The Amen University Experience (Year 2)

Howdy, Amen here. I’m here to talk about my second year of university. I was worried this post would end up too long, but it turned out to be about as long as my first one. This is when things start to get interesting, as I start taking more than just writing courses and other trivial electives. I’ll begin this story from the summer after my first year, when, I got an email from student housing telling me who my roommate would be. There were still a few months left until university began, and I wanted to know what kind of person he was, so, of course, after having attained such powerful information (his name), I couldn’t help myself and had to look him up online. The internet nowadays is pretty amazing. When I was a kid, I was told to never put my personal information online, but things have really changed, haven’t they. Using your real name has become a common thing with the rise of social media. Now, it’s possible to find almost anyone and learn about what they like and dislike, who they’re going out with (if anyone), and more. It’s like a human encyclopedia. If you ask me, you should be prepared for anything you put your name on to be found. So I found my roommate, and learned some valuable information. He liked anime. Now, unfortunately, he hadn’t watched nearly as much as me, so we couldn’t talk about too much, but it was still cool, and throughout that school year we would watch some of the same shows that were airing and talk about them every week. This was a much welcomed change from the people I had before.

If you remember how I lived in a new room during the spring semester, that was the same type of room I had now. The building was a lot taller than where I lived before, by about 3 stories, so I got a much better view from the lounge.

I also saw a cool looking red bird when walking to school once.

And there were once moose outside my window. They eat really strangely.

You might not know this, but physics majors are extremely rare. At the time of writing this, there are only 14 people majoring or minoring in physics at my university, and I was the only student in my year. As well, there was only one student in the year below me. That said, our university is doing really well in this regard. About one in one hundred students here are doing a physics minor or major, whereas at most universities the ratio is closer to one in one thousand. It’s still a small number though, and there were even less people during my second year, so I figured I would be the only physics person on my floor, but I was mistaken. This was where I met who I call physics-senpai. He was doing a double major in math and physics and it was his final year. We shared the same name, so I liked to joke that I was there to replace him. He was the smartest person I ever met, and I strove to match his grades, even asking him for his transcript so I could set goals for myself. Sometimes I did better than him, though most of the time I did a little bit worse. I did manage to impress him a few times though, despite being a rookie. One such time was when we had another trivia competition for a pizza party. This was the exact same game from my previous year. Exactly, down to each and every question being recycled. The host must not have thought anyone from before would be there, in this new building. And this time, it was a free for all, for all team members. That is, any team member could answer a question at any time, and I still remembered a decent amount of answers from last year. Whereas I didn’t help at all before, this time I was the MVP and carried the team to victory. Physics-senpai would look amazed as I answered each question that had a trick answer, and I won pizza for my floor.

I was really excited for this new year, I must say. Having finished precalculus, calculus 1, linear algebra, and calculus 2 with straight As, I was excited for calculus 3. I was also taking my first real university physics course: general physics 1: mechanics. Then there was intro to programming, issues in world politics, and intro to creative writing. It all looked like a lot of fun, but it turned out to be very 必死. That is, it felt like I was walking along the border of death.

Let me start with my easiest course: calculus 3. In this, we learned about infinite series in great detail, and then multivariable calculus afterwards. This was a very easy class, though that may have been due to the professor I got, who everyone loved. He was a bald Russian guy, and all the girls in the class thought he was cute. Not to mention he gave lots of bonus questions and posted all his notes online. As easy as the course was, I’m not sure how he could have made the course material hard. Partial differentiation and double integration is very straightforward. Everything in multivariable calculus is simple as long as you understand calculus 1 and 2. The infinite series thing took a while to get used to, but it proved to be pretty simple too. Just memorize the convergence tests and when they should be used, and you’re pretty much good to go. I really enjoyed the Maclaurin Series though, where you could describe functions such as Sin(x) or Ln(x) as infinite series. Previously, I had always wondered “If sin(x) is equal to opposite over hypotenuse, how does your calculator know what it is just knowing x and without knowing side lengths? There are too many unknown variables here!” But that’s how you calculator does it. With series expansion.

Creative writing was a fun course. We basically wrote, well, whatever we wanted to during own time, read it to the class, and that was that. When other people read, we critiqued their writing. I don’t exactly have much to say about it, but it was good practice, I think. Honestly, it was the only writing course I ever enjoyed, though I kind of got lazy midway through. I had more important courses to focus on, but it was okay, and I had a writing trick up my sleeve. A perfect trick that nobody will ever be able to figure out. Of course, that means I can’t talk about it here too, haha. Sorry.

The political science course, “issues in world politics”, was also a writing course. I thought it would be about the relationships between countries and was initially excited, but instead, a lot of it was about water scarcity, governance, and security, which I thought was really boring. I barely paid attention in class and skipped quite a few classes. Once, a guy from my creative writing class, who had missed a week, asked me what happened, and I couldn’t tell him anything. He was like “Come on, you’re smart” but hell if I cared what was going on in this class. The lectures were given via powerpoint slides. Also, the professor had some slides in German. Yeah. German in Canada. I’m sure everybody is going to understand that. Some slides were also packed to the brim with text. It was honestly the worst powerpoint show I ever saw in a lecture. Even worse than what high schoolers produce for their projects during the night before they’re due. I did see some horrendous slides in my fourth year though.

