Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Moving On

From now on, you can find me blogging at:

Thursday, 7 August 2014

How to Haggle

Greetings from China! I’ve been here for about two weeks now, and for the most part things are pretty great. I do miss actually being able to see the sky though... oh well, all the delectably delicious diarrhea-inducing food more than makes up for it.

I’ve been trying to put out one post a month to keep things up on this blog. I’m working on an entry that’s a little different, but it’s not quite ready yet. I’ve also been taking some time to finally continue chipping away at the monster that is my first draft of a novel. With said mini and not-so-mini projects in place, I just haven’t been in the mood to write a full-length blog post. But I do have a small… lesson? How-to? to share… just to tide me over to the next month.

We took part in a tour for seven out of the eight days we were in Beijing. Two of those seven days were spent with a hilarious furnace of a tour guide – let’s call him Ling – who alternated between teaching us Chinese history and making us laugh so hard we had tears mingled with sweat dripping down our faces (hey, every day in the itinerary consisted of walking for ages, and summer in China is like being imprisoned in a sauna, so don’t judge). On our second day with him, he took us to the infamous Silk Street.

From Wikipedia:

Silk Street (Chinese: 秀水街; literally meaning “beautiful water Street”), aka Silk Market or Silk Market Street, is a shopping center in Chaoyang District, Beijing, that accommodates over 1700 retail vendors, notorious among international tourists for their wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparel.

Now, everything in Silk Street is ridiculously overpriced but most Westerners have no idea how to haggle. Ling decided to help us out by teaching us the basics. I have no idea if this is the most effective way of haggling, but we had a ton of fun testing his method out.

1. Examine the product.
The salespeople will be bending over backwards to convince you that their product is worth buying. At this point, check out the quality and ask any questions you have about things not regarding the price. Right off the bat, you’re just an interested customer. Don’t even talk about cost right now

2. Ask about the price.
Once you are satisfied that you now know everything there is to know about the product, you can start the haggling process. Ask them how much it is. They may say something like: “The marked price is ABC, but since you seem to be a really nice person, I’ll sell it to you for only XYZ!” Obviously, XYZ is still ridiculously overpriced.

3. Never give them the lowest price.
You: *admiring a shirt* how much for this shirt?
Salesperson: That? 600 yuan.
You: That’s too much… how about 100?
Salesperson: Ok, sold!
What are you left thinking? ‘Shoot, they gave in too easily… that means they were willing to sell at an even lower price point.’ But by this point, it’s too late… you won’t be able to lower the price any more, simply because you overestimated the product. Lesson: don’t ever let them figure out how much you’re willing to pay! Knowledge is power.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
This is where the acting comes in.
You: How much for this shirt?
Salesperson: 600 yuan.
You: What? That pricing is crazy! I’d better go look somewhere else. *start to talk away*
Guaranteed, the salesperson will drag you back. “No no, don’t go! We can talk about the price. Come back, come back!”

5. Act as if you’re interested in the product, and it’s only the price that’s making your decisions difficult.
When haggling, it is too late to start commenting on the qualities of their products. You can add some artistic flair to your performance, but in the end you’re trying to convey that you’re a customer who’s very interested in the product itself, but the price isn’t making the sale possible. If you’re there with another person, feel free to play up the drama, with one person pleading that it’s a great product and the other dragging them away saying that the price is crazy. Remember: the quality of the product is not negotiable, only the price is. If you act uninterested in the product, the salesperson will lose interest in you!

6. Don’t buy the product at the first store.
If you continue repeating steps #4 and #5, you’ll begin to feel the ‘bottom price’ of the salesperson. This is when their reaction to you walking away turns from “No, come back and talk!” to “If you can’t meet this price, just go ahead and leave, I won’t stop you.” That’s good… you’re finally beginning to see the actual price range of the product! But don’t stop here; walk away. 99% of the time you’ll see the same product a few doors down… and if you don’t, you can always come back to the first store to claim your prize for the last price they screamed at you!

