With the past week being week 5 and so the middle of the quarter, it was suitable that it turned out to be midterm week. Following the midterm in Propulsions in week 4, last week featured the first midterms in both Vibrations and Solids II. Fortunately though, despite the lectures often being, for want of a better expression, grossly disorganised, the tests were fairly straightforward and made sense. Time is never really a problem here, the ‘no. of questions : time required’ ratio is fairly decent, although this may be because I work at a fair pace. The best way to describe the midterms is that they are very similar indeed to the sorts of exams we get in Edinburgh. The final is then set at a mandatory 3 hours, with 3 or so questions, so that’s nice and relaxed.
The only problem is of course the issue that all exams are held in the lecture halls. They can get just a little bit cramped, particularly if you are sitting next to someone who is a bit of a space invader. It throws you for the first quarter, but once you know and accept it, you learn to arrive 10 minutes earlier and bag a seat on the end at the front where the most room is available!
Since I have been in these classes for 5 weeks (which incidentally have flown by), I feel I can now say with some conviction that I do not believe the teaching this quarter is a patch on that which I was fortunate enough to luck into last quarter, or have in Edinburgh. I think the teaching in Vibrations and Solids is disorganised and often the professor jumps from one topic to another on just a whim. Taking effective notes is neigh-on impossible! Luckily, the books are quite useful. Moral of the story? Make sure you get the books!
My Vibrations book finally turned up on Wednesday, and initially on opening it up it gave me a nasty turn! Tearing back the brown paper covering the book revealed a back cover which was adorned with many various Chinese symbols, each of which to my uneducated mind simply signifies something like ‘man holding hand of girl in dress’. “Oh, no! It’s all going to be in Chinese!” I thought. However, fortune favours the brave, and as I bravely (yes, that’s a bit of poetic license) took the book out the packing and turned it over I was greeted with the welcome sight of ‘English Edition’. Phew! Now I have all my books for this quarter, and have learned that it will help to order them a bit more in advance for the spring quarter.
The weather has got decidedly cooler this past week, so much so that a half hour in the Sauna on Tuesday was a very welcome, albeit slightly desperate, move. Complaining about the cold when it’s just marginal for wearing a t-shirt and still sunny makes me feel a bit pathetic though. I’m being led astray by the Californians…oh, how am I going to cope with another Edinburgh winter next year?!?
On Saturday, to pass some time, I took the bus up the coast a short way and explored around the town of Del Mar a little. It’s quite a trendy little place, with several boutique shops, coffee houses and wine bars. Furthermore, the beach is fantastic. Unless you have a wetsuit, the ocean is hyperthermia-cold at the moment, so with swimming out it’s time to revert the very British pastime of paddling. After 20 minutes, my shorts were soaked (I can’t help going in too far…) and my feet were numb, but it cannot be denied that there is something decidedly therapeutic about the water. I felt all the better for it afterwards. Surprise, surprise, I managed to find some stones to skip, and after having a good look around to check that I wasn’t going to take out any surfers, a good 15 minutes was spent practicing my skipping-stone throw.
Saturday night was Spirit Night 2011 on campus. I didn’t really know much about it still, but it seems to be a big thing. I’ll went along and got the low down on what it is which I shall try to relate next week!