Personal Reflection

My Year In Review: 2018

I don’t even know where to begin. 2018 has been a year of high highs and low lows for me. But I’m happy to say I survived. I’ll see you all on the other side.

Here’s my 2018 in review.

January was great. I had a lot of motivation and inspiration. I started 2018 on a strong note. I began my second semester of third year. It feels so long ago now. I finished three books and reorganized my shelves. I submitted poems but never heard back.

February sucked. I was hit by a car. I spent the month resting and recovering. I read four novels. Fortunately, I felt good enough to attend my friend’s birthday party later in the month. It helped me get back on my feet.

March wasn’t easy, but I managed. I fell in love with baking. One day, I decided to download Duolingo and improve my Mandarin. I got through three books.

April was busy. I had finals. I found time to grab lunch with a friend I don’t see often afterwards. I started working as a digital marketing intern. I read three novels.

May went well. I worked all month. I hung out with some friends. I finished four books.

June wasn’t bad. I kept working. I changed the theme for my blog. I attended another birthday party. I finished three novels.

July felt short. I still worked. My cousin from China came over, so I spent more time with family. I read three books.

August felt even shorter. I attended an event for book bloggers. I finished three novels. I started driving again.

September signalled the arrival of school. My first semester of fourth year to be exact. I learned that my poem would be published in an anthology. I couldn’t believe it. Later I signed an author release form and approved the proof for print. I read four novels, rearranged my shelves. I continued to drive.

October was good. I won an academic scholarship. I had my midterms. I spent time with more relatives from China. I finished three books.

November stressed me out. Life. NaNoWriMo. School. I only managed to get through two novels. To be fair, one of them was fairly long. I drove.

December had its ups and downs. I finished classes and exams. I finally took my road test and got my G2 driver’s license. I finished 4 books too.

Thank you all for an amazing year. All the best in 2019!

Personal Reflection

Looking At The Year Ahead

Today, I wrote my last exam for the fall semester. I can’t believe I only have one more semester of university left.

Classes start up again in January, and even though I’m excited, I feel nervous.

Exams finish in April. my graduation ceremony is in June.

After I graduate, I want to work and write.

I’m looking forward to what’s next. I feel like I’m already embarking on a new chapter in my life.

I don’t want to jump too far ahead because anything can happen between now and next year. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about post-grad.

As much as I love blogging, I might publish less in the future. I’ve been trying to post every day in December, but I’m not sure what 2019 will bring. It’s going to be a year full of change.

I don’t see myself going back to university, at least not anytime soon. So I will try to pursue my dreams and see where life takes me.

I have every intention to keep learning and improving even after I finish school and start work. My goal is to become a better human being with each passing day.

School

How To Do Well On English Exams

Here’s how to do well on English exams from someone who learned the hard way.

Be specific.

Avoid making grand sweeping generalizations about all of humanity since the beginning of time. Narrow your scope and focus on the topic. Look at how the little details paint a bigger picture.

Be careful.

Read the questions carefully. Make sure you actually answer the prompt. Reread your own work. Sometimes your hand writes the opposite of what your head wants.

Be concise.

Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point. Make a clear argument. Support your thesis with evidence. Be clear. Don’t be confusing or convoluted. If you can’t comprehend what you’re saying, how will anyone else?

Be yourself.

It is not the time to try to write like someone else. You have your own voice. You’ve been developing it for years. Give yourself some credit. You’re better than you believe, so prove that.

Be forgiving.

Your word choice won’t be flawless. Your sentence structure won’t be impeccable. That’s not the point. This exam is in a test of your ability to write perfectly.

Best of luck!

School

Essays, Exams, Etc.

I’m at that point in the semester where I have ten billion things to do, but I just want to watch TV.

My motivation walked out on me. I’m also sleeping more than I did earlier in the semester. Read into that what you will.

I had more energy in January. But now I’m exhausted. To be fair, I’m sleeping later than I should.

In a way, I have more free time because baseball ended and hasn’t begun. But essays exist. Exams exist. Both are the bane of my existence.

At least everything is coming together, albeit a bit slowly.

Still, I love that feeling of all the pieces starting to come together.

I’m excited for this semester to be over. Summer feels so close, yet so far away. It’s just around the corner.

First, I need to get through all these evaluations.

What do you prefer: essays or exams?

There are pros and cons to both. All things considered, I think I prefer essays more. I hate studying, but I love writing.

This semester I have more essays than exams, and I don’t have a problem with that whatsoever. Says the girl who’s struggling to write them right now.

I don’t mind essay based exams either.

I can write. I don’t need to study in the sense of memorizing facts or dates, which is the sort of studying I despise the most.

Then again, writing a good essay takes time. I don’t care who you are. No one writes a great paper in twenty minutes.

With exams, even essay based ones, there’s less or no editing involved. I enjoy not having to edit.

All you need to know about me is I love writing, and I hate pretty much everything else. Studying. Driving.

For now, I turn my focus towards not failing. But more importantly, I’ll take care of myself during this busy time. No matter what, I will listen to my body.

Writing

How To Write Under Time Pressure

Writing is hard enough as it is without the added pressure of having a limited amount of time.