7. At the next store, use the ‘bottom price’ you learned.

Here is where the actual purchase probably lies. You know how low they’re willing to go for the product, so give the salesperson a price slightly under what was just offered to you by the first store. They’ll give you a better deal, and if not, you already know some place cheaper!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Introspective Thoughts + Reviews x 4 = Long-Ass Blog Post

18's such a heavy number. Suddenly, the things that we were too young for, we should have started long ago. Expectations become not lines drawn for us by others, but benchmarks we set for ourselves. Saying "I'm not ready" isn't OK anymore... it won't be subject to pity, only derision. School was a cocoon... we're been released into the waters of reality now. And it's a slap to the face.

It will probably be worse 4-5 years from now, when we've left university as well, and the endless expanse of life lies before us. But for now, even this lighter chiding slap sends me reeling.

JeffreyFever is one of my favourite Youtubers. He doesn't have that many subscribers, but his videos are strikingly similar to those of Kevjumba. They're usually tidbits of his life, which contains all the excitement most of us wish we had. But yesterday he posted something different.

It was a little depressing, and the charming wit usually present in his videos was nowhere to be found, but it really only got me thinking of all the struggling actors in Los Angeles in the exact position he's in... without anyone to tell their story to. To jump so far out of his comfort zone without a safety net... later on it could be inspiring, but for now it's just plain terrifying.

I always have a small identity crisis when it comes to these times of change. Am I happy with myself right now? What kind of person do I want to become? I've recently started lifeguarding at a local pool, and while discussing life with one of the regulars, I asked him if he was getting the impression that I was antisocial. He nodded yes and laughed, then said seriously, "No, I just think you're the type of person that separates work and play." I liked that a lot. Not necessarily the description, but the meaning behind it. Those words give a sense of firm solidity, and I think deep down, they describe the the type of person I've been trying to be all along: clean-cut, dependable, honest, no ambiguous ethics.

It's one of the reasons I have mixed feelings about graduating. On the one hand, there's a certain sweetness and nostalgia, and on the other hand, there's... relief? Relief not only from school work, but from a certain social chaos that I have now learned apparently comes attached with graduation. I guess since leaving high school also means not having to be in close proximity with any of your classmates if you don't want to be, there's room for all the dirty laundry to be aired... pent-up emotions that have been bottled inside for four years all come tumbling out in an effort to wipe the slate clean. Those small bombs often ignite emotions within others, like frustration and regret, but in the end, the dust settles, and we go on. I remember around this time last year, I made a post wondering if I should be leading a life more akin to those of my elementary school friends. I've decided that the answer is no. Drama can show itself out... I've got things to do.


Summer hasn't boosted my reading pace as much as I had hoped. I've started another Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, which I'm loving so far. (Side note, ARI's sending me a package of Ayn Rand books yayyy this is going to be awesome reading material for the plane ride to China *looks contentedly over at the copy they sent me of The Fountainhead, which has already been highlighted and dog-eared beyond repair* I will probably have reviews up before the end of the summer!) But other than that, since IB exams ended, I've only finished four books, having stopped halfway through a fifth one because I couldn't bear where it was going. I did write up my thoughts on each...


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (Millenium, #1)

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there's always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

My take

I dislike the misleading title. Lisbeth Salander - the girl with the dragon tattoo - really isn't the main character of this story. In fact, none of it really even revolves around her (is this considered a spoiler?). Blomkvist is the star, with Lisbeth used as a sidekick / crutch / convenient character to make the plot work. By putting her in the title, I have the expectation that there will be a turning point where she becomes huge... and when that doesn't happen by the end of the book, it's sorely disappointing.

That being said, the story was superb. I especially love how Larsson didn't over-romanticize the relationships (not just the messed up ones, even the normal-ish ones)... Blomkvist brings with him a refreshing sense of sensibility and honesty that every book needs.

This book definitely deserves to be raved about, but since it's already very hyped up, I'm obligated to give it a perfunctory sniff and shrug while saying, "Meh... it's ok."