Don’t do this

The first and only midterm for that class was extremely bizarre. I was expecting us to have to explain concepts and prepared accordingly, but instead, we were given 10 questions with 1 word answers. Also, we had to write in KAPITAL LETTERS. That’s not a typo on my part. He spelled it with a K. Here’s an example question: “What are the BRIC countries?” Answer: “BRAZIL, RUSSIA, INDIA, CHINA.” Nobody was expecting the exam to be like that, and we all did pretty badly. We were expecting having to write long answer questions, not this. He ended up giving everyone a bonus 10%. If I recall, I got a 60% after the bonus. Yikes. Not only did it seem like I wouldn’t get an A, or even a B, but I was at risk of failing. The professor gave us one hint though: that the final exam would be just like this one. So I memorized short facts like that. I’m not sure how many I memorized, but I was pretty sure I would be ready this time. Skip forward to the final exam, and there we go. 20 questions, just like before. Except, something was wrong. Questions from the midterm were being recycled? Wait, the entire midterm was on this! Half of the questions on the final were the exact same. Normally, during exams, you’re permitted to leave only 30 minutes after it begins, and let me tell you, everyone was ready to go after 5 minutes. Never in my life have I seen such an easy exam. It brought me up to an A+. I’m not sure if I got a single question wrong. I have a theory for this though. An important thing to note about this class is that it was mandatory for nursing students to take. Strange, I know, but most of the class was made up of 4th year nursing students because of that. I don’t think the professor wanted to prevent an entire wave of nurses from graduating just because of a random political science course, so I’m sure he made it easy on purpose, and I was lucky to be there.

Then there was intro to programming. I wasn’t so lucky with this one. I thought I understood it, and I was feeling pretty good about the first midterm, but guess what. The whole class basically got an average of 30%, including me. To this day, in all of university, high school, and anything else, that has been the lowest mark I’ve ever received on anything. I managed to make up for it to a certain extent on the next midterm, and before the final exam, I decided to make my own math program, named “Mathlord’s Servant”. It would be able to do most things from my linear algebra course. This gave me a very strong grasp of programming, and I was able to finish the final exam and get a final mark of about 75%. Not an A, but hey, for my first time ever seeing a programming language and getting a 30% on that first midterm, it could have been worse. The labs were the worst part though. In those, we had this dumb little robot that we had to program to get through certain challenges, like following paths. For example, for our final lab, we had to program it to be able to solve any maze. This thing had a lot of problems. If you told it to turn 90 degrees, it would overshoot it, so you always had to compensate, and sometimes the detectors wouldn’t work. This is because performance varies depending on battery life. Of course, we were never really explained anything either. It was just “This is what you have to make it do. Here are some functions that you might find useful that we won’t explain. Go do it.” Things never worked as they were supposed to. Programming is fun, but only when you’re not doing it for a class. At least, that’s how I feel. I had my vengeance in my fourth year though.

I’m not gonna lie, general physics 1 made me question my choice to major in physics. We had a professor I hadn’t seen before, and to be honest, I didn’t really like him much at first. I wasn’t exactly a fan of his teaching style either, but it grew on me, and nowadays I think he’s a cool guy personally. We were given a small quiz every week, had 2 or 3 midterms, and a final exam at the end. Oh, and I almost forgot. 3 hour labs every week. The beginning of the course was relatively simple. It was aimed at first years who were able to take calculus 1 in high school, so he taught assuming people hadn’t taken linear algebra yet and introduced concepts on his own, such as vectors and the dot product or cross product. This was extremely easy to me, having taken an extensive course on it, so these kinds of questions were giveaways. But the physics wasn’t that easy. At least, at the time it wasn’t. I did really badly on most of the quizzes and labs, but somehow, through some sort of miracle, I always did great on the tests. This was the main factor keeping me going. We covered kinematics, (with projectile motion being within the first week or two of class,) dynamics, energy, and rotational motion. Now, I took a single course of physics in high school, so I already knew kinematics, dynamics, and energy to a certain extent, but my trigonometry skills were rusty and I still needed to cement what I learned from precalculus, and by no means were the professor’s questions easy. But yeah, that’s the thing about math. You can take a math course and understand the algorithm behind doing something, but it takes application to actually get a deeper understanding. At least, that’s how I see it. For example, just because you can integrate doesn’t mean you know how to use it for things other than finding area or undoing derivatives. You can only see it in a math context. Anyway, getting back on topic, I had a good time with kinematics and energy, but dynamics was killer. And I wasn’t able to tie together my knowledge of rotational motion. Soon enough, the final exam came. I did my best, and somehow, while trying to answer a torque question about Warrior Princess Xena having to close a door before a dragon reaches it, I taught myself rotational motion. After I answered it wrongly, I stared at it for a few minutes, and suddenly, as if I experienced a revelation from the heavens, everything made sense. I erased what I did and fixed everything. I’m not sure how it happened. You see, it turned out I did the best in the class on the final exam, and I barely spent time practicing before it. In a class full of engineers (with two or three other physics majors) who all had a much better high school education than me, it was I who came out on top. What the hell, man. So I ended up getting an A, and considered myself worthy to be a physics major, for now.

