Friday, 28 September 2012

*twitch*

Physics is the only class I do not have perfect marks in. Hell, I even have better than perfect in Biology as I got 110% on my last quiz thanks to getting all the bonus points.

I have answered every in-class question in physics correctly. When we work examples, I am one of the first t have my hand up with the answer. I am contributing meaningfully to in-class discussions, and the prof has praised my understanding.

So, the one stupid brainfart moment on my first physics lab that cost me 4/20 points, fine. I can cope with that.

But, losing five points (OUT OF TEN!) on my most recent quiz is completely unacceptable.

I understood exactly what I was doing when I did the quiz. It made perfect sense. It was only slightly different from several of the questions we did for homework (and I do all of them, plus extra.) I actually explained it to several other students who were having difficulty, and two of them have perfect marks on this quiz.


I won't get the actual quiz back until Monday. But now my confidence is shaken. Physics is actually one of my favourite subjects. It makes sense to me. I know how to do it.

So how could I get such a terrible mark?

Ugh. I was planning to take tonight off, but I'm hitting the books again. Over and over and over until I do not make any mistakes.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Everything I'd Hoped

I am thriving. 

The past few years - particularly the last two - have been extremely hard for me. I am someone who craves constant mental stimulation. As much as I love my children, being a stay at home mom is not something I am terribly good at. I was constantly in a rut. 

Even before that, working at call centres and in fast food- wherever I could get a job and pay the bills - just did nothing for me. The drudgery of it left me constantly drained, depressed, and resentful. 

That is why I was so excited to return to school, I thought it would give me the stimulation I was craving. And it has. 

After bio lecture yesterday, I spoke with my prof and brought up some research I'd read that was related to the lecture topic. We ended up talking for quite a while about it. 

After physics today, I brought up some differences in notation between what the book uses and how I have done it in the past. The prof praised my concise and clear notation, and said it was something he disliked about the book we were using. 

I'm back. This is who I am, the scholar. 

So far, I have only had one thing handed back - amongst the many assignments and quizzes and in-class response device questions - that I did not have perfect marks on, and it was only one multiple choice question I got wrong. 

My first midterm is on Monday. I have another next Friday, another the Friday after, and two the following week. My bio class has two midterms, the second being at the end of October. 

I am loving this. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Happy Floaty Days

Three weeks in, and I absolutely love school. That's not to say it is all easy - I can feel the rust falling off the cogs and gears of my brain as I ramp back up to full speed thought - but it is fun.

I'm so very much in love with the subject matter that studying is a hobby, not a chore. This is, largely, stuff I already know, but it's like going back and reading an old favourite book all over again. You see more in it than you did the first time.

That said, I've decided that one of my books is far more dry than Campbell Biology ever could be; the second edition of Physics for the Life Sciences. It is boring, just right out boring to read. I love physics, but I hate this book. Fortunately I can work out most things myself, but I still read the book to make sure I don't miss anything, and to do the problems.

Honestly I haven't found anything particularly difficult at this point material-wise, it's just getting into the routine of everything has taken some adjustment but we're doing okay.

I had my first <100% grade on Monday. On my physics labs, one question (a multiple choice question in this case) counts for 20% of our mark. It was worded poorly, I answered it wrong, and lost that 20%. It is annoying me to death. Everything else I have had marked - including many quizzes - has been 100%.

So I'm off to a really good start, at least. One 80% mark in one class I can overcome easily.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Intended Consequences


I am trying to reduce the number of meds I take. There is some evidence that shows PCOS can often be greatly helped by losing weight, 10% or more of body weight, so I'd like to see if my symptoms improve which could allow me to drop two meds. 

Ten percent? Psh. I can lose that from a stressful month. I'm going for 30%. 

So far, so good. I have lost 13% of that in 16 days. As my weight loss will plateau sometimes and slow down occasionally, my overall goal is to reach my goal weight by the end of the school year. I know I can do it because I have done it before.

Quite honestly, the absence of depression has unlocked - and I realize this sounds horribly cheesy - the 'real' me. I am actually quite a high energy person. I hate to sit still. But when I am depressed, it feels like moving mountains just to get out of bed. Now that isn't much of an issue at all. I'm more focused, less distractible. 

