Monday, October 27, 2014

A Week of Birthday Shenanigans

This year, I turned 21 last Monday! I'm officially legal worldwide, whoooo! I spent my birthday in Portland for a few days and came back to a week of celebrations with friends. I won't explain much, but I'd let the pictures explain.



 
Took the train to Portland! Driving was an option but we opted for Amtrak so I could cross it off my bucket list!











First drink in America!


 I obviously had to get The Sims 4 down in Portland and it was my birthday gift to myself... ugh, can't stop playing it!

The rest of the photos are from Joe's Apartment and The Pint over the weekend... whoop!













And, ended the weekend with this:



Yup, back to schooling!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Troubles with Negative Online Reviews

Since school started, I've neglected this baby.  I don't even want to open up my BlogLovin because the amount of unread posts is probably equal to my credit card debts (okkkay, just a bit exaggerated!).

Today, I came across an article from CBC: Negative online reviews led to threats of legal action from targeted business. It's a short read/video so I highly recommend this article, especially since most bloggers like to review products/businesses.

I was a slight victim of this. Since ranting on about my previous college (and these rants are true, by the way) on Twitter, the next day the school's campus director sat me down and warned me to delete the tweets or the school can pursue a lawsuit against me.

Was I scared? Yes, a bit.
Was I frustrated? Yes.
Angry? Yes!

I understand that negative review (assuming we're all honest reviewers and not a bunch of jackasses), can lead to potential business losses but I also believe that if you're going to operate a business, you should be aware of potential unsatisfied customers. No business on this planet has a consumer base that is 100% happy, trust me. There will always be haters.

My family owns a restaurant, and I've seen some reviews on it. Some are nice, some are nasty. I respect each reviewer's opinion and I don't go hunting down and threatening them for defaming the restaurant. Honestly, if I was like that, I wouldn't even own a business.

It's hard to prove if a review is honest or not, but if I can provide proof of how shitty your business is, then you can't have a lawsuit against me because at that point, it's just a freedom of speech. In fact, I'm not even targeting the owner, I'm targeting the business, which itself is its own identity (and probably doesn't have feelings).

I'm currently battling my previous college and I know they might threaten my with a lawsuit. At this point, I am not scared anymore because I know I'm telling the truth with evidence to support my claim. So yes, I will be writing another negative review.

Honestly, I don't believe businesses should do this. If we can't leave an honest review, what's the point of reviewing your business in the first place? We're not actually rating now, are we?

If you're a business owner, you need tough skin, simple as that. If you chose to sue someone over a negative review online, that shows a lot about your company, to be honest, enough that I wouldn't consider you, and enough that your faith in your company isn't as strong if you're afraid of one review.

Basically, businesses that can't handle negative reviews and decide to bite back with a lawsuit, are simply bullies.

I need to get back to my assignments, but what's your intake on companies threatening reviewers with negative reviews? Do you believe they have a right to do so? Would you consider your next negative review?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Whaaaaaaat a Week!

AU Represent!
Where have the week gone?!

Last week has probably been the fastest week I've had in the past month or so... sad, eh?

Well, it's all thanks to my new university. After waiting for hours in the lobby for the mailman to drop off my textbooks, I started doing my daily study grind!

And, here's where the truth comes in:
For the past week, I've done more reading and assignments than my previous uni years... combined!

I've never been more motivated and honestly, I've been "attending" school everyday because my lazy ass doesn't need to spend an hour getting ready and riding the Canada Line to school... so yes, I think my investment towards an online university is soooooo much better than attending an actual school.

And, not to mention, I feel uncomfortable know that there's sooooo many units left (for this specific semester, I only got about 2 months to finish 4 courses), I continue my studies through holidays and weekends... so, essentially, no breaks for me!

How's my classes so far?
Cultural Anthropology:Umm... where have I been without cultural anthropology?! I adore this class! I love cultural studies so taking this fills me up with goodness inside me. It's interesting (did you know in New Guinea people sprinkle urine on the corpse??...) and fun for me. It does require a lot of note taking but it's always worth it.
Culture Studies of Everyday Life: This is literally studying people's everyday lives. Yes, I didn't know you can study everyday life but I believe it falls under anthropology. It's super easy with easy assignments and minimum note taking.
Religion in Pop Culture: This is my first ever religion course and I'm indifferent about it. I thought it'd be interesting, and a part of it is, but most of it, I just get by. It's nice to learn more about religions in this world, but the pop culture we're studying is a bit old...
Canadian Pension Plan: I think I hate this course. I'm so happy there's no midterms and finals for this course, because, trust me, I think I would fail or barely pass that shit. The textbooks are horrible and boring... and long. The course itself isn't even as interesting as I thought. I took this as an required HR elective. If anything, this course makes me worry about my future pension plan...

