Reviewing my courses 2017

I thought I’d write this post for fun, to let you know my personal thoughts on the courses I’ve taken in my first year at university. It’ll be interesting to read in future and may be helpful to any of you planning to study similar subjects in university. I’m studying at University of Auckland, in case anyone is interested. Not sponsored and I hope none of my lecturers/ex-lecturers see this because that would be awkward … but let’s go ahead shall we?

Semester 1

Philosophy 101 – Introduction to Logic

This is what the title says so if logic interests you, this is a solid introductory course. I’d done a little logic in high school before so I knew what to expect but if you haven’t done it before, it might be different from what you thought. It’s a bit like a cross between learning a new language and mathematics (in fact, you’ll learn propositional calculus – there’s the word calculus in the name!). It was quite interesting and easy (I found), although some parts quite basic and pedantic. I reckon it’ll become more interesting in higher stages. The lecturers are GREAT and this is pretty much the only subject this year where I attended and also paid attention to (nearly all) lectures. Would recommend. 

Compsci 101 – Principles of Programming

It’s an introduction to programming in Python. The labs and assignments were enjoyable and very useful. The lectures were painful. You can get away with reading the slides, thankfully.

Maths 108 – General Mathematics

If you’ve studied calculus in high school, you’re sweet. If you’ve never studied calculus before, believe it or not there’s hope for you, because even though this course said only enrol if you’ve completed NCEA Mathematics/Calculus Level 3, in particular the differentiation standard, and I like an idiot thought, pfft who needs background knowledge? I’ll be fine, I still passed. I still got a pretty good grade (B range). So don’t despair. You may cry a little and regret your life decisions but you’ll make it. The content is super interesting (once you understand it) and there are some great lecturers (e.g. Igor). Tutors are super helpful (helps if you have some idea what you’re doing though and don’t just go to them with all the questions of the assignment, because they’ll ask, what have you got so far, and you’ll just stare blankly. I totally do not have personal experience with this). 

Stats 101 – Introduction to Statistics

Most boring course in the history of boring (especially if you’ve already studied stats in year 13). Take it if it’s a required course for your major or you need statistics for your field. DO NOT take it for fun. 

Semester 2

Psychology 108 – Individual, Social, and Applied Psychology 

An intro to social development, social and cultural psychology, personality and intelligence, and clinical psych. I’m not sure how accurately what you briefly learn in each of these fields reflects what study is like in each field, because I haven’t taken second year yet so I can only speak on what I thought of the teaching of this course. I found it fairly basic and surface level and most aspects boring, if I’m being honest. We have great lecturers and tutors, but the content didn’t do it for me. I am still keen to continue with personality and intelligence and clinical psychology and did find these parts of the course more engaging so it’s likely just my personal preference. Labs are super chill and great if you have a friend in them. I apologize to my tutor Sam for being a terrible person in tutorials and hope he didn’t notice too much. 

Psychology 109 – Mind, Brain, and Behaviour 

I enjoy this course much more than Psych 108 and it’s more challenging. I really enjoyed the memory and language modules, as well as perception, emotion, and consciousness. Again, there are great lecturers and tutors and the info is not difficult to understand … there’s just quite a bit to memorise so do not cram. 

Drama 100 – Taking the Stage: Performance and Presentation Skills

Very good lecturer… it IS a course on presentation skills after all. Nice variation of assignments and workshops were really fun. I wish there was more workshop time to develop practical skills, but I understand, ”tis a university course. 

English 109 – Drama on Stage and Screen

I didn’t really enjoy this course which disappointed me because I am an English nerd. I think I prefer academic English to academic drama which may partly explain why this course didn’t wow me. It was interesting and there were some really good texts but I guess the lecturers didn’t go in depth with most of the texts and it seemed like rather shallow analysis. I suppose we are supposed to do the analysis ourselves. In general, it reminded me a little of English in high school which while I did enjoy I found quite shallow at times. I LOVED scholarship English and was hoping university English would be more similar to it, as I’d been told it would. 

