The beginning of my second week here began the crunch time for the first midterm. Everyone was preparing in any way they could in order to get ready for this accelerated physics midterm. The midterm was to cover topics of kinematics, Newton’s laws, and other properties fundamental to physics before moving on to the more intense topics that we are learning this week (week 3). The midterm was ten question multiple-choice on the UK grading scale. On this scale, a student can still get an A with a 60%. That left many of us with hope that we would be able to do well. Unfortunately, the UK scale and multiple choice did not work out in my favor. I received a score that I was not expecting at all which meant one thing: I need to crack down on my study habits and get a better system for studying. For this upcoming week, I am working on catching up on lectures (the professor continued to teach new material even though it was not going to be on the midterm; so I spent more time studying old material than learning the new material) and doing more book problems than I did before. I plan on being caught up by tonight (July 3rd) in order to maintain the regimen up until the final for session one which is coming up next Thursday.
On the bright side, the midterm is only 15% of my grade and the most important part of my grade is the lab (25%). Labs are generally fun, but usually time crunches for many students. In lab, we do experiments testing every fundamental lesson in physics. So far I have completed: calculating spring constants, measuring heat transfer, and estimating acceleration due to gravity through pendulums. The labs are three hours long and generally take the entire time necessary to complete. Other times, they can be quick and painless. Unfortunately for me, I have no lab partner because there is an odd number of students in my section. This means I am essentially doing twice the work of anyone else in the room and expected to finish with the same results. On two occasions, having a partner would have been more than ideal, but I find it calming knowing that I am the only one responsible for my work; if I do poorly, I know that it came from my own mistake and not someone else’s and allows me to work on improving that part of my own understanding. I asked today in lab if there were any partner-less students in the lab and the lab instructor said, “No” and told me that there were an odd number of students. The next time I may have a lab partner would be in session two.
Immediately after my midterm, my friends and I went on an overnight trip to London in order to celebrate finishing half of the first session. This was a preemptive celebration because after the midterm we felt confident that we generally did well.
This was my first time leaving the campus overnight and I was excited for the journey ahead. This was also my first time staying in a hostel.
To summarize the trip, we went around London to the touristy areas: Buckingham Palace where we got to see the switching of the guards and some guards training; Parliament Square where we got to see statues of great political powers; Big Ben the clock tower; The Eye the giant ferris wheel; a festival that had live music, shows, and street food; and some of London’s great architecture.
We learned that the best way to get around London was the underground subway called “The Tube” and spent the first and last day using it to get everywhere. In my opinion, the second day was the best. We went to Camden Town: a town that is basically a large open air market. The entire town had vendors of all sorts selling drastically different and drastically similar wares. I am a “foodie” so I had to try everything they offered. To summarize what I had: donut-snickers (a snickers fried in doughnut dough), Dutch pancakes (mini fluffy pancakes drizzled with chocolate, strawberries, and powdered sugar), Poppie’s Fish and Chips (voted best Fish and Chips in 2015), and watched my friends eat from La Raclette (a place that serves food with hot cheese scraped off a cheese wheel with a hot knife). Camden was so great that after leaving Camden to check out another area of London, we all decided to go back and look around. We decided that we will plan a future day trip to London (without our backpacks) just to shop around in Camden!
I wanted to say something quickly about the hostel. I wasn’t sure why hostels get such a bad rapport. Checking in was simple, easy, and quick. The room was small, but it was made for backpackers: the place was there for you to sleep; not to live. I realized that I was the first to check-in to the room, put my stuff away in a locker, and was out the door about 30mins after walking through it. When I went back to my hostel, I noticed that I was no longer the only person there, but since I got back pretty late, everyone was sleep.
To my surprise, when I woke up the next morning, I ran into someone that made the world feel a lot smaller. This guy that was in the hostel turned out to be a Bruin: he went to UCLA for his undergrad, Penn State for his Masters’, and is currently studying at USC to get his Ph. D in higher education. He also lived in Compton; not too far from where I stay now and where I used to stay. He told me he was one of the original Black Bruins and worked closely with Dr. Howard at UCLA to get Black Bruins heard and off the ground. That was one crazy experience for me, knowing that the world is small even when you’re far from home.
In my defense, I think the hostel wasn’t so bad because I live in a mixed dorm and have had bad roommates that I had to share an academic year with; so one night with complete strangers is not bad at all. Although, I have a problem with cleaning staff cleaning bathrooms early in the morning like no one showers in the morning; which they do at UCLA, too.
In short, I know I need to work on improving study habits and getting more work done. I believe now I have experienced as much as I could in Brighton and London; so I can focus on getting work done instead of treating this like a holiday (as the British say).