New Year’s Resolutions 2017

Hello! How has the new year been for you so far?

For me, it’s been great, especially this weekend! The Chamber Orchestra went on a field trip to watch the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Centre. I just loved pianist Jeremy Denk’s amazing rendition of Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, and also the majestic ending to Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird. I also saw Roe at the Arena Stage. Roe is a play about the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalised abortion in 1973. It was so interesting to learn more about the different positions on this difficult issue. It was mind-boggling. Before, I had a very bold stance on abortion, but his play showed me all these vivid stories, perspectives, and circumstances. And I’m not quite sure anymore. So, yes! 2017 has been interesting and productive. So far, so good.

Below are my new year’s resolutions, as I have promised. Hopefully at the end of this year I can smile and say I’ve kept and achieved all of them!

One. I will study Latin every day.
I will self-study 36 topics of Wheelock’s Latin (pages 1-303). I will also complete the Oxford Latin Course Part I before the end of sophomore year (May 2017). Over the summer, I will learn the material for Madeira’s Latin II course and test into Latin III for junior year.

Two. I will practise the piano every day.
I will perfect and add three of the following pieces to my piano repertoire by the end of sophomore year:
Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16, Mvt. 1, 2, 3
Mozart’s 12 Variations in Ah! vous dirai-jie, maman
Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor
Beethoven’s Rondo A Capriccio
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Mvt. 1
Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata, Mvt. 1
Schumann/Tausig’s Der Kontrabandiste

Three. I will read (something that isn’t for school) every day.
I will finish reading 5 non-fiction, scholarly texts by the end of the year. The first of the five I will read is Ian Morris’ Why the West Rules—For Now.

Another challenge that I will try my best to tackle is a Boarding School Series on my blog. I will write a series of posts about boarding school—living in a dormitory, weekend activities, classes, etc. I have already started writing this series! I will begin posting in March, because that is when admissions decisions get mailed out and students start wondering what exactly their life will be like at a boarding school. I am very excited about sharing this series because I would have loved to know more about boarding school life before my first day at Madeira.

Yep! These are some of my long-term goals for the year. I encourage you to create some if you have not already, and share them with others! There’s a TED talk I once watched, telling people to never share their goals with others because the act of sharing the goals itself will make them feel like they have already achieved the goals. I can see why this might be the case for some people, but personally, sharing my goals gives me another incentive to achieve them. Just imagine yourself telling a friend, “Remember in January I said I’d (insert goal)? Guess what! I did it!” Or something like that, you know? It will probably feel really nice.

I’m going to go to sleep now. It’s almost 1:30AM already! Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the morning, and thank you so much for reading this post!

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New Year’s Resolutions 2017

My Week, January 2nd-6th

It’s Friday night (midnight) in the dorm. It doesn’t feel like a Friday, though, because tomorrow is technically a school day for me. This Saturday is our mandatory college counselling day. At least there are no classes, right? Anyway, I am so tired from my first week of school. School can be so frustrating sometimes! I so wish that my teachers were a Youtube video or something:

In math class, I find myself wanting to pause, replay, or play in 0.5x speed my teacher’s lecture. Math is a challenging subject for me, and since the modular system squeezes an entire year’s worth of Algebra II into 15 weeks, we’re learning stuff at a crazy fast pace. It’s only the first week of school and I’ve met with my teacher outside of class three or four times. I mean, it’s wonderful that my math teacher never says no when I ask for extra help. Mr. Ifft is a great person and a great math teacher. But at the current moment, I’m so tired of math. :/

Okay, so going back to that Youtube video thing. For Latin class, I want to 2x, even 4x the speed of Dr. Bednarowski’s lectures. Confession time: I was too excited about taking Latin, so I kind of finished reading the entire textbook over Winter Break. I love self teaching. Although my teacher incorporates interesting aspects of Roman history and culture into the language class, not a whole lot is new because of my interest in classical civilisations and my detailed AP World History class. I guess I could work on other things when I get bored, but then I don’t want to make the teacher feel bad, you know? If I were a teacher, I’d be sad if my students didn’t even feign interest. Plus, there are only 7 of us in the class so I can’t exactly hide. Dr. Bednarowski is very reasonable, though. He told me that I could self study ahead as much as I want, and that he would help me if I have any questions. I’m planning on self studying Latin II over the summer and taking Latin III junior year. That way I could take AP Vergil as a senior! Every cloud has a silver lining! I think the best part about Madeira (my school) is the people. I’ve met the nicest teachers and made the best friends here.

