I started writing this post in June, but I’ve finally managed to finish it now. I don’t want to change the wording on some of it, so I’ve left most of it in tact.
So now that I’m
almost done school at Simon Fraser University, I’m taking some time to reflect on the time I’ve spent over the past five years. I’ve experienced a lot of things, but at the same time, I haven’t experienced a lot of other things, too.
In first year, I’ve focused a lot on my studies. Grade-wise, it has proven well for me, and concept-wise, I built a solid foundation for everything else that followed. I played phone games between classes, had some friends that I reunited with, but yet, there’s something that just feels a little bit off.
As I’m sitting on this park bench and looking out into the water on this fine sunny day [in June], I think about those times during school where I went up to talk to someone new: it never really happened. For all that I can remember, other people have talked to me: they initiated the conversation. One of my friends I met in university was someone who talked to me after class. I kept myself isolated for the most part, but she came up to me one day after class, and since then, I’ve opened up a little more. The “in-person” social interactions for me have been pretty minimal, in terms of me initiating. Contrast this to online social interactions, where I now talk more on Discord via text channels, “meet” new people, and share interests with more people using a more convenient method. It’s not entirely bad, per se. We’re surrounded by so much “new technology”, and I (for one) can’t help but try them out if they’re within my reach.
On the topic of Discord, I’m really grateful that one of our club members decided to take on the task of creating one for the Anime Club in the beginning of my third year in 2016. Looking back at that, it helped me get involved with our club (as I discussed in a previous post), and meet new people, some of which I have become close friends with. I’ve realized how diverse our club is, with people of varying ages, from different places, liking different things, sometimes disagreeing on things, all coming together with different experiences. For me, it has also helped me better understand others, and celebrate other people’s achievements, and to help others during those tough times, whether it be from course stress or some other personal matters.
Speaking of helping others, I owe a lot of my academic achievement in school to my dear parents. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to study well. They’ve always been there for me, whether it be making my meals, for advice, driving me to and from the bus station so that I can get to class, or even dealing with me during the stressful times, so my academic achievement is not really my achievement, but our collective achievement, which I’m very thankful for.
On the topic of this, I was asked about my study habits, to which I compiled a list of things that I did that proved to be helpful for me. Keep in mind that I’m coming from an engineering / computer science perspective:
- Go to class. I realized that talking to others that this isn’t always the case. If you need motivation, perhaps “I paid for the course, I should get the most value out of it” may help you?
- After each class, spend some time going over your notes. It doesn’t have to be right away, but definitely do it before you go to bed. It helped me remember things a lot easier.
- Use the textbook as a reference when parts of your notes are confusing (I wish I did this more in my first and second year).
- Record lectures. This is extremely effective if you use the recording feature built into Microsoft OneNote, as it’ll sync the timing with the notes you write. I use it to go back on notes, especially if stuff went by really quickly in class. Make sure your lecturer allows you to do so.
- For math or programming intensive courses, do lots of practice problems, and I mean do them without looking at the answer keys. It helps to solidify your understanding of the material, and how to apply those formulas. If you do something and get it wrong, figure out where you went wrong, and go from there.
- See if you can find something to apply your course work in a real world situation. For example, I tried to make something with databases for Ren, our SFU Anime Discord bot, while learning about it.
- Eat and sleep. You can’t study properly if you’re hungry or sleep deprived. – If your class has a discussion board (e.g. Canvas, coursys discussions, or Piazza), participate in them. For me, not only did I get bonus marks for them, they also helped solidify some of the course material for me when I went to answer questions, or when I went to ask questions.
I’ve rarely gone for office hours, but that depends on the type of person you are. I’m more of a “let me try this out until I’m totally confused before going to ask for help”, but if you’re not, and you don’t have the luxury of time (e.g. before an exam), then by all means, that’s what office hours are for, so utilize them as you see fit.
To wrap this up, I enjoyed my undergrad university experience. There are things that went really well for me, and things that, in retrospect, I wished to have changed, but I feel that this is the case for most people. I’m really glad to have learned many things in a field I’m interested in, and in the process, got to meet people that were both within the same field of study through my classes and from other backgrounds through the Anime Club.
Anyways, that’s all I really wanted to say, until next time.