Strike Freedom

4

03/October/2017. Catalonia today.

If you follow this blog or have been paying attention to the news, you will know that the Spanish military police tried to stop the Catalan independence referendum by using violence against the voters, including throwing elder people down the stairs and jumping over them, shooting rubber bullets (which are illegal in Catalonia btw) at voters and even at nurses trying to help wounded people reach an ambulance, getting clothes off girls and throwing them to the floor naked while laughing, graing women by their hair and dragging them out f the voting center while kicking them, etc. Over 800 Catalan people were hurt for trying to vote.

Today, to protest police brutality carried out and defended by the Spanish government, there has been an “aturada de país” which means we stopped the country. Practically all businesses have closed, and about 60 highways have been cut (including the border with France) by citizens playing chess or cards in the middle of the road. The economy is stopped and thousands of people are protesting on the streets. Many people also used the day to go bring flowers to the schools that were violently assaulted by the Spanish police.

Anakin Skywalker: Freedom

I:
Anakin: I want to be free.

Watto: no, you’re my slave.

Anakin: I’m a person and my name is Anakin.

II:
Anakin: I want to be free…

Obi Wan: no, you’re a slave to the Jedi.

III:
Anakin: I want to be free!

Mace Windu: no, you’re a slave to the counsel.

IV:
Vader: I want to be free!!

Tarkin: no, you’re a slave under me because your master has allowed it.

V:
Vader: I want to be free!!!

Emperor: No, you will never have freedom. You will always be my slave.

VI:
Vader: I WANTED TO BE FREE!!!!!!

Luke: you still can, and I will love you until you are, and long after.

Anakin: But I’m a slave.

Luke: No, you’re a person and your name is Anakin.

University classes are a monster you can’t prepare for until you’re in them. I have been through every up and down with schoolwork possible in the past year, so here are some tips that can hopefully help you avoid those downs:

