The thing with being an engineering student is that your escapades around the campus start being the ones that entertain everyone else. I mean, only one out of four of my subjects are engineering and already I've got quite a few weird stories to tell.
The thing with being penniless students with no proper equipment is that we have to improvise. And sometimes that looks weird. So if you had happened to be walking by a certain stairway in the engineering area of campus you may have been met with a strange sight. My group wanted to measure the spring constant of a spring which involves putting weight on one end on the spring and measuring how far it stretches. Except all we had to use was the stuff in our houses so we brought a bucket, measuring cup and some string. So now we had to tie the top end of the spring onto something. We looked around, and the only thing we could see was the stairs. We spent a good half an hour pouring water into a bucket tied to a spring tied to stairs and taking measurements. Plenty of people saw us, some people even went up those stairs, and didn’t even react to what we were doing. Makes me wonder what counts as weird in the engineering faculty.
The reason we needed this spring constant was for our project which was tennis ball flinger, which needed to fling a tennis ball 10 metres so it would hit a target 1.5 metres off the ground. So obviously we could not test this thing inside, which called for more public demonstrations of undergrad engineering. Like, using a footpath as a firing range. Because obviously footpaths are just waiting to be made into firing ranges.
Before you think it’s just my group that’s weird, it’s not just us! To date I have witnessed the civil engineering kids carrying around LOTS of long sticks made out of newspaper and sticky tape (to make into mini bridges of course) and some aerospace eng people throwing paper gliders in the foyer of one of the science lecture theatres.
So that might be why when my tennis ball flinging machine group was carrying our machine along with a 12 litre container of water to the testing site, people asked questions and looked at us weirdly around most of campus but when we got to the eng section of campus, no one really cared except to comment that it looked cool.
Oh and also our lecturer shows us videos like this one:
I've been thinking recently whether to take up music a bit more seriously. As in, doing a Diploma of Music type of seriously. Pros of doing the Diploma: it would be awesome. Cons of doing the Diploma: it would take my already long 5 year degree and turn it into a 6 year one. That's essentially how long I spent in high school.
I'm really quite torn. Is it worth spending an extra year at uni to do something that I probably won't ever use? I'll regret it if I don't, but if 6 years is too long and I get bored of doing everything I'd regret doing the Diploma more.
I suppose it isn't that important a dilemma but I really want to take full advantage of all the opportunities I have during uni. Speaking of opportunities during uni, I'm also considering a semester abroad but if I do that I probably won't be able to do the Music Diploma. Decisions, decisions...
At the moment I am in the middle of my mid-semester break from uni. One week to rest, catch up with study and with friends. A week away from the relentless pace of uni. A week with a chance to think.
I'm beginning to realise that I am not as fine and I'd like everyone to believe. The workload of uni is really getting to me. I can't seem to balance it and I don't know why. I don't have much time during the week and on the weekend I never seem to end up doing anything. Half of the holidays have gone by and I have barely done anything.
Most people I know seem to be able to do uni and keep a job, still having time left over for various parties and social get-togethers. Sometimes I can't help wondering if the reason I can't is because I'm lazy. Maybe I should be forcing myself to study even if I feel completely drained. Maybe what I call drained other people consider normal.
But that's the problem. I don't know what's normal anymore. Is it normal to be this tired all the time? Is it normal to randomly have no appetite some days or to have some days where everything is an effort?
What if it is? It would mean that I'm just acting stupid all the time. But if it isn't normal, it would mean that something is seriously wrong with me. And that's just too scary to consider.
I'm too tired for all of this. I'd say I'm too young for all of this but then there are eighteen-year-olds in worse situations than this. Which almost takes away any right I have to feel sorry for myself. Sigh.
In my opinion, when someone is doing a particularly hard physics (or other) problem, they go through 5 stages.
First is Denial. They will reread the question again and again in the hope that it will magically become easier. However, this is unlikely to happen so they move onto the next stage...
...Annoyance. Common thoughts and exclamations include 'You've got to be kidding me!' and 'Why professor/textbook/teacher, why?'.
The third stage is Procrastination. This stage is usually bypassed if the question is due next period. Otherwise it may continue for weeks on end until the person is forced past it by the threat of a deadline.
The fourth stage is Intimidation and Discouragement. The person is considering doing the question and is scared or discouraged at the momentousness and difficulty of the task.
