My Last Class

I am about to go into the very last class of my first year at Queen’s University.

Time has never passed as quickly as it has this year, especially this March and April. Fast than summer break, faster than exchange, faster than vacation. You know how time flies when you’re having fun? Apparently it surpasses the speed of light when you’re having a mental breakdown. That’s basically what this year has been for me. A complete breakdown and reassembly of how I think about myself, my education, and my relationships. I’ve learned a lot about myself that I wish I didn’t know. I’ve learned that it’s hard to make all the right moves in a long-distance relationship, that I’m not so great with handling others’ illnesses, and that I have some serious self-esteem issues that I didn’t know I had. I’ve learned what a panic attack really feels like. I’ve learned that I don’t like panic attacks.

But! I’ve also learned that even if I don’t make the right move, I can still fix things, especially with the help of loved ones. I’ve learned that other people do not have to define my life and how I operate through it . I’ve learned that I have an entire lifetime to work on myself and develop into the person I truly want to be. I’ve learned that I thrive under pressure and that I have way more umph! in me than I ever imagined or wished for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that, no matter how low I feel, no matter how many crappy choices I make, there are people in my life who will push me to go further, challenge me to do better, and support me through all of it. People like T.A.’s who see that I have potential, my parents who have always been there for me, my partner who encourages me like no one else, and even myself.

Coming up to the final exams of my first year of university is the first time in my life that I’ve looked in the mirror and honestly been able to say “What the hell, Kenz? You can do better,” instead of “You should be able to do better.” And for the first time in my life, I can respond (yes, I respond to myself) with “Wait a sec. Yea, I can do better than this,” instead of “I wish I knew how,” or “I wish I had it in me.” I can’t thank my family, my partner, and my new friends enough for helping me with this incredible personal growth that I didn’t know was possible.

It’s up to me to keep the cycle of positive reinforcement going. The joy of university for me is that the harder I try, the better my marks are. That’s just not something that happened for me in high school. I was aiming for university when they wanted cookie cutter, and you don’t get marks in high school for doing more than what your teacher asks for. Every week, especially at the end of the year when all the marks start flooding in, I realize that high school was a tiny, insignificant blip on my radar, a mere stepping stone to getting where I need to be right now.

Alright, enough philosophizing. I’ve learned a lot about applying for a major lately. At the beginning of the year, I was terrified that I just wouldn’t be capable of getting the grades to major in Psychology. It’s the most competitive major to get into in the Arts and Sciences at Queen’s. Now that we’ve reached the end of the year, despite all of my panicking, it turns out that a Psych major may very well be in my cards after all. (To all my lovely family members reading this, I know you were never worried, but I honestly was for a while.) As it currently stands, I need higher than a 70% on my final exam to get into Psychology, which is definitely doable. I’m feeling very confident (knock on wood) because the topics we’ve worked on this semester (personality, emotions, social life, development, etc.) are all things I’m absolutely fascinated by, so I’ve really soaked it all in. Wish me luck!

So, time for my last class … I wish it was one I liked. :P After this, I’m off to the library for more studying and final essay writing. As of this moment, there are 12 days, 21 hours, and 30 minutes until I am home at last, and dropping into unconsciousness in my proper-sized bed for a month. This will likely be my last communication until I become conscious again.

Let me know how your first year went or anything important you learned this year in the comments. I love to hear these things. Thanks for sticking with me through my first year, folks!

Kenzie

Advertisements

Spring, Studying, and Summer Plans…

Hey folks!

As of Wednesday, it is officially spring! Don’t get me wrong, I love school, but I am unbelievably excited for the beginning of summer. First year has been excellent. But let’s be honest, I still have another crazy round of exams to go through. Luckily for me, I only have three final exams and one final essay this semester. And (I’m not sure if I’m happy about this yet) they’re all pretty close together. So, while my studying will turn me into crazy-eyed-haven’t-showered-in-a-week Kenzie, I’ll be done my exams really quickly and chilling out at home before I know it! I’m not too sure when the packing part is going to get done though!