Since I ended that on a positive note, I’ll go on about all the other nice things of this week (more like just today), because why not, right?

Starting with the simple things… A girl in my dorm, Maggie, showed me how to use the Keurig in the dorm. The four(?) months I’ve been at boarding school, I was so intimidated about using that machine, and I don’t even know why! It’s so nice that I know how to use it now. It’s so useful! I’m drinking my second cup of English Breakfast tea as I’m writing this.

Panem et Circenses was also a big highlight of my day today. “Panem et circenses” means “bread and circuses” in Latin, and that was the name of our movie night in Dr. Bednarowski’s classroom. We watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian and had really good Italian food! It was just for Classics Club, a group of high school Latin fanatics! It was a good time.

I could probably go on and on. I’m really enjoying Poetry II with Dr. Arizmendi. This is the one class that I don’t seriously want to adjust the speed of. We just finished reading the first three parts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I’m really enjoying that book. We’re also learning about the history of the English language, bits and pieces of European history, courtly love, etc. Everyone’s super engaged because these are some very cool topics! We have a lot of meaningful discussions in Poetry II.

Speaking of discussions, I had a really deep discussion with Mr. Sudnik and my friend Casey after Model UN today. We started out talking about climate change, Paris 2015, and environmental problems around the world. And somehow the conversation took a political turn, so we talked about democracy, Trump, the political divide in the United States, capitalism, Bush, the education system, and more. I find it fascinating when teachers talk about their political views. And Mr. Sudnik had a lot of cool experiences to share with us too. By the time I had to leave, I had no idea that we’d been talking for 2 hours. Every minute of it was so valuable and intriguing.

One more thing, and I should probably go to sleep. This week I made some more progress on Beethoven’s “Rondo a Capriccio” (Rage over the lost penny). It’s a really fun piece! I sight-read and practised it over Winter Break on the electronic keyboard that my piano teacher Mrs. Morris lent me. I was really happy that I had the keyboard over Winter Break, and I’m even happier now with the Steinway grands at school. I love how on a real piano, I can play softly then loudly, sweetly then furiously. Beethoven is one of my favourite composers because of all sorts of emotions you feel from his music. It is rumoured that Beethoven wrote this particular piece after he saw a man running downhill in pursuit of a lost penny or something (don’t quote me on this)… and although frustration and perhaps even anger is clearly shown in the tempo, I’m still unsure about exactly what Beethoven wanted to say. Certain parts of the piece make me wonder if Beethoven is saying that losing a penny is not such a big deal, although it may seem so at the moment. Trying to figure out how to feel when you’re playing music is always confusing and fun at the same time! Listen to the piece here! What do you think Beethoven is trying to tell us? It’ll probably take me a very long time until I can do the piece justice (it’s 14 pages!), haha, but I’m definitely up for the challenge!

So yeah! That was my week. Despite the insaneness of getting back into the flow of school and all that, I enjoyed my week quite a lot. I honestly have so much to be thankful for. I hope your week was as good as mine, and even better! Here’s to a great weekend. Thank you always for reading and following my blog. 😀

Oh, and that New Year’s Resolutions post I was talking about before… It’s definitely coming soon, I promise! Good night for now, though! Sleep tight.

My Week, January 2nd-6th

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Hello! Winter Break is now over and I am back at my boarding school. Although I can never have enough breaks, it’s pretty awesome to be with my friends again.

Today was a very busy day. I got everything organised for the start of Module 4. In Module 4, I take Algebra II, Poetry II, and Latin I, in that order. I am especially excited for Latin because I have a strong interest for classical languages. I also found out that two of my Latin textbooks were actually written by a former Madeira teacher, which is just so cool. I started reading Latin Everywhere, Everyday: A Latin Phrase Workbook over break, and I was astonished at how many of the phrases I throw around every day are Latin. I’m excited for my other classes, too, of course. I will be continuing with Model UN, Orchestra, and Glee, too.

