Thursday, 19 July 2012

Vacation. ish.

So, it's 1 month into my summer vacation. Or so it seems. See, I thought vacations are a time for relaxing on the beach and chilling out. But no, I'm stuck in my bedroom in Indonesia, having nothing to do because I don't have a car, my own money, or free will when I'm back home. I basically have to do everything my with brothers or parents - which is why I hate going back home nowadays. Oh well...

Got to say, though, in spite of what I said above, I've had the break I desperately needed from the stuff I've been dealing with in the last academic year, from Photosoc to Xpression, and academic and personal stuff. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them, but I was so physically and emotionally drained after my exams). Been piling on the weight (and then shedding some of it with my bike - <3 my 2011 Specialized Allez Elite).

What have I been up to this summer? Well, while others are doing productive stuff like Internships and day jobs, I've been doing none of that.

The first 3 weeks since I got back to Indonesia (ok, maybe more towards the later parts of those 3 weeks), I've been busy (like a few other poor souls out there) churning away demos for the Student Radio Awards. I don't wish to blabber on too much about it, because:

  1. You're probably not interested in Multi-Track Editing (unless you want to be Production Trained next term, in which case, get used to that term! =D), and 
  2. (wha-hey!) someone else has done it! 
Check out Olli's blog, Face For Radio, for more about Xpression FM's SRA Entries for 2012. Here's hoping that Xpression will do well in the awards this year... 

So, that's the first 3 weeks. Between that time and, well, next Wednesday, I guess, it's all about the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Global Business Challenge – The Global Finals in Sri Lanka. (you cannot have a smooth segue between SRA and CIMA GBC, can you?). So, Adam, Kate, Ben and I have been busy practicing, packing, and getting our visa applications and travel arrangements sorted. The 4 of us (with the support of our awesome mentor Chie Min Teng) are representing Exeter University and the United Kingdom in the CIMA GBC Finals this year, and we're really looking forward to this competition - after all, it's such a rare opportunity, so we'll do our best!

Before I move on to the other stuff I've been up to, I need a favour from you, the reader - just spare a few seconds and 2 mouse clicks - head on to and click on "Vote for this video". Honestly, it'll help our team a lot in the video competition (one part of this challenge). So, please vote, and if you already voted, I really appreciate it, and thank you very much. *virtual pat on the back and a virtual hug* xxx

As a treat, our team leader Adam has uploaded the outtakes onto YouTube - enjoy!


Speaking of travelling, I've been busy sorting out Visa applications as well - and boy, is it not an enjoyable or pleasant thing to be doing when you've got your holiday cap on. 

I. Sri Lanka
Let's see, I had to apply for the Sri Lanka Visa, which by the way, for anyone interested, is actually the easiest Visa Application process I've ever come across, bar the Hong Kong and ASEAN ones (where it's Visa on Arrival for me :D ). You literally only need to fill in a form online, wait 24 hours, and voila, you're sorted.

II. Canada
Next stop was Canada. My family is heading to the US East Coast 15-26 August, and apparently, because my brother booked us on a tour that actually involves us entering Canadian territory (aka Toronto), we need to apply for a Canadian Visa. As part of the visa application process, they asked for your Family Information, and when they say "Family Information", they genuinely mean Family Information. 

For example, can you give me: 
  • the Full Name, 
  • Date and Place of Birth, 
  • Marital Status, 
  • Current Address/Occupation (or if deceased, place and date of death), 
  • and indicate if they are following you on your trip, 
for EACH of the following people:
  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Your Mum & Dad
  • Your brothers and sisters (ALL brothers and sisters, including half-brothers/sisters and step-brothers and sisters)
  • Your sons and daughters (including ALL half-sons/daughters, and step-sons/daughters and adopted sons/daughters)
Now, for my mum, who has 12 (that's not an exaggeration) siblings (with no knowledge of the birthdates or whereabouts of half of them) and no knowledge of her parents' exact date of birth, or for my dad, who has 7 siblings, this was a tricky hurdle to jump, that, let's face it, the Canadians probably don't really need.

Seriously, people, if you're going to make us jump through hoops and hurdles to get a visa to visit your country and maybe contribute to your GDP, cut the crap, and just ask what needs to be asked. Else, be prepared to kill off your tourism sector.

And also, wtf, Canada? Really? You create barcodes that will only be read if they were printed with Laser Printers? So you expect every applicant for your visa to own/have access to a Laser Printer?! That's such an unnecessary inconvenience! Sort yourself out, Canada!

Anyway, we got the visas. So case closed.

