Take a language course for fun?

Recently, I discovered I could enroll in a continuing education language course offered by my university for a fee of $360. While this is not an excessive amount, it is still a big chunk of my soon to be $0/month income. The course starts in late September and runs until December, which is conveniently when my trip is. I needed help deciding so I made this Pro/Con table…how geeky of me…but I really hope this will help me decide.

     

 

PRO

 

 

CON

Learning: I’ll be learning a new language, a new culture – polyglotism here I come yay!

Tuition Fee: $-360.00 (speaks for itself, +potential book fees…)

Live instructor: I’ll have a live instructor helping me with pronunciations, rather than repeating after Primsleur! I’ll be sure to grill the instructor to get my money’s worth – no more being the kid in the corner fearing of getting things wrong and sounding silly.

Additional superfluous expenses: of being out and about, which probably mean Starbucks and muffins…maybe not for the entire 10 sessions, but if I had to factor that in, it could mean me forking out an extra $50-$100 if I’m not vigilant.

Social interaction: with classmates! And make some new friends!

Schedule conflict: it might conflict with other things on my schedule come September, I don’t even know what that looks like right now. I might have more important things on my to-do list.

Enjoyment: Gives me a reason to go out! (for constructive reasons too, like learning!)

 

Weekly countdown: The course runs from September to December, right before the time I jet off to Europe! It gives me something to look forward to, until my trip!

 

Reinforcement: I’m determined to get the basics down this time before I go, so I’m not a total n00b. It’ll help me with my goal of ‘blending in’.

 

 

Verdict: Tentative yes,– but I’ll wait it out until August to make the decision.

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What I won’t be doing this weekend

SALES – TAKE 50% OFF ALREADY REDUCED ITEMS…ah, yes…but honestly, no. Kudos for putting in the efforts though!

Since early this morning I’ve been bombarded with emails from shops and retail brands I subscribe to. It seems they all want a portion of my wallet now that the week has ended. Coincidence? I think not. I admit, some of the offers were tempting enough to not only lure me onto their site but scroll through the catalogs of goods, which I won’t be getting.
Yes. I’ve consciously and firmly set up my mind on making do with what I have in my closet (admittedly some items have never been worn…opps guilty). But also, I’m a bit sick and tired of acquiring material goods for cheapness rather than inherent value. Cheapness, for example, are things sold under $5 at a fast fashion chain – after acquiring it for $5, I think to myself, would I really wear this? Most of the time the answer is no. So why would I still get it? Just in case? Just in case what?

If you think like that, $5 dollars for a shirt which is yes cheap but you won’t wear even once, then that’s $5 wasted.

Then take the next example, if you got a shirt that you loved loved loved, you see many opportunities wearing this item, the material is stellar, the fit and the cut are all A+. The downside, however, is that the shirt is marked $150, but it fits your personality and you know very few would shell out $150 for a shirt – then I’d say get it! If you wore that shirt just 30 times in its exciting tour of being your shirt, you would’ve gotten the bang for your buck for $5 per wear. If that shirt became your favorite shirt and stays with you for a while, then I’d say definitely go get it, as its inherent value beats the face value. You might even have some interesting memories regarding that piece of clothing.

Remember, a piece of clothing is only worth it when you wear it.

 

Winter In Europe – trip planning #2 accomodation/flights

Earlier this week, I had to work up the courage to hit ‘send’ on my resignation letter, but after stressing about it all Monday afternoon, by evening it was done.

A big breath of relief.

I really think this calls for some sparkling rosé to celebrate this new beginning of my life and the beginning of a very productive summer!!

Anyways, since Monday, I’ve been putting more work into finalizing my travel plans. In my previous post, I’d been unsure if I’d wanted to see more of Europe in the month that I have (however, if I know anything, a month is not exactly a long time when traveling!) so it came down to, a city in 2/3 days, or just sticking with a week in a unique city to get the feel of the city and see how life could be like there. That’s just my style of traveling. I know some people like to maximize their time and experience, but my style is more like relaxing at a city and soaking in the vibe of that given city i.e go socialize in bars and with locals and see what interesting opportunities knock on my door (after museum visits of course!!)

And in my head, visiting Europe in the winter time is not a very big loss or concern because this means it’d be actually WARM in the museums and bars! I’d be nose deep in masterpiece artwork and history! I won’t be tempted to head outside into ‘nature’ as I’m not exactly very big on nature (unless it’s a white sandy beach, sun and surfs!) In short, I’ve decided to leave Southern Europe unexplored in favor of a return trip next summer! (Because Europe is always a good idea in my mind and I’m not going to waste my youth staying put in North America.)

è      “The Plan”

December 15. Arrive @ Amsterdam 15:15 (note to self: take an umbrella incase its raining), go check into the hostel, meet up with my friend, and hopefully get a good night of sleep!

