PRO 5 — CON 2

I had a hard time marking the Photography course offered by the University as a PRO. Since I have a huge interest in photography and I quite like the professor, tallying it as a CON didn't feel right either. Sixteen weeks passed by but I did not learn a thing.

This was the course I was most looking forward to upon entering MCU. We had one quick lesson on composition and another on lighting. Two or three classes were spent looking at featured photographers' prints although most of them didn't blow my mind. We watched three or four movies that were sort-of photography related but I feel that I can watch movies on my own time.

We were assigned a David Hockney project which required some knowledge of photo editing. It took me an hour to come up with this which the teacher then used as an example for the class. Most of my classmates had no idea how to complete the project.

Our final presentation was to show our work at an exhibition. This is what I quickly came up with. We needed five to eight of our photos from previous assignments — the topic was temples — which the professor requested be displayed on a 30 x 40 template. Again, many students were baffled so one classmate took it upon herself to help a good majority of the class.

I wonder why the professor wouldn't have taken a few weeks to run around the basics of Photoshop and/or Lightroom. These two programs go hand in hand with digital photography, do they not? I'm afraid to say that our time could have been used much more wisely than it was.

And that's not to say that the movies we watched weren't entertaining. I enjoyed them. The thing is, if I'm going to be paying this kind of money to watch movies, I want big comfy seats with surround sound, not uncomfortable old wooden desks that are hardly big enough to hold a book.

There are no other photography or photo editing courses being offered in English. If I take the one or two courses that are available in Chinese at a different campus, it's won't grant me credits. Sad news, indeed.

I best stop here before this PRO becomes a CON.

PRO 4 — CON 2

I aced the Journalism and News Editing course I had on Wednesday afternoon which was taught by a professor from Australia. This was the other class I looked forward to each week.

The prof was strict in his teaching style and in full control. He will be instructing us for many of the required courses which is good news. I believe I will be able to learn a lot from him and wish more professors would follow in his footsteps.

Nothing but great things to say, so I will leave it short and sweet! Tuition is paid which means another semester awaits! I placed fifth in my class overall and am thrilled about that! If I push myself a bit harder next semester, I may be able to get myself in the top three. Maybe!

PRO 3 — CON 2

The elective 'History of Western Art' was offered on Wednesday morning. It's a great class taught by a Canadian professor who will retire after this next semester — and she should. Teachers need to show patience which she has absolutely none of.

No messing around in this class. It was like boot camp. I appreciated her style of teaching because I agree with it. She had control, as she should. It is her class after all. She seems to be one of the only ones making an attempt at teaching responsibility.

She was knowledgeable about her subject, no question there. After each lecture, she gave specific instruction to depict the period of art or artist she had spoken of. Most of my works looked like that of a grade-schooler yet I was one of very few that had a perfect portfolio.

One class, she made us tape paper underneath some desks and paint on our backs so that we could experience a brief moment of the four years that it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. From cave art, to mosaics, to stained glass and painting, one never knew what the next class would hold.

It was tough in the sense of there being a TON of readings but, unlike Economics, I found myself finding the time to get it done. I learned a lot in her class and there's no question that the western thought process worked out in her favor. Another definite PRO which puts PRO in the lead. Nice.

PRO 2 — CON 2

On Tuesday afternoon I had an English Reading and Composition Writing class which is mandatory for all students. The professor is American but I won't hold that against him!

This was the class I looked forward to most each week. His lessons were interesting and entertaining. FINALLY! There were no tests, only portfolios to be submitted. The six writing assignments he gave allowed me to explore new styles of writing. A few were quite challenging. I really enjoyed having someone critique my work as I am looking for guidance in that department.

We will be stuck with him again next semester or rather he'll be stuck with us. I look forward to it. Western thought process = a definite PRO.

PRO 1 — CON 2

Tuesday morning was reserved for Information Technology. We had four hours of class yet only three credits were offered upon completion. The content we learned could easily be covered in a two-hour session. Most assignments took ten minutes to complete. I tried to use my time wisely by preparing for other classes, usually my Chinese lesson. The systems didn't allow me to type in Pinyin so one of my classmates taught me how to use ㄅㄆㄇㄈ along with the tones on a keyboard. Very useful.

It was hard to decide if this class was a PRO or a CON. It weighs at the midpoint but I decided to go against having a balance on these PRO/CON rants. I chose PRO as I did learn some useful things that will come in handy not to mention I like the professor. His teaching style is a bit unusual but it made the class entertaining. I chuckled on more than a few occasions.

The classroom was like a freezer. Signs hang on the A/Cs requesting that they not be switched off. Although Taiwan is considered to be warm year round, it can get cold. One day, the temperature dropped to nine degrees and I swear the machines were spitting out ice. The teacher obeyed the signs and refused to turn them off. The students, however, rebelled. Off was not an option so we turned it to the least offensive setting we could find.

Our first lesson involved learning about what a desktop is and what icons are. And then about hardware and software. The professor would give us a link to different Wikipedia pages and then we'd have to submit assignments based on our understanding. This was all done via Moodle. If the homework wasn't submitted in a somewhat timely manner, he'd disconnect our systems from the real world.

His favorite question during the semester seemed to be, "Are you with me?" I'm afraid most students were not. The majority were quite busy with life on Facebook and MSN.

We continued on to study the basics of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Next semester we study with the same teacher who will be teaching us Multimedia Applications. I hope it proves to be more a bit challenging the second time around. Staying at MCU is desirable but I am currently looking for some SERIOUS motivation.

