Its almost that time of year again; time to be at home, eating massive quantities of arguable the best food you will eat all year, and watching (or even playing) football. Having been away at school for the past three months, coming home is going to feel weird.
As my former english teacher once said, "When you come home for Thanksgiving your freshmen year of college, it will be the first time that you will be a guest in your parent's homes." Somehow this seems true. Although I still claim my parent's house as home, it is no longer where I live; I have officially moved out, physically and emotionally (even if it is not permanent yet, the process has already started and I feel oddly detached from everything that happens there).
Some of my friends do not believe me that we have moved out and on with our lives. They believe that returning to their old lives at their parent's homes will be natural and unnoticeable. I try to convince them that they are guests, that college housing is their new, albeit temporary, home.
Somehow college changes you, and you don't even get a chance to notice until you are forced to look at where you were just a few short weeks ago. I know that I will have a hard time adjusting to life back under the parent's roof as I have grown accustomed to the freedom of college.
I know that since I have started school, I have studied more these past three months then I did in the last three years of high school. I work my ass off for every grade I earn. But when I go home, my dad is going to yell at me because I am no longer a strait A student. Somehow, I don't care what he thinks all that much anymore. I know that I am working my ass off and that I am doing the best that I can. I am taking classes that for the first time, challenge me and interest me. I have also had to face the start reality that no longer can I rest on my laurels in school. There are other people who just as smart as me out there. And in the past three months, I have met many, many more who are even smarter then I am. I hate to admit this because up until now, I have always been one of the smartest people in all my classes. It is sad but true.
As a testament to my work and schooling, I looked at the items I was going to pack for my trip home only to discover that I am taking back more books and notebooks then I am actual clothing items. Sadly, I am going to be spending alot of time over my vacation doing school work, trying to earn every point possible.
One of the biggest surprises of my semester was my Chemistry Lab course. It is a standard course for freshmen Chemical Engineers and Chemistry majors. Every week, I have lab on Friday mornings for four hours. We complete a lab every week. That means that every week I have another lab report due. And they cause many sleepless nights. Many people I know complain of having 8 page term papers due once a semester. I have lab reports that are easily more then ten pages due every week. And to make things better, the course is only worth two credit hours. All my hours and hours of work, and the college barely rewards the effort with credit hours.
Lessons learned so far in college include not taking Honors versions of courses; it is better to take the normal version and do a project for the course then take the honors course. This is because everyone in the honors section is really smart and into the subject. They also have their own curve separate from everyone else. That means that by scoring what would have been an A+ in a normal section, I would have instead scored a B or a C. That is how competitive the honors sections are. My psychology class is like that. It is really a pain in studying because for me, it is just a free elective to satisfy an Honors Requirement for the honors program I am in. I will make a decent grade and learn from my mistake.
By far my hardest lecture based class is my astronomy class: "General Astronomy." When I signed up for the class, I figured that it would be a good astronomy course to take, would include some physics for describing the motions of bodies in space and all that fun stuff. Boy was I wrong. It is an astrophysics course. That is normally not a problem except for some of the material is way over my head as I am not currently enrolled in an Advanced Electromagnetics course (alot of the stuff we talk about is related to it...i understand some of it, but most of the time I just have to accept things at face value because I lack understanding of some of the concepts.) Fortunately for me, the class is difficult for everyone. I recently scored a 59% on a midterm in the class. That is a solid B in the course. That is how hard the class is for everyone. I am really glad I took the course though because it is the most interesting subject I am in currently.
I really feel like I am overwhelmed sometimes. But I know that I just have to keep working at it.
Although schoolwork dominates my life, I still have fun. Every saturday and sunday, the guys on my floor all gather in one of our rooms to watch the Fighting Illini Football and Da Bears. Since Illinois is definately making a Bowl Game now, me and my friends are trying to plan a road trip to Florida (where the two possible Bowl Games are held) to go to the game. The game is on New Year's Day so I'm not too sure if my parents would be up to it, but I really don't care. Going to college football games is one of the greatest experiences ever; where all the students are decked out in orange and chanting, it is awesome.
I also recently went to Virginia Tech for a gymnastics meet. It was a ton of fun. It was a 9 hour drive to the school, but in that time, you really get to know the people who are squished in the car with you. We also were staying with 8 people in a room to save money on hotel bills so we really leaned alot about each other (Some of the things I found out about other people floored me completely...I would have never guessed that some of these people would do some of these things). The meet was decent. No one really did that well competing, but we had fun and made it look good. Afterwards, we all went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. For those of you who dont know what it is, it is a sports bar type place that has amazing wings. We ended up watching part of the Illinois game when it came on TV. There were 27 of us there and we were chanting and yelling like we were at the game. We went nuts when the Illini scored touchdowns. The other people there were bewildered that we were so ecstatic about the game (especially since the LSU vs Alabama game was on).
On the long drive home, we all stopped at a TGI Friday's to eat dinner. All 27 of us at a table at a sit down restaurant. We told the waitress that it was one kids birthday, and we went nuts singing for the guy. He got so embarrassed, but got a free cake slice in the end. Luckily our waitress was good and split the check by orders (something she organized before she even took anyone's order) so paying per person was really easy and simple. We did manage to rack up a bill of over $400 though, but for the number of people. it wasn't that bad.
Well, I think I am blogged out for the day. I might put somethings up after break, but who knows.