My second semester was quite different from the first in that it was 12 weeks instead of 17 and not to mention it was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
17 weeks’ worth of content had to be crammed to 12 weeks meaning workload was a lot. I did not have a single week free from assignments, deadlines for readings, and lectures. Every week had a new assignment, new reading material, and new lecture videos. Some weeks even had tests ontop of all that.
I chose a friendlier and simpler course because I knew the semester would be shorter and it being my second, I’m still figuring out the lay of the land. Finding a good enough routine with my work, school work, hobbies, rest, and making time for people. The best thing about the course I picked was that it had the workload of the entire semester broken down. I knew when I was supposed to finish what, and at what point in the course work I was supposed to be at a certain date from the first day of class. This made it very easy to plan my weeks and days as I also had other work deliverables.
Working from home because of the pandemic has really worked to my advantage where school is concerned. Not having to commute every morning and evening makes a big difference in my energy. Before the lockdown, I’d be so exhausted when I got home in the evenings, and I’d end up just doing the bare minimum in my school work or sometimes nothing at all. I figured out the best routine for managing my time with school and work and my own personal activities without one coming at the expense of the other. For instance, I never carried forward my week’s schoolwork into the weekend. I made sure to finish all my school work between Monday and Friday. Weekday evenings from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm or 10 pm were my school time. 2+ hours for five days a week was enough for me to be at a good place with school workload. However, this was not written in stone. There were a few weeks when some of my work would spill over to the weekends. Especially the weeks with tests.
I tried not to postpone work tasks so that I can focus and achieve my work goals within work time, and not end up working into the night. That would mess up my entire week schedule and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed is that I get anxious when I miss a deadline that could have easily been achieved.
Lecture materials for this class could be downloaded and saved locally on my computer and I found that so much better than having them online. Not that internet connection was an issue seeing I was at home every day of the week, but I liked the thought of accessing my course material offline, just in case my ISP decided to act up or we when we had a blackout.
Projects and Group Work
There was no group project, and I cannot explain how relieved that made me. I had a group project in my last semester and working with brilliant computer scientists gave me imposter syndrome. I love group work, especially since I get to interact with computer scientists who are better and more advanced than I am, but it can be excruciatingly intimidating. So having a semester off that was a little breather. This is something I seriously need to work on. My next class will have a group project!
My previous class did not have an exam, and neither did this one. But this one had tests that were done like exams. Screen recordings, webcams, and mics on, showing the surroundings of the room, the whole shebang. I was happy they were like that because I now have an idea of what online exams are like at Georgia Tech. The tests were open book. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that I could confirm my answers with my notes, bad in that I’d not study because I knew I could research while doing the test. That wasted a lot of time and frankly, I prefer studying and just breezing through the test, confirming a few answers here and there.
I love reading, and this class had a lot of reading material. Reading from a laptop, however, is not the easiest thing to do. Especially papers with text in the font size of 8px in a single page split down the middle in 2 or 3 columns. Taking notes on the papers while reading was not the easiest thing either. Looking forward to owning a tablet with a pen. I think that will make my reading life easier. To be honest, I barely read any of the required readings because of that. I just perused through and read the discussions posted by other students on Piazza, the platform where classmates in a class communicate with each other and their professors.
This was a theory class, so all my assignments were papers. There was a lot of writing these past 3 months, to my delight. I’d make sure to start a paper at the beginning of a week and keep adding to it as the week progressed, then edit it to the final copy on Friday, and submit. Sometimes I’d find myself writing an entire 8-page paper in one night. Bad idea! The writing part of the class was my favorite part of this course.
This semester was easier than my last one, and I think I enjoyed it more. When I read the goodbye email from the professor an unexpected sadness hit me. I remember sometimes during the class I wished it would end faster, but now that it has, I miss it. Seems like I was enjoying it without even realizing.
2 down and I still have a good sleep and social life schedule. Lemme not jinx it. 8 more to go!
Read about my Spring 2020 semester.
P.S Couldn’t get images up because my WordPress decided to act up