers for this manly man), The Sunday Times, cupcakes and a letter. I got beautiful flowers (they suit me perfectly!) and 70% cocoa luxury dark chocolate... I felt very lucky!

After lunch, Ben and I took the paper to the luscious green lawns outside my dining hall, and we spent the afternoon reading, laughing and eating. My favourite Valentine's Day by far.

I have drifted off the point completely, as I am prone to do.

Heatwaves. Polar ice caps melting. Pollution.

For the past week I have been researching this mouth-frothily juicy issue and I still cannot say that I am educated enough to make a decision. It seems to me, as with any heated topic of debate, that there are two camps, both friendly and waiting for you to sign up and get sucked in.

One of the abovementioned camps denies that climate change is real and/or caused by human beings. As far as I know, one of their main arguments is that the world temperature is fluctuating, and taking its natural course: getting hotter, and cooling down. Even if it might take thousands of years, the cycle will continue. Sitting in puddles of my own sweat makes me feel a little less friendly towards air-conditioned, hair-conditioned CEOs of motorcar companies and paper mills.

Concerning our familiarity with the other camp I have no doubt. Human pollution is bringing the end of the world closer with frightening rapidity, and we should all do our bit to save the environment by organizing lift clubs, recycling and winning Miss World. This, I can handle. What I find to have slightly more difficulty in swallowing is the fanatical moral authority 'They' (whoever they are) assume over us mere mortals. 'Going green' has turned into the religion of the week!

As I am still undecided as to my own position on the matter, I will not become a moral authority in my own right and use this blog as a platform to promote some interest above another.

This interesting article makes for some enlightening (if not exactly light) reading.

I have finished my second Economics essay (more essays for Economics than English Literature? What?) for tonight, and I pretend to organize my notes while shuffling some papers around. I cannot promise anything.**

* Modest Mouse - The World at Large
Always give credit where credit is due!

** Just joking, mom, I am working incredibly dilligently and I am more organized than I have been for years!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lessons from the Omniscient, Omnicompetent University Student

Now that I know the ever-elusive Everything, I thought it time to pass on some of this knowledge to the mere mortals I have left behind to pay my bills, clean up my room and generally cheer me on on my path to absolutely mind-blowing greatness and superiority over all humankind.

Mother -
In extreme denial of my proximity to becoming a big person, I long for days on which we would make illicit evening trips to McDonalds or KFC in the middle of the week (!) with mom. One thing parents should know about discipline and kids is that it could be really effective to break the mould sometimes, to do something out of the ordinary and exhilarating to their children. I am unsure as to the reason and logic behind this theory and how it works... Does it shock children into momentary complacence? Who knows?

Always give your children reasons for behaving in a certain way and not another. "Because I say so" has never worked, and I thank and applaud you for never trying, but now that I am studying Sociology I see that we are dependent of each other and of society to follow the norm and conduct ourselves in an "acceptable" fashion, and I think any Big Person should think very long and hard about why this is before they endeavour to produce offspring.

Ella -

Always think as much as possible. Think so much that you even know how to hide it if you one day (God forbid) have a simple-minded teacher who feels threatened by it. Become the kid with the smartest, biggest, fastest, most awesome kick-assest brain in the whole school, city, province, country, continent, WORLD. Just do it. Think about everything and never take anything you hear or see for granted, never think anything is true without inspecting it. Inspect everything and experience everything.

Always love your big sister more than anyone in the whole world, because that is how much she loves you.

Oupa -

Never sell out!

You have passed along much of your highly esteemed knowledge to me, and I do not have much in my mind that is not in yours yet, but if I know one thing about art: be it writing, sculpting, painting, creating, anything: never sell out. Never be anyone to anyone who does not want the specific one that you are.

Ouma -

Always carry on spoiling your grandchildren in every way possible, as you are and have been doing forever. And I know what it is like to want to read every book in the world and I promise you, together we will undertake this heroic endeavour together. I have always loved you with my whole, whole heart.

Eva and Eric -

Being a kid up until very recently, some advice from a kid's perspective: everything is better with sugar, chocolate syrup, sprinkles or a combination of the three. Trust me.*

Having just said goodnight to Benjamin and sent him off to his res - Guy Butler - I was left thinking about the film we had just finished. It is called Se7en and was directed by David Fincher. I had showed it to Ben tonight because, despite being gory and disturbing, it highlighted some important questions he, as a young philosopher himself, had (or should have, at least) thought about in extensive detail.

