Monday, December 20, 2010

This Christmas...

I'm getting ready for: the arrival of my aunt and uncle from England(if they even manage to come with all the snow they're getting over there, delaying most of the flights out of London) who are vegos so we've had to do a little extra preparation for them and we're having a vegetarian Christmas for them which is exciting as we're going to try all these new recipes out of the various vegetarian cookbooks we've accumulated over the years. A Sweet Potato and Leek Roulade with a Christmas Stuffing looks like it's going to be the main attraction on our Christmas table this year.

I'm baking: music note shaped vanilla cookies as per the recipe from the new Junior Masterchef cook book(recipes are so much easier and much more to my liking than anything that would be in the 'adult' Masterchef cookbook) using vanilla extract and not vanilla essence. I ended up making 6 batches of them for all of mother's 30 piano students.

I'm listening to: Glee's new Christmas album. We haven't bought a new Christmas album in a couple of years and have stuck to the collection of carol CDs we already have but I was itching for a new one and I knew the Glee album would not disappoint. All the songs on it new so joyous and truly embody the spirit of Christmas, even with all the new carols on it that I've never heard before and the gospel twist on "Angels We Have Heard On High" was magical.

I'm decorating: my dad's Christmas tree. He's a bit of a scrooge so he only bought his own Christmas tree a couple years ago after I asked him to get one. so him, my brother and I were putting up the ball-balls,tinsel and lights over the weekend and we bought a nice gold, sparkly star to go on top as we couldn't find one in the shops when we looked for one in 2008(we didn't end up putting the tree up in 2009). It's been really nice to celebrate Christmas not only at my mum's house but at my dad's too.

I'm buying: the majority of my gifts online for the family(and even for myself as my mum hasn't quite figured out how to use paypal and online shopping sites)as I can buy more unique and tailor-made gifts for the recipients to enjoy. And as always there are huge discounts usually when buying online.

I'm attending: a Christmas carol concert. My dad, brother and I went to one this weekend at the local park which was much easier than attending one in the city as the parking/walking distance was less of a hassle and as we couldn't stay for long we had no trouble leaving easily. It was really nice to just spend the evening with other families who were getting into the Christmas spirit. They had candles you could buy for $2 but straight away my brother blew it out as well as attempting to blow out the 'big' candle that the organisers were attempting to light all the other smaller ones with to give to people. Luckily we managed to keep the second one alight, even though I did have to put my hand over my brother's mouth every now and then.

I'm loving: the fact that the whole month of December is special if you put in the effort and relish the jolly spirit of the season; not just the 25th.

I'm photographing: Our lovely advent wooden 're-useable' advent calendar. I've never been a fan of the chocolate ones and this one is so much more exciting even though we've had it for years and I probably know all the trinkets off by heart. If you count you'll find there are 20 toys as today is of course the 20th of December(for the next hour and five minutes anyway...)

Have a lovely Christmas all!

P.S. Feel free to use this as a blog tag if you're in a 'jolly spirit'.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persistence, Luck and Success.

Being the brave 17 year old that I am I got my mum to ring up about this scholarship business and the lady who is supposedly in charge of the scholarships was extremely vague about the whole thing and didn't even give my mum the scholarship due date. After a long pause she managed to say they were due in August but still no date and she told us she would get back to us about it after she had a look into it. More than a week later we had no phone call back so my mum tried to get in touch another two times with her- we left messages with other people in the EF office and were told she would call back and that she was on the phone. I think this lady is actually a tad scared of my mother, who gave her a right telling off over the phone about the information that had been sent out to us about the US Visa application(it was all out of date, mixed up and just very hodge-podge, not acceptable for such an important matter). Then yesterday I saw I had an email reply from this lady about the scholarships; I'm guessing her nerves got the better of her and she decided she couldn't deal with another confrontation. Reading this new email she sent you wouldn't think that a couple weeks earlier she'd just told me I was too late for the scholarship. I'd say something fishy was going on there... But I'm not complaining because I got it! I won the scholarship! Well as my mum reminded me, I earnt it. As I'm sure you know from this post I really struggled with writing the darn thing and it took me a weekend or so to complete it so at least it wasn't for nothing. Unfortunately I didn't get the $2000(but I expected that, especially with all the dodgy-ness surrounding the issue...) but instead $500 has been wiped off my invoice so I am quite pleased with myself and....ridiculously happy!

