Just 2 More to Go

This morning, I took my Heat and Mass Transfer final. May God have mercy on my soul.

The exam was fairly rigidly set up. Each student had their own exam and seat assigned to them. The students who had somehow failed to register got forms for on-the-spot registration and improvised exam booklets. We had scratch paper in different colors to make sheet-passing easier to track, and our student IDs and an additional photo ID were checked as we took the test. All solutions had to be in pen, written in a specific answer form, and we wrote our name and ID-number on every page.

That's the boring stuff. The less boring to some, more boring to others stuff is the problems we had to solve in the test. 5 questions, each taking about half an hour. Yuck! At least they tried to come up with mildly amusing situations. One problem involved analyzing how quickly an olive in a Martini absorbs alcohol and how many a guy has to drink before getting drunk.

I did not have the best start to the day. I awoke at 4AM, convinced it was 8PM. However, given how low the battery on my phone/alarm clock was when I checked the time, this might actually have saved my butt. Then, when I finally did get up, I spent the first two hours of consciousness feeling queasy. That might have to do with all the brownie batter I ate raw last night. Hey, the pan was too small for the recipe. Clearly the metric system is to blame.

Despite all that, by the time the test came around, I felt fairly well and rested. I answered all but one sub-problem and feel pretty confident about the majority of my answers. The results will come out on March 6th, the day after my Controls exam. I need to buckle down and study for that and my Dynamics class now that the first wave of tests has passed. However, until Monday, I'm taking a break. Nothing but brownies, Scandal episodes, and medieval poetry for me!

Another One Bites the Dust

Yesterday, I took my Literary Studies exam. At first, the server allowing me access was overloaded by other students. I had a minor moment of panic when I thought the problem might have been with my computer instead of the internet, but an hour later I got in.

As expected, it wasn't all that tough. The most difficult questions were those with tiny distinctions between possible answers. However, I filled in every blank and feel reasonably confident about all of them. We'll see in a few weeks how well that confidence is placed.

Today, in a desperate attempt to avoid studying more for heat and mass and to honor the all sacred Day of Valentine, I made Nutella brownies and talked with a guy about American commercialism, which transformed into a talk about American indifference, corruption, incompetence, and lies. I've talked with friends about the Iraq war being all about oil, politicians being dirty, and the public (myself included) being uninformed about foreign affairs. Hearing it from a non-American that I'm not friends with though....I felt surprisingly defensive. It did motivate me somewhat to get more informed about what the heck is even going on in the world. One more thing on my "after finals" to-do list.

First Grade and Screwy Scales

Well, I have heard back on my Middle High German Translation exam. The professor said that the only mistakes were matters of word endings and expression. All in all, I get a 1-.

I'll take this as a chance to talk about the grading scale in Germany.

Instead of A-F, Germans use a numerical system 1-5. However, the numbers do not like up exactly with our letters. Time for an over complicated graphic!

Green indicates a passing grade. Although a 4 might seem like the equivalent of1 an F or a D, it's still considered passing in Germany, more akin to a C-. 

The question weighing on my mind is if I'm required to get the equivalent of a C to get credit at CMU, does that mean I need a 4 or a 3 in the German system? Hopefully, my next exams will go as well as my translation did.

Next Exam: Intro to Literary Studies tomorrow morning.

First Exam Down!

I just took the first exam of the semester, and it went well!

The exam was for Translation from Middle High German. I knew going in that I would be given a poem about 20-30 lines long and would have an hour to translate it. A Medieval to Modern German dictionary and a German to English dictionary were my aids. To prepare, I essentially just looked up a bunch of medieval poems that fit the bill and did practice exams, comparing my translation at the end to whatever other translations I could find.

I had been getting pretty nervous about the test. Half the time I could make sense of the poems without too much difficulty, but then a line would pop up that I would entirely misinterpret. I could either ace or fail the test depending on which text the teacher chose.

Imagine then my shock when the poem he gave me was one of the first ones I'd practiced with. I am proud to say that I did tell him that I had seen a translation of it before. However, he decided that since I had seen it while preparing for the exam, it was still fair game. Instead of worrying about figuring it out, I could focus on choosing the most suitable phrases.

The only major problem was how to translate "Obedience to God". Since I knew what the poem meant, just not how to say it in modern German, I asked the professor. He gave me the term Ehrerbietung, meaning homage or deference. Unfortunately, as I discovered when I looked it up just now, I misspelled it as Eherbietung, which, if it were a word, would mean offering of marriage...ah well.

I have two exams next week to prepare for, Heat and Mass Transfer and Introduction to Literary Studies. Since the former is required for graduation and the latter is electronic, multiple choice, and 21 questions long, I think I'm going to focus on Heat and Mass.