Aside from a hectic school week, this is also what's new:
  • I joined Steve Nash... yes, $45/month, and I ain't wasting money so I'm gonna make it worth while!
  • It's my birthday in 8 days and I honestly don't give a shit about my 21st. My birthday makes me feel bitter because of last year.
  • I was supposed to go to Portland for my birthday,  but I'm soooo extremely pissed off at my friend, I'm willing to throw my prepaid $270 (ticket and accommodation) out the window. And no, I don't care if my friend has to waste money and booked time off from work. 
  • I'm officially cutting back on spending... maxed out both my credit cards from student fees and I hate having maxed CCs. 
  • I need The Sims 4... I really do.
  • I need to catch up on my blogging... literally, ever since school started, I needed to say goodbye to Sims 3 and blogging :(

Monday, October 6, 2014

Your Guide to Online Schooling & Education (Pros/Cons, Tips, etc.)

As we're entering 2015, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that nearly everything is digital - the way we communicate, the way we share, and even the way to learn and attend school.

During my prime years of high school, we were offered online courses for people who weren't attending a school or for those taking additional courses. I signed up for online courses because my school didn't offered them. That was the first time I've been exposed to online learning. From that moment on, I was in favour of online education, to the point where I'm currently completing my undergraduate degree online.


A lot of people are skeptical about online learning, but if you take a look at all your big name universities in your country, you'll realize that nearly all of them offers digital courses and even an entire degree online.

The idea of online learning, or distance learning, is to cater for those who can't reach an education whether it be working full time, living in rural areas, or even financially too. Also, for those attending schools at a later age, online might be a better option in fear of embarrassment of being the oldest one in class.

Distance Learning has its pros and cons, and sometimes, it might not even be suited for some of us. For me, growing up with computers and gadgets, everything I do is literally online. So, why not take my studies online?

Pros:
  • Cheaper. Distance Learning is cheaper because you don't need to pay for additional school service fees. And, because everything is taught online, the cost of a course and its materials are cheaper than an on-site professor teaching students. Also, let's factor in other cost such as meal plans or just snacks when you're on campus, or dorm fees.
  • Study at your own pace. Online education allows the students to study on their own pace and around their own schedule. If you're a keener, you can finish a course within a month, or so. If you prefer to take a big longer, you can apply for course extensions. Essentially, you can finish a four year degree earlier!
  • Convenient. You can study around your schedule and around your daily life. You can study at home, at the office, even on a vacation! Because everything is based on your schedule and online, you're no longer tied to a strict course schedule provided by the school. You can go on vacations, work full time, spend time with family/friends.
  • Self improvement. Because everything is online and you're not really forced to leave the comfort of your home, online learning can be a way of self improvement. It'll teach you to stay committed to something that may be mundane, it'll teach you time management, confidence in your work, self motivation, will power, etc. etc. Honestly, for me, these things are taught via online studies than in class. I can now confidently claim that I'm a self disciplined person and have my degree to prove it.
  • Worldwide. Believe it or not, I can easily attend a school out in New Zealand without traveling there! Granted, I would still pay international fees but it'd still be much cheaper than flying out there and attending school!
Cons:
  • Distractions. Obviously, being at the comfort of your own home can be distracting. For example, you're surrounded by things you're familiar with - TV, the kitchen, and when it comes down to studying, we all know everything else seems more interesting. Also, the fact that it's online just tempts us to open social media tabs while reading the chapter!
  • Lack of physical help. Distant learning means you won't have the luxury of bothering a professor after class is over. Depending on your learning habits, some of you guys might find the lack of talking to your professors is uncomfortable. If you have any questions about your work, you'll need to e-mail your professor(s) and/or your peer tutor which might or might not take a few days... even weeks with some people.
  • Lack of relationships. You'll miss out on the experience of meeting new people and making new friends during your post-secondary years. You might even miss out on finding "the one" during university life!
  • Lack of a "real" university experience. No frats, no parties, no late nights spent in the campus library.
  • Constant need of the internet/computer. You'd be glued on to your computer (if you're not already). That being said, for those who live in rural areas or without a good constant internet will find online learning to be annoying and difficult. You'll lose hours, even days, of studying if there's any problems with your internet/power.
Myths:
  • It's easier to cheat. This is a false assumption. Many universities will code their online quizzes/tests to open in a full-screen window without the functions to minimize or exit until you're done the test. They also time you, or have a time limit. Course finals are written in person at your local registered testing offices under supervision.
  • It's easier than on-campus courses. Again, not true. The course material you learn online is the same as in class materials. The books are the same, the syllabus is the same, etc.
  • Degrees aren't recognized. The only time a degree won't be recognized, is if it comes from a brand new school. Regardless of how you get your degree (employers wouldn't care), as long as you have a Bachelor's or Master's/PHd, that's all the employer cares about. They will recognize the degree without questioning how you got it. You'd be amazed by how many successful people out there finished their education online and how many people are pursuing Masters and PhDs online.
  • You'll never meet anyone new. This is true to an extent. Yes, you won't be able to meet people in a traditional lecture room setting, and that's the easiest way to meet someone. However, you can take breaks from you studying and attend social networking events, or join a meet up group on MeetUp.com to meet new people. Making new friends doesn't always have to be in class.
The reason why I chose to pursue my studies online is not because I can't get into my local universities or that I'm in a financial situation. I began my undergraduate degree online because I realized, I can save money compared to going on campus, and more importantly, I can finish my degree faster than my peers will ever be able to do. That's what intrigued me about online studying. The fact that you can knock off a year or so if you buckled down and plow through your courses.

