5 Study Tips for First Year Engineering Students

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To say that first year engineering is tough is an understatement. The course materials may not be as far off from what you studied in Grade 12, but the sheer volume of everything you have to learn in a limited amount of time can be very overwhelming.

Engineering, indeed, is a walk in the park—-Jurassic Park.

Most people end up surviving first year, but there will always be those who don’t make the cut. I know a few people who either dropped out in the middle of the year or made it all the way through but their marks were just not high enough so they had to leave the program.

As someone who’s never been good at math and who prefers to analyze Shakespeare than to grind calculus problems, I think I did a pretty decent job of staying afloat and making it to second year. And because I feel like reminiscing, let me share five study tips that will hopefully help future engineering freshmen to survive their first year.

1. Develop a routine to finish your assignments early.

There will be at least three courses that require you to hand in assignments on a weekly basis. If an assignment is due every Friday, work on it every Monday night. And if another assignment is due Wednesday, finish it by Sunday. Questions are given ahead of time so there’s no reason to not stick to a schedule. Always try to answer the questions even before the material is discussed in class. If you and your buddies get stuck, talk to the professor and he/she will gladly help you with the problem.

2. Visit the prof during office hours.

You probably have read or heard about this, but there’s a reason why visiting a prof is always emphasized when asking for engineering student advice. All professors have office hours and most universities have help centers where students can walk in and ask questions to a TA or a prof. Never give up on a problem without consulting your professor. Whenever there’s a step in a solution that you do not understand, mark it off and make sure to have a prof explain it to you. Profs are paid to help you and most of them want their students to succeed so go take advantage of that!

3. Make a note of the little steps and details.

We all have different styles of note-taking. Some people copy everything they see on the board, some write down only what they feel is important. Whatever your style is, always take note of the little details that you think you might forget. Whenever there’s a step that you missed, write it down on the margins of your notebook. It could be as simple as making sure that the units are all consistent, or it could be about remembering a trig identity that would make a solution so much shorter.

4. Keep your exams, labs, and assignments organized.

One thing that irked me was having to scour through piles of paper just to search for a specific question that I did in a lab. It’s easier to have your papers neatly filed in whatever organizing tool you have, be it a filing cabinet or just folders for different subjects. The best way to study for exams, aside from going through the practice exam, is to review the problems you did in the labs or the assignments. Make sure you can start and end a problem without consulting the solutions manual!

5. Check out online lessons/tutorials.

I am personally a big fan of Paul’s Online Math Notes. The concepts are explained thoroughly and there are sample problems to work on. Some people prefer to watch videos like Khan Academy or PatrickJMT. So whenever you feel like you’re not solid on a concept, you can always go online to reinforce your understanding of the material.

Remember: understanding the theory should be done way before the midterm or the finals. If you find yourself watching Khan because you still don’t understand shear force and bending moment the night before the finals—-dude, you’re sorta kinda screwed.

On mortality

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This morning, I woke up to the news that K’s dad had passed away. So it goes.

I was surprised when my phone rang at around 9am. It was S, and she asked me if I had read K’s text. I said no, I just woke up. S said she wasn’t sure if K was joking and I groggily asked, “Joking about what?”

“Her dad’s dead,” S said.

Fuck.

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Baked Honey Soy Chicken

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Recipes are just suggestions. The list of ingredients does not have to be completely checked off and one doesn’t have to be pedantically strict in following the suggested portions. Maybe it’s just the lazy-ass in me talking, but I was able to bake this mean honey soy chicken armed with no less more than a “just wing it” attitude.

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Review: Encantadia (2016) Pilot Episode

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Let me preface this by saying that I will not contest Encantadia‘s effectiveness in entertaining its avid viewers. I understand that many people, especially local audiences, do not demand visual sophistication and narrative coherence in the movies and TV series they consume.