On Strike for Christmas, by Sheila Roberts

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

At Christmastime, it seems as though a woman’s work is never done. Trimming the tree, mailing the cards, schlepping to the mall, the endless wrapping—bah humbug! So this year, Joy and Laura and the rest of their knitting group decide to go on strike. If their husbands and families want a nice holiday—filled with parties, decorations, and presents—well, they’ll just have to do it themselves. The boycott soon takes on a life of its own when a reporter picks up the story and more women join in. But as Christmas Day approaches, Joy, Laura, and their husbands confront larger issues in their marriages and discover that a little holiday magic is exactly what they need to come together.

My take

I know I know... a Christmas story in the summer? On top of that, something from the General Fiction section rather than YA? What's happening?! Is this what they call development?

The truth is, I've always enjoyed Christmas stories. No matter what time of the year, reading about the Christmas Spirit always gives me a warm glow on the inside. The relationships that make up this book are a lot more mature than I'm used to reading (no not mature as in graphic, but as in built on a lot more solid a foundation than a few months in high school), and it's nice to read about what happens in marriages after the honeymoon phase dissipates. Sheila Roberts has written a lot more of these types of books, all set in Christmas-time, so I'm definitely making a note of her - 'To be read when in need of optimism regarding the human condition'.



Insatiable, by Meg Cabot

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die. (Not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does.)

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . .

If she even has one.

My take

This book is proof that I am not done with the YA genre. This was beautiful. Breathtaking. Spoiler: there's a perfect, perfect love triangle the entire way! Ahhhhh *dissolves into a puddle of happiness*

(Also, the last line. The last line. Good lord that last line was simple but it still made me squeal and tear up a bit, it brought up so many feels.)

This isn't my first time reading Meg Cabot, and she never disappoints me. If I could write like any author, I'd want to write like her. Author crush <3



Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

My take

This was recommended, so I entered it with high expectations... and it kind of reached them? A little more than halfway through the book, I had already figured out most of the story, so the ending was slightly anticlimatic. I will say this though: no matter how many books I read, circular endings still make me feel complete.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

This Transition Period

IB is over!!!!!!!!!!

... but what now?

I have one exam left to go (oh Data Management, how I regret taking you...), but my summer has basically already begun.

It's not a normal summer either.
It's the summer that marks the end of an era.
My last summer.
My last moments of freedom.
Before the gaping mouth of post-secondary education and co-op swallows me whole.

And I've effectively spent the beginning of it at the computer filling up on Youtube. (Side note: did you know that they have full episodes of MasterChef on there? I sure do love watching others cook better than I do and be criticized for it!)

Besides tanning by the light of my computer screen, I've also been doing some serious thinking. Yes, I did finally decide on my university of choice. No, I will not reveal whether I ended up choosing University #1, University #2, or another university. Since that post, people have sent me guesses, and I have to say that it's amusing how my description seems to fit so many universities... and sometimes people even reverse #2 and #1. I guess it all really does depend on perspective.

Now that the major uncertainty is out of the way, I'm able to get into the half-excited half-panicky frenzy that comes with every new milestone in life. What should I do to prepare? What will I bring? What will I wear? What will I buy???

The answer to that last question is EVERYTHING. I live about 6-7 hours drive away from campus, so I'll be living in residence. Since this is my first time living on my own, I'm totally pumped. I'm not too much of a decorating person, but I love to organize... which means trips to IKEA looking for functional organizers that don't break the don't-nail-stuff-to-the-walls rule. Besides residence accessories, I've also been shopping for formal wear. People seem to dress up pretty often for various events in my program, and I want to play the part. It's hard to find nice formal shoes though... while most stores say they carry down to a size 5, there's always conspicuously no shoes of that size in their store. WHY.

Surprisingly, StudentAwards is still a site I frequent often. I would have thought that after the university debate was over, I would lose interest in severely biased judgements, but as it turns out, there's a bunch of other topics to consider. For example, what are the best residences? Is the caf food any good? What clubs should I most definitely join?

But even as I feel myself being sweeped up by pre-post-secondary jitters, I can't help but stop sometimes as a wave of pure nostalgia washes over everything. The people that I've grown so close to are all heading off in separate directions to fulfil their own destinies, and even as I'm moving forward I sometimes yearn to just stop, and run back... only I'm afraid that when I do, no one will be there.