Budgeting time takes on a greater significance when you only have a few hours to write too many essays.

I’ve extracted tips from my tired brain about writing under pressure:

  • Write fast but not too fast. This goes for both handwriting and typing.
  • Production not perfection. Don’t strive to be perfect. Do strive to be done.
  • Be concise, clear. Try to know what you’re writing about to avoid beating around the bush.
  • Prepare accordingly. There’s nothing like a simulation of the real thing. Studying and reviewing is good. Replicating the test conditions as closely as possible is great.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Like the protagonist in many YA novels, let out that breath you didn’t know you were holding.
  • Try not to overthink. Most teachers aren’t trying to trick you.
  • Just write something. Part marks are better than no marks at all. Get an idea down. It may lead to other ideas.
  • Make connections. Concepts often interconnect. Draw out similarities and differences. Compare or contrast. Brainstorm with a mind map. Outline in a way that work for you.
  • Write until you have nothing else to say. Stick with what you know when possible. Talking about what you don’t know makes your life harder.
  • Use the time given. There’s no reason to stop writing thirty minutes into a three hour exam.
  • Take care of any business beforehand. That way, you’re in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
  • Eat and drink beforehand. A hydrated body beats a hungry one.
  • Move on. Especially when you’re stumped. Tackle the next question. You can always come back to a problem later.
  • Play to your strengths. Downplay your weaknesses.
  • Answer what’s asked. Ideally, you do this right off the bat.

If nothing else, remember writing under time pressure is a skill you can cultivate.

Studying

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying For Exams

Whenever exam season rolls around, I ask myself the same questions about studying. So I figured I should answer some of them in a blog post.

How should I study?

Review actively. Use as many of your five senses as possible. Reading the textbook is more passive than writing notes. Having your friend quiz you is more active than listening to recorded lectures. You get the idea. The more you involve your senses, the better you’ll remember dense material.

When should I study?

Try to study during or around the hours your exam will take place. This primes your brain to think about psychology at 9 a.m. on a Monday or morphology at 5 p.m. on a Saturday.

Where should I study?

Learning different subjects in separate environments can improve retention or at the very least, reduce confusion. So study German in the kitchen and Latin in the office. Ideally, you’d review in the same room you’ll be writing your exam in. Context dependent memory is real.

How do I remember what I studied?

You don’t.

Try to condense your notes instead of rewriting them. Even if you aren’t allowed to use a cheat sheet, create one. After all, condensing fifty pages of information down to five forces you to select and understand key concepts. In terms of recall, writing something down is better than reading the same thing over and over again.

Happy studying. Then again, when is studying ever happiness inducing?

Writing

My First Ever Magazine Launch

In October, I went to my first and hopefully not my last magazine launch.

I was excited about it. Afterwards I felt and still feel so inspired.

I’m not sure when this inspiration will wear off, but I hope it lasts long enough for me to create some great work.

There was food. There were drinks. My subject-verb agreement sucks. I know that.

People read their poems and stories. I had a great time listening to them.

Of course, I had two classes back to back before the launch. So even though I had tired eyes and a sore body (because I woke up at seven in the morning to stretch, dance, and exercise), I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

I ate a chocolate cookie, a chocolate cupcake, and another chocolate delicacy. Can you tell I like chocolate? Give me chocolate flavoured anything, and I’ll be one happy girl.

I don’t collect much aside from books that contain other people’s words and publications that contain my own. I’m glad I get to grow my collections every so often.

If you’ve ever been involved with the writing industry in any capacity whatsoever, you know first-hand how quickly things happen. This magazine publication finally happened. It’s like I waited years instead of months for it.

On the subway home, I read my piece to refresh my memory because I’ve forgotten the specifics of the story. As a 20-year old, my memory isn’t what it used to be. I wrote a first draft in 2015. It was published in 2017.

Anyhow, I’m beyond proud because I submitted this story somewhere else and never heard back.

But I returned to the piece. I worked on it during exam season. I’m thankful nearly failing my exams paid off because the piece got published after all. By nearly failing, I mean not acing. Same thing, no?

I have no regrets. I wouldn’t do anything differently today or yesterday or all the other days leading up to this one.

Maybe I should submit my work to contests when and only when I have exams. I’m one for one.

Here’s a link to the magazine.

Writing

How To Survive Camp NaNoWriMo

Don’t participate in the first place.

I’m kidding. I also joke when I say that someone needs to invent a universal sarcasm font, so no one ever misunderstands my terrible jokes and deadpan remarks. 

Seriously though, you survive by writing one word after another until the end of the month.

And then you do it all over again in July.

Why? Well, why not?

Unfortunately, it’s week three. In my opinion, the worst week of all.

Week one was fantastic. I found myself in this honeymoon phase where I was excited and ecstatic about my story. I had all the energy in the world despite school draining my soul.

Week two was slower. Still fun, however. I know some say the second week is the toughest, but I had my earlier momentum carrying me through it. Week one and two seemed to blur together. Wrote a lot more than I studied because priorities.

Week three was and still is interesting to say the least. I’m running into some issues like not failing my exams.

How’s Camp treating you? Hang in there!