But when people say Encantadia’s visual effects are top-tier—please, don’t me. Filipinos have done better. Erik Matti comes to mind with Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and even the 2005 movie Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom. While budget limitations is understandable, it’s time to recognize that having fake-looking dragons and tall castles in synthetically vibrant colors is just as backward as what we had in the early 90s.

It would have been better if the visual shortcomings are used in an attempt to create a campy tone. Encantadia, however, takes itself way too seriously. What’s worse is that even if we forego the cheap visual look, the series’ mythology itself stands on an even rockier foundation.

Cassiopeia guards a Brilyante that’s sought after by beings with evil intentions—who these people are, we don’t know. Why they want the Brilyante? They just do. Why are they evil? They just are. It’s like the writers are telling us: ‘wag kayong tanong nang tanong, matuwa na lang kayo!

In order to protect the Brilyante from said evildoers, Cassiopeia breaks up the jewel into four, each of them representing the classical elements earth, wind, air, and fire. The four jewels are then handed to the leaders of the four kingdoms of Adamya, Sapiro, Lireo, and Hathoria.

Why the four kingdoms? Who knew. Basta ganun.

The pilot episode was essentially an hour long exposition explaining the history of the four brilyante. It was never made clear, however, what exactly the jewels do. They’re supposed to be powerful but even with the Brilyante ng Tubig, Adamya couldn’t stop Hathoria from barging in. Hathor king Avrak only had to say “akin na ‘yan” and boom, Imaw gives him the brilyante. And even when Avrak possesses two brilyante and his kingdom is now the most powerful in the entire land, Cassiopeia easily teleports into his castle and kills his guards.

So, um, how exactly are these jewels powerful if anyone could just show up and kill your people?

It’s also annoying how Cassiopeia conveniently prophesies Avrak’s downfall. There’s no inclination that she’s clairvoyant but bam, apparently Hathoria would be defeated by a princess born on the same day Avrak dies. Later in the episode, Reyna Minea learns that she’s pregnant. A few more scenes and Minea prays to Emre who then fast-tracks the queen’s pregnancy. How convenient that Minea is about to give birth sooner than later! Deus ex machina, am I right?

Employing major tweaks in the narrative just for the story’s convenience is honestly terrible storytelling. The script even violates the sacred “show don’t tell” rule. After Adhara defeats Amihan in a battle, the former holds a gem in her hand and shouts, “Para sa paghahanda sa laban namin ni Minea!” She was not talking to anyone at all; she just had to say it aloud because the writers were too lazy to actually portray her motivations instead of reducing it to one line.

The characters were one dimensional as expected. The queen is the loving, motherly leader. The soldier generals are willing to die for their kingdoms. The evil lords are just evil for evil’s sake. Nothing fancy, just cardboard archetypes with no depth whatsoever.

Was the show entertaining? It might be for people who only have three TV channels for options.

I, however, feel slighted for being a victim of a good build-up. I came in expecting a carefully planned mythology and a script that at least attempts to create compelling characters and deliver clever dialogs. What I got—and I say this with a deep sigh of disappointment—was an episode that is frankly a demo piece for terribly-written short fiction.

How To Get Away With Plunder

After the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder case against her, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gamely posed for a selfie with her lawyer Raul Lambino as if to show the world that hey, now that I’m free I don’t have to pretend I need a neck brace.

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Kudos to the makeup artist too! The contour was well done with just the right tinge of bronze on the apples of the cheeks. It’s even poetic, actually. Looks like three or more coats of the thickest foundation was applied to Arroyo’s face in order to achieve that airbrush effect—truly an embodiment of the Filipino jibe ang kapal ng mukha!

But of course there will always be party poopers. Not everybody will be happy that you’re one or two paperwork away from freedom, especially if—you know—you’re a criminal.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales disagrees with the 11-4 SC decision that states there is “insufficiency of evidence” to prove that Arroyo and former PCSO budget officer Benigno Aguas have indeed illegally accrued millions of lottery funds. Morales also warns of another possible plunder case against the former president.

