Week One Over at University

USf Bull

Hi all!

I know things were pretty quiet over the summer.  Most of my time was spent painting or volunteering at the art gallery.  But now the summer is over and school has started up – my first semester at a 4 year University, University of South Florida.

My first week at USF was long and confusing.  I had to try and learn where all my classes were, and luckily the three buildings that my classes are in are around the same general area.  The classes I’m taking are pretty high volume, with dense material and tons of homework.

Biological Anthropology is tons of new terms, and the accompanying lab starts with biochemistry.  If you recall my posts from Spring semester, I don’t do well with biochemistry.  Anthropology of Food will require an out-of-class assignment involving the interviewing of Burmese immigrants about their food choices.  Environmental Anthropology involves an out-of-class project where we have to volunteer 15 hours at a community garden.  Finally, my Intro to ASL online course is scary to say the least, there’s so much work!

I need to get my head organized.  I don’t really have my homework schedule organized, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s due when.  I know there’s a ton of reading, and I’ve been trying to keep up.  I’ve got a great planner, I just need to figure out how to organize what I need to get done in it.

In other news, I’m thinking about changing up my diet (again!).  Since my doctor didn’t want me to go full on vegetarian because of my IBS, I was thinking of trying to go half-vegan.  I’d be only eating raw vegan while at school, and going back to my normal diet once I got home in the afternoon.  I’ve been collecting a great number of recipes on Pinterest!  I’m really looking forward to trying this out, hopefully I can make it work?  Fingers crossed!

So that’s it.  University week one over and done with.  Hopefully I can manage the heavy course load, and I’ll try to update the blog with greater frequency.  Ta!

Apps for the Fall Semester

Hello!  As most of you readers know by now, I’m starting USF’s Anthropology Program this fall, and just like I did in previous semesters, I’m taking the time to re-examine my studying and time management techniques to see if I can find an easier or at least more efficient way of accomplishing my goals.

I’ve been scouring the annals of the internet – including news sites, blogs, .edu archives, and youtube – looking for new and interesting ways to track my time, take notes, and study.  I’ve found a few apps that will prove useful!  I’ll share the apps I’m using this upcoming semester, including ones that I’ve used in the past.  Here we go!

MyHomework

my homework app

This app has been the most valuable thing I’ve downloaded onto my phone to date – and now it’s on my tablet too!  When I get my syllabus fo the semester, I plug in all my homework assignments, tests, and important dates.  There’s a widget that lists your upcoming assignments that I have sitting on my home screen, right below Sunrise calendar (more on that later).  If not for this app I would have missed so many assignments!  Available for Android in the Play Store.

Sunrise Calendar

sunrise app

I have had such a time with synching my calendar data between my phone, my tablet and my computer.  PAIN I tell you!  This week I made the switch to Sunrise Calendar.  It can synch up multiple user accounts (for example, my google mail, and my USF mail, which is also google based…).  As an added bonus, you can add in accounts from other apps, such as I’ve done with Todoist (see below).  So far it seems to be working great.  The only downside I can figure out is that I’m still getting alarms on my phone from my old calendar, and I can’t seem to make them stop.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  Available for Android at the Play Store.

Todoist

todoist

Todoist is another new one for this semester.  It came highly recommended on quite a few time management websites, so I decided to give it a try.  It’s also one of Google Play’s Best of 2014.  It’s a to do list that’s syncable between computer, phone and tablet, which is great.  It has widgets listing upcoming notifications – and I loves me some widgets!  It also syncs with Sunrise, so that your to do items that have upcoming deadlines will show up in your calendar and on your calendar widget as well.  It seems super versatile, and I’m hoping to get some real use out of it.  Available for Android in the Play Store.

Study Timer

study timer

This one is simple enough.  The StudyTimer by Bumbling Solutions lets you enter how long you wish to study in total, how much time you’d like to study for, and how much of a break you’d like between each study session.  Pretty self explanatory?  I wish it had the option to save your settings, but sadly no.  Still, if you’re looking for a barebones timer for your study sessions, this looks like a good one to try.  Available for Android in the Play Store.

