Finals... or Beaverfest?

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Sure, I have to take five finals next week, three of which are on Monday, but I need to have some fun too, you know? Beaverfest, our annual week of activities right before finals, is this week and there's been so much to do every week. I want to get involved with every activity we have had on campus, but I've been so busy studying and doing final projects that I missed a bunch of them.

Today, I already missed the giant inflatables that they had in gym, so I'll have to be sure to go to the free bowling that they have over at the bowling alley tonight. It's tough being so busy right now; it's starting to stress me out a little bit. I can't wait for next week when they have kite flying and free massages... that should be relaxing enough.

Well, looks like it's time for me to get back to studying.

Catching Up at the End of the Semester

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The semester is drawing to a close! We have four days of class left (including today), followed by a week of finals (which means three finals Monday, one Wednesday, and one Thursday for me). I really can't believe that I'm almost done with my first year of college. It seems like I'm on course to finish out the year with a GPA of at 3.0, so I'm pretty happy about that too. Now, I just have to play catch-up.

I feel like I'm usually better at time management than most people, as I'm able to maintain 20-something credits worth of classes, work 10 to 15 hours a week, and still have plenty of free time, but my backlog of work for the semester has started to catch up with me. Like most people, I have the occasional week where I'm so overloaded with work that I start to build a backlog of things that "I'll take care of tomorrow." I've been able to manage my time pretty well, so my backlog mostly consists of some physics lab reports, and some homework assignments for physics, chemistry, and calculus that I don't have to do until finals week. There's also some final projects that I have to do, like my final computer science project and a paper analyzing two languages for my linguistics class.

The good news is, I've decided to get through the work as soon as possible, instead of putting it off until the last minute, and I'm making good progress. I only have two physics lab reports left, one of which is very, very short, I've finished my final computer science project, and I have all of the research done for my linguistics paper. Now, I'll have the rest of the week free to do regular homework and study for all of my finals. It was a little stressful to have a backlog of work following me all semester, but I've finally cut through it and it feels good.

Unfortunately, No Chicago for Me

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As I mentioned in my post about the New York City trip, I was signed up and ready to go on the school-sponsored trip to Chicago this past Saturday, but unfortunately, I started to feel awful a few hours before we were scheduled to leave, and decided to sit the trip out. I felt fine all day Saturday, but I'm not sure that I would have survived the eight-hour bus ride Friday night. It could have possibly had something to do with the two onion-covered Big Macs I had right before we were supposed to leave (I'm allergic to onions), but I guess we'll never know.

Anyway, since I promised some Chicago pictures this week, I've decided to Photoshop my Facebook profile picture into some of my friend's Chicago pictures.

Here I am on a street!

Chicago 1

Now, I'm checking out some big shiny thing!

Chicago 2

I'm on a bridge thing! And there's the city!

Chicago 3

Penguins!

Chicago 4

See, it's almost like I was there!

New York City!

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I'm on Top of the World!
Last Saturday, we went on a trip to New York City sponsored by the Business Club, and let me tell you, it was worth it. It was just a great opportunity that I definitely could not pass up. For just $20, we were taken to New York City by a charter bus and dropped off at about 9 o'clock in the morning. Told that we could go roam the city and do whatever, sFreedom Tower, as Seen from the 9/11 Memorialo long as we were back by 10pm, we knew that we were going to have a fun day ahead of us.

First, we knew that we had to go see the 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers once stood. Although we were originally told that we would not be able to go because we were such a large group, we were able to split off and get tickets on our own. After we found out where exactly to get tickets, we only got lost two or three times trying to get to the tickets and get back; I think that that's pretty good for first-time New Yorkers!
9/11 Memorial
Anyway, once we got into the 9/11 memorial--but not before going through airport-like security first--I was stunned with amazement. Before us were two massive square in the ground with water pouring down the sides and into a massive hole in the ground that you couldn't even see the bottom of. The Freedom Tower, making good progress in its construction, towered above us as we wandered the memorial. It's really weird to think that a decade ago, this was the site of two massive towers that had been reduced to piles of rubble. Now, it's a very nice memorial with mesmerizing pools and manicured lawns.

We spent a good while at the 9/11 memorial before we decided to move on and see some more sights. We decided to pick a direction and just start walking. We walked a couple dozen city blocks, stopping at random stores like the Beats store and the Apple store along the way, before we finally got tired of walking and decided it was time to venture down in tTimes Squareo the subway. We had a game plan of what we wanted to do that day, so we checked out a subway map to figure out how to get to Times Square. Figuring out the map actually wasn't too bad, and all day we got where we wanted to go without any mistakes along the way. After a short subway ride uptown, we finally got to the Times Square station and went to check it out. It was just as crazy as it looks in television shows, movies, and pictures. Times Square was huge and it was packed with people. We had to weave our way through the crowds to get anywhere.

We stopped at a fewGodzilla, as Interpretted by Corey stores--including at the biggest Toys 'R' Us that I have ever seen--and did some shopping before we decided that it was time to stop for food. We found this tiny little deli that served me one of the best tuna salad sandwiches I have ever had. We hung out there to recoup, as we were all very tired already from walking block after block on that very warm day.

