A Lesson in Education

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I had an unusual linguistic upbringing. Growing up, I heard mostly Greek at home (I spoke a mix of Greek and English). I also lived in a French province for the first nine years of my life. When I started school, it was at an English school, with French lessons starting in grade 1 (we eventually moved to an anglophone province, and I continued taking French until I graduated). My mom taught me the basics in Greek, and I had a very small amount of Greek school on weekends (I don’t think it amounted to a full year).

I never heard French at home, except when flipping past the French channels on TV. I never had anyone to speak French with outside of classes, and I only occasionally read anything in French. But I heard Greek constantly, spoke it often, and read and wrote it occasionally. I’d have conversations all the time with older relatives (granted, they did most of the talking, but I still felt I had a solid grasp of Greek). If anyone asked I would have said I was fluent in Greek and knew some French.

Then I decided to take lessons.

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I had a language learning app taking up space on my phone, so I finally decided to give it a try to see if it was worth hanging on to. I chose French as the language to learn since I’d been wanting to improve my skills for a while. The app starts off by testing you to see how much you know. I breezed through the test and got to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered and how easy much of it was (that said– keeping track of the gender of words and then adjusting all the words in a sentence accordingly is exhausting).

L’homme est canadien (the man is Canadian)
La femme est canadienne (the woman is Canadian)
Les hommes sont canadiens (the men are Canadian)
Les femmes sont canadiennes (the women are Canadian)*

 

(*These aren’t even the most complicated examples– wait until you need to start describing inanimate objects…)

It was great to find out that I wasn’t as bad at French as I thought. And since it was going so well, I decided I’d might as well improve my Greek while I was at it.

Considering Greek is technically my first language (I started picking up English as a toddler), that initial test was not as easy as I expected. Unlike with French, I did not get to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I discovered I didn’t even know some basics– my vocabulary and spelling are much worse than I realized (but at least my conjugation is good).

After a few minutes on the app, I realized I knew only some Greek and quite a bit more French than I’d assumed. Not what I expected.

It turns out the formal French lessons that I had in school made an impression that’s stuck with me decades later. Meanwhile, learning Greek mostly by “osmosis” let me down. There’s something positive to be said about rote learning and formal education, after all.

My years of absorbing Greek haven’t totally gone to waste. The knowledge I’ve picked up has definitely made the app lessons easier (I’m seriously impressed by anyone who can learn this language from scratch). Since starting the lessons, however, I’ve already seen a major improvement, especially in spelling, vocabulary, and reading. I’m probably only up to an Elementary School level of proficiency so far,  but I finally feel that I’m getting a real grasp on the language I’ve known all my life.

A lesson in education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas, french, greek, france, greece, school, classes, learning, rote memorization, homeschooling, unschooling, formal education, aspasiasbissas.com
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As someone who’s always been more inclined to learn on my own rather than take a class, this has been eye opening. It’s amazing the difference that actual lessons can make. I’m excited to keep using the app, not only to keep learning French and Greek, but also to expand on my two years of high-school Spanish, and– hopefully– to learn a new language or two. The next time I’m tempted to learn something new, I think I’m going to find a class to take instead of assuming I can figure it out myself.

How about you– have you taken any classes lately, or are there any you want to take? Share in the comments…

Find out what I can do with language (including a bit of French) by getting my books 🙂

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Hallotober Tag

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year– and to give it some of the appreciation it deserves, I snagged this tag from A Geek Girl’s Guide. Feel free to post it yourself (please share your link) or leave your answers in the comments 🎃

What’s your favourite thing about October?

Wow, I have to pick only one thing? In that case, what I like best about October is that everything about it feels like home to me. It speaks to my spooky, pumpkin-loving, pagan soul.

Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?

I used to be. I’d decorate the house, carve a jack o’ lantern, and do all kinds of Halloween-themed cooking and baking. I’d have people over and shell out (give out candy). The last few years…not so much. I’m hoping to get back to proper celebrations in future.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

Nothing will ever scare me more than the original Alien movie. As far as I’m concerned it’s the perfect horror film.

Hallotober Tag, Halloween, Samhain, October, Autumn, tag, blog post. Aspasia S. Bissas, spooky, aspasiasbissas.com, alien, aliens, horror, horror movies, xenomorph, ridley scott, ridley scott is an asshole

Would you rather a cosy night in watching horror movies or a big night out in a costume?

I would never willingly choose a big night out. A cozy night in with The Nightmare Before Christmas and a few other spooky/scary movies is perfect.

Which has been your most favourite costume to date?

