Winter Summary and Spring Preview

Winter was a wonderful quarter. Time flies and 10 weeks went by. Went out on road trips on almost every weekend except those which has mid terms. Each trip is accompanied by wonderful company, a mixture of students from NUS, Hong Kong and Korea. These are the trips which I went to so far:

1. Monterey Bay / 17 Mile Drive
2. San Jose (Stanford, NASA, Winchester Mystery House)
3. Lake Tahoe (Snowboarding!)
4. Mystery Spot / Gilroy / Milpitas
5. San Francisco: Castro / Japantown / Chinatown
6. Salinas, Half Moon Bay, San Francisco: Alcatraz

As for the modules (or classes as they are more commonly known here) which I took last quarter, they went well! Thanks to unmerited favour, I scored pretty well for all of them. The interesting thing about exams in UCSC is that they seem like just another quiz, with not much fuss involved and most of the venues are in LTs. Heck, I even saw someone listening to his iPod while doing the exam! This is in contrast to NUS, where all the final exams make it seem like you are taking ‘A’ Levels all over again, with all the formality in seating arrangements and rules and regulations. And also, for some of the exams, they only test the topics taught in the last few weeks, instead of the whole module, which is helpful. Less things to memorise! On the whole, the workload in UCSC is much less in NUS. Even though there are more lectures per week (2-3 times), most of the subjects do not have tutorials. And I manage to scrap through without buying any textbooks and going to the library more often instead!

For my Biology class, The Human Genome, which is going to be mapped over as Genes and Society, the lecture was pretty boring and dry. It was hard to keep awake most of the time. There were a lot of things to memorise, but fortunately, the quizes were not too tough, and since most of them were multiple choice or fill in the blanks anyway. There was also a research paper component, and I thought I would struggle in it, but blessedly, it was only a few pages long and I wrote about homosexuality and genes. There were a total of 3 quizes (including the final), 4 homeworks and the research paper. In UCSC, the lecturers are required to write an evaluation for each and every student, apparently, I was in the top 5% in a class of 275 students.

For the computing class, Introduction to Computer Networks, the lecture was pretty dry as well. I had to rely on reading the textbook to catch up. Fortunately, the quizes and homework assignments were do-able and often repeating past year’s questions. There was also a lab component, in which there were 4 lab reports relating to pinging, LAN configurations, and playing with IP addresses, MAC addresses, bridges, routers and ethereal on Linux. It was time consuming, but definitely easier than programming an FTP client as that’s what my friends did in NUS.

My last class was Software Methodology, which I am very blessed to be able to take it here than in NUS (all computing students in NUS would know why!). It was a small class of 38 students. The lecturer was quite engaging, and her teaching style makes you pay attention in class. There were also alot of opportunities to ask questions and argue with her. This is one of the things unlike in NUS, where usually in lectures, nobody asks any questions. Out of the the stuff we learnt…UML, unified process, waterfall, teamwork etc. we were also supposed to do a project which was 50% of the grade. I joined a group programming an iPhone game and contributed to the design and graphics. However, I sorta regretted not picking up Objective-C and hence did not contribute to the coding of the game. Here’s what my lecturer wrote for my evaluation:

Weijian did ‘A’ level work on the in-class exams. Weijian submitted all of the five required journal readings comments on time.

Weijian’s 6-member group designed a single-player, turn-based dungeon crawler game for the iPhone. Most of the deliverables (including requirements specifications, design and technical presentations) were good to excellently done. The final product was delivered on time and satisfied the initial product requirements. I have suggested to this group to submit their project for a Dean’s Award.

Overall, Weijian did A level work for the course. His performance was the best in this class of 38 students.

It is really undeserved, umerited favour!

I’m like so-not-a-computing student this Spring, taking classes like Introduction to Drawing for non-majors, Introduction to Theater Design and Technology, Seeing the Invisible: A Critical Look at Film Editing, as well as Introduction to Probability, which is the only subject with a final exam. Everything (except Probability) has been pretty fun so far. We watched a mockumentary called “This is Spinal Tap” for theater class, and also a documentary “The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing” for the film class. I wanted to enter a film production class initially, but they didn’t accept me as priority was given to film majors and there were limited spaces =(. I also crashed two other classes in the first week of school: Walt Disney and Early Christianity. Walt Disney is a really cool class, study about the history of Walt Disney, how it affects America, its animated classics and its theme parks. The assignments include creating your own animation and theme park attraction. How fun is that! Early Christianity is pretty interesting too, and the lecturer has many assertions, such as Jesus was certainly not born in Bethlehem?

Spring quarter is going to be awesome as I am a beloved child of God!


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