Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Day 34: First blue book test

What went well?

  1. The short-answer questions for my sociology of mental illness test this morning were really straightforward. Mostly. Also, the essay questions were fair.
  2. More captivating stories in my intro Buddhism lecture. "When I was a monk..." Seriously, how many people get to say that?? Today's story was particularly compelling. He told us of a time when he got bitten by a snake in a South-East Asian jungle in Laos, and he didn't ask for help for weeks because one of the monastic rules was that you don't bring up issues with the abbott unless he brings it up first, and being a stubborn 21-year-old, he wanted to show that he could follow the rules and be a really good monk etc. Well, he was pretty much dying (quite literally) and the leg was getting super infected, when he went and sat in front of the abbott and hoped that he would address him. Turns out, the abbott was trying to teach him a lesson (in the messed up way that seems to characterise Buddhist pedagogy) about the dangers of being so focused and priding yourself on unwavering focus. Virya, or "diligence" and "effort", requires not just complete and unwavering focus, but also the openness to learning from people around you and asking for help, and not doing everything on your own. Once he'd realised that, he got taken to the hospital where he spent a couple of months recovering. #lifeexperience
  3. The funniest thing ever happened in the positive psychology lecture today. A guy in the class raised his hand and walked up to the front of the class to deliver a rose and a personalised poem to Dr Duckworth for Valentine's day..."There's a reason the word "angel" is in your name"...etc. I think it was possibly the most hilarious thing I've witnessed yet here. Yup, it definitely made my day.

What did I learn?

  • Once again, students are really engaged here. In the Pos Psych lecture, they were going through the quiz answers and Dr Duckworth mentioned that they got one quiz from someone who wasn't even registered for the class! So I'm obviously not the only auditor. Also, I met a student auditing intro Buddhism this morning, and there are about 4 students auditing Neurolaw (and they even requested access to the readings). So auditing classes seems to be quite a common thing here, because students are genuinely interested in the topics.
  • Read my RescueTime communications report and got the facts on how much time I spent on email in the last two weeks:
    • I thought it was pretty revealing. I think I do take a bit long to write certain emails, especially if I'm trying to convey the right tone. But this is definitely useful information. I think in general, I've become more reactive to email at Penn, since I get MANY more emails in a day here. Starting from tomorrow, I'm going to limit my email-checking to first thing in the morning, after lunch, and before dinner (right now, it stays open in my dock and I read them as they arrive, unless I'm in class). I'll see how that goes!
  • I need to relearn how to plan my time with writing exam essays. Meh.
  • Blue books are pretty small! About A5 sized.
  • Something like this

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