I’ve been spending insane amounts of time in the library lately. I’m just finishing up with a 6 hour stint, and it’s the shortest one all week. I have a new style of studying for Psychology (hopefully one that will work a little better than last semester), and it’s been taking up a bunch of time. I just finished a long English paper, and I’ve got to get started on a longer Religion paper soon so I have time to study for Psychology! It’s going to be a crazy busy few weeks for me, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get through it alive.

boots-and-hearts-logoMy summer plans this year are so exciting that I just have to mention some of them. Firstly, I have to paint my new house some weekend this summer! Not that you care, but it’s going to be an awesome green colour! Next, my amazing boyfriend bought both of us tickets at Christmas to go to the Boot and Hearts Country Festival this summer! I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this. Names like Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry, Dean Brody, Chad Brownless, and Jason Blaine will all be there! Needless to say, I’m dying of excitement (only 132 days until the gates open!). Finally, (can you tell I was spoiled this Christmas?) my parents have surprised my brother and I with a Caribbean cruise. After my first year of university, and all the other personal crap that came with it, I am pretty freaking excited for this chance to chill out and do nothing but tan, swim, and read. Duh.

Oh, and also, I’m just about to finish Pride and Prejudice for my English course. It’s awesome to read something I’ve read before in a university course. Realizing all the different things that I completely missed out on is sooooo enlightening. Maybe I’ll minor in English?

That’s it for today, folks! See you soon,
Kenzie

Brain Rules and Other Good Ideas

Happy Monday, everyone :)

Not much is happening in the world of university right now. But in preparation for some of my classes, I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. I recently picked up a book called Brain Rules by John Medina. I hadn’t researched it before hand and it was somewhat impulsive, but I quickly flipped through the table of contents and it looked like something I would really enjoy.

I know I’ve said it before, but I doubt I’ll say it much more after this: I have found one of the greatest books ever written … on psychology that is. I can almost guarantee this book has significantly improved how I’ll function at university and in my future career.

Medina shares with his readers the twelve “Brain Rules” (to the right) that he believes are the keys to thriving in our schools and businesses. Medina states in the intro that “for a study to appear in this book, … the supporting research for each of my points must first be published in a peer-reviewed journal and then successfully replicated. Many of the studies have been replicated dozens of times.” The scientists he sources are all at the very top of their field. If you commonly read books in the psychology section, you will recognize quite a few names.

The topics Medina discussed cover most of the areas of how we learn, remember and forget, as well as how we can function at our highest in school or at work. His twelve different topics are very distinct, but he makes it very clear how they all connect to each other throughout the entire book.

I have never read a book so utterly readable and easy to understand, despite the presence of complex and would-be confusing topics. Because Medina has made it his mission to understand how people learn and retain information, he has designed the entire book so that you will remember everything you’ve learned about learning. He’s witty, relatable, and not at all dry (not even when we got to the genes and chromosomes of the gender chapter).

Each chapter ends with Medina’s “ideas”. That is, the best possible ways to put all this fantastic research by top scientists to use in our schools and businesses. Although some of his ideas seem quite drastic, it’s very easy to see how it could make learning and working easier, more enjoyable, and more rewarding than it currently is. His final chapter, ‘exploration,’ has to do with the very natural curiosity of humans. One of his final thoughts in the book was this:

My two-year-old son Noah and I were walking down the street on our way to preschool when he suddenly noticed a shiny pebble embedded in the concrete. Stopping mid-stride, the little guy considered it for a second, found it thoroughly delightful and let out a laugh. He spied a small plant an inch farther, a weed valiantly struggling through a crack in the asphalt. He touched it gently, then laughed again. Noah noticed beyond it a platoon of ants marching in single file, which he bent down to examine closely. They were carrying a dead bug, and Noah clapped his hands in wonder. There were dust particles, a rusted screw, a shiny spot of oil…. I tried to get him to move along, having the audacity to act like an adult with a schedule. He was having none of it. And I stopped, watching my little teacher, wondering how long it had been since I had taken 15 minutes to walk 20 feet.

In practice with how the brain learns, Medina has also created a short 2:00-5:00 minute video to go with each chapter, in order to help solidify what you’ve learned in the book. Here’s the video for the introduction. I hope I’ve sparked an interest in you to go out and buy your own copy of this book. No matter where your interests lie, I can promise you improvement in your school or work life if you read and apply Medina’s 12 brain rules.

Adoration, Orientation, and other Preparations…

Why hello there! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Well, now I have much to tell you all.

