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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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U2 Live from the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles

U2s-Bono-and-Adam-Clayton-001

Watch it LIVE on youtube RIGHT NOW.

http://www.youtube.com/u2

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.

A Deeply Moving Quote…

September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

“I do not mind dying, but to die without having a child is most painful because I shall go to my grave knowing that nobody will remember my name.”

-A young woman from a Ugandan village speaking shortly before her death from AIDS in 1989.

Categories: Life, Personal, Thoughts, University Tags: ,

Fragrance Connoisseur

August 30, 2009 2 comments

Givenchy Blue LabelOver the course of the past few weeks and especially the past few days, I have become somewhat of a cologne collector and thus a self proclaimed fragrance connoisseur.  In total, I have purchased a total of seven different fragrances in the course of 15 days or so.  Most of them are the full sized bottles, the 100mL +.  There is a small story behind this that I am all too willing to share.  Given that I am a student and money is always low, I consider this to be one of the greatest triumphs in my shopping career.

About two weeks ago or so, a friend and I were taking a late night drive.  He had wanted to go to a Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some milk for his mom.  So we went to one near his house, which was open til 12am.  While he went to go grab his milk, I had noticed the cosmetics section of the store was still open and began to browse around the fragrance section.

Only a few seconds after browsing, this very nice woman working at the cosmetics counter asked me if I needed some help.  I asked her if she had any cologne that was priced for under $30 dollars.  She nodded her head and mentioned that she has a whole range of fragrances that are on for 50% off.  She handed me a page with two columns of perfumes and colognes that were on sale.  I asked her why they the prices were cut in half.  She said that her manager had ordered a whole bunch of stuff that he/she shouldn’t have by accident and they simply didn’t have the room to store it.  So they needed to get rid of their excess stock as quickly as they could.

That night, I ended up buying a 125mL bottle of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue Pour Homme cologne, retailing for just under $90, for $44 dollars and some change.  I was ecstatic that night.  D&G colognes never go on sale.  And to find a mark down of 50% on something as high end as D&G, I tell you, I was the proudest shopper in the entire global market that night.  And it was at that night that my cologne connoisseuring began.

After that day, I went back periodically and bought six more bottles for a total of seven altogether:

D&G Light BlueDolce & Gabbana Light Blue 125mL ($44)

Dolce and Gabbana Pour HommeDolce and Gabanna Pour Homme Classic 125mL ($44)

Givenchy Blue Label Givenchy Blue Label 100 mL ($31)

hugoHugo Boss Hugo 100mL ($28)

polo_explorerRalph Lauren Polo Explorer 40 mL ($19)

fcuk connectFrench Connection UK Connect 100 mL ($19)

Nina Ricci NinaNina Ricci Nina 50mL ($39…for my aunt).

Not bad huh?  My favourite fragrance by far is Givenchy’s Blue Label.  It has this amazing, fresh scent to it. It smells like you just got out of the shower.  I absolutely love it.

I had to buy a going away gift for my aunt and I thought perfume was a nice gift to buy and so I bought her Nina by Nina Ricci.  This is also another scent that is amazing.  Ladies, I highly suggest you buy this fragrance.  It has this sweet fruity scent to it that makes it stand out among the others.  And it’s not one of those corny smells, it’s actually quite an elegant and luxurious fragrance.  The bottle is very unique as well, shaped like an apple.

Nina by Nina RicciI looked up all of these fragrances online, just to get a glimpse of how these scents were advertised and I must say Nina by Nina Ricci by far has the most amazing and creative marketing campaign for its perfume.

If you go to the website, you will discover a fairytale surrounding the perfume.  The Tale of Nina is a short narration about a fairy, Nina, who is on a quest to search for femininity in the form of a perfume.  She finds it in the form of a bottle shaped like an apple hanging off a silver tree in a castle chamber.

They have a whole movie that you can follow along with the story (it takes 30 seconds to get through).  The amount of work that they have put into shaping the whole image and feel of the perfume simply rocks my world.  They have actually created this fantasy world around their fragrance and it actually makes you want to buy it and be part of this fairytale world.  If I were a girl, I would definitely be buying Nina on a regular basis.   This is how marketing is supposed to be.

Go to the site, watch the movie, download the ringtone (which also serves as the soundtrack to the fragrance) and become part of the Nina world.

All in all, I think I scored some pretty good deals with these colognes.  I probably won’t have to buy another bottle of cologne for some time now, which is good.  In the long run, I have saved a lot of money which is never a bad thing.  Hopefully, this will be my last episode of splurge shopping.

P.S Here is the English version of the Nina commercial.  The longer, french version can be found here.  You may recognise the model in this campaign as Ruslana Korshunova, the Kazakhstani model who died at the age of 20 after allegedly comitting suicide by jumping off her ninth-floor appartment building in the financial district of Manhattan.

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.