Confession time: I haven’t liked wearing a costume since I was a kid (I won’t bore you with reasons). But when I was a kid, I went as a fortune teller a couple of times and remember having fun with it. (I should also add that costumes back then were always ruined because it was so cold where I lived. We couldn’t go out without extra layers under the costumes, as well as gloves, hats, scarves, a winter coat, and– worst of all — snow pants on top.)

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Welcome to my childhood Halloweens. Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina on Pexels.com

Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch?

How about some divination instead?

How do you celebrate Halloween?

I haven’t lately, but I used to go all out with the decorating and cooking and handing out candy, among other things.

Hallotober Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, Halloween, Samhain, October, Autumn, tag, blog post. Aspasia S. Bissas, spooky, aspasiasbissas.com, pumpkin jack o lantern, witch
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What’s your least favourite horror?

Anything where regular humans are the monsters. There’s enough of that in real life.

Do you have a favourite trick or treating memory?

When it got dark and dinner was over and my parents would   f i n a l l y   let me go out.

What’s your favourite thing about Halloween?

The feeling in the air.

Hallotober Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, Halloween, Samhain, October, Autumn, tag, blog post. Aspasia S. Bissas, spooky, aspasiasbissas.com, witch, magic, magick, spooky
Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Scary costume or Silly costume?

Scary. Always.

What’s your favourite Halloween candy?

Chocolate, although I’m the weirdo who also likes candy corn and those molasses candies that exist only at Halloween.

Hallotober Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, Halloween, Samhain, October, Autumn, tag, blog post. Aspasia S. Bissas, spooky, aspasiasbissas.com, molasses candy, halloween candy, candy, toffees, weird halloween candy, weird halloween toffees

Who is your favourite black cat, real or fictional?

I love all black kitties because they are awesome, but I especially love my black kitty, who chose our home to be his home ♥

Hallotober Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, Halloween, Samhain, October, Autumn, tag, blog post. Aspasia S. Bissas, spooky, aspasiasbissas.com, cat, cats, black cat
Black cats rule! Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What’s your favourite thing about Hallotober? Share in the comments!

Looking for a spooky read? Download my books…

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Happy Equinox!

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It’s the first day of Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, my favourite season (and not just because you can apparently make a dress from the pretty leaves). My part of the world does Autumn perfectly, with colourful leaves that crunch underfoot, and crisp air tinged with wood smoke, and gourds– so many gourds. There’s an eldritch feel all around that has nothing to do with spooky decorations. And for me, every change of season is an opportunity for a fresh start, so here’s hoping that this season brings the positive changes to the world that we all so desperately need…

What’s your favourite part of the season?

Happy Equinox…

Aspasía S. Bissas

Mental Health Break: 11 Coping Techniques to Try

Like so many people (especially those of us in creative fields), I struggle with anxiety and depression. Usually it’s manageable (I’ve actually found that some mild anxiety helps me write). Every so often, though, for reasons that aren’t always clear, the scale tips from manageable to overwhelming. If you’ve ever had severe anxiety or depression you know the feeling of deep despair that leaves you searching for a reason to get up in the morning. If you haven’t experienced that kind of bleakness, then consider yourself lucky (and also please don’t give advice on something you don’t understand– it’s never helpful).

The last while has been difficult for me, both on a personal level and because of events in the wider world. It’s no secret that Covid is having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. Just the anxiety of going through a pandemic is enough to cause widespread distress. Add to that economic insecurity; the stresses of quarantine and isolation (or going to work or school when you don’t feel safe); people spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories while displaying zero empathy or intelligence; certain so-called leaders and governments content to let the virus run rampant; and countless other things that are making life scarier and more difficult than it needs to be– and the stage is set for more people than ever struggling mentally and emotionally.

I wish I knew how to break the cycle of depression and anxiety. I do my best to deal by working on it when I can and trying to work around it the rest of the time (with varying levels of success). If you’re suffering from any kind of mental illness or distress, the first thing you should do is see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Don’t be afraid and don’t be ashamed– there is help, from support groups to therapeutic techniques to medications, and more.

If you’re in crisis, you can get help right now (always keep your local hotline number nearby).

In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention number is 1-800-273-8255 (find out more here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.)

