July 4th- July 10th
Bought food from the farmer's market
Went to class
Back to the hotel
Language class during the afternoon
Me and my roommate walked to Starbucks fifteen minutes away. We stayed there for three hours writing. I bought 2 banana breads which were soft and spongy.
Later in the night our TA cooked dinner for us.
Then we had karaoke which I did not participate in.
The last Brazil game! A couple small restaurants near the hotel had TV's to watch so two other students and I chose one to sit at. During the course of the game we ordered three platters of fries back to back! They were delicious! Moments like these are what really make up this trip, sitting with the locals and taking in the atmosphere, and enjoying the environment. Oh, and getting alarmed each time fireworks went because it was down the street from us! It felt like each boom stopped my heartbeat.
Our group took ubers to Sugarloaf Mountain and went up in cable cars to both mountains. The view of Rio de Janeiro was spectacular despite some fog. From up there you could see the beaches, a small island, and the cities surrounded by luscious green trees. Standing on those two mountains was peaceful and serene. I appreciated the scenery down below as well as on the mountain walking around watching monkeys race along tree branches and feeling the breeze hit us.
I started to feel more sick when we came back from Sugarloaf, so I decided to relax in the hotel all day.
Had class at 1pm
Went back to sleep, got up around 3, and went to the market to buy food for our second potluck. My roommate and I made fries, potatoes, and bacon.
Oi, tudo bem?
I am starting this breakdown from Friday of last week up until Tuesday because it's a lo of information. This timeline was pretty fun! We only had class once on Wednesday due to Brazil playing against Mexico on Monday.
I was at the hotel all day writing and listening to music. As I've said before, I am working on my other stories this summer and Being a Model is one of them. If you're new click here to read about Being a Model. I wrote 994 words for BAM and that is a good number for me despite not writing fiction since December. Words just flow when I'm working on this story. Unlike my other stories, this one has more description and extrospection than introspection meaning my main character is focusing on the details of the external world more than what's going on internally.
We went on a walking tour to learn about the history of Rio De Janeiro starting from the 1500's with the slave trade. We went to the parts of the city where the shore used to be (they filled in the water with land to build what is now Rio) Ships would come in with African people(six million in total), many who would die from disease and starvation. Our tour guide showed us an area that was excavated. Archaeologists found over five hundred thousand artifacts from the 1500's like pottery and glass among other items. He also sang a song explaining how the history of slavery is romanticized and retold as an event not as harsh as it was. Next, we visited a cemetery/museum for archaeological items from slaves. Lastly, we went to an area in Rio call Little Africa. This Afro-Brazilian community has a lot of rich culture where African religions and music is very strong. It's also the place where samba and Carnival was born.
I took a nap/laid in bed for a couple hours.
Me and my roommate plus other students talked and watched Identity Thief on Netflix.
Got up in the afternoon and started writing today's post.
Wrote few hundred words for Being a Model
That's all I remember!
I stayed in bed so i didn't watch the Brazil vs. Mexico game but I kept up with the score.
My study abroad group planned a potluck so we had dinner and dessert that night. We had spaghetti with ground beef, potatoes, white rice and Spanish rice, salad, garlic bread, drinks, chocolate cake and ice cream. During the dinner we discussed many different topics. We went over the first week of class and talked about racial classifications and our experiences. It was a great conversation and I discovered new perspectives and worldviews surrounding self-identification when it comes to race/ethnicity/nationality. I love these types of conversations because it allows you to step out of your perspective and understand another's experience. Without these discussions, we wouldn't be able to understand the world.
Afterwards, we went to the park, took pictures of a mural and walked around for a couple hours.
Then off to bed.
Today was also fun! In the morning it was discussion section and language class in the morning with our teacher assistant (TA) and the professor for the program. We worked out a issues we were having in class due to the use of Portuguese for the majority of class time.
Around three o'clock me and two other students went to a restaurant to watch the Columbia vs. England game. There was plenty screaming and disappointment throughout the match. Then out of nowhere it started raining! Thankfully we were in a shaded outdoor area and by the time it stopped, the match ended.
