Study Group Bonding

This last week and a half has been brutal. My difficult class this term is extremely demanding. I averaged about three hours of sleep a night last week (slept around 5am and got up at 8am most nights) working on my homework from that class, and I still barely finished it half an hour before the deadline. And this was only the first assignment! I have about six or seven left to go!

Because of the length and difficulty of the assignment, a few classmates and I started to study together. I finally started meeting new people! Too bad it has to be through a ridiculously stressful class. At least I’m not going through the class alone. My study group and I are bonding through adversity.

In other news, my brother is in town this week! He just got in this afternoon and will be staying with me until Sunday. He is visiting other people in the area, too, so he (hopefully) won’t bother me too much away from my studies. I went downtown with him for a couple hours, and it felt so nice to get away from campus for a little while. It seemed like it had been ages since I had taken a proper break, even though it’s only been less than three weeks since winter break ended.

Back to studying! It’s going to be a long three months…

Sleepless Nights Of Studying

I already knew this before I started, but I have to say it: graduate school is hard.

My classes this term have definitely become more demanding over the last couple weeks. Studying and doing homework have consumed most of my free time. The earliest I’ve slept in nearly two weeks is 4am. I spent the entire weekend doing my statistics homework that was due today. I was up until 6am on Saturday and 4:30am yesterday. I finished it (of course), but I still wasn’t satisfied with my work.

My grades have been great so far, but I’m looking at a lot of sleepless nights of studying ahead of me if I want to keep that up. While I do remember occasionally staying up very late during math graduate school, I don’t remember staying up late every single day like I am now. Maybe I blocked it out of my memory. Or maybe I’m just working harder now than I did then.

I know it sounds like it, but I’m not complaining. I know that all this studying will pay off in the long run. I’m going to look back on these days and think about how much I learned, rather than how exhausted I am. I may even miss these days someday.

Back to my homework!

Lost Focus

The new school term started two weeks ago, but I haven’t been studying constantly the way I was last term. Maybe my classes are starting out slowly, but I don’t feel as focused as I did three months ago. For example, instead of spending this whole weekend studying, I slept in, watched 13 episodes of Lost, and saw Youth In Revolt with my best friend from high school. I finished my homework that’s due on Wednesday, but I haven’t written up the assignment due Friday. If this was three months ago, I would have finished both assignments and maybe even read ahead a little. I wonder if I’m burnt out from studying so much before.

Side note: I mentioned in passing that my brother has been trying to get me addicted to Lost. He succeeded. I started from the first episode a little bit before Christmas, and now I’m three episodes into the fifth season (i.e., I’ve watched 89 episodes in about four weeks). The sixth and final season starts in February; I didn’t think I’d be caught up by then, but it’s definitely likely now. Interestingly, I mentioned Lost in the comments of one of my posts over a year ago.

A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with one of my professors from last term. She mentioned that studying all the time and worrying about being perfect is not healthy. It’s true; I got sick three or four times last term, whereas I usually only get sick once every year or two. Maybe my lack of focus lately is a blessing in disguise.

Studious

School is consuming all of my time and energy. On weekdays, I carpool with my parents, so I get dropped off on campus at around 9am. After my classes are done for the day, I spend a few hours in the library until my parents pick me up around 6pm. When I get home, I continue to study and do homework until around 12 or 1am. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

My weekends are also filled with studying (though I do take a little time off every now and then). Even though my homework assignments are due on Fridays, I like to get a jump start on the next week’s assignments over the weekend so I don’t fall behind.

I was a pretty good student when I went to college the first time, but I don’t think I was this studious before. My outlook on life is different now, and my motivation has changed. I’ve been out in the “real world,” so I understand what’s at stake. I’m not in school just to get good grades or get a degree (I’m not getting one right now anyway); I’m in school to learn the material so I can use it in the future.

It helps that my statistics classes are specifically designed to be applied in the practical world. My professors often express how important and universal statistics is, and we often analyze real data that my professors have used in their work. I don’t know how much the other students appreciate this, but the connections to real life fascinate me, and I stay motivated to learn more.

I think this all means I grew up a lot over the last couple years and I didn’t even realize it. Being lost wasn’t a total loss.

I Should Be Studying

How did it become late August already?

I should be studying. I should be spending all my free time cramming for the second actuarial exam. Or, if I want to take a break from that, I should be learning how to fully utilize all the capabilities of Microsoft Excel and Access. And if I really don’t feel like studying at all, I should at least go to the gym and shape up again.

Of course, I’m not actually studying, nor am I exercising. By the time I get off work, I don’t want to do anything that takes too much energy. I usually just want to zone out and watch TV. Today was no exception. I got off work close to 8pm and basically crashed when I got home.

How do people who work have time (or energy) to have lives?

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Not Quite Five Days

I got up really late today, partly because I was sore from going to the gym yesterday. When my muscles are sore, I don’t feel like moving to get out of bed. It was the good kind of sore, though, the kind you only get from exercising. It lets you know you did something productive for your body. No pain no gain, right?

Even with a late start, I decided to go to Starbucks (a different one from yesterday, just for a change of scenery) to study. At least I could get in a couple hours of studying out of the last day of my five day weekend. Or at least, so I thought.

Less than an hour after I started studying at Starbucks, my favorite team leader called me and asked if I could work a closing shift tonight. I didn’t have any plans with anyone else tonight, so I said yes. I read for another ten minutes (maybe less) before going home to change into my red and khaki outfit (I really should just wear it under my civilian clothes, like Superman).

So I guess my five day weekend was really only a four day weekend. But that’s pretty good already, anyway. Once I get a “real” job (and a “real” life), I won’t be seeing many more of those.

My Current Plan

My friend didn’t show up for our tutoring session, so I didn’t do any tutoring today. I remember making a plan last week to do it, but I guess she forgot or something. Oh well. At least thinking that I had to tutor today got me out of the house earlier.

Instead of tutoring, I ended up spending a few hours at Borders (our original meeting place) reading one of the textbooks for the actuarial exams. Since the next actuarial exam is many months away, I won’t study my hardest right now; I know how I study. If I study a lot now, I’ll get discouraged and lose momentum too early. My current plan is to read through and preview the material for a couple months first. That way, when it’s time to properly study, I’ll have a foundation already built from which to work more efficiently.

I’m also thinking about learning a computer programming language. Computer skills are becoming increasingly important in most professions, including the actuary field (from what my friend in actuary says). I learned how to use LaTeX back in college, but no one cares about that except mathematicians. I’m hoping to pick up a book on SQL and master it during the next few months before my studying intensifies.

After Borders, I went to Target to let the executives know that I’m accepting the price change position. A couple weeks from now, they’ll start scheduling me 6am shifts!

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