This is the start of the fourth week of my five week class at UC Irvine. It has been a crazy few weeks.
The only thing I can compare this to is the quantum mechanics class I took the summer before my junior year. During the summer both classes are taught at twice the speed of a normal fall or spring term class.
The good difference is this class makes a lot more sense. I am understanding what is going on and it is all very reasonable to me. Most importantly, I am liking it. Also the professor keeps things interesting and generates much mirth. I laugh out loud and smile a few times every lecture.
However, I do not know anyone in the class. Unlike quantum mechanics, my friend Yinbo is not here to save me from my ignorance on problem sets and hang out with me during breaks.
For better or worse, (better for them, worse for me) everyone else in the class is an undergraduate majoring in electrical engineering entering his or her senior (or super senior) year. Except for the online extension classes I have taken (where the instructors were of varying quality), I have never taken an electrical engineering class before, let alone a fast paced upper division one. To be fair, if it were not for the MATLAB skills I learned in extension I would be hopelessly frustrated trying to complete the computer exercises and the first lab. The professor is helpful when I ask him basic electrical questions everyone else already knows. He gave me a lecture about the wonders of an inverting operational amplifier in office hours.
This class is taking a lot of time. On Monday and Wednesday I have lecture from 8-10:50 and discussion from 11-11:50. On Tuesday and Thursday I have lab from 8-10:50. Since each week covers the material normally covered in two weeks, the problem sets are extra long. Last week from 6 AM Tuesday to noon on Thursday I got less than four hours of sleep. There was a problem set due, a lab report, MATLAB, and reading for the next lab somewhere between a lot of procrastinating.
As a tangential benefit I am learning my way around UCI. Considering the large number of people I know who went there, it is good to have an idea where things are on campus and the best places to eat. In high school I ate at the In-N-Out and Del Taco across the street often, but I rarely ventured onto campus.
The way I drive to UCI starts out the same way I drove to other educational institutions. I start out driving down Warner, which is the way I drove to high school. Then when I get on the 405 south it is like I am driving to a summer class at OCC. Then I get on the 73, which is a toll road. Luckily, the first few exits are toll free. I get off at Bison Ave. right before the toll part starts. One turn off the off-ramp and moments later I am on campus where the road takes me straight to the best parking lot. The drive home is the reverse of this. Today it took me twenty minutes to drive the 12.5 miles from UCI to home.
Today was the midterm and Wednesday of next week is the final. Somewhere in between is two (maybe three) labs and two extra big problem sets.