Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Day in the Life of a University Student: Of Midterms and Doctor Who

The title of this post may seem just a little ridiculous. After all, how are midterms and doctor who related? Does the doctor write midterms? Are there midterms based on doctor who? While both of those would be extremely epic, I’m afraid that they also don’t happen. Basically, the only reason why midterms and doctor who are co-existing in this post is that today I wrote midterms, and then I watched doctor who. ‘nouf said.

As for the midterms, I think I did fairly well. My psych one was hard, but I had studied so much that I knew most of the stuff. It’ll be awhile before I get the marks back, but I’m hoping for at least 90%. (NOTE: I ended up with a 95) Then my poetry one was actually a lot easier than I had been expecting. If I don’t get a hundred it’ll be high nineties (I got 104%, there was a bonus question). Afterwards I talked to a bunch of my classmates and they all said that they thought they did pretty well, too. All in all, my midterms went fairly well. Sorry if this seems like I'm bragging, but since my first essay didn't go near as well as I had hoped, it's nice to be getting these high marks in other subjects. I feel like I've redeemed myself.

Now comes the really cool part of the post, where I rant for ten minutes about how good looking David Tennant is…. no. While I probably could rant for a lot longer than ten minutes about David Tennant, what I really want to tell you about is my extremely strange way of watching movies with a friend while she happens to me back on PEI and I’m in Ontario (approximately 18 hours drive, in case you don’t know your Canadian geography.)

What basically happened is that we started using apple’s Facetime on my iPad. She sat in her living room with an iPod, while I pointed my iPad at my laptop screen. Then I played Doctor Who on my laptop. This meant that we could both watch it at the same time (though I doubt that her picture was exactly the best quality) and talk about it while we watched. Seriously, it felt almost as if we were really sitting on the couch together watching a movie.

Maybe this sounds a little stupid to you. It certainly isn’t something you hear of people doing regularly. But personally, I really enjoyed it. I like watching shows and movies on my own, but it’s even more fun when you have someone to discus it with. I’m the kind of person who likes to talk during movies, pointing out random trivia or just exclaiming “Oh my goodness, this is so sad!” (For anyone who knows their Doctor Who, we were watching the end of season two. Sadness extreme.) Because of this, it was a lot of fun to just sit and watch a movie with my friend, even if she was a thousand miles away.

In other related (happy) news, my last exam for this semester is December 15th, which means that in seven weeks I should be home! Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but I can’t wait to see my family and my PEI friends again. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Day in the Life of a University Student: Famous Author Moment

This is section two in my miniseries, A Day In The Life Of Me. My bad bus luck story was the annoying part of my day. Now comes the extremely awesome part.

As you will know if you read the previous post (if you haven’t yet, go read it—or skim it—and then come back) I ended up getting to campus in plenty of time for my first exam, psych. My friend was already there when I arrived, sitting right by the front. Normally we sit second row, so I was a bit confused by this, but she said that she sat so close because she wanted the prof to know she wasn’t cheating. Paranoid much? (JK, she’s a lovely person. <3)

Next to me on the other side was a girl who looked a bit familiar, but I couldn’t quiet place her. I started talking to her, just a friendly, “Nervous about the test?” kinda thing, and she pointed out that we’re actually in the same English class. From then on, our conversation went something like this.

Me: So, are you an English major?
Her: Yep. I’m looking to go into publishing.
Me: Seriously? Me too!
Her: That’s awesome! See, I really like to write—
Me: You write? Me too! Like, YA?
Her: Yeah!
*We talk for awhile about books and queries and stuff like that*
Me: Have you heard about
Her: Yep, I have an account.
Me: How long have you been on?
Her: About a year and a half.
Me: So, um… do you remember Because You Laughed?
Her: Yeah, the short story. Didn’t that make top five?
Me: *points to myself* Yep, it did.
Her: Hey, wait, did you write that?
Me: *nods*
Her: I’m gonna hug you now. J
*We hug*
*I feel like a famous author*
*The prof says it’s time to start the test*

So, that was my pretty exciting first famous author moment. Well, not really, but you get the idea. I think it’s pretty cool that this random person who I just started talking to on a whim had actually read my story. Also, it must have made enough of an impact on them so they still remembered it two years later. I know that Because You Laughed has over 550 comments and there’s obviously a lot of people who’ve read it and haven’t commented, but it’s still weird to actually meet one of those people.

