Why I’m Studying English: Teachers & Favourite Writers

Following on from my post about my plans to move to England, I think it is time I expand on the reasons why I am studying English and why I want to continue it going forward.

As with so many things, I can’t put a single reason that led to the decision being made as no single answer exists. While the love of writing and the English language had been part of me for as long as I can remember, the decision to study it after school (and indeed at a Postgraduate level) was a little more complex than being an ‘innate decision’ that had been pre-determined by Fate.

In addition to highlighting the handful of English teachers who played a significant role in influencing not only the way I write as a university student but also the way I see and appreciate English more generally, I think it would be an ideal time for me to introduce you more fully to the writers/poets that strike a particular chord with me. As interesting as these writers are to me, I cannot discount the influence of the quirky, dynamism of my English teachers (particularly in the latter part of my academic career) that brought the language alive for me.

The Profound Effect of English Teachers

I’ve had many fantastic English teachers throughout my school and early university career. That said, there have been some extraordinary individuals that have played a significant role in influencing my understanding of English and my love of the Literature. Without these people, I seriously doubt whether I would be the person I am today.

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My Relationship with Blogging

Hey guys,

I’m actually a little surprised with the traffic that’s been coming here. The Disability Diaries hasn’t been running very long in real terms but I’ve been in and out of the Blogosphere since my early-teens if memory serves. That said, it was only recently with the establishment of The Disability Diaries that I have felt a true, lasting relationship begin to form.

If I’m honest, one of the earliest things I remember on the subject was just wanting a space to write. Writing short stories and things like that never really interested me though. I’m not that type of person. I don’t think that I’m particularly imaginative when it comes to cooking up a story, expanding on it, and maintaining it over time. I’m far better with non-fiction writing. ‘The Blog’ seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a space that could be my own but, at the same time, not so private that I felt no one would read it.

While I blogging has been something I’d periodically get into and drop out of, it feels different with The Disability Diaries. Somehow it feels like it better portrays me as a person. This is most probably due to the fact that I am coming more into my own as a writer and becoming more confident in writing. There is no doubt that I find myself being far more confident in my writing ability in the last couple of years or so but I think knowing people are willing to read it inspires me to continue.

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Life After Varsity: The Plan So Far

Sorry for the late posting guys (although it’s still technically Saturday). So, as you probably know, last week I released a poll on Twitter asking you guys what today’s post should be about. When I checked the results this morning there was a 2/3 majority wanting me to outline my plans (as they currently are) are after I graduate at the end of next year.

Currently, I’m half-way through my Undergraduate at UCT with majors in English and History. While I’m currently in Cape Town, my end-goal is to live and work in London. Immediately, however, my plan is to finish the undergrad and then leave for England as soon as possible afterward.

The Great Migration

My family and I have been planning, in varying degrees of seriousness, to move to England following a Family Reunion in mid-2015. More recently, though, we made the final decision that we’re sticking to come hell or high water: we’re leaving.

My sister and her husband have been living in London since January and loved every minute. My parents and I are set to leave South Africa once I’ve graduated. One of the main reasons for our delay, aside from my studies, was so that we could get the house sold to provide us with the capital to purchase property in England.

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Why I’m Leaving South Africa

To those South African friends: I’m not due to leave until the end of Undergrad so we’ve still got time together. That said, there are several reasons why I’m going to leave. This post focuses purely on one small aspect of why England is better on the Disability Front (which in and of itself is only one factor in the Emigration Decision).

My mother just got back from a trip through England for the last month earlier today. Yes, she spent some of the time with family and looking around but the primary motivation for the trip is house-hunting.

As a family, we’ve decided that we have to move to England after I’ve finished my Undergraduate for various reasons. While there, my mother decided to have a look around areas more generally as well as at specific properties. Hearing some of the stories of her trip in the hours since she’s been back, I’m amazed at the accessibility and general awareness of disability differences between England and South Africa.

Public Transport

The brief period of time that I spent in London a couple of years ago really opened my eyes to how accessible Public Transport could be for disabled people. Not once was there a bus, train, or taxi that I couldn’t use. Although I did not spend my time exclusively in London, London was the place where I used Public Transport the most.

