The ever-lasting balance

It’s a brand new year and also the start of a new semester. The novelty of studying in America has definitely worn off and I have gotten used to pretty much everything about studying here in Arizona; So, looking forward into this year, my plan is to switch things up a little

To be honest, I am really scared for this semester. I know it is going to be tough because I am trying to retain my GPA here. But I believe I will be able to make miracles this semester and this year because I totally outdone myself last semester. Will talk more about that in my course reviews that should be trickling out something.

Over the last couple of weeks while travelling around, I have been reflecting on the past year (academically) and the biggest problem I have been facing every semester is time management. I have changed my planning style twice last year and still things didn’t quite work out. The problem is that I just can’t cope with things that are out of my control like being lazy, emotional breakdowns, etc. Also, the schedules that I have been making up don’t have much leeway if something does crop up. So, for this semester, I am trying something totally different. Will explain in detail sometime this year.

Like what I said in my 2016 review, most of the things that I did last year revolved around doing volunteer work and that was because I wanted to try out everything to see what works. It was also a platform for me to meet new people. This time around, I will continue to volunteer work but that will not be my priority. I will be prioritizing things that will improve my academic life as I complete the final stretch of my college degree.

All in all, everything that I will be doing this year has to do with good time management and there’s only how many hours a week so I will need to properly utilize the time. It is probably going to end up being some sort of a disaster but I am confident that the plan that I came up with will work? I guess.

I can honestly say that this new scheme I thought of has something to do with prioritizing things. It seems that previously what I have been doing is taking certain things too lightly which caused big problems in the long run. Classes, research, blogging and socializing; All these have their own priorities. I just need to figure out the right balance that will be the best use of my time.

Fall is over

For the second time this year, the semester is over yet again. Unlike in Spring, this semester was hard, like literally. But education won’t be fun if things were easy right?

I’ll be talking mostly about my expectations and the reality of this semester in this entry and I’ll leave the nitty and gritty stuff about the classes that I took in my class reviews which I am hoping to complete by the end of the year. I was really, hard pressed at getting it done by the time I was done with the finals for the class but that clearly didn’t happen. Right now those reviews are like 10% done.

Over the Summer I actually listed out seven(7) goals that I wanted to fulfill in this semester. Most of them were just things based on what I noticed during the Spring semester. Sadly to say, I only managed to get 2 out of the 7 things that I set out to do. I’ll just talk about what I managed to achieve this semester and just leave the other 5 things for another day.

The first of the two in my list was to make more friends. I didn’t clearly define what I meant by making friends but how I calculated was based on my interactions with them. One of the biggest reasons why I have met with more people this semester compared to the last semester is because I was more outgoing that I usually am. Being more outgoing and doing things that I wouldn’t usually do was my second goal of the semester.

It all started with E2 camp where I had an amazing time, then came orientation where I met with lots of interesting thing and then finally is the club that I joined this semester where I became closer with a couple of people that I previously met. Honestly speaking, I am not much of a people person. I don’t have much friends. I know a lot of people from school but never in my life that I had this many friends that I can actually talk to on a personal level.

The friends that I have made this semester (each and every one of them) will always have a special place in my heart. Although I might not be the most outspoken one, I have experienced a lot of things during this semester while interacting with them outside of classes, during camp and casually on campus.

If I were to describe this semester in one word, it would be ‘unexpected’. Everything that happened this semester was really beyond what I could predict. Like what I learnt during Philosphy 101 last semester, at the end of the day, everything goes down to determinism. What’s meant to be will eventually come to place. It felt like all of these chain of events that happened this semester is based on my decision but I believe it’s fate that put everything on the table.

The things that I did this semester was so unexpected to the point that I just felt lost at times. Lost in the sense that my mind was blank.

But overlooking at what I did this semester, the thing that I am most worried about all semester was my grades. Compared to last semester where I didn’t have much friends, I spent most of my time studying rather than going out and socializing with others. I can definitely said that I didn’t study as much as what I liked but I think everything turned out pretty well, I guess. We’ll see about it.

Looking forward to doing some meaningful things during the winter break.

 

My E2 Camp experience

Honestly, I don’t really remember how I found out about E2 Camp.

I would like to say that I read about it through the newsletter but it also could’ve been through the stalking that I was doing about the Fulton Schools. But either way, attending this camp has provided me a different perspective towards my experience here at ASU. This is probably the push that I need as the first semester novelty of studying in the USA wears off.

A couple days before camp, I was somewhat reluctant to go to the camp because I was anxious about what I was supposed to do. I did not attend E2 Camp before so being a one-up level compared to the campers is a difficult task. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, I was given a schedule, a handbook and also paired up with a co-counselor but even then, some things are just hard to do without prior experience.

What is E2 Camp?

According to the ASU microsite, E2 camp is

E2 is an exciting way to jump-start your success in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.You will meet other students, faculty, and staff and learn skills that are important to your success as a Fulton student through a variety of fun and interactive activities. Upperclassmen, faculty, and staff serve as resources to students during E2.

As I said earlier, I did not attend E2 Camp during my freshmen year and I kicked off my E2 Camp experience as a counselor. The description provided online is pretty spot on. The general theme of the activities is teamwork, communication and some good-ol fun.

Comparing the activities during E2 with the freshmen level courses that I took last semester, there is a lot of similarities in terms of what they teach. First and foremost has got to be the Fulton Difference. Things like the tutoring center, professor office hours, undergraduate research, job opportunities were heavily talked about in most of my classes in the Spring semester. And to no surprise, there was talk about mostly the same things during certain E2 Camp activities.

But beyond the planned activities, there was actually quite a big chunk of free time allocated during the camp. That time was not only there to give groups the opportunity to discuss about the group cheer but it is also the time where campers and counselors alike are given the opportunity to mingle around ourselves or to approach faculty.

Was it worth the time?

For the most part, yes.

I can tell you that my ideal representation of E2 is having a group of motivated freshmen students that are passionate about camp and want to win. But that clearly did not happen because life doesn’t always give me what I want. Overall, I did eventually come to like my group after a couple of activities. I would have like to to talk to them individually about their plan for the academic year but I didn’t have the time to do that.

Nevertheless, the individual conversations that I did have with my campers ended up being a fulfilling one. It was definitely a privilege to be able to share my experience with a willing party and provide feedback about the expectations that other people had.

Other than having these conversations with my group members, I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with faculty that I would never get to speak in person if it weren’t for E2. People like the Mr Fulton (didn’t get to speak to him but I did get to see him in person), Dean Squires, staff from the Dean’s office, Professors from different Engineering schools and alumni.

Round 2?

Funny thing is that I did not know that this was some sort of competition between different groups up until I started reading the counselor handbook. All is not lost but I will be going for a second round of E2 later next week and I a hope that my experiences during the first camp will help me better lead my campers.

A new season

I have always imagined what it would be to live in a place that has 4 seasons and gratefully, I am able experience that this year. In January, I had a little taste of winter with the cold winds and unexpected rainfall that rarely happens in Arizona according to the locals. Soon after that, I was greeted with Spring which is a weather condition that is not much different compared to Malaysia. The sun was constantly up but the winds was still a little cold. Personally, I think that is the most optimal weather. Not too cold and not too hot.

Something that I learnt about the weather conditions here is that they are sometimes a little unpredictable. The weather is unpredictable in the sense that sometimes the weather is hot (~28 degrees) and the next day it goes down to around 18 degrees. I still remember that one week where the temperature in the evening was as cold as it was when I first arrived.

The lesson here is that I should always check the weather forecast before going out. Something that I have been taking for granted back in Malaysia because the weather is mostly hot and nothing specific is required when it rains because I always end walking in the rain.

az-weather

After Spring comes Summer and this is likely the most sought after season for Americans because of the term ‘Summer Vacation’. I actually don’t know why I am writing this article, the only reason why is that I wanted to talk about the hot weather and I also took a nice photo of the first day of Summer snapchat filter. The reason why today is the first day of the Summer is because of the Summer Solstice which is when the sun is directly in the center of the equator of the northern hemisphere. It is also the day with the most sunlight.

The weather here in Massachusetts is still quite nice in the afternoon but it does get a little chilly in the night still. But I will be heading back to AZ in August and boy have I been following the weather there. Everyday is like above 40 degrees which is nothing compared to the hot weather that I have experienced.

When I decided to attend ASU, I was well aware that the weather there was scorching hot. But little did I know that the hot Summer weather actually lasts for 5 months. That’s nearly half the year with temperatures more than 30 degrees.

I am already bracing myself for when I get back.

My first wave of reviews

I am finally done with this. I was initially targeting this to be published the week after the final exam but as it turns out, writing a course review is not that simple. But I did manage to complete all the reviews and I am pretty happy with what I managed to come up with and my initial goal was to average in about 1,000 words for each review and I managed to exceed that goal.

In total, this took me a little over two weeks to complete. I took about a week to write these 6 reviews and I did try writing all of them in one shot but I couldn’t. My mind could only focus at evaluating one course a day. After writing a rough draft, I used a couple more days to refine the grammar and the structure to assure that these reviews are as good as they could be.

This is something that I have been wanting to do since the start of the semester. And the biggest reason why is that throughout the semester I have asked people countless of times about the experience that they have with a particular class taught by that professors. Things like exams, workload, grading and homework are part of the conversation because often times, the ratemyprofessor reviews can be a little inaccurate and lack of depth.

