Hard Decisions

A few days ago, I talked to a friend about my Linguistics degree and languages, and got a bit sad that my decision to be a responsible adult and switch my focus now that I can’t teach in classroom anymore also means that I won’t be continuing with an MA in Historical Linguistics. The thing is, with an MA in Historical Linguistics, my chances of finding an online teaching job in that field are next to nothing (even teaching positions in classroom are rare since it’s a niche degree), but with an MA in Classics with a specialisation in Latin, my changes of finding such a job are a lot higher (maybe not astronomical, but definitely existant).

Now I had been thinking about taking Ancient Greek as my minor next to majoring in Latin (yes, I’m starting a second BA…and losing my scholarship because of it), but that talk really got me thinking, and revisiting the degree regulations for a few BAs and the Classics and Historical Linguistics MAs.

My findings? Much to my surprise, I can specialise in Latin in the Classics MA, meaning I’d only have one module about classical themes in Greek literature (I’d still need to actually know Ancient Greek but I wouldn’t have to do much in terms of literature studies for it). Yes! Don’t ask me why, but Greek literature doesn’t sound half as interesting to me as Roman literature does, maybe because a lot of the classical Greek epics and myths have been done ad nauseam in TV, books, etc., and because the typically treated Roman literature isn’t that limited to epics and myths.

So then I double-checked another BA I’m interested in to see whether it might be a better fit for me as my minor (I have to choose a minor with Latin), and yes, absolutely. It’s called Archeology and Culture of North-East Africa (in short AKNOA, from the German degree name), and besides a module about archeologicy, and one about writing mediums and that sort, I will be learning Middle Egyptian!

Still, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Middle Egyptian are only a few of the languages of antiquity around the Mediterranean. I want more.

I spent a great part of yesterday with research of languages and cultures in antiquity, in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Orient, the Mediterranean region…and realised that I’ll have to restrict myself further since there were too many. The region and time frame are too widely set. So I tried to break it down further. I looked for the major cultures and languages from the beginning of the Hittite Kingdom till the fall of Rome (which is still a frame of over 2,000 years), and then further restricted it to the two major language families spoken in that region: Indo-European, and the Afro-Asiatic languages.

From the Indo-European side, I chose Latin, Ancient Greek, Hittite, Luwian (another Anatolian language and closely related to Hittite), and Old Persian (since the Greeks had a lot of dealings with the Achemenides, who spoke Old Persian). From the Afro-Asiatic side, there are Akkadian (which was spoken by Assyr and Babylonia, two of the major ancient cultures of Mesopotamia), Middle Egyptian, Coptic, and Demotic (the latter two developed from Egyptian).

Apart from Latin, in which I want to become fluent (since I want to teach it), I’d be happy with solid reading and translating skills from the other languages. I also want to get to know the cultures who spoke these languages. How did they live? What did they believe? How were they connected to other cultures of their time, and who was influenced by whom?

It’s a big package I put together for myself, but hey, I’m still young…

Life and Other Small Things

Life’s been busy for me lately so I hadn’t even noticed how long ago my last post has been. Sorry for that, not intentionally neglecting you. Just brain fog and other things.

So as of March 3rd, I’ve been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome and a severe lack of vitamin D, but my doc is still waiting to see whether the lack of vitamin D is causing everything (I’m taking a high-dosed supplement now on his orders and we’ll check levels again in June). What I did notice after starting the supplement was a boost in energy levels. I’d wake up with more spoons available, and less brain fog. And I have to say, if it stays that way, even if nothing else changes, I’ll be happy. Less brain fog and more energy means I’m able to get more stuff done in spite of the pain, and it means I’ll likely be able to use the awake time when my insomnia kicks in again. You know, instead of sitting on the couch or lying in bed staring off into nothing because my brain and body decide they don’t want to work together, and sleep is not an option. If you want to follow my whole journey of life with fibro, go check out my Patreon page Fibro Warrior (most posts are available to everyone, patron or not).