I will share my New Year’s Resolutions on my blog soon—I just have to come up with a few more. My goals for sophomore year are kind of put aside for now. Hopefully my new year’s resolutions are better than those. Anyway, something that’s definitely going to be on there is: Add the 1st movement of “Waldstein” to my repertoire! I often listen to Beethoven’s “Waldstein” because it’s so good and emotionally complicated. I turn on the music, close my eyes, and lose myself (I’m so sorry that I’m being so cliché, but words cannot describe the amazing depth of this piece). So today I’ve started playing “Waldstein”, and I really look forward to learning the entire piece and playing it for my friends and family this year! Here is a video of Pletnev’s interpretation of the piece. It’s so beautiful.

Before I go, I want to talk about the best Christmas present I received. My friend got me a very cute pair of gloves in which the fingertips can be covered or not covered. She told me that I need to keep my hands warm to play the piano well. My friend is an amazing pianist, and I want to be able to play like her. We’ve spent a lot of time listening to each other play! I love the gloves because it was such a thoughtful gift. Plus, she put a little tag that reads “For Elsie, My Favourite Ravenclaw.” We both love Harry Potter to death. From this present I was reminded once again that the best gifts come from the heart. I hope the gifts I gave to people in 2016 show that I care and think about them.

And one more thing! Sherlock! I watched the first episode of Season 4 last night! It was a lot more serious than the usual humorous episodes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I learnt so much more about the characters, and the more human side of Sherlock. And this is where I stop because I mustn’t spoil anything. I can’t wait for the other two episodes!

Good night, everyone! Thank you so much for the continued support. ❤

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Co-Curriculum, Soirée, and NaNoWriMo

Sorry everyone, I have not updated in ages. I am not abandoning this blog because I love everything about it.

Life has been hectic but nice. This post will be very personal and all about me. I want to talk about 3 things that have been/will be going on in my life.

1. Co-Curriculum: This is my third week of co-curriculum. Co-curriculum is a program unique to my school, where sophomore, junior, and senior students go off campus and intern somewhere for 5 weeks. The sophomore internship theme is service, so I am doing a service internship at a Title I public elementary school called Garfield. I’m finishing my third week this week and now I have two weeks left. I have grown so attached to the students there. Many of Garfield’s students live in poverty, but they’re all so happy and eager to learn. Although technically I’m a teacher there, I’m learning much more than I’m teaching.

2. Tonight’s Soirée: I performed in a soirée at my school tonight, and it was great. I played Kuhlau’s Allegro Burlesco and I’m very happy about how it turned out. I practised for 8 hours last weekend, and more than 10 hours this week. Hard work pays off–I played the last song of the soirée and it went pretty smoothly. Before, I was very nervous. All I thought about this entire week before the soirée was me playing my song without making any mistakes. But once the soirée began, it wasn’t all about me anymore. It was just about enjoying the music–Monica’s music, Priya’s music, Fay’s music, Angela’s music, my music–everyone’s music. I never got to appreciate music like this before. Before, music was torture–it was a mechanical thing, where you had to get everything right, blah blah blah. It used to be so painful and boring. I don’t want to think about it. Learning music at Madeira is a transformative experience. My private music instructor here, Mrs. Morris, is amazing. She makes playing the piano joyful. I’ve really learnt to feel emotion in music, in each and every note, without the fear of failure or being worse in comparison to other people. My roomie took some really nice photos!

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3. NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo is the official abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month! I’ve done it off and on since six years ago and last year I also did Camp NaNoWriMo (I was so happy that I was finally 13 years old). So basically, you create a word count goal for yourself every day (ex. 1500 words) and you stick to it for a month and by the end of that month, you have a novel! Probably a crappy novel, but still! A novel! It’s really cool. November is the the national novel writing month so a lot of novelists all over the world participate in this program. I’m going to write a personal novel titled Distractions this year and I’m very hyped up about it. I’m also helping my sixth grade class at Garfield Elementary (my co-curriculum internship) participate in it and Ms. Higgison is very excited about it. You guys should try it too!

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I’d love to write more but I really have to go take a shower before lights out. Good night everyone, and thank you for reading and following my blog. I promise I’ll update more often in the future! 🙂 Oh, and sorry if there are any typos or weird sentences. I wrote this in a hurry. :/

Co-Curriculum, Soirée, and NaNoWriMo