Hostel: $50 (1 Night. Sadly, Amsterdam is pricey! I might work something out here; see if I can crash at someone’s!)

Flight: $75 (To Berlin!)

Total Damage: $125

December 16. Head to the Airport – fly to Berlin Schonefeld – stay at the Generator Hostel Berlin!

Hostel: $100 (6 Nights! Who would’ve thought East Berlin’s this cheap???)

Flight: $75 (To Copenhagen!)

Total Damage: $175

December 22. Head to the Airport – fly to Copenhagen – stay at the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen!

Hostel: $315 ($45/Night for 7 Nights, yikes! But still better than Amsterdam!)

Flight: $170 (To Stockholm, includes Stockholm -> Amsterdam)

Total Damage: $385

December 29. Head to the Airport – fly to Stockholm – stay at ??? in Stockholm

Hostel or AirBnB? Considering this is Stockholm, I am willing to shell out more dough for this city (well, I already know it’s going to be hella expensive, so I’VE COME PREPARED!!) I

Hostels beds range from $25 to $100 – AirBnB apartments range from $150+ so for 7 days – so my expenses for accommodation would vary from midrange $350 – $1000 – I haven’t decided on it yet, I might even do a mix, so $800 just to be safe!

Total Damage: $800

Flight: $0 (Covered by above)

January 5. Head to the Airport – fly back to Amsterdam – stay at the Flying pig, possibly, then mix in with AirBnB for the last couple of days because at this point I suspect I’d need some quality sleep!

Total Damage: $800

Flight: $0 (Covered by above)

Total approximate accommodation/flight damage: $2285 (plus: $1315 for my multicity flight to Amsterdam)

GRAND TOTAL: $3600 for 1 month in Europe! (and that’s not on a strict budget for Northern Europe with mini splurges in accommodation I’d say this is pretty good! If I’d wanted to dial back I could probably cut the expenses in Stockholm/Amsterdam by half and that number would approximate to be $2800, but since its Christmas/New Years, I’m going to treat myself.) Next up, I’m gonna search for things to do in each of these cities, mainly the museums during the daytime and the NIGHTLIFE during the nighttime. Party on! 🙂

Time to ‘Let it Go’ (Part III)

I could leave like I always do, without a letter of resignation.

But I won’t.

I owe myself a reminder why I should never take a job similar to the one I had.

Publishing this would serve as more of a reminder than anything else – my official declaration of the end of this particular chapter of my life before I run off and write the next.

June 23, 2014
Manager’s Name
Company Name

Company Address

Dear Mr./Ms. Manager:

Please accept this letter as my two-weeks notice of resignation. My last day of work will be July 7th, 2014.

While I have been very satisfied at XYZ Company, I have decided to make this move to advance my career. I have enjoyed working with you and appreciate the opportunities I have been given here. I wish you all the best in the future.

Sincerely,

(your signature)

Your Name

(source: about.com)

Yeah, that’s the gist of it. All I have to do now is to fill this out, print it, put it in an envelope and give it to my boss, then wait for July the 7th to roll by.

Simple.

Time to ‘Let it Go’ (Part II)

I’ve never written a resignation letter in my life. I know, how badass of me. No, not really. My work life is punctuated by whimsical walk-aways when the venomous concoction of resentment and boredom build, build and build, bubbling away with trouble and toil in a pressure cooker on the highest setting.

 I should’ve learned my lessons from the first job I’ve ever gotten in my youth, because time and time again I look back and think – despite the differences, they’re all the same.

 My time/life + doing things I don’t care about = compensation(money)

 Routine is lethal, especially routine at something that neither requires much creativity or skill.

 It would seem every four months or so, I get fed up and bounce away, only to bounce back to something similar because I wanted to ‘fit in’ with my peers – what I didn’t realize back then was that I was never one for fitting in (in order to fit in, you have to offer up your differences, sometimes at the expense of parting with important aspects that makes you, you) and that time doesn’t pause for anyone.

 My current employment, the only one I’ve had for this long (seven going on eight months?). The longest relationship I’ve had in my life, both professionally and personally. Day in day out, I helplessly watch myself grow dull, grow old before my time.

 To give you a picture of what I’m like at work, I do what I’m paid for. I go in to do work. I don’t socialize. I don’t enjoy chitchats with all except for maybe two of my coworkers. I can’t engage in topics I do not care about. I especially hate it when I’m interrupted while working by a coworker or managers asking me to do more than the job description, though in the latter case I always rise to the occasion.

 I’m an asset for them, but they’re just a means to an end for me.

 That is not good enough for me, at least not anymore.

 But back to not writing a resignation letter – prior to this job I’ve always had something lined up before I made the jump and though I could do the same before I make my jump with this one, I need to be honest and say I need to find a solution – to either be happy with mediocrity and the nagging feeling of I should be doing something else, or go with my gut feelings and chase my dreams.