I do miss the daily interaction of meeting other students and professors. However, I take my studies outdoors to a local library where I sometimes strike up conversations with people. I study with my friends where I'm introduced to other people too. Despite the fact that I probably would never meet anyone that attends my university until I attend my convocation is a bit upsetting, but at the same time, I get to talk to my peers via a Facebook group dedicated to my university. It's amazing how we're all attending the same university from around the world.

So, what do you need to know about pursuing a degree online? Consider a few of these factors:
  • Why are you choosing online instead of a traditional in class setting?
  • Compare the pros/cons based on your life to whether you should study online or not.
  • Factor any possible dislikes or discomfort you can think of when studying online. Online learning isn't made for everyone.
  • Consider graduation. Can you make it to the university for your convocation? Would you be interested in a campus tour? Airline tickets to visit a university can add up if you're planning to visit it a few times or if you have a big family.
  • Your school. Choose an already established school that offers online programs. Nothing is wonderful about choosing an university that isn't recognized because it's too new or, even worse, choosing an online university that ends up to be a fraud business.

If you're planning to do a degree online, here are a few tips to help you on your adventures:
  • Treat it as if you're attending a "real" school. Make a set schedule of your courses. Have a class that "starts at 10am", a lunch break, and then the final two courses of the day. Stick to your schedule in order be successful in your courses.
  • Never underestimate online education. Study, study, study! Sure, it's a work on your own pace sort of thing, but never underestimate time. Without proper scheduling, you'll easily fall behind on your work and studies. Just because your quiz is online doesn't mean you can easily cheat on it and not study.
  • Download browser plug ins that allows you to block certain sites and boost your productivity. A popular Firefox plugin is LeechBlock which blocks whatever sites you add for set times throughout the day (eg. 8AM to 5PM, every Mon, Wed, and Fri) or block for all day.
  • Or, create a whole new user on your computer and dedicate it to school. With an empty user account, you won't be tempted to launch any programs or be distracted by your vacation photos.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help! It's easier than ever to ask for help, since you're not seeing your professor or peer tutor. Fire them an e-mail!
  • Take breaks. There's nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed by school work. Take a break, head out for some coffee, and then come back.
  • Find online communities for your school. I'm lucky enough to have a friendly and active Facebook group dedicated to my university where I can ask any questions related to the university and which courses to take.
  • Silent your phone, put it away or turn it on airplane mode for the hours of studying. Even though you blocked off all your favourite websites, a smartphone proves just as distracting!
Distance learning is such an interesting experience and outlook on traditional schooling methods. If you're unsure about online education, check out the programs or courses the school offers and take a "sample trial" to see if you like online learning or not. Take a certificate program if you don't want to commit to an entire undergraduate or graduate degree.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions regarding online education! I'd be happy to help you! Or, let me know if you ever took this new method of learning instead of opting for classrooms!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My (First) Solo Trip to Seattle, WA

After my ever-so dramatic proclamation about how much I hate my life, I booked a Greyhound bus to Seattle for a night (trust me, I would've stayed longer if budget wasn't my issue) and officially crossed off 1) Travel alone and 2) Have a last minute vacation off my bucketlist... although, I don't know if I consider this a vacation but.. whatever, I like crossing things off lists.

