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21 March 2010

Working through problems

I'm not doing well, at all. So far, my first semester at the big state university has been an exercise in frustration. I'm having a hard time concentrating, I'm not getting good grades, I'm increasingly likely to not be in class, and in general, things academic are turning to shit.

Most of my energy has been devoted to going to work, which is a big part of what's wrong. I think it started with working too much, slipping a little, missing a little. Then the workload in classes picked up, and it just got increasingly hard to run fast enough to get caught up. Now it's like running on a treadmill whose speed keeps increasing-- eventually your legs won't move fast enough, and you biff onto the conveyor belt and then the floor.

I've been working on at least identifying some of the problems I'm having.

* I have spent a good portion of this semester just getting from one place to another. When a class ends, it's a ~20+ minute walk to the other end of campus. Usually, the walk involves stopping for food and/or coffee. Foraging for food involves a detour to a building that contains a place to buy food, so the trip is often a little bit longer.
* It's a ~40 minute bus ride to campus in the morning, followed by a ~20 minute brisk walk to get to my first class of the day (see above). That's an hour commute to get where I need to go to start my day. If the bus is a few minutes late, that adds to the stress level a little. The bus is also often crowded, which can feel a little uncomfortable sometimes.
* I am having a great deal of trouble concentrating on anything. Having trouble concentrating means I don't get much done, and not having my homework done on time makes things bad, bad, bad.
* When I get home, I don't want to go to bed/sleep. I'm tired-- but I don't wanna go to bed. Dreams suck. Even if they're not "nightmares" they often leave me irritated and confused. Not getting enough sleep probably makes the concentration problem worse.
* I often find myself seeking the "eye of the hurricane", that place and time when I can find calm and quiet (and often solitude) among the crowds, noise, and stress. Avoiding in general isn't a good thing, but it is a sign that something is wrong that needs to be corrected.

I failed two midterm tests this week. Believe it or not, I feel better after doing so. Some of the pressure from worrying about failing them is gone now.

I've discovered that big, huge changes never seem to work; it takes small, often subtle adjustments spread over time to change things.

There are few things I need to get over; these will take some extra effort, but will produce extra rewards.

* Talking to people in classes. I need to get to know some of my classmates, and communicate with the ones I do know more.
* There's an undergraduate research lab in my program's building. It's geek central, and it's exactly the place I should be doing my compsci homework. I feel a little intimidated going there.
* Talking to my professors and asking for help, extensions, sympathy, etc.

There are some things I really can't change this semester.
  • The bus ride is ~40 minutes each way. It takes ~20 minutes more walking to get to class.
  • The bus is crowded in the morning.
  • If I sleep, I might dream.
  • Once I'm home, I'm probably not going to get much studying done.
There are, however, a few things that I /can/ change. I resolve that:
  • I will not miss another class this semester. If I don't make the bus, I'll find another way to get there (probably drive, even if parking is expensive I'll still be in class).
  • I will treat the rest of the semester like it's the week before final exams (which in a sense it is). I study. This is what I do.
  • I will be in bed on or before the end of today at 2359.
  • I'll get over my fear of going to the gym-- no one cares that I'm older, slower, or bigger.
  • I will get on my bike again. Nothing at all wrong with biking in and busing back home with the bike. (I'm actually anxious about putting my bike on the bike rack on the bus. I've never done that.)
There are some things I can change /next/ semester:
  • I can move closer to campus, which will hopefully eliminate the sense of isolation I've been feeling by living on the far side of town.
If this post seems a little disjointed, it's because it probably is; I'm "sounding out" ideas more than anything. Overall, I think the change to a bigger university and the floundering around that's resulted has knocked me off track. I'm trying now to keep the parts of my part-time student and full-time-student-at-smaller-school lives and use them here, along with some new creations.

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