Now, I suppose I should reveal a secret. This semester was the beginning of my spritual awakening. Let me tell you a story from the beginning of the semester. I just finished moving in and brought my bible for some reason, which I stood up on the shelf above my computer. Weeks pass, and one day, I accidentally had my alarm set an hour late. I was asleep, and there was not much time at all until my first class of that day would begin, but at that moment, my bible fell down, landed on the keyboard, and woke me up. I woke up just in time to not be late to class. Now that’s what I call a true biblical miracle. For weeks it had been on the shelf, but it fell at that perfect moment. I could barely believe it. I still can barely believe it, but it happened. And before that physics final exam, I had channeled the spirit of Isaac Newton with that same bible in hand. I am sure he guided me from beyond the grave. Whenever I was stuck, I just had to stare at a question for long enough until an answer popped into my head.

Fast forward to the winter semester and a similar thing happened. I was taking general physics 2: oscillations, waves, and electromagnetism. I can’t remember if I said this before, but I was only able to take one physics course in high school due to certain circumstances. That means I never took the one about electricity and god knows what else, so I was at a disadvantage here compared to everyone else, but I wouldn’t let that stop me. I made another vow that if I was to be a physics major, I must prove myself and get another A. I still wasn’t doing great on the quizzes or labs, but the tests were my saving grace. The labs were a special kind of hell, where we had to manage electronics and circuits which I had never seen before. As for the final exam, I only reviewed for maybe half a day before. Before going in, I channeled the spirits of the physics lords, and despite not feeling like I knew what I was doing, I again got the highest mark on the final exam. Getting the highest mark once was one thing, but twice? It couldn’t have been luck at that point. Was I secretly the main character of some show? I also ended up getting an A exactly. One mark lower and it would have been a B. Phew. At that point, I knew it was my destiny to keep doing physics.

What I thought was my easiest course that semester was vector calculus. We had the same professor as we did for calculus 3, which was a good sign. The first two thirds of the course were extremely easy. I didn’t have to pay attention, and I could save the homework as something to do for fun rather than something to trouble over. The only thing is, during the last third of the course, the homework became optional, so of course I stopped doing it. This was my mistake. And of course, just my luck, the final exam was predominantly focused on that last third, which I wasn’t prepared for and thought I could go without. It was a disaster. I went from 100 in the course to a lowly 80 or so. Still an A, but wow, that was a big drop. What seemed so easy gave me the Judas Kiss and betrayed me at the last moment.

I also took a Zen Buddhism class. It was very easy, but there was a big workload, which I wasn’t a fan of. It was a writing course, of course, and we had to do a lot of it. There were a lot of essays, and we had to write meditation journals, and more. Yup, meditation journals. Sounds funny, doesn’t it. We had to meditate at home, and then write a page or two about it. I can’t remember how many we had to write, but I saved it all until the end of the semester and just made things up. The lectures were really chill though. You’d walk in to relaxing music, then once class started, we’d always meditate for five minutes or so, and from then on, it was just the professor taking his time either going through some concepts or chapters from one of the books he assigned, or talking to us. You could easily skip all the classes without missing anything. This semester was particularly strange though, in that I went off topic for a few essays and in return, did much better than I normally do. Once, in this Buddhism class, we were supposed to be explaining something, I can’t remember, but I dove right into talking about the Japanese language for a big part of it. The professor loved it. He even talked to me about it in the middle of class. Pretty cool. The other time something like that happened was in my philosophy of religion class.

Taking two religion classes at once as a science major probably seems pretty strange, but I think it’s pretty interesting stuff. At least, some of it is. Philosophy of religion was not. We looked at three or four texts. One was by or about some neo-platonist, called Plotinus. All this metaphysics stuff about the soul and forms and whatnot, I thought was really… well, how do I say it. I didn’t like it at all. “Where the hell did he come up with these ideas?” I thought. Religions like Buddhism, or Christianity originate from people and the stories surrounding them, but this Platonism stuff did not sound like it was grounded in reality at all. I apologize if I offended any Plato fans, but I wasn’t one. The most interesting part of the course was when we looked at Saint Thomas Aquinas and his thoughts. He analyzed biblical messages from a logical perspective. I thought that was pretty cool. We also looked at some Islam guy and some Christian woman (maybe a Saint, I don’t remember) and their texts, but they weren’t particularly interesting. The woman’s text was completely the opposite of Saint Aquinas, in that it wasn’t based on logic at all, but of spiritual experiences. Telling of how she went into trances and received revelations from God and stuff like that. Eh. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, but that’s not something I was interested in reading about either way. Writing the essays for that course was extremely painful, but for the Saint Aquinas essay, where we had to explain his proofs of God’s existence, I went on an Owarimonogatari style tangent at the end, explaining how perfect Euler’s identity was. Again, like with my off-topic Japanese in Buddhism class, the professor seemed to have liked this, and I got a better mark than I normal.