I'm just thankful we already have 5-year US Tourist Visas, else that would be another visa we'd need to apply for...

III. Schengen
Another visa application that I'm tied up with at the moment is the Schengen Visa - a few of my mates are heading to Bordeaux for a camping trip (or something like that), and I'm hoping to tag along (assuming I can get my Visa done in time). Got all the docs, apart from an Invitation letter, Lodging attestation and Student Status Letter from the Uni. This is my issue right now - trying to get the letters from France/the UK to my home address in Indonesia before my appointment (which is currently 10 August 2012, but I'm hoping to push it forward, else I won't get the visa in time before I leave for my family holiday). 

I requested a letter from my Uni on 26 June 2012. They sent it out on 29 June. Today, it's 19 July, and to my knowledge, it's not reached my mailbox yet. Which begs the question - where on earth (literally) is this letter? It's been 20 days, and there's no sign of it. It could be anywhere, heck, it could still be on a desk in Exeter, and I wouldn't know.

So, if I look panicky, now you know why. Thank heavens it only takes ~5 working days to get a Schengen Visa now (not 15 working days, or 3 weeks to you and me, which was how long it used to take).

Oh, and Natwest, thanks for nothing - they can't even send a bank statement abroad, even if I'm willing to pay for it. And that's even if I've given them the 2nd and 4th digit of my password and pin - it's me, and it is my bank account, you idiots, now listen to me when I'm giving authorisation for you to mail an important document to me for a very important reason - a Visa application! Oh, I forgot, you're probably British, and you probably never had to deal with one that asks for your bank statement... Ah, right....

Sorry. Had to get that off my chest somehow. Anyway, let's stop talking about the V word - it genuinely makes my blood boil.

Also, while I'm writing a blog post, congrats to all those who're graduating this week! Been looking at all the photos flooding my news feed on Facebook - it's quite hard to ignore/miss them. So, congrats to all you stars out there who hugged/will be hugging Floella, and of course, all the best in your future endeavours. And always remember to wear sunscreen...

So, given that I haven't blogged about anything music-related in a while, thought I'd fix that now, and pop in a few tracks right at the end of this blog post - you know, as a reward for those who sticked all the way to the end. I've got 5 tracks that you should get onto your playlist, starting with...

#5: "Survival" by Muse
Video Link:

My motivational workout song. And topical, too - it's the Official Song of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (I wanted to ask - what happened to that Mark Ronson + Katy B track, but oh well, let's gloss over that for now). It's the sort of sound you'd expect from Bellamy & Co, but suited for the occasion it is meant to grace - the sound of an army of determined athletes at their peak, amongst the best in the world - the best of humanity in their sport, rising up to a challenge, climbing up this mountain to get to the top, going for gold, getting to the podium finish, whatever it takes, as if humans were in a post-apocalyptic race to survive. If you love Muse (which I do), you'd love this anthem - an anthem for the greatest sporting event in the world.

#4: "Spectrum (Say My Name) - Calvin Harris Remix" by Florence + The Machine

Current UK #1, and Florence's first (I, like many other, can't believe she's not had a number one before, but hey, at least she has one now). This vocal powerhouse (who's currently on voice rest, get well soon, Flo!) got the top spot, with a bit of help from Calvin Harris' dance beats. Nothing like a bit of collaboration, eh?

#3: "Clouds" by Newton Faulkner

Brit-nominated, guitar-wielding ginger from Surrey, this track is taken of Faulkner's latest album, "Write It On Your Skin", out now. If you love Jack Johnson or Ed Sheeran, this guy is probably up your streets as well. Oh, he's playing at the Great Hall at Exeter Uni on 20 October 2012, so be sure to look out for tickets if you love this track!

#2: "Angels" by The XX

Single out now, Album out 10 September. Following their Mercury Award-winning debut album and a seemingly never-ending tour schedule, The XX have been back in the studio, busy at work on their second album, and this is the first single off their long-awaited upcoming record, "Coexist". I've pre-ordered this on LP, so if (when) I do a show again next year, you'll be sure to hear it on Xpression!

#1: "Finale" by Madeon

Out 22 July (you can pre-order now, or stream his track on SoundCloud or YouTube), I can't get enough of this Ableton-rocking 18-year-old French guy who keeps rocking out dance numbers with his own audio signature - one that sound amazing and fresh with each new track.

And in case you're worried that Genevieve and I forgot about this, no, we haven't. I know Ladd has been working on some stuff, and I have done a few while I was editing SRA entries. But personally, I'm on an Adobe Audition break until after Sri Lanka. So HUSH!