Tag Archives: Education

So, what’s a nerd to do over the summer?

I’ll admit it, I’m returning to my old nerd ways. You know, that kid who was always done her work first, or never missed a homework assignment? That was me.

This past year out of school has left me a little bit lost. Sure, I loved when friends would complain about their exams and I didn’t have to worry about studying. But, deep down, I kind of missed going to school and taking notes and the smell of a new batch of school supplies.

Nothing better than some perfectly sharpened pencils, right? Right?!

I’ve always wanted to learn how to code properly. I know basic HTML from when I fiddled around with coding petpages for my neopets account as an 11 year old. Don’t even judge, I won so many beauty contest trophies for my neopets on that site.

That’s right.

Imagine my excitement when I discovered coursera.org. They have free online courses from excellent American universities! What? This has to be a joke, right?

It’s not, and they’ve got a pretty wide selection of courses. No languages, though. My French grammar will have to wait a little while longer.

So far, I’ve finished the first three weeks of the Computer Science 101 course. Every little video I watch I just sit there with a face like “O_O.” All of these things I didn’t know! Codecadamy.com didn’t work for me, since I had a really hard time following along with the written explanations. In contrast, the videos on Coursera are actually recorded little mini-lectures (at least in the case of Computer Science, I think some other courses have 70 or 80 minute lecture videos), with a small video in the corner of the professor speaking. The majority of the screen is a lecture document (notes, really) that the professor teaches which, and you can easily hit a button at the bottom to pause the video and switch to the lecture notes so you can review anything that was skipped over, or try out some code in the case of computer science.

It’s mostly basic coding (not in any particular language, exactly, just getting used to the idea of syntax and variables and whatnot) and technical explanations of hardware, networks, software, etc. There were a lot of  “OOOH, so that’s how it works!” moments.

A self portrait.

If you’re curious, go have a look. You can still get in on the CS 101 course, although on a lot of your exercises will lose marks for being late (which really doesn’t matter if you’re just doing it for fun). It’s really less than an hour of video a week, and a 10 minute exercise for each one.

And then maybe this will start your career and you can eventually code something awesome (like an app!) and rule the world! Or you can just find solace in the fact that you know the jist of what is happening when your computer saves something to your hard drive. Either one.

Saving the world one Instagrammed photo of a squirrel at a time.

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A Lucky Break: University Admissions Edition

As some of you may know, I am a transfer student. I do not recommend this to anyone, because transferring universities in Ontario sucks. Everything is geared towards high school students, including scholarships, time lines, acceptance averages, etc. Luckily, I was accepted by the school I set my hopes on, which was a life saver because I really did not want to have to go and spend a few thousand dollars to re-take and upgrade my university marks.

My problem was that I did one year in a university nursing program. Didn’t like it, wasn’t for me. I wish I did, considering the starting salaries of RNs in this province, but what can you do? I took a year off to figure out what to do and to stop wasting money at the rate of 7 grand a year.

I knew that I was going to have to sacrifice a fair chunk of cash to change schools and programs, since I figured my specific nursing courses wouldn’t transfer. Why would they? Does learning how to give someone a bed bath with a soapy wash cloth translate into skills I’d need in political science? (Insert joke here.)

Today I logged into the little “applicants file” thing my new university has set up, where we can monitor our applications and make advising appointments and all those helpful things. Underneath the word “admitted” (which I had originally bawled over upon finding. Go me.) there was a new “transfer credit” link. I clicked it. This is what I found:

Oh mon dieu (this is a bilingual university I will be attending, after all), is that 39 credits? 39? That’s more than a year (I think)! Granted, in nursing we took 7 classes per semester instead of the standard 5, so I see how this is possible. Either way, this is beautiful! My first year has not completely gone to waste! Take that, other university liaisons who said I’d have to start from scratch! My parents will not behead me after all! Exclamation points everywhere!

I have no idea what this will mean in regards to the amount of freedom I will have in choosing my classes, but we’ll deal with that later.

Sometimes this is all it takes to make my day.

[Note of weirdness: Last year a different university offered me a full year transfer and a $4000 bursary. I applied this year again to the same program, with the same marks, and only received an offer of half a year transfer and no bursary! What in the world?]

Boring Journal-Like Post. Move Along Now.

I don’t think I will ever be able to write interesting posts that simply summarize my days. But, hey, I have absolutely nothing going on at the moment, so leaving the house is an event. And you shall hear about this event!

It has been 9 days since I’ve worked last. A horrible dream the other night chased away all leftover nostalgia for my previous job. There were line-ups, the labels weren’t scanning, the computer crashed, the discounts weren’t coming up, and there was no other cashier to help me out. This wasn’t even a hyperbole, this stuff happened every day. Au revoir, any fleeting good-feelings I have thinking about my job.