You know, earlier in the year I really wanted some extra money to come my way for the exchange and I've always been one to try to get a hold of any 'luck' I can so I pulled out my 'trouble dolls' from my dresser. They were a present from my Aunt and Uncle when I was younger from one of their numerous vacations. Here's the little blurb that came on the piece of paper tucked inside the little box:

In the land of Guatemala the Indians tell this old story. They teach that when you have troubles, share them with your dolls. Remove one doll for each problem. Before you go to sleep, tell the doll your trouble. While you are sleeping the dolls will try to solve your troubles. Since there are only six dolls, you are allowed only six troubles a day.

I asked one of the dolls to help me get some extra money to pay for my exchange and popped the jelly-bean sized doll on the corner of my bed-side table. I knew this would be no small feat and that I may have to wait a while but several months later my trouble has now started to wither away and I owe part of it to that tiny little doll. My trouble dolls have never failed me, every trouble I have EVER told to them has been diminished in some way or another and usually obliterated completely. I have always felt much more relaxed going into an exam when I've told my trouble dolls, the night before, about my worries of forgetting all I have attempted to memorise.  I think it is much more reasonable to ask a jelly-bean sized doll to help with a trouble you have rather than expecting them to grant you a wish, a much more difficult task I would assume, although I'm no expert in the field of magic, luck and pixie dust.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Scholarship Fiasco.

I got some really gut-wrenching news the other day in an email "Unfortunately your scholarship application is too late. I am sorry that you have missed out". Thinking about it, I think in the next couple of hours I progressed through the seven stages of grief, for my loss of a scholarship...

Stage 1: Shock and denial
I re-read the email several times and just sat looking at the computer screen in complete disbelief- this was my worst nightmare.

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt
Then the tears started flowing and I ran to my favourite crying spot- my mother's ensuite bathroom. Gosh, I was such a mess! At the same time I was also thinking to myself "Why didn't I just do it earlier in the year?!"

Stage 3: Anger
Then the rage flowed through me and went a little like this... 'Stupid EF! They stuffed up once again! It's all their fault! They told me I had until November! RAWRRRRRRRRR!'. Something like that anyway...

Stage 4: Depression
Then I started to feel awful and was in a complete slump and felt like my life was taking a turn for the worse. I'd just had my high school graduation the day before and was already feeling sad that a big part of my high school journey was over and that university is getting closer. This news just made me feel even worse as the exchange was something to distract me from my troubles and instead it just added to them. Plus I felt all my effort was wasted and the quote "if you work hard you will succeed" was a load of balony.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn
The crying stopped.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through
I knew I had to do something about this whole scholarship thing and since the lady who sent me the email was one of the head staff in charge of EF in Australia I knew I had to go higher so I started searching for other places of contact internationally. I told my mum about it all and she's contacting the head office in Australia about it, although they've yet to return our calls(last time we had a problem with EF we had to phone twice to speak to someone about our issue and it looks like we're going to have to do that again). If we don't get a good response from them we're contacting the US office or even the Swedish office as that is the country the whole program stems from. I am thinking of posting my application to one of those offices to see if they think my application is still worthy.

[I should probably add here that I emailed the Sydney head office earlier in the year about the scholarships as I'd received no further information on the topic since being accepted in the program. One of the staff members said as long as I sent it in before the end of November that it would be fine. I even emailed a couple of weeks ago before I started writing the scholarship to check it was still by the end of November but had no reply. I've still yet to find out when this mystery deadline actually was.]

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope
I'm starting to feel okay about it all now as I know that all that I can do is contact some of the other EF headquarters that are 'higher up the ranks' than the Australian one and if nothing else make sure that the Australian staff get 'told off' so that this never happens again. 

I am still very hopeful that my application will be considered and that I may be lucky enough to get some funding. They are only partial scholarships of up to $2000 but when I need to buy a new laptop, video camera and winter clothing any extra money is going to be of use.