Saturday, 21 February 2009

Commitment a la Starbucks. Again.

I’m back at Starbucks for the first time since Sunday. Yes – I went four solid days without Starbuck’s coffee. I feel that I have successfully helped put a dent in capitalism, and the mass production of caffeinated beverages. I would love to shun Starbucks – I do see the ethical dilemma associated with this sort of establishment (fair trade coffee, my ass!) Fortunately for Starbucks I have zero willpower. You would think that after this long on the dieting trail, and after ten years of university I would have a better developed sense of willpower. I don’t. I only successfully accomplish things when closely monitored. Seriously, it’s worse than it sounds. I have to encourage myself to complete emails, fill out paperwork, read, etc. I don’t mean moderate encouragement; it is a huge challenge to focus my brain on things that I see no point in. Anything that I have no direct interest in is highly unlikely to be done. How I managed to complete three degrees is beyond me (I was extremely interested in only about 5% of the classes I took; I was moderately interested about 30%; the rest were just filler!). Oh but wait – I didn’t really complete three degrees. Lakehead is potentially allowing me to graduate with a BSc in April. That is downgraded from the HBSc that I was originally enrolled in. Yeah – my thesis. I figured it was safer to graduate with the BSc before Lakehead changed the degree requirements, and I ended up with nothing.

I think Starbucks is mocking me. Four days, and an assortment of coffee cup options, and I have gotten the same coffee cup that I had on Sunday. The one about commitment. It might be a sign. Or maybe it is meant to be irony. Or maybe it is testing my paranoia. Either way, I’m not amused. I could boycott Starbucks entirely – leave behind the pretentiousness of sitting in a coffeehouse, typing away on a computer…but then again, sitting in Starbucks, for as seemingly pretentious as it is, makes me feel as though I am accomplishing something. Plus it justifies me wearing a pashmina scarf (Thunder Bay and Pashmina don’t really go together!)

I have just applied to the University of London (I apparently have an addiction to this UK thing). Seriously, love to learn - what I choose to learn . I am sort of like my Australian Shepherd; we joke that he is stupid (cruel, I know). He is far from stupid though – he is a selective learner. If something isn’t in his best interest to learn, he won’t do it. It took 2 years to train shake-a-paw, but in less than 2 weeks he had learned how to open our back door and let himself out (on his own, unprompted, without encouragement). The program that I have applied to in London at least gives me flexibility (I will be able to take classes that I am interested in!).

So about this University of London issue. As I’ve mentioned I also have a spot on hold at the University of Liverpool for graduate studies. If London accepts me I will take a temporary reprieve from Liverpool in order to pursue the program at London. So – two UK universities – I am sort of surprised by the process of applying to English schools. In Canada, universities expect transcripts, proof of qualifications, etc (I know, because I have applied to enough universities in Canada and the US….). The UK has its own separate technique for university applications. London wanted me to send them my degrees – the ORIGINALS! Who in their right mind, is going to throw a $25,000 piece of paper in the international mail??? I don’t think so! Oh, and then throw in that additional gamble that the university won’t loose it (because universities NEVER, EVER loose paperwork!)

Facing an issue of trust, I went to Lakehead to see if I could get a registered copy of my degree. After being confronted by blank stares in the Admissions Office (I’m used to the typical Lakehead blank stare), I was informed that you can’t get copies of a degree. Basically you spend 4-5 years of your life, and $20,000-$30,000 for a single piece of low quality paper. I don’t really understand why you can’t be given a copy – it’s not like I am going to go out and claim that I have 4 HBAs in Anthropology, and 5 Bachelor of Education degrees. I’m not suddenly going to be Leanne D. HBA HBA HBA B.Ed B.Ed B.Ed.

So no. I am not sending the original copies of my degrees in the mail.

Lakehead was nice enough to allow me to photocopy my existing degrees, which they then stamped as being “official” copies. Thanks.

London also wanted me to write a letter explaining why I wanted to be allowed into the program. Basically a Statement of Intent. But wait. I couldn’t type it. No. I had to handwrite it!! This proved to be a challenge. No spellchecker. No Edit—Undo. No backspace. One mistake, and it was back to square one (White Out doesn’t look good on university applications).

I am not really sure the rationale for handwriting a letter. Maybe it proves that my first language really is English – it would look suspicious if I suddenly started writing in Arabic or Mandarin characters. Not typing also ensures that letters are not typed in Webdings - it is highy inconvienent when you go through an entire letter having accidently used the wrong font oops. I have lost most of my handwriting skills – I ended up printing the letter (in my lovely teacher printing, which is still fairly bad). Needless to say, London may assume that an articulate 6 year old wrote it. As a side note, I did teach a handwriting lesson in London, and I found one more skill that I definitely need to work on before ever attempting that again (F is a b*tch).

I’m sort of hoping that London doesn’t request my transcript (since I couldn’t produce the original copies of my degrees!) – I’m not exactly pleased with my disjointed academic history. It also have to fess up to those two deferrals – the dastardly things!

And then Liverpool. Liverpool was happy with receiving copies of everything! In fact, they were much more interested in my employment history than my academic history. My employment history is the one thing more disjointed than my academic history. The UK has this fascination with 3 year accountability (“document everything you have done over the course of the last three years, leave no gaps – if you must leave a gap, explain why” – they are less than amused when you explain a gap by writing “jail term” into the blank space).

So now it is back to waiting; I hate waiting. Unfortunately I sent my documents in the regular mail, so I will be waiting for awhile. If London decides they want my originals, I will personally hand deliver them next month…now, thanks to my short attention span, I am going to listen to the A.R. Rahman compilation, and satisfy my newly found craving for Punjabi Electronica…ya….

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