***

So those were my courses, folks. Yes I took quite a variation because I switched major in second semester (and am planning on switching back so there’s that!). All in all, my courses were good but I didn’t really love them in general and definitely found my year 13 and scholarship studies more engaging. I’m hoping second and third years will be more interesting since we’ll be getting much more of the depth and focus which I’ve felt has been lacking. 

I should also mention that this year has been rough socially and in terms of mental health so I didn’t really make use of office hours and such so that also didn’t help my experience with the courses. Again, hoping to change that next year. 

I’m excited! 

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energy

I feel such a burst of energy right now but I know this is not going to last. I don’t mean, it will fade in thirty minutes and I will fall asleep (since it is 1:30 in the morning right now) then I’ll have it again as long as I get enough sleep. No, I mean, it will fade in a few hours, or a few days, or a few weeks and then I don’t know when it will come back … it will be a gamble and all I can do is hope hope that this energy will tide me over exams and that when it does fade, it won’t leave me alone for too long. 

As a creator, you can’t rely on inspiration. I get that. It’s too fickle. But am I naive to wish you could at least rely on energy? 

But who’s to say I won’t lose all my mental energy and become dead and flat again … maybe after I go to sleep and wake up?  And even though I still force myself to be productive in that state because, well, I have to, it feels like trudging through sludge and I’m working at maybe a tenth of what I work at when I have energy – energy like in times like these.

And believe me, I’m truly grateful for times like these because this clarity feels so freeing. 

fear and ambition

I’ve talked about struggling with a lack of motivation and a desire for greatness. It’s a terrible combination.

But I’m here today to talk about a different aspect of ambition … it’s partly linked to my previous post. I’m talking about fear and ambition.

I have many goals I want to achieve and possible career paths to follow and knowledge I want to attain and ideas I want to realize. But so many of them require a huge amount of hard work, knowledge, talent, creativity, and effort.

And I think, I can’t possibly expect that I can gain that knowledge and that I have that talent and creativity and that I’ll be able to put in that hard work and effort.

I’ll leave it to someone else to do it … someone better, more qualified than I am.

And it’s partly motivated by laziness, this impulse, but it’s also motivated by fear.

Because … what if I can’t EVEN if I try?

Wouldn’t that be the most demoralizing? So it’s better to just not try.

Excuses. They’re all excuses.

I find it very hard to believe in myself. I am afraid … fucking terrified … that I can’t achieve anything that I wish. I know I won’t achieve everything because there simply isn’t enough time. But I’m terrified that I won’t be able to achieve just one. I’m terrified of the confirmation of my own incompetence.

But you know what? Fuck that fear. It’s pride. I don’t want to see how lousy I can be. But trying will do nothing for my goals other than bring me closer to them. Maybe I still won’t reach them but what’s the harm in that if I wasn’t even going to try in the first place?

I want to shoot for the stars. Goddamit I really do. I always have. But I shy away from it because I’m a coward and I’m proud and yes, I’m really fucking lazy and I lack resilience and I lack willpower.

But I’m still here and I’m still dreaming … in the rare moments when I forget myself and let myself dream.

So today I make the resolve to stop letting realism dictate my actions. I’ve always been a rather practical realistic person. It’s always been about what is possible and what is probable and what I can expect. And I really thought, I’m just being realistic and that’s a good thing because it saves me from disappointment.

No, it doesn’t. Because I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed at how much I think I need to limit myself and at how much I let myself be limited.

I can be a bit of an all or nothing girl. So if I’m going to have a goal … I want to have confidence in it or I simply won’t do it. Because I don’t have confidence, I need something else to put all into … I need some other 100 percent. For me, that has to be determination. That means putting my all into it. I don’t want to put in all and receive nothing to show for it.

If I choose a smaller goal, I could put in all and be sure to receive something to show for it.

At the end of the day, we all have one life. We can choose how we spend it. And yet, I think that if we’re going to die anyway, maybe it doesn’t really matter so much if we don’t reap rewards.

