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Reflection of the Semester

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This semester was an interesting one for me.

First off, I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. But I don’t it let it get me down. What you do is count your losses, figure out what you did wrong, what you did right, and then re-strategize for the next semester.

My goal was to figure how far I could push myself academically. In that respect, there was no failure because I learned a lot from being in class all day, nearly every day of the week.

A quotation that comes to mind is:

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”

What I got out of this experience was that I was in my prime at the beginning of my college studies and that was partly due to the balance I found between my engineering studies and investing in my artistic pursuits.  This semester I was only focused on the sciences, and although enjoyable, the way they’re taught in current institutions leaves them very stale and colorless for the most part. Ignoring my interests outside of science led to my having less motivation and excitement during my studies. I’m now more aware of how much I’m capable of academically.

So next semester, the plan is to stick to the least possible full time amount of 12 credits, while taking time to get back into painting and such.

The semester’s not over yet, so I still need to give it one last push.

Finals at UMD started on Thursday, but I have my first tomorrow evening. (Yes, they have finals on Saturday, even for weekday classes).

I’m hopeful that I was able to provide useful information to at least some of my readers this semester. If you found anything especially helpful or confusing/unclear, please don’t hesitate in letting me know. I love getting feedback.

Thanks for reading! Good Luck! Have a great Winter Break!

Take it easy.

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I'm surprisingly calm right now. Or at least I was until I accidentally X'd out of Chrome and inadvertently deleted a fully written entry. But things happen for a reason I guess, so here goes try #2, yes?

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Calm. Yes. Very calm. And I can't understand why. I'm uncharacteristically content during a time when I'd typically be tired/stressed/frustrated. But I won't lie. It feels nice. Last year around this time, I certainly didn't feel the way I do now, but this time around everything seems...doable. Manageable. 

It almost feels wrong. Like I should be all worried and frantic. But when you've done well on all your previous tests and assignments, something inside you just screams, "I got this!" So I'm confident. And I want you guys to be confident too as we head into next week for what I call "The Big Finale."

The Students vs. the dreaded (or in some cases the not-so-dreaded) final exams.

Speaking of, I think this is the final blog entry of the semester. I just reread my first entry about feeling "Unstoppable" and it gave me a chuckle. There's a joke in there about how we're always determined to stay on top of grades in the beginning of the semester, and by the end we're in more of a survival mode. The I-just-want-to-pass-this-class mode. But here I sit, completely satisfied with how things turned out and possibly looking at a 4.0 GPA this semester. We'll see. In any case, it's been an absolute pleasure sharing my weekly thoughts with you all for the past 15 weeks. Every joy, every fear, every complaint, and every victory. I've put it all out there and treated this blog like a blog. Opening myself up like that on a public site wasn't always easy, but I sincerely thank you, the readers, for staying the course with me and the rest of the bloggers here. Hopefully I'll be doing this again next semester, and if not, then I'll see you guys around I guess. Now go get your study-on, and good luck with your finals!

It's been a pleasure.


~ Jay

Chaos

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Chaos.

That’s what my life feels like right now. 

Here we are, so so close to the end, and I can’t focus on anything!

It’s that time when everything is due, and all of the tests are around the corner, and all I can think about is my latest fanfiction ideas!  (GRrrrrr)

I mean seriously, last night I was finishing a paper, and I blinked twice and realized that I had typed “Narnia” every three words for nearly a full paragraph.

I can’t focus on anything, and I really want to start packing for my January trip to France.  (Ohmygosh I’m going to FRANCE!  I’ve never even left the East Coast of USA!)

To make things worse, it feels like the radio is out to get me.  I swear, I do enjoy a bit of pop, but there is only so much of a certain song that I can deal with before I get the urge to – to do something insane.  Like maybe write a song about how much I hate it and post it on YouTube.

In other news, I have been informed that, apparently, that “Shades of Grey” thing is actually a Twilight fanfiction that got published.

