History, Friends and Laughter: My Experiences in Berlin

Hi!

I got back from Berlin late on Monday night, having gone there for a history trip with my school. Ever since then, I’ve been exhausted but also so happy. On that trip I learned so much, made new friends and had the best time I’ve had in a very long time.

Prepare for a long post. I’m going to be recounting, as best I can, what happened in the four days I was in Germany. I’m still tired but I’ll do my best! My memory may be a bit sketchy because we did so much!

Friday

I was so excited on Thursday but I’d convinced myself I should go to bed at7 to get some good rest. Because I’m a moron, I got 5 hours of sleep that night: I went to bed at a stupid time and got up at 3 but the night before, I’d cleared up a situation that had been bothering me for a long time. We arrived at Gatwick at 4:30 and, upon me realising I’d forgotten to bring my Euros (wow), my dad and I did a mad dash to the shitty money exchange rate point. I was so tired even then; then I met up with my class and we went through security. It was so boring, including the fligh there despite my panic at take-off. Luckily I sat next to a girl who used to be in my old French class who has now become a great friend of mine. I’ll get onto the interesting part now.

There were 16 of us going on the trip, all of whom I liked or at least could talk to if I needed. Our two history teachers went, +a tour guide called Rob who was fantastic but walked at a ridiculously fast pace. When we were on the plane, I got an idea of what it would be like: people took the piss out of each other and laughed; that was an ongoing theme throughout the trip. One of my best friends, who I call Red, went too, as well as the other Head Girl.

We weren’t afforded rest when we landed. Oh no; it was straight into the activities: we were carrying heavy bags and had to travel to the hostel on public transport, jumping on trains until I felt faint. Perhaps that was also because I had intense stomach cramps and hadn’t eaten in ages (at one point my vision completely went, which was honestly a terrifying experience and I don’t want to think about it). After dropping our bags – it was about midday at this point – we went on a ‘walking tour’ of the city. That involved a Karl Marx statue, my friend taking out a communist manifesto which he had decided to bring, learning about the Burning of the Books in 1933 and being so tired I could barely think. We went to a museum and because I’m visually impaired, I was allowed to touch some artifacts using special gloves – for instance, a centuries-old cannon. I nearly screamed with excitement; I would have if I was able to muster up the energy to speak loudly. Usually, I feel stupid because people know more than me about historical context but I got to ask our museum guide a lot of questions.

In the evening, we got back to the hostel, had dinner and I was all ready for sleep. I shared a room with the four other girls and straight off, I made friends with the other Head Girl as we fangirled over books, discussed the day and the gruelling pace Rob had made us go at and laughed explosively. The other three were amazing because they helped me without me even asking; they seemed to understand I wanted enough freedom to feel human but that I did need help with some things and they never made me feel stupid for it. Even though we were tired, as soon as we got into bed we were utterly alert. I listened to them gossiping, managed to actually join in on the conversation and didn’t make a fool of myself.

Honestly, the first day was easy compared to the rest because it was an introduction. It made me feel at home in a foreign country and left me feeling wholly happy because I wasn’t pretending.

Saturday

We woke at 7 that day, my legs aching from the previous afternoon. However, I knew that this day would be challenging emotionally as we were visiting Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, an hour’s ride on public transport from Berlin. We arrived late downstairs but I think we all knew that this was nothing compared to the enormity of what we’d feel later.

Going to the concentration camp was so incredibly moving. It was a work camp and we walked the route of the prisoners, looking at the barracks which – by the end – had 400 or so people in a relatively small room. The atmosphere was quiet, horrified, above all when we saw the outline of what was a gas chamber, the only one in the camp, and the gallows. This particular camp wasn’t like Auschwitz: not as many executions took place. However, it was a huge concept to take in. Until you’re there, it’s difficult to realise just how awful the Holocaust was. I think that everyone should learn about it and just understand the sheer scale of the horror.

In a similar emotional idea, in the afternoon – instead of going to the Olympic Stadium as was planned, we visited two Holocaust memorials. The first was comprised of stone blocks, varying in height – all in rows, it felt like they represented the different victims and stories. I felt disconnected and terribly sad as I walked through, trailing my hand along the rough stonework. However, the one that made me feel incredibly emotional was the memorial to the Roma and Sinti. Flowers were laid on a platform in the middle of a little pond, uneven stones on the ground engraved with names of concentration camps. Birds chirped overhead and it was a memorial to something awful surrounded by nature; it made everything feel real and terrifying. As well as that, we visited the Topography of terror, which documented the horrors of the Nazi regime in pictures. The history teacher which will teach us about that walked around with me, talking to me about the photos.