Needless to say, this conversation made me pretty happy and totally made up for any grumpiness that my terrible bus luck could have caused. It was an awesome thing to happen right before the test. The only bad thing is, I have no idea what this girl’s name is. Hopefully I’ll see her in English class tomorrow so I can prove that she’s not just some illusion that my delirious brain made up… 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Day in the Life of a University Student: Bad Bus Luck

Today was… how shall I put it… interesting. There were some very high points, some very low points and some just plain random points. Some of it has to do with being a writer, a lot with being a university student, some with being a Doctor Who fan, and everything with being me. Since there’s just so much to tell about today, I’ve decided to break this post up into three parts. Here is number one, Bad Bus Luck.

First of all, you should know that I had two midterms today. One was a psych midterm worth 20%, the other was a poetry test worth 15%. I studied like crazy for the psych midterm since I knew it was going to be hard. The poetry one, not so much. Anyways, I had been preparing for today for a long time, had gotten all my work done last night really early so that I was in bed by ten. I woke up feeling all refreshed and ready to write the tests.

Then, before I left, I sat down on my bed to pray and ask God for help on my midterms. However, I spent just a little longer on it than I had intended, so when I opened my eyes it was already 8:29, and my bus usually gets to its stop between 8:29 and 8:31. I kinda freaked out at this, so I dashed downstairs, threw my lunch in my bag, grabbed my coat, shoved my shoes on, exploded out the door and ran down to the path to the street… only to see the bus pulling away from the stop.

This is kind of a catastrophe. It’s now 8:30, and my exam starts at 9:30. It takes me approximately an hour and eight minutes to walk to King’s. If I ran I could probably make it, but there’s no way I want to show up at my exam panting from running for an hour. The other option is to sit around and see if there’s another bus I could catch. There’s two busses that go by my place, the one I usually take and another one that normally comes before it. I could wait around and see if the other bus is late, or I could start running.

At this point, I have a brilliant idea. My bus has to go through a whole subdivision before coming out again at the main road. If I run really fast, maybe I can make it to the intersection before the bus, and so I’ll catch it there. So I cross the street and start running with my laptop bag swinging around my waist and my coat billowing out.

Just then, the second bus pulls up to the stop just behind me. Great. If I had just waited a minute longer I could have gotten on that. But there’s absolutely no use waiting here now, so I just keep running, then slow down to a walk because I’m really out of shape. About five to ten minutes later I arrive at the intersection, only to see the second bus there at the other side. The light’s red, so I can’t cross over. As soon as the light changes, the bus pulls away.

It’s now 8:40. The next bus won’t get here for another half hour. If I wait for that, then I’ll miss my transfer at main campus and end up at King’s about five minutes late for the exam. Unless I start walking, there’s no way I’ll make it in time.

So I start walking. I speed-walk through another subdivision, glancing longingly at all the cars that pass, until I come up to another major road that’s serviced by about four or five different busses. I take a well deserved break, and five minutes later another bus shows up going east. I grab that, ride it for about two stops, then get off, dash across an intersection and take a north going bus up to campus. Once there, I wait for about ten minutes until a shuttle comes, which takes me to King’s. Arrival time, 9:18.

Despite missing my bus and ending up taking three different busses and walking way too far, I got to campus only about twenty minutes later than I usually do. In the end, it didn’t work out that badly. It just doesn't make sense; I nearly missed my exam because I was praying for help on the exam. How ironic is that?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Set Your Own Deadlines (and make them early!)

(BTW, this post was actually written about two weeks ago. Now I'm at the point where all the stuff I mention is coming due, and boy, am I glad that I listened to my own advice.)

