So please leave a comment there as well, because I really desperately need comments. Really desperately. But leave comments here too, rofl. (Holy crap I sound needy).
And before anyone asks, my first name is Yue. So it's like a pretty lame pun. Hooray.
Random goals I hope to accomplish before I graduate and the current status of my Duke education in the presumptuous (but really just wan and hopeful) assumption that you care. But hey, why else would you be reading this.
1. Latin honors
...though I don't know how feasible those are, given my absolutely abysmal performance on my math and physics tests. They were so hilariously bad, my recitation professor'll probably make fun of me like he makes fun of the kid who attempted to divide matrices. And it wasn't like I was any good at school to begin with, what with my unfortunate and, quite frankly, ineluctable bouts of narcolepsy during class. And my sleeping habits aren't very conducive to my academic success, either. Getting back to my dorm at 5:30AM? Yeah, not the best idea.
2. Outrunning the C-1 bus
...should theoretically be possible if I run on the downhill route (West to East) on a day with lots of traffic and with lots of friends conspiring to hold up the bus as much as possible. Maybe I can have friends get on/get off the bus at each stop and be uncooperative enough with the bus driver so that he wastes time telling everyone to MOVE BACK to fit more (of my friends) on the bus. Honestly, I think this happening is more probable than me graduating with latin honors...which is pathetic considering graduating cum laude means being within the top thirty percent of my class.
3. Assorted marathons?
...which is kind of strange considering how much I hate running. But hey, perhaps I can muster enough effort and stop complaining long enough to endure 26.22 miles of torture. And by now, the astute reader'll have noticed my pluralization of the word marathon. Is he crazy? Is he retarded? Is his chronic sleep deprivation getting to him? I don't know. But most likely I'll be too lazy to attempt this one, especially since I dropped out of my first scheduled race in college (some random 8K in Asheville). Though, granted, it was because I had a disgusting cold/fever that involved large amounts of phlegm. And I do mean large. Large as in massive. Large as in gargantuan. Large as in Jesse. Just kidding. I still heart you Jesse (psst. Large as in Jesse).
4. Rach 3.
...is probably not feasible considering how lazy I am and the fact that I never adequately finished Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto. And by never adequately finished I mean I had to replace it with a song I played a year earlier because I couldn't memorize it in time for the recital. But I suppose that's what I get for practicing a grand total of what, half an hour a day on random days of the week? Again, if I ever get enough anti-lazy points, I may get around to doing this...but those points'll probably have to be spread between this and the potential marathons. But hey, at least the music is very accessible because of our music library. I've already checked out random Chopin, Liszt etudes, Godowsky etudes on Chopin etudes (pretty much impossible, by the way...they're very difficult and not at all fun trying to sightread) and random Oscar Peterson transcriptions. Actually, I've renewed the Chopin four times, but that's only because they'd only let me keep the book for four days at a time. But hey, unlimited renewals = win.
5. Staying up for 50 hours
...shouldn't be much of a challenge, especially if I have some of those 5 hour energy shots which have 8333% of the daily value for vitamin B12. They're probably awful for you. Actually, they're downright unhealthy. I probably shouldn't need those, since I've stayed up for over forty hours without caffeine before. Caffeine gives me nightmares if I happen to fall asleep right after having it. And strangely enough, it seems to put me to sleep. I had half of a caffeine pill at Myrtle Beach, and about an hour later, I was passed out on a chair during evening session at Getaway 2008. Not sleeping for a while gives me massive chills, and I start saying things which make absolutely no sense. Attention Kevin/Collin (who was probably asleep, actually)/Jesse: Remember the comment I made about the suicide note not surviving the car crash? Yeah, I'll probably do lots of those. I can also REALLY feel my heartbeat it's the craziest feeling. Wakie wakie!
6. Having a healthy sleep schedule for two weeks straight
...would be the most healthy things I could do at the moment. Healthy sleep schedule means sleeping at 10 or 11 every night and waking up at 8ish. Is this possible? Considering our 3 AM hall singalongs and the fact that heck, I just might have insomnia, funnily enough, considering I basically am narcoleptic during class (as referenced in the first goal)? Probably not. But this is definitely one of the best things I could do for myself at the moment. It's just not happening, though.
