Saturday, February 18, 2017

3 Reasons This Introvert Loves to Travel

In a few hours I will be on a plane to Vancouver, where I will be staying with a friend for Reading Week and doing all the fun things! So I thought for my post this week I would talk about why I love to travel, as well as why being an introvert and traveling actually go together way better than you'd think.

I'm an introvert, which means I get drained going out to big parties, making small talk and meeting new people, but I get energy out of being by myself (sometimes), and  being around my close friends. That's just a basic overview, there's a lot more complications and different circumstances, and also all introverts are different, but that's how I feel most of the time.

So, traveling - something that involves dealing with new situations, people, and the unknown pretty much all the time, so why do I as an introvert love it so much?

Well here are some reasons traveling is actually GREAT for introverts like me! :)


1. It forces you out of your comfort zone

There's not really going back once you've bought a $500 plane ticket, and once you do that you have to deal with all the new things, complications and people that traveling involves. Even if you're traveling with friends, you're going to have to deal with things that you wouldn't have to in your everyday life. When I went to the Philippines, I had to do so many things I'd never done before, and discovered how capable I was at doing things I'd never imagined I would do.


The wind made my hair like that, fyi

2. People traveling also want to meet new people!

One of the things I find difficult as an introvert is meeting and connecting with new people. It's especially hard in day to day life when people already have people they know and circles they travel in, and aren't necessarily looking to get to know new people. But I still want to meet people! Often when you travel, other people who are traveling also want to new people, so you already have somewhere to start. When I went on Explore, talking with people was easy because basically everyone came on their own so nobody had previously established friendship groups to break in on - we were all making them up as we went!



3. You get to know people REAL WELL REAL FAST

This is one of my favourite parts of traveling. When you're stuck in a car with someone for 8 hours, or you're spending a week with someone, you have ample time to get to know them and chat about everything and anything. When traveling, you're often in cramped quarters - a tent, a hotel room, a car - and that means you find out a LOT about the people you're traveling with. As an introvert, I get so much energy from getting to know people really well. (I LOVE deep, soul-searching conversations. Give me all of them.) I went to NerdCon: Stories in Minneapolis with a friend of mine, and during the two eight hour drives we had to do we had some really nice chats. :) 

Going through all my travel photos made me really want to travel again... good thing I'm leaving in like two hours!!! 

Why do you like to travel (or why do you NOT like traveling?)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How I Study

It's the week before Reading Week! If you're a student, you know that means EVERYTHING IS DUE. But the end is near...

Anyway, since most of my time right now is taken up by writing essays, practicing presentations and studying for midterms, I thought I'd tell you how I study and include some handy dandy study tips! If there is anything about my identity that I am completely confident about, it is that I am a good student. If I know anything, I know how to organize my schoolwork and study habits. (Now if only I could be as competent in all the other areas of my life...)

So here are ~*~*ALYSSA'S STUDY STEPS AND TIPS!*~*~

Step 1: Read the review and listen closely

Most of my professors in my four years of university have been pretty good at giving review sheets, which include the questions or topics that they want you to know for the test. Some of my professors even go over the review a bit in class, about what they are expecting for certain questions. Make sure you pay attention, and write LOTS of notes when your professor talks about what they want on the midterm! This is invaluable information and they are plopping it right in your lap!



Step 2: Create my own review using the review sheet

I write my notes by hand because part of my study process involves typing up my notes. So I'll go through my written notes, and then plug them in as answers to the review questions. That usually takes a couple hours, but it's actually really easy - it's basically just typing while listening to music, and it's a good way to begin and get everything organized. If you type your notes in class, I would suggest printing them out and then typing them in again to your review sheet. I know you could just copy and paste, but then you're not actually methodically going through the information again, which is helpful for actually retaining the information later. And if I haven't got a review sheet, then I make sure I'm focusing on main subjects and points, rather than silly small details. If in doubt about anything you're not sure you're supposed to know, ask your professor!!



Step 3: Whiteboard study!! 