The worst class that semester was by far technical writing in math with physics-senpai. I had the toughest math professor on campus for it, which I hear is the reason it was so bad. For the first project, we had to write a program in our programming language of choice that could solve a system of three or four linear equations and apply this to a linear optimization problem. Luckily, I had already done this during my programming course when I created Mathlord’s Servent, when I was trying to get good, but the challenges were more to come. It was a good course for one thing though, which was that I got to learn writing in Latex, which I still use every now and then for things like lab reports or writing presentations. In this course though, we had to write extremely detailed project reports that were to be over 10 pages each. I think the last one had to be 20 pages, maybe one or two pages more. Our second project was considerably easier, I think. We had to make a program that could integrate using whatever number of trapezoids you desired (think Riemann sums) and output the area and a graph showing the trapezoids and the function. The third project was even easier, and it was the one I did the best in that course. Each student was given a different topic to create a presentation on. Mine was compass and ruler constructions. The hardest part of this was using tikz to create pictures in latex, but overall, it was pretty cool looking, and everyone liked my presentation. It helped that I added a bit of humor, and that even inspired physics-senpai to add some for his senior physics presentation, which went really well. The final project was a monster. I can’t even describe it here, so I’ll just post a picture of it.

math

This was a mess to program. I couldn’t even come up with an algorithm that wasn’t trial and error, but what I had worked at least. Sadly, I only got a B in that course, but it was my only B that semester. Still, it ruined my perfect math record. At least I’m not a math major. The worst thing about that class was how long it took though. The level of work that needed to be put in was as much as 3 classes at once. This is part of what contributed to me neglecting my vector calculus and physics studies, but at least I did good in those.

So, with my second year over, it was time to go home. This time, I wasn’t taking any courses during the summer, so I had to get… a job. Very frightening. I had never had a real job before, and was not looking forward to it, but it turned out that my old high school was looking for tutors. I had done tutoring work previously, so I figured it would be easy. For the most part, it was. The way it worked was you stayed at the high school all day in your own office, and whenever somebody needed help, they would come in. And here’s the thing: you got payed whether or not anyone came in. For the first few weeks, barely anybody did. So I got to watch a lot of anime and movies and just dick around in general while getting paid. But when somebody did come in for help, I put my business face on and got to work. I think I managed to have a real positive impact. On top of this, I was doing private tutoring on the side for two students. They were both doing pretty badly, but man, once they took their final exams, they shot right up. One of their teachers said she had never seen anyone make that kind of comeback. Personally, I think textbooks and most teachers explain concepts in the most obtuse and roundabout way possible. Put things in simple terms, and most people will understand it. If they don’t, try explaining it a different way. There are always multiple ways to explain things.

That about concludes my second year. While I think it was more interesting than my first year, the fun has yet to begin. Stay turned for more stories from my third year, including “The Quest to Become a Normie”, “The Rise of the Tauboys”, “I got the best mark in the class at 57%”, “How MMOs taught me microeconomics”, “I can’t believe my life became an H-doujinshi,” and more. And then, there’s the clown fiesta that was my fourth year… Thanks for reading!

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The Amen University Experience (Year 1)

Howdy, Amen here. This is going to be a long post, so you better get drinks and snacks. As a lot of you might know, I’m a university student majoring in physics and minoring in math. University has been a lot of fun, so I decided to try writing about it. If you, the reader, haven’t gone to university or college yet and are planning to, let me tell you, it’s not as bad as everyone says. Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. It’s certainly more difficult than high school, but there’s no reason you should fail as long as you put some amount of effort in. Show up to class as often as you can, do your homework, look at and understand the correct answers afterwards, review a little before tests, and you’ll be fine. I expect most people reading this to be in post-secondary or finished themselves though. Most of what I want to talk about is in my second and third years, but I plan on releasing those separate posts later on.

Thanks to what everyone says, I myself thought university would be some sort of hellish experience before I went, picturing studying day and night endlessly and all that. In high school, there was a popular saying about the future course load: “For every hour of class, you’ll have to put in three hours of studying at home.” Now, consider that usually you’ll have three classes that are an hour long each per day, and that’s about 12 hours of work right there each day. That’s insane. A staff member of the high school once told me that directly. “It can’t be that bad as long as you do your homework,” I questioned her. She looked at me like I was doomed. Lots of people also tell horror stories about calculus. Even my dad. I didn’t like math much myself at the time either, so I wasn’t particularly hopeful about it. My English teacher (who had a master’s degree) had also told of how insane English professors are. At my university, two English courses are required for everyone, so there was no escaping that. It’s not hard to imagine how everything can make university seem like a daunting experience, just as how many middle schoolers picture high school to be something fearful. So during the summer after I graduated high school, with despair at my side, I often listened to Cytokine’s “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” while imagining the trials to come.