Walked to the mall with eight floors and a movie theater on the top floor. I bought an apple pie from the McDonald's there and it was AMAZING, better than the U.S.
When I got back to the hotel our translator helped me turn on the oven because it's gas not electrical so she used matches. I was scared and burned my finger a little.
Then off to bed.
One week in Brazil down, four to go!
These past seven days has been filled learning Portuguese, understanding the culture and politics, meeting new people, and adapting to the food. When traveling to another country you don’t know much about, try not to make too many assumptions or have many expectations. The idea you have in your mind may be tainted because you are seeing it from the perspective of your home country. I took a music class that went over Brazilian music and the culture, so I had a small understanding of it and didn’t hold much expectations when coming here. The only thing I did have grand expectations for was the food. For some reason I expected it to be a certain way, but it wasn’t. Not to say the food is terrible, no quite the opposite. I’m lactose-intolerant and a picky eater so finding something appealing to eat was difficult. If you’re the kind of person that likes everything then you wouldn’t have a problem.
Arrived at 10-something in and met our TA's.
Got in a taxi- that driver was wild in the streets! I was scared, but everyone else on the roads drove the same way.
Arrived at the hotel which looks really cool.
Met up with the group later and introduced ourselves.
Went grocery shopping.
In our class we have twenty-nine Brazilian students (mostly grad students) and ten of us U.S. students from my school. The first day of class was very interesting. Before class we had orientation. We learned about the nonprofit organization called Criola that runs this study abroad program. We touched different definitions of black diaspora and discussed differences between Brazil and the U.S. in terms of race and racism. Afterwards, I went back to our hotel to rest and head out to Copacabana beach with another student.
We got our metro cards.
Took the subway to eat lunch and watch the world cup. Okay, so lunch was delicious. I ordered rice with broccoli, French fries, and beef in steak from a restaurant called Galeto I think? The game between Nigeria and Argentina was playing on huge TV’s in multiple restaurants outside.
Went to the mall that had EIGHT floors with sit-in dining restaurants and fast food shops like McDonald’s and a movie theater on the top view. Oh, there was a beautiful view of the water and the street too.
Then I came home to write part of this post.
Bought fruit and habanero peppers from the farmer’s market.
Registered and paid for my sim card while watching the hilarious match between South Korea and Germany in the phone store.
Took a nap.
Read the text for class and took notes.
Went to class. We discussed masculinity and what it means for/to black men and black transmen.
Almost took the wrong metro home.
Bought Tapioca with coconut and chicken.
Went grocery shopping.
Watching a thriller with my roommate.
Wrote a little for this post.
*Photo by Agustín Diaz on Unsplash
It's SUMMER VACATION!!
As I said in my update post, I am doing a study abroad program in Brazil and I leave today. This quarter has been fun, but hectic. I learned so much from my classes that can actually be applied to the real world (I know shocking). It's a long flight to Rio, an early morning for orientation the next day after we arrive, then five weeks of learning and exploration. I may not be on here as much, but I will try to share bits and pieces of my experience abroad.
I finished the first round of editing for Our Father after seven months. Though, I only worked on it during winter, spring, and a little bit of summer break. The focus was on taking out scenes and sentences that didn't fit and replacing it with words that expressed what was going on. The edits were color coded for organization.
Purple: Explain something that is too vague
Red: Take out
Green: Add description/detail
Orange: Move a sentence or paragraph somewhere else
Blue: Change wording
I printed out my entire manuscript and went page by page cringing, laughing, and yelling at my characters. That took me about two weeks during winter break. Then, I made corrections to the typed version on my computer and a week ago. After my trip, the second round of editing will commence.
*Photo by Herson Rodriguez
Hello again! I've been gone for a long time due to school and other projects so here's an update post. This summer I will be going to Brazil, yes THE Brazil for five weeks. It's a study abroad program and we'll stay in Rio at a apartment style hotel. I am very excited for this opportunity and will definitely post pictures and short blogs about it during the trip. When I return, get ready for more posts about my novels including the editing stage, characters, and beta readers!