I would rather risk it and know that I chanced that my all was enough.

braindead 

Im rather appalled when I think of it at how dead my brain has become

It feels like it’s been far too long since I’ve used it at all

I can feel it’s definitely worse for lack of use. It’s essentially like a muscle that needs to be worked or it gets weak

The other day I was having trouble getting my brain to absorb information from my psychology homework. But I decided that if I was going to procrastinate, I might as well procrastinate in a “productive” way. So I opened up my folder full of my novel drafts – finished and unfinished – and plans, with the goal of finding something to work on.

I was – and I can’t find a better word for this – rather amazed by what I’d done. Don’t get me wrong. My work is nothing to shout about and needs much improvement. But … I had written novels. I had written multiple novels. There were a lot of words and a lot of effort put into them.

I couldn’t imagine doing that now. I struggle to write a paragraph of fiction … how am I supposed to write 50,000 words? And yet I did it and I can only imagine the focus and determination that went into it.

I was inspired to brush up on my French language (pretty much non existent at this point) and I remembered how I passed three years worth of French … how I completed Duolingo and was attempting to read classic French stories like Sylvie.

I can introduce myself and order food now (badly). That’s about it. And every time I resolve to learn it for real this time, the resolve lasts a week at most.

I could go on with these examples … how I listen to my old songs from 2015 and haven’t written a full one for months … how I was learning the piano and reached Grade 3 and would sit there for hours learning new pop songs but I can barely muster up the effort to remember how to play my own songs now … how I used to write fricking English essays for fun and I haven’t put a word to my essay for my upcoming exam.

In short, I’ve stopped trying. I give up so so easily. At the slightest sign of difficulty, at the slightest blank of my mind, at the slightest suggestion that my brain will have to work, I run. I shut my laptop. I switch to facebook. I go to bed. I. Give. Up.

I’ve lost resilience and my brain is losing strength. I’m terrible at focusing. You don’t understand how huge the temptation is to switch the tab from this post and go to social media instead, or watch a video.

Yes, social media plays a huge part. I can’t deny it any longer. It does. I still can find a million ways to procrastinate without it … but it gets boring much faster. And there comes a point when my own thoughts interest me more than no thoughts at all … when working my brain becomes entertainment. But with social media, I am constantly entertained by a barrage of …. stuff … that I have little incentive to use any form of entertainment that would require effort. It’s too easy now.

That said, eventually social media too can become rather repetitive and I do feel the urge for something different. I long to stretch my brain … even as I panic because it’s hard and it makes my brain hurt.

Mostly, I need to learn to stop giving up and that’s more a case of willpower than anything else. It’s a mentality that if you start something, you goddamn finish it. No excuses. Because that’s how you progress.

Choosing a major

I’ve been very lost on what to choose as my uni major. Enrollment for next year opens November 1 and I’m still rather undecided. How does one choose a major? 

Right now, I’m going by several criteria. One, what job do I want after I graduate? Two, what subject do I enjoy? Three, what subject am I good at? 

Problem is, I’m finding it difficult to answer all three of these questions. 

I have little idea what I want to do after graduation. Right now, my ideas are to become a clinical psychologist, lecturer/researcher, or a teacher. But that in no way means I’m closed off to other career options. 

It’s tricky because at the moment, I’ve been feeling such a lack of passion and motivation for anything that most future jobs appeal to me almost equally. I’ve also not had experience with any career path other than retail (which I’d rather not spend my life doing) so apart from that, I’m clueless.

The same goes for enjoyment. I honestly don’t enjoy any subject right now so they’re all about equal for me. The only thing I have to go off on is what I used to enjoy (as I assume that when I’m able to get out of this funk, I will go back to enjoying the things I used to). But I used to have so many interests and passions that it’s not easy to choose just two (as double major is the most I can go with). 

So, what am I good at? That’s a nice, objective question, right? Not necessarily. When it comes down to it, I believe I can succeed at what I put my mind to. I think I have equal potential in both humanities/social sciences and mathematics/science/logic. I do realize I’m better at academic subjects than performing arts so I’ve decided to stick with something academic (I can always pursue performing arts outside of a university degree, which is probably a better idea in any case since performing arts at uni is not nearly as practical as I like). 