 Easier said than done.

 To be continued.

Time to “Let it Go”? (Part I)

If you ask the average person, what is important in life, how many of them would immediately tell you, ‘earning a livelihood’ or ‘making good money’? – Yes, but, whatever happened to the finer things in life, things you actually enjoy? Oh wait, that’s right, we’re told to hold off on life’s pleasures because we have more important things to do like trading our time in for ‘money’ and then waiting for however long (usually a lifetime) to actually enjoy ourselves (like when?). And how do we know what we really want anyways?

There’s nothing wrong in playing it safe (playing it the way authority figures such as your parents tells you to, because if all fails – you could blame someone else). But of course, there’s also a major flaw in this method of ‘living’ – because while you are busy trading in your time for money – those increments of seconds, minutes, hours and days that passes are something you are not going to get back. How much is truly worth a year of your time and all of your hardships and complaints? $50,000? $100,000? $150,000? Can that even be quantified? Would you be happy knowing you have 1 less year of your time for X currency amount? How many zeroes following that first integer would make you ‘happy’?

Still, we’re told this is a ‘proper’ way to conduct ourselves because let’s say 90% of people live this way, so it is only ‘natural’ for you to conduct yourself in this manner also. It’s the way the world works and we’re told to grow up.

But wait a second, when did ‘common’ become ‘natural’ or the new ‘normal’? Just because 90% of the population practices this method doesn’t mean it IS the way for you to live your life, or is it? If you accept the norm without questioning it, how would you know what was really right for you? And yet, we’re a society obsessed with labels – despite that we condemn discrimination on gender, skin color, sexual orientation – it still very much plays into societal hierarchy – and of course who could forget another label that defines us all – what we do for a living.

I admit, I feel restless because three months ago I wrote about quitting the job. I didn’t quit because I didn’t have enough saved up to cover my expenses that includes tuition and my trip later this year. And now three months later I’m having trouble convincing myself I should just go along with everything until December. At this point, I’d rather downsize on a few things just for the freedom of being me.

Why now?

I’m hitting the big 25 in three months time and honestly I feel as though I have nothing remarkable to show for it. I’m tired of listening to conventional wisdom, of letting others guilt trip me into doing the ‘right’ thing ( right for who? ). I’m not living (at least it doesn’t feel like I’m living for me). I’m just existing and expiring at the rate of one day at a time – well, even worse, I could be causing more damage to my health by being unhappy all the time and smoking on my breaks, even though I have a strict policy of not smoking in North America (in Europe and Asia this is a different story due to how much I enjoy the nightlife there). Other than going through the motions and doing a series of things appointed to me by other people to play it safe, have I ever achieved anything that made me happy? Actually, yes, I did once, last year when I took that trip on a whim to Amsterdam.

Those two weeks were the happiest time of my life because I was doing something different, something new, something no-one else understood as to why, but deep down I just wanted to prove that I can do it and explain to no-one as to why I am doing something silly just because ‘I want to!’. It made me open my eyes and it made me grow. But ever since I’ve been back, I’ve fallen back into this web of mediocrity, of not trying because everything went back to being the same and it stayed that way. I’m frustrated for letting myself get this way, for not believing in myself enough and not realizing that this life is my own sooner.

To be continued…

Reigning myself in to another night out.

Truth be told, I’m a little conflicted. As of last night I was invited to another fun night out on the town (with lots of heavy drinking involved no doubt) however, after the brief excitement of the invitation I found myself crunching numbers in my head. Do I really need to spend X amount in entertainment, when it could very well be the amount of an one way ticket with easyJet + fee of one 20kg bag?

My rough travel itinerary which is still coming along (because I can’t decide whether or not I should add more places in or spend a week in each destination, hence WIP) would come out to these figures:

 

easyJet: Mon 15 December 2014 Amsterdam to Berlin Schoenefeld: 73.33 USD
 
easyJet: Sun 21 December 2014 Berlin Schoenefeld to Copenhagen: 71.15 USD
 
SAS Scandinavian Airlines: Mon 29 December 2014 Copenhagen to Stockholm, Mon January 5 2015 Stockholm to Amsterdam: 190.18 (-44.21 travel credit left over from my trip last year) works out to be: 145.97 USD
 
All together: 290.45 USD
 
While that’s not a massive amount, I couldn’t help but to think of those yet to be purchased tickets in terms of alcohol at the bar – 300 dollars is probably the equivalent of a couple of nights out on the town which I really do not care for. Yes I wish I socialized more, but I also understand I cannot have everything at once. And when it comes down to it, seeing the world excites me more than going out and celebrating for the sake of…well, it being another weekend?

Unnecessary expenses: hindsight perspective

Earlier this week, a refund was made to my credit card and to my surprise it was quite a reduction in the amount I had to pay on that card. What’s this serendipitous refund you ask?