Soon enough, it finally began. I had moved into my dorm room. It wasn’t the best room. Pretty small, with only three shelves. The bed was also barely big enough for me, and I’m not a big guy (for you) either. You could easily tell the age of the place by looking at the scratches on the floor and walls, or the graffiti under the mattress where people who previously lived in the room over the years had signed their names. I had a roommate, but not a roommate in the traditional sense. Each dorm room had two inner rooms, and only the bathrooms were shared. It felt good to be living on my own. At least, it did for me. A lot of new people apparently were very unhappy to have to leave their homes and be separated from parents. Some could barely handle it. I remember one person killed themself during the first month I got there. Well, the email we got informing us of the death didn’t state the cause, but when they don’t, you know it’s gotta be suicide. Anyway, as I said, I thought living alone was pretty fun. You become your own person. I was making toast soon after getting there when it hit me: “If I don’t eat this, I’ll die.” It was all up to me now to keep myself alive. Pretty cool. My roommate was a real normie though. He was popular at his high school, had a girlfriend, was on the sports team, all that. Things changed for him quickly though. With the new physical distance between him and his girlfriend, they grew emotionally distant, and argued on the phone frequently. The walls were real thin, so it was easy to hear everything on the other side whether you wanted to or not. They soon broke up. Also, he used mad amounts of toilet paper. I walked in on an unflushed toilet once and discovered that he didn’t fold the paper. He just balled it up. What a mess. On the other side of the wall, there was a gay guy whose voice irritated my ears. Maybe it was just the way he spoke. It always sounded like he had his nose plugged. Very nasal speaking. I didn’t know he was gay at the time, though. Sure, he had the voice, but hey, he could just be a straight guy that just happens to speak like that. I only learned otherwise when I heard him on the other side of the wall getting it on with the residence advisor. It’s at times like those that I wish I was a fujoshi. Not to mention, every night at 10 or 11 pm, he called his mom. That was usually when I went to bed at the time, so it was pretty annoying, but I’m getting sidetracked now. This is supposed to be a story about how university was for me, not the people around me.

I drank a decent amount of pop too

This is kind of what the rooms looked like

Let me tell you, I’ve never really lived in a city until I came to university. It was always lame suburbs for me, which I think are a mistake. You don’t have anything nearby like you do in the city, and you don’t have the space and privacy of the country. It’s the perfect balance of all the negatives and none of the positives. So, always living in suburbs, I never knew the joys of the outside world. But I gotta say, when I moved to university things turned around. The city was nice. A true college town. Most things were within walking distance. Whenever there was a cool looking movie, I could walk down. One notable movie I saw was Interstellar. A stellar movie, in my opinion. Haha. I also quickly developed a habit of eating burgers weekly at the local A&W, and let me tell you, those were the best burgers I’ve ever had. I tried McDonald’s again later to compare and they were so bad. The buns tasted like those cheap brown paper bags. I regretted even buying them. Really bad. Of course, I also had to buy my own groceries at this point, which was just across the street from the A&W, so I could go, get burgs, get groceries, and walk back. Pretty convenient. At some point, I also got very into Delissio’s rising crust pepperoni pizza. To this day, I still have it every week. Not too long before getting to university, I had watched the anime “Ping Pong,” so I was now a big fan of the sport despite having never played it before. Luckily, there was a table at the student lounge, so I got my game on and played some. There, I met a guy who, in high school, used to be on a sports team like rugby or something, but he and the team were caught underage drinking on school grounds and banned from playing sports. It was really easy for him to get booze too, since he lived near Quebec, where the legal age is only 18 instead of 19 like the rest of the country. Luckily for him, though, his school didn’t consider ping pong a sport, so he joined and got good. Real good. Once, an African exchange student ping pong pro came, and they had a battle of epic proportions. The ball was flying back and forth so fast that they had to stand back far from the table, and their movement was high paced. Later in the semester, I saw him at a game of Jeopardy, where people could go to represent their dorm floors in a chance to win their floor a pizza party. Each team would have their members go up in rotation, so although I went, and honestly didn’t help at all, thanks to me just being there, the person on our team who knew it all lucked out and got all the big point daily double questions. Like I said, whoever answered each question on a team went by rotation, so had I been gone, things would have been off just the slightest bit and he would not have gotten the good questions and we would have lost. That’s what you call chaos theory.

 

Ping pong

For the first few weeks or so, I lent my ethernet cable to my roommate, since he had nothing to connect to the internet with, while I had a wireless adaptor. I used that for a bit, and the speeds were really slow and sometimes I ended up disconnecting, so I asked for my cord back, and oh boy, was it fast. I think I got up to an effective speed of 10 megabytes per second, which, when you live in Canada and are used to third world country tier internet, is amazing. I was very paranoid about acquiring anime though. Were they watching me? What if I was booted out for it? Etc. That quickly left my mind, but soon, the internet speed limit also lowered to effectively 1 megabyte per second, sadly. I wonder why. Was I taking up too much bandwidth and caused a limit to be enforced, or did people just start using the internet a lot more? It remained that speed for a good couple years. Anyway, I think that mostly sums it up for my daily life.

Halloween Spooks

I guess I know where to run if I hear the sirens go off

Move aside, Kirk. Captain Amen’s here.

This was on the wall next to a professor’s office. Don’t ask me.

Enough pictures. It’s time for the meat and potatoes of university: the classes. That first semester, I had intro to English, intro physics, general chemistry, algebra and trigonometry, and astrophysics and stellar astronomy. English focused mainly on a handful of short stories, a single long story, plus a movie. The movie was good. Into the Wild, I think it was. I brought popcorn with me and ate it in class while watching. What wasn’t good though was the short story portion of the class. We had to memorize all the titles and their authors for when we wrote essays on them during the final exam. It was very unfun. That said, I did get one great thing out of that English class: Grammar lessons. For the first time, I learned what a sentence was. Now, after learning about them, I generally try to avoid comma splices and run-on sentences. That said, comma splices are hard to avoid in lyric translations (I hate using periods in them), so I’m a bit more relaxed about it there. The professor was pretty alright, though I found it a bit strange that he took attendance. As long as you repeated what he thought, you did alright, so I ended up getting 76 in that class, which was a lot lower than my English mark in high school, but thankfully, that was my lowest mark that semester. It became a common theme for me to get just below an A (which is an 80 or above at my university) in all writing courses. Something which only started to change in my 2nd year, perhaps due to taking easier courses or due to sheer luck.