MyMail

Just a quick one here, and my apologies for the lack of picture.  I couldn’t get my phone or tablet to check more than one google account at a time (tried tons of tutorials, none worked, and were a major headache), and since my school email is google based, I had to find a solution for checking my school mail on the go.  Enter MyMail.  It’s your standard mail app, and it’s been working really well for keeping me on top of my school email.  ‘Nuff said.

I’ve also downloaded Canvas, since that’s the online system the school uses to keep track of classes.  I find it SO much more versatile than Blackboard, and the app is FREE (unlike Blackboard).  There is also the USF specific app, MyUSF Mobile, which has the awesome benefit of tracking the school transit system, so you’ll know when the shuttles will be arriving via GPS.

I’ve also downloaded a free Excel Spreadsheet from Vertex42 – their “Weekly Schedule Template“.  It also comes in PDF, OpenOffice and Google Sheets formats.  The one I downloaded is the second one down, with the hours broken down into 15 minute increments.  A lot of sites have suggested making a schedule of your study time versus  your free time, so I’m going to give that a try with this spreadsheet.  I’ve already got my school schedule plugged in, and study hours around and in between classes, now I just need to figure out the rest of the schedule!

Wow – that’s a pretty long post!  I hope you fellow college students find this information useful.  Take the time to research ways that you too can be a more efficient student.  Catch you on the flipside!

The Creative Process

painting 4

In case none of you knew, in the off season, I’ve taken up painting again.  My artwork can be viewed at ArtPunx Studio.

Right now I’m working on a 30″ tall by 40″ wide canvas, painting conjoined Dia de los Muertos skulls and it’s taking me a while to get it done (see above).  I tend to work with small brushes in order to get very crisp edges and corners.  Needless to say that means something of this size is taking me longer than usual.

I was taking a break and loitering in one of the chat rooms I frequent, and someone brings up that “art should be fun”.  This got me thinking a lot about art, why I do it, and the creative process in general.

Simply put, I don’t find art “fun”.  Something with as much stress, frustration and exhaustion as the creative process is not fun in my opinion.  This is not to say that art isn’t satisfying.  It’s very much so!  But “fun” is not a word that I would use in relationship to the creation of my art.

Let me see if I can put this in better terms for you…

Let’s think of creating art as childbirth.  You choose to create something beautiful, a joy for yourself and the world around you, to make manifest your vision.  That process is going to involve a lot of stress, anxiety and joy. There may even be pain.  But in the end, you’ve produced something memorable to enrich your life and the lives of others.  Sure, it can be an enjoyable journey.  A lot of times it’s a downright pain in the ass.  But in the end you have the satisfaction and joy of creating something – a tangible extension of yourself.

I wouldn’t call that “fun”.

Creation can be necessary, an essential in life.  I know I get very agitated if I can’t create.  Idle hands and whatnot?  I’m not sure.  Regardless, there are those artists out there who live, breathe and bleed their art.  I can’t imagine it being lumped into the single frivolous three-letter word called “fun”.

The destination getting to my final piece of art to be deeply satisfying and fulfilling.  I do not find the journey getting to that point “fun”.  End story.

Final Grades, Preparations for Fall, and Painting

So final grades were posted today.  I got an A in everything, including Biology and Biology Lab.  It’s assumed that the professor dropped the lowest test scores, or I wouldn’t have done nearly as well.  This brings my GPA up to a 2.867 – creeping up on that 3.0 mark!

Prepping for registration at USF next week.  I’ve made an appointment with the Office of Students with Disabilities to discuss any accommodations they can assist with.  After that I have an appointment with the Anthropology Department Academic Advisor to go over my transfer credits and come up with a game plan for registration.  Luckily, I qualify for early registration, so I don’t have to wait until Orientation to register for my classes.  Orientation isn’t until June 10th.  At least it’s their “express orientation”, which is only 8-12, not 8-4. Whew!