7....I just have this here because I don't like ending lists with even numbers. And quite frankly, I don't like ending them with numbers that are one around multiples of 5 or 10, though I don't mind ending in multiples of ten...which is an apparent contradiction to my above statement because those are even numbers, but hey, I don't care, maybe I should've been more precise in my original statement. So basically, I only like ending lists if the last number is a 0, sometimes 2, 3, 5, 7, or sometimes 8. I know I said I don't like ending them with even numbers, but...yeah, I'm pretty much super messed up. Don't judge me.
So yeah. Math and physics are massive trainwrecks. I happened to have my massive fever/cold/headache/etc. the same week as my math and physics midterms. Granted, I wouldn't have done well on them anyway, but the headache and obscene amounts of tissue crowding my desk couldn't have helped. On my physics test, I managed to outperform an astounding 24% of my peers...of course, the silver lining is that I remembered enough statistics to figure that out. So hey, that's a good thing, right? Math was even worse. To give an example, I managed to incorrectly determine the determinant of every 3x3 matrix on the exam because honestly, I'd forgotten how to do it. Considering we had questions like "Prove that a set of linearly independent vectors in R3 must span R3", my demonstrated lack of math acumen couldn't've boded well for the rest of the exam.
I don't even have good study habits, if any. On my physics homework, which is graded for accuracy, I literally wrote the line "Well if I actually knew the velocity here, I could plug it in over there, and...". Yeah. Really sad. I try to study, but really, it's just futile. I won't learn it. And the one-night marathon of writing a history paper was just torture. And I have the annoying bad habit of falling asleep in my classes even though they're actually very engaging. We have professors giving gems of examples such as "If at a party you had three beers, two bags of chips and several thousand dollars worth of paper cups, you obviously wouldn't have much utility". I don't even know why I can't stay awake if my professors are so interesting like that. Why do I fail so much at school...it's disastrous :/
Duke after three weeks? My lame perspective.
Here’s an update on how Duke is. It’s quite a long read. Over two thousand wordsish, which is pretty much longer than everything I ever wrote combined, freshman year of high school. Oddly enough, it didn’t take me that long to write…only about half an hour. Stream of consciousness stuff I guess? Wow I’m surprised AP English Lit actually taught me something! Hooray.
Fittingly enough for me, I’m starting with the food. Food here’s actually not bad. It’s quite expensive though, with a set number of meals that don’t roll over each week, meaning that you’d better get your money’s worth of food or you’ll just be wasting money. Most people just eat at the Marketplace, which is a buffet style place with different “stations” such as pasta, Asian, grill, salad bar, etc. It’s kind of hard to control how much you eat, especially since it’s a buffet and you want to get your money’s worth. For example, tonight I had a plate of lamb curry, two large plates of vegetarian pasta florentine, some sort of tempeh stew (kind of weird…it was vegan), about a cup of olives, a large bowl of tomato bisque with eight packets of crackers, two slices of apple pie and one slice of blueberry pie. I feel so fat right now it’s not even funny.
But I guess I have been exercising more ever since I got here. I joined a running club, which is super fun and really laid back. It was pretty intimidating on the first day because people showed up with t-shirts from past 10Ks/half-marathons/marathons that they’ve run, but honestly it’s really laid back and friendly. We only run like 3 miles - 10 milesish, so it’s not like absolute torture (though it definitely feels like it when I’m running) but hey, at least I’m running and not wasting those freaking expensive shoes I bought with Hillary. Everyone’s super supportive, which makes it cool. We also have nice trails in the Duke forest, but some of those are pretty sketchy. The six mile trail I did on Wednesday involved crossing an interstate, running under a bridge with lots of traffic overhead, and dealing with roundabouts and interchanges. Kind of like frogger, except actually dangerous. I can only make it three times a week though, because of my classes.