Cape Town, in contrast with London, is largely unaware of its disabled population on the Public Transport Front. While one could argue South Africa’s awareness is somewhat justified given its past, it was refreshing to be in a place where accessing the city was possible (not to mention easy and affordable).

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So, Why the Wheelchair?

I think it’s time I tell you why I’m in a wheelchair even though, technically, I have the ability to ambulate. While I might be able to physically create the motions which one requires for walking, I have less than zero balance on my feet. To illustrate how little balance I have something I often say to people, and I’m not exaggerating, “A brick would float before I’d be able to stand unaided.”

So, why the wheelchair?

In a word: simplicity. Yes, I can ‘walk’ in a walker but the majority of them are high-risk to use as, although the help with walking, they often do very little in the way of supporting you. Combine the lack of support with non-existent balance and the result is not a pretty one.

Yes, I can ‘walk’ in a walker but the majority of them are high-risk to use as, although the help with walking, they often do very little in the way of supporting you. Combine the lack of support with non-existent balance and the result is not a pretty one.

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Assistance Dogs

Nota as a pup sporting the ‘Puppy in Training’ uniform

I’ve had a Golden Retriever Service Dog from Guide Dogs Association of South Africa for a number of years now and cannot stress enough the difference these furry creatures can make. While Service, Guide, and Emotional-Support dogs do so much good for those they work with, it is astonishing to me to see how some people don’t understand them/the support they offer.

While misunderstandings are becoming less frequent, they still occur on occasion – Nota (the aforementioned Golden) and I, too, have had some problems in the past on this issue (the biggest escapade we found ourselves in you can read about below in The Weaponised Pooch).

Rather than harp on the problems that arise from those misunderstandings, I want to focus more on the uses I/others have for Assistance Dogs as well as the South African Training Process.

Nota’s Primary Use:

Carrying stuff I don’t want to/can’t.

Found this Silly Goof getting the wrong idea after school one day

One of the biggest problems for me was carrying things on my back, or at all for that matter. I don’t have as great a bone density in my spine as doctors keep telling me I should so I stopped carrying as much as I used to – at one stage in high school I was carrying about 10kg (22lbs) of stuff around. Fitting within health regulations as laid down from on high (my Vet), Nota took about half of the load off of me.

Nota’s Golden nature meant that while she liked Class, she liked not working a little bit better. So, by the time we got to varsity she was chuffed to discover that the load of stuff reduced even further between the both of us.

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Just How Much Does the Wheelchair Affect My Daily Living?

As I’ve said in a few other posts on this blog, I was born with a physical disability and have spent my entire life having to use some kind of mobility device. At no point in my life have I been entirely ‘normal’ and experienced life from a ‘non-disabled perspective’. Although I’ve peppered details of what my life is like, I don’t think, I have sat down and given you a comprehensive, all-in-one explanation of how  I view this topic. I plan on rectifying that now. To make this a little easier to write and, no doubt easier to read, I’m going to structure it around 3 questions.

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Sorry for the Radio Silence, I’m Back.

Sorry for the long radio silence but it has been hectic for me for the last while. Also, the fact that I don’t see much traffic coming by this place, it does make me feel as though I’m talking to myself sometimes.

That aside, I’m planning on taking a much more active role with this blog than I have been. I know I’ve promised this before but I’m hoping that attempt A6163-B will finally yield an addiction to blogging such that you will be begging me to get a life and stay off this thing. One can only hope 🙂

During my time ‘away’ I have been continuing with my studies at UCT and have moved into my Second Year with majors in English, History and Psychology. I can’t exactly tell you how they are going at the moment as the third week has only just drawn to a close and it is still too early in the year. From what I have seen, though, they’re going well. There have been the odd bump or two but no more than you would expect from the beginning of a new academic year.

Part of the reason for the radio silence recently, though, is that I have gone through a bit of personal writer’s block. I’ve been able to write articles for work and the odd assignment but for the last little while, when it comes to anything non-work/academically related I’ve been stumped. In truth, it wasn’t until I came across a friend today near the local on-campus coffee shop while she was writing a blog post for a blog that she runs, that Disability Diaries resurfaced to the forefront of my mind.

I guess, then, I owe this latest post to her.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of her blog right now so I promise to link it in a future post once I have had a chance to do some good old-fashioned internet stalking.


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