August 13, 2009 10:01 PM

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

I discovered many incomprehensible errors on my last entry due to the fact that I was extremely tired that night and had been practically falling asleep even while typing. I apologize for that and promise that I will use correct grammar and spelling today, and I will also use words the correct way.

So, tomorrow will be the day of my last final, for French 4. It's so difficult to believe that my first summer spent in Berkeley will so soon be over. This summer has been awesome, and with two French classes, I was able to recover my "skills" after a spring semester without French. I've learned so much within these eight weeks, and I'm infinitely grateful to my instructors for having all the patience to put up with my twenty thousand questions per day as well as many other things. Now, after my experience during Summer Session 2009, I have some advice to give in terms of the classes I took this summer. Perhaps in my next entry, I'll talk about past classes, but I have so much to write just about these few classes that today, I can only focus on these.

1) French lower division courses: I think the key to success in these classes really lies in personal interest. I find that due to my interest, it is not hard at all to find things in daily life that relate to course material. I suggest listening to French musicals and songs in general. If you get into it, you'll end up looking up the lyrics, learning the meaning of the words, and familiarize yourself with the grammar structures as well. Singing the songs yourself will also improve pronunciation to a certain extent. I also suggest reading texts out loud so that the way structures are formed come more naturally to the mouth (plus, it helps to improve speed, accuracy, as well as expression in speech). A further suggestion is to read texts multiple times, the first time to get the general idea, a second time to find unfamiliar words and reasoning behind unfamiliar grammatical structures, and possibly a third time to ensure complete understanding. Moreover, I find it helpful to write down questions as they come to me and ask all of them during office hours (even if the questions do not pertain to the class material specifically, they will come in handy sometime). I think the trick is to not look at grades and instead focus on the learning. The good grade will automatically come. When an essay or any written work is returned look at all the comments and marks. Remember the mistakes and the corrections. I also deliberately use a few unfamiliar phrases and expressions in every piece of writing, and if they come back with no marks, I use them again in the future as part of my new repertoire. Also, taking French 35 is extremely helpful after French 3, especially together with French 4. Learning basic phonetics really had me thinking how many bad habits I have yet to break. Also, it really helps with listening comprehension, and learning phonetic symbols helps in that now, if I'm not sure of the pronunciation of a word, I can just go and look it up.

2) Public Health 162A: This is public health microbiology, and it's a required course for the dietetics track of the nutritional science major (and I'm planning on applying for this track as soon as I will have finished Bio 1A/1AL and Chem 3B/3BL next semester). My experience with this class is that the material is really interesting but the class is really fast-paced and there is a lot of memorization involved. I got so wrapped up in my other classes, and I did not realize how much work was involved in doing well in this class. I really should have done better on the first two midterms. At some point in time, I had thought that rote memorization didn't work, and I've always done well in classes in which I simply had the interest and asked a bunch of questions. This class changed my mind. My suggestion for this class is simply to make note cards and memorize them. Also, to study every day's notes right after lecture and never procrastinate. I didn't exactly do badly in this class (according to most people), but I could have done so much better. However, I don't regret this experience, as it has taught me this important lesson. And as probably the only student who hasn't taken a biology class since high school AP bio, I'm actually proud to have held in there.

3) Anthropology 1: This was biological anthropology. It was really a great class in which the professor and the GSI really interacted with us to help us learn. Tips for this class is to read the stuff in the lab workbook and the lecture notes before lecture, to do the questions beforehand, to pay attention during lecture, and to question often and learn from the visual aids in lab.

4) PE classes: I suggest taking these P/NP. It's not worth it to ruin your GPA with a PE class, and plus, there would be less pressure. I took two PE classes this past year, both as P/NP.

So, as for some general advice, I think that it's up to each individual person to decide the path that works best for him/her. There are many people who suggest to not overload and to take 15 units a regular semester and to not take over 10 units over the summer. For me, I really didn't see any problem with doing 23 units a semester and 15.5 units a summer. I think keeping up the courseload will lead to much self-recognition. At the very least, it has helped me be responsible for my choices and has taught me to accept my destiny and to make no excuses whatsoever. It has helped me realize that time is self-made. I no longer use "I don't have time" as an excuse for anything, because whenever something is important, we make time for it. I choose my courseload, and I know even with it, I have the responsibility to be flexible in my plans. I have learned what it really means to try my best in terms of my schoolwork. I often have the urge to prove that even if I'm doing so much, or if everyone else seems more advanced than me, I can still turn in quality work and succeed in the class. One example was spring semester Anthro R5B, in which I added the classes two weeks late, had a bunch of work to make up, 23 units to keep up, plus U-Chorus. I was told I would lose points for the days I missed. The instructor told me I couldn't, and shouldn't do this. But I did, and ended up with an A in the class. Just goes to show.

This is not to say that school is life. It's not. There are so many activities on campus, and I think the trick is to experience them one at a time and committing to maybe one or two. The lessons I learned from my past semesters of unit overload was NOT just in terms of academics. It applies to all other aspects of life as well. In life, there are no excuses. Choices are choices. Responsibility extends to interactions with friends and family as well as setting priorities in everyday life. Contrary to what other people think, my academic choices not only did not take away what I enjoy in other parts of life, but has also enriched every part of my life. I did not miss out on anything that I would have done otherwise. I did band, choir, I read, I talked to friends, etc. I think that if there was one thing that I missed out on in terms of life experience, it would be work experience. Yes, I need a job. But this doesn't have anything to do with that. I'm not a good job-finder, and as someone who has been hiding behind a mother for so many years, I know I needed more time before I am ready to step out on my own to earn money. This coming fall semester will be my busiest of all, and after this fall, I think I will be ready to try to find some way to earn money.

So to conclude's been a wonderful summer (French-filled). I cannot believe it is almost over. I look forward to a great fall semester to come. It's always sad at this time (I always tend to get attached to teachers, and I don't know if I'll ever get over this tendency). I will move out of the apartment I've been subletting tomorrow. I'll be in Cal Band's training thing on the 20th, and on the 23th, I'm moving into Stern for the next academic year. My, how time flies! It will also be about time for me to organize what I need for my study abroad application for 2010-2011. I want to do the year immersion program in Bordeaux, France. I've been planning a lot of stuff around this, and I've been wanting to do this since my junior year in high school. Wish me luck. The application's not due until the beginning of January, but there's a lot of things involved. Feel free to provide advice about this. Also, I think if I want to do the dietetics track, I might have to try to get around the prereqs for NST 160 in order to take a year off. I don't know how to get around this situation.

Anyway, time to study for my final tomorrow morning. A new morning, a new day, with new things in store.

Jade Liu | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (0)

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