Whoa, that got sad fast. This transition period is hitting me pretty hard, but there's still an entire three months ahead of me.

Here's to a summer of making lasting memories.

Monday, 5 May 2014

APA: Atwood, Poulin, Abbott

The effects of senioritis are getting so strong... even with IB exams upon me, I can't be bothered to feel stressed... or to study, really. Hence spending the day before IB HL English Paper 2 on this blog entry. Procrastination at its finest (Y)

*note to self: wouldn't it be funny if at the end of the month I fail all my exams and come back to read this blog post... oh the irony

Oh, you noticed the title, did you? Well, reading in April's been slow but steady. I read from three new authors I hadn't tried before, which is always exciting. It was a lucky coincidence that their names made the fun acronym APA... which doesn't at all immediately bring to mind the time-consuming citation style we are forced to employ in all those papers (MLA > APA all day every day. Footnotes? Ain't nobody got time for that!)

Anyways, on with the mini-reviews!

The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood

Summary (from Goodreads)

Ever since her engagement, the strangest thing has been happening to Marian McAlpin: she can't eat. First meat. Then eggs, vegetables, cake, pumpkin seeds--everything! Worse yet, she has the crazy feeling that she's being eaten. Marian ought to feel consumed with passion, but she really just feels...consumed. A brilliant and powerful work rich in irony and metaphor, The Edible Woman is an unforgettable masterpiece by a true master of contemporary literary fiction.

My take

First of all... whoo Canadian author! I've heard of Margaret Atwood, but never read any of her stuff up until now. I think Edible Woman was her first book (1969... I know that's not old compared to some other works, but seriously anything that doesn't start with 199- seems ancient to me).

When I first read it, I enjoyed the literal version of the story. This is one of those books where as I read through, I could understand that there was huge symbolism behind the whole thing, but never really came to fully appreciate the underlying message until I read some literary criticism after finishing the book.

And please. Ainsley? Don't we all know some Ainsley's? I know Atwood later developed into a much more vocal feminist, but here, I like the touch of society reigning her in.



Les Grandes Marées, by Jacques Poulin

Summary (from Goodreads)

Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips (codename Teddy Bear) lives in the company of his dictionaries, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and his tennis ball machine (the Prince). Convinced that the translator's happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions-the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Author; the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to "sensitize the population." As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, Teddy Bear and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable.

My take

This was an exercise in perseverence. If I didn't have to do my French summative on this book, I honestly don't think I would have continued it. That being said, it was nice to appreciate the grasping-at-meaning feel this book often-times gave. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.

(In case the title didn't give it away, yes it is a French book. The translated English version is called Spring Tides.)


Adrenaline, by Jeff Abbott

Summary (from Goodreads)

"If you knew this was our final day together, what would you say to me?"
“Anything but good-bye. I can’t ever say good-bye to you.”

Sam Capra is living the life of his dreams.

He’s a brilliant young CIA agent, stationed in London. His wife Lucy is seven months pregnant with their first child. They have a wonderful home, and are deeply in love.

They have everything they could hope for…until they lose it all in one horrifying moment.

On a bright, sunny day, Sam receives a call from Lucy while he’s at work. She tells him to leave the building immediately. He does…just before it explodes, killing everyone inside. Lucy vanishes, and Sam wakes up in a prison cell. As the lone survivor of the attack, he is branded by the CIA as a murderer and a traitor.

Escaping from the agency, Sam launches into a desperate hunt to save his kidnapped wife and child, and to reveal the unknown enemy who has set him up and stolen his family. But the destruction of Sam’s life was only step one in an extraordinary plot—and now Sam must become a new kind of hero.

My take

These spy/thriller novels are really growing on me. I'm finding that I enjoy action much more than romance nowadays. Make no mistake, emotions in books are always necessary, but sometimes plain old badassery makes a novel so much more compelling. I didn't even mind that most necessary romantic elements were missing... because this is just what I said. BAD. ASS.