At night, we had dinner outside a lovely restaurant and in contrast to the heavy emotions we’d felt earlier, we lightened the mood by the best medicine: laughter. I was literally crying at one point because of various innuendos that were made; a bird landed on my tray; I managed to get food on me and it was genuinely so nice because I was on a table with the people who were quickly becoming friends of mine if they weren’t already. I felt so close with everything. After that, we went to the Reichstag – the government building, rebuilt after it was burned down in the 1930s. I spent time walking with my old French friend, as I like to call her; we got so fed up with the audio guide at one point that we just walked around the dome, taking in the atmosphere of the whole place with the historical context owe had.

Before we went to bed, we had an impromptu disco – the teachers had gone to bed, exhausted probably from the events of the morning when a drunk person had spoken at length to one of the history teachers and Rob had set the pace even higher. They put music on in the basement for about 5 minutes, after I came back in awkwardly after having been left by one of my friends by accident. It was certainly more tiring than Friday, for sure, made better by the yells of music of my friends.

Sunday

Sunday was really, really hot but that was probably because we were walking around all day. I wore light trousers and so was sweltering; we went to an art gallery outside Berlin in the morning. Red described everything to me, taking a picture of me outside in the garden – I think I smiled; I just found it all so beautiful. The house in which the Final Solution was planned was heartbreaking though; we learned about the stories of individual people, in addition to the fates of those in attendance at the meeting, who weren’t prosecuted for their part and after the war, often remained civil servants.

In the afternoon, we visited Potsdam; I went on a tram for the first time. Even though it was hot, we took a walk in the park and saw Kaiser Wilhelm II’s childhood home, as well as Frederick the Great’s castle – one of the people in my class is obsessed with him, something which I find hilarious. Walking up so many steps took a toll, yet the fountains, shade and resting places added a lovely touch to something so historically significant.

By that time, I was more tired than I cared to admit. We went bowling after having had dinner, the meal filled with the laughter that I felt was now customary. I came joint last (5th place according to him) with Red; I acted very strange because I was so exhausted and I felt emotional because it was our last night. For example, I screamed when I knocked down all but one pin, yelling “YAAAAS!” on various occasions. The teacher who teaches us the English Revolution section helped me to refine my “technique”. I adored that evening, even if we got back to the hostel at 10 and didn’t sleep until 12, a security staff member knocking at our door to tell us to shut up.

Monday

The last day was focused on the Cold War. When I woke up, I was surprised to note that I didn’t feel as tired as I thought I would be. I had packed on Sunday; we left the hostel at 9, the banter of the people in my class increasing as the day wore on. In the morning, we visited the Stasi Prison, one of the most moving things I’ve ever done with the only amusing thing being that Red got stuck in a rose bush. There were two prisons; one was reserved for physical torture and one psychological. It was horrifying. When you’re told about people who now work at the prison to do tours who have gone through Hell, imprisoned for crimes against the state they didn’t even commit, it fills you with this crawling sense of terror and sadness. I admire the people who can now go back to that prison to educate us, the younger generation, on what conditions were truly like. No sugarcoating. No hiding how it was.

We went to Checkpoint Charlie near to lunchtime, the seriousness in the morning then being balanced by shopping. The girls and I, as well as one of the boys, went to Zara and when we ran out of time, we went to get food. I managed to eat it in 10 minutes whilst running back to the meeting point, which made me feel more sick than ever. I laughed, shouted and gasped for air when the heat was too oppressive.

Going home was a sad affair. I didn’t want to, most of all because I would miss how free I felt and also because I didn’t want to return to the dreariness of school. We collected our bags, me complaining about how exhausted I was – luckily not wracked with cramps. In the airport, I discovered that someone had hand-written the word “blind” on my passport but had missed out the I, the pun pointed out to me. As I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes, people must have thought I was crying.

Berlin was more beautiful than I could express. The thing that meant the most to me was the help and support I got from, well, everyone. When I asked the girls to help me with something, they always did. I was treated like a human, like I belonged – it was a shock to come back to school and to not feel so complete: I even missed walking fast and the joking of the people around me. Everyone in Germany talked to me with no filter. Even the teachers relaxed, telling me at the end that it was amazing to have worked and talked with me. I was near tears.