 

Greyhound station, Vancouver, BC
Bright and early at the ugly Greyhound terminal station in Vancouver. I took this place for granted when I realized how even more ugly (and shittier) Seattle's Greyhound station was.

An annoying couple decided to sit behind me - the boy wouldn't stop talking and laughing nervously like he's trying to impress the girl. And, I can tell that the girl was uninterested and just wanted peace and quiet.

Bellingham, WA

Everett, WA

Speaking of which, along side with this being my first solo traveling experience, I also experienced my first Airbnb reservation - which turned out to be an annoying experience.

I arrived in Seattle about 10AM and it took me about 30ish minutes to find the Merchant's Cafe, the building I was staying in. Not only did the owner, D. not give me any information regarding check in time, check out time, etc. etc., I got there at about 10:35AM and the doors to the cafe (where I was supposed to pick up the keys) were locked! The itinerary for my stay said "flexible check in time, flexible check out time" which, like anyone else, would assume the place would be open by the time you arrived!

I started freaking out - I don't have internet connection on my phone (roaming is a bitch to pay!) nor did I write down her phone number (stupid, but I trusted she'll be there by the time I arrived). I asked a few people if they knew when this place opened and nobody knew. I eventually found a Starbucks at the end of the block and connected to the wifi and sent a message to D. but she didn't reply back.

I decided to check the place out again and at 11AM, the doors were finally opened. The bartender told me that check in is actually at 2PM, so I was stuck with what to do. He told me to visit the Pike Place Market, about 15 minutes walk and get some food. I figured, why not? I somewhat enjoyed that place last time I was there... I also stopped by Target because I love Target.





By the time I arrived back at the cafe, it was 2PM, BUT, lo and behold, another issue arrived. I wasn't in the scheduled book so the bartender talked it out with D. Even after they sorted out the room problem, I was delayed for another hour or so because the housekeeper was still cleaning up my room... fun, eh?

Waiting...

The room I booked was like a studio apartment. There was a nice little kitchenette in the room for those staying longer to cook. I personally didn't want to use it because I have trust issues with cleanliness.



 

Skid Road

Chief Seattle


After a short nap, I headed back outside to Spooked in Seattle and did their Seattle Haunting tour...

Which, let me just said, was pretty decent!

Seattle Underground Shop. The walls you see are the actual original structure from the 1800s or so!

During the ghost tour, we toured a few of Seattle's Pioneer Square haunted buildings, in which he also provided videos and actual photos of that site. He also played us audio clips.

You know what was more scary?

The fact that the building I was staying at, Merchant's Cafe, is really haunted. In the basement of that building, there was a fire that killed two children. There's proof (video and photo) of their presences in that room that was shot by tourists too. At one point, someone with a DSLR camera couldn't get their camera to work but the moment we stepped out of that building, it was working fine. When she described it, the tour guide said a few other people had the same red screen.


 The building is also significant because it stands in front of the old lynching trees were men have died. It's said that their spirits haunts a few hotels around the area.

Needless to say, I was a bit afraid of sleeping alone that night...

Also, the neighbourhood wasn't the safest either. I got a bit paranoid that someone would break in...







Can't deny myself of selfies in Seattle, right?

Traveling alone is quite the experience. I enjoyed it, being on my own. As an independent person, it suited me well that I did things on my own terms without needing to consult someone. I faced my own problems.

It was scary; Seattle is close to Vancouver but I felt so disconnected from home that gave me this vulnerability that something could happen and I can't reach anyone. It gave me the chills when I called it night to be sleeping alone in a sketchy neighbourhood. I was paranoid someone would break in or climb through the windows. I left the TV on throughout the night just to make it look like I was still up.

But, at the same time, I was told to keep an eye on everything and take precautions when traveling alone. Growing up, my parents always left the TV on when we went out for dinner to make it look like we're home.

Would I travel alone, again? Of course! This was such a short trip but I felt more confident about myself. I can't wait to tackle a bigger and further city!

I never realized how much I adored Seattle... it's such a nearby city that I wouldn't mind moving to Seattle... but, we'll see about that. Being Canadian, it's tough to let go of that "built in" bully to Americans, haha. We just like to laugh at them a lot.