I had generally enjoyed chemistry until I took the class in university. It was a lot more heavy on memorization than in high school, which helped kill any joy I had for it. We had to know so much about the elements on the periodic table and memorize all the complex molecules and details about them. The actual problems weren’t bad at all, but that memorization man. Talk about artificial difficulty. That was part of what drove me to physics. We had a mix of online homework and textbook questions to do, plus a three hour lab each week. Strangely, each online assignment I always got close to 100% since we got multiple tries, while for the textbook questions I only scored 80%. Every time. That homework took a long time to complete, though it was nothing compared to what I would experience in my coming years. I ended up making a playlist titled “chemistry dancehall” which was just basically a mix of everything from Alst’s dancehalls. I remember the first test we had though. That was a nightmare. I couldn’t even finish it, and I think it was my first university exam ever. After the time limit ended, I was in shock, like “I can’t believe that just happened,” went straight to my room, and went to sleep. I was fine after waking up, but I swore never to take chemistry again. Somehow, I got a decent mark on the test though, just above 80%, so it all worked out. The professor was really boring though. She thought the term “magic numbers” for nuclei was dumb, which I thought was pretty cool. The labs were also horrendous. Somehow, I got the best mark in titration though, and the lab instructors were very impressed. I do still love the labcoat I had to buy for it too. Very fashionable. With each lab being three hours, you couldn’t help but be paranoid like “If I mess something up now, there’s no going back. I’m done for.” You also had to pass the lab portion to pass the course, but in the end, I didn’t do too bad and passed the course miraculously with an 83.

The physics class was the most fun of them all. The professor always cracked jokes, and picked on chemistry a lot. Once, he even recommended a manga that taught special relativity. I already couldn’t believe that much, but then he opened it to a random page and out of his mouth came the words “Oh, risqué.” The absolute madman. Don’t tell me there was actually fanservice in there and he was looking at it in the middle of class and recommending it.

The homework wasn’t even homework, since all the answers were online, but all he wanted it to be for was to help keep physics in your mind a bit anyway. You can already guess that this wasn’t a real physics class, and you would be right. It was all conceptual physics. That is, no math. It was really easy, though I only ended up getting an 82 despite that. Maybe it was also because of the labs. Yes, we also had a three hour lab every week for that too. Astronomy, on the other physics hand, was even more fun though. The course really required textbook reading, which wasn’t too fun, but it was still an interesting class, and our university has a really large telescope, so we got to use that a bit and even take pictures. This was the same professor as the intro physics class too, which made things even better. There was one guy in the class that I don’t think I’ll ever forget though. I call him Stardad, because, well, he was a dad, and he loved the stars. Had his own small telescope at home. He was a pretty cool guy, but sadly, I never saw him again after that semester, probably due to math, which I shared with him. He had a lot of trouble with it, and I still regret not offering to help him, because he was really rusty after years and years of not touching any. I’m sure he did great in astronomy though, and even I got an 87 in that class, which was a bit unexpected, but the most unexpected mark that semester was yet to come.

Math. Algebra and trigonometry. I hated it. I never did like math much. “Who put the fun in function?” I tweeted. It always seemed to be full of contradictions, but the thing is, I was just taught badly. High school math did me no favours, and this class cleared all my misconceptions, such as the infamous freshman’s dream, which is that (a+b)^n = a^n + b^n. We had main lectures, then a lab every week. The lab would rotate weekly between relearning concepts we should know, such as factoring, and reviewing and practicing stuff covered in the class. The main lab instructor, who is also the local cosmologist at the university, was a really funny guy in an asshole kind of way. During the very first lab, we had a skills test so that he could see what we already knew and what we didn’t. The next week, after he looked over our results, he gave us the news: “You’re all retarded.” Yes, that’s exactly what he said. I thought it was hilarious, but I hear that some people couldn’t take his sass and he made a girl cry once. There were a lot of people taking the class. I think it may have been the largest class I took at university. There were about 150 people taking it, I think. The professor wasn’t amazing, though I do give him points for his memes. Yes, memes. He was a big memer. The class was structured really well too. I don’t think I would have done so well without mathlords on twitter to help, but in the end, I learned a lot, and even scored 93. I really thought it was a mistake. Could it have been that… I was actually good at math?

And then the first semester was over in the blink of an eye. Next up, I had the infamous calculus 1, intro to English 2, intro physics 2, folklore, and linear algebra. Winter had begun, and I got a new roommate.

The new roommate was a lot quieter than the previous, which was nice. He also gave me some star wars glasses, for some reason. Not eyeglasses, but drinking glasses. I didn’t really get to know much about him, but whatever. He was alright. At least he didn’t play music and sing to it loudly while in the shower, like my old roommate.

