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The tripos exams are coming, the tripos exams are coming!

Wolfson Llibrary Night

Today marks the date where I finally finished all my example papers (tutorial homework) for my freshman year. These little buggers always try to get the best of you as homework in it’s worst form, they just sap the life out of you when you try to tackle them all day long, to the extent of sometimes taking a week for the to be done. What’s more these homework just keep coming, with about 10 of them for this last term in Easter, with only 5 weeks of curriculum, I never thought I did get them all finished, with time to spare for exam revision. With that, I can formally start on revision for my exams which is due sadly in 2 weeks time.

I never saw myself working so hard before, well not that I can actually remember myself doing so 🙂 neither did I ever saw myself doing in Polytechnic as well. Back then I was strictly an afternoon worker with my evenings for leisure, I was flexible with my time for my commitments such as working part-time or track & field training. Presently, I often seeing myself taking sacrifices from my personal time to get work done. Currently, my sleep pattern’s screwed and I always see myself working ploughing through school in the mornings and working on school work in my room or library till late. Even time on hour-long train journeys are good time for revisions!

Doing homework on the train

I am not here to complain the obvious, these are of course, part and parcel of university studies. The pace of learning is very fast indeed. In comparison, something which takes 1 semester (6 months) in polytechnic (e.g the CAD course) are all taught within 1 month here. And it’s generally the same for all the other subjects as well. Go figure! And catch your breath while you are at it!

Coming from a polytechnic background did somewhat give me a headstart in some of the content taught here. As a matter of fact, I was actually familiar with about 60% of the content taught in school. With the exception of myself having forgotten most of what I’ve learnt (my bad, that’s why I have my poly notes here too!), most of the content are more theoretical as I come to realize- Much of the content learnt in Poly is down and dirty and straight to point application of methods or formulas to get things done. University engineering goes very much deeper on the surface of what I’ve learnt, such as in-depth derivations & theories, which often always seems to have to uncanny ability to derive powerful formulas from first principles (or literally nothing)- something which will make any poly student squirm if they encountered it in the poly curriculum. Well, at least that’s making sense into all the formulas which I used to take for granted.

On the other hand, much of my current studies focuses on theories and not much of practical applications and processes, something which I only have the advantage of being exposed to in the polytechnic. For instance, for engineering techniques, “injection molding”, “CNC milling techniques”, “radiography non-destructive testing”, “3D printing”, or “Investment casting” are just plain text on the notes without any substance to most students here, particularly those without a technical background.

West Cambridge CAPE

With the exception of the availability of such facilities here only on special request or specialist university engineering clubs (such as my engineering eco-racing club), to most students here (particularly most Singaporean ‘A’ level students here) they are only focused on just exams, memorization and route learning, who can get really freaky if you see how they study (or “mug”) at times.

I can’t deny all study gives you the good grades, but that makes you a dull person nor a better engineer. Sometimes, I wonder am I putting myself at a disadvantage by being more of a practical person- preferring tackling real engineering projects, research than studying for exams (belch).

Well, I guess it’s back to study then, if that gives you the grades, then I guess I have to be in for it, after all there’s only less than 3 weeks before the exams, when I will be too finally done with my freshman year.

Before ending I would like to quote an anonymous but rather popular-wise college saying: “Getting into the university of your choice is one part of the story, surviving your freshman year is a whole different thing!”

How true, haha!



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