Thursday, 25 April 2013

17. Qd8+ Rxd8 18. Rxd8# (Sacrifice)

I've just beaten the computer at chess and, since this marks the high point of my nerdiness, I thought I'd share it with you and then craft a bit of a blog about it. It's about the time I'm spending here, and what I'm spending it doing.

Oh yes. We're going to get reflective. I'll understand if you're entirely uninterested and only come for the gossip, chicanery, and other tomfoolery. There'll be more of that tomorrow, but for now -

The last 8 months have been a time of enormous personal growth for me and, simultaneously, a time of enormous frustration. If you have been reading this daily - and if you have then may flowers rain down from heaven and blessings come upon you like ninjas - then you will have read the subtext that, on occasion, I have been frustrated and felt that perhaps I was not using my time to its full potential. And yet from that has sprung this blog, and poems, and a newly-renewed love of chess. I have used the time to perfect translations, apply for internships, and cultivate new friendships both among the students and among old friends.

I have drafted and designed the layout of a new library and seen it installed, gained a budget - the majority of which I will probably leave to my successor - and, most recently, planned High Tea, complete with scones (with jam and cream), strawberries (with sugar and cream) and tea (no. No cream.).

I've also taken time to go around Germany, begin dating an American (if you knew me when I was younger, you'd be just as surprised as I was when I fell for her) and start translating +Derren Brown's book Tricks of the Mind, which will doubtlessly stand through history as one of the worst translations of an excellent book ever attempted. If I am to fail, I shall endeavour to make it memorable.

The point is that learning French is now, and always will be, the small part of my degree that makes up the marks. At university I have met incredible people whose views have continually challenged mine, from Aric at one end of the spectrum to Rob at the other. At every point in my education I have been challenged, frustrated, elated, impassioned and quite frankly murderous, especially when Student Council members -

But I digress. My point is that what I sacrifice by going to university, by spending 10 months abroad instead of 6, is not time that I could otherwise have spent earning money because money is not really the point of university or, indeed, of life. It is nice to have more money than less, but I don't know if I'd give up these earnings in the face of the people I've met, both here and at home.

The fact remains that this language, the seeds of which were sown at the age of maybe eight or nine years old, remains both constant and constantly fascinating. It has opened doors to me that I had never imagined opening, and as I look forward to the mere 3 months still ahead of me I know I'll be back before very long. There will be internships and possibly even jobs to be seized and friends with whom I  would to be reunited.

In short, then, languages are my passion and the skeleton key of my life. I don't know what lies ahead.

But I'm starting to get an outline.

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