update on stressful things

First of all, I want to thank you guys for all the encouraging emails and comments I’ve gotten since I posted last.  Thank you so, so much.  I am so blessed to have friends like you all!

Things are going a bit better at the moment, sort of.  Good-ish news:  It turns out that we won’t be retaking the Strukturdynamik exam in June; we have decided/been advised to wait until the official retake in August.  That takes off some of the pressure right now and gives me more time to prepare for that 4-hour monster exam. Bad news:  Professors at VT and TUD encouraged us to take the August exam instead of the June exam because they thought there was no way on Earth that we’d be ready for the June exam.  We were told that our bad test scores were either the result of us not studying properly (I have never studied harder for an exam in my life, darnit!) or because Virginia Tech didn’t teach us the necessary prerequisite material.  Um, thanks for the boost to my self-esteem, guys.  And my home-university school spirit.  Really.  Makes me feel so good about myself and my ability to learn and my education in general.  </irony>  Virginia Tech really is a good engineering university, and I was honestly pretty insulted.  But expressing that won’t help me now.

Pushing the exam off until August just takes off that stress now and spreads it over the entire semester.  That exam will be the last one I take at TUD, so long as my current exam schedule doesn’t change.  There aren’t any lectures for that class going on this semester (not that they would help, though; that professor talked very fast and was very hard to understand), but it was mentioned that the department might be able to find a German student who did well in the class to help tutor us.  I hope so, but I can’t count on it.

I keep wondering why I decided it was a good idea to do a long-term study abroad in which I took technical classes in another language.  I’m still wondering that, and I’m regretting not just taking a single semester to go abroad and take some fluff electives and travel all over Europe.  I would still have gotten the cultural experience without having to stress over taking senior-level engineering classes in German.  I’m doing my best to learn the necessary material here, but I’m sure some things are getting lost in translation, and that scares me.  (Dear potential future employers and grad school advisors:  if I am behind on any subject due to having taken the class here at TUD instead of taking the class at VT in English, please do not pass me over.  I am willing to work hard to catch up.)  I’ve learned a lot of things here, some of which are academic- and engineering-related, but most of which are more adaptability-related.  I may not fully understand all of the systems and bureaucracy in place at this university, but I’ve figured out how to survive, and that’s worth something, right?

Or I think I’ve figured out how to survive.  My remaining 3-ish months at this university will show whether that’s actually the case.  And then I’ll be going home sometime in mid-August.  I’ll definitely need the time off.

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stress stress stress stress…

I really did mean to post regularly while I was here in Germany, but I keep having to shelve things.  My life is chaos right now, and if I’ve not been good at keeping in touch, please understand.

The Strukturdynamik (Vibrations) exam I took back in mid-March did not go well at all.  Knowing that Strukturdynamik is one of the most difficult classes a mechanical engineering student could take at TUD, I studied more for that exam than I have ever studied for an engineering test or exam before in my life. I felt like I understood the material well, but the exam I took was so unlike what I had studied I had to wonder whether I was even taking the exam for the correct class.  But I was; the professor just chose some very obscure topics that were barely covered in class on which to base most of the test material.  Topics I and most other students–both the exchange students and the German students–had overlooked.  And the language barrier of course only made things worse.

The next attempt to take the final exam for Strukturdynamik is in mid-August, but we exchange students need to be able to get back to the USA by mid-August in case we need to take more classes at Virginia Tech (which is a very real possibility for all of us, so I’ve had to push my dreams of grad school back a year; I’ll hopefully apply this fall, regardless of whether I’m done and at home or back at VT to finish any remaining required classes).  Packing while studying (in a foreign language) for the most difficult, detailed class I have ever taken doesn’t sound like fun, but thankfully, the professor for the class has offered to give us VT exchange students a chance to take a special-for-us Strukturdynamik final exam on June 12.  Which is great for getting that exam out of the way, but now I have less than a month to study for it.  On top of working on my robot-arm-tastic thesis project and studying enough to survive my other classes and preparing to go to RoboCup in Mexico City just five days after the June exam.  Um, when do I, you know, sleep?

So if you’re a praying person, I would appreciate prayer.  Lots of prayer.  If not, please send some good thoughts in the general direction of Germany.  🙂  Not to sound needy, but I need all the help I can get now.  And a portable coffee IV drip.  Anyone have one of those I could borrow until August?

(Note:  If you by any crazy-random-happenstance chance happen to have contact with anyone at Virginia Tech who is planning on going into the VT=>TUD Dual Degree program that I’m in, please point them to this blog post and/or tell them to send an emailtolalaland [at] gmail [dot] com.  I have some important hints to how to survive at TUD.  And please tell them to take Vibrations at VT instead of taking Strukturdynamik at TUD!)