I’m never going to forget it. Even if the specifics fade, I’ll always remember the kindness, laughter and the feeling of togetherness. When some of the boys were being their usual selves, I grinned and laughed and smiled. When I wanted to contribute something to a conversation, I could.

Sometimes, taking a chance and putting yourself out there can help so much with your confidence. It has for me and despite the fact that I was tired and irritable at some points, I wouldn’t have changed anything about those four days. They were worth every penny.

Have you ever been to Germany, or to a historical location that changed how you feel about things?

From Elm 🙂

I Can’t Speak German

Hi!

When I post this it’ll be Friday and I’ll be on the plane to Berlin, for a history school trip. It’ll be with both history classes: that includes Red who’s one of my best friends and a girl who was in my old french class, though not Laurel.

I’ve been looking forward to this all year: we’re staying until Monday and will be walking and doing so many activities every day. Such activities are visiting a concentration camp, going to memorials, seeing the Reichstag and other things I can’t remember. It’s going to be a good experience because it’ll teach me more about Germany itself as well as the horrors of the Nazi regime – we study it for A-Level in History – and I’ll feel more free, I hope.

Even if I’m mildly nervous because I don’t know many people well, I think that this will be an opportunity to “come out of my shell”. I’ve been extremely closed off recently to the point where it’s damaged close relationships; I feel like being a little more open with everyone, starting with actually displaying qualities to people of myself that are, in fact, truthful. I’m going there for the education as well as the companionship.

I’ve written a post that hopefully, will be up on Sunday so that my blog isn’t empty for 4 days. I’m going to miss you all: I haven’t read many blogs in so long; my previous drive to read has disappeared but after this trip, I hope it can revitalise itself. As I feel rather faded, this may be an opportunity to get my thoughts back on track. Maybe.

Expect a big update when I get back and if I don’t do one, feel free to shout at me. As I’m almost completely blind, I have to have someone from my school’s VI unit along to help me which is going to cause me some frustration but I’m sure it’ll be fine. I sincerely doubt I’ll have enough time or energy to miss England much; it’s going to be packed.

See you on Monday but most likely Tuesday because I won’t have Wifi! Because of the long trip, I’ll be utterly exhausted and I’ll have to go to school the next day. Oh, joy of joys.

Have you ever been to Berlin (if you don’t live there?)

From Elm 🙂

How My Exams Went, According To Me

In my school, we still do AS Levels despite most of them not counting for anything. If you don’t know, AS Levels are exams you do in your first year of A-Levels which used to count for 50% of your A-Level results – we take the rest of the exams next year and they are what (usually) count towards getting into university.

Mine started on 15 May and ended on 26 May; I had 8 in total after dropping French earlier this year. Unlike for my GCSEs, I’ll write down my reactions to them because after my exams before, I was tired and preoccupied with my emotions going haywire. Take everything I say with a pinch of salt because I’m notorious at underestimating myself and thinking I’ve failed at literally everything you could possibly fail at.

Before pretty much every exam, I looked at the hashtags on my Twitter (shameless self-promotion I’m sorry) and tweeted under some of them. That proved to be… Rather catastrophic at one point, as you’ll read later.

Psychology Paper 1

I honestly don’t think this one went too badly: it was my first one so I was shit scared but apart from a bullshit 8 marker, it wasn’t awful. For me, the main thing that made me laugh in these exams was the jokes afterwards and also the fact that they did a last year’s AQA biology-type thing and shoved a bunch of Research Methods questions in the topic of memory. It wasn’t quite B1 though because it was actually relevant. I do think that I rambled in my answers a bit but it can’t be helped; I don’t think I’ll do terribly on this one though so that’s a relief.

History Paper 1

Oh, no, nooooo! After this finished, I attempted to expunge it from my memory with limited success. Long story short, I hated it and you know what the worst part was?

Before the exam itself, I had tweeted under the hashtag with something vaguely funny or just despairing. Some people liked it – I don’t know who they were – and I was just calmly scrolling through my notifications when my brain came to a screeching halt. Somebody from my school had liked it. From my school and not just any person, no. Possibly the worst person to like it: the person I used to sit next to in history. Just have a look at this page. It took me a while to recover from my panic at the thought of him finding my blog and taking the piss out of me for years. That’ll teach me to post under topic I know not many people do.

Anyhow, I walked into the exam and thought “Oh shit, I haven’t done enough revision,” an observation which proved to be true. The extract question was an utter bastard although everyone found that difficult; the two topics I didn’t want to come up came up on the essay question. I have extra time because I’m almost completely blind and because of that, I rambled a fair bit and started panicking. That’s never a good sign when you’re attempting to write coherently. By the end of it, I was shaking and walked out of the room feeling unconfident.