What is the difference between 'good' and 'bad' and how did human beings come to the conclusions they now take for granted as being the only true and right way? Is religion causing progression or decline in society? What is decline, what is moving forward but a series of random events? What if...

Oh, I am going off on a complete tangent, which proves my personal theory that philosophy tortures your brain with questions and entices you with answers much like a carrot in front on a horse's mouth. The closer you move to the answer, the further away it moves...*

To continue where we last swerved dangerously off the road of reason, the rocks on the edge of the Abyss of Philosophy rolling dangerously underneath our tyres, Se7en also raises the question about the labels people place on each other and what they mean and what their worth to the building of meaning and understanding is to the individual making the prejudgment or society as a whole. What does "crazy" or "mentally ill" mean?

Before I lose the plot totally, I will stop right here. To my two loyal followers: don't watch this movie. You will hate it. There is no doubt about this fact. Spare yourself the disgust and agony, and spare me the worried looks and lectures.

At the moment I am listening to Modest Mouse, something you might like, mother (My heart's a bitter buffalo?) but not exactly Ouma's style. You can look me up on and see what I am listening to while I am listening to it, what I listen to most, what I love the most, what I listen to at what times, etcetera. Ouma, yet another social networking opportunity coming your way? How long are you still going to be on Facebook before there is no longer someone to 'friend' left on the face of the earth?

Today, as I was looking around the blue bathroom with humorous albeit slightly nauseating posters on the walls in my res, I missed my bathroom at home. I miss the bad toilet and the wonky shower and I miss the earrings in the incredibly excessive burglar bars (read: what the heck?) and that silly green little thing you insisted would really dry your whole body if you ever tried it on a bigger part of yourself than your glasses, and I miss how they really are an extension of your face, and I miss your light at the end of the passage and knowing I need to surf the internet in the dark, and I miss when Ella was crying about our lost (read: roaming) dog and I miss how he will always be the skinniest Daschund alive, and I miss hearing the low metallic clinkle (a mixture between clunk and tinkle) of Ella pouring food into the dogs' bowls, and I miss grumbling about the dishwasher (I really still will, believe me) and I miss teasing Ella about eating too slowly, I miss taking long baths in order to put off studying, I miss hating walking (I love it now - go figure)...

I miss Ouma on Tuesdays, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays and every other day of the week as well. I miss her box of sweeties and the pride I felt in having an Ouma with a whole box of sweets in her car just for me! I miss the day I was so little my feet still swung on the ridiculously tall Steers barstools, on which I was perched precariously as you complained about the size of your pattie and I was burning to say "Listen to me Ouma, I am a young person and I was born into the era of disappointment in but unwavering support for fast food stores and other mass producers of childhood joy, such as Toys R Us. I miss being a young girl with big ideas of herself and whose greatest (secret) dream was to run through one of the abovementioned toystores and grab everything my little fists could stuff into an enormous trolley in one minute. I miss my Oupa, my most special and treasured Oupa, and how much I still hate watching cricket. I miss trying to distract him countless times in order to change the channel (it never worked - Oupa is like a hawk, and very nimble). Ek mis julle, Ouma en Oupa.

I miss being anywhere but close to you, the people who raised me, raised hell in my life, raised my spirits... I long for one of your lullabies tonight, mamma.

*My comment on Philosophy sounds much more pessimistic than it truly is. I admire and respect Benjamin immensely for his profound knowledge, open-mindedness and beautifully poetic and honest opinions and his bravery in tackling those very big questions most of us are about as afraid to prod at as an aggravated shark in Florida.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting started

After spending the weekend sleeping, sandboarding, swimming and generally avoiding the reality of lectures starting on Monday, Benjamin and I have finally kicked our university careers into gear - and they've been off to a roaring start.

Attending lectures that are halfway across town from one another with ten minutes of "running time" was relatively awful, but doing it in stifling heat and carrying a book bag over your shoulder is really very far off my idea of a perfect first day.

From English, which was so packed I really enjoyed my groundseat and view of various bums to Journalism and Sociology for which I already had (and have completed!) homework, my day was truly action-packed. Trips to Pick n Pay turned into marathon sprints with armfuls of stationery with which I hope to fulfil my role as perfect academic scholar and pupil and some-day journalist, and lecture halls turned into battlefields for the perfect seat (or even just a seat, I was flexible).

I am on my way to bed right now, after a deliciously refreshing bath and alarmingly deep gash in my leg resulting from a shaving accident, feeling that my day has been, above all things maniacal and frustrating, a success.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Almost There!

