Semester in Review

The end of the semester is finally here! Classes are finished, I’ve taken all my exams, and the holidays are rapidly approaching! I hate review “episodes,” but I think this semester was worth reviewing. I learned a lot this, and not all of it was in class. Here’s a bit of what I learned.

First, it’s important to pace yourself and take care not to get over stressed. I started out the semester with a bang, and about half way through I started to become stressed, jaded, and frustrated, and I wasn’t studying very effectively. It burned me a bit in the end, because I hadn’t been able to keep up with the material as well. In university, as it turns out, even if your professors are good, you sometimes have to teach yourself a good bit of material outside of class, which brings us to the second thing.

Just going to class isn’t enough. All throughout high school and CECEP, I was able to do reasonably well in school by just showing up to class and taking notes. Obviously I studied for exams, but a simple review and doing a few problems was enough to keep me sharp for most of my exams. This is not the case with university. The first few weeks were pretty easy, but it rapidly became apparent that a good deal of my learning would occur outside the classroom. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for how much I would have to learn outside of class, and by the time the final exam rolled around I was behind. To make sure that you’re not falling behind, you have to do the assignments (if there are any,) which brings me to thing number three.

Do the assignments!! Around the time I got frustrated and jaded, I stopped doing the assignments. Yes, yes, I know: stupid. Had I done the assignments I would have been set for the final, but because I stopped I didn’t know exactly how unprepared I was. It wouldn’t have affected me too much, except that I wasn’t confident with what I needed to know, much less how much I knew. Doing the assignments, even if they don’t count for much, is very important. When I skip an assignment, the chances of me actually doing it later are slim to none. So in other words, it’s not ok if I “just miss this one.” If I only successfully do one or two problems, that’s fine, but at least I’ll know what the problems are like.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Ok, it’s not so important that it bears repeating three times, but it is important. I find that a good run when I’m getting frustrated helps to calm me down. I’ll be dead tired and probably won’t get much work done afterward, but it helps. I had planned to take Kung Fu this semester, but things got to be too busy.

Extra curriculars are important too. You don’t meet too many people just by going to class; it’s a good idea to do things outside of class. (If anyone knows of a creative writing club at McGill, please let me know!)

Finally, DO ART! I have learned that my brain cannot handle either all art or all science, but does very well when dealing with both. My art compliments my science and my science compliments my art. I need to spend more time doing things that aren’t confined by the bounds of cold logic so that when I have to do raw computation and reasoning, I don’t get frustrated and give up.

All said and done, no matter what happens, I had a good semester. Overall I’m happy so far with my choice to enter electrical engineering, and I’m happy to finally be able to focus on what interests me in school. It’s difficult, and maybe I’ll decide that Electrical Engineering isn’t for me, but right now it’s fun and engaging, and that’s all that matters – I’ll let life guide me in the direction I’m supposed to go as I pursue what interests me.


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