Critical Thinking Paper 1

Before you ask, I had no choice but to do this subject. Originally, I was going to do Extended Project Qualification ( EPQ), a 5000 dissertation-style project and those who wanted to do that had to also do Critical Thinking. I did the barest amount of revision for it because in this type of exam, you can’t really revise; it’s skill-based.

This was the first exam I genuinely laughed in. The people included a Fitbit employee, some kind of Road Safety Forum user and I can no longer think of Wearable technologies like Smartwatches the same way again without getting angry. This exam was all about components of an argument and credibility with an essay question at the end and unlike with any other of my exams, I got so tired of it all that I dread to think of what the examiner will think of me when they read my sarcastic responses.

I’ve either mildly passed this or failed horribly. I’m not really inclined to care; universities don’t take this subject into account normally but I still did try what I assume is my best. The skills I got are still important, even if unis don’st care, kind of showing that exams shouldn’t just be about getting into university.

English Paper 1

I could have married this paper; it was the brief respite from panic I needed. All year, I’d been preparing for this and I think – maybe, possibly, potentially – it payed off? We studied Othello and 15 poems and both the questions were glorious things. On later inspection, it turns out that I did the opposite interpretation to the Othello question that literally everyone did. I panicked about that and barely told anyone, pretending I’d done what everyone else had. I convinced myself I’d failed but after deliberation, there’s nothing I can do. Yes, I might not have done as well in it but when you think that, my best advice to it would be move onto the next one. You can’t change things and I know it’s hard but I assure you, you will have done well for you no matter what grade you get.

I loved the poetry question, too. It was on my favourite poem and I may or may not have squealed when it came up – luckily I’m in a room with one invigilator and so they didn’t care, otherwise I would have got weird looks that I wouldn’t be able to see anyway. I wrote confidently although I do think I lost my way a bit because I got confused. That’s nothing out of the ordinary though and at least I knew I passed.

Psychology Paper 2

Oh, Psychology, will you marry me? Please? I don’t want to be alone… Okay fine then, you won’t? Typical.

As you can tell, this paper was good. Probably. I don’t want to jinx it; I’m always scared that if I sing praises for myself, I may be horribly disappointed. On the other hand, I won’t sell myself short: this paper went well. The Research Methods questions – which had no elements of Memory in them – were so straightforward I could have cried and the only tricky part of it was the Application Questions, which never fill me with confidence at the best of times. Also, the exam hilarity on Twitter was just as great as last time. I live for it – okay no; that’s sad.

History Paper 2

My history teacher is a beautiful human being – both of them are. Before the first exam, the teacher who taught the unit for the second exam came and chatted to me. I emailed both teachers after the exams had finished to let them know how they went, not exposing my lack of confidence for fear that they’d feel like they hadn’t covered the material enough (they had; I’m just a fool).

Despite the relative pain of my first exam, the second wasn’t as bad: it was like its antithesis. The topics that I adored came up; I could answer the Source question quite simply although I spent ages on it. I think that my higher understanding and better preparation for this made it more bearable because I’m famous for my screaming rants of “I’m NOT PREPARED HELP ME!” As much as it went quite well, I’m still internally sobbing for lack of direction in the essay but I’m going to pretend that it didn’t exist and move on with my life. That’s always how I seem to deal with my problems… Oops.

English Paper 2

“Why?” I screamed, eyes wild with fury. “After the success of the first paper, I thought-” My voice broke as I took a steadying breath. “I thought that maybe it would go as well! No! O, the pity of it!”

This really didn’t go as well as I wanted it to and I think it was the main disappointment of my exams. That sounded awful but we’d had less time to prepare: it was a coparitive essay between Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby, in addition to a piece of unseen prose. My English teacher for these units is the best thing ever; she really lit up my enthusiasm for the novels and context of them. Even so, I felt vastly underprepared, much more so than my history.

Parts of it went well, such as the essay on comparisons which I had basically planned a few days ago. I laughed in this exam, too, because I couldn’t get over my good fortune. The unseen prose itself contained such beautiful writing – it was from Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence. The issue wasn’t the subject matter or the words and structure. It was my organisation of ideas: I screwed up. I rambled. I ranted. I was the model of what one may term “not coming up with a relevant point and spouting crap”. Am I being overdramatic? Hahaha, no way; where would you get that impression from?

