Crazy Classes and Teeming Textbooks

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Fortunately, I’ve survived my first week of classes. That’s not just any sort of understatement, either. Things were a little touch-and-go there for a while. Well, okay, maybe not, but things were a bit hectic for me during this first week. Let me explain.

Science students always make fun of the Arts students, saying that they know nothing about heavy workload. They point to their schedule and draw attention to their days, filled with lectures and labs. I point to my textbooks. I’ve barely stopped reading all this week. Every moment not spent in class, eating, or sleeping, is primarily spent reading through textbooks and taking notes on the material within the pages. Throughout the week, I tried to stay on top of all that reading, but I managed to fall behind in my Management class – I completely forgot to read two chapters of the textbook for Wednesday’s class, and that put me at a disadvantage, since the prof kept talking about the stuff we were supposed to have read. He, of course, assumed that everyone had read it. So I had to just sit there and try to figure out what he was talking about. It was basically about globalization and how that affected the business world, but I would have felt much better if I had read the chapters ahead of time rather than the next day (actually, since they’re fairly long chapters, I’ve actually only made it to about halfway through the second chapter). Then, of course, there was stuff to read for Psychology, which was quite a bit since, well, it’s Psychology class. Add on top of that some stuff to read for Computer Science, French, and a dialogue written by Plato to struggle through for Philosophy class, and you have yourself a major undertaking.

Of course, I can’t say that things are all bad. Overall, I’d still say that the first week was not too terribly bad. The reason for the hectic pace is because classes just started. I’ve had things to purchase for some of my classes, things to set up online, and there was also no way for me to find out what to read ahead of time. Most of the classes have the required readings listed in the course syllabus, so I can now read ahead, but that wasn’t possible for this first week – since, well, I didn’t get the syllabus until the first day of class for each respective course. So, I’m expecting things to slow down a little bit. Unfortunately, I’m expecting that after this weekend, since I still have a bit of that reading to catch up on before getting ahead of the game.

But enough about reading. Let me describe each of my classes in as much detail as possible so that you are bored to death by the sheer specifics of it all – or, at least let me give you an overview. I’ll start at the beginning of the week, which is the most logical place to start, and so we are first introduced to French. This is a class going from 9:30-10:20 AM, and it’s on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. There’s also a lab on Fridays from 2:30-3:20, but there wasn’t one this week, so I don’t know what that’s like yet. Anyways, in the class, the stuff being taught is pretty basic stuff. Things like, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Jeff” and basic classroom objects are what we’re covering at the moment. The only problem is that the prof speaks in French for about 97% of the class, and so it’s difficult for me to pick up what she’s saying a lot of the time. I later realized that since I had to take a foreign language course, it would have been much easier for me to take a language other than French – because those would be complete beginner courses, so the profs would speak in English. So I smack my head with that one, but oh well. It’s mostly the fact that I haven’t taken French in school since something like Grade 9 or 10 – which was either three or four years ago. But I’m sure that as I get back into the routine of hearing strange languages that it’ll get easier.

Moving right along, the next class up is Psychology. This is a class from 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I think it has about 200 or 300 people in it (compared to the French class of about 40), but it’s not really all that bad. The best part of the class is definitely the professor. He’s very much an oddball, but he has a quirky sense of humour that keeps things interesting. Wednesday and today’s classes were devoted to the history of psychology, and yet he even made that interesting. The most important part is that you can tell that he enjoys what he does; he loves psychology, and he also loves teaching it. That’s completely evident, and it’s reflected in the quality of his teaching. Of course, I’m only three classes in, but I can tell already that I’m going to love the class. Maybe not the reading, but I’ll like the class for sure.

My last class on Mondays and Wednesdays is AFM 131, an Intro to Management course that runs from 3:30-4:50 PM. I think that out of all the classes I have this term, this one’s going to be the killer one. I bought the textbook, and yet I also had to go out after the first class and buy about $100-$150 worth of stuff on top of the $75 textbook (which I bought used). Included in those extra costs was a course pack with the printed Powerpoint slides and also some fairly current articles which are required reading for the course. I also had to purchase a “clicker,” which is basically a glorified remote control. These are used for quizzes in the course. The prof has a little transmitter or something, and each person’s clicker connects to that in order to submit quiz answers. Of course, I had to purchase the stupid thing, plus pay a $15 activation fee online to the company that manufactures them. Why we can’t just submit quizzes on paper is beyond me. Then, the final waste of money was “Mike’s Bikes,” a business strategy simulation game that is only available online, and which we must buy. It cost $50, and we have to, as a team, play this game. We get marks for an assignment submitted about it, as well as bonus marks for our performance on the game.

Since I mentioned these teams, let me tell you a bit more about how the class works. Basically, he’s going to in the next week or two be dividing the entire class into teams of four or five. Then, from that point, we have to sit with those people. The lectures are not really going to be lectures. The format is basically going to be a bit of a lecture leading into a discussion of the subject. We can discuss with our team, and then the prof will simply lead the class’ discourse. We also watch these short movies called “Manager Hot Seat,” which involves real managers dealing with situations portrayed by actors. There are apparently going to be guest speakers, and other strange things like that. It’s completely not what I expected from a university course at all, but oh well. The only frustrating thing is how dangerous the course seems to be in overtaking my entire life. There are the lectures to attend, of course, plus the required reading, which takes forever. Eventually there will be the game to play, and online, there is a discussion board that we gain marks on. Basically, a discussion topic will be posted Saturday, and we get marks if we post a meaningful reply to the thing by something like Tuesday. That part, when I read about it, seemed pretty stupid to me. Of course, it’s only like a couple marks for posting something, but still – since when were there deadlines for a class that basically required you to do things on the weekend? I mean, I can understand having to do projects over the weekends, because those are generally given out in advance – so it’s possible to do them on weekdays as well. But the only way to get full marks is to post something before Sunday night – so it’s basically a requirement of the course to devote your entire life and existence to the completion of this AFM course. I think the teacher is more interested in experimenting with new teaching methods than really teaching us. But oh well. There’s not much I can do about that, since this course is required for the Arts and Business stream.