It’s been rough, having nothing to do. Dragging myself out of bed before noon today to go sign up for yoga was hard enough. Hopefully I shall fall back into super-fit Michelle mode, circa 9th grade when I was kickboxing, yoga-ing, playing soccer, and eating like Jenny Craig. (Maybe I shall change that horrible simile later. She’s not even a real person, is she?) At the very least, it will have me leave the house weekly. Go yoga!

In a few days, I’ll be heading up to Quebec to visit a certain university that I’ve been accepted to. It’s an 8 hour drive, but only 2 hours from Montreal so my mom can re-live her Expo ’67 days and tour the city.
I can practice my French, (although I’ll most likely freak out and mumble in English instead), since the city the school is in is 98% French-ONLY. Terrified? Yes. Excited? Double yes.

One of my top-choices is reminding me a lot of my previous university. Everyone is telling me different things, their administration is a mess and unreasonably slow, and I’m left waiting until April for a response (apparently?). I hope it works itself out.

Well, if you have suffered through this useless post, I thank you. Good day.

Perfectionism at its Finest

A short post. No time for screwing around trying to write jokes!

It’s that time. It’s time to get all of my school things sorted out and to choose which programs to apply to. Applying as a transfer student is infinitely more labour-intensive than a high school student…and way more expensive. All you do when you’re in high school is sign onto OUAC with the code your school gives you, click on some programs to apply to, and pay the $175. All of the transcripts are sent for you, no supplementary info is required. Smooth sailing.

As a transfer student, I was looking at $600 bucks to apply to 5 programs at 5 different schools. Six. Hundred. Dollars.
I guess I’ve got to kick some schools off my list. There are these horrible things called “supplementary fees” which every school tacks on. I don’t understand why it has to cost so much, but I suppose I have no choice.

My top choice school is requesting for me to send them a letter and/or résumé “outlining your activities since completing your studies.”

I’ve been scribbling stuff down, crossing them out, and re-writing them for a few days now.

How do I do this? Do I go for the modest approach? Do I relate my year-off activities to why the school would be a great fit? (Like keeping up with my French via Assimil and the school being a bilingual school…) I mean, there are so many rules and guides for cover letters….but I haven’t found any for this.

I guess I’ll just have to write what I feel is best. Oh god. It’s probably not even that big of a deal…but…what if it is.

I’m just freaking my self out. This whole process is do-or-die. Don’t get in? What the hell do I do next? Take another year off? Settle for college? Find some rich guy to marry?

Has anyone been through this or had to write a similar letter? I would appreciate some guidance…and perhaps some sleeping pills and/or booze. This is getting too stressful.

Midterms? Oh, I Remember Those.

I have spent the majority of my life in school. The last 4 years have gotten me used to constantly being under stress to finish some assignment or another, especially around this time in the year.

Of course, there’s the momentary “haha, sucks to be you” feeling you get when your friends complain about tests and labs. Hey, I’m going out to the bar this Friday whether you have an exam or not, kids! I may not have anyone to go with, but that doesn’t matter. Shush.

I have no labs, no lectures, no classes. No group projects. No group projects? No group projects! Oh god, do I ever hate group projects. It makes it worse when you attend a commuter school and every single person seems to be live in a different corner of the city and they each have no transportation, sense of direction, or free time.

Instead of spending all night with a cup of overly-sugared homemade coffee and a 40 pound textbook, preparing for a sure-fail exam the next day, I sit and do nothing. I’ve just picked up some library books, but they don’t count. I’m reading Tina Fey‘s biography, for Christ’s sake, not Moby Dick.

Occasionally, I do some online shopping and then never actually order the 4 cardigans. Or, I’ll write a punch of bad blog post drafts. More often than not, I do nothing. Nothing.

I work. I stand there, put on a big fake smile, and try not to rip open the next spray bottle of End-All that comes through so I can chug it all and get the hell out of there. Sometimes I sweep. Actually, I sweep a lot. I find myself just walking around with a dustpan and broom even though everything has been swept, just to look busy. There isn’t much to do except sweep and try to look like I’m not wasting time by memorizing codes for straw bales and pie pumpkins. I’ve taken up pacing, actually. A lot of pacing. If I am wearing pants with decent pockets*, I’ll print out some receipt paper and scribble down ideas for posts, drawings, random funny thoughts, etc.

*decent pockets=no secret notes falling into the hands of the wrong people. I remember the day I found a hand-written poem about god knows what sitting under the keyboard. I laughed for days (although I never found out who it was who wrote it.)