All that you’ve read up until this point has been what I wrote after finishing my second year. I am now continuing this after finishing my third, so I may not remember things as clearly, but let’s see.

In my new English class, we had the same professor as before. This time, we were focusing on poetry, which I thought would be really helpful to translation since I would learn to analyze poems, a skill which I could use for lyrics, but that wasn’t really true. I didn’t learn anything. I really don’t like English classes. Got a B in that one too.

Intro to physics 2 was more of the same. This time, we were learning about waves and electromagnetism, with a little bit of modern physics. We had more jokes and demonstrations for the professor, which was still fun. A ball almost hit me while he was throwing things around once during a demonstration. That sure kept me awake. But yeah, easy A for the most part.

Folklore though, that was a mistake. One of the most boring classes I’ve ever taken. Of course, I ended up getting only a B in that course, since it was a writing course. I took it hoping to learn about interesting stories and legends, but it turned out to be more about how folklore research is conducted, festivals and traditions (western ones which were so boring that I could not care less about them), and even children’s games like eenie meenie miney moe. I have no idea if I spelled that right, but I’m sure you know what I mean. We also had to analyze commercials for certain tropes, and look at clothes. Honestly, I can not convey how different it was from what I expected. The only good part of the class was when we actually did look at creation stories from various religions and compared them.

Linear algebra 2 was extremely painful. My mind had not fully adapted to thinking geometrically yet, so I did not have a good time finding distances between lines or the closest points on two lines or shortest distance from a point to a line to a plane or anything like that. Projections were also not very fun. I think I would do a lot better in the course now, but it’s too late for that. Gaussian elimination for matrices was pretty easy, though it was extremely tedious for big ones. We got some nightmarish questions on assignments too. During the final exam, I was so exhausted that I started hallucinating while finding determinants and solving huge systems of equations. I did well in the end though and barely got an A. Phew.

Here’s a linear algebra assignment question for you.

Calculus 1 (differential calculus) was where I think I started to like math and accept the fact that I was good at it. It just went over so well. I never really had any problems, it wasn’t bad at all like anyone said it would be. The worst part was optimization, but even that, looking at it now, is pretty simple. What gets most people is the chain rule, but I finished the course with a great mark without any problems. At least, that’s how I remember it now, and I grew what I like to call the eye of differentiation. The ability to instantly see how any function is composed and how to differentiate it. There were only 60 or so people in this class. Compare that to the number of people taking precalculus and you can see that a large number of people either failed or just decided to never take math again.

In order to graduate on time, I had to finish calculus 2 (integral calculus) in the spring. Because it was in the spring, the class was really small at 13 or so people. The course lasted about a month. We had three classes a week, each a little under 3 hours long. But, it was the only class I was taking, so I had no problems and mostly managed to chill the whole time. Again, I never really had any problems, though some people said that integral calculus is the wall that stops a lot of people. Somehow, I got an even higher mark in this than calculus 1, and developed the eye of integration, however after finishing the course and not using integration or differentiation again for an extended period of time, I soon went blind again for the most part.

For that spring semester, I had to move into the newer rooms, which was a plus. There was more space, the beds were bigger, and there were more shelves. It also looked nicer in general and the walls were thick enough that you couldn’t hear everyone and everything around you. My roommate during this time was an African exchange student who was a grad student for environmental science. I don’t know if he showered with his shoes on, but every time I looked in the shower, it was full of dirt. He also had rotten meat in the freezer. Not a very clean person. He wasn’t a bad guy though. Just not clean.

That about sums it up for my first year of university. It turned out to not be so bad, but then again, that was only my first year. In my second year, there were more difficult challenges to come, and my third year… Well, things really got out of control. But I’ll write about that later. You can especially look forward to it if you’re a fan of physics, because that’s when I basically begin taking real physics courses.

Anyway, this is my first time writing something like this. I’m not very experienced in writing prose but I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Titleless Amen Original Lyrics

In a state of despair over being unable to go to the grocery store multiple days in a row while being out of food, I wrote some short lyrics. Ever since I started translating, I always thought that it would be cool to be a lyricist for a circle. Of course, I get a lot of inspiration from Haruka of Alst. Not sure if I want to translate these, however.

ずっとここにいる
去れることがなくて
魂まで冷やすこの場所で
もう何も出来ず

帰りたいって 行かせてって
そう叫んでも誰にも聞こえない
見えるもの 見えないもの
全てはいずれ無になる

永遠に灰色空
太陽を輝かせない
この空間は星がなくなる
私の心も

大丈夫って 間に合うって
そう思った私は遅すぎた
癒えなくて 逝きたくて
全部はもうじきゼロになる

15 sad songs

“Sad” used interchangeably with “emo,” this could also be called “10 alst songs.”I was listening to some Alst, as usual, when I suddenly thought “why haven’t I made a sad track playlist yet?” Then, I got the idea to make one of these. Two people have already posted things similar to this, so I figured I might as well too. In no particular order. Translations included in the videos where applicable.