And, hey, most antidepressants make you gain weight. The fact that I'm doing the opposite is pretty awesome. 

So I'm patting myself on the back a little this weekend, and I am sitting in my recliner for the first time in two and a half weeks (seriously) after my kids and I had a half hour dance party in the kitchen before lunch. 

Things are good. Really good. I'll see how I mentally handle midterms now. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Gulp

My first midterm, in Biology, is a week from Monday. It's only on two chapters, so it can't be that bad... (watch me return here and bang my head against the desk for saying that.) Bio will have two midterms, the second being on my daughter's birthday.

I also have an in-class test on Monday, and a Spanish midterm at some unspecified date.

We are, most wonderfully, given a four day weekend in October for Thanksgiving. Awesome.

Except my chemistry midterm is the day we come back. Joy.

It feels odd to already know when most of my midterms are, and to see them approaching rapidly on the horizon. I'm studying like mad, which is why there have been fewer posts, but the fact that I am not panicking is, itself, making me panic a bit.

Why am I not worried? Is this excellent metacognition, or extremely poor metacognition?

Only time will tell. It could have to do with the fact that I'm on a medication that has finally - after years of attempting meds - leveled me out. I'm not racing willy nilly around, my brain is firmly in place and doing what I tell it to do. For the first time in many years, I actually feel completely normal; the cloud of depression has been shot to hell.

Only problem is I may be allergic to it. The hives are getting to be annoying. I'm just not sure if the hives are linked to the medication, or my labs, as they seem particularly bad on lab days, after I've been in the lab.

Guess I'll see over the weekend.

Well, it happened.

I slept through my alarm.

It's set to wake me at 7:00am. Given that the kids have a mild cold, as do I, we all slept right on through it. When I woke up, I thought it was earlier. Nope.

7:23.

Crap.

Shoved a nutrigrain bar and a cheese stick into my kid's hands, had him munch on those while I pulled his clothes on. My poor daughter, I don't think she even realized I was dressing her because it was over so fast.

Boots on, raincoats on, out the door, just in time for the bus.

Then I was bustling towards the car, pulling on my coat with one arm while I buckled my daughter in with the other, trying to make up for the lost time.

At that very second - half into the car, toddler half strapped in, coat askew, - I realized my first class for today was cancelled. I didn't need to be at school until 10:30.

So I went inside and made coffee. Despite the extra bit of sleep, I was curiously not feeling at all rested.

Wonder why....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

White Board

I have a big whiteboard on which I used a permanent marker to make a calendar. Each month, I go write in the days, important events, etc. As the days pass, and more things come up, I add more to my calendar.

The calendar is getting quite full. But, I am still managing everything.

Routine has settled into:
7:00 Wake up, start breakfast.
7:30 Get self and kids ready.
8:03 Kid 1 onto school bus.
8:25 Drop Kid 2 at daycare
8:40 Get to school, hang out in library or student lounge studying until classes start.
(Class/Labs)
4:30-ish: Pick up kids.
4:45 Start supper. Go through Kid 1's communication folder.
5:30 Supper
6:00 Relaxation time and TV for kids, I clean.
7:00 Baths then bed
7:30 Make lunches, lay out clothes, pack bags for next day.
8:00-11:00 Study

Fortunately, by 11 I am exhausted from the day so I just pass right out.

Two days a week, I have several hours between my classes, so I walk around, run errands in town, and so on. My schedule is working out quite well. I'm keeping to this very strict routine, because it means I always know exactly what I should be doing when, and it means stuff gets done. An hour of upkeep cleaning a day is enough provided I do a deep clean on Saturday.

I don't have much (any) leisure time by myself, but that's fine. I actually am really enjoying school. Class is fun, labs are awesome, and it feels like a far simpler life than the one I lead outside those buildings.

At school, I'm just a student like any other. At home, I have to be both mom and student. So home isn't for relaxing anymore, that's what school is for.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Well, this is new

All summer, I felt like I couldn't study enough. That there wasn't enough time to do all the studying I needed to do. In the last few days before school started, a calm came over me and I was content with what I knew.

Then classes started, I freaked out a tiny bit, revisited some of my supplemental material, and got back up to speed.