Critical Thinking, Paper 2

This was the most ridiculous and hilarious paper I think I’d ever come across, mainly because I actually found it alright. The arguments themselves were brilliant in their illogical nature: one of them proposed a ban on speeding points you get on your license because crimes were “adding up” with no punishment. The large argument in the Resource Booklet said at one point that decisions should be left up to the experts because in a democracy, people expected the government to make decisions for them. Again, I laughed. Not because it was funny but because I knew I’d have to analyse it.

When we wrote our own arguments, on the subject of “there will always be crime”, I went on a ranting commentary about today’s society and how as long as there are people, there will always be crime… I don’t know. I was sensing my freedom and wanted to put my own, erm, unique spin on things. Like the first paper, I’ve passed or miserably failed; I’ll be annoyed if it was the latter because I really tried in that paper. I hope the examiner, at least, gets a laugh out of my exasperated analysis an analogy.

All in all, exams weren’t that bad. I definitely didn’t try as hard as I could and should have but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I need to remember that pretty much all year, I’ve been feeling miserable and though that’s not an excuse, it contributed to my lack of motivation to revise or do anything much”

If you have exams to go or have done them, don’t give up on yourself. Keep going and remember not to stress too much after the exam. You’ve done it and you should be proud of yourself for completing it.

Don’t scream at yourself if you think you’ve failed”. Failures are never failures as long as you can improve and make something out of them.

From Elm 🙂

A Really Speedy Quick Update

Hey hey, I’m running on a rare burst of adrenaline because I had an exam today.

Yeah, only I could get an adrenaline rush from having a mock – did I forget to mention I have three mocks this week? Whoops…

Said mocks are why I haven’t been posting, replying to comments or reading blogs for a few days. I’ve been revising – erm I mean trying to revise, crying and going through a few bouts of self-hatred – and today was my first exam. All yesterday I was freaking out, for no good reason, though I didn’t do enough revision in the same way I haven’t done enough for my mock tomorrow. Well done, Elm.

Today was English; tomorrow’s History and Thursday is Psychology. English ITSELF went well: we had a question on poetry, and one on unseen prose; the former went much better than the latter. It was mainly because in the middle of writing a great first paragraph, my fucking computer froze; I had to write that paragraph three times and by the end of it, I got sick of it and started to write crap. That was even more noticeable in my prose analysis, what did I actually write? Who bloody knows – I spent 2 and a half hours writing, because of extra time and the fact that my computer took half an hour to gets its shit together.

I’m dreading the History tomorrow; the English Revolution and Germany from 1871-1914 has never caused me such anguish. From Bismarck to Bethmann-Holwegg (how do you spell that UGH) to screaming about Caprivi’s New Course, I’m very done with the past.

Have you guys had mocks yet? I’m so bad at revising, because no one will revise with me and people from other schools are doing different courses.

Oh, and I had a minature breakdown today because of French which makes me want to lock myself in a very small room and never come out, but I’ll talk about it once mocks are done. God, I’m tired and so behind with everything.

From Elm 🙂

Books, History, and Everything in Between

I’m the type of person who can so easily get lost in the world of a book, in the stories, characters and words, so that when I try to resurface from it, I don’t know what to do with myself.

It’s not just one type of book: I’ve gone through liking so many different genres, and taking a fancy to one book, finishing it, and then craving a different kind of book – or conversely, getting sucked into ‘phases’ of genres for ages.

Now, it’s not like I’d just read that one genre of book. I’d read others, but that genre would prevail – I almost breathe it. You know those books that set up a fire in your heart, or give you that anticipatory feeling when you want to read them? That’s what I experience when I get a passion for a certain ‘brand’ of book and though I love other books I read, it’s the type I’m obsessed with at the time that makes me happy, until a book comes along that changes my preferences. Woah, it sounds like I have romantic relwhnships with books or something… Errr, moving on.

It happened with books along the line of Harry Potter first, then fantasy (Game of Thrones), then a long period of adoring Dystopia (The Hunger Games, Halo by Frankie Rose). Then Contemporary books and then a wild love for Science Fiction (the 5th Wave, Worldwalker Trilogy, Atlantis Grail). My tastes have flitted back and forth within these genres, fit with little subsections of them – LGBTQ+ Contemporary, books that are so cliché it hurts (I read them after books that make me cry) and then, in between periods of going between genres, I read miscellaneous things here and there. You could say I have a… Varied love of books.