First of all, you have not reached the wrong blog! I’m starting a massive chapter in my life in just a month and a half. I think that calls for a freshening up! So, I’ve got a brand spankin’ new layout for my entire blog.

Now, on to the meaty stuff. Since we’ve last spoken, I have received a book in the mail, been to SOAR (Queen’s “Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources”), applied for all my first year courses, and bought a pillow.

Eating Dirt

There are three things I am madly in love with right now:

  1. Queen’s,
  2. Reading (of course),
  3. My man.

For my personal wellbeing and happiness… Disclaimer: Not in that order.

So, imagine my elation when, after being away at the cottage for a week, I come home and in a matter of 15 minutes, I give a flying leap of a hug to the third and find that the first has sent me a means to the second. I had only just accepted Queen’s offer of admission a month before, and a tiny, itty-bitty part of my brain was still wondering “what if I’d picked another school?” Any tiny, itty-bitty speck of doubt was promptly swept from my mind when I opened the mailbox to find that my new school with whom I will be trusting my education has sent me a book in the mail, so that I might have something to do until summer ends and something to talk about with new friends when school begins. I smiled the dorkiest smile I’ve ever smiled in my entire career of geekness.

And now I’m sure: Queen’s is for me.

SOAR

The one-day summer orientation was amazing. Not so much because of the preparatory information, however. If you know me well enough, you’ve probably guessed that I have torn apart Queen’s website, as well as the websites for SOAR, ASUS, DoPSYC, ASUSO, SA, SOLUS, and Moodle — all Queen’s acronyms that make sense to me now! There wasn’t much said at the orientation information sessions that I wasn’t already somewhat aware of. I did learn of one somewhat important thing though: Psychology is THE most competitive major to be accepted into at Queen’s. Apparently the minimum mark you need in Psych101 is an A. I wish they had put that on their website…

I also finally had a chance to see Queen’s. Let me tell you something, if I had been to Queen’s before I had applied for universities, I wouldn’t have wasted my time applying anywhere else. Any picture you can find of Queen’s just won’t do the phenomenal campus justice. The buildings are definitely bigger, have much more history, and far more beautiful than any image could hope to convey. My dad didn’t say a lot while we were there — I think he likes to absorb first — but at one quiet point in-between information sessions, he told me “This place is perfect for you…you’ll thrive here”.  And I couldn’t possibly say it better than that, except maybe to add: The libraries are huge.

Courses

This is what I’ve been most excited about telling you for a week now! As of July 9th at 8.00AM, I have officially been enrolled in the following Faculty of Arts and Science courses: Introduction to Cognitive Science; Introduction to Literary Studies; Gender, Race, & Popular Culture; Introduction to Sociology; World Religions/Religious Worlds; and — of course — Principles of Psychology. I can’t wait to start studying these amazing topics!!

I’ve been off school since February now, so I’ve been a little anxious about getting back in the groove of readings, studying, and deadlines. I’ve been reading as many books related to my courses as possible. Look out for a review of some of these books coming soon!

My room

I have begun the dorm-room decoration buying process. I don’t really like shopping, but I like the idea of creating my own space where all my living happens. I’m endlessly frustrated by my lack of permission to use thumb tacks on the walls, though. Don’t they know sticky tack won’t hold up anything?

That’s it for today, folks. See you soon with a couple book reviews!

Kenzie

Quiet and Other Good Ideas

Happy Sunday everyone :)

Well, I’ll get right into it. In March, I mentioned a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. As I’m sure you can guess, the book focuses on just how much our current society (knowingly or unknowingly) undervalues the quieter, reflective, less social personality types at school, in the workplace, and socially. Cain is so passionate about this subject—she’s an introvert herself who has been pushed into many extroverted roles in her life—and you can really feel it in her writing. She shares real stories of both introverts and extroverts, and through the most cutting-edge research in the field, illustrates the fundamental differences between the extroverted, introverted, and ambiverted among us.

This book has floored me. Of course, I’m very interested in psychology, especially personality and evolutionary psychology, so I already knew this book would be interesting to me. But the more I read, the more I think: “Oh! If only my teachers had known this about introverts!” and similar trains of thought. This book isn’t something that only psychologists should read, or even a book that only introverts should read. Everyone should read this book. The socially extroverted person will learn a little more about his “shy” co-worker that just won’t share her fabulous ideas in meetings, and the quieter, studious teenager will understand why his peers talk as much as they do. If you are a person who, at any point during your day, has to interact with other humans, you need to read this book.