And last but not least is Acceptance. This is where the person starts doing the problem for real. They've accepted that it's hard but will try anyway, even if they end up failing. In the case of REALLY hard questions, this stage will not be reached until the last possible moment, unless the person has an unusually good work ethic (I don't).
I really haven't been writing for ages! Guess I haven't been in the mood for it. Anyway, I'm now about to start week 3 of uni and so far it has been exciting, wonderful and kind of intimidating.
The first thing I noticed is that there are so many people! I can barely recognise who I've meet before, let alone remember everyone's name. I'm in two faculties, engineering and science, and each has a few hundred first year students. And there are so many boys. I've been in a single sex school from year 7-12 so it's been a bit weird being completely surrounded by the opposite gender, and there are a lot of them since engineering has a 20% girl enrolment and all the subjects I'm doing are stereotypical 'boy' subjects.
My subjects themselves are absolutely awesome. Physics and engineering dynamics are at a draw as my favourites. Both lecturers are great speakers, breaking up the content with jokes and funny stories. Physics is especially good because we get to use these things called clickers. They pretty much function as a remote device that lets us answer multiple choice questions anonymously. Every so often a clicker question will come up and we'll get the chance to try our hand at the new concept. This is where the awesome bit comes in. We're actually encouraged to discuss the concepts and to work out the question with the people around us. I find it an awesome way to learn and there's no way anyone could every fall asleep in my physics lectures.
Engineering dynamics is pretty much awesome because of the one-joke-a-lecture rule. The lecturer has promised us that there will be at least one joke slide every lecture. Because of this it is definitely the class I laugh the most in. I've learnt that banana plus banana does not equal dog (from a class about the importance of units) and that Isaac Newton, while being a brilliant thinker, was not a very nice guy (see the list of sins he made when he was nineteen).
Astronomy/Astrophysics is my easy subject. It's actually got quite a lot of work for an easy subject but as it doesn't require any knowledge above year 10 level it is so much easier than my other subjects. I've got the same lecturer for astro as for physics which means the lectures are quite good, except minus the clickers and the awesomeness of physics.
Okay, when I said all my subjects were awesome I was lying. Three out of four are awesome. The last one just sucks. I hate uni maths. Listening to someone talk about maths for an hour is a COMPLETE NIGHTMARE. The maths itself is reasonably interesting but I generally switch off after 5-10 minutes because the lecturer is so BORING. To make it even worse his handwriting is horrible and if you stop listening for just ONE SECOND you have no idea what he just wrote. Sometimes even if you are listening you have no idea what he just wrote. The lecture theatre is full of whispers of 'What is the word after *insert description of part before illegible word*?'.
Other than that, uni is pretty awesome. It takes me over an hour to get there and I have three nine o'clock classes so I'm currently quite sleep deprived, but as I get used to going to bed earlier that should fix itself. The classes have been doing quite a bit of revision so the content has been reasonably easy (but still not that easy!) and hopefully I'll be okay with the hard stuff. I'll try to write more often but I'll see how it goes since the work is already piling up!
Yesterday in church there was a priest from a small town in South Sudan who had came to raise awareness about the conditions in his community and ask for donations towards their school hall project. He talked a bit about the conditions in South Sudan and showed us pictures, and what really struck me was the picture of many children, maybe sixty to a hundred, sitting outside with only one teacher standing in front. I could not help but notice the contrast. If we had classes that size here, parents would complain and students would most likely take advantage of it and give the teacher hell.
In first world countries we take education for granted, while kids in poorer countries consider themselves lucky to be having even a low standard of education. It really puts things in perspective. Here I am, studying for my end of high school exams when many people have never had the chance to even get close to that far. It shines a different light on the stress of the exam period. Living in a country where I actually have the opportunity to complete high school should be a cause for gratefulness, not stress and panic. I find myself more determined than ever to do my absolute best. No matter what disadvantages I have, at least I have a chance to complete this level of education unlike so many people my age in the world.
It's weird, seeing exams as a blessing. Weird but true.
Today was quite a day to remember, and not just because it was the last day of Year 12 classes and of high school EVER.
Today I decided to wear flats to go with my remade school dress. Then I miss the tram so decide to walk to school. Bad idea. By the time I got to school I had a giant blister on my left heel and was not doing a good job of walking. Planned to find a band-aid but got distracted by about fourty girls signing each other's dresses in the locker bay. There was no other option but to join in!