Lastly, and certainly not least, I’ve been probationally accepted to the Wandering Eye Art Gallery in Ybor City!  My artwork is up and for sale.  I need to get jumping on painting to keep my stock fresh, but right now money is super tight, and it’s threatening my membership dues at the gallery.  If you want to help, click the Patreon link, and help support local art.  You can get cool swag that way.

That’s pretty much it for now.  TTFN!

Finals Week and Fall 2015

Wow, I didn’t realize it’d been so long since I posted!

This week is finals week.  In Weight Training class, I had to submit a final project outlining a workout routine utilizing all muscle groups.  I took my last Math chapter test yesterday, and depending on my grade on that test, I most likely won’t have to take the Final Exam for Math.  Humanities Final is this Tuesday, and we did the review today.  It looks manageable.  Those three classes I’m expecting good grades from.

And then there is Biology…

I struggled all semester with this class.  My grades have improved over time.  My first test in the lecture class was in the high 60s, the second in the 80s and the last one was a 98.  I got an A on my Powerpoint presentation on Microbes and an A on my display about GMOs for Earth Day.  So, in theory, if I pass the take-home final exam, then I should pass the course.

The Lab is equally confusing.  Despite again struggling with the class, I got good grades on the test and a 95 on what I thought was a pretty pathetic lab report.  I know my lab notebook isn’t a good one, so I’m not sure how I’ll finish the course, but it’s looking plausible that I might pass?

I got my acceptance letter from University of South Florida – YAY!  Well, sort of.

I’ve been “conditionally accepted”, which means they aren’t happy with my completion ratio. Figures that it’s inescapable.  They also messed up a few of my transfer credits, so I pointed that out to them, and they’ll be reviewing my transcripts for other errors.  Surprisingly, pointing this out to them only took a ten minute visit to the Admissions office.  While I was there I stopped by the Students with Disabilities Office, to make sure they’d gotten all of my paperwork.  They confirmed I didn’t need anything else and that I’d receive an answer in 7-10 business days.

I’m kind of surprised how smoothly the transition to University is going.  I’m cautiously optimistic, of course, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Here’s hoping my grades are good this semester, so I’ll the credits will transfer and I won’t have to repeat any classes.

TTFN!

The struggle is real

Few new things, few old things.

Spring break was last week, and I spent it worrying about projects I needed to get done.  Got some of them done, most of them really.  Then I got to Lab today to discover I had an exam that I don’t recall her mentioning.  I should pay attention to the syllabus more.  I think I did very poorly.  Better than originally expected, but still poorly.  I  have a presentation in Biology due tomorrow, a test in Humanities on Thursday, and a take-home test for Math tomorrow.  Also have a small project – a finance project – due next week for Math.  Oi!  Everything is piling up at once!

In other news, I’m in discussions with some folks about maybe, possibly, perhaps, showing my art in a local gallery.  No specifics as of yet, I’m still waiting to hear back with specifics of the submission process, but I’m both excited an apprehensive at the prospect.

Lastly, next month I’ll be moving to a condo closer to University and further from Community College.  I’m glad to be moving out of where I am now.  I should have more room to set up a painting and sewing area in the new place, but it depends on how the furniture works out.

That’s all for now.  How’s your week going?

Biology woes and the physical fitness rollercoaster

Just a general update of stuff.

I’m doing ok in my Math and Humanities classes, so nothing to stress there.  Biology, however, I’m struggling with.  I have my first exam coming up next week and I’m nowhere near prepared for it.  I don’t understand anything that’s been going on in this class since day one.  I’ve tried typing notes, hand writing notes, studying the book, nothing rings a bell with me.  I was supposed to meet up with the professor during office hours but I always have somewhere else I need to be, family commitments, etc.  I found out they’re doing study groups on Fridays, which happened to be scheduled exactly at the same time as this week’s doctor’s appointment.

I don’t know how I’m going to pass this class.

The weight training class is going well, and I’m looking forward to continuing on with it on the weekends and after the class ends.  I’m making the switch from machines to free weights, and hoping to have a set of weights here at home to work with, so I don’t have to go to the gym three times a week to get my fitness groove on.  Well, if I can budget it…

That’s all for now.