I’m pretty unimpressed with our dorms, though. Facebook creeping through everyone’s pictures shows massive dorm rooms, from the old mansion at CMU (cough, Will) to the massive suites at Yale (I hate you, Dan). Instead, here at Duke I get a room that’s literally three bed widths wide, like a jailcell, has cinderblock walls (cozy) and non-doored closets. We don’t really hvae closets, but rather an alcove-type deal with a road suspended between it where you’re supposed to hang your clothes. They advertised that to us as a feature, because apparently Duke kids are easily tricked into believing that not having doors for closets is an archetectural marvel. They do have air conditioning, though, and a decent Boston upright in the common room. Oh, and before I forget, our rooms are actually smaller than the minimum legal size for North Carolina prisons. Yeah.
Thanks to David Pison, I’m taking hard classes. I went into Duke with a schedule that involved retake-Junior year math, a seminar on food production, and two other classes in the same vein, but after some rearranging, I ended up with the psychosis inducing schedule I’m describing below. But I do suppose he’s right…I’m paying so much for a Duke education I might as well get the most out of it. So thanks, David.
Math is definitely my hardest class. I’m in a room full of economics majors and it’s so cutthroat it’s pretty scary. I was never any good at math in high school…those of you in the other calculus class that Freed taught should remember all the times she made fun of my mistakes. My major problem with math in high school (narcolepsy, really) still carries. Today was the first day I actually stayed awake for a whole math lecture, which is kind of pathetic considering the class is only fifty minutes long and I sit front center to try to stay awake. I usually end up feeling really guilty after class because I’m front center and drifting into and out of consciousness ten or so times each class.
And it’s even worse because I don’t understand what in the world’s going on. I was expecting multivariable calculus because that’s what the course description said, but it’s really just a whole lot of linear algebra with fun terms like “endogenous”, “quasiconcave functions”, “complex eigenvectors”, and “Kuhn-Tucker Formulation” thrown in. The book is also completely black and white with no pictures or color whatsoever, three page chapters crammed with weird little math symbols and theorems aplenty. There also aren’t many examples, so it’s hard to do the homework at the end of the chapter.
Speaking of which, I’ve actually been doing my homework. Surprise, surprise. It’s for a grade here, which wasn’t ever the case in high school. Math homework takes hours, and I’m honestly not used to doing any homework at all. I do it with a small group, and none of us really knows what’s going on. I’m dreading our first exam, coming up the 24th, mainly since it counts for 20% of our final grade. One of my goals in college is to graduate with a latin honor…although my triple digit class rank in high school didn’t really prepare me to expect much.
Math recitation’s cool. It’s taught by a guy named Kash, which is the most badass name ever until you realize it’s short for Prakash Balachandran. Then it’s even more badass. What a cool guy. He’s spent hundreds of thousands of his own money buying mathematics books and journals, which he paid for by his insane math skills and playing the futures market or something like that. So yeah, math is definitely something that’ll get you money if you’re good at it…he’s concentrating in stochastic geometry, whatever that means. Remember those fun terms I referred to above? Yeah, that’s probably one of them. Most of my recitation is spent trying to understand math concepts I probably’ll never get and listening to Kash curse at dry erase markers and erasers for having copious amounts of suck. He’s really actually a really actually friendly guy. Really actually. He’s cool.
I don’t really know what to think about physics. I have the same problem with staying in any alert state in the class, which is kind of bad because it’s college physics. However, I basically took the same course last year with Newport, so I’m really grateful I had him. This class is exactly the same. Literally. Same schedule, same types of problems, same labs, same examples. I flipped through the book and it was exactly like the one we used last year save the publisher. My instructor was the head of TUNL, and was originally from Germany, so he has just about the coolest accent ever. Ever. I love German accents. I love most accents, really. I’ve been meaning to learn German. Random.
