Friday, September 13, 2013

Have the cat do your shopping in Leuven for you

We saw these stickers on some stores in Leuven, Belgium. B. was being a smarty pants and said that maybe it meant you could have your cat shoplift for you. I didn't think that was the case.

"Liefst Leuven" means prefer or preferably Leuven (according to Google Translate) and Leuven Laat means the store is open later, til 8 p.m. It's part of a marketing campaign for shopping in the city. I thought it was rather cute, but I'm a bit biased because I prefer cats, myself. I think they're using the cat like he's choosy and discerning, or something along those lines (and definitely not because he's shoplifting, B!).


In other arenas of life...well, I've been gone from the blog a bit lately because life here has been quite busy. I'm in the middle of the class that's in midpoint of the degree I'm pursuing now, so it's really the median all around. This is the first online class I've taken, and I have realized that I really don't like the online class format. I feel a bit bratty saying this, but I'm not happy to pay $700 to read the book on my own and write papers. I could have had a similar experience for free, learning on my own. Obviously I need to do the work to finish my (third) degree, but I really wish there would be recorded lectures for students to watch. Do any online classes do that, or am I just too old school? I also miss the interaction among students and with the instructor in class. Writing some half-hearted, insincere response to something on the class message board because we're required to is no fun. I like listening to lectures because one can benefit from the expertise of the instructor and lectures bring the topic more alive. Plus, for the way I learn, I listen, take notes (there is the added benefit of kinesthetic learning when I'm writing the notes), and start to memorize the information immediately; I later follow up by reviewing my notes and the information is pretty well set into my memory at that point. I don't feel that I'm learning that much by slogging through the dense text on my own; I also feel as if I'm retaining so little of what I read.

Of course, I think my brain is nowhere as nimble as it was when I finished my last degree 10 years ago. There is a theory that our brains are being rewired from spending so much time online and on computers; we're not able to sustain as much intense concentration any more. I agree with that; I used to love reading classic literature, dense with footnotes and references. Now, I usually read everything via skimming and I must force myself to concentrate and read everything word for word in my class's text. I find myself losing concentration all the time.

In addition to my whinging and carrying on about the online class, I am also taking two German classes right now. One is through a local organization and it began this summer and will be ending soon. I also just started a Volkhochschule German class that is run by a version of community education, and it's all in German. I'll have to write more about that experience later. I just attended the very first class meeting and was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up but I did keep up and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely be busy for the next three weeks as I juggle work, the three concurrent classes (at least two of them aren't graded), and daily life.

On top of all of this, I haven't felt well for about 3-4 weeks. This has nothing to do with sitting on cold stones or being exposed to air conditioning; this is the time of the year when my allergies and resulting asthma make me miserable. I've alternated feeling sick to my stomach, not being able to breathe properly, and sneezing. Sigh. The good thing is I have been still going to work through this; the bad thing is that I'm quite tired. Germany, I think I'm allergic to you! That is a shame as you are lovely otherwise.

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