Let’s continue on. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00-11:20 AM, I have Intro to Philosophy. This seems like it’s going to be an interesting course. There’s a fair amount of reading, but at the same time, philosophy and stuff like that interests me. Call me strange, but I’m big on psychology and philosophy. Maybe it’s just the only time that I actually get to exercise my mental muscle. Or maybe I’m just strange. Anyways, I’m still not really sure where the prof stands on most of his issues. I think he’s being very careful to avoid stating any views definitely. Of course, that may change in the future; I don’t really know. But next week we’re studying the topic of “Does God exist?” so that should be interesting. Actually, it was pretty funny. The professor had stated something, and I had such a good rebuttal to it, so I put my hand up. Unfortunately, he was still talking, and we ran out of time in the lecture, so I never got to say it. But oh well. A couple people in the class have tried to give an explanation for some of the questions he poses, and so far he hasn’t been very receptive to their remarks. He sort of says something like, “Well, yes, that’s possible. But anyways, as I was saying…” It’s kind of annoying, actually. But of course, I’ve only had two classes so far, so perhaps things will change later on. We’re not really into the course material yet – so far, we’ve basically done an introduction. So we’ll see.

My last class is an Intro to Programming course. This runs from 2:30-3:50 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus a lab on Thurdsays from 4:30-6:20 PM. This course is going to be a major laugh for me. Like, honestly, it’s going to be complete simple for me. I already have some programming knowledge, but I don’t think most of the more advanced courses were available to me as an Arts and Business student, so I had to settle for this one. Of course, at least I avoided the even more basic one, where they’re learning simplistic computer skills like word processing and spreadsheets, stuff I learned in about Grade 4. Oh yeah, plus “exposure to the Internet,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I really don’t understand that. I mean, the only way to get into the university is to apply online. You have to select your classes online. Everything to do with the university is online, so I don’t know how someone could not already have “exposure to the Internet.” But oh well. I avoided that, and still managed to sign up for an equally simple course. I mean, we’re learning Java, which I have never studied, but I’ve learned similar languages, so the only things that I really have to know are the differences in syntax and terminology between them. The basic constructs of the languages are still the same – stuff like variables, loops, conditional statements, arrays, and the like. If you don’t know what any of those are, just trust me that they’re easy stuff when you already know what they are. So I pretty much just have a hard time staying awake in class. And the lab we had yesterday was simple. For the most part, the only difficulty I had was getting used to using a Mac, which I’ve never used. Of course, I still managed to finish the whole lab in half an hour – and I was taking my time. It was pretty much just a matter of changing your password, and then copying and pasting some text. That’s it. Seriously, that’s it. And we had step-by-step instructions to guide us through the process, too. I might as well put a checkmark beside CS 125 right now.

Anyways, with that said, I’ve heard plenty of stories of those people that convince themselves that something’s really easy, and then they find out later that they completely flunked it. So I’m still going to put plenty of effort into the CS course. But having that class I guess makes up for having the killer AFM class, so I suppose it all works out. Overall, though, my courseload I think is about average. Things, as I said, should settle down in a little while, and then I’ll be able to manage things better. (Due to my Management course? Pehaps not.) Of course, my roommate’s courseload seems to be pretty much nonexistent compared to mine. He’s in Environmental Studies, so I think all their classes are outdoors, cataloguing types of trees or something. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. No, just kidding. But he’s said that it hasn’t been too bad for him. So while I’m sitting on my bed about fourteen hours a day reading textbook after textbook, he has plenty of free time to do whatever he pleases. I still have not ever heard him at night when he comes in. Every single day, I’ve been in bed and asleep before he comes in. But that’s okay. His classes are later in the day, and fortunately he doesn’t hear me when I wake up in the morning to go to my classes. And today he surprised me by waking up before I did. I was impressed. Of course, it took about a full minute of his alarm going off for him to get up, whereas I heard it right away, but oh well. I hear my alarm within about three milliseconds of it going off, and it’s only the radio playing. I’m just a light sleeper.

So that’s it. That’s my university life so far. Books, books, books. But I’m almost on top of things. Almost. But seeing as it’s Friday night, I have decided to take the night off. St. Jerome’s has rented out a theatre in the area, and a lot of us are going to go see Little Miss Sunshine. Hey, the tickets were only $2. I’d like to say that you can’t beat that price, but unfortunately, it’s a little expensive for me for two reasons. First off, I worked at a movie theatre, where I got in free. Second, I’m a university student right now – and when was the last time you found a university student who actually had money? Fortunately, I managed to scrounge up a couple dollars by selling myself into slavery for the day, so things are alright now. Goodness knows that $2 is more than a good price to pay for a break from reading endless textbooks. But with that said, I have a movie to go see. Au revoir.

(You see? I learned that in French class.)

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