O-week has been inching slowly forward, characterised by exhaustion, confusion, thirst and very early mornings. After attending numerous introductory lectures, I seem to have decided what to do. Tomorrow I will be registering myself for Journalism and Media Studies, English, Economics, History and Sociology. This decision was reached after many, many hours of hair-pulling interspersed with bouts of blind panic with an undercurrent of despair.

Your life will always be problematic if you're too curious. I was not only torn into a few pieces by my subject choices, I was sssshredded. Politics, Psychology, Politics, Philosophy and Anthropology had to be sadly waved goodbye to were I to continue in my Journalism degree at Rhodes.

Benjamin is doing well (albeit exhausted) and seems to have decided on Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and History for his first year subjects. I think Philosophy is going to be his favourite subject.

I think I'll take a cushion, a blanket and JD Salinger out for a relaxing afternoon on the lawns in a moment. Excuse me...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kayla at Rhodes

I've finally rigged my new laptop up and I am online!

I'm sitting in Room 39 of John Kotze House, a "Res" in St. Mary's Hall. I'll be off to my first (introductory) Psychology lecture with Benjamin in a short while.

Let me start from the beginning.

On December 6th I missioned down to Plettenberg Bay with friends from high school for "Matric Rage". After a week of club-hopping, beach-dropping and way too much estrogen in one house, Benjamin (Benjamin is my boyfriend, Eva and Eric, we have been dating since April and he is also studying at Rhodes. We'll get to that later.) came to pick me up after a long, loaded and lonely drive down from Johannesburg.

Benjamin and I drove to my dad's farm in Oubos, in the Tsitsikamma. After spending the night and sampling my dad's amazing clay oven cooking for the first time, we got back into the car and started our working holiday (emphasis on holiday) at Alje, a cheesemaker in the Tsitsikamma and a very dear friend of my mom and dad, and his cheese farm and restaurant.

After spending a month making tomato and mozzarella salads, sampling too many leftovers, mixing lemonade and packing green salad masterpieces, we were off again on January 8th. We had spent New Year's Eve looking at the full moon (which incidentally, was a blue moon) and sipping champagne. This time, we were off to begin our seaside holiday at Ben's great aunt's house in Eersterivier, a little seaside village ten minutes from Charl and Helena's farm. We spent three weeks here, and we savoured every moment of it. Benjamin liked walks down the beach and kite-flying, and I loved reading the most. I ripped the soft, delicious meat off every book I had brought down to Rhodes for the whole year.

On January 31st, we said a farewell to the seaside with the appropriate concoction of sadness, apprehension and excitement. We started our (approximately) 3-4 hour drive up to Grahamstown. We stopped in the middle somewhere, a blank spot on the map (which is no small feat), to meet up with my mother and to be introduced to her friends Estelle and Werner, who have been appointed to me and Benjamin as parents-away-from-home.

Registration and moving into Res was a wild, scary, exhilarating blur. My room is pleasantly large, and I have a bookcase, a desk, a comfy chair, a really comfy bed, a washbasin and an impressive "tallboy", which is a chest of drawers topped with little boxes of assorted sizes in which miscellaneous goods belong. And a mirror. Benjamin got allocated to the Res of his choice, Guy Butler House.

There are no initiation practices at Rhodes, but first-year Rhodents have to spend O-Week (Orientation Week) being boomed and bashed and clanged awake at any time between four and six in the morning, when a boys' Res comes to stand on their doorstep and serenade them with a catchy, sometimes suggestive but either absolutely hilarious or sickeningly mushy (and thus awwww-inducing in JK House) every single time. The girls then reply with their own spunky, sexy song (which ranges from amorous to avaricious) and the boys are left outside to pick a slipper from a big pile on the steps. He then enters to common room and looks for the girl belonging to the slipper fate has ordained him, and gets to know her (Name, origin, area of study, and one other answer to a question that changes from serenade to serenade) and has to introduce her to the room full of Rhodents and, in turn, is introduced by her. If there is time, they are also served coffee by the girls for walking through Grahamstown in their underpants or boxers, and formal shirts, blazers and ties.

Activities range from introductory to fun to incredibly stupor-inducing. Today was my first day of introductory lectures. I have attended a lecture on Career Building in the 21st Century, for which I walked all the way around town for and, amazingly did not get lost finding.

I need to finish this submission now, because Benjamin will be arriving on his horse any minute now, ready to sweep me off my feet and off to our Psychology lecture.

I miss you all incredibly.