Physics recitation is this two hour marathon that I absolutely dread, though. Looking at the clock is just painful. Just about the only saving grace is that my recitation professor is from New Zealand, so if I close my eyes, I can imagine it’s an episode of Flight of the Conchords. His voice even sounds like Jemaine’s. Or Brett’s. Or both, really. Homework is also taken for a grade for physics, which sucks because I have to actually do it without Newport just giving us answers. Come to think of it, I really miss Newport. He was Carmel High School’s secret badass…a theoretical physics PhD who flew planes in his free time while having an endless supply of sweaters? Wow. You can’t top that. Also he was really freaking smart. We never “quite easily arrived” as his solutions for things, but whatever, I loved Newport.
My physics lab class is just kind of standard. Not much really to say, though we do use those Vernier Logger Pro dongles that Mrs. Haire was so fond of. I’m glad I got to know how those things worked before I went to college. Carmel High School was great. I miss it a lot.
History is kind of strange. It’s taught by a professor who has some amazing hats and nice outfits everday. It’s generally an interesting course, as it’s really discussion based and we have a small class size. The course is about 20th century warfare, but I’d probably enjoy it more if it weren’t taught at 8:45 in the morning. I have to read about 150 pages of some history related journals and various books each week, which totally sucks like a vaccuum, especially since I’m depressingly behind in that regard. I should probably be reading my history right now instead of typing this up, but I’m lazy. Some things never change. I did meet the first person at Duke whom I actively dislike in this class though, some snotty, uppity girl who wears body glitter and is apparently violently annoyed when I ask her whether or not the grade distribution for the class is on a curve. She could go play in traffic, for all I care. Which is none.
And finally, my class on global warming is definitely my favorite. It’s taught by just about the funniest professor ever, and I actually look forward to Wednesday and Friday afternoons just so I can be in his class. I He’s young, also, and we don’t call him professor or doctor, but rather, Alex. It’s kind of like Ellery’s class was Junior year, except instead of history, we learn about stromatolites. He has hilarious lectures, and they always involve cool powerpoints (yes, they do exist) and lots of sound effects that he does himself. He could be a voice actor…but reallt I’m just glad he’s my professor.
I love the campus here at Duke. West campus is just beautiful, with lots of green space, trees everywhere, and breathtaking gothic archetecture. I wish I had a camera so I could upload some pictures, because the campus here is beautiful. Probably not quite so exotic as Jesse’s at USC, but charming in its own way. For example, to get to the physics building, I get to walk past a small garden on the side of the chapel, walk through a wooded gravel trail, and end up in front of my class. It’s little things like this that make me enjoy walking around Duke.
East campus is nice too, with more conservative looking Georgian archetecture on the main quad, then random deviations in the backyard, etc. One dorm was a former mental institution and has the creepiest freaking basement. It could literally be a level from Goldeneye, and has this eerie green/brown glow that makes me look over my shoulder every time I go there (which is only once, the night I creeped around all the dorms). Everyone’s jealous of Bell Tower, which is literally a hotel. Everything is meticulously kept, with music practice rooms, four plasma TVs, a massage center, and basically everything else you could need. They’re also one of the few dorms with air conditioning. They’re so cool they have a facebook group dedicated to how much everyone hates them. Which is a lot. But not really because the people there are cool. Speaking of people, everyone here’s pretty much amazing. Except for that hell-spawn asswad I mentioned earlier. But besides her, everyone’s been so friendly and stuff.
I’ve been doing Cru as well. When I tell people I do Cru, they all exclaim about how exciting it must be, being on the rowing team and stuff. That’s when I tell them it’s actually Campus Crusade for Christ, and then they just kind of look confused. But Cru’s exciting too. I’m really planning on some serious faith growth during college. I haven’t really gotten to get to know many of the people well, but there’s a weekend retreat coming up and I’m looking forward to that.
Also I’ve been doing more piano stuff, mainly just practicing. I never really practiced at all back home, much to the chagrin of my piano teacher, but I really miss playing piano. As such, I’ve been actually playing and practicing and stuff. Most of it is movie music, but I just recently checked out Chopin’s Scherzos and some of Liszt’s Etudes from our music library and I plan on learning some pieces. I’m pretty excited.
So yeah, that just about sums up all the non-social aspects of Duke so far. Ended up longer than I expected…over two thousand words. Why can’t I ever write like that for school? Sigh.