That said, there’s such a huge array of academic subjects to choose from. 

Right now, I’ve settled on psychology as one major because despite my mental funk I’m still pretty keen on doing clinical psych (yes, I know I need to sort out my own mental health before I can help other people with theirs … but I will do it. I believe in myself). But I do want a second major, especially because clinical psych is very competitive and I can’t be sure I’ll get in. 

Right now, the most viable option is probably English. I did it every year from primary to high school and it’s always been a strong suit and something I enjoyed (90 percent of the time). It’s also something I could probably get a teaching job in. 

However, it’s also not great on the job opportunities front.

I started this year with a computer science degree so I also have some of the prerequisites to double major in that along with psych. It complements psych well (especially in relation to cognitive neuroscience) and is great for job opportunities (that pay much better than English). And while I know that’s not the only thing you should consider in choosing a major, I also see the appeal of choosing a scientific subject and a scientific career, as opposed to a more creative career, which English would lead me toward. It’s nice to have a subject a little more clear cut than English. 

Yes, the ambiguity and subjectivity of English is one of the reasons I’ve always loved it … but it can also be exasperating! While computer science has plenty of room for creativity and ambiguity as well, it has a solid ground in science. 

And I do enjoy it … I enjoy the problem solving and the sense that it’s a puzzle. 

Then within English I also have two routes … literature or linguistics. I love literature because of my love for storytelling and abstract ideas. At the same time, linguistics is very interesting and complements psych well. I’ve always enjoyed the theory behind languages.

Another idea is to take the logic and computation major. This is a hybrid course combining philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics. It would be perfect for combining with neuroscience and cognitive science and I do find it incredibly interesting. I also like that it feels more rigorous than English. That’s not to say English is easy in any way but doing something like logic/comp would definitely stretch my mental capacity and problem solving skills. 

I could even study English as well, but I would take 4 years to finish my Bachelors, rather than 3 and given that I’m keen on postgrad, it would possibly take even five years.

I might prefer to simply go out into the world of work instead. 

It’s such a tough decision. At least I have my first major settled, but I’ll need to make my decision soon.

When it comes down to it, I’ll probably choose English because then I can graduate on time. I guess if I really want, I can do a post graduate degree to switch to computer science if I really want to. 

English was my heart’s subject and English kept me sane all throughout my life. Maybe it’ll keep me sane in university as well. 

forcing happiness

it often feels like i have to force myself to be happy 

and it’s not as bad as it sounds

it’s not quite the same as pretending to be happy 

it’s maybe more like convincing yourself that you are happy 

even when everything is painful, i think about all the things in my life I’m grateful for and i bring to mind every little thing that makes me smile 

i tell myself, no, I really AM happy and let a smile turn up the corners of my mouth 

even as i feel a heavy gray suffocating me, i smile and i say “im happy” and I try to remember what giddiness feels like 

and i feel thankful, for the life that I have, and the good people who have entered it, the opportunities I’ve been given, the talents I’ve been blessed with, and the home I’ve made for myself 

it may not be pure happiness but sometimes it feels a little like it 

and i make myself aware of the moment … aware of where I am. I describe myself to myself as if I’m not me … as if it’s a stranger … 

and then I am able to glimpse a view of myself and my life that is more than grey

i need this outer body context to lift me out of the gloom 

but do I feel like myself? Or is it more like watching a movie and losing yourself and your worries for a moment? 

but even that’s ok 

it may not be happiness but it’s enough 

blank 

i am blank inside and so is the world

i am numb

what is the point of anything we do? 

im a zombie walking around with no brain and no soul. i can’t feel anything 

Self care

I’ve been extremely unmotivated to study or create, as you will know if you’ve read my previous posts. People who know me all suggest it’s because of my break up and it’s possible because it is on my mind a lot and making it very hard for me to care about anything. I’m probably going to end up cramming for exams and not doing nearly as well as possible … but at this point I feel like I might be fine with that because I hardly care anymore. On top of that, I’ve been sick and riddled with infections and other fun stuff like that these past few days.