In Canada, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is: 1-833-456-4566, or text 45645. You can also chat here: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/

There’s also good info here: https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
If you’re not in crisis but are having a hard time and need something to help you through it, here are some things that work for me. It’s a good idea to experiment to find what works best for you.
Read a Book: I know, I suggest this a lot. But a book can help distract you, and provides a feeling of accomplishment when you finish it. Make sure to pick one that interests you, preferably something lighthearted or uplifting. If you’re feeling up to it, try a book designed to help people cope with mental illness (there are many to choose from, but Mind Over Mood is one that’s highly praised by mental health professionals.)
Shower and Get Dressed: It might not seem like much but it can make a noticeable difference to your mood. And if nothing else, you can say you got up and faced the day. On bad days, that’s a major accomplishment.
Leave the House: Many people (myself included) withdraw when they’re depressed, which isn’t helpful. If you’re isolating due to COVID (or feel like you can’t deal with other humans at the moment), go for a walk on your own. Somewhere green and peaceful is ideal.
Get Something Done: Pick a task to complete, no matter how small, and do it. It can be anything that makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. To avoid being overwhelmed, keep a short and easy to-do list handy for times like these.
Indulge Yourself: Do something you enjoy (as long as it’s nothing harmful). If you have a tendency to feel guilty about “doing nothing,” then try interspersing the fun with simple, but productive, tasks (see above).
Spend Time with Pets: You’ll both feel better. If you don’t have a pet, try hugging a plushie. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of a soft doll or pillow.
Avoid Things (and People) that Make You Feel Worse: This won’t work long term, but for a day when you’re already feeling crappy, it’s a necessity.
Write a Letter: Sit down with pen and paper and write a letter to someone you like but haven’t spoken to in a while. Think of some positive things you can share (they can be as simple as a great movie you saw or your thriving houseplant). Or, if you prefer talking to writing, give them a call.
Plan a Trip: It doesn’t matter if you can’t go because it turns out planning trips makes people happier than actually going. So distract yourself by planning your dream vacation (or research anything else you’re interested in).
Find the Humour: Being depressed, down, or anxious doesn’t exactly lend itself to laughter, but a bit of dark humour can actually help lighten the mood. Try looking up memes about anxiety or depression, or chatting with a funny friend who gets it. Darkly humorous shows and movies can also be good (I like the 1964 Addams Family TV series, as well as the movies from the early 1990s, and the “Adult Wednesday Addams” series on YouTube.)
Mental Health Break: 11 Coping Techniques to Try, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Create Coping Cards: This is an idea I got from Unf#ck Your Brain. When you find a technique that works for you, write it down on an index card. When you’re struggling, you’ll have a handy set of coping techniques ready to go. You can even put the cards on a key-ring and keep them with you.
Have you tried any of these? What works for you when you’re having a hard time? Share in the comments…
Stay safe,
Aspasía S. Bissas
PS: Apologies for the spacing issues–they’re thanks to WordPress’s fabulous new editor that no one asked for. Hopefully such issues will be ironed out over time.

Book Tag: The Classic Book Tag

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

It’s been a while since my last book tag, and as an English major, this one is right up my alley. Between required reading for school and personal interest, I’ve read more than my fair share of classics. Unfortunately, looking back, I now realize they were written by mostly British (or Canadian/American) white men (and a few women). Pretty sad. I hope schools have since expanded their definition of classic lit to include more women, more world lit, and a lot more authors of colour. I’ve been working on improving the diversity of my reading material, but I know I still have a long way to go. I think we all have a lot of reading to catch up on…

(By the way, this tag was snagged from A Geek Girl’s Guide. Feel free to post it on your blog, or share your thoughts in the comments below.)

A classic you read in school

Surprisingly, I couldn’t get into Hamlet like I did with other Shakespeare works I read, until I saw a screen adaptation. Then it finally came to life for me. I guess sometimes you really need to see a play being performed.

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A classic you read outside of school

Read it, loved it, recommend it. Dumas has a very readable and engaging style of writing.

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A classic you didn’t finish

It’s probably debatable whether Gone with the Wind is still considered a classic, but it was when I read it. It’s also the only classic I can remember not finishing. For what it’s worth, Mitchell is a good writer and GwtW is interesting, if cringe inducing. The funny thing is that I stopped reading it only a couple of pages from the end. I have no idea why I didn’t just finish it, but I think it was because I’d seen the movie around that time and I already knew how it ended. I guess Rhett didn’t give a damn and neither did I. Maybe one day I’ll go back and read those last couple of pages. Maybe.

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A classic you haven’t read

I have it– I just haven’t read it yet (the downside of having a sizable TBR pile).

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

 

A classic you want to read

Considered the world’s first novel (and written by a woman), and yet I somehow never heard of it until recently. The Tale of Genji is now on my short list of must-reads (which is actually still pretty long, now that I think of it).

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A classic you’ve read multiple times

Did you know that you lose your Canadian citizenship if you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables? Okay, maybe not, but if you haven’t read this classic, you’re missing out. Sorry.

Book Tag: Classic Book Tag, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

 

Wondering what sort of books get written by English Majors who warp their minds reading a dubious mix of classics, horror, and fantasy? Click to find out…

Books by Aspasia S. Bissas

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books, Amazon
Blood Magic: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
Tooth & Claw: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

 

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas