Saturday, December 15, 2007

End of semester depression

Is it normal to feel slightly depressed, that the semester has ended?

The second semester has gone really fast. Too fast for my liking, for I haven't really appreciated it in the mathematical sense. Yesterday, at 4:45pm I could still be found in the maths building. (Actually I had a reason to be there, but Dr. E remarked on whether or not I have a home to go to!)

I was actually waiting for Prof. D, and when I finally found him, I mentioned to him about my reluctance to leave and go home. This was most weird, because during the day I had been rather excited about it being the last day of term. Anyway, I feel "less depress" today but still I would rather term hadn't ended. Why? Well then that would mean that exams are not looming around the corner!

Yes - my depression was closely linked to the fact that exams are looming, and they are going to be one of my most difficult ones (namely because of stats and numerical analysis). This year counts towards my final degree, and I think 40% of my second year contributes to the overall final award. [I have another non-trivial but important reason as to why I want to do well] I did say I was going to start revision today (HA HA) but my brain and body have been recovering from the dynamics of this week.

When I got up this morning, my muscles were all clenched and rough, and some are still rather sore. I had done a lot of running around on Friday, for different reasons; and on Thursday carrying the 13 horrible stats and Numerical analysis books home had been excruciatingly painful. (Not just physically painful, but mentally too!) On the bus it had been most awkward for there hadn't been anywhere to sit. And when a seat did become available, my books had it. The problem with the books was that each had an element that I needed, and I am a sucker when it comes to maths books. {I bought a book last Sunday, and the damn fool has still not sent it. I am getting most vexed out by this, for it has been a while since I last bought a book.}

Friday wasn't really an intense day (like normal). We just had revision lectures and proved the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra in complex analysis (which I unfortunately didn't follow at all, but more about that in a minute).

In the Numerical analysis lecture we had discussed last years past paper. It is very important to write definitions down is what I learnt from the lecture. That is all. Write everything down but try to write the right thing! The exam format is as follows: We were taught the course by two lecturers - the first half being vector calc. and first order pdes, and the second being the numerical analysis and second order pdes. There will be three questions for each half, and we have to answer at least two from both sections. They have given us a choice for the final question - how very nice of them!

Now the lecturer (I think) advised students to do the easy questions first. My advice though is the opposite! Do the stinking hard questions first - do them straight away whilst your brain is slightly fresh. I say this with confidence and this is what Professor Abrahams told us last year. His advice proved to be the difference in my final result for mechanics last year. My friends had all come out of that exam, not having completed at least one question (apart from what you can't do). On the other hand, due to Prof. A's advice, I had attempted everything that I could.

There is a period in the exam when you have a slight dip. This happens all the time, when you get bored (maybe) and start looking around. You fidget with your pens for a while, stretch your legs and basically annoy everyone. Your concentration is the lowest at this point and there is no sense in doing the difficult question at this point. Leave the easy or do-able questions for this dip, for then your brain won't need as much energy and should be on auto pilot. (Of course some exams don't have "do-able" questions - in that case my friends, we are doomed! I.e. the real analysis exam!)

So when the lecturer was giving us that advice, to my friends I was screaming NO! Maybe do a slight easy one first, to get you rolling. But if you leave the hardest till the end, I am sure that you will be struggling to complete it. Prof. A's advice is what made me pass mechanics, and so I hope it helps me in other exams. Or does anyone have any other tips of techniques for exams?

After the lecture I headed to the AT building for some "unfinished business". I did something... naughty though. I was on the second floor and saw PS walking, so I proceeded to walk behind him. I think he was lost in thought, for he didn't sense my presence! So I carried on slowly tiptoeing behind him, until he got to his office. Even then, as he turned his key, he hadn't sensed me, so at the opportune moment I shouted "BOO". Haha, OK that is childish, but I did pretty well to not have been detected! [PS's is OK though, if anyone was concerned.] I have done the same to DC too (i.e. shouting BOO!) even though he claims that I wouldn't be able to walk behind him like that without being sensed. Pfft. I am as swift as an elf(?) - well I can't think of anything else.

I enjoy "giving" if that makes sense. My Dad always told us that don't give people an opportunity to ask you for help. I try to do this most times, but I enjoy showing appreciation towards something I found great and enjoyed. It is very easy to be critical. Where am I going with this? I don't know to be honest. One finds it hard to explain this feeling of gratitude that one sometimes wishes to express! I do so in the most trivial of ways, but find it hard to give explanation. I guess it is just a way of saying thank you!

Whoops, that aside was just that - an aside!

After my Monsters inc moment, I went to see my vector calculus lecture to enquire about the example class (which I hadn't attended). The lecturer had arranged for an extra two example classes, but on Thursday. Due to my adventures in the UMIST campus I had missed the previous one and the questions done had been important (I was told). They won't be going on-line, which had been my question. Humbug.

Then it was the complex analysis lecturers turn who I asked for a book recommendation. I made a real big blunder too.
"There is this book by a guy called Priestley, but is it any good?"
"It's a woman - Hillary Priestly!"
"But I thought it was Maurice Priestly! I know there is a guy called that - honestly!"
"Yes, he's at Manchester but he hasn't wrote that book. It was a lady."

Dang. Egg on my face indeed!