Eeps. 

But back to schoolwork – so much to do, so little time!  And the weather keeps jumping from Indian Summer to just above freezing, so I can never plan to wear temperature-appropriate clothing.

Overheating makes it very difficult to concentrate on anything, especially schoolwork that I am already struggling with.

Hn… the downsides of the end of semester…

Today is my last Psychology class. 

sad

  (You can’t actually see my tears, because they’re virtual, but they’re there.)

 

I’m going to miss that class.  I’ve really, really, really loved it.

Tomorrow is my French Oral Exam.  Hopefully, I’ll have a heart attack.  I mean, I won’t have a heart attack.

I have studied.  I have studied.  I shall go to sleep with French music playing to cement this knowledge into my head.  (Cheers to a teenaged Céline Dion!)

Oh god.  The semester is really almost over.

I need to go listen to some Phantom of the Opera.  (Cue that awesome creepy laugh.  From the original.)

And now for a lovely, lovely phoenix-imagery-evoking song (practically half of the song, really.)

Into the fire – I’m reunited –

Into the fire – I am the spark –

Into the night – I yearn for comfort…

Open the doors that lead on into Eden

Oh, no cheap disguise!

Follow the signs marked ‘back to the beginning,’

No more compromise –

And into the fire, I’m reunited –

(Into the fire)  I am the spark

(Into the fire) I yearn for comfort…

I will stare at the sun until its light doesn’t blind me –

I will walk unto the fire until its heat doesn’t burn me –

And I will feed the fire…

Into the Fire, Solace (1991) Sarah McLachlan

Oh, what the heck.  Here’s the actual song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9KAroDf1Hg

Or just go onto YouTube and search "Into the Fire," and "Sarah McLachlan."

Highlights

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Probably one of the worst things a student can experience is…FINALS!

I would say it’s more bitter sweet. It’s bitter because of all the studying and the stress that comes with it.  The key is not to stress out, so you can actually study and contain the information that was taught. I tend to have hot coco and relax by the fireplace while reading books from sociology and literature class to refresh my memory of all the information I’ve learned this semester. Toward the end of each semester I spend every moment of free time studying. The anxiety of getting outstanding grades can becoming overwhelming, but if you plan early that anxiety disappears. However I think because of the holiday season, it’s quite easy to become overwhelmed. The stress of getting present for everyone, finding the right deals, working enough hours to collect enough money, and then studying for school.

On the other hand, there were some highlights of this semester! These moments are certainly memories I’ll remember and cherish:

1. Meeting a new friend- When it comes it meeting new people, I tend to be picky on who I call a friend, but this year I met someone in my literature course who have similar interests as me. We’ve gotten over public speaking together with two presentations in which we had to overcome. We elaborated on each short story and poem. We both learned each other’s past which sometimes can be hard because some people chose to be very private.


2. Overcoming Math- For me personally, this has been an achievement that has been difficult. This is the first time I was able to stay on track and practice the math problems accordingly to pass my math tests!!! 


3. Getting to know my Professors- As time passes, I think the most difficult part about the end of the semester is saying goodbye to the professionals who have taught me! That have encourage and pushed me to do well! Thank you Professor Gillian, Professor Hernandez, and of course Professor Duty! 


4. Growing into a better person- Each student has their own story, their own journey.  Montgomery college has allowed me to reach for the stars even when others did not believe in me. There are so many opportunities that have presented to me. I have never seen myself living this life; a life of a student someone who works towards their goals, better yet someone who can be defined as determined, motivated, and hard working


I chose to have this optimistic attitude, so that way I can actually overcome these challenges school gives me. It’s something to be grateful for, not to whine or complain. I’m sure there are people out there that wish they could be going to school. Fortunately for me I am one of those lucky individuals that get to embrace and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.  


Thanks MC for another great semester!


And finals…I am ready to take you on!

