Xander’s College Life: Year 3 Chapter 9

Xander’s College Life: Year 3
Chapter 9 – The art of overburdening

I have a peculiar habit at the beginning of every semester: after adding all the classes that I’d been planning to take (largely a mix of boring technical classes and fun technical classes; a mixed bag of 16-18 hours, but all technical), I then proceed to add on one or two more from one of my other curricula of interest. This semester, it happened to be computer graphics, which incidentally turned out to be my favorite class.

Of course, I initially intend to keep all 20-22 hours of classes, a way of staying ahead while still doing what I want to do; hasn’t happened yet. This semester felt different; the classes at least, seemed manageable.

Facebook has it laid out like this:

•    MATH 415 Advanced Topics In The Theory Of Groups (this should say Linear Algebra )
•    C S 418 Computer Graphics
•    ECE 410 Digital Signal Processing
•    ECE 329 Intro Electromagnetic Fields
•    C S 440 Introductory Artificial Intelligence
•    ECE 200 Seminar
•    STAT 400 Statistics and Probability I

Thursday evening, I was sitting in the food court of the union, oddly alert after having slept about 10 minutes the night before, gone through 2 interviews, having just finished 7 hours of classes, and now studying for an hour quiz for 410, after which I needed to meet with my HKN group to plan our Wii tournament, and thereafter spend 2 hours on STAT homework, 4 on MATH 415, and plan for a meeting with a fellow researcher all for Friday—when I saw the first familiar (non-classmate) face of the day. Dev came by after I hailed him, and proclaimed that he had “nothing to do”.

Absolutely nothing?

Yep, he had so little to do, that after the featherweight bounce he had strolled in with, he was gonna go bowling. This had little impact on me then, as I had some final catching up to do, but it came back to me many hours later.

I had debated with Jon a week before, about exactly *why* we were such workaholics — piling on more and more work because we think we can, and then busy feeling so guilty when a moment went by unproductively. That day, I argued that we did this because we were motivated, that while most people would do what they needed to do, and then go about being idle, we actually drove to further ourselves, to push forward with far more than the average load, and succeed. That, we declared, was the key to success, and the reason why instead of lounging around, we put ourselves through all this excess. Back then, it made perfect sense, and satisfied, I went about doing my 418 MP, feeling motivated again. Now, after returning from the Wii meeting I surveyed the 7+ hours of work I’d have to do just to catch up to the homework due that day; and then all that reasoning from before fell apart, and suddenly, I was left feeling a lack of purpose.

This all felt stupid. Before, I had prided myself by keeping a balanced lifestyle; mixing fun with productivity, pursuing hobbies, exploring personal interests, reading for pleasure (God, when was the last time I did that???), and really, giving myself enough time to catch up with the life I was living. Now, well, I still did some of the aforementioned, but overall, I was working non-stop. I don’t even remember the last time that I had “free-time”; there was always something due on the horizon (if not the next day), and it’s kind of hard enjoying yourself when you’re feeling guilty that you should be doing something else.

In any case… this all seems kind of ridiculous, a little excessive, and I need to rethink my priorities. I *do* have a LOT of interests beyond the technical work that I’m doing, and I’m beginning to feel their absence. So, for the rest of the semester; while I’m on the job hunt for summer.

Well, that’s all for now–and since I said I’d post up pictures of the snow…


Well, I’ve finally dropped a class; no more MATH 415!


People evade the skidding bus… you can’t really see it, but there’s a blizzard of snow blowing around.

Cars that won’t be going anywhere for a while…

Over there is the library!

  • so i guess you won’t be joining me for class after math 415 anymore =(
  • I guess i might add some prospective… I started out the semester with a full load of classes, intending to graduate this semester. But after spending every ounce of my time at dance practice, i quickly fell behind in some classes. Luckily i made the decision to stick around for a year to get yet another useless major and dropped two classes to pick up later. (ok, i probably just explained all that so i dont sound like such a slacker o_O)

    but i digress… point being: while we were still doing dance competitons, i didn’t have a second of time… now suddenly i have all the time in the world since i’m taking only 12 hours. I’ve gone from unmanageable stress to almost complete unproductivity and i’m not sure which is worse. For a fleeting moment, my newfound “relaxed” lifestyle may be appealing… but at the same time i wish i was making better use of my time like you seem to be doing… it’s extremely difficult to find a balance…

  • you should feel good about yourself for working hard and happy that you are motivated. i feel like a worthless bum with my 2 real classes (i spend maybe 9 hours a week in class?) and slacking research for a major i’ve lost interest in…although poker and drinking (ie getting fat) are pretty fun hobbies. sometimes i feel like i’m incapable of working bust-ass hard again, which is not a good thing.
  • huray for dropping a math class!

    and in response to your question, i read gossip blogs every day for my news (not kidding. waste of time? sure.) but it still takes a long time to do all the adequate research (wikipedia is my hero!) and format pictures and whatnot. would be helpful if i had photoshop, haha

  • Why would you drop linear algebra?! that is the class I am in. :).  Or well, it is 2245.. so probably not the same class, but still! Math is math!  I’m jealous of your second snow day, we only got the one.  I was so hoping for the snow day, but it just didn’t come :(.

    I’m going to have 53 hours of credit from ap/cod :)!