I had maths class first, and spent that signing people's dresses and asking if anyone had a band-aid. No-one did, so about halfway through I commenced my quest for the never-ending fountain of band-aids. I limped bravely to the edge of K2, climbed down that grand mountain, and through the psychic tunnel down to the lair of the Glove. Thrice, I completed this epic journey, and each time I found my way barred by an invisible barrier. Each time I had to climb back up the unforgiving mountain to K2. What was I to do? The gong sounded and the last ever meeting of pie was adjourned. I was defeated! I followed everyone out to our base camp wondering how I will survive this sad, sad day. I was checking my supplies when I saw Princess Mulan in our base camp. She invited me to go with her to hunt for food. I told her of my search for the never-ending fountain of band-aids and she offered to help me. Now there was still hope! We trekked back to the edge of K2, climbed down its unforgiving slope, and made our way through the psychic tunnel. This time, the invisible barrier was gone. It was a miracle! I entered the lair of Glove and located the never-ending fountain of band-aids. It was then that I could claim my prize. Not one, but three band-aids! To celebrate we all went hunting for some food to be prepared for lunch later than day. Moving stealthily across the grasslands we spotted our prey. The grand teen of can. All it took was a few quick moves and we had it. Some celebratory lunch for Princess Mulan! Satisfied with our hunt, we returned to base camp.
So anyway, we spent most of the day signing people's dresses and getting ours signed by others. We took a break only to go to assembly, and even then people were signing each other's dresses. During period 4 I got recruited to accompany an act for final assembly tomorrow and spent most of that time doing that. My last French class was perhaps the most productive, with fifteen of the ninety minutes spent working on a listening task. After school I had choir, and it was after that the next weird thing happened. I got home from that to find that my mum was freaking out because she forgot I had choir and had started calling people to ask where I was. Whoops. I'd forgotten to make sure my phone was charged so she couldn't reach me, although I still think that calling people was an overreaction. And because of the whole blister thing I can't wear flats any more, so there goes my princess costume. I have no idea what to wear to the last day of school and the act at final assembly tomorrow will probably be a slight disaster :(
Holidays are almost over, and so my final term at school will begin. I can barely believe that I have just over two weeks of school left and then am never going to take a school class ever again.
While I'm happy that I'll have this huge break from studying after November, I'm going to miss my school. It is such a wonderful environment to be in, and unfortunately the world seems to be its exact opposite.
I have so many plans for after exams that I don't know where to start. I have to keep reminding myself that I have to actually do the exams before it's considering after exams but I really wish I could do everything now. I'm wondering whether I should get a part time job somewhere, but then I wouldn't know where to go or how to start going about that.
At some point I have to find out about the music opportunities in my area. My school has a great music department with a lot of events which I've been part of in the last 4 years. Leaving means I can't do that any more, and I want to find some sort of activity to replace it. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens with that.
Only 48 days of studying left. Now, that's kinda scary.
I've been thinking for a while about uni courses and what to do. I can't help thinking that I need to choose the right thing straight away, or else I'm stuck with it.
Now that's not necessarily true. It's always possible to change courses although that would generally mean more time spent at uni. This said, I'd rather get the choice right first time around.
Currently, I am torn between three courses: Engineering and Science Double Degree, Engineering and Arts Double Degree, and just the Engineering Degree by itself.
I know I definitely want to do engineering, but am not entirely certain about which type. I love science, but if I want to do science with engineering, I would need to know which type of engineering I want to go into, which is a big decision to make with the little info I have.
If I did arts and engineering I would not have to choose the type of engineering straight away, but maybe I'd rather do science. Or maybe not. I don't know. I think arts subjects involve essays. I hate essays.
But then maybe a double degree would be too much for me to handle. Maybe I would be better off doing a single degree and pursing other interests in my own time, at my own pace. I don't know about this one. The overachieving part of me would rather do two degrees not one.
There is one other option, a kind of combination of the first two that runs contrary to the third. I could do the science/engineering degree and an arts diploma at the same time. Again, this may be a bit too much to handle.
And all this is assuming I get a high enough score to get into the course in the first place. Maybe I should create a plan E.
I never thought Year 12 would happen like this.
Like sure, in Year 9 and 10 was I intimidated by the idea of how this score was supposed to mean everything, and yes, the in Year 11 I realised that maybe that wasn't true and my current level of achievement would do me just fine, but I never expected having my sense of self tested, in the very year(s) of school that are considered the most important and stressful.
I'm being quite vague and perhaps a little dramatic but oh well. I suppose I just have to take the glass half full view and use the adjective 'interesting' to describe my life right now.