“Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.”

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Curd Snacks, Soul Calibur, and a Wistful Heart

Well, as you can see I've been doing a great job of periodically updating this blog! (heheheh....) Quite a lot has happened since my last update. I ended the past semester with straight A's in my classes, the ERASMUS students have all returned to their respective countries (with the exception of the few who decided to stay for a whole year) only to be replaced by a new crowd, and I've had a plethora of new adventures and many reassessments of my previous plans. First of all, it turns out I'm not going to Greece. Instead I've applied for a bilateral agreement program to Saint Petersborg State University, and I should find out by the end of this month whether or not I'm accepted. I wrote my second choice as Tomsk State University and then for third and fourth I wrote two universities in Ukraine. Hopefully all goes well in regards to that.

Suvalgyk Mane!!!
Last month I also managed to visit Vilnius for the second time. While there I met with a friend and we walked all over the city, watched all of the Harry Potter movies in one sitting on Lithuania's Independence Day, had a brutal snowball (more like 'iceball') fight in the woods, and I ended up discovering the most amazing snack in existence on planet Earth. That snack is no other than "varškės sūrelis", something that doesn't seem to exist outside of Eastern Europe (more accurately outside of the Baltic States, although, I have been able to find some in Poland in the really big, remote grocery stores). It's a type of cheese dessert made from curds, usually covered in chocolate and flavored, sometimes with a special filling. They are AMAZING. You can think of it as very soft ice cream that doesn't melt. I ended up buying around 30 packs and hoarding them back to Poland (and possibly eating a third of them on the bus, woops).

With my return from Lithuania began the new semester, and after my nightmares of the art history classes, I've made sure to stay as far away from such topics as possible. Instead, I'm taking several classes on EU policies and politics as well as a class on globalization's impact on youth psychology and a class about food in cultures, the latter being a bit of a disappointment as there's no real eating involved in the curriculum (haha). I've gotten a new flatmate from Romania who's quite the extravert, and for a couple weeks I had a new roommate from Turkey before he moved out to live with his friend. I've also met tons of new exchange students in my classes from all over; Greece, Korea, Australia, Germany, etc. Ironically I also met a student from Lithuania and we lamented together over the lack of varškės sūrelis in Poland (and, for that matter, the rest of the world).

My Ukrainian friend, who's quite the nerd and intellectual himself, had recently obsessed over emulators. It all started with my reminiscing of playing the Sega Dreamcast and Gamecube as a child. After hearing this, he soon downloaded a Dreamcast emulator on his computer and we spent hours and hours playing Soul Calibur one Saturday night together with my flatmates. I got so into the game that I actually had lost my voice the following morning. From there he got Soul Calibur II for Gamecube and yet again we played endless hours together. My best character was Sophitia, a Greek warrior-girl wielding a blue shield and sword, and with her I was able to nettle my flatmates and friends to no end executing amazing combos. After a while, however, we grew tired of the game and haven't touched it in about a week now.

I think it started around the talk about the Dreamcast that I really started to develop a feeling of yearning. My parents recently moved out of the house I had lived in for most of my teenage years and as a child, although my room had already been 'remodeled' into a cross between an animal room and storage by the time I moved to Poland for college. From this stemmed a yearning for home, my childhood, and the faded memories I had once lived. And with this yearning came a strange craving for musics I had heard when I was a child, most of them in English (I've rarely listened to music in English over the years due to my obsession with learning and discovering foreign languages). I rediscovered bands from my dark ages in middle school such as My Chemical Romance and AFI, other bands that my dad had on his iPod when I was little (Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Queen, Kansas, etc.) and simply miscellaneous songs I used to like before I had discovered Korean and Japanese music for the first time all those years ago. I even began watching films in English starting with Big Fish, then Studio Ghibli films, and eventually watching films such as Frankenstein (1931) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). There's one thing I've been constantly reminded of from this and collectively over the past few years, and it's that English itself has an endless amount of amazing culture to offer that I shouldn't neglect; English is just as valid of a language as any foreign language out there.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A New Year, Future Prospects, and Chinese Things

Well, after having completely neglected this blog for way too long (and after just three posts too, woops), I'm back! The past several months have been a bit hectic to say the least; I'm back in Poland for my second year of university, I've been working with Polish actors for my Dryadian play, I've met tons of new people from all over the world, and I freaking created my own holiday (despite it not being officially recognized by any large organization or governing body, but who cares)! But it's a New Year, and even though it's technically just another arbitrary day among the other 365.25 days of the year with no inherent significance, I still think it's a great time to make a fresh start. Therefore, I'm putting in the effort to not only lead a healthier lifestyle (i.e. eating better, sleeping better, exercising, etc.) but to also continue posting on this blog in a timely manner. (Knowing me however, I'll probably forget again or get too busy...)

Anyways, I've been learning some Greek... well, a lot of Greek. At the moment I'm planning on going to Athens for the following school year on the ERASMUS program with my university, so I gotta know some Greek, right? When in Rome do as the Romans do! There's a myriad of Greek students this year in Wrocław, and as a result I get plenty of practice on a pretty much day-to-day basis. Not to mention my re-watching of practically every Disney and Pixar movie dubbed in Greek which helps a lot. Actually, prior to watching Star Wars Episode VII, I had decided to watch all previous episodes, except with Greek subtitles to practice of course! Before immersing myself in the world of Greek, however, I was learning some Kazakh and a bit of Farsi too at one point, although they failed to hold my interest long enough for me to become significantly proficient in them (sadly). Outside of natural languages, I recently created a new personal language I call "Epistemic", which I then used to write lyrics to Shostakovich's Second Waltz and cover in my (non-professional) singing voice (here). It turned out quite nice to my surprise, and I'm quite satisfied with the language as a whole. Maybe I'll be able to fully utilize it and possibly attain a level of fluency one day? Who knows... My play however is coming along quite nicely; I've written some songs and I'm almost done with the translation. Both the director and the actors seem to be really enjoying it, and I can't wait to see it on stage. I did a dramatic reading of the first 3 scenes with added music and the English translation to get a sense of the play's final form.

For whatever reason, I've had a sudden resurgence of enthusiasm for Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese. About a week or two ago, having barricaded myself inside to escape the deathly, freezing temperatures, I began watching the Chinese fantasy series 花千骨 (The Journey of Flower) and it is really really good (quite reminiscent to 仙剑奇侠传1&3 which I was obsessed with last year, when I studied quite a bit of Mandarin and my proficiency improved immensely). However, as I began watching this new series, I also got into watching some Stephen Chow movies in Cantonese and exploring more into the depths of Cantonese music (having already loved GEM's 喜歡你). And now I'm starting to learn some Cantonese here and there! The pronunciation of characters in Cantonese seem closer to Korean pronunciation of hanja than the Mandarin does, which helps a bit. (I guess Cantonese shares some similarities with Middle Chinese that Standard Mandarin has lost?)

Here I am talking about languages and things, yet the winter break has come to an end and I have some essays and studying to be focusing on for the end of the semester! (typical...)

"The procrastination is strong in this one..."