Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

Final Survival Tips

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Finals week is only two weeks ahead. It sounds a little bit overwhelming. Maybe you want to be ready but don’t know where to start. Here are some tips to help you survive this vital season.

  1. Live a balanced life
    In order to be prepared for finals, you will not only need to get all the terms and definitions ready, but, more importantly, your body needs to get rested each night and to be fed with good food. So it is important to get enough sleep at night and eat a rainbow of foods during the day. Getting some exercise is also good for you!
  1. Be present with what you are doing
  • Pay attention on every lecture, discussion and group work.
  • Stay completely focused when doing homework, reviewing, taking practice tests, etc.
  • Jump into your work right away! Don’t play with cell phones before doing your work. Put them away and try not to think of them.
  1. Keep good studying habits that you have
    The best way to study may vary from person to person. You know how you will study the best. So stick with whatever you are comfortable with because it is your personalized weapon on the final war. One piece of advice that I want to share here is that the classes won’t be a struggle if you put faith and passion on them. Let’s say: “We can do this!” instead of “It’s too hard. We are giving it up.”
  1. Ask other people or web resources for help if you have tried all solutions
  • Go to professors and TAs’ office hours. Don’t be afraid of your professors. They are here to help you. Most professors and TAs are really friendly and are eager to listen my concerns and problems that I have met. The first step is to open their doors with a big smile and say hi.
  • Here are lots of FREE tutoring resources on campus.
    For math, you can go to the mathlab on the 2nd floor of MacLean Hall.
    For Engineering students, there is 3124 Tutoring Center that can handle most of the Engineering classes. (My resources are really limited, sorry)
  • On-line teaching videos or lecture, etc.
    Also, there are tons of tutoring sections in the residents halls. Check out for those resources and utilize them. You will benefit from that.
  1. Choose your study spot wisely
  • Quiet study place: All kinds of libraries. 2nd to 5th floor, Main library are designed quiet study places.
  • Group study area: 1st floor, Main library common rooms; Computer labs, etc.
  1. Relax—Try your best

Take a deep breath, you need to feed your brain with enough oxygen before any testing.

Hope they are helpful!

Big rocks and fish gravel

Monday, October 26th, 2015

“If you want to fit all the rocks in this glass mug, what will you put in first?”

This is a question asked by Jane Dorman in my first-year seminar. She lifted a empty mug with some rocks in her hand, and said “what are the options to fill this mug with all the rocks that we have?”

“Let’s try to put in the little fish gravel first,” she started putting the clearly blue gravel into the mug until it was half full. I wasn’t really paying attention to it at the beginning because I thought it was just something fun in her class. “Then I am going to put my big rocks in,” she said. The big rocks were put on the bottom of the mug, and there was so much space between all those rocks. Because of the weight, rocks were trying really hard to stay on the top of the edge until some of them started to fall right after she put them in. All those rocks are too anxious to go back to where they were. They couldn’t all fit in that situation when the mug was half filled with little tiny fish gravel.

“Now let’s try to put our big rocks in first.”

Even from the corner of the classroom by the door, I could hear the clear sound when the rocks hit the glass. All the rocks went in this time since there wasn’t fish gravel in their way, but still, there was a large space between rocks. “Then we can pour out gravel into the mug.”

When the fish gravel came in, the color of the mug turns to be clearly blue all of a sudden. The space between rocks were filled with little fish gravel, which was not something that rocks can handle if they come in last. The fish gravel and all of the big rocks perfectly filled the mug.

“This is just like your time management,” she raised the mug with rocks high, “the big rocks are going into the mug first if you want all of the rocks to fit in there.”

I felt refreshed when I finally thought about this rock case. The example was all about the rocks, but what to put in first and next really make a huge difference when all the rocks need to come in. Little fish gravel can and needs to come in after the big rocks in the mug because the rocks are not flexible as the gravel is; also, gravel can be anywhere if there was just a tiny space left.  It is that same to think about the things that we plan to do. Big things are always first priority on the to-do-list. Therefore, when the big part is well done, we have time to work on the other small tasks that are less important. In the end, all the parts can be finished.

Awesome day — building the dream

Monday, October 19th, 2015

“Yes, we did it! I can’t believe that is true!”

“This is so much fun,” Bailey said, “I am going back to this next time.”

I looked at that piece of wood we just put on the left part of the roof. I felt extremely happy looking at what we have done as Engineering students. I couldn’t even find the exact words to express myself. My heart was going to pop out because we were building a family’s home! We were making a difference! We were helping people make their dreams real, and it really makes me happy and energized.

We started this morning with the 30 degrees and sunshine. Our mission was to help build a home for the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity. It is a process to build a home for those in need with this charity organization and lots of volunteers. The family will also help in the building process, but most of the designing and coordinating is done by professional trained leaders and volunteers.

My partner Bailey and I picked up our hammers, and they put us right to work. The job for us was to stabalize a long stick on the top of the roof. This kind of job is different from the normal hammer work: we need to lift the wood up to the roof and hammer the nails in at the same time.  That looks crazy to me and I don’t know if I can handle this as a person that never touched a ladder and a hammer before.

Before we actually started to knock the nails into the roof, we measured the distance from the corner of the each stick to the point where they needed to be out really carefully. We knew this was not building sand castles. We were building not only a home, but also the trust of that family. Team spirit has built house, as well as the enthusiasm and excitement to witness their dream coming true. I was a little afraid of the ladder, and the hammer in my pocket when I stood on the top of the ladder helping Bailey hold the other end of the wood in order to knock the nail in.

It was my turn to hammer the nail in now for the other end. I picked up a nail and aimed it on the intersection of the two sticks while Bailey was holding the stick for me. After several times of knocking, the nail was just into the wood little. It was hard. Nevertheless, I never thought about quitting because I knew I was going to knock this tough guy in. That’s what I was there for. This day was so special! I love it!!

Here are we!

Here is our group!