I don't think I'll be reading the sequel though. I like the place this book ends as, and am a little afraid that the next one will turn my world upside down.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Realities of Cuba

Over the March Break, my family and I went on vacation to Cuba. We went to one of the islands which is reserved specifically for tourists, so we didn't get to see any of the Cuban culture while we were staying there. While on the one hand I couldn't say I was unhappy of possibly being exposed to the crueler truths of a third-world country like Cuba, I was slightly disappointed that I would be visiting a country without actually seeing anything of what it was really like.


That being said, there are always ways of getting to know things. Some of the workers at the resort seemed to find the fact that we were Chinese to be highly interesting, and we ended up teaching them basic greetings over breakfast and writing down simple translations on napkins. In return, they told us a little more about what life was like in Cuba. I think the resort may have rules on what the workers were allowed to say, because some of these explanations were accompanied by quick finger-to-the-mouth shushing motions.

What I did learn was pretty shocking. I don't know if it's because I live a relatively sheltered life, but some of the things that they said were sad. When I first came back from Cuba they were on my mind a lot, but today I realized with horror that I had already almost forgotten them. Putting them up in the blogosphere can serve as a reminder as I'll see it when I go on Blogger to change the template of my blog for perhaps the thousandth time.

Warning: all of the information in this post was heard from workers at the resort (with the occasional consultation of a Wikipedia page or two) and have been but loosely verified. Content may be highly inaccurate / misrepresent Cuba greatly.

Education and Employment

Since all education in Cuba is free, so all Cubans go to school and get educated. The problem lies not in the education system, but rather in the jobs available. Since Cuba is a communist country, everyone is paid the same rate no matter what field you go into. So unlike here in Canada, fields like medicine aren't sought after because the years of school simply isn't worth the payout.

Instead, the best field to get a job in is tourism. Working at a resort will get you the most money because you earn more than double your keep in tips. All jobs in Cuba pay 12-20 Cuban Pesos (CUP) a month. First of all, that's not a lot of money. (Putting this into context, I bought a shirt for 14.95 CUC in Cuba... how long do you think Cubans have to save before they can buy a measly T-shirt?!) Second of all, you can't really buy much with CUP... that only gets you locally grown items, and you need more than that to live. In order to buy anything that's been imported, you need CUC, which is converted from Canadian dollars. Where are you going to get those Canadian dollars? Tourists who tip you with Canadian bills! And therein lies the key to why jobs at these tourist resorts are so sought after.

I found it quite sad how Cuba has such an amazing education system in place - I mean, 100% literacy rate? And free education? Sounds like the dream - but unlike in Canada people aren't as motivated to learn because there's no reward. After all, if you earn a better living working in a resort, why should you bother pursuing any type of post-secondary study? And when I see these 50 and 60-year-old men helping us to lug all our luggage from the check-in to our rooms, it gives me mixed feelings. Is manual labour being the best job really ok?


Life and Family

According to one of the female workers at the resort, Cuban males often have many women and fool around with all of them. They're also extremely lazy at home and make their wives do all the work. Of course, this sounds suspiciously just like a woman complaining about her personal life, so I don't know how much credit I should give this. A lot of the male workers at the resort were married and supporting their wives, so I guess I should take this information with a grain of salt?

Another thing that was mentioned was that a lot of Cuban girls want to marry foreigners. This is because Cubans aren't allowed to leave Cuba unless they are issued a white card by their government (basically the Cuban version of a Visa)... which usually only happens if you're married to a foreigner. The thought of this restricted movement is kind of daunting...

Also, interesting / kind of messed up thing: did you know that Cubans aren't allowed to eat beef? There doesn't even seem to be a religious reason to it... it's just that all beef in Cuba is raised exclusively for 1. export or 2. tourists. Even if you have your own herd of cattle, you aren't allowed to kill them and eat them... you aren't allowed to sell them to others either. All you can do is sell your cattle to the government... at the government's price. And if you break the law and kill some cows? The punishment is up to 40 years in prison... as one of the workers put it, "You get more jail time for killing a cow than for killing your own mother."