Each day, there is no coming home with new knowledge. Except for the occasional fact about Japanese Anenomes I happen to pick up while relaying an answer to a guest, I don’t learn much. There aren’t any challenging tasks presented, I don’t accomplish anything new. I am just there to keep the equilibrium going, not to improve anything.

So, here we go. I’ll say it. I miss school. I miss learning. I miss writing essays and lectures and all that fun stuff. At least I knew I was doing something to improve my life every time I stepped into a class room. I was chipping away at a degree, every word I wrote on an essay.

Instead, my next assignment will be creating a detailed budget for the UK. I’m looking at hostels and train fares and visas transportation and whatnot. I’m trying to get it all together, and it seems like a lot! So look at that, kiddies, I do have a project to work on. And I guarantee the outcome of mine will be much more exciting then whatever project you’re working on. Hah.

I also have to work out which programs I’m applying to. I have a grip on this, finally! And York University’s Glendon College is beautiful…

I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing. “Damn, I wish I only had to go to work and I was actually making money.” At least your education will hopefully mean your job doesn’t suck as much as mine!

Perspective is a funny thing.

I Never Thought I’d Relate to George Costanza

If you didn’t grow up watching Seinfeld reruns, then this might go a little over your head. I apologize, and I recommend you take the time to fully appreciate the peak of 90s sitcoms (and Jerry Seinfeld’s hair).

Remember this scene? George, having lost another job, is trying to figure out his next move. He sits down with Jerry, who takes pity and suggests new careers. The whole sequence is hilariously sad, but something most of us can probably relate to at one point or another.

After I quit nursing school, there was a period of a few months where almost every career seemed like an option (aside from engineering and nursing, of course).
Trying to narrow down my interests was next to impossible.

I think I’m a little past this, now. I know what I don’t want in a career, and most of these revelations have come from my soul-crushing current job.

I’m even highlighting majors in university books I’d like to take. Majors! I’m slowly narrowing it down.

And I have to say, I’m kind of proud of myself.

(Anything but geriatrics, anything, I tell you!)

 

The Perils of Being 19

Oh, 19. It’s the age where half the older people you meet say, “I wish I was 19 again,” and the other half scoff and walk away, brushing off any attempt you’ve made at making a mature comment or suggestion.

First things first, I can drink in all of Canada. (Well, I could drink in Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta since I was 18.) This isn’t really that awesome considering most European countries are more relaxed about their ages, but at least I’m not living in America!

Sucks for you guys.

I mean, just look at our classy booze stores.

But, then again, you guys can buy whiskey at your local Wal-Mart. I do envy that. Occasionally, fancy grocery stores will have those little wine booths on your way out, completely separate from the store, but that’s it. Apparently the government thinks people don’t drink and drive on wine. (That is the main reason we can’t sell it in gas stations and big box stores, right?)

Enough about the alcohol. (I’m 19, cut me some slack!)

It’s just such an awkward age. You can’t call yourself a “20-something,” yet referring to yourself as a “teenager” just seems weird. Teenagers, in my books, usually don’t have massive debt, to start. (Student loans are crazy, although not as crazy as the states. Sorry, guys. We win this one, too.) Teenagers usually don’t live by themselves with roommates…
It just seems like being in college as a “teenager” is the wrong choice of words.

People just assume you’re a student, too. Customers always make that awkward small talk:

“So, you go to school, right?”
“Uh…yeah…I just have the day off class….”

I lie to save face. These are people who are obviously asking that first question because, to them, working retail is the absolute worst fate any young adult could ever succumb to. They must be trying to work their way out of it, right?
I also lie because “Well, I did a year at this university but it wasn’t really at this university and I really did not like the school or the program so now I’m taking a year off to save up money I lost on that first year and figure out where I want to go next” is a lot to spit out.

In the second decade of your life, ages 10-19, it’s pretty straightforward. If you live in a Western country (probably similar to most countries, but I’d rather not assume what I don’t know), it can be expected you’ll finish elementary school, then high school, and then go to some sort of college or university. Aside from dropping out of high school, or choosing the wrong major the first year and screwing everything up *cough*, it’s hard to veer off course. That’s really all you have to do to be successful at that age.

Between the ages of 20 and 29, however, you can really fuck it all up or make it work. You can drop out of school and work at Pizza Pizza forever. You can get married and have kids. You can get hired at a giant company and start climbing the corporate ladder. You can move out and buy a house or you can still live with your parents.
There’s just so much uncertainty, and what seems like so many ways to fail, in the next decade.

I’m sure I’ll come to terms with it.

Every year, when I turn a new age, I think “Holy shit on my next birthday I’ll be 17/18/19/20. Shit, that’s old. My god.”
But, by the time my next birthday rolls around, I’m ready to move on. It’s weird how that works.