Refund on duty deposits.

Admittedly, I had a habit of blindly shopping online and going for things I want because…well I wanted them (reasons explained later in this post) and in my head they were much less than the going price in my place of residence. However, what I did not account for was the exchange rate, the international sub-charge and local taxes on top of that. (Yeah, a few months ago, I really didn’t think things through when it came to shopping.)

What ended up happening was my jaw dropping and logging onto the e-commerce shopfront I’m so loyal to and reviewing my orders for the first time after I hit ‘order’ all those months ago. And what I found was I had spent an exorbitant amount on two articles of designer clothing – somehow, my vanity, pride, and other emotions involved must’ve told me it was a good idea at the time – though I’d only worn one garment a couple of times after I received them in March. And after I had received them, appraised them, they’d disappeared in a pile in my closet.

But this is only the start in examining my personal finances, as this was just a drop in the ocean, an one time offense among many – yes I had the fund to purchase things and pay them back on time, but at the same time, I realized I was using shopping as a way to combat negative emotions that came hand in hand with work. And somehow owning more stuff, stuff that appealed to me was going to justify the work I did not care about doing.

In hindsight however, I cringe at the amount spent, because it is money and time I’d never be able to get back and if I hadn’t spent it all frivolously, perhaps I could be off somewhere on a nice vacation – poorly dressed, but who would need all that excess if you were somewhere you’d really want to be, doing things that had been gathering dust on your to-do list ever since your college days? Waiting for that ‘one day’ would be pointless without a concrete plan towards a long term goal.

The importance of being honest with yourself

Without honesty in the beginning what would the rest of the journey be?

I had been pondering this question for the better of today, starting in the morning where I’d woken up with the dread knowing that another project of mine was due later this evening. I instinctively knew what was happening and what was going to happen – I was procrastinating in every action, from getting out of bed, to eating my breakfast in slow motion, then getting sleepy after breakfast, skipping my workout and – well you know the rest.

What should’ve taken me an hour or maybe two to complete ended up taking me after 7 pm after much pep talk and junk TV to even begin.

I’ll be honest with myself and say that I’m less enthused about this school thing now that I’m actually in school and working on project after projects. I’ll also be honest with myself and say, the projects are not rocket science, they just need my undivided attention. Which I am apparently very reluctant to provide. And logically, for no good reason.

Needless to say, I’m very disappointed in myself after I finished the assignment because I realized I’d just done what I dreaded the whole day.

I wasted a whole day for what? Dreading the assignment when I could be doing something else, productive?

This is the outcome with the fear, fear of not being perfect enough on the assignment if I had started earlier in the week, or in the day even. Fearing of spending too much precious time on it when I could be doing something else – but of course my actions proved to be the least bit helpful, not only did I rush through the assignment, the readings and exercise did not sink in all that much, because at 7pm I was so anxious to finish everything, I rushed – so it’s a double whammy when it comes to productivity and studying altogether. Now that I’ve illustrated my horrid studying habits, it’s time to make small changes such as sticking to the schedule whether I ‘feel’ like it or not. Plan important things earlier in the day rather than later and actually do them rather than stare at them and be paralyzed with anxiety.

Remember, when you face your fear, you reclaim the power that fear has robbed of you.

Stress is when you take things too seriously, but does it really matter in the long run?

I’m not one for confrontations especially in a professional work setting and thankfully it is very rare that I am dragged into a conflict. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen around me, case and point, one coworker had a disagreement with another the other day. And the other responded along the lines of ‘don’t tell me what to do’. Of course, it didn’t end when the two red faced participants parted ways. No, it went farther than that, with one promising to write a letter of complaint to the higher ups.

This exchange is enlightening for me in a few distinct angles.

My stoic attitude showed just how much I did not care about office politics. While it was easy for me to pick a side if I had so chose to, but that was beside the point. I did not care simply because I chose not to. It also showed that I’m not exactly optimistic about my current employer enough to want to contribute anything that is above and beyond what was required of me. It made me realize I’m only there for the paycheque and besides that, I’m wasting my time. (And I have a feeling soon, the monetary incentive will stop justifying for the mind numbing hours I put into it.)

It also made me realize that me, getting stressed and angry over what my group members did on a collaborative school project was more telling. It showed me that I cared a lot more about school than work, but at the same time, I feel as though I shouldn’t have stressed as much as I did, because 20 years down the line – I’d look back and probably not even remember it had happened – it wasn’t worth the sleepless nights I’d suffered (and this is a week after the incident of me spewing expletives in front of my computer screen, though it changes nothing).

My point is, pick your fight wisely. Your time and energy are limited, if its not worth your time being sad or getting emotional over it – move on. And know that getting angry will likely change nothing other than your blood pressure readings and stomach acid levels.