This is the first time that I am doing such a segment and I didn’t bother to research on other creations that are online so I’ll just start off with talking about the things that I usually ask. All I can say is that at the time of posting, this is what I have. I would  value your feedback on what kind of things that I might have missed in my review and I would gladly update the review to include that information provided that your request is not too much in the future that I forget about the deep details about my experience in that course.

It is not easy to talk about everything as some things like talking too much (in detail) about the assignments and tests are in violation of ASU's Academic Integrity Policy

Throughout my reviews, I try to keep them as wordy as possible. I don’t think images are necessary in such a review but each article does include a featured image that I specifically chose. That image is my representation of the course when I think about it. Also I have bold(ed) some words in the review which point to the important aspects of that class so do take note of those keywords.

College experience, it is what you make of it

Within each review, I have included an ‘At a glance’ segment at the very beginning of the review which gives you the rundown of the course itself and also links to the Professor’s profile alongside the link which brings you to that course’s ASU course page. Additionally, each review also comes with a conclusion which is not too long and you can take it as a TL;DR part it you don’t have the time to read my story.

But, that is about it. The you can check out the reviews through the links below and just remember that your experience may vary because it really depends on what you make of it. This is how life is, you can’t expect everything to be easy

My course reviews for Spring 2016

  • FSE 100 with Professor Yinong Chen — An introductory engineering course that revolves around projects. Read this review
  • ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe — The first of two fresman level english courses that is required by ASU. Read this review
  • PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore —  This is my first time learning about philosophy, it’s quite an interesting course I would say. Read this review
  • HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth — American history from the start till the end of the civil war. Read this review
  • CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein — The basics of digital logic with both theoretical and practical work. Read this review
  • IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin — More statistical formulas and concepts than you can imagine. Read this review

IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin

I thought Calculus III was the last math paper that I will need to take but as I soon realized, ASU requires me to take a couple more math papers. Enter IEE 380, probability and statistics for engineering. I had no flipping ideas as to what I am about to learn in this course nor do I have much interest in the topic of statistics.

But after completing this course, I kinda like statistics.


At a glance

— ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—

Continue reading “IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin”

CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein

First thing that I should say is that I actually didn’t choose this class myself, my advisor did it for me. There are actually quite a number of different professors teaching this class each semester. But I would recommend you to take it with Professor Resisslein if you can because his class is pretty fun in my opinion.

The first thing to know about Professor Reisslein’s 120 class is that he has this non-american accent. His german accent does sound a little out of place at first but you’ll get used to it as the semester progresses.


At a glance

— ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—

Continue reading “CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein”

HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth

This is one of the two general education subjects that I took to fulfil the requirements that ASU has set in order to graduate. I don’t quite remember why or who influenced my decision to settle on this History course but I think it was because the timing was right.

If you don’t like History, this course might be just the thing to change your mind about history. Personally, I don’t like history in the past because it was always complicated and the tests are honestly hard as you had to remember all these dates, who did what with who and so on.

This is not your typical history teacher (p.s. Professor Barth doesn’t like people calling him ‘teacher’) as he designs the class to be more of a story telling experience than an actual theory class. He understands us the most mainly because he is a pretty young Professor thus he knows what we are going through.


At a glance

— ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—

Continue reading “HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth”

PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore

Just like the history class that I also took this semester, I completely had no clue as to why I landed on this Philosophy class. My final decision was probably also due to the timing. All I can remember is that Professor Portmore’s ratemyprofessor page said something about tests being easy and I was basically sold.

Similar to HST 109, I ended this philosophy class feeling a totally different person. I had my doubts as to what I would end up learning in this course and at the end of the semester, I still wasn’t so sure what I actually learnt. It’s hard to explain about it but I did learn the meaning of philosophy and some life lessons. But I am not so sure what am I going to use with this knowledge. I’ll try my best to explain this course as detailed as possible.

word of advices, Dr Portmore won’t be at ASU for the 2016-2017 academic year


At a glance

— ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—

Continue reading “PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore”

ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe

Ah, english class. ASU requires you to take it unless your SAT score is at a certain level. But as an international student, I needed to take it either way. The TOEFL that I took was only used to convince the US Immigration that I had the knowledge and skills to survive the American classrooms.

At ASU, there are two levels of English to be taken at the Freshman level. ENG 101 and ENG 102 is designated for American students while ENG 107 and ENG 108 in the other hand is for international students. One thing to note about these courses is that they are essentially the same in terms of content, it’s just that the latter is suited more towards international students.

Initially, I did deliberate whether to take 101 or 107 but in the end, I chose to take 101 mainly because of the timing. Also, I wanted a little challenge. Do note that it is possible to mix and match with the two pairs. For example, you can start with 101 and continue with 108 and vice versa.

So, after a semester of American English, here are my thoughts about it.


At a glance

— ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—

Continue reading “ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe”