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Thoughts On This Past Semester

January 2010 marks the beginning of the Winter semester at university.  If all goes well, this will be my last and final semester as an undergraduate student.  This winter semester will mark the end of the security blanket I have wrapped myself with for the past five years or so.

However, I do want to comment on the goings on of last semester as I hadn’t posted anything regarding it in quite some time.

Last semester was good and bad.  On the good side, I actually made quite a bit of new friends.  I met some great people, fun and full of life.  I had some great times with these people.  They actually made university more fun than it should have been.  On the downside though, the workload I had to endure was utter hell.

For some of my classes, I had assignments due literally every week.  I rarely had any down time for myself.  I didn’t have much of a mental break at all.  I was constantly on the go and constantly studying.  It actually took quite a toll on me.  I had a few major assignments that I had to do which I felt were totally unnecessary.

For example, in one of my geography classes, Latin American Geography, I had to draw up maps and write reflections on what we were learning in class.  I can understand why the professor would want us to do this.  She wanted the class to be constantly engaged in the class material in the hopes that we would retain the information.  But given that this was a senior level class, I find assignments like this to be an utter waste of time.  These reflections on class lectures and material hope to have the student critically analyze the material but in reality this does not happen.  It’s basically regurgitating the information that we have already learned and adding in “I”‘s and “I think”‘s.  They do not force the student to think about what they are writing about.  They only force the student to mind vomit all over their keyboard, print it off and submit to the prof an illusion of what may or may not be going through the students heads.  These reflections were a big part of our grade and I felt that I didn’t gain anything out of this part.  Moreover, as the text book we were using did not provide any maps (regarding the commodity trade in Latin America), the prof forced us to construct our own maps and illustrate the travel patterns of commodities such silver, sugar, cocaine and others.  In theory this sounds like an easy assignment but in reality it was horrible.  The prof wanted us to construct detailed maps, more than what normal maps detail.  I had no idea what the prof actually wanted for our maps, what she wanted us to include and exclude.  Again, I found no benefit to this assignment whatsoever.   At the end, I was pretty disappointed in the class and its structure as I didn’t get nearly as much out of it as I thought I would.

I also was not satisfied with another geography class of mine, cultural geography.  This class has some amazing concepts to it.  The jist of cultural geography is looking at a space from a political point of view.  So  we would look at a space and analyze how it was used, who it was meant for, what power differentiations existed in the space and so on.  The material itself was very interesting but the structure of the class was as such that the information was not readily available.  Notes weren’t posted online and the text book that we used was sub par at best.  Moreover, the prof was good in certain respects but I don’t think she knew how to actually teach the class.  She was actually a grad student who was paired up with a TA who was also another grad student.  Together, they had labs that were bi-weekly.  These labs were alright except for that the TA’s marking scheme for these labs were pretty horrid.  It was almost designed so that the best one could do was get a B on it.  Most people that I talked to in the class got an average of a B- to a C.  Small things like punctuation and spelling were given more weight than the actual material itself.  Moreover, the marking scheme was rigid and there was no room given to explore or extrapolate our own ideas from the content that we learned.  There wasn’t any real academic freedom when it came to these labs.

All in all, I was a bit disappointed with respect to these two particular classes.  Although I had three other classes that went really good, these two classes that I had pinned a lot of my hopes on with respect to interesting and increasing my GPA ended up being disappointments.  Because of these two classes, my GPA isn’t what I was hoping it to be.  This means that I have to now drop classes which I was hoping to take for the sake of interest and take classes where I know that I will get a GPA in.  Considering this is going to be my last semester, I am not really happy with that.

The only thing that will make this semester worth remembering are the extra curricular activities that I am involved in.  With all the clubs and initiatives I am involved in, it is going to be a semester that I know will fly by fast but will be packed with a lot of fun.

I hope you guys had a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.  Good luck to everyone this semester.