Choosing and Registering for Your Classes

  • Make sure to thoroughly check both your major requirements and your gen ed requirements. Normally, you’ll have an advisor to help you make sure you’re on track, but Vandy doesn’t assign first-year engineering students one until after registration when school starts, and I didn’t have an advisor for this year’s registration either due to my major change, so I’ve spent hours and hours doing this on my own. There’s often recommended courses and example schedules in the course catalog that tell you what classes you should be taking at this point in time. Pay attention to that and you should be fine. For example, you have to have taken a first-level writing class to qualify for junior standing here. Those are the little things you have to look out for. To keep track of it all, I have a spreadsheet I use for planning my sophomore - senior years that lists all the requirements I need to meet in terms of hours and courses in order to graduate on time. I plug in possible courses and see which requirement they would fulfill and when. You can check it out here to see what I mean, it’s very helpful.
  • Find at least one fun elective to take if at all possible. It gets very tiring when all you have on your schedule are really difficult classes that you don’t enjoy. Try to find at least one class that you’re genuinely interested in to help get you excited for the day. Each of my last semesters, my schedule consisted of a calculus class, a lab science, a comp sci class, and Italian. Italian was the only fun one that I enjoyed going to. It really helps you out. You’re not just in college to get your degree, you’re there to discover what you really want to do, so feel free to explore your catalog and take something completely out of character just because you want to. Bonus if it fills some kind of requirement (Italian filled my Foreign Language Proficiency and one of my International Cultures reqs.).
  • Have multiple versions of your schedule based on which classes you may or may not get into. I don’t know about your school, but at Vanderbilt, class registration is literally like the Hunger Games. You’re assigned an enrollment date based on your year (seniors get to go first, then juniors, etc.) and at 8 am on that day, you refresh the website and either enroll in your classes or get placed on the wait list for it. If you’re a freshman, you’re basically screwed because you go last, and so you could have planned out your perfect schedule only to find they’ve all filled up the day before your enrollment period starts. To avoid having to scramble, have multiple versions of your schedule, with back ups and substitutions for every class. This way, you won’t be surprised when you go to enroll and all but one of your classes are filled, then you have to search for other classes, but at that point, all that’s left are scraps that don’t fit your requirements. Plan plan plan and practice clicking the enroll button on all your classes as fast as you can for when the clock strikes 8.
  • You have freedom over your schedule now; take advantage of that! No more 8-3 Monday through Friday; you can take classes whenever you want. I prefer to have all my classes on MWF in a block of a few hours and only one or no class on TR. Of course, sometimes you’re going to have to take classes at less optimal times, but do try to accommodate yourself and take classes at times you know will be good for you. Lots of people prefer to start early and finish early, while I like to start no earlier than 11, even if I don’t finish until 5. The best part of college is you can do what you want.
  • Don’t take 8 ams. I’m repeating this cause it’s important. I swear, you’ll regret it. In high school, I woke up every morning early as hell to catch my bus at 6:30, but in college, it was nearly impossible for me to get up for my 11 am only three times a week. Don’t ever take an 8 am by choice. And if you have no choice, good luck lol.
  • Don’t be afraid to drop a class. If you’re doing terribly in a class or you absolutely can’t stand it, drop the class. There’s a very little chance that if you’re failing during the first half of the semester, you’ll be able to change your grade dramatically in the second half. Maybe you decided to be an overzealous freshman and signed up for the maximum number of hours possible and now you’re drowning. Drop a class! Sometimes, a course is going to do more harm to you than good, so it’s best to get rid of it than have an F or a W on your transcript.
  • Use RateMyProfessor! I totally forgot about this when I originally posted this and it’s already got almost 1,000 notes but hopefully people see this. RateMyProfessor is so fucking useful. It’s IMPERATIVE that you check this website before you enroll in classes. Someone at Vandy actually made a Chrome extension for our enrollment website that automatically shows a professor’s ranking while you’re looking for classes. Obviously, take it with a grain of salt, and make sure the reviews actually make valid points about the workload and class and isn’t just someone bitter about failing. I took calc with a professor who taught at my high school just cause she taught at my high school even though her reviews said she was insanely difficult and the class was near impossible to pass. Guess what? They were right and I failed as did a big chunk of everyone else in her class. You don’t have to let RMP dictate your schedule, but definitely check it out, and if everyone says the professor is awful, don’t fucking take them. 

Attending Your Classes

  • Establish a connection with your professor early. I recommended introducing yourself on the first day of class just so they know your name and face in another post. It’d be even better to attend an office hour or review session or something. Just make sure they know you. It’ll be easier to communicate when you need something later in the semester if it isn’t their first time seeing you.
  • Actually use this connection with your professors. In my experience, they can be pretty understanding and when you’re in a bad place, they’ll likely help you out. If something is preventing you from doing your best in class, go to them for help (I didn’t go to many office hours but I wish I did! Who better to explain to you something you don’t understand than the person who grades you on it?) or explain to them your situation. I had professors let me take tests late and redo assignments due to my mental health after I explained to them I wasn’t just a terrible student; if it wasn’t for this, I would’ve failed all of their classes. Maybe at the end of the semester they’ll drop one of your wonky grades or bump you up that extra half point you need. Your professors are a resource, and it’s up to you to use it.
  • Take notes however you want. I used my laptop in some, paper in others, and even my iPad and a stylus for calculus. In all of your classes will be a mixture of different techniques and no one cares what you do. Whatever works best for you and helps you get down the most information is what you should do. Also, you don’t have to write down everything. If your professor uses slides and posts them for you to download, you don’t really have to write down anything at all unless they add extra points, so that’s really convenient. 
  • You don’t have to sit in the front. As long as you can see and hear, which you’ll likely be able to due to large projection screens and microphones, it literally doesn’t matter where you sit. In my experience, the professors call on people from every part of the lecture hall, so everyone gets an equal chance at participation. It’s up to yourself to make sure you can pay attention, not your seat.
  • Do your best to attend every single class meeting. It’s inevitable that you’re going to miss class at some point; you will get sick, you won’t have finished an assignment, you’ll need a mental health day, something will happen. Missing class can too easily become a habit if you do it often, so try to never do it. Don’t force yourself to go if you can’t handle it, obviously your health always comes first, but I mean don’t skip cause you want to sleep in or cause you just don’t feel like going. If you do have to miss class and 1) you have a good reason for it (i.e. sickness) and 2) it’s a class small enough that your professor will notice you’re not there, email them and let them know why, just so they’re aware you’re not just skipping to skip.  
  • Try to make friends in your classes. A little study group would be even better. It’ll be really useful to have someone who can help you with a homework question you don’t understand or send you their notes when you miss a class. It can also be great to study with other people, depending on how you study best. I’ve had friends in all my classes so far and it’s been a great help, even if we just complained about the test we just failed then went to get pizza.