Now, after a stint of reading contemporary, and scouring Goodreads to find books, I’ve fallen in love with historical literature, and historical fiction. I’m not surprised either: history’s always been something I’ve liked, from Romans to the English Revolution to wartime stories; it’s now combined with my love of reading to create something that’s entirely too addicted to raving, and annoying people, with her rants about how amazing a book is.

I blame this on Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, a book that made me cry so much that I made myself ill, but a book that rekindled my fascinwhn with the lives of ordinary people in war, of stories of people that didn’t change the world but were heroes and heroines nonetheless. It was amazing, and the thing is, stories like that happen every day in every war; it gave me a snapshot of things that could have existed, and showed me that war ends in tragedy for so many people.

I now have a deeply rooted respect for the classics, but specifically written in times of history which interest me. Take the Victorian period, for example; the lifestyle there is something I’ve always read up on, or tried to find out about. We’re studying Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté, which is set just in that time, and I couldn’t put it down.

True, I had a reluctance to read it when I was younger and even before I started, but that was because of its size, and I worried that the vocabulary would be too much. I was so, so wrong; I’ve nearly finished with it, occasionally start writing and speaking in the style of Bronté, and have been known to scream “YAAASS OHHH SO CUTE!” when talking about some scenes between Mr. Rochester and Jane. I can’t help it: I got frustrated with Jane at the beginning, but the way she interacts with Mr. Rochester is great.

Historical fiction written nowadays is one of my favourite things, simply because it gives a new perspective on everything. Jane Eyre’s quite progressive for its time and I love that, but fiction written about the past with a modern view in mind is so interesting to me. After starting Jane Eyre, and needing a break from the very heavy language, I wanted to read some romance because a) I needed cuteness in my life and b) I was in the mood to not think too deeply for a while. Perhaps, then, I shouldn’t have started the Storm and Silence series by Robert Thier. I don’t know how to summarise these books, except to say it opens with Lilly Linton – potentially the most fantastic girl ever – dressing up as a boy and attempting to go to a polling station to vote. She doesn’t take shit from anybody, and it involves a controlling billionaire bastard who goes through character development, and also Victorian society, humour, solid chocolate, Feminism and a main character who sticks up for herself and is just. Brilliant. I could scream about this series forever, because it was just what I needed to get me interested in the Victorian era again, and coupled with Jane Eyre, made me crave even more.

Basically, I’ve concluded that I need to get a life that preferrably involves historical books, because I love them so much. I plan to read Pride and Prejudice, as well as Chaucer, and various other books as well as lots of historical fiction written recently. Um, and obviously do work as well, and study… I’ll never get anything done at this rate!

I wanted to share with you my simple love of books, and just how scarily ecstatic I get about it. It’s not a side you see often. Who knows – maybe next year, I’ll go back to constantly reading Sci-Fi; I’Ll just have to wait and see.

Do you have any recommendations for great books?

From Elm 🙂

Proud, In a Way

Today was an explosion of “OMG WHAT DID YOU GET IN YOUR MOCKS TELL ME!!!” and I felt awkward doing that because I felt like I was showing off.

People did quite well – Wren did insanely well, Red too, and Odd and Willow and all the rest, but today I want to talk about Birch. If you don’t know who he is, I sit next to him in history – I used to have a huge crush on him before the summer, but that’s past now (after I got rejected eyy).

So, we still talk, but not like it was before. I have a feeling he thinks I don’t like him, which is ridiculous because he’s a great guy (I’m trying to set him and Willow up to go to prom together, and who cares if they’ve never spoken?)

We were chatting in history when the inevitable question came up: “EYY, what did you get in history?”

Me: “Err, A star?”

Birch: “You got an A star?”

Me: “Yup… What’d you get?”

Birch: “A star for one topic and B for another.”

Me (Hits the table): “YASSS!”

I didn’t show him that inside, I was doing a victory dance for him. I was thinking, “GOD, I’m proud of this guy. WHY am I proud of him?”

And I think I have an answer. In the last one and a half years, we’ve known each other – and not been friends, but he understands me a little. I used to help him with his history, in lessons and for homework, and it almost makes me feel like I helped him a little, to show him he CAN get a high grade in that subject. I’m not responsible for it, but I’m so happy that he achieved something – he’s got so confident over the last year.

Our changes mean we. never speak any more, not with the comfortable tone we used to, but that’s okay. I’m just happy for him, I guess. He was one of the ones that got me through the whole Ash shit without even realising it.