And then we have the blame game. Because eight of the 11 justices who voted to acquit Arroyo were her own appointees, many say that the verdict was just like any of Kim Chiu’s new projects: a disappointment waiting to happen.

Others point their finger at the Aquino administration for not presenting a prosecution case strong enough to warrant conviction. Senator Koko Pimentel also weighs in saying that a number of accused PCSO underlings have already been declared not guilty therefore Arroyo’s acquittal was not surprising at all. Kung mga empleyado nga na-acquit, dating presidente pa kaya?

It’s really appalling how headlines of Arroyo’s acquittal go side-by-side with reports about the rampant summary executions of alleged petty criminals and drug dealers. Pictures of Arroyo’s evil smile are juxtaposed with photos of dead men wrapped in paper and duct tape.

Indeed, justice has seemingly been reduced to a popular hashtag for reasons that are completely opposite to its very essence.

Arroyo’s imminent freedom proves what most of us already know: that the Philippines is a country marred by a culture of impunity. Another former president was actually convicted of plunder but still went on to become a city mayor. Arroyo herself won a congressional seat by landslide following nine years of presidency that’s rife with corruption accusations and human rights violations. And to this day, no one has still paid for the abomination that is the Maguindanao Massacre.

Powerful people could easily commit crimes and get away with it. Meanwhile, the smaller criminals get prosecuted in the streets and everybody celebrates as if these lives were as disposable as a used condom.

While I too hate drugs and snatchers as much as the next person, I hold a deeper seated hatred against those in power who take advantage of the people’s tendency to ignore and forget their sins. They know that we are used to hunger, to the elusiveness of proper employment, to the dismal institutional support for all forms of social services. They know that we rarely cry for accountability from our leaders.

At the end of the day, most of us would celebrate hundreds upon hundreds of urban criminal killings without looking into why drug users and snatchers exist in the first place. And while we’re at it, criminals like Arroyo run free with nothing to fear and nothing to worry about—a few more weeks and it’s as if they didn’t do anything wrong, ready to live a lifestyle so lavish using the wealth that’s not even theirs.

Two green dots

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1. I don’t have a car anymore. I will have to get used to getting around the city by bus, which doesn’t suck as much in the summer but ugh, fuck winter.

2. My friends and I are going on a picnic at Emily Murphy and I feel bad that J has to drive all the way north just to pick me up. I might just Uber my way home. Two days in and I already hate not having a car.

3. I’ve been putting off my review for The Achy Breaky Hearts and, as per personal rule, I can’t watch other movies before I tick it off of my to-do list.

4. I hate that Portugal won the Euro, but only because it essentially seals CR7’s win for the Ballon d’Or (I know he didn’t play the full match but that’s not how this “best striker from the team who won the most trophies” award works). Otherwise, congrats Portugal!

5. I’m supposed to have a dental appointment next week but I’m not sure how to get to the clinic without a ride. I might just take the Uber or the bus, but god this is awful! If only my teeth were perfectly aligned I would spend my savings not on orthodontic treatment but on a cheap, low-maintenance car.

Snogging Cate Blanchett, the moon landing, and other questions (A Liebster Awards post)

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I’ve always wondered: who was the Liebster Awards named after? Hmm.

I guess these blog awards are your modern-day chain letters. They borrow the pass-after-reading aspect sans the “or else…” threat. Not having the caveat about a potential bad omen portrays a sort of mental maturity, an acknowledgement that barely anyone would still buy into an unscientific, doltish tradition. And because these awards are exclusively online property, they manifest an intelligence anchored specifically on technological evolution. Globalization, I suppose, also has its perks.

But enough of the overthinking. filmsCine and Angel nominated me for the Liebster (thank you guys!) and here are my answers to their questions.