I just sat down, went through my agenda, and realized I'm done everything for this weekend and everything assigned or posted but not yet assigned for next week and the week after. There isn't a thing not crossed off in my (ridiculously detailed) agenda.

It isn't even 10pm on Sunday. Assignments, prelabs, readings, and chapter end questions; all done, except obviously those that haven't been posted yet. I'm even spot testing myself with a few extra unassigned questions, as well as random Spanish vocab, and getting them all right.

Laundry is done, house is clean, lunches and bags are packed, and clothes for tomorrow are laid out.

It's not going to stay this easy, is it?

I suppose if I feel like I'm done studying, that must mean I just need to do more. I have an hour left of scheduled study time this evening. Guess I'll review everything we've done in chem and bio.

See? Premed mentality right there. 


Friday, 14 September 2012

Phew

First (real) lab went surprisingly well, especially considering I had a pretty nasty fever and was seeing double during it. Ah, viruses, fascinating and infuriating little things.

Still, it was rather fun. My lab partner-ish person (we share two classes and a lab) and I were discussing our plans. She is doing the prevet program (it's a loosely organized life sciences program, essentially) and actually has quite a bit of experience in a veterinary clinic, and on farms, so she's seen surgeries and cattle inseminations, used ultrasound on cows and so on. We were discussing stuff in quite a bit of detail and some people were getting a little queasy looking.

When the lab instructor started talking about some of the really fascinating stuff we can look at, some people in class looked decidedly green. He mentioned the specimens they had available for trying out the stereoscope, and one girl actually laid her head down on the table and groaned.

It's biology, one would think people coming into this class would realize that the lab will likely include some dissection of things they might consider unpleasant.

Ah well, I can't be concerned about their performance. It's all about how hard I work. Hard work and efficiency will get me where I need to go.

Baby steps. One day, one chapter, one assignment at a time.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Challenge #1

I have a morning full of lectures, then a three hour lab in the afternoon, during which we are not allowed to sit.

Currently, I have a rather impressive fever, my lymph nods are attempting mutiny, and I feel rather like I'm on a ferris wheel. Weeeeeeee up, weeeeee down. *Smacked in the face with the nausea stick.*

Tomorrow's going to be fun. My language lab today was cancelled so I went home and slept for four hours. My husband is awesome, because he was home alone with the (sick) kids all day and is coming down with this too.

And this is just the beginning. Seriously,how do you study effectively when you can't stop shivering long enough to read the text?!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I live!

I haven't been writing much as I'm spending every possible minute with my husband while he's home.

So far, so good n classes. Physics is proving a bit of a stumbling block; the math we are using is stuff I haven't had much experience with so I'm just not as fluent in it as I'd like to be so I'm spending a lot of time working on developing stronger skills. My calc class actually doesn't touch on much of it, which I find annoying. This phyiscs class requires that I take this calc course at the same time. The calc course barely covers some of the material we'll do in physics.

It just means more self-study. I'm starting at a disadvantage, I can't let myself be tripped up like that or fall behind. Falling behind is never, never okay.

My daughter loves daycare, my on loves school. We had meet the teacher night yesterday, and I found out my son had cut a little girl's hair. This is going to be a long school year, I think.

Friday, 7 September 2012

So far so good

My agenda is awesome. I have my readings in there with date to complete by, and I'm checking them off as I go. I'm ahead in readings/chapter questions in all classes so far by at least a week. Still need to get my online codes for chem and bio, but I'll be doing that this weekend, hopefully. 

In Spanish today, another student asked me about my organizational method, so I explained it in brief. Turns out she is a mom and mature student as well, so we got to chatting for a while. We have very similar schedules, the only exception being our chemistry courses. 

I've met a few people in my chemistry section as well; the gentleman I wrote about previously, a wonderful woman from the Bahamas, a younger girl who is rather shy but knowledgeable, and a funny, goofy, but very smart young man from my orientation group.  I should be able to work a study group here, I think as we all have similar schedules. 

So far, I've been able to contribute in class several times with answers and so on. I'm feeling very comfortable with the material and I can call it to mind very quickly. When I see the slides come up in class, I'm making connections between my core science classes. The material we cover is so complementary that I don't see why any student wouldn't take all three sciences at once! Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, they are so alike, and have so many common concepts. 