Right now, though, I’m attracting koalas with my breath. None have come yet, but granted, it’s a long way from Australia to Germany. They have to be on their way. Background: I caught a bad cold, and am currently taking soft pills based on eucalyptus oil, and the oil is wafting up through my esophagus. I can smell it coming up even before it hits my nose. Good thing I actually kind of like the smell, I guess.

I’m still learning Latin, and it’s still a lot of fun–and definitely easier than Sanskrit, which I have to learn for university. Did you know that Sanskrit has eight cases, three numbers, and tons of declension classes? It’s insane! Latin’s six cases, two numbers, and (I think) four declension classes are a piece of cake compared with that.

I found the free spaced repetition website/App memrise, which is awesome! I’m currently (excessively) using it to learn Latin vocabulary, Sanskrit vocabulary, the Sanskrit writing system, Latin and Sanskrit verb conjugations and noun declensions, the Greek alphabet (which, to be honest, I already knew most of but still struggled reading fluently), and Hittite. Yes, they have spaced repetition decks for all sorts of things, even for old and dead languages most people haven’t even heard of. In short, I’m in heaven!

Writing has mostly been neglected, though, since I don’t like writing with too much brain fog. But to make up for it, my brain was so nice the recent nights to fully formulate some parts for my secret writing project–after I had gone to bed, with no intention of getting up again, or anything to write nearby. Needless to say, those well-worded passages have not been stored in my brain.

So yeah, that’s been my life for the past two weeks or so. If you hop over to memrise now to try it out, I’d be interested in how it’s working for you 🙂

The New Love of my Life

Did I get your attention with the headline? Great!

I think I fell in love with a language. An ancient one, a dead one, but one that’s still very much sought after in academics. I’m talking about Latin, which was still alive and well as language of the academics and clerus until the Middle Ages even though the Roman Empire disappeared centuries earlier.

I’m currently trying to learn Latin with the help of Wheelock’s Latin 7th edition, and so far I’m very pleased with the book (although it would have been nice if the print book included the translations of the exercise sentences). While I’m not far yet (so this impression might change), it is fairly easy for me up to now. I know three daughter languages of Latin to some more or less advanced degree (French, Spanish, Italian), and I have a linguistic background so the six cases don’t really shock me (Sanskrit has eight, and I need to learn that for university). Plus, English has a lot of words that are loaned or derived from Latin words, so taking all that together, reading and understanding Latin comes easily. I’m still struggling with pronunciation, but I expect that to get better with practice (so hubby will be subject to my tries to read aloud sample texts and poems as I continue through Wheelock’s Latin).

A poet that caught my attention through the sample text in chapter two is Gaius Valerius Catullus, who seemingly wrote a lot of love poetry (and some more raunchy pieces, from what I’ve gathered from reviews). I already checked, there are compilations of his poetry complete with annotations and translation, and they don’t even cost much, so he might be one of my first Latin authors to read in the original outside of my textbook.

Now I’m even more excited about the Coursera course on Roman Art and History that I’m currently enrolled in 🙂

One Step at a Time

I’m still getting used to my “new” life, but it’s getting better. I’m one big step closer to getting the right diagnosis after seeing a specialist at the beginning of February (next appointment is at the beginning of March), and I’m trying to find new ways to be productive. I started a Patreon page which I update regularly about snippets from my life with (suspected) fibro, and I’m trying to get back into writing. I actually started my new time-traveller series, but I’ll have to do some more research since I’d like it to be as historically accurate as possible (apart from the fact that my gnomes will travel there, but hey, literary freedom and all that).

First things first, though: Tomorrow’s my exam for university, the one about the Anatolian languages, so I’ve been studying and revising for that.

All three of the A Rogue’s Tale books have been republished as ebooks on Amazon now as well, and I’m finally taking to Twitter. I actually followed a lot of archeological accounts so my Twitter feed is full of amazing photos and interesting facts now.

I’ve also finished the course about Ancient Egypt and its Civilization, and have started my next Coursera course (with a few more lined up to start next week). I love learning new things, and while I’m struggling with attendance at my university at the moment, and still have a lot of times when focusing on anything is difficult, online learning allows me to take it slow while still broadening my horizon.

Hubby is a big source of support for me in this transition time from living a “normal” life to living life with a chronic illness, as are my friends.