Even when they’re not how they used to be, the friendships and connections you make last, for YOU, in your mind. How I feel for Birch is far removed from what it was, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel really pleased when he gets a high grade in the subject we both share, both love, and in the subject where we first met and when I realised that living and smiling, rather than being serious, is a GOOD thing. That’s how he helped me.

If he ever saw this, he’d laugh and say it was nothing to do with me, then never speak to me again. Yeah, I didn’t help him get that A, but I’m glad I was around to witness it.

Memories of Birch bring me back to April and May, SO long ago it seems, but being reminded of the past can be a good thing.

Do you have people like that, who you used to love or like and though you don’t at all any more, you’re still impacted by the good things they do?

From Elm 🙂

The Korean War and Covalent Bonding

As you can PROBABLY tell, from that strange title, I’m revising for my mock exams in January right now and it’s SHIT scary.

But I’m me, so my revision techniques are, um… Interesting. Usually, I’d read over the notes and that would be that, but a few months ago I realised that if I walked round my house whilst saying the stuff aloud, it worked. And THAT is why I still remember stuff about the Cuban Missile Crisis, not that I’m doing that one in the mocks. I hope.

For the past 2 or so hours, I’ve been revising the Korean War, yelling about how General McArthur and his troops went across the 38th Parallel on 7 October 1950 whilst my tumbledryer makes demonic noises, TRYING to remember that in 1951, upon the Russians’ insistance, peace talks were held in Panmanjom – is THAT how you spell it? – and just generally confusing myself about Yalta and Potsdam and all that stuff. If you don’t do history, ignore all that; I’m being a nerd and I’M GOING TO FORGET EVERYTHING OH GOD

I think the peak of my revision came just now, when I was talking about covalent bonding, and I said something along the lines of THIS:

“So say you’ve got carbon and oxygen, and those bitches want 8 electrons. THAT equals CO2 because it’s CARBON DIOXIDE, and carbon’s got four right now and oxygen’s got six. So you put 2 in each bond – WAIT NO – 2 carbon electrons go in each bond, then two oxygen electrons, cause 6 plus 2 equals 8 and 4 plus 4 equals 8 because there are two oxygens – EYYYY that’s clever!”

Tell me I’m not the only one who has really strange revision techniques? I feel like such a… Strange child. I mean, it’s not like I can do flashcards or mindmaps or signs with my notes on them, can I?

Hmm. REALLY don’t think I need to revise that part of chemistry any more – plus, I doubt you guys want to listen to me ramble on about metallic bonding, those adorable free electrons that make metal such a good conductor, or ANYTHING about lattices.

Maybe a break’s in order?

How do you guys revise? If I just talk things through with myself about the work, I’m alright, except when it’s maths of course.

That was a weird post – sorry I didn’t write yesterday; I was exhausted. For those of you who were wondering, the party was amazing! Because I’m cool like that, I formed a “social reject circle” with two girls I barely knew.

From Elm 🙂

A Weird but Pleasant Day

So, like the title says, I’ve had a bit of a strange day – nothing “Strange” happened, just a bunch of tiny things.

I got my history coursework (first question of it) back and I got 16 out of 16. So I screamed and slammed my hands down on the desk, which was REALLY embarrassing but so worth it. And Birch – the guy I sit next to and who I used to be OBSESSED with before the summer (oh my god that’s embarrassing because he’s kind of a twat) – got 14 out of 16.

Here’s where the weirdness starts.

I was congratulating him, because I’m so damn proud of what he got; he couldn’t stop yelling “YES FAM!” and things to that effect, because we both thought we’d get shit marks. I remember him saying “This is the first A star I’ve ever got in anything that counted”. But he was being strangely nice.

A bit of context – before the summer I told him how I felt, and then after the summer he wasn’t cold towards me, but it wasn’t the same. But today, it was – but goddamn, I’m so glad I got over my “crush” LONG before this. I could never have had serious feelings for Birch, and I understand that now. Kinda makes you laugh, you know? I’m just thinking of where I am now, where I’m going out with the most amazing boy I could ever meet and DAAAAAMN, Birch pales in comparison to that. By a long shot.

The niceness – it was weird. He was actually congratulating me properly, like punching me on the arm and saying “God, well done Elm!” (HOLY FUCK I nearly wrote my real name) By punching I mean tapping me, but shh I’m a whimp… It was just unexpected, but I got absolutely no “Omfg LOLOLOLOL BIRCH LIKE WAS SOOOOOO NICEEEE TO ME xD” that I got before the summer; it was just a “Aww, he’s being a nice friend, whatever,” feeling.