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On This Cloudy Day

The past 48 hours or so have been quite interesting to say the least.  I had two midterms yesterday and of course and inevitably, I fell behind in my readings.  So I began studying some time Wednesday evening, in through thursday until 4am, went home slept for four hours, woke up at 8am, almost slept through my first midterm, got to class at 9.05 am (five minutes late), and began writing my midterm for geog…*takes a deep breath*  ten minutes into the midterm (which is in essay format) I take a few seconds to actually read the instructions and realise I only have to answer two out of the three questions that are given.  I quickly realise I’m writing on the hardest question.  So I scratch that out and start working on the two easier questions.  After that exam was over with, I skipped my next class to review for my midterm which was in two hours.   Studied, went to the class, wrote the midterm, ran out of time and wasn’t able to really complete the last question on the exam but felt good nonetheless.  Thankful that my ordeal was finally over, I went to Friday Prayers, went home and slept from 2-8pm, took two hours to get ready, went to Tim Hortons, grabbed a steep tea, and spent the night at university, getting home at 6am in the morning, having only studied for one out of the seven hours I was there for.   Went to bed at 7, woke up at 11 and now, at 2.45pm, I am planning on getting ready for what I hope to be a more productive night of studying.

Even though I got four hours of sleep, I feel good right now.  I feel happy and positive.  I absolutely love cloudy days and today is one cloudy day.  The plan is to feed off this positive energy that Im feeling by the clouds and use it as motivation to get my assignments and labs done before Monday morning.

Speaking of feeding off positive energy, Im totally feeling the positive vibes by these two:

New Beginnings

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

This month has marked the beginning of a new year; the beginning of the new school year that is.  Just as how the Chinese have their own calendar, the Muslims have their own calendar, university students have their own calendar as well.  The University Calendar might not be the best one out there, but it will dictate our lives for the next eight months.

So it’s the start of the new school year.  Students have been running around, trying to find their classes, buying books, returning books, and creating massive traffic jams in hallways talking to friends they haven’t seen all summer.  There are many new faces floating around and many more old faces.

Personally for myself, it marks a new beginning.  I officially completed my political science degree in the winter semester.  I tried to find a job in my field but it was quickly evident that that wasn’t going to happen.  So I planned early on to return to school and up my GPA.  In August, I came to a realisation of sorts.  I did a bit of research and talked to a few people and came to this conclusion:  Rather than taking a bunch of random classes to up my GPA, right now is a perfect time to add another degree to my undergrad.  I spoke to my advisor at university and came to the conclusion that based on the classes I’ve taken previously, it would be best if I did a minor in geography.

Why geography?  For a few reasons.  One, I did very well in my previous geography classes.  That is actually something that I didn’t expect.  I don’t love geography but it’s not something that I totally hate either.  Second, I felt that if I take the right classes, a geography minor would be a unique way for me to compliment my minor.  Third, a normal minor requires a student to complete 10 courses.  I had already taken four geography classes and so I only needed six more classes to officially have a minor.  Taking that and a few other things into consideration, I spent a good month researching my classes, researching profs and the material that they were going to teach.

These are the geography classes that I am taking this semester:

  • Cultural Geography
  • Environmental Geography
  • Geography of Latin America
  • Geography of AIDS/HIV

If I don’t change around my schedule, next semester I will be taking:

  • Political Geography
  • Economic Geography

Based on these courses and what is being taught in them, I think it will go really well with my political science degree.   The AIDS/HIV is especially a good class in that it is a seminar type of class.  It’s not a regular lecture format.  Rather, the professor encourages the class to be interactive and allows students to delve into the various academic aspects the disease.  Moreover, it gives me a good idea of what classes will be like at the Masters level, which I hope to persue later on.  The only downside is that the class requires a 30 page essay which is due at the end of the semester.  This will officially be the longest essay I will have ever written in my university career.

I am also taking a few other electives to further boost my GPA so all in all I have a full course load; 5 classes.  I have already become stressed out.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a good type of stress.  Oh yeah, I’m also working at the same time.  It’s going to be quite a busy semester.