So yeah, baby steps for me, but at least I’m walking forward.

Building an Income outside of Teaching

I love teaching English as a foreign language. I really do. However, being a freelancer, I face the risk of cancelled courses if not enough students enroll, which has happened with three out of six evening courses this past trimester (with the other three running below the minimum number of students out of goodwill). The four evening courses starting in mid-January are still way below the number of students needed as well. In short, it doesn’t exactly look rosy for freelance EFL teachers here in Berlin at the moment.

What that means for me (and my colleagues) is this: We block time slots for planned courses (and we only have a limited amount of time we can block, plus if we block too much time and–miracle!–all courses run, we may very well burn out because it’s too much) and then are left with more free time and less money if courses are cancelled, usually without the chance to fill the time slots at such short notice (since a lot of courses are cancelled after the first class, or only a day or two before they should have started).

We only get paid for the hours we actually teach (which is okay with me), not for all the additional time it takes us to prepare classes, correct written assignments (and in the case of some courses, grade them), go to teacher training workshops, do all the administrative stuff. In order to determine actual work hours for possible additional payment (part of health and pension insurance premiums), the Land Berlin calculates with double the time we actually teach. To put this into perspective: According to them, a full-time job with an average of 40 hours per week would be about 27 class hours of teaching (à 45 minutes each). Currently, my plan for the upcoming trimester has between 20 and 27 class hours, and one week of 35 hours (a week-long intensive class). That’s besides going to university for currently 12 class hours each week (plus preparation and homework) for part of the upcoming trimester.

So you see, I can’t possibly plan even more time slots for teaching, so if most or all of my evening classes are cancelled, it leaves me with only a fraction of the income I’m planning with. I either need more students, or a second (passive) income to counterbalance the risk.

And that’s why I started to upload designs to Redbubble for T-shirts, coffee mugs, notebooks and stuff. I will add to them as inspiration strikes me, so maybe check back every now and then.

I also have my children’s books about Miro the Dragon up on Amazon (print and ebook). The first book is available in German, English, or Mandarin Chinese, and the second book is available in German.

Anyway, it would mean the world to me if you took the time to check out my stuff. Thanks for your support!

Transgender Pharao?

So I’m currently taking a Coursera class about Ancient Egypt, and in the last video I watched, the professor talked about the pharao Hatshepsut, who was born a woman but referred to herself/himself as “king” and “he”, and wore male clothes. To me, this sounds like maybe one of the earliest documented openly transgender people, and in a society nonetheless that apparently frowned upon it. Her/His name was erased from lists of pharaos, and even her/his image was erased, which is interpreted as a sign of deep disapproval, and of trying to make future generations forget her/him.

I think her/his name should be remembered, not forgotten. Kudos, Hatshepsut! Kudos for your bravery facing disapproval from your society and your priests.

Random Gratefulness Post

I know I’ve been very quiet on here lately, which had one simple reason: I was overworked. I actually had to call in sick for work once, which I normally don’t do even when I have a cold (you won’t believe how quiet a room full of adults in an ESL class can be if you write on the board that you’re hoarse and can only whisper), and had to quit two of my university classes because I desperately needed the free morning to sleep in, to recharge my batteries. You see, I often have trouble sleeping, or falling asleep, and then days (a lot, actually) where I can sleep for twelve hours straight, wake up, and still have to fight to get out of bed (coinflip between forcing myself up or turning around to nap for another hour). Neither me nor my GP know the reason for this, so I’ll just take it as it comes and live with it as best as I can.

Now, because I had missed some classes due to struggling to keep up with everything (work comes first, so it was usually my morning with only university classes where I decided to stay in bed and recharge for the rest of the week), I finally wrote two of my professors a candid email talking about my chronic illnesses, my sleep problems, and apologizing profoundly. It was hard writing those emails, but what really made me all teary-eyed were their responses: Full of understanding, not being angry with me at all, one of them even offering to meet with me simply so that I could talk to someone about it all, since she figured it’d help (it did).

So today is my random post full of gratefulness for amazing university professors. Thank you, you’re doing a great job, and I’m glad to be able to call you my professors!