Along with Quiet, there are a lot of illuminating books I’ve been reading lately in the psychology area. I’ve been out of high school long enough that I feel like I’ve forgotten how to learn, so that may be why I’ve been gravitating toward the non-fiction section lately. I want to write an essay or create a seminar on something I find really interesting, in order to remember how to research, write, and edit.

So I’m looking for ideas, folks. I need a topic that lies anywhere between social psychology and neuroscience. I’ll pick one, work on it, and maybe even post it when it’s done.

Thanks for your help!

Kenzie

Accepting, Purling, and Placeling

Hello everyone!!

I have some very important things to tell you today!  Well, I have one important thing to tell you…the others are just fun and cool :P

First and most importantly, I have accepted Queen’s University! I am officially a part of the class of 2016 and I’ve put my deposit down for residence. I absolutely cannot wait to start learning again in September. I won’t be majoring until next year, but I’m still pretty excited to be starting first year Psychology, Linguistics, and Cognitive Science courses.  Once I know all of my classes for sure, I will let you guys know.

Now, don’t judge me on this second one. I’ve started knitting…again. And I’m not starting with a scarf or socks. I’m starting with two pillows (I wanted something that I might actually use). They have a fairly simply pattern, but I’ve got to say that so far, it looks awesome!  I’m going to put pictures up as soon as I finish them, so everyone can see that knitting is not so lame.

I’ve discovered this really cool Canadian app called Placeling. It’s a beautiful app that allows people to tag their favourite places whether they’re restaurants, clubs, salons, shopping centres, or interesting landmarks. You can add why you’ve chosen each place, add a picture, and a link to encourage others in your area to go as well. Once enough people start using this app and following other locals, people will be able to look to this app for advice on places in your area. So I’m advertising it (you can get it here or in the app store) and I know that somehow, I can link my Placeling account to my wordpress blog. I just don’t know exactly how to do it. So, maybe if I stop being my technologically-challenged self, I will get that up and running.

See you all soon!

Kenzie

Also, Stefan wanted me to mention him in my blog. So…there ya go honey.

Auctions, Applications, and A Change of Plans

Hello again everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I wish I could say a lot has happened… but it hasn’t.  There are a few things worth mentioning though.

The first is rather fun.  I’ve been auctioned off and bought by another student at my school.  As a fundraiser, my school rounded up a bunch of grade 12’s and auctioned them off as tutors, amusement, friends-for-a-day, and people to wait in line for you.  It’s my job to help someone with a formal or creative writing assignment.  It was a great idea, but there’s room for improvement.  In the future, I would suggest not making it anonymous, and maybe not capping the bid at $10.  Just an idea.

The next event (or rather, non-event) might have been of importance about a week ago.  I’ve been waiting since December to find out if I’ve been accepted to a university.  Unfortunately, unlike my classmates, I’m not eligible for early acceptance because I don’t have grade 11 marks (the only downside I can think of to spending grade 11 in Australia).  Originally, I was told that I would find out in late-April/early-May if I was accepted, but there has been a change of plans!

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that as much as I love anthropology, there are very few well-paying job in the field. Added to that, there’s a field I love even more.  Those of you who know me well will know that I’ve been interesting in psychology for as long as I can remember.  This seems to be much more suited to me and where I want to end up in life.

Unfortunately, I don’t have all the prerequisites I need to apply for psychology in university.  So next year, instead of heading off to uni, I will be staying behind to catch up on some grade 11 and grade 12 courses that I have yet to take.  I’ll most likely be taking grade 11 Biology, Ancient Civilizations, Travel and Tourism, and World Religions; and grade 12 Biology and Math.  Admittedly, I find it sightly ironic that the girl who has had a countdown to graduation for years (71 days!), the girl who has hated high school since the second day of grade 9, has decided to return for an entire year.  And I’m okay with it!  …I think.

P.S.  And yes, the rumours are true.  I’m cashing in the teenage right to fall under one standard cliché without the poking fun.  I’m dating the guy next door. :)