PSH, though, he was nice throughout the whole lesson. Not that he wasn’t nice before, he WAS, but it was like the old Birch had resurfaced.

In fact, so many people were really nice to me today. Maybe I just didn’t notice it before, but what usually happens is I seclude myself but today, I noticed people just being nice and saying “Well done!” to me. It kind of shocked me to realise people actually cared? This girl, who I used to hate, helped me out in sociology with a quiz we had to do, and didn’t talk to me like she used to, like I was stupid.

I did my french today, as well, and managed to remember all my coursework. My friend Fern didn’t feel like she did so well, but she consoled herself with the fact that she did better than Ash, who wrote nothing.

As in he literally wrote NOTHING. If we were friends, I’d happily give him my draft so he’d get an idea of what to do, but HAHA, that’s never happening again. It was so weird, though, to find out he wrote NOTHING AT ALL.

DAMN, that was a strange day; one of my friends met his girlfriend for the first time which was fucking adorable.

How was your day, anyway? Do you ever get days where you’re like “This was such a great day, but SO weird.”

From Elm 🙂

Ypres

UGH, I’m tired, and WAY too tired to make this post, but I’m a rebel so…

Yesterday, I went to Ypres – like I was supposed to do last year, but that got canceled… That was kinda messy; if you want to know what happened with me then (you don’t) look up the post called “I’ve Snapped”. T’isn’t pretty.

ANYWAY, Ypres was fantastic. We got to school at 5 in the morning, arrived back at 12 at night, and we went to see cemeteries – one little one and then one huge one – and a museum and we walked in some trenches. Let me list some of the highlights:

1. Feeling so sad in the first cemetery we went to, mainly because of the unknown graves where there was just a date of death, or “A soldier in the Great War”.

2. Walking around said cemetery in near silence, away from everyone else, just thinking and discussing with my friends about how it felt wrong to write about this, because all the people had lives and it was just chilling to think about it.

3. Walking through a trench, learning what it was like for the soldiers in those trenches – I got to hold a rifle, two grenades, British and German helmets and a Trench club.

4. Wearing gas masks – or the first “gas masks” – along with four other people, and nearly crying with laughter at our class’s reactions. Birch nicknamed us Gas mark 5 and that had me in stitches.

(Speaking of Birch, THAT was unpleasant. Last year I said I was going to possibly sit next to him on the coach – THANK GOD I didn’t this time (I don’t fancy him but just imagine if I HAD sat next to him?). He was with his friends and he was kind of an arse – not really, but we barely spoke, and I just remember feeling horror when I found myself sitting by him when we were at the first cemetery. I remembered that feeling I had for him before – which isn’t there at all now because Aspen – and man, I was so naive!).

5. Getting a group photo in a reconstruction of a dugout in the museum – I felt so socially excluded at one point (fuck you, support blind help person), but that was the best part of going to the museum. I also talked to this person – bagpipes were playing and we were yelling “IT HURTS!” and I actually don’t know who he was, and I want to find out because I’m glad he actually spoke to me.

6. Visiting the largest cemetery in Belgium and going inside these huge domes – on the walls, there were plaques with what must have been 20000 names or so on them, and there were two of these domes. It was haunting as we walked around the graves, and my friend found a relative of hers – and again, we all discussed how much unnecessary death and pain there was.

7. Going for dinner and sitting in a group with 5 or so of my friends, laughing and talking. We also went to the chocolate shop and OH MY GOD, the owner was the loveliest woman ever. Afterwards, we were all so hyper because we got a fantastic deal, and we kept on shouting “THIS IS THE BEST THING!”

8. Going to the Last Post Ceremony. What else can I say? It was sad, even though it was short, and I just felt part of a community.

All in all, it was a fantastic day – I laughed, felt like crying and even though I sometimes can’t stand my year, they’re good people. I don’t want go to back to school on Monday, or learn my french or revise for music, but I am SO glad I went to Ypres. I think I needed it.

How was your day yesterday?

From Elm 🙂

We’re scared 

Hey everyone, this is Raven (not my real name, just trying to fit the nature themes on this blog!) I’m Elm’s friend and I’m typing for her on her phone, but she’s right next to me. 

Basically, we have some fair banter as friends, and somehow we ended up discussing a documentary Elm had seen, which was about a boy who claimed to have memories of a past life. In this film the boy and his family go to the place he claims to have come from and find out all his stories are completely legitimate. Now Elm and I are basically a bit confused, is there a scientific explanation for this. (We are slightly creeped out)