The final curtain of Fall Quarter

It has been a busy last week, with lots to report back on. Isn’t lot always the way, when there is lots to write about, there isn’t the time to do it justice!

It was finals week last week, which means the campus grinds to a standstill as the Americans go nuts with revision and frantic last minute cramming. Many students take those tablets which increase your attention and brain capacity just for what they think is that extra edge. I think it’s all over the top, and they’d be better off being a little more relaxed about it. Still, I can’t tell them how best to work.

I spent the weekend and Monday working on all three subjects, but I had a few hours off on Tuesday since it was my birthday. Yes, I’m now 21. That is old, at least to me it is. When I was young, Louise and Emily were older and it seemed such a long time away that I’d be that age that I couldn’t imagine it. Now I’m here it’s very odd because it’s slightly surreal. At heart I still feel like the same little boy playing on the lounge floor with my Scalextric when I was 9 while watching Jeeves and Wooster or listening to Hancock’s Half Hour (yes I was into some unusual things from an early age!) And of course, listening to Jaques Ibert’s ‘Divertissment’ as I am at the moment doesn’t help. It send me right back to bright, crisp Sunday lunchtimes and Sunday dinner, with lou lou belle’s harps still in the corner of the dining room, and all five of us packed around the table.

On my birthday, having spoken to Rhiann, who very kindly got up early to wish my happy birthday, at midnight/8am, I opened up my two cards when I woke up at 7. After breakfast, i decided to go and do a past paper for Linear Circuits in the JK Lounge for a few hours before taking a break. I got a lovely call from Emily and Alice midway through the morning, and Alice showed off her new sounds she could make. She’s growing up so fast! With the paper finished, I felt a little peckish and headed off to Goody’s to get a burrito as a birthday treat. I sat outside in the glorious sunshine eating it, and planned my next move. I decided to go with the flow, and went down to catch the #30 bus into La Jolla, and get an ice cream by the beach. I popped into Cold Stone Creamery, and chose the ‘Birthday Cake Remix’ (seeing as I didn’t have a cake). It was cake batter ice cream, a chocolate brownie and rainbow sprinkles, and although it cost $6, it was very good and there was plenty of it! When I had cake batter ice cream before, I remember is was heavy going. Well, now double to portion and add a chocolate brownie to it! I struggled at the end, but I eventually finished it. I did a bit of paddling in the sea by the La Jolla cove, and got up to my knees, but the water was actually freezing cold! I then spent a while sitting on the beach trying to take it everything. I’ve never had a birthday like this. It was 23°c, I was in t-shirt and shorts eating an ice cream, and there was a brilliant blue sky! I felt remarkably lucky!

Beach, sun, and 'Birthday Cake-remix' ice cream...life is good!

On my return home, I had to crack on with some more work before the Linear Circuits review session in the evening. That was way down in Revelle, which is miles and miles away, no kidding. It took me 20 minutes to walk there at a very fast pace. I then had to sprint back in order to get something to eat before the canteens shut at 8pm, only just making it. I can’t remember what I did in the evening, but I’m sure it involved the slot car forum in no small degree and Facebook.

I had my first final on Wednesday morning at 11:30. It was Linear Circuits, and was open book/open notes, which is a new concept for me. It was good to have to double check things I already knew and to put my mind to rest, but I would have down exactly the same probably without having them. The exam is set for 3 hours, but this is fixed no matter what the test is, so I was relieved to get out just after 1pm. I had a quick bite to eat, before seeing the Aerodynamics TA to check something about the homework. That sorted, I spent the 2 and a half hours in the afternoon going over and over and over my aerodynamics notes, trying to make sure I knew all the different situations he could ask about. There was a Heat Transfer review that evening, and I thought it was at 6pm, but I had got the times confused, and it was in fact 6:30. Realising my mistake, I headed over to Pines to quickly get something to eat. I hadn’t been to Pines before, and I can’t say I was overly impressed, although the beef stew thing I had was good, and rather English I felt. We picked up our design projects after the review session, and I went a deep shade of beetroot red when I found mine and saw I had got 110/100. Quite how that is possible, I don’t know, but I felt pretty good about it! It just shows, I hadn’t used any computer data program or CAD-program, and yet I’d done better than everyone who had. My method of keeping it simple and going into detail solving only what I know and should know once again worked a treat. That and the fact I wrote a rather good 10 page report and analysis. For all they say about their education system here, from what I’ve seen these past three months I don’t think American’s are particularly good at writing, either in handwriting or style. I’m sure those doing more essay based subjects are better, but the scientists are very poor. So that probably helped me too. That and the fact the TA’s also like me and Stefan!

After a night similar to that on the episode of Hancock’s Half Hour, ‘The Sleepless Night’, where I went to bed at 10pm hoping to get a good night’s sleep and what with one thing and another found myself looking at my watch at 1am and realising I had had no sleep at all! The Aerodynamics test was at 8am on Thursday morning, and was very confusing since there several errors in the question which gave you an impossible answer. So, the paper itself was fairly straightforward, it was just the impossible concepts that cropped up that made it confusing. Me and Stefan asked several times and eventually after the TA had also worked it out, he came and told us each to just use it as it was because there was a mistake. Great! That done, I began to feel like I was almost finished the week. I wasn’t too worried about the Heat Transfer on Friday, since I understand that, and it was also open book/open notes. It was quite hard to keep going on Thursday as a result. It was also a shame at Thursday was another lovely day. Eventually though it was time to go to bed.

I watched Malcolm on Friday morning, to relax me before the final final. Having laughed a lot, and feeling very relaxed, I wandered over the Price Centre Theatre at 7:45am for the test. 3 hours later, and after yet more confusion due to some poorly worded questions, I walked out into the sunshine, put Röyksopp on on my i-Pod, and as I walked back, basking in the sunshine in my shorts and t-shirt, I could be mistaken for thinking I was now on summer vacation! This is a far cry from Edinburgh!

Now there is a three week break to look forward too. My parents arrived on Friday afternoon, after my exam and we have a busy 10 days planned before they return home for Christmas. I am going to be staying here, and will be seeing three Lakers games from the 21st to the 31st. One of these will be in San Antonio in Texas, where I am flying for a 4-day break on Christmas day. I have several days in LA to look forward to, and I guarantee before you know it, it’ll be January 3rd, and the winter quarter will kick off!

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