After eating and relaxing for awhile, we decided that it was time to move on to other things. We started to make our way farther north, heading toward the Empire State Building. We stopped at a bunch of stores along the way, of course, checking out all of the shopping that New York had to offer. Once we finally made it to the Empire State Building, it was a short wait before we were finally on our way to the top. The view from the top was breathtaking. From the ground, the Empire State Building doesn't look that tall. Once you are at the top, you can't believe how high up you are. Looking down on the city from that height is amazing, and I am so glad we took the time to head up theTop of the Empire State Buildingre. We spent a solid hour up there, just relaxing and taking in the sights.

The rest of the day went by pretty quickly. We headed to the tip of Manhattan to look at the Statue of Liberty from afar, we headed back to Times Square for some great New York pizza--the greasier the better--and we walked around the biggest Macy's in the world (although we mainly went in there to look for a bathroom).

All in all, I think it was a great trip and I would love to see the city again. I just can't wait for this Saturday when I go on the trip to Chicago that's sponsored by Student Activities.

Triple Major? Triple Major.

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I've always gotten weird looks when I mention that I am a double engineering major. People hear that and think I'm insane; they act like it's the hardest thing in the world. If you really think about it, it's not that difficult. Sure, it's not easy, but a single engineering major isn't easy, either. An engineering major requires you to take about 130 credits of courses. For almost every major, 60-70 of those are general education credits. That's 70 credits left that are major-specific. Engineering majors, however, have a lot in common with one another, like math classes, electives, etc. So let's say that that knocks out another 25 credits. Now, you're left with 45 credits to take that are specific to each major.

If you take one spring and one fall semester every year for four years, you have eight semesters to get everything out of the way. If you take eight semesters to complete a 134 credits major, that's about 16.75 credits per semester. Now we can do the math: if you take the number of credits needed for one major, let's say 130 credits, then you add the major-specific courses from the other major, let's say 45 credits, we end up with 175 credits. If you take eight semesters, that's 21.8 credits per semester. Pretty heavy, but it's doable. If you come in with courses from high school, you've already knocked out a lot (twenty-some in my case).

Well, I just picked up a third major. I think I'm going to be getting some crazy looks now. It's computational cognitive linguistics through Penn State's Bachelor of Philosophy Program, so it's like a very focused, more intensive version of psychology with some computer science thrown in there. Think Google's search engine algorithm. It's really not as bad as it sounds. Not only does it have some overlap with computer science (one of my two engineering majors), but I've already taken the general education credits I need for it, and I have a lot of intro classes under my belt from high school. It will probably only add about 40 or so credits to my current workload, so it's nothing too bad. I would do the credits/semester math, but frankly, it kind of scares me.

The key here is to use all of the resources that you have at your disposal. I'm going to be taking online courses at CCAC this summer to get my last few general education classes completed, as well as to take some more 200-level psych courses. If I don't feel that the course load is too heavy, I "overload" my schedule (which means taking more than 18 credits at a time). I'm fully prepared to do summer semesters as needed to get courses out of the way. If you want to do something, everyone will be here to help you. I was in meetings for five or six hours last week with advisors and other faculty, trying to get everything figured out for the next three years; if you ask for help, it will be provided to you.

Time Management isn't Always Easy

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Time management is something that I've always been good at, which is great because the ability to balance work, school, and free time is an essential skill. This semester, my ability hasn't been able to quite keep up with all the work I do, however. See, the problem is that I like to be "overworked." I'm a chemical engineering and computer science dual major with a minor in linguistics. When I tell people that, half of the time I get looked at like I'm insane for taking on so many different things, but really, I love that massive amount of work.

Keeping up in all of these things isn't exactly easy though, and both semesters I have had to "overload" my schedule. Last semester, I took 20 credits, two more than the recommended maximum, and worked about 8 hours a week as a chemistry lab tech. This semester, I'm taking 22 credits and working 12-15 hours a week as a peer tutor. Because I failed to account for all of the school work that I need to do, I've had to play catch-up all semester. I spend one week focusing on my Chem II class, for example, and now I'm a week behind in my other classes. Then I spend the next week playing catch-up to get ready for a Calc II test I have that week, and I'm stuck two weeks behind in all of the other classes. It's a vicious cycle that has been happening all this semester.

But after tomorrow, all of this should change. I've dedicated my entire week to catching up on my physics homework for my test at 10am. After I take that test, and hopefully, I will do well since I put in so much time studying, I'll be caught up in all my classes and will be able to focus on all of them equally throughout the semester.

Time management is critical in college. It's always important to make time for each class equally every way, and to stay caught up in your work, lest your fall behind. From this point on, I'm going to do what I did last semester and lay out how much I'm going to study and do homework for each class when each week. This will enable me to make sure I'm caught up on all of my assignments for every class, and I shouldn't fall behind for the rest of the semester.

So what's the lesson to learn here? Time management is critical. If you don't know what you have to do by when, it will be impossible to keep up.

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