Part one of the final-semester-at-SFU series.
Rewind back a couple years. It's 2007. I've just graduated the horror that was high school, and ready to move on with my life. To where exactly? Hmm, not so sure. UBC didn't want to take me, SFU didn't seem to want to take me either, UVIC didn't even humour me with a response, while Thompson Rivers University and UNBC all seemed too eager to take me in their arts program (to all out there who hasn't heard of these universities, don't worry -- I haven't either*). It was so comical that even the journalism program at Langara didn't want me. Lan-bloody-gara. It was like having my application rejected at the Canadian Alliance of Rejected Outcasts (membership: 1).
Things were looking grim. I was about to be shipped off to Kamloops for university. My math grades were uglier than Piers Morgan's face, I got a 4 in my LPI, and oh look -- Dr. Swain from the counsellor's office screwed something up again. My summer in 2007 would then consist of being employee of the month at T&T supermarket as a busboy. All my Asian relatives would then look at me as an example for their kids: "you see Simon over there? Now he is not in UBC and he's working at T&T everyday. See what happens when you don't work hard enough at school?"
It wasn't until the middle of June when Simon Fraser University sent me an email admitting me to TechOne, which was an "excellent set of first-year courses that will enable you to pursue the degree of your choice at SFU!" (Read: You're not good enough for our Arts and Social Science program, so here's a random program you can play with for a year while we figure out what to do with your sorry ass.)
Fast forward. It's now 2011. I am a 4th year Communication Major and Political Science Minor at SFU about to graduate, and ready to move on with my life. To where exactly? Hmm, not so sure... How things change, eh?
Anyways, in honour of me surviving the past four years at SFU, I'll look back at all the courses I've ever taken -- draft style. Note: This has nothing to do with other mainstream sports drafts whatsoever. No. Especially the logo. This is completely original.
2007 SFU Freshmen Draft.
1st Round (September - December, 2007).
1st pick: Tech 106 -- Spatial Thinking and Communications.
Potential: Not much really -- it's 1 of 4 compulsory courses at TechOne, and the term "spatial thinking" is as vague as it gets. What is it exactly? Something about designing three-dimensional looking cubes and how that could relate to communicating ideas. Erm, yeah.
Reality: As expected, the course was as vague and bizarre as it gets. There was quite an amount of drawing random objects on a computer. The book was thicker than the holy bible but didn't teach me anything useful. We did have to design and build a model for our term project though -- and we came up with a wooden mechanical-esque thingy that allows you to control a guy to hit a Mexican pinata (and yes you're reading this right). Alas, I didn't do much useful compared to my group members. We got an A in the project.
Boom or bust?: Meh.
2nd pick: Tech 114 -- Technology in Everyday Contexts.
Potential: Much like the other one, this was a bit of a mystery to me before I took this course.
Reality: This is still a mystery to me after I took this course. Academic-wise I had no idea what was going on -- the professor just kept on quoting Marshall McLuhan and how "the medium is the message" -- I know, right? I remember playing around on computers a lot. The class was a slack-fest in general -- we just spent time on macs going online and not doing anything, which was sooooo much fun. Ended up with a B+ in the end -- so it can't be too bad.
Boom or bust?: The jury is still out on that one. I can tell you though, it was fun.
3rd pick: IAT 244 -- Digital Photography I.
Potential: Highly-touted, supposedly a super-easy course that talks about something I happen to be moderately good at -- photography. Should be an easy one for me.
Reality: What I hadn't realized is that any courses that's art-related is prone to arguments over artistic interpretation. "I told you already that the design of the lighting is meant to portray the subject in a blah blah blah manner!" "... Meh, I'm giving you a B-." The prof was a nice enough guy, but the TA was from Poland or something and didn't speak English very well. Which made all the arguing much more difficult.
Boom or bust?: Not bad at all, but not that great either.
4th pick: CMNS 110 -- Introduction to Communication Studies.
Potential: Back then -- way before my life was inundated by all the essay writing I've had to do these 4 years at SFU, there was a point when I actually wanted to take journalism as a major. Alas, they don't have journalism at SFU, while UBC offers it as a graduate program. So instead I gave this a shot, and the rest is history.
