November 24, 2008

Assignments and Stress

So the semester is coming to a close. There are 9 days of classes left, and then exams. I just turned in an eight page essay on how the usage of science fiction devices in Slaughterhouse-Five which took me three weekends to finally finish. It turns out there was about thirty different ways I could have written that essay. It's interesting to think about how deep and meaningful a short and easy to understand novel can be. I remember reading it in grade 9 (Note to Americans: If you move to Canada you were never a freshman, sophomore, junior, or a senior in high school. There are a lot of ways to give yourself away as an American...and that's a pretty easy habit to drop. I'm not saying you have to assimilate...but there are a few things you can do to make it not as obvious. I'll write more about speaking like a Canadian in a later post.) and just being thoroughly depressed by it...but as with most things in life if you give it deeper look you'll notice many different facets of the same thing.

I also completed a two page paper on how an American-style presidential system of government would be better for a transitional democracy than the Canadian version of parliamentary government. I slept four hours and then argued why it is more democratic, stable, and effective than the Canadian system. In our group of ten guess how many others took my side? Just one. Suffice it to say that although Canadians have plenty of problems with their own government, it is tantamount to heresy to suggest there is a better way of doing things. I'm obviously biased....partly from living in the US for fourteen years I'm more confused then impressed by 1) the fact that the Queen is still the head of state, 2)the senate is unelected, and 3-300) a multitude of other out-dated aspects of Canadian government that seem to be kept out of tradition than efficiency.

This past weekend I worked on a ten page essay on Why Nova Scotia did not fight on the American side during the American Revolution. Although the historiography of early Canadian history isn't light reading, it is pretty interesting to see the different reasons attributed to past attitudes and events over time. I also have to write a popular press-style article about a recent study that concluded showering a person with dementia with bluish light can helpful in restarting their circadian rhythm.

By this time of the year there are a lot of long term assignments due, and this can lead to a lot of stress. Last week I had to be working on four essays at once, and it was pretty unnerving what percentage of my grades each assignment is worth. I also had four meetings during the week in addition to studying for five final exams.

As Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes wrote: "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."

Once you're alone at University there is nobody telling you to wake up, go to class, or to do your work instead of relaxing with friends. Generally your grades go down because of the new environment and the increased workload, but taking everything one step at a time, you can get more done than you thought you could.

As for me, I'm taking a break from the rebellions in 18th century New England and taking a walk through the snow-covered streets of Sackville.