Even though I feel guilty for lying in bed pretty much all day and not doing any work, I feel like in some ways it’s justified because my body really needs to recover. 

Even if my studying takes a bit of a dive, I do have to remember to give attention to self care. It’s something I’ve neglected a little bit and am only just now taking better care of myself and it makes a huge difference. Hasn’t changed my lack of motivation, but at least I physically feel less shitty. 

That means, to begin with, GOING TO THE DOCTORS when you need to. Growing up, we pretty much never went to the doctor so it always makes me feel a bit strange and like it’s a waste of time to go but seriously it’s not! If you’re in pain or you don’t know what’s wrong with you, go to the frickin doctor. They will help you.

It also means taking time off work which I also am hesitant to do because I feel bad for not going into work. But sometimes your body just needs a rest. Could be your mental health, or could be physical. But I should stop being afraid to take time off.

Another sort of self care related thing is keeping my room tidy, doing laundry, washing and keeping the dishes, and things like that. This is because when everything is neat and in its proper place, I feel so much more relaxed. And it’s also nice to be able to grab a dish from the shelf when you’re hungry rather than find it in the sink under a pile of dirty dishes. Cleaning up as I cook is so much better even if I’m lazy to do it in the moment. 

Next, EATING HEALTHY. This is a huge one for me. I’ve been letting my diet go the past few weeks because I’ve not felt like eating home cooked food. I had no stomach for it, not to mention it takes time and effort. But it was mostly because I couldn’t stomach the idea. So I’ve been eating out a lot which is much more expensive. I tried to make some healthier choices, like going for pasta, salads, yoghurt, and sandwiches. But I also would typically get pies, polo buns, pastries, and basically either sugar filled stuff or something deep fried and filled with oil. It’s not that bad but when I had the day off and my cupboard was empty of anything but black tea and instant noodles, I decided I need to go buy some groceries. 

It’s so nice to be able to wake up and have food in my room. Previously, I would just reach for the instant noodles cuz it was nearby or I’d go out and buy something. But now I have fruits, yoghurt, bread, and eggs and the like in the house and it makes my body feel much better. For lunch and dinner I often slack because it’s easy to buy lunch since you’ll be out anyway and by the evening I’m tired to cook, but it’s worth it to make something simple when you have the energy. Doesn’t mean you can never eat out but remember your health because it’s so easy to forget! 

I’ve gotta to remember to drink water too and also remember that soft drinks and alcohol are not a good substitute.

Self care for me means the little things like putting on nail polish, makeup, oh also staying clean, like showering once you get home rather than collapsing straight into the bed. Sometimes you need to collapse onto the bed when you get back. Most of the time, you can get yourself ready and feel far more comfortable.

Shopping can be something of self care to me which I KNOW is terrible. I’m a psychology student and I have heard the arguments that say materialism stems from your psychological needs not being met. I know that they haven’t been met and I know I have mental health issues. I’ve been considering going to counseling but I always keep delaying it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m too busy? Maybe I’m just scared it won’t work or I won’t know what to say … who am I kidding though? I have plenty to say. 

I can’t talk about self care without talking about mental health. I don’t know how to take care of it other than say just try to always put yourself in situations that are positive for your mental health and take yourself away from negative situations as much as you can. Be around people with good vibes. Take care of your physical health and make your life and environment filled with the things you love. And maybe don’t be like me and actually go therapy if you need it?

Also, breathe fresh air and go outside sometimes.

I feel like everything I’ve said in this post has been painfully obvious and you’ve probably read it all before but maybe it’ll serve as a reminder to myself if I ever slack on self care.