Dim. Dream – Alstroemeria Records


“Dim. Dream” usually means “Dimensional Dream,” but this song takes “Dim” to literally mean dim. While the arrangement itself doesn’t exude any outright depressing vibes, it’s certainly feels bleak. The lyrics focus on uncertainty, and distance. The change in Ayakura’s voice in the final stanza is breathtaking, and the final two lines in particular are very strong and exude a great sense of anxiety, leaving you with the feeling of “Is this all there is?” “Will things ever get any better?”

End of Daylight – Alstroemeria Records


“The sun sets, everything ends
from now on, the power of darkness”
This song tells you that if you have any hope left, it’d be easier to just throw it away. There’s nothing left but darkness, so why not embrace it? Dance together with the darkness, and watch the others struggle to find light where there is none. The electric guitar (I think that’s what I’m hearing) really adds to the piece, but I can’t necessarily point out why.

Bad Apple!! – Alstroemeria Records


The song that made Alstroemeria famous, and for good reason. A song generally about not fitting in anywhere in the world. Is it still worth it to try and live a normal, white life? Is it too late? Perhaps you can’t, no matter how you try. If you can’t change, then maybe you should just give up and let it all turn black.

Icemilk Magic – Alstroemeria Records


You may start off with a dream, but that dream that was once so sweet turns against you, leading you down a path that’s nothing but cold. No matter your efforts, it’s useless. As you struggle to carry on to where your hopes ought to be, you’ll eventually be overcome. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I feel like the arrangement itself gives off chilling vibes as well. When I listen to this song, I can easily imagine myself lost under a moon of dreams.

Necro Effect – Alstroemeria Records


Though it’s repetitive, I find that this adds to the song. When you’ve experienced next to nothing, no change in your life, it’s as if you’re trapped in a long slumber, waiting to wake up. Can you give up when you have so much left to experience? Yet at this rate, you’re achieving nothing. The days pass you by, and though you reach out, nothing changes. It’s as if you aren’t even truly alive.

Lost Emotion – Alstroemeria Records


Perhaps the newest song here. Can you hide behind a mask forever, claiming that you’re in heaven? Can you find that missing piece of yourself that you can’t live without? Even so, the show must go on, and you must continue to dance. Just how far can you go until you fall apart in this hell?

Shinto Shrine – Alstroemeria Records

[Translation]
Sitting at a Shinto Shrine at twilight, watching the sun set. While the brilliant orange colours are beautiful, they soon die out, and you’re left all alone, as devoid of colour and empty as the night sky.

Alice Maestera – Alstroemeria Records

[Translation]
The beginning portion is the best part of the original “Alice Maestra,” and Minoshima integrated it into an arrangement perfectly. Someday, you’ll have to part with the person dearest to you. Whether you’re ready for it or not, you’ll eventually be left behind, and loneliness will find you.

Maple Wizen – Alstroemeria Records

[Translation]
I feel like this song deserves a lot more recognition. It’s not really as emo as the rest, but I can’t ignore how amazing these lines are:
“Shining or bright? I’ll destroy these crimson nightmares:
Despair, anguish, and hatred, with my own hands
For certain, I’ll destroy the meaning of scarlet
I can not hesitate”

Days – Alstroemeria Records


Remember what I said about Alice Maestera? Here it is. Before you knew it, that person so close to you, who taught you the joy of living, is gone. With each ending comes a new beginning, but what good is a new beginning without you? Bonus points to this song for the track that joins on to it, “Beautiful Moment.” It gives this a perfect ending.

Dead Souls – Zytokine


You know a song from an album titled “Death” is going to be emo. I can’t recall the word for it, but the vocals are very slow paced, which really complements the slow beat. The lyrics are masterfully crafted- perhaps the best Linjin’s ever written, in my opinion. Normally his lyrics are more on the upside, so this was rather rare.

Seeds of Life – Sound Holic


It’s extremely rare for Yurica to sing a ballad like this, but you can really feel the emotion when it gets to the chorus, and the final stanza crowns the song perfectly in error-less English. I don’t have much else to say, so I’ll leave you with it.
“An imitation life that is without a light
Nobody could save my pain, so I’ve given up
I am a lonely mage who is just in a maze
Nothing heals or cures my forever loneliness”

【Darkness】 – AdamKadmon


While I haven’t been able to find lyrics for this song and thus have been unable to translate it properly, let me assure you that these lyrics are very dark, with a fittingly heavy arrangement to accompany it. The guitar solo that begins at 2:35 is particularly impressive.
“The angel inviting me to the darkness, wielding the heart of a devil, controlled me”
“Is there no one who will hold me back from the darkness I’ve been invited to?”

Nowhere Residents – Syrufit


Also, the Babbe remix. I admit, I picked this one partly because it has some sentimental value. Me, I’ve never lived anywhere for too long, always moving from one place to another. What do you say when someone asks you where you’re from? Do you say where you were born even though you barely know the place? Or where you’re currently living, even though you just got there? I’m not really from anywhere. A nowhere resident.

ラストジャッジメント – fromadistance


Another instrumental track. This track is very interesting. I can easily picture myself on my deathbed. First, all you hear is pipe organs, often found in churches, at funerals. Slowly, the melody from Shikieiki’s theme comes in, as if death is on its way to greet you. You can feel that these are your final moments on this earth, as the sounds begin to become distorted. All your senses begin to blur and fade. You can feel yourself getting closer and closer to death’s door, and then—– that’s it.