During the revision lecture for Algebra, I could be found banging my head against the table. Why? Well it was a revision lecture and we were going through the past paper. A question asked for the order of an element from S_{something!}. The answer was 3 which I said correctly (wow that makes two in a week). However later on there was another question on permutations, and this time one was required to write the cycles as disjoint cycles, and then proceed. PS said: "Whatever you do, don't write that this has no order!" I don't think he's going to ever let me forget that, and indeed after the lecture he put a condition on when he will stop saying it! (I.e. never!) No order does sound very dumb though. It is either infinite order or "a order". The positive out of this is that I (hopefully) will never write that dumb thing again. No order - unbelievable.

We had tea (WLOG) after the lecture, and I have decided not to have tea anymore. It depends on how needy I am, but I can always have it after half an hour. Brilliant plan wouldn't you agree? (You see otherwise, due to the condition attached on this tea business, I will always be hoping that there is no change in the till! ) PS is one of the coolest lecturers at Manchester, and sorry first years but you will not have him now unless you do Galois Theory in your 3rd or 4th year! (He's not teaching linear algebra next semester.)

Tea time over, I had some lunch and killed time until the meeting at 2pm. I didn't know where the room was, so I waited for DC so I would not get lost. He however had something else to do so I went to the first floor and stood looking lost. Thankfully though, I spotted RWT and she saw my needy face and allowed me to follow her to the meeting room! It was a Zzzzz type of meeting. Well I haven't got any printing credit and so hadn't printed all the documents out. Even if I did have credits I wouldn't have printed anything out, for I shouldn't be required to do so. The person next to me allowed me to share his papers (cheers), but since we were sharing I couldn't zone out and just read them... I mean I couldn't skim through the rest of the document whilst obviously listening. [I was awake during the first hour or so].

Now here is the silly part. I had a lecture at three and the meeting was going to finish at 4pm. I was going to leave at 3pm, for why miss my first ever lecture on the last day of term? During the meeting I had been keeping an eye on my neighbours watch. It was a nice big one too. But during the meeting he had obviously shifted his position (as we all had) and so I had lost sight of the watch. Hence my thoughts on what time it was had vanished.

It was a weird meeting for I was the only undergraduate there (the other one hadn't turned up!) When I had first said something (amongst all these adults) my voice had quivered slightly and I know that I spoke extra fast. But after that little hiccough, my heart had relaxed and so I became physically relaxed too. (The Head of School had been there too and other people who I didn't know!) Fern had been sat on the side opposite me, and we had caught each others eyes at some stage- hers rolling, which resulted in us both stifling our laughter. (The meeting did seem to drag). Anyway, it was when I was saying something that my neighbour shifter his position again and I caught sight of the time. Damn- it was 3:10pm and I was late. Without continuing my discussion, I excused myself and rushed to my lecture.

Naturally I was late, but the person in front of me had marvellous hand writing so I copied what I missed from his paper without him knowing. Well until I prodded his arm and asked him whether he had written n! or m!. This lecture ended early too, after we had finished the proof of the theorem.

Due to the meeting just before, I had been in a discussion mood. Milo and Fizz asked me about the meeting and we talked about one element of it, and my personal view on this matter. This led to a heated debate and unfortunately I was in an argumentative mood. Normally if someone says something and I disagree, I let it pass or just state my view and shut up. On this day though I was in the funny debating moods and met every point with another point. I was not being very sensitive towards Milo's viewpoint, but if I am selling you some chocolate I am not going to agree with you when you say its dodgy! I am going to try and persuade you otherwise and convince you to buy it. Thankfully for us, a third person gave a resolving solution and we changed topic. [I hate it though when I am sometimes expected to not argue my point. I do get hyper, but I can't be expected to monotonously state my view point. But yes, if I know that someone else is unrelenting too, maybe I should back off. In my defence I was fresh with questions etc from the meeting.]

And so ended my "third semester" at university, as we all went our separate ways. Bella confident having done most of her revision. Milo to get ready for work and me to the AT building! The end of this semester reminds me that three more semesters are left, before I leave. :(

I passed on the example class at 4pm for I had to see Prof D and DC. (Note to self: we cannot differentiate at the end points because we can't take limits at end points. Why, because we need to have both sided limits to be equal for the limit to exist!) I also discovered this other thing from DC, which I am going to make sure that I post. It nicely uses my (diminishing) knowledge from linear algebra. DC has a wall of shame in which consists of a "good luck with your new job" card and a letter. There is a particularly good reason for this, connected to the time when DC deliberately didn't clean part of black board in G51, even after we pointed it out to him. He had then walked out boldly saying: "sack me then", and so... what could one do when given this challenge? It is a sad thing indeed, but I am sure he will still be around to fulfill his Galois Group role! (It wasn't my fault for he did the same thing twice). *

Anyone noticed the cyclic nature of this long post, as I am sat with nothing else to do? My conversation with Prof. D was as always fruitful, after which I left with a heavy heart. You would think that something bad had happened, from the way I was dragging my feet! (Which I normally never do).

I think a part of me has "evolved" with regards to blogging anonymously. I haven't posted as much this semester, due to various reasons and my work along increasing exponentially from last year. I may even boldly state that I had it easy last year\{certain things}! There was a silly reason for this dip in posting, but I think I have gotten over that now. I made a few enemies (cue dramatics music) but I think that is more due to a misunderstanding that people have of me. Once which they will probably never correct. I need myself a cup of tea now. With BLUE top milk - hurrah!

*I haven't explicitly confirmed anything, so don't go telling anyone incorrect things!!!

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