Just Can't Get Enough of DC

(Shaswat Koirala) Permanent link

Hi everyone,

I hope you all are doing good. I am quite late for this week's post because of some technical difficulties uploading the pictures. I went to DC with some new friends last weekend. I wanted to share high-definition pictures, but for some reason they could not be uploaded. Hence, today I decreased the file size, and I had to comprise picture quality. Even though they might not look as good as they are, I hope you will enjoy them. 

Also, good luck on your exams !

 

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Study Tips- Memory Techniques

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In my search to be more efficient and productive earlier in the year, I came across a book called The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas.

 

I was only able to get through chapter 4 (I got distracted)….but from these four chapters, I learned a few really helpful memory tricks. In the spirit of finals, I wanted to share them with you.

HUNDREDS of BIG, FLYING VISUALS

Basically, our mind thinks best with vivid and stimulating visuals. When you hear someone’s name, you’ll probably think of their face instead of the letters that compose the name. When memorizing, the key is to think of the most crazy, outrageous visuals you can. The book suggests some guidelines for these visuals, like thinking of objects in exaggerated scales (really huge or really small), in large numbers, or have the objects perform actions.

The Memory Palace technique

In short, the key to this is to think of a building with several rooms, that you’re very familiar with. Let’s say you have a list of four groceries you need to memorize before going to the store: Broccoli, carrots, bread, apples. It helps if you place these items in different rooms of your “palace” or building. As you walk through the different rooms of the building, you will see the objects of the list. Use your home for example. Let’s say at the front door, you have millions of tiny broccoli growing on the edges of the door. Next you walk into the living room which has carrots growing in the ground and all over the walls. Next you go into the kitchen which has a huge loaf bread engulfing the interior from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. You have to squeeze through the side to get to your bedroom, where you find several red apples bouncing all over the walls. That's how you use the technique.

It is often said that this technique was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to memorize speeches and the sort.

Memory Linking and Word Substitution

One task the book suggests is to memorize the 50 states in alphabetical order. I’ll give you the book's visuals to illustrate the point. We begin with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas. To memorize, this I began by imagining an ALBUM (for Alabama) playing a horrible song which repeats the lyric “I’ll ask her” (for Alaska). I imagine this album flying really high inthe sky maybe in an AIRZONE (for Arizona). Then out of nowhere a flying Ark with a saw coming out the front (ARKANSAS), saws the album in half. Find words that sound like the words in the list, come up with a visual, and find a way to link them together.


It’s amazing that I remember this list, because I associated these visuals sometime in July and I still see them vividly in my mind.

The more outrageous the images are, the better.

Play around with them and see how to apply them for finals. Let me know if these are helpful. ;)   

Source:         

Lorayne, Harry and Lucas Jerry. The Memory Book. New York: The Random House Publishing Group. 1974. Print.

 

 

Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)

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The other day, I had an interesting discussion with my Astronomy professor. She was giving a lecture on the speed of light, and how it bends time. (Basically, if you were traveling near the speed of light, you would age much slower than everything else. Fact.) So one of the students mentioned that it was almost like a science-fiction novel. And that’s when the subject of Orson Scott Card came up.

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Orson Scott Card is a science-fiction author. He’s mainly known for being the creative mind behind “Ender’s Game,” a popular novel of his that’s currently being made into a movie. Here’s where it got interesting. When the professor mentioned him, she said that he had a brilliant mind, and then went on to say he was a “kind of a miserable human being.”

Uhh, what?

So two thoughts immediately came to mind.

1) What made her say that?

 2) That’s actually pretty hilarious.

When asked to clarify, the professor explained that she has a strong appreciation for Orson Scott Card’s work and his intellect, but she very much disagrees with some of his ideals. That he had some “strong opinions” which she didn’t really like. I later asked her in private what those ideals were. In short, Orson Scott Card is heavily against gay marriage.