I love my whiteboard with all my heart for all things organization, but especially for studying. I'll transfer my entire review sheet to my whiteboard, although a slightly condensed version of it (because I only have so much space on my whiteboard). I'll try to focus on writing out the main points and keywords that will hopefully trigger the rest of the details. I usually do this a couple days before my actual midterm, because then I can scan it again a few times as I'm getting dressed or ready for bed in the following days. Also, it's super fun putting all my notes in a whole bunch of funky colours. ;) (Also tip: if you're going to use this technique, make sure you buy low odour markers otherwise you will have a headache after one page of notes.)


Step 4: Quiz myself

The ideal is to get together with a classmate and we quiz each other, but if that's not an option I try to find a willing family member. If I can't find a willing family member, then I'll just do the cover-the-answers thing and ask myself questions. The trick is to try saying the answers out loud. Once I can explain the material to someone else (or empty space) out loud, I know I'm ready for the test!

~*~*Some more tips*~*~

Tip #1: Use a variety of methods I've heard that it's good to study with a variety of different methods, because each different method solidifies the information in your brain even more. So by the time I'm done my study process, I've written the material, typed the material, written the material (in fun coloured markers), and said the material out loud, which I think is pretty good. ;)

Tip #2: Start early Obviously this process is fairly long, and takes awhile. You can't really cram AND do a lengthy 4-step process. I usually start maybe a week ahead, or at least the weekend before my actual midterm, and I usually do one step a day so it doesn't feel like too much all at once.

So that is how I study! Now I must get back to work... happy studying!

How do you study? What are your favourite study habits and tips?

Monday, February 6, 2017

My Bookworm Bedroom

How to motivate yourself to do a super thorough cleaning of your room: decide you are going to do a blog post room tour featuring a bunch of pictures of your room.

So, yeah, here is a tour of my bookworm bedroom. Enjoy! :)


I have this poster I made on my wall just as you walk in. It's a quote from Ivan E. Coyote's The Slow Fix, which I talked about in my Across Canada Reading Challenge. The idea is that I'm the "she who stayed to write the story", since I do most of my writing at my desk now. :)


Then from the doorway, if you turn to the left you see my desk, shelves, whiteboard, and my beautiful calendar that I got on sale from my local bookstore. My whiteboard is very important. It is where I display important papers/reminders (using my collection of tourist magnets), write my to do lists, and study when I have an exam. What do people do who don't have whiteboards??


The beautiful calendar I have is the 2017 Japanese Decorative Papers Calendar. I love nice calendars like this because it's not just for organization but also a decorative wall painting, bonus that all the designs in this calendar are gorgeous. (This is the calendar!) The cards beside it are cards from friends that live in different provinces.



The bookshelves above my desk are mostly for my school books. The top shelf is some sentimental stuff from my childhood, and my school stuff that I don't use or textbooks that I'll sell eventually. The second shelf is some notebooks and all my nonfiction books, including writing books and cookbooks! See if you can spot the book Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb, which is the book that in a roundabout way introduced me to the online YA community and got me to start blogging! The third shelf is some pretty MG and YA books, and the school books that I'm currently using (can you guess what classes I'm in right now?)


The stickers are from when I went to NerdCon: Stories, the Hunger Games keychain I got from a friend, and the gorgeous bike chain bookend is from Ten Thousand Villages! The bookend is against some of my favourite books.



Okay, other side of my room! My window sills, where I keep my plants (in the nice Ikea greenhouse I got for Christmas), and my bookshelf where I keep my books and my collection of tea cups. (I don't actually collect tea cups - if any family is reading this, please stop buying me tea cups.) As you can see, another couple of themes of my room are tea, and music. I have received a lot of music note patterned gifts over the years, which is fine, I like music. :)


Now, one of the most important parts of my room aside from my bed, my bookshelf! I don't actually have a ton of books, because I recently went through them and got a rid of a bunch, but also because I'm not a huge book collector. I really only need to have the books I'll reread over and over and over again (*cough*Melina Marchetta), and if others are just going to sit on my shelf and not be read, I'd rather give them to someone who would enjoy them more. (Although all the shelves are double stacked, so... I still have a lot of books...heh.)