Tackling the Coursework

  • Make a REALISTIC study schedule. The key word here is realistic. During winter break I made a study schedule that started with me waking up at 8 am every morning to go work out and ended with me going to sleep promptly at 11 or midnight after spending literally the entire day studying with breaks only for meals. No breaks on weekends, no room to socialize, and I thought this would be perfectly fine for me to follow. Of course, I didn’t last a week because that was fucking ridiculous. You don’t need to schedule every hour of your day; college doesn’t work like that. Just do something simple, an hour for a class or maybe less depending on how hard it is and if you have a test coming up. Trust your instincts. There’s no need to go overboard, and you don’t need to spend six hours a day working, just dedicate a time to studying and stick with that.
  • Explore study techniques until you find one that works for you. Everyone doesn’t study the same, so if you do what everyone else is doing you might not get the results you want. Even if you had a great system in high school, it might not be fitting for college, so check out a bunch of different methods and see how you do with them. Once you find the best way you study, you’ll be unstoppable when exam time comes.
  • Start your assignments early, as soon as you can after they’re assigned. There’s nothing worse than having a bunch of assignments/tests/papers due on the same day and you haven’t finished any of them. Trust me, it is so much less stressful to complete an assignment as soon as you can after it’s been assigned so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Putting things off has much more severe consequences than it did in high school and you will regret procrastinating. If you have a weekly assignment due every Friday, try to complete them by Wednesday every week. At the very least, start an assignment the day you get it even if you can’t finish it that day. It’s a lot easier to do something after you’ve already begun working on it, and that one thing you do is progress.
  • The name of the college game is prioritization. If college teaches you anything, it’s how to prioritize your duties. You need to create a hierarchy of importance for your classes and types of assignments. For me, calculus assignments were always done first because that was the most difficult class and the one I absolutely needed to pass, and Italian was always done last cause it was my easiest class and I could complete even our biggest assignments in one day. You’re going to have a very large amount of work and sometimes you have to sacrifice finishing a small homework assignment to finish a huge paper or study for an exam. I liked to complete my hardest/longest assignments right when I got back from class to get them over with and leave my easier ones for later. Prioritizing is essential if you want to succeed in university, so learn how to do it immediately! 
  • Remember that uni is really difficult and your grades don’t define you. Something I learned the hard way is that sometimes you can try really really hard, do the best you can, and still fail. That’s just life. Sometimes you have to do something a million times before you get it right, or before you discover that it just isn’t right for you at all. I worked harder than I ever had this past year, and what I got in return was two failed classes, two D’s, academic probation, and a 2.3 GPA. Actually, my current GPA isn’t even a 2.3, it’s a 2.295, which is probably blasphemy to the studyblr community, but this shit happens. It happens to all of us and it sucks. It can be really shitty to feel like your effort wasn’t reflected in your result. What you need to do is adjust your expectations and keep working hard. After you hit your stride, your grades could be great in no time. Or you could discover that math or science or english just isn’t for you. Maybe you’ll discover university as a whole isn’t right for you, and that’s okay! Bad grades, whether you define that as a B or an F, don’t mean you’re a bad student or a bad person. You do what you can, and then let go of what you can’t control. The sooner you grasp this idea, and the sooner you learn to be gentle with yourself, the easier a time you’ll have.

So I feel like I forgot a lot of things but also this is pretty long so I’m going to end the post here. If you have any further questions or topics for a post you’d like to see, my inbox is always open. I don’t know which post is coming next, but I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading and I hope this helped you out!