During this month I have been designing an online class for Skillshare, an online platform that gives you access to classes on various topics such as writing better poetry, entrepreneurship, how to use a camera, etc. I participated in their Teachchallenge to create and publish my first class by April 30th. They provided participants with deadlines for a small component like creating an outline or sharing your intro video. It helped me stay on track.
My class is titled How to do Research for your Novel and I give you a method to use to effectively find information. This process was nerve-racking for me. Sitting in front a camera filming videos for people to watch, finding great lighting, the process was stressful. It's a bit scary to put yourself out there especially for something you care about. Trying new things isn't easy, but the outcome is always worth it. As we acquire new skills from the many activities we partake, we should showcase and utilize them. I work at the front desk in a freshmen residence hall at my university. Through this experience I have gained interpersonal skills from interacting with people on a daily basis. Those skills are useful during networking events, grocery shopping, even parties! I can use them now. This is why I decided to create a class on doing research because I have a method -taken from my own experience during writing stories- that writers will benefit from. Once the class is published, I will share it on my social media pages so be sure to follow me @abbyakyiaw on Instagram and Abby Akyiaw on Facebook if you want to watch it.
*Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash
Creative idea: A story about a woman with Alopecia who finds out she is adopted from Madagascar. She tries to find her biological parents, but ends up becoming a Queen and dealing with Alopecia and self-consciousness about losing her hair.
Story title: The Other Side of the Mirror
-Word Count: aiming for 50,000
-Malagasy culture and traditions
Story introduction: Everything seems to go well for Volana when receives her first job offer months after completing university. Unfortunately her Alopecia resurfaces, causing a larger chunk of her hair to fall out. This prompts her parents to tell her she is adopted and her biological parents live in Madagascar. Volana then embarks on a journey to Madagascar in hopes of locating her parents and possibly finding a cure or solution to the Alopecia. During this search, she meets and falls in love with a King, becoming Queen of Fleur Fanjakana. This new position creates new problems and brushes away old issues as she deals with keeping up appearances and hiding her falling hair, while feeling frustrated at not finding her biological parents.
Story description: Volana has dealt with Alopecia her whole life. It comes and goes as it pleases, taking away chunks of her hair. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease which means the body sees itself, more specifically, hair follicles as foreign and attacks it/ This causes a person's hair to come out. After finishing university and landing her dream job in a transportation company, Volana's alopecia comes back. This prompts her parents to reveal that she is adopted. Volana decides to save up for a year, take off from work, and travel to Madagascar. She thinks this will be a simple journey doesn't plan on the detours in her path, including marring a King and becoming Queen of the five kingdoms in Madagascar. During her reign, she deals with tensions with her husband due to the unsuccessful methods of curing her alopecia. She becomes more self-conscious about it, hiding her hair from the kingdom. Volana will soon come to realize loving yourself starts within, not with what you see in the mirror.
Story overview: A first person POV of Volana and Thulani (her husband), and a third person POV (kingdom). A woman has alopecia areata and finds out she is adopted. She attempts to find her biological parents but ends up marrying a king and becoming Queen of a kingdom. She has troubling acclimating to this new position while dealing with old problems.
This Skillshare class I watched was taught by best selling author, Preeti Shenoy, and she gave tips on the fundamentals of creative writing. Here are the prompts and my project:
1. Use a timer. Set it for three minutes. Now write down all the ideas that you get.
2. Create three characters using all that you have learnt. Remember to add the details!
Idea #1: 13 year old sculptor. Black hair. Lives in a village. Makes beautiful sculptures to sell. A local drug lord (King Caesar) employs Mitchie (Or he asks the drug lord) to puts bags of cocaine inside his sculptures ans ship them across the world. He makes enough money to help his village and his family. He moves into a house with his family. Of course they don't know what he really does, they just think his sculptures are in high demand.
Mitchie loves to sculpt. He started with pottery, making jugs, cups, plates, and other things for locals in his village. He's 5'4 and is in secondary school. Mitchie had mud brown eyes as he likes to describe them. He loves playing freeze tag with his friends. Mitchie also like to be alone. To gain inspiration, Mitchie takes walks at night when everyone is asleep. He stares at the stars and the moon. Mitchie wants to travel and help people in his village.