I suppose maybe I see the connections more since I've spent so much time readying myself for it.

It is rather easy to be enjoying myself right now, though. My son loves school, my daughter loves daycare. Neither is particularly bothered by the fact that they are away from me all day. But we're only a few days into it, so that may change. 

I'm sure my mettle will be solidly tested the first time the kids get sick. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Waiting...

First day of classes went well. We don't have labs this week so I had little to do this afternoon, but we shortly will be having a formal welcome from the dean of the faculty of science.

Apparently, there are presents to be had. Kind of irks me a bit that I'm being given all this 'free' stuff that I'm paying thousands and thousands of dollars for.

I've been lurking around campus all day. Don't think I've talked to more than three people. It's not that I'm shy, it's just that I don't really have anything to say to them. I don't seem to have a great deal in common with many of them, and I'm not terribly good at icebreakers.

I did, however, have an interesting encounter.

In my very first class, the first person I spoke to... is a doctor. He did his MBBS in Sri Lanka, and has done the three exams he needs to do here to qualify for a Canadian residency. He's just awaiting the score for the third exam, and he will presumably apply for the second iteration of CaRMS next year. He said he's taking courses that interest him, just a way to pass the time He's older, married with kids like I am, so it was rather refreshing to meet him.

Seems almost like foreshadowing, though. Here I was, in my first class of my first day of my first year of my premedical education, and the first person I talk to is a doctor.

Makes me hopeful.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

This will be interesting

My son's paediatrician is wonderful. She is everything I could hope to be as a physician; knowledgeable, personable, great with kids, careful about prescribing and makes sure to do regular follow ups, knows her patients well, and is passionate about medicine. Seriously, I could not ask for a better physician for my son.

We saw her today and she's referring him for surgery. Working out the logistics of it should be interesting as here they tend to just tell you when to show up; patients don't have much input on scheduling. Any, really. He'll be seeing a general surgeon here, and she picked the one who has young kids just to put me at ease which was a nice touch.

So in a few months, we'll be hitting up the hospital for my little guy. It will be done laparoscopically, so he won't have a long recovery time, about a week. Makes me nervous to think about him going under for surgery, but I think he will treat it as quite the adventure. He's never scared of anything, and that is a lesson I need to learn from him.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Prestudy Paying Off

My months of prestudying are paying off already. Not concretely, as in with grades, but definitely with knowledge and fluency with the material.

I went through doing all the assigned chapter end questions and examples for everything that has been posted so far, which is roughly two weeks of lessons in three out of my five courses. Between the three courses, I did not get a single question wrong.

The funny thing is that with Spanish - which is the only course I did not do significant pre-studying for - I am so far completely comfortable with the material. I've never studied Spanish formally before, but because I'm fluent in French and English, and have a fairly good understanding of Latin, I'm able to read paragraphs of Spanish, translate it on the fly as I read, and am about 95% accurate. There are a few words I occasionally have to look up, but not many as I'm usually able to understand it by mentally taking it apart and looking at the root. This is good, as our final will be dictated.

My confidence is pretty high right now, so I need to be very careful not to let myself get into the trap of coasting. I can never, never, never let myself rest on my laurels when I need to be the best possible student. Complacency will lead to bad grades.

Right now, I am a semester ahead in readings, two weeks ahead in working lessons (for the 3/5 classes for which lessons are posted) and I absolutely need to keep it this way. A spare moment is a studying moment from here out.

Classes start Wednesday. I can do this.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Guess I'm just not that fun.

So I've spent the past couple of days at my new student orientation.

A few events were rather amusing, but overall, I'm just not one of those outgoing, centre-of-attention types. I am quiet, not shy but reserved. I will gladly act silly with friends and family, but outside of personal situations prefer to carry myself with a level of decorum.

This tendency does not lend itself to bouncy castles and water fights.

My goal from the day I got accepted was that I would be treating this endeavour with a high degree of professionalism, so I'm feeling a bit out of place amongst the screaming eighteen year olds at frosh week.

I think I'll stick to the dry info sessions and wait for lectures to begin on Wednesday.