Seriously, though, having food in the house is AMAZING 

soulmates

the moment when you’re in the thick of it, your mind tells you that you’ll never find anyone else …

that no one will ever love you as much …

that you will never love anyone as much …

but my logical brain has never believed in the idea of soulmates. i don’t believe that there’s only one person for you and that you both were made for each other or anything like that. maybe I’ll change my mind if I find someone who completes me like a soulmate would. but right now I believe that there are a lot of people who’ll be a good match for each other, and if they both love each other and choose to commit, then they’re set, even if they aren’t soulmates. and it means if you lose someone who was a great match for you … you can find someone else, who will be equally good or even better. I also believe that the choice to love and commit plays a huge role rather than some choice of fate. 

But while I believe there’s no such thing as a soulmate, I wonder if it is possible to love again 

Will I be able to love anyone else? 

I know that this is my brain being dramatic. I know that with time I will be able to.

But right now, it doesn’t feel that way

passion

ive been feeling such a lack of passion

Maybe feeling is the wrong word because it’s more like the opposite of feeling

I have always felt and I still feel this enormous pressure to do something great with my life. To make something great. To BE something great. Or all three.

It’s not even other people putting this pressure on me, although that could be part of it. Since I was young, people would comment on how smart I was and all I could accomplish academically in my life. They’d comment on my writing ability, say I was talented and could make something of that. I feel like people expect more from me.

But most of all, I do expect so much more from myself.

Or maybe not “expect”. Rather, I WANT so much more. I want to do great things. I need to do great things. I yearn for it.

I don’t understand where this compulsion comes from or why the idea of being normal and living a completely normal, unremarkable life is so deeply set as an image of a failure in me.

I wouldn’t look down on anyone else who led a completely normal life but for myself? Sometimes I actually envy people who can just be happy without feeling like they must be great, because that would be such a relief off my back if I could only do the same. But I can’t because I always feel like I’ve fallen short in that case.

I was telling my friend about this tendency and she said that that doesn’t have to be a bad thing and that I shouldn’t give up on having big dreams because not everyone has this urge to be great and I could make something of it. I like her spin on it.

But my problem is that I feel like I don’t have it in me to be great, even whilst I feel like I must be.

I don’t feel like I have a natural talent at anything. I know people will say talent is overrated … but you can’t deny that it’s still part of what makes you great and while I suppose you may not need to be extremely talented you first need at least a little talent in your field and it also makes it a whole lot easier to become great.

The other aspect is hard work. They say it can make up for talent. I often feel disheartened because I will have to begin training almost from ground zero now, at 19, while there are people who have been practicing and putting in that hard work since very young. How do you compete with that?

I know full well that I don’t put enough work into whatever field it is I’m working at at the time. I simply don’t have the motivation to do it and that’s what this whole problem ultimately comes down to. I don’t want it enough … don’t want to be great enough … not enough to put in the work that’s actually needed to accomplish that.

I want to be great but I don’t want to put in the work.

Or maybe I want to want to be great.

Or I don’t want to want to be great because it kills me how much I fail at it and how it almost feels like I can’t make myself succeed … like trying is merely a constant war with myself.

I sometimes wish that I could just be a normal girl. Sometimes I think maybe that’s what I want above all. I want to have as much fun as I can … just fun, nothing else, and I’ll just do the bare minimum of work that I need to so I can have fun. That’s what so many people have done before me and will continue to do. I want to have a normal job and then go shopping, eat out with my friends, watch movies, binge TV, go on dates, sleep in … all those completely ordinary things that just bring immediate gratification to yourself.

Yet, will I be able to say I will truly feel fulfilled within that lifestyle?

I just know that I won’t. That I will feel like a failure, that I will feel like I’ve stopped short, that I will feel like I’m letting myself down, and that I will feel incomplete.

I want to do something more but I lack passion.

I think ultimately I don’t have to be great. That’s not what I’m looking for. But I am looking to leave a legacy. I want to make a mark. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to appreciate what I have to offer. But as long as I can leave something that someone can find beauty or meaning or worth in, then I can feel like I’ve done something more.

But I suppose I do still get the kind of feeling that a legacy can’t just be little old me. My legacy has to be the best that I have to offer. I want it to be all of me and at its finest.

But I sure don’t feel anywhere near my finest in terms of my skill and my mental capacity … not at this moment. And I just can’t be bothered to do it either.