Previous Posts:

Was Spock the first human/Vulcan hybrid?

First contact between humans and Vulcans occurred in 2063. Spock was born in 2230. If you listen to some Star Trek fans, that means 167 years passed before both our species decided to bear some sex fruit. Let’s be real though, 167 years is a long time for two civilizations to interact with each other without at least someone from one group deciding to bone someone from the other group, particularly when you consider the populations of both civilizations numbers in the billions.

We might say, “Maybe interspecies sex was just too big of a taboo! Maybe it took that long for barriers to finally start coming down.” Yeah, maybe. Or maybe it’s like Hagrid once said of Dobby the house elf: “Yeh get weirdos in every breed.” Even if 9,999,999,999 humans thought the idea of having sex with an alien was weird or unnatural, there would always be at least one exceptionally progressive person who could see beyond everyone else’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions, and I’m certain the same is true for Vulcans. I would almost be willing to bet that at least one of the first Vulcans who rolled off the T’Plana-Hath on that April morning in 2063 in Bozeman, Montana saw one of the locals and thought, “That human is aesthetically pleasing.” And all it takes is a spark, right? Besides, who wouldn’t want to hear a Vulcan pickup line?

And all the panties fell off as if by magic.

Moreover, in 1957, 106 years before official First Contact between humans and Vulcans, a small Vulcan survey ship crash-landed near Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. There were only three survivors, and of those three, one of them just couldn’t stop himself from falling for the single mom who ran the local bar. Granted, Maggie didn’t know Mestral was Vulcan, but he definitely knew she was human, and a trivial thing like species didn’t seem to matter to him.

Smitten personified.

But wait, just because a few amorous, adventurous, or convention-hating humans and Vulcans might be willing to stand up and proudly (or maybe more discreetly) proclaim, “Love is love, fuck the haters” and get naked with each other, that doesn’t mean they were making babies because after all, humans and Vulcans are genetically incompatible and it would take a feat of medical engineering to swap gametes, right?

Argue if you want, but human/Vulcan sexy time dates back to at least 2153.

People who believe Spock must have been the first hybrid usually stake this claim on one or more of four arguments:

1.     Humans and Vulcans didn’t shack up routinely enough
2.     The science of making a hybrid baby didn’t exist until Spock came along
3.     Gene Roddenberry said so
4.     Spock clearly felt isolated as a child, but he wouldn’t have if there were more hybrids like him

I’ve already poked enough holes in the first claim. Maybe there weren’t a ton of interspecies couples, but I feel confident in saying there were at least some and some is all we need. And once people decide they like each other enough to form relationships, it’s usually not long before at least some of them start thinking, “You know what would make this better? A smaller version of us!”

As for the science behind making a hybrid baby, it existed in the mid 22nd century. Spock wasn’t the first. That’s a fact. Elizabeth, the hybrid child of Charles “Trip” Tucker and T’Pol, existed in 2154.

Pointy ears and pinchable cheeks.  

Elizabeth sadly died as a result of the improper cloning techniques used to conceive her, so there are many who would take the statement of “Spock was the first human/Vulcan hybrid” and simply add the caveat of “to survive.” Perhaps. But in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Terra Prime,” Trip says:

I spoke with Phlox. It turns out there was a flaw in the technique that Paxton’s doctors used in the cloning process. Human DNA and Vulcan DNA, Phlox says there’s no medical reason why they can’t combine. So if a Vulcan and a human ever decided to have a child, it’s probably be ok. And that’s sort of comforting.

So a Denobulan doctor knew a way to make hybrids a full 75 years before Spock was conceived. Maybe the technology was untested and required some refining, but by even a modern a technological timeline, 75 years is an eternity.  

There’s an interview between Gene Roddenberry and Mark Lenard which claims Spock was the first, and so a lot of people might be happy to believe whatever Roddenberry said was the gospel. In the interview, Roddenberry is interviewing Mark Lenard as Ambassador Sarek, asking him questions about humanity and his life when the subject of Spock comes up.