Anyone who read the title of this blog post may think that I’m crazy. After all, university deadlines are always looming ominously on the horizon. Why would I want to move them closer?

The thing you have to remember is that some storms are bigger than others. Sometimes you’ll get just a little rain shower and other times it’ll be a huge thunderstorm. Still other times you’ll get a little rain shower and then a huge hurricane will blow in followed by an inch or two of snow, and then you’ll just be stuck.

(Before I continue, I’ll take a second to apologize to anyone who thinks I’ve greatly overused the rain analogy)

I hope you get my drift. Assignments tend to pile up. You’ll have assignments due in two different courses on the same day, or three tests within a week. I have that situation right now (which is why I’m writing this blog post). For the next two weeks I have absolutely nothing due, unless you count a one-paragraph outline of an essay that’s not due until February. If you just look at my next two weeks, I’m doing pretty good.

But then the week after that is nasty. I have a 1000 word book review on All Quiet on the Western Front, a 1000 word Sociology paper, a Psychology exam and a poetry exam, all within a week. Now, I know a lot of students can write a paper in one night, but can anyone write two papers and study for two tests all at the same time? If you want a decent mark, then the answer is no.

So I’ve decided that my Sociology paper will be done this weekend, a good two weeks before the deadline. And then next weekend I’ll write the book review, leaving next week (the one before the tests) virtually free for studying. To make sure I achieve these goals, I’m telling myself that my essays are due before they really are. If I allow myself to think ‘oh, it’s three weeks until this is due’ then I’ll put it on the back burner and spend these next two weeks watching Doctor Who.

Now, this doesn’t mean that my essays will be done done. They won’t be amazingly polished totally-ready-to-hand-in finished drafts. I can certainly do some polishing in the last week right before the deadline. Still, I’ll have a first draft, something to fall back on when it gets crazy.

For all you writers out there, this would be a useful skill to have. I’ve heard that a lot of published authors are publicizing their first book while editing their second book while writing their third book. That’s a lot of work! Working with self-imposed deadlines (I need to have ten blog posts written by Monday) and fixed deadlines (your editor wants the second draft in two weeks) can’t be easy, so it’s best to start practicing now.

Now, over to you, University/Highschool students, or general writer-people. Have you ever mentally moved a deadline forward to get something done? Or do you have other strategies? Since I’m just developing my study habits, I’d love to hear any ideas you have!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life at University: Food

I know this is a book blog, so I really shouldn't be talking about food, but I've been doing a lot more cooking than writing recently. To my great surprise, this cooking has actually been pretty successful. I've never gone hungry and never had to eat anything gross (well, once the rice was kinda dry) and never burned anything (besides for toast, lol). Since my cooking is going so well, despite the fact that I did barely any cooking at home, I've decided to share a couple of my successes with you. 

This was the first pork chop I cooked. I bought a whole pork loin (pre-sliced) and then put each slice in an individual bag. Then when I want one, I just stick it in the frying pan, add a little salt, and voila! It only takes 5-10 minutes. The peas were done in the microwave and the rice was made in a rice cooker. 

This was my attempt at bruschetta. I put tomato sauce, cheese and a bit of hamburger on the bread and stuck it in the over. The soup is simply tomato soup from a can. 

This was my supper last night. You know you're from PEI when you eat four whole potatoes... Simply cut the potatoes in wedges and put them in a bowl, then add some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. They stuck to the pan a little,  but boy... they were good!  

This is my food cupboard. As you can see, I do have some snack food (the Lays are displayed rather prominently, aren't they?) as well as some healthy stuff, like the huge bags of pasta and rice on the bottom shelf. There's also pancake mix and cans of soup and pudding cups and hot chocolate mix and peanut butter and lots of tasty things.

So, this is my experience with food so far. Will I gain the 'Freshman 15?' We'll have to see.... If any of you would like some tips on cooking while in university then I'll be happy to write a couple quick posts. Otherwise, I'll try to write a bit more about the academic side of things. I just needed to write this so I could boast about my unexpected cooking success. :)