PRO 0 — CON 2

The University has a Phys-Ed program that is a required course yet no credits are given upon completion. This suggests to me that my time is not worth anything.

The size of the gymnasium in relation to the number of students is not even comparable. There's no space for movement nor was there enough equipment.

The first part of the semester was badminton. We weren't taught the rules of the game but how to hit a shuttlecock with a racket. What? It was quite interesting to see how many students actually had trouble with this. We had a few shorts weeks to practice before the test. Yes, a test.

We had a flexibility test and a standing long jump test. I was beginning to wonder if I'd unluckily been sent back to grade two.

Volleyball was introduced after the mid-terms. Again, the rules were not taught. If you were lucky enough to get a ball, you were to bump it up and down by yourself to prepare for the test.

Each student was also required to do a sit-up test along with a running test.

TEST! TEST! TEST! I thought this was supposed to be gym class?

Shouldn't one at a university level be old to enough to decide whether they want physical activity in their life or not? I have a hard time calling what we were asked to do physical activity. It was a bit of a joke.

A large number of students had never played either sport so why not teach the rules of the game and play instead of being tested. Besides that, Taiwan really should consider introducing these types of activities at a grade school level, not University.

Due to a recent broken leg, I had a doctor's note which excused me from most of the tests. However, if you fail to complete any of the tests, you cannot graduate. Wow. I don't know what else to say here. I would prefer that my time be used more constructively.

So looking forward to next semester where we are likely to have a table tennis test. Please note sarcasm.

PRO 0 — CON 1

Monday, being the first day of the week and all, seems like a good place to start. Class began at 9:10am with economics … three hours of it which was painful.

I learned that I most definitely will not be an economist which is actually fine with me. One doesn't need to be good at everything!

The course was over a sixteen-week period and ran through twenty-three chapters, including both micro and macroeconomics. Way too much questionable material in such a short time span. Should the concept of economics be taught in such a technical manner to one majoring in Journalism? Data can be found very easily online.

I do agree with key concepts being taught and understood, however, will a journalist sit down to calculate this equation: 'xY = A F(xL, xK, xH, xN)'? I neglect to see the practicality here.

I did not score well on the mid-term and the professor seemed quite surprised by my low grade. Had she taken the time to look over any of the homework that I had submitted, she would've quickly noted that I was not getting it!

And sure, I didn't put a lot of effort into the required reading nor have I done mathematics for many, many years. We were assigned homework questions each week which were to be handed in before the due date and if one did that, it was an automatic 100%. Easy.

I had advised the professor that I didn't quite understand the point of why we were learning the things we were. I also asked her why drawing supply and demand graphs would be important for a journalist? She said she would get back to me and help me understand the point. She never approached me after that. Perhaps I came off as unlikeable.

At the start of each class, I was one of the few students in my chair before the first bell rang. That must have earned me some much needed brownie points.

Finals came and went. We were tested on nine chapters of material. My understanding level was still about chapter four which meant trouble. When it came around to preparing, I realized that you can't study something if you don't understand it.

Decision-making time. An all-expense-paid company year-end party here for 2 days? Or stay at home and struggle with economics? The decision was easy.

Ever so relaxed from the hot springs, the outcome of my exam was favorable. I scored much higher than expected. My 'eeny meeny miney moe' skills have finally been perfected. Yes!

One student managed a score of 100% yet didn't answer part of a question. How is it that 100% is achievable when the test wasn't fully completed? I am confused.

Back in University ...

The list starts today. My posts over the next week or so will be in regards to my thoughts about semester one.

It went by fast. But so does much in life. I can only hope that time will continue to soar until I have completed this program ... if I make it that long. I may use this first year as a stepping-stone to something a bit more fitting to my way of thinking.

A two-hour meeting with the director of my program and the secretary allowed me to see the inflexibility at the University. I will search for new options over the following semester as there may be a better solution out there for me.

All that being said, I do enjoy most of my days at the University. I'm just not 100% sure that attending MCU is the best way to achieve what I want. It seems like there's a lot of nonsense in between the small bits of usefulness.

And so starts the list of my personal evaluations as an adult student considering the relevance of what is being taught in these learning institutions. Are they really preparing kids for what comes next? It's questionable.

Wednesday January 19th, 2011

The rain took an afternoon off. New photos in the album on the right ➜ ➜ ➜ ➜ ➜

Friday January 14th, 2011

I think I may have just discovered what is SO great about University life ... the winter break.

I forgot what it was like to have my mornings to myself ... and now I get afternoons too ... sweet!

Exercise is first on my list of things to do each day. It's been tough getting back into it. The broken leg flab that has been accumulating since May keeps me motivated.

Getting out of shape comes quite easily. It hardly seems fair that getting back into shape requires twice the amount of effort. Thank goodness for determination.

I have four weeks of no studies. This allows me ample time to reconsider the choices I've made. A two hour meeting with the director of my program answered the many questions I had but also left me with concerns.

Either way ... I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward ~ Thomas Alva Edison

Thursday January 13, 2011

Photo: Smash Artists

My list of places to see this winter vacation continues to grow. The weather remains uncooperative. It's 14°now and calls for cooler temperatures come the weekend. It's uninspiring. The umbrella above states my feelings exactly ... ☂

Wednesday January 5, 2011

The above photo was not meant to look like this . . . ↑

I'm not sure what the desired result was supposed to be but with each click of my camera comes the realization that I have SO much to learn.

I currently have in my possession a Canon 100mm/Macro lens. I am very much looking forward to giving it a go.

Practice is everything ... this is often misquoted as practice makes perfect ~ Periander