It’s only a month into school and midterms are hitting us already. In my agenda, there is this backlog of assignments and all the due dates happen to fall within the same week. It happens every year and I’m always looking for more tips on how to stay positive during this time.
Confession time: I used to be deathly afraid of my professors (and teachers). What?
I also used to be one of those kids that thought teachers lived at school all the time and didn’t do anything else. What a shock it was when 6-year-old me saw a teacher outside of school for the first time and realized that teachers are human beings just like me.
Hello new semester! Don’t you just love the buzz around campus this time of year? You know, its that time in the semester where midterms haven’t taken over life yet, the weather is still amazing and you have a whole new batch of stationary to play with. Okay, that last one only applies to me and a handful of very cool people.
It’s also that time of year where I usually make tons of new goals and try extra hard to get this whole studying thing right.
It was my first day of classes at the University of Toronto, and I stepped onto the trampled turf of front campus with a pair of juvenile—and, admittedly, cliché—Converse and a backpack-sized collection of goals for the incoming year. I was brimming with a plethora of productive emotions, such as anxiousness, homesickness, and—probably the most helpful one—fear.
Luckily, I made it out first year alive, and with zero regrets. Zero regrets, that is, except for one.
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t ridiculously obsessed with Pokemon GO. I’d also be lying if I told you I wasn’t extremely disappointed that my last 10 km egg hatched me a dang Jynx! But what do any of these pokenanigans have to do with finding Automated Teller Machines in and around campus to prevent paying a service fee? Everything and barely anything all at the same time.
*Employer in Adele voice* Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these emails you sent to me, can I call you, before you come in?
Some classes are like meringues: light and simple. Some are more like chocolate cake: dense and rich, but very satisfying. Some are like sweet and refreshing ice cream that goes down oh-so-smoothly. Like custard, some classes are heavy and decadent. Others are like chocolate chip cookies, appreciated for their classic appeal. Classes that are like toffee are a lot to chew on, but still very pleasant.
Some classes, however, are like the bran muffin. The bran muffin is an affront to delicious things everywhere; it is utterly dull and a waste of time and calories. To make matters worse, it sometimes has nasty little shrivelled-up raisins lurking inside. No one likes a bran muffin.
Sometimes, you have to eat bran muffins though, don’t you? Perhaps when your sweet old Granny makes them for you, or when your local Timmies runs out of everything else, or when you feel like inflicting pain on those nasty little raisins. Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice when it comes to bran muffins.
The same goes for bran muffin classes. You will have at least one over the course of your university career; everybody does. Maybe you’ll need it as a breadth requirement, it will be a prerequisite for something else you want to take, or it will be the only thing that fits into your schedule. There will be no escaping it. That’s how you’ll end up in a bran muffin class, in spite of its snooze-worthy subject matter, never-ending readings, miserable locale—OISE auditorium anyone?—and its professor’s annoying goat-like voice. March 13th is the last day to drop an S section course, so it’s high time to decide if you want to stick it out or not. If you want or need to persevere, stick with me! I’ll try to show you how to turn a yucky bran muffin into a beautiful cupcake.
Okay, maybe not a cupcake, but at least a slightly-less-terrible bran muffin:
Emma’s Slightly-Less-Terrible Bran Muffin Recipe
Two nights ago I called my mother on the phone. This is relatively normal thing for me to do, as I try to call/Skype my mum at least once a week. Since moving away from home, I miss her companionship, her wisdom and sometimes (although I hate admitting it) – her telling me what to do and when to do it. It was during this phone call where I found myself expressing how silly I had been to believe I had my whole life planned out at the beginning of university. I was seventeen and to be perfectly honest, a little too self-righteous for my own good.
I spent the next fifteen woefully confessing to my mother all the visions of my future I had imagined through my rose-coloured glasses – and how nothing was like I thought it to be.
You know that person in tutorial that is so articulate it hurts? They seem to have a rhythm when they speak, they never get lost in a train of thought, and they know how to hold everyone’s attention.
Does that person fill your heart, as it does mine, with equal parts envy and admiration? If so, read on.
For us, tutorial goes a bit like this:
“Should I put up my hand? Oh no, Mr. Perfect is talking now. He’s a tough act to follow; I’ll wait a few minutes. Waiting… Waiting… Oops, now we’re talking about something completely different. Back to the drawing board. Okay…. Okay… Got something… And she just said what I was thinking. No problem, I’ll think of something else. Thinking… Thinking… Blanking… Despairing… Five minutes left. Maybe I’ll talk next week. Oh wait! I have something! Too late now; my voice is weird anyway.”
At least, that’s usually how my internal monologue goes. I’m not very good at articulating my thoughts in tutorial-type settings; they make me feel extremely anxious and shy. I’m constantly afraid that I will forget what I meant to say in the middle of saying it, or that I will say something completely off the mark, or that I will forget how to speak altogether when everyone’s eyes turn to me.
I like to listen to my peers and I often gain really cool insights from their conversations. Sometimes, I like the way the conversation is flowing so much that I would rather not interrupt it with my own awkward contribution. Unfortunately, however, listening is not usually enough; we have to prove that we’re engaging with the tutorial to get full marks. Like it or not, we have to speak.
That is why I would like to share with you, my fellow Mr. Imperfects, the strategies I use to help me speak up in tutorial: