Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Environmental Studies at York University: Year 1

In the last 3 years, I've grown to appreciate the environmental studies program at York University and enjoy what I learn in the variety of interdisciplinary courses. It's hard to believe I was frustrated with the program when I first started it.

This post will be one of three mementos of my last 3 years in environmental studies and at York University. I will also share a bit of information on what I'm studying in fourth year. My experiences with university clubs and residence will be included.

Year 1: 2008-2009

Most of my courses were under the faculty of environmental studies. Some common themes in each of those courses were environmental disasters, human contributions to climate change, consumerism, social issues in small and large communities, and the division of power between subject x and y. They were enough to make one feel depressed because the lessons always gave a 'people won't do anything that would actually benefit the environment if it means sacrificing a little wealth' vibe. One of my courses was a geography course which taught history and discourse. It was a little more enlightening than the environmental courses.

I thought that passing my classes was enough to make me happy but I learned it did not. The level of work and writing was much higher than I expected, so I struggled a lot. I used to be great with presentations in high school, but I screwed up group presentations with a sudden stage fright. After receiving a zero on an oral exam, one of my professors suggested I may have a learning disability and I should get help from one of the school's learning services. I didn't go because I believed I could improve my learning capabilities on my own.

I lived on residence in my first year, but I spent most of my time sleeping and hanging out with fellow residence friends. We would stay up until the next morning watching the food network, drinking, or talking about something related to anime, manga, or gaming. My parents called me almost every day in the first few months but gave up after I stopped picking up the phone. They used to give me surprise visits on Fridays to take me home and even sent their friends to pick me up a few times. I told them I wanted to stay at residence on weekends, but they insisted that I wanted to go home. What was the point of pressuring me into living on residence and spending that $7,000? At least I got to meet great people there and I had enough time to explore the whole campus.

I checked out a few clubs on campus throughout the year. I submitted a few comics and attended general meetings of the campus' newspaper group Excalibur, sat through a few of the astronomy club's awesome weekly activities, and eventually joined Yama anime and manga association. One of the members from YAMA showed a fellow first year and I around the campus's underground pathways. He didn't tell us that people usually get raped there until he led us to a sketchy tunnel. (I learned the next year that there's a worse rape tunnel somewhere else on campus.) The groups took a lot of my time every week because of their long meetings, but I don't regret taking the time to participate in their activities.

Throughout the year, I had a habit of falling asleep everywhere. I slept through my classes [in the front row], slept in random common rooms around campus, slept in cafeterias, and even while walking to classes. The bad part was that I wasn't aware I fell asleep until I woke up. I took a blood test during a doctor's appointment halfway into my second term and learned that I had iron deficiency anemia. I asked the doctor if I had to eat more food with iron in it, but she suggested I take supplements instead. I had to take iron tablets everyday after that but I still felt tired. (I feel much better now so the tablets must have worked.)

What I didn't like most about my first year was the long strike: it lasted from the beginning of November until the end of January. I spent most of my strike days looking for news on York University, reading comics and novels, and sleeping at home instead of finishing all my readings and assignments.

Year 1.5: Summer 2009

I wanted to experience summer school back in high school, but I never got the chance to because I had to take care of my younger sister. I figured I could try it out in university and maybe pick up the habit to do assignments ahead of time. The summer term was shorter because of the strike, so everything in the course was crammed. There wasn't that much resting time between assignments, but I didn't mind. My habits of keeping things to the last day continued though.

I think the only bad thing that happened that summer was spraining my ankle and having to use crutches. I sprained my ankle after jumping off a curb and landing on my ankle. It was painful.

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