A new beginning: university

So, I’m enrolled in a university for about a month now. But first let me talk about what happened and what I learned in between august 2015, the month I was very actively studying for fun, and now. I feel it is important because my focus and stamina in studying has been wildly fluctuating.

The reason I stopped living according to a strict daily schedule is becoming hazy. I never set a clear goal for each day, which was probably the main culprit. As long as I was productive I didn’t feel guilty. So I went from doing math on Khan Academy to building my own pc, learning the Russian alphabet, streaming on Twitch and more. After a while you start to ‘cheat’ a little on your schedule, which increasingly results in sabotaging your whole plan. You end up forgetting why you started a strict schedule to begin with. You convince yourself you’ll be productive without one. Nope.

Long story short, ever since I quit my daily schedule my performance has been decreasing. I miss the feeling of being on top of things. So I will implement it again. Like a well designed or slick organized interior, a structured day feels very comforting. Another benefit is that time off feels more relaxing while working on something feels more rewarding. It’s a win win situation. As opposed to the restlessness, indecisiveness and procrastination of an unstructured life. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. That’s up for you to decide for yourself.

As I again read on Quora yesterday, stopwatch everything you want to do. It keeps you from being distracted. I used this ‘productivity challenge timer’ app which turns studying or any kind of project into a game, hence gamification. When you see your total time go up, it motivates to keep working. The other way around applies at well. It acts as guilt enhancer when you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing. A bit like now, I shouldn’t be writing at this moment.

In fact this is another productivity hack. Writing. Be it in a diary or a blog. It helps you keep your activities in check and offers a fresh perspective on what you are doing. Moreover, you’ll feel ashamed if you’ve got nothing to write. If you aren’t used to writing, like I am, it will improve these skills and force you to learn new words and how to use them. If any of you are parents, never write homework essays or -stories for your children. They won’t learn to fail and improve their love for words.

Now university, what’s that all about? Well, I’ve always been curious about it so I’m taking three courses namely linear algebra, statistics and philosophy. If the exam results turn out to be positive, or there is a glimpse of success in the long term, I’m going all the way next year. Full time. I’ll spare you the details of why I never did before. I’m doing it now and that is what matters. I won’t be able to think: “What if?”

Currently philosophy is the most fun. I admire how the professor never looks at a paper or monitor while talking. He knits the philosophical history from Aristotle to Kant as a personal story. You can see him smile at historical occurrences which happened hundreds of years ago. It’s never boring and one can sense his passion. It never feels like he is summing up facts. The number one reason why curiosity dies. He is strict but also judicious. When I gave a somewhat wrong answer he responded with a harsh yet humorous remark. After class something happened which never happened before. He apologized for his stark reply and thanked me for trying. My love for people who have the ability to apologize hasn’t died.

Now, statistics. I never realised how much math had to do with it. That’s what makes it hard also. I said philosophy was the most fun. Well yes, the classes. But as well as linear algebra, statistics is fun and very interesting to say the least. Although it takes a while to reach that stage. When a certain amount of logic comes into play, I have to sit at home and study to understand it. The minimum advised amount of math in high school for STEM students is 6 hours a week, preferably 8. I came from 4 hours and it has been a while since. That means I can’t really follow in class. Luckily, as long as I keep truly understanding the math when I study alone, I think there is a chance. We’ll see how long I can keep up.

Also, this is where my attitude towards learning greatly diverges from my old habits. I think, after the age of 14, I never used to ask: “why?” I made sure I understood the textbook problems, I studied the formulas and knew how to apply them. Sadly, I never went deeper as to ask myself why they worked. How they are derived, where do they come from. That goes for most of my previous school life. I saw it as something I had to do. School was work. Therefore I wanted to finish studying quickly. In hindsight, I got schooled. Now that I realise what a privilege education is, I understand it’s value. The hard work will pay off. Thorough understanding of things takes time and struggle, but the satisfaction of understanding is priceless. Same goes for the the invaluable professor assistants who are willing to spend considerable amounts of time in helping you. That takes commitment and love for what you are doing. And that’s why it’s time to go studying again, bye.

PS I’ve also written the about page of this blog to portray a sense of why I am doing this:

As the advent of online learning platforms are gaining momentum, I want to help spread the word. The brain is malleable, we can grow new brain cells and our intelligence is not fixed. Hence, we can learn anything.

For as long as I can remember I had a fixed mindset on intelligence. I didn’t get things at once, so I must be stupid. There is no point in trying because smart, successful people get things instantly. So why bother? Growing up in such a traditional ignorant environment, thinking successful people never struggle, made me lose curiosity and a passion for learning and science. I became lazy.

I couldn’t be more wrong. Smart and successful people struggle the most. Fast forward. Ever since a myriad of books and other sources explained how our mind is like a muscle, I slowly began to think again.  This blog is a diary on my lifelong educational endeavours.



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