This morning’s chem exam was a doozy and a half. There were more than 40 questions! (Chemistry is so gosh darned comprehensive. You have to know how to do 1x106 different things.) Not only that, two pages were misprinted, and having meticulously torn the erroneous ones out of the primary exam booklet, as time went on I forgot about their presence in a second handout. So even though I felt like I was running a little bit behind as the halfway point passed and I wasn’t quite half-finished, it actually turned out I was way behind and wasn’t nearly half-finished.
To my chemistry professor’s credit, she let me take a breather when we first got started – my drive into town was hellish and I was nerve-wracked from all the spinning and sliding around on the side streets, and as soon as she said we weren’t allowed to leave for the whole three hours – “no going to the washroom” – wouldn’t you know it, I felt like I had to go! Like “Zap!” – that fast. And then I couldn’t concentrate at all. She did let me out, though. I thank her for this because if she didn’t, I would have gotten maybe 1%! Or I would have fulfilled the sudden vision of having to go in a bottle in the corner. Wouldn’t it be great to be “that guy who… in my chemistry exam” for the rest of my life? It was awkward coming back in – I felt like 300 people were staring at me!
That being said, what I did I think I did well, and I could have made a marginal pass, but if not, even a 48 is better than a 0. The exam’s worth 30%, and I don’t think it’s a course where you have to pass the final to pass the course, but that might be my wishful thinking. We shall see! I really don’t want to take this course ever, ever again. It was by far the most painful and trying out of astronomy, chemistry, physics and math.
Physics was easier than chemistry! Its exam had six questions! Six! The labs met only every second week, and the assignments were all online, so that meant a few fewer last-minute rushes into town to beat some deadline or other. That being said, the chem labs were ten times easier than physics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Hey SMU, 1963 called – they want their physics labs back.”
I can deal. There were two instructors this semester who vexed me to no end – luckily, I have neither next semester. It especially feels good to get the chemistry monkey off my back – or at least so I think, as there’s a good reason this first course is offered again next semester!
There were people coming out of the exam knowing they failed the course – of course, they tended to be the people who were skipping labs and not doing (any of!) their assignments. That’s doubly dangerous, because to some extent (though not enough, in my opinion – there was beaucoup exam material that was neither taught nor quizzed nor assigned (though perhaps handed out and forgotten (my bad))) the assignments teach the exam! One guy was all telling me, “I will become the final!” and would have filled my mind with visions of his Zen-like weeklong chemistry-learning trance. And yea, he did work hard for a week, and slept only briefly, by his reckoning. (Unfortunately, it’s a 14-week course. ;-) What ended up happening is that he made a similar mistake with the pages that I did – and by his estimation, he needed those grades just to pass the exam, and thus to pass the course. He’s screwed – he missed so many labs that I’m sure they won’t let him reuse his probable marginal pass of a lab grade the next time he takes this course. For my part, I think I’d rather kill myself than take this course again.
There is no way I am taking this course again. I came in kind of liking chemistry and now I loathe it passionately. But I’m going to continue and take it next semester anyway since I have the books and the (expensive) online homework access for the year. And hopefully my lab partner next semester will have safety glasses so that my (very slow, ambling) train of thought doesn’t keep getting interrupted with “WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING YOUR SAFETY GLASSES?!” screamed in a Greater Commonwealth accent three inches from my ears. I kid – I enjoyed working with both instructor and partner.
Astronomy’s next, and last – tomorrow (Saturday) night! Sadly, for all my telling people I was going to study astrophysics, I’ve spent by far the least of my time this semester on astronomy. (It won’t surprise you to hear that chemistry was by far the most egregious time-devourer. Not that I don’t think time spent on assignments and studying isn’t time splendidly spent – the assignments for chemistry just happened to be super hard, super frequent, yet worth super little. Most vexing!)
Now I’m just going to chill out. That 900-pound gorilla has finally stopped hammering me into the ground and now I can breathe again. I exaggerate, and part of my problem with school this semester is that I have the work ethic of Paris Hilton cleaning manure from a pig barn. My wiser cousin Bud will probably vouch for chilling out tonight, though.