Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yeah, maybe I'm not totally back yet.

**this is interesting for those who don't understand me when I say the uni admissions system in Brazil is so much different than in the US**

Current schedule for Steph:

Get up at six.
School at 7:30.
7:30-1:10 - six fifty period classes, with four five minute breaks and one twenty minute one.
1:10-2:00 lunch
2:00-4ish, some afterschool class, although not always, and the time varies
4:30 - get home
Study until 11:30 or midnight or maybe later.

Hoping to get into uni (we do entrance exams here, your hs transcripts have no value whatsoever - it's all test scores) this year. If not, next year will be revision all over again and that sucks. I want to go straight into university from hs (this is my last year and I graduate in Dec).

For those that are more interested, the program for the university I really want to get in is:

First phase: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math, Geography, History, Sociology, Philosophy, and Art History.
Detail: While theoretically Phil and Soc are classes I have, we don't have any actual classes - just some leaflets (horrible stuff) and a test every quarter. So now I'm reading about Plato and Kant and Hume and Habermas and Descartes and Locke (not too deeply, it's not SUPER in-depth in the exam, but still, it's a lot given everything else) and I haven't even touched Sociology.
Detail x2: Art History was a class I had on my sophomore year. Don't remember much of it. Have to go back to the prehistoric times and work my way up. Not fun.

First phase is the same for everyone. In the major I'm trying to test in for, Medicine (which is an undergrad course that lasts six years here), it's 54 people per spot & only 10% of applicants make it past the first phase. I should've begun studying in the beginning of the year, but put it off and now I'm struggling to make sense of everything, but by god, I am doing my best.

Second phase: Med = 5 people per spot
Portuguese Lit and language arts, English, Chemistry and Bio (for people who want biology-related majors, like pharmacy, biomedicine, etc - each major group has its set of second phase subjects) + an essay

Oh boy.

This is a school in the south of Brazil so all their lit is different than the southeast, where I live. That means I'm also reading 9 books on their list, four of which are poetry collections, and a lot of which were written in like the 1600s and onwards. BUT! If you're a movie buff & you know Cidade de Deus (City of God), that's one of the contemporary books I'm reading. Cool.

Please wish me luck! I need it. Medicine is the most competitive major and thankfully math and physics are not predominant on the first phase, and disappear completely after that, so that helps. I need 70% to move to the second, and around 80% in the second to make it, and I think I can do it. But I need those 37908923874-hour study days, so I can't be doing much else.

This is a lesson to those of you who procrastinate. I wish I hadn't. I would be so much more chill now, and I would be so much more sure I could pass. My parents, boyfriend and best friend think I can still do it, but they're biased, eh?

So this is why I've disappeared. That and some other secret-ish stuff.

But I do plan on posting when I can! If anyone's still here, I mean.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It could always be worse.


That is such a beautiful way of looking at things. Ah, if only more
people (myself included) could think gracefully about the sucky
situations and remember that, the title thought, maybe the world
wouldn't have so many sucky situations in the first place.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"I dare you to steal my book."

Why, yes, Ms. King did go there. A blog post about having your book pirated and your effort made valueless by selfish people.

And I never noticed how "Miss King" is kind of an...oxymoron of sorts. You're awesome in all sorts of ways, Amy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So, Agatha Christie

I have a father who doesn’t share much about himself. They—father and mother—divided their work as such: big picture (him), details (her). He gives lectures, grounds us, does that sort of thing when there need be an intervention. Otherwise? He’s the one who works more and who handles more stress at work, leaving home stress to be handled by my mother, who also works, but not as much as him. (She’s full-time, he’s mega-time.) I love my father, but I don’t know much about him—about his childhood, etc. He just doesn’t share. So how ever do we bond?

Books. (Just when you think you’re running out of reasons why books are great…!)

We read Agatha Christie. And other authors, but mostly Agatha. We even have a routine for acquiring the titles, which consists of exchanging emails until we reach an agreement.

So, I thought I’d share some about Agatha Christie for YA readers who’ve never heard of/read her.

You’ll see her work go into free domain in your lifetime, that’s how old some of it is (1920s!). Glasses are referred to as “Pince-nez”. A sleeping aid is “Veronal”. You can tell the work is not recent, but it’s not dated—it’s chic.

God, I love it.

See, Ms. Christie didn’t write particularly well. But she was a hell of a storyteller. Sure, there are some less-than-stellar titles in her half-a-century-long career, but that’s to be expected. And even those are pretty enjoyable if you’re in the mood. Now, when she strikes the right note, though… WOW, there are some great mysteries in there.

In fact, yeah, her forte is her plotting. There’ve been very few books I have been able to guess the perpetrator, and I’m usually quite good at reader-sleuthing. She always picks the person you least expect it to be.

Now, what I truly love is how dramatic some of her work is. A mystery involving actresses, theater and deep, dark secrets, set in the 30s or so, with that kind of dialogue and so many, from our futuristic hindsight, charming timely references.

Also—a lot of the titles come from nursery rhymes. I love that.

In short, it is not hard to see why she has sold so many books. Even now, 84 years after her first published work.

If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some recommendations:

Five Little Pigs Lord Edgware Dies
And these two are hailed as her best, although I haven’t read them yet: Death on the Nile and And Then There Were None

Feel free to leave thoughts below and say what your favorites are if you’ve read them!