Idea #2: Old Lady Martha is lonely. Both of her children died in a train crash four years ago on their way to Greenwich. Old lady Martha as the neighborhood calls her, has a cursed diary with various entries in it. Those entries are made from the lives of people that become trapped in the diary. Then, she reads them at home and can them come to life.
OL Martha is a short lady that wears different capes depending on the day. She has burgundy, blue, black, red, purple, and glitter. Little kids love and abhor her. She makes breakfast at six thirty in the morning everyday except Sunday. She makes breakfast at eight. OL Martha lives by a strict routine of breakfast, a walk through the park, staying at the library for two hours, eating lunch at a nearby sandwich shop.
*Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash.com
On Thursday night, I attended a figure drawing session and Friday I strolled through two museums. One was specifically for photography and the other was all types of art. The figure drawing session took place in an art gallery and went on for three hours. It takes place in an art gallery called Pain Sugar, located in downtown Riverside. The sessions go on every Thursday night except the first of the month. I attended the session three times before and all the models were female. This time we had a male model. I always enjoy these sessions. Even though I don't draw exceptionally well, I still try and my drawings have gotten better each time. The vibe there is calm and encouraging. It's a chance to release those creative juices. Not only do I draw, I write poetry during this time and recently started writing stories. I write a couple lines or a paragraph then draw the pose that accompanies it. Many people may feel uncomfortable drawing a nude model. The first day I went, it was a little weird, but everyone participating is so focused on the art. Of course, I also wanted to respect the model. It takes a lot of confidence to do that.
I went to the UCR/ California Museum of Photography and the Museum of Art in Riverside. The first museum displayed commercial photography by various artists. There weren't many pieces shown, but I enjoyed walking around viewing the photographs. The Museum of Art had multiple exhibits and pieces of art by high school and elementary school students. One exhibit was dedicated to the people of Japanese descent held in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It had replicas of the tags they had as identification and a story about a family during that time. Another exhibit had excavated artifacts from Tlatilco, a village that thrived in ancient Mexico.
Yesterday was filled with exploring many forms of art and walking the city enjoying the atmosphere. To see hard work, dedication, creativity, research, and care in these exhibits an pieces of art, inspired and motivated me to continue being creative and to believe in my self.
I watched another class on Skillshare by Morgan Lindsay Nelson and she explained the difference between suspense and surprise. Here is my project:
In the forest i saw
Rays of sunshine poked through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees swayed in sync as if dancing together. I took a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunched and snapped under my feet as I continued down the path.
What is that?
A tremor overtook me as my heart beat hard against my ribs. A hand stuck out from behind a thick, gnarled tree. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I crept closer. The fingers were bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms upward and bloody. A hand turned into an arm, and the arm became a body of a young woman. She had on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I dropped to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes were closed, head turned towards the sun.
Rays of sunshine poke through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees sway in sync as if dancing together. I take a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunch and snap under my feet as I continue down the path.
This is a lovely day for-
I stop in my tracks, a foot hovering in the air. My eyes widen, pulse racing faster than a racehorse on Sunday. My stomach warms and gurgles, this morning's breakfast of oatmeal and granola corralling its way up.
Drops of blood sporadically splattered over grass and branches lead down the path. My foot lowers. The trees sway forward, directing me on where to go.
I should call the police! I should- wait, what if someone is hurt?
The thought is enough to send me sprinting forward, hopping side to side avoiding stepping on the evidence.
Evidence? Oh no, this is a crime scene. A possible murder!
"No, no, I shouldn't jump to conclusions. Maybe someone fell or got hurt."
But the blood splatter... I've watched enough crime dramas and Dateline to know what that means.
"H-hello?" I call out.
Oh no, oh no, oh no! Maybe the person went home?
The blood trail ends at a thick gnarled tree to my right. A tremor overtakes me, my heart beating hard against my ribs. A hand sticks out from behind it. Tears well up in my eyes, as I creep closer. The fingers are bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms are upward and bloody. A hand turns into an arm, and the arm becomes a body of a young woman. She has on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I drop to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes are closed, head turned towards the sun, its rays kissing her pale, blue lipped face.
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