And at that moment, my respect for my Astronomy teacher soared to new heights.

“It’s just hard to imagine a guy with such an amazing mind can be that much of a bigot,” she said. (That’s a loose quote. I don’t remember it word for word.) But I agree with her whole heartedly. I’m bisexual myself, and with that being said, I’m sure you don’t need to ask where I stand on this issue. Last month at the voting polls, question 6 got a big huge “yes” from me.

After some digging around the internet, I was able to read about Orson Scott Card’s opinion in full.. To sum it up, he feels that the fight for marriage equality is nothing more than the political “Left” waging war on the idea of a traditional family and its values. He said some other interesting stuff too.

Normalizing a dysfunction will only make ours into a society that corrodes any loyalty to (heterosexuality), as parents see that our laws and institutions now work against the reproductive success, not to mention happiness, of the next generation.” 

– Card

Oh. So homosexuality is a “dysfunction” that, if accepted by society, will spawn an entire generation of disillusioned straight people? Hmm. Sounds like a science fiction novel to me. Maybe that’s the storyline for his next best-seller? Here’s another interesting quote.

“Same-sex attraction is not a strait jacket; people's desires change over time; gay people still have choices.” – Card

Choices. There goes that word. So if you’re gay, you don’t have to be gay? You can change? My goodness, why haven’t I seen the light sooner, Mr. Card? Please, enlighten me more.

I have plenty of gay friends…” – Card

Ah. Of course you do. Because if there’s anything that can validate bigotry, it’s the old “I have plenty of ______ friends” argument.

We as a society have watched discrimination take form after form here in America. And as history shows, society always eventually realizes it for what it is. Intolerance and outdated ideals. My professor said that if she’s ever interested in reading more of Card’s work, she gets it from the library. She’d never buy it, because she’d never be okay with putting another dime in his pocket. I have to say I’ll be following her lead with that one. And I probably won’t be going to see that movie either.

You all enjoy your weekend.

~ Jay

Trying to Hold On

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 It’s getting close to the end, here.  Semester is almost over.  (Minor Panic Attack inserted here.)

Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but really – finals.  Research papers.  Language labs assignments.  Finals.  Last minute tests.  And did I mention finals?

I’m freaking out a little.  Just a little.

So, has anyone done the Teacher Evaluations yet?  I did it earlier this week.  I have to say, the online version is great – save paper and just easier all-around to work with than the old paper forms.

I’m having the sort of week that seems to be out to get me, so I suppose that it’s good that the Evals at least worked out.

Last night, I decided to work on an extra-credit assignment for my Psychology class.  It’s a brilliant assignment, really, and I love that freedom involved in it.  The problem?  Last night, all of the computers in my house decided that I shouldn’t use them.  My desktop froze up.  My laptop shut down.  And my parents’ computer… well, let’s just say that I avoid it if I can.  If only because I have other family members who need /want to use it.

So there I am, at approximately 8pm, panicking over how I’m supposed to get anything done if I can’t type.

Finally, I ended up writing out my ideas and research on index cards.  You know, the “old-fashioned way.”

At least my laptop is working today.

So, to inspire myself, this time:

So keep holding on

'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through...

 Hear me when I say, when I say I believe

Nothing's gonna change, nothing's gonna change destiny

Whatever's meant to be will work out perfectly

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…– “Keep Holding On,” Avril Lavigne (2007)

Hope This Is Not The Case

(Shaswat Koirala) Permanent link

You boosted my grade
When I felt dismayed
You deserve some plaudit
Oh dear extra credit

Got a C on a test
As most answers were guessed
But won't worry for sure
Said she'd drop our lowest score

When life got busy
No question remained easy
Upon a sincere request
We got a take home test

Sat for the final exam
Couldn't get my mind to calm
Questions got on my nerve
Hope she'd grade on a curve

Procrastinated all semester
Could have made things better
The only hope that I've got
Is kindness from my Professor...

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