After a fairly easy first week, they are really starting to turn it up a notch and pile on the workload now! The homeworks for this past week were tough, to say the least. Fortunately another Mechanical Engineer from Edinburgh is in San Diego, Stefan, and we have two of the same classes. For two days last week we worked through from 11am to past 8:30pm on Aerodynamics and Heat Transfer homeworks. There were five questions for Aerodynamics, but they require you to do far more in depth into the subject than the tutorials ever did in Edinburgh. We were not helped by the fact the professor proved the theory several times, without ever applying it. The book was also not a great help in this matter, and so we had to make an educated guess on some things. There is no doubt it is all very interesting material, and will stand us in great stead for the future, but at the moment it is really tough! Heat Transfer is slightly easier, but the problem in that lies in the way the questions are asked. There is often a large degree of ambiguity and this doesn’t help in the learning process. There is also the fact a question will often ask to determine the conduction coefficient, k (or something along that line) and the numbers you are have to work with are, for example, 8.5462 x 10-5, which are not at all friendly. They mean the questions become very laborious, confusing and take at least twice as long to complete.
For sure, I must once again point out that the professors are not lying when they suggest you work at home at least 3 hours for every hour in class. But, although it may seem that way, it is not always work, work and work! American people are all really friendly, which makes it very easy to make friends or talk to people. Last Saturday I went to a nice, chilled out party, and met up again with the host of said party on Thursday in order to give her a short education in the greatness of The Beatles, amongst other English groups. Omead, my apartment mate, and I are also getting on well. We are able to hang out a bit more now that he isn’t so busy with move-in/first week RA duties. On Tuesday there was a pot luck dinner for the RA’s and the flatmates which was very enjoyable. Several people there began quizzing me on British cuisine, suggesting that it probably wasn’t as good as American. Of course, I had to correct them and point out the joys of the great British classics! No matter how hard I tried, I could not tempt them with bacon sandwiches or Toad in the Hole.
Omead’s Fraternity keeps him very busy still, and after he spent a half hour explaining the ins and outs of it to me last week, I don’t think it is for me. It will cost over $300 a quarter, and I’d need to attend classes to learn the history of the Fraternity before an exam in December. That sounds like a lot of hard work for just the year! If you were coming to America, you may possibly feel differently, but for me I’d rather spend the $300 travelling a bit more.
On the subject of travelling, I have arranged to go to San Antonio in Texas over Christmas. I have always wanted to go to Texas, as I have this image (which amuses everyone) that they all go around in white suits and cowboy hats, brandish pistols and shout “Yee-haw!” all the time. Don’t worry – if it turns out not to be like that, I shan’t be too disappointed! I’m also going to see the LA Lakers 3 times over the Christmas vacation. I was very lucky with the tickets for that, as I just managed to get the some of the last few seats. It is worth remembering that they can sell out within 3-4 days of coming on sale.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in nearby La Jolla, which is a lovely little town. I walked along the sand and all the surfers were out in force, enjoying the afternoon sun and four foot waves crashing into the sandy shore. There is something calm and peaceful about the soft sound of the ocean. Life at the beach is wonderfully relaxing! It isn’t too bad for the tan either, my skin is definitely turning a darker shade of bronze, and I could also swear that the sun is dying my hair blonder! My advice if you are in San Diego: Work hard, but make sure you make the most of the beach!