All at Once

Katie McGee
May 18, 2016
Shanghai sunrise

Hey everyone!

We are coming down to the final countdown—two weeks left! I always find that at the end of the semester I feel like time has completely flown by and I still have so many things left that I want to do. Not only that, but the last two weeks are definitely cram time, as we come down to finals and realize that we suddenly have so much work still to do. Actually, that leads me into what I wanted to talk about today.

While in China I have found that the general teaching style is very different from what I am used to back home. Growing up, I was used to having specific homework assignments each night, with the odd essay thrown in. Since I attend a small liberal arts school, I don’t feel like that pattern changed much, other than having a little bit more time to do a handful more assignments. Of course, in college there are the different kinds of classes: those that are paper-heavy classes, discussion-heavy classes, assignment-heavy classes, and reading-heavy classes. In order to do as much work as I find I tend to be given in school, I have to be disciplined enough to get my work done efficiently in order to have time to do anything else. However, while I have been in China, I have found that the classes are very lecture-heavy, and while we have readings, the lectures are exactly what the readings were, so there isn’t much point to reading. In fact, the classes tend to have very few assignments that hold a lot more weight to the final grade. For example, in one of my classes, my ride relies solely on two open-note quizzes as a measure of attendance, one 10 page paper, and a 15 minute presentation on that paper. Really, the only class that I have had regular homework in throughout the semester is my Chinese class.

During the course of the semester, this schedule is great. It means that I have a lot more time to do fun things like hanging out with friends, reading (for fun), and generally just doing things that don’t involve schoolwork. And let’s be real. Less work means more time to procrastinate. And not even enough work to make the consequence of procrastination more than just staying up a little later to do the work. However, it turns out that this system is an absolute NIGHTMARE when the end of the semester comes around. I find myself with multiple essays to write, a skit/short video we are supposed to make for Chinese class, studying for final tests, and preparing for presentations, all on top of the normal Chinese classwork that I still have. 

When I think about it, it really doesn’t sound like much work, especially compared to what I am used to doing back at home. However, after how lazy I have gotten this semester, finding the discipline to actually follow through and get the work done has been torture. I’ve found that my attention span is a lot shorter, and the temptation to pull out my phone or watch a quick YouTube video (or five) is really difficult to resist. I end up doing twenty minutes of work before I find myself distracted yet again. This has definitely made the homework and studying rough, and I already feel like I have so much more homework than I am used to that even while I am procrastinating because I can’t focus on my work, I’m not even fully focused on whatever I am using to procrastinate because I’m too busy feeling guilty about not doing work. It’s a pretty vicious cycle. 

Ultimately, though, I will probably keep on doing what I have been, which has been setting goals for how much I want to get done each day and staying up until I’ve finished the tasks. In reality this is definitely not the healthiest way to do things, as it means I have been averaging 4.5/5 hours of sleep a night this week, but it does mean I am getting things done. In my opinion, so long as I am able to spread things out enough that I’m not frantically writing multiple papers in one day, I’m on track. Although the coming weekend will not be fun, the worst should be over by the end of the weekend. 

I guess that’s my cue to get back to work. Until next time!

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Katie McGee

<p>Hello! My name is Katie McGee, and I am a junior at the University of Puget Sound, located in Tacoma, WA. I am a Chinese major with a Japanese minor and a Global Development Studies emphasis. I am a Chinese adoptee, and although my parents did their best to expose me to Chinese culture as a child, I grew up in a community with very little diversity. I have devoted this year to traveling East Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, and Japan) and improving my Chinese along the way. I have already learned so much during my travels, but continue to look forward to what adventures lay ahead.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
University of Puget Sound
Chinese Language
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