Friday, February 6, 2015

Mid-Quarter Evaluation

Another long week, but I think the next one may be calmer. Once again I arrive at the end of the week exhausted. Still trying to figure out that work-life balance.

Since I wrote on Tuesday about how I've been feeling undirected, and since Winter Quarter week five is the middle of my freshman year, I want to take today to evaluate how I'm doing on my goals for this quarter and where I want to go in the rest of the year.

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These were the goals I laid out in my first post of 2015 on what I want to get done:

Shortest Term: Winter Quarter 2015 (3 months -- age 18)
  • master/deeply grok course material
  • actively pursue summer work opportunities
  • read/write/exercise more than last quarter
  • build useful skills (e.g. speaking, coding)

Short Term: rest of freshman year (9 months, to Autumn Quarter 2015 -- age 19)

  • master/deeply grok course material
  • learn German well
  • apply to and get into Berlin study abroad program
  • work over the summer at a job that challenges and interests me
  • continue building good habits and skills
  • finish writing Ubermadchen or at least get close

How am I doing?

Academically, things are going reasonably well--I did better on my first midterms of the quarter than I had expected, and even though I'm somewhat behind on the latest essay it's an interesting topic and I will be able to spend more time on it this weekend.

In terms of work, I've gotten rejected from a few opportunities now, but some doors are still open and I'm just trying my best. Something will work out. So I say, and try to say with confidence, but still I worry and still I feel job anxiety. There's a lot of pressure here to line up something awesome for the summer. My roommate is going to Los Alamos; another friend has one offer from the firm that hired him last year and another in his hometown. Of course, I know seniors who are looking for jobs so I shouldn't complain.

Reading is at a standstill, unless you count reading for class.

Writing is progressing very slowly. The past two weeks have been particularly bad for it but weekends can be productive. The Ubermadchen are finally out of Innsbruck, which took way longer than I had expected it to take. I still need to think through the next section before writing it, and I've altogether neglected the Josefina storyline since I was mostly writing that one by hand. But I can get some thought time in, and I know that it is better to spend some more time on the front end thinking things out so that the writing itself goes smoother. Am I on track to finish Ubermadchen by the end of freshman year? I have four months to cover a lot of story material, so I am not sure. But I will do my best.

Building useful skills is actually going all right. I'm starting to learn how to work with Arduinos and doing some Python on the side, and next quarter I will take my first CS class (CS106B). As for speaking--well, I haven't done anything on that front, but one of my classes is heavily discussion-based and I'm trying to make my points better there, just getting practice.

German learning right now consists of yet another Rammstein revival (listening to the Reise Reise album got me through last week, with all of its angst) and Duolingo when I remember. Next quarter I will take beginning German, and am looking forward to it immensely. The Berlin application has not come out yet, but I should still start thinking about it.

I'm going to add another goal: declare my major by the end of freshman year, by the end of this quarter if I can swing it. I know that civil engineering is what I want to do; all I have to do now is talk to professors and find one willing to be my advisor. When I think about civil I am happier.

Also, I have facetiously stated that I'd like to minor in electrical engineering, so that I can combine all my interests and be C-quadruple E: Civil, Environmental, Energy, and Electrical Engineering. EE is super interesting, but Civil is where I want to be.

My problem right now is that I'm doing a lot of stuff so I find myself cutting corners or putting things off. I find myself finishing problem sets the night before they are due, which means that I'm on time but it feels like I'm late. I'm going to try this weekend to do all of my assignments for next week, because during the week I have very little time for homework.

Here are some super-short-term goals, then. This weekend, I will finish:
  • Solid draft of my paper on the archaeology of ecocide
  • Physics pset (online and paper)
  • ODEs pset (MATLAB parts)
  • Readings for Environmental Literacy
  • Plan out the next segment of Ubermadchen

Weekends are for work. But that's okay. I'm in college, and I haven't figured out the best way to do things, and I will feel miserable at times. But that's okay, because I'm learning.

Have a good weekend.

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