Reality: The class was fairly basic -- all the theories were learned here, which almost guaranteed a boring class. Not quite so, however, because my professor turned this ship around quickly. Picture an old, bearded 60-ish-year-old guy who dresses like he is a detective from the 1950s. Imagine him as a grumpy person who is mad about everything in the world. Add a couple of "fucks" and "cunts" in his dictionary. Now picture him teach this class. Entertainment value: A+.
Boom or bust?: Actual course grade: B-. But doesn't matter, one of the best classes I've ever taken.
2nd Round: (January - April, 2008)
5th pick: IAT 100 -- Systems of Media Representation.
Potential: High. Everybody kept telling me that it's the easiest class in the world / GPA booster / best class ever / savior of humanity.
Reality: Blurgh. Worst class ever. The prof was a douche. HTML was easy, but then it all turned to shit when they started teaching flash. Colour me defeated. Promised myself that I'd never take another IAT class in my life ever again.
Boom or bust?: Bust.
6th pick: Tech 101W -- Communication, teamwork and process.
Potential: First W course ever taken -- it was meant to be a "writing intensive" course, writing essays were to be expected in this.
Reality: It was writing intensive alright. One essay. One 1000-word essay was as intense as it got. It wasn't much work at all, but they did manage to teach me a little something about researching for papers, which ended up being pretty darn useful for the 9325346 papers I ended up writing the next couple years.
Boom or bust?: Meh (one can't help but be a tad alarmed that most TechOne courses are just a fine collection of adequacy -- you probably won't remember much about it two weeks after you've finished the course)
7th pick: Tech 124 -- Design thinking.
Potential: Supposed to be similar to Tech 114 -- focusing the communication side of things in design.
Reality: Nope, still can't tell you what "communication side of things in design" really is. For our term project, we had to redesign a skytrain station to reflect... Something about Surrey. So I took the Surrey Central Station and turned it into a Hong Kong MTR-esque station, only to find out that my TAs weren't really fond of it. This was about the same time when I stopped liking my TAs. At the end we came up with the design and I named our group "PenIsland" -- and I am not joking -- much to the delight of our TAs.
Boom or bust?: So-so. It was better than all the other Tech courses.
8th pick: CMNS 130W -- Mass Communication.
Potential: After the delight that was CMNS 110, I thought CMNS 130W would be very much the same thing -- fascinating course with tons of fairly useful information. If I do well in this, then I'll be pretty much set as a Communications major at SFU.
Reality: Unfortunately, I didn't do very well. As a matter of fact, this course still stands today as the worst class I've performed in (a putrid C). The prof was monotone, the course was boring, it was horribly disorganized, the TAs were harsh markers, and I had my first taste of a truly writing intensive course -- registering 3 essays, 1 presentation, 1 gigantic video project in four months. To give you an idea of how bad everything was, I got an A in the video project. Still I only got a C. After I was done with this course I was scared shitless and was no longer certain whether I wanted to do CMNS anymore.
Boom or bust?: Bust.
3rd Round: (May - August, 2008)
9th pick: FAN X99 -- Analytical / Quantitative Reasoning.
Potential: Meh. It's math and I had to take it because of some stupid SFU regulation about me needing to take foundational math courses if I didn't do better than a 70% in math 12. Pfft, who'd do that well anyway? On the bright side, it's the last class in my first year.
Reality: It was awesome. It was fun, exciting, and it opened my eyes to new things I hadn't seen before. It's where I met my cousins too -- and I haven't seen them in years. Oh, I am sorry. Are we talking about this shitty course? I thought we're talking about how I took two weeks off from this class to go on a trip to Toronto + Montréal + New York City + Philadelphia + Washington DC.
Boom or bust?: Suicidal.
This concludes my first year.
Coming soon: 2008 SFU Sophomore Draft.
*To the people of the fine towns of Kamloops and Prince George: Please don't kill me. Although even if you do, that's quite some traveling to do just to kill a person, no?