When I first began university I didn’t plan on geography at all.  It wasn’t even on my list.  But its funny how destiny directs you to certain paths.  The good thing about the path I have chosen is that nothing bad can come out of my minor.  I’ve added another qualification to my degree and I am confident I will have a whole new perspective to view the world when I am finally done my undergrad.  So really, nothing bad can come out of this.

In the spirit of this new beginning, you may have noticed that I changed the theme of my blog.  I added a few songs on the sidebar from soundcloud.  I intend to add more as soon as I have some more time to surf the site.  There are some amazing songs on there that I would definitely love to share with you guys.  I love this theme.  The colour schemes are perfect and it gives that nice “bloggy” feeling.

I wish the rest of the students out there a fun, happy and prosperous school year.

Chipped Teeth

August 10, 2009 5 comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now wear the hallmark of a true Canadian.  Three of my teeth are now severely chipped due to a hockey stick hitting my in the mouth.  I forgot how it exactly happened.  All I remember is seeing a bottom end of a hockey blade with black tape around it heading directly to my mouth.  It hit me and I got stunned and stood there waiting for some sort of sharp horrible pain to hit me.  When that didn’t happen, I waited a few seconds to spit out any teeth that may have gotten loose.  Thank God that didn’t happen either.

What did happen however is that my two front teeth are severly chipped.  A good chunk of the bottom part of both those teeth are gone.  And I have a bottom tooth that has a chip from the back.  Plus my upper lip is cut from two places.  I guess that’s just part of life when you play hockey.

What I didn’t expect to happen after this happened was an odd feeling of depression.  I don’t know what happened to the other pieces of my teeth but I found a large chunk of my chipped tooth on the ball hockey floor.  After I rinsed my mouth out and the bleeding stopped, all of a sudden I began to feel depressed.  I can’t really describe it but it was almost that feeling that a part of me was missing, was gone.

I have heard many cases of people going through this state of depression after having a limb amputated and their accounts were similar.  They articulated a similar feeling that they were missing a part of themselves.  And rightfully so.  I too, would be devastated if God forbid something like that would happen to me.  But this was just a few parts of my teeth missing and almost immediately I began to feel withdrawn from everyone.  And people saw that on my face.  It was clearly evident that I was feeling down.

I remember I was sitting alone by myself for a few minutes while my team finished off their game.  I sat there and I wanted to cry.  I was so depressed.  I’ve been thinking about it today and I for the life of me, I really don’t know why I was feeling like that.  I mean chipped teeth are a common occurrence.  And it’s something that can be fixed very easily (although very costly).  My friends tried to make me feel better but it just didn’t work.

I am feeling a lot better now.  That wave of depression has passed.  Now I am more concerned about if my university med plan is going to cover this.  I really hope it does because I can tell you right now, I can’t afford to get my teeth fixed.  And I NEED to get them fixed.  I have exposed nerve endings and it’s proving to be very difficult to eat and drink.  I guess I’ll have to go to university in the morning and find out how this goes.

Departures

departuresDepartures.  The television show that I am using as one of my many mediums for inspiration for my backpacking trip next year.  Essentially what is is two friends, Scott and Justin who travel all over the world for one whole year.

This show is absolutely amazing.  First off, it’s filmed in high quality HD.  The production of this show is stellar.  The music, the picture quality, the editing is all probably some of the best on Canadian television right now.  But more importantly than that, the concept of the show is superb.  It’s not just a show about two people who go to obscure and beautiful places.  Departures really captures the essence of their friendship in the context of travel.  These two friends, while being around each other almost 24/7, get to share some life changing experiences together.  Scott and Justin were best friends before they embarked on this year long experience. But by virtue of them experiencing these different countries together, their friendship has formed a new bond that very few people in this world ever get to experience.  And you get to view that in the show.