This would be illegal for Cubans to eat. Imagine that.
I still can't quite wrap my head around all of this.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Does Location Matter?

I've been trying to get something up on this blog every month, but since the last few weeks have been so hectic that I still haven't managed to finish Jellicoe, I guess I'll have to settle with another introspective post.

This weekend, I went some university campuses. Two campuses, to be exact. And honestly... I almost wish I hadn't gone.

For almost a year now, I've been fixated on a specific career path that I think I would be perfect for. Along with that fixed career, I've also fixated on a specific program at a specific university. When I applied early this year, I had that program as well as some filler back-up plans. But really, that was the one I wanted.

This isn't even true to the post. I just found this online and thought it was funny. Don't judge me.

A few weeks ago, I went to a debate tournament where I met a bunch of people from around the university's area. They basically told me that the campus looked like absolute crap. Here's where I started getting a little anxious.

Since we had a few days before leaving for vacation this March Break, my family and I decided to hit up the campus and see what it was really like. Since another university I had applied to was very close, we decided to visit that campus as well. To keep things simple, let's call the other university University #2 and the one I wanted to attend University #1.

After hours of driving (and 4 purchases of various boots along the way because shopping makes road trips more fun), we got to University #2. We ended up being the only ones signed up for the tour, so we got a more personalized experience and got to ask a lot more questions. The campus was small, but beautiful. The facilities were gorgeous, and its minuscule size was actually part of its attraction because I could walk to everything in less than two minutes. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and everyone we passed was always super courteous. It just felt nice to be there.

This is not the university. Nor is this the same atmosphere of the university. I just liked this picture too. Still judging me? Stop.

As we were getting dinner after the tour, I texted some of the friends I had met at the debate tournament, who lived in the area to see if there was anything else to do around town. Long answer short: there wasn't. This town was even smaller than the one I lived in, which was saying something. There really was nothing around except tons of coffee shops. To be completely honest, I wasn't even bothered by that. I didn't go out much, so a small quiet town was just what I needed. The universities had bars and grills if I did want to hang out, and there were at least two ski hills that were about half an hour driving distance away. I jokingly told my friend that I'd prepare myself for the hideousness of the buildings tomorrow before closing my phone. If tomorrow goes like today, I thought (tomorrow = day we were planning on visiting University #1), I think I'll be pretty happy here.

Can you guess? No, the next day did not go as well. If you're one of those people who can read while listening to music, put on some sad classics because things are going to get gloomy...


The next day was cloudy... is this foreshadowing the experience to come? Pathetic fallacy at its finest?

University #1 was big. Much much bigger than University #2: we got lost just trying to find the right parking lot. Since we were about an hour early (you can only sleep for so long, and as aforementioned, there was literally nothing to do around town), so we decided to explore about before the residence and campus tours started.

The first thing I noticed was that the place was like a ghost town. No one was around. In fact, the only place where we actually saw people in the whole campus was... you guessed it... in front of the library. The library hadn't opened yet (it only opens at 11AM? What kind of university library does that?!), so students basically had their books and were patiently waiting outside for it to open. Gloomiest. Scene. Ever.

When the tours did start, it didn't get much better. There were some nice buildings, but for the field I wanted to major in, most of the buildings were deliriously old. Finally, all the students that emerged from these buildings were male, and Asian. The student who gave the tour of the residence I had planned to list as my first choice confided in me that for the first week, her legs were sore all the time because of all the walking she had to do across campus to get to her classes. To make things worse, the residences are multi-floored, but none of them had elevators. Well, that's actually not completely true. One of the suite-style residences did have an elevator, but get this: the elevator only stopped between floors.


Needless to say, after the tours finished, I was questioning my choice of university. And since things tend to escalate quickly in my brain, I started questioning other choices, like where I was going with my life and what I wanted out of it.

In the end, it all came down to how much the campus appealed to me. University #2's campus was gorgeous, but University #1's program was far more kick-ass. Should location matter so much? Or is it the quality education that matters more?

My visceral reactions are fighting the intellectual and pragmatic side of my brain right now. Good thing I have till June to see how the battle pans out.