This shelf is my TBR right now pile, the books I'm going through at the moment. It holds any library books I have out, as well as books I've bought/been given and haven't gotten around to yet. (Which book should I read next?? I've already read Nimona and Lumberjanes, which were GREAT I can't get enough of them.)


This is my Christy Miller shelf, which was one of my favourite series growing up (it's an inspirational Christian series, super fluffy but I like fluff). The train car has significance if you've read the books. ;)



A dishes set from my grandma, and my adult fiction shelf! Lots of Miriam Toews. If you haven't noticed I don't really spend a lot of time organizing my books in fancy ways. I am lazy like that.


This is one of my favourite things I did in my room - my wall of bookish pictures above my bed. Each picture is either from a book, or is a reference in some way to a book. For example, I don't know how well you can see it but the bird on the top left is one of Audubon's birds, which has significance in Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, probably my favourite MG book ever. Can you guess what books the rest of the pictures are from? (Oh wait! Just realized I lied - one of the pictures isn't from a book, it's Pascal Campion art.)


Calypso says thanks for coming and looking around!

What's your favourite thing in your room?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

13 Books With Stories of Immigrants

Happy Wednesday! Here are some good books I've read that feature immigrants as characters, or are about the experience of immigrating that I think you should check out:


Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam
Adult fiction, US

"A vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, Bright Lines follows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past."  This book was different, absolutely full of emotion and discovery.






Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee
Memoir, Canada

"Intolerable is part memoir of an Arab family caught in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics over six decades, part personal coming-out narrative and part cultural analysis. This is a story of the modern Middle East that we think we know so much about." A fascinating and extremely relevant story.






Ru by Kim Thuy
Memoir, Canada

"In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec." This book is absolutely beautiful, and made me cry multiple times.

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
YA, US

A story about a daughter of Filipino immigrants in the US who finds out she doesn't have proper documentation, and how her teenage life is affected by that realization. There's also a fun romance in it if you like that kind of thing. 







Kay's Lucky Coin Variety by  Ann Y.K. Choi
Adult fiction, Canada

"A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family."






Citizens of Nowhere by Debi Goodwin
Nonfiction, Canada

A story that follows 11 refugees from Somalia for a year as they come to study at universities in Canada on scholarships, and all of their struggles in trying to figure out a new country.







The Lucky Ones by Anne Mahon


Nonfiction, Canada

A collection of stories of African refugees, told in their own words. Each of the stories is a small snapshot of the experiences of immigrants to Canada, each one unique.




Cockroach by Rawi Hage
Adult fiction, Canada

One of the darkest, most fascinating books I've ever read about immigration. I think I'd have to read it again to get all of the meaning out of the various images the author uses.








Beauty Plus Pity by Kevin Chong
Adult fiction, Canada

An enjoyable, quiet and slow paced book about family and relationships. "Written with a winsome yet plaintive eye, Beauty Plus Pity is about a young man who's forced to reckon with the past as he works through his lifelong ambivalence toward his hyphenated cultural identity, and between two parents holding intolerable secrets."




 
Listen, Slowly by Thanha Lai
MG fiction, US

A super adorable story about a young girl going back to Vietnam to visit her family who lives there, and all the trouble she gets into and friends she makes along the way.






Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
YA, Australia

A heartwarming story about a family of Italian immigrants living in Australia, in particular the dramatic Josee Alibrandi.








Drive by Saviours by Chris Benjamin
Adult fiction, Canada

"Moving gracefully between Canada and Indonesia and through the two men’s histories, Drive-by Saviours is the story of desire and connection among lonely people adrift in a crowded world." Read my full review here.






Everything Was Goodbye by Gurijinder Basran
Adult fiction, Canada

"Heartbreaking and beautiful, Everything Was Good-bye is an unforgettable story about family, love, and loss, and the struggle to live in two different cultural worlds." I loved this book, and I think Meena is one of my favourite female characters. 



Recommend some of your favourite books about or written by immigrants in the comments! 

For some more recommendations, check out 49thshelf's list of books about Canada from an immigrant's point of view. 

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