Mark Lenard: Spock’s mother Amanda is an extraordinary woman.
Gene Roddenberry: And Spock was the result? The first human/Vulcan mixture?
Mark Lenard: No, not the first, but the first to survive. As you must know, an Earth/Vulcan conception will abort during the end of the first month; the fetus is unable to continue life once it begins to develop its primary organs. The fetus Spock was removed from Amanda’s body at this time: the first such experiment ever attempted. His tiny form resided in a test tube for the following two Earth months while our physicians performed delicate chemical engineering, introducing over a 100 subtle changes we hoped would sustain life. At the end of this time, the fetus was returned to Amanda’s womb. At the ninth Earth month, the tiny form was again removed from Amanda, prematurely by Vulcan standards, and spent the following four months of Vulcan term pregnancy in a specially designed incubator. The infant Spock proved surprisingly resilient. There seemed to be something about the Earth/Vulcan mixture which created in that tiny body the fierce determination to survive.

So for some fans, maybe that counts as proof. But Gene Roddenberry had a lot of conceptual ideas about his beloved Star Trek that conflict with actual canon and modern science. For a prime example, just look at the treatment of star dates. So maybe it’s me, but I don’t think something is canon just because Roddenberry said it in an interview once. Furthermore, if we take that interview as canon, how do we explain this scene from The Final Frontier where Spock is delivered from Amanda (not a “specially designed incubator”) and presented to Sarek?

Then Sarek went and uttered one of the most dick lines in Trek history.

Lastly, there’s the isolation that Spock feels. How can we explain how lonely he is if it’s not because he’s the only hybrid? Quite easily, actually. Every single person in existence has felt misunderstood and alone at times. As children, our worlds are very small and our social circles consist of our immediate families, school mates, and our parents’ associates. That’s pretty much it. When we aren’t exposed to people like us, it’s very easy to imagine Rocket Raccoon might have been onto something when he said, “Ain’t no thing like me, except me!”

But that’s very rarely literally true, as every kid who’s ever been the only minority at their school or any teen who’s ever been the only gay person in their tiny conservative town will tell you. As we get older and achieve the freedom to strike out and meet people on our own terms, we often learn we weren’t quite as unique as we thought and there are whole groups of people out there who are black or gay or disabled or whatever it was that left us feeling so alone in our formative years. I think that’s why Spock’s character resonated so much with viewers – he was a symbol for all the misfits out there who knew just how much it sucks trying to fit into the fabric of a society that seems so different than they are.

 Proof that regardless of species, kids can be fucking awful. 

Vulcan was a big planet. By the time Nero destroyed it in Star Trek: 2009, it had more than 6 billion inhabitants. Even if there were only 100 human/Vulcan hybrids by that point in time, the odds of an average Vulcan encountering one would still be incredibly small. It’s entirely possible Spock may have felt like he was the only hybrid because he might have been the only one in his community, but the universe is a big place with plenty of room for other human/Vulcan hybrids he and those vicious bullies never met. 

Spock was clearly pretty special. Even people who hate Star Trek and know almost nothing about it know who Spock was and recognize the Vulcan salute Leonard Nimoy made famous in his portrayal of the character. But just because Spock’s human ancestry made him unusual doesn’t necessarily mean his conception was some completely novel, groundbreaking, pioneering leap for interspecies relationships either. 

I can’t say I know many Vulcans, but I think I have a pretty firm grasp on humanity. Despite homosexual, interracial, and interfaith relationships being taboo and even illegal in many countries until relatively recently (and sadly still are in some places) there have always been people who decided they didn’t care and took a chance on love. So I don’t buy the idea that humans and Vulcans could live and work together even in a limited capacity for more than a century and a half before making the jump into starting families.

Idk tbh I just… don’t get why Princess Leia is a hero to people when A: She’s a Monarchist with a very privileged position and said in Empire Strikes Back “Freedom… whats the point?” , and B: All the leaks about her Last Jedi stuff taking the crown of exiled Alderanians or something like. That’s not being a rebel…