The best part about the show is that it has been able to capture the intrinsic value of their travels.  You literally see Justin and Scott appreciate this world and come to these amazing realisations about where they are at that particular point in time.  Literally, their eyes and their minds open and expand right before your eyes.  That is probably the best part of the show in my opinion.

On their one year long journey they travelled to Jordan, India, Ascension Island, Japan, Cook Islands, New Zeland, Thailand, Cambodia, and rediscovered their very own Canada from ocean to ocean to ocean.  The travel bug has bit these two friends pretty hard because season two of this show is set to air on January 25, 2010 where they will have travelled to Morroco, Lybia, Brazil, Cuba, Mongolia, Iceland, Zambia, Madagascar, Chile and Antarctica.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Every time I watch this show it gives me drive and motivation to make this trip a reality.  I realize that I too can experince with my friends what these two are experiencing on this television show.

The website for the show is here and their youtube channel is here.

My heart calls out for Southeast Asia.  All I need is a bit of patience and discipline.

Heal The World

Heal The WorldThe one Michael Jackson song that especially stands out for me.

When I was a kid, there was this community event happening in a hall downtown.  I can`t remember why but one of the Aunties wanted a whole bunch of us to sing a song together in front of everyone.  So every weekend for I forget how many weekends, we went to her house and rehearsed this song.  These rehearsals I still remember to this day.  All my friends, ones I still talk to, ones I used to talk to and ones I wonder about all used to come and sing.  We used to have so much fun during these rehearsals that it became something that will forever be embedded in my mind.

We presented and sung the song and everyone loved it.  I can’t remember if we were good or not.  All I remember is it lifted the spirits of everyone who was in the audience and set the tone and mood for the rest of the night.

Just a few weeks ago I remember I was in an HMV during one of my out of town trips and I came across this greatest hits album of Michael Jackson.  I looked at it and for some odd reason, I just had to have it.  For some reason I was drawn to it and knew that I had to buy it.  Later that night, as my friends and I were driving home, we put the CD on and begun to listen.  This urge to buy the CD was so great that I didn’t even check the back to see what songs there were.  And while I was driving, this song, Heal The World, came into my head.  I asked my friend if the album had the song and sure enough it did.

As the song played, all these memories flooded my mind of the rehearsals that one summer and how joyful a time it was.  The song itself is so beautifully written that it warms the heart when one listens to it.  I have never felt happiness to that degree  in such a while as I did that midnight driving home on the highway while that song played.

Heal The World by Michael Jackson will forever have a place in my heart as being that one inspirational song that literally shaped and defined that one summer when I was once a child.  If this song was not written, that particular summer would have just been another one lost in memory.

May Allah grant you Jannat.

Valentines Wishes for Special People

February 14, 2009 Leave a comment

So given that its Valentines Day today and seeing as how I don’t have a girlfriend and haven’t had one like ever, I thought I would dedicate this post to a group of my university friends.

I have known this group of people for quite a while but its not until during the whole Gaza conflict that we started to actually talk.  And now, as the semester goes along, I find myself hanging out with this group of people more and more.

I am the type of person that gets blown away from nice people.  If a person is genuinely nice to me, it literally makes my week.  I get so happy thinking about how nice this person was and I always wish them the best.  Since Ive met this group of people that’s exactly how I think and feel every time we get together.

Something as small as a hello wave down the hall between classes, a smile as we pass by, a little message on my facebook wall or something as big as coming to me for advice, asking me for my opinion, inviting me to go out with them, it all literally melts my heart.  Why? Simply because they are so genuinely nice.  Nice in ever essence of the word.

I can probably praise these bunch of people forever.  But the point here is that this group of people are truly very special.  It’s almost as if they are all blessed in their own respect.  And I am truly blessed for having known these people because it is very rare that people come across such a heart warming group of talented and intelligent individuals.

I consider myself very lucky to have met these people and I pray that all the happiness in the world comes to them.  I pray all their dreams and wishes come true and I pray that I am able to partake in their happiness.

Amen.

Happy Valentines Day guys!