From filmsCine, who writes awesome articles on all things movies:

  1. Snog, Marry, Avoid, Send to another planet: Jim Carrey, Sally Field, Dustin Hoffman, Cate Blanchett. Snog Blanchett, Marry Hoffman, Avoid Carrey, send Sally “sorrywhoisshe” Field to another planet.
  2. What’s your favourite film genre and why? Probably bildungsroman, which I suppose is a fancy way of saying “coming-of-age.” (V, if you’re reading this, pauso mo ‘to.)
  3. What’s the key ingredient to a truly fantastic film? Unity between form and content. It has to be well-crafted technique-wise, and it should be sending out a message that questions and/or breaks conventions.
  4. Which remake do you wish never happened? Haven’t watched the new Ghostbusters yet but it comes to mind. Just make a new film with an all-female cast, no need to smack them as re-casts in an already good movie.
  5. What do you do when you’re not blogging? Watch the Euro, read Saramago, go to work, shoot pictures.
  6. Would you rather have a coffee with Donald Trump or Kris Kardashian? Kris Kardashian, whoever she is.
  7. Gary Oldman’s best role? Haven’t watched a lot of his films but he was awesome as Sirius Black.
  8. Quentin Tarantino’s worst film? Maybe not the worst, but I didn’t enjoy Inglorious Basterds.
  9. If you could transport one character from one movie into another movie, who and what would it be? Asiong Salonga to She’s Dating the Gangster.
  10. What do you rate the movie Grease out of 10? Six, seven-ish.
  11. Do you think the moon landing happened or do you think the moon landing did not happen? It did.

From Angel, who writes poems heaving with youthful vigor:

  1. Who do you usually think about? Why are you always thinking about him/her?
    A guy named Nathan. Because pogi.
  2. What/Who makes you wake up? Hunger, or the need to pee.
  3. Take the Kinsey Scale test here. What did you get? Do you agree with it? Why or why not? Can’t access the link ‘teh, sorry.
  4. Are you more extroverted, or introverted? How does this affect the people around you? I’m an introvert. I suppose I don’t affect people in any way because I rarely see them.
  5. What kind of personalities do you find repulsive? None, really.
  6. What is your most memorable escapade? Why? I went to Tagaytay with friends, ate bulalo, peed behind a bahay kubo, then went home. Memorable because I was with friends, awww.
  7. What object do you value the most? Why? My books, because they’re one of the few things I have loved and am allowed to keep.
  8. Is there a movie that gave you some unexpected kind of epiphany? What is that movie? Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Epiphany: movies are the bomb!
  9. What is the last movie/TV show that you’ve watched? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not? Tonet Jadaone’s The Achy-Breaky Hearts. It’s just another Star Cinema romcom fluff.
  10. Tell something to your 17-yr. old self. Don’t be scared of things you think you can never be good at. One day, you’ll be an engineer and you’ll realize math ain’t that bad.
  11. How are you doing, today? So far France is one point over Germany in the Euro semis. I get to see Griezmann smiling so yeeeeah. 🙂

And because the Liebz (wuw) is supposed to help us discover new bloggers, I will nominate my own recent “discoveries”:

DJ R. of Reverse delay, whose website has some of the most well-written articles on Philippine society and culture. (UPDATE: DJ R’s Liebz in the comments!)

Carmina of Chasing Realities, a Manila girl who tours us around her city and writes insightful articles on Philippine literature, politics, and many more. (UPDATE: Carmina’s Liebz!)

Miggy of Miggy Neutron, whose blog may not be regularly updated but is still filled with engaging prose on seemingly random topics like cockroaches.(UPDATE: Miggy Neutron’s Liebz!)

Anje of Punjetry, who’s probably done the Liebz countless times but she’s very interesting and funny I want to read more from her. (UPDATE: Anje’s Liebz!)

demanille of DeManille, a girl boy from Tondo who writes thought-provoking articles on topics such as Islam and Cinemalaya. (UPDATE: demanille’s Liebz!)

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