Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2008 SFU Draft: A look back.

Part two of the final-semester-at-SFU series.

2008 - 2009 was really, really meh. My second year was plagued with issues such as having my car vandalized (in Surrey), having it broken into (in Surrey), having its tires sliced by a knife (in Surrey), got stuck in a humongous snowstorm (in Surrey... mainly), and being shot at (okay that was in Langley... but it's close enough to Surrey. Someone shot a paintball at my car). Not to mention that there was a GTA-style gang war as well. Guess where?

On top of those, I actually thought that it was a good idea to take four communication courses in the same semester in fall -- as the essays fell on me like an avalanche, needless to say the semester ended like a Greek tragedy. Towards the end of the fall semester I wrote over 14000 words in essays, projects and take-home finals... Yeah, that wasn't fun.

That said, there were some major developments though. I've pretty made up my mind about majoring in Communication at this point (despite some horrible courses in second year), and also decided to kick the tires in the political science department -- with some unexpected success. Even though these poli-sci courses usually meant more essays and readings... Something that we communication students really don't get enough from our courses.

Anyways, most important thing is that I survived the second year at SFU, and here's part two of a recap of all the courses I've taken.

2008 SFU Sophomore Draft.

1st Round (September - December, 2008).

1st pick: CMNS 221 -- Media and Audiences.
Potential: After the horror that was CMNS 130, I wasn't sure what I should major anymore. My cage was rattled, my confidence was shaken. Communications didn't seem quite as appealing anymore. What were my options? Psychology? English? Nah. I didn't have high hopes for this course, but somehow I was crazy enough to take 4 CMNS courses in a single semester after one disastrous outing.
Reality: The result? As it turns out, it didn't go that well. The course content was interesting enough -- it talked about advertising and marketing, as well as various aspects of capitalism that has infiltrated all levels of media, like product placement. Those were real fascinating stuff. And then the prof started talking about modernism and postmodernism, which was right about the moment when he lost me. On the bright side? Teresa Li also took this course. Also an interesting observation: Female turnout rate was unusually high, but that probably has nothing to do with the fact that the professor is a well-dressed guy in his 30s with hair that even Roberto Luongo would be jealous of.
Boom or bust?: Boooooomehhh.

2nd pick: CMNS 235 -- Introduction to Journalism in Canada.
Potential: Not much either. The only reason I wanted to take this course is simply because I wanted to see if I could survive studying journalism.
Reality: As it turns out, I can't. It had a ton of readings (which I didn't do), it had a presentation (which I didn't do... well), it had two papers and a final exam. I didn't do too well in them either. In fact, I don't even think I showed up to even half of the lectures -- it wasn't because the prof was bad or anything (although he was about as monotone as a 40s' LP record), but because the lecture hall was incredibly stuffy and the seats were incredibly uncomfortable. Try sitting in a room like that. It'll drive you insane in 20 minutes. Oh, and the professor I had looked like Steve Jobs.
Boom or bust?: Urgh. It wasn't good at all.

3rd pick: CMNS 253W -- Information Technology.
Potential: I was a bit unsure about this one -- it was another W course which either could mean there'd be an insane amount of writing or almost no writing at all. To make it even more ambiguous, it talks about information technology. The last time I took a course on IT was back in highschool, and I didn't do particularly well...
Reality: Fear no more. This turned out to be a course that talks about the internet and how technology has shaped the media. So naturally, a lot of discussion was also focused on social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. And it shows -- everyone in class was actively visiting these sites on their laptops. Nah, I kid. The class was pretty good. What's even better, it reused one of the old textbooks from the first year TECH courses so I saved a bunch of money there. Also good? Live online screening of the lecture, so I can have the class right in my bedroom. And the professor, Richard Smith, is one of the best in the faculty.
Boom or bust?: This is a class in which I wrote about blogging in all THREE of my (very short) essays. By the end of the semester the professor took us to Whitespot for lunch. Whaddyathink?

4th pick: CMNS 259 -- Acoustic Dimensions in Communications I.
Potential: Not much to speak of. By the time I chose my fourth course of the term, most of the CMNS courses out there were already taken. So I went for the one still with available seats instead. It'd be almost fair to say that I chose this course after a very intense session of eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
Reality: So what is the acoustic dimensions in communications? Sounds. That's right -- this a course about sounds. Cue first suicide. The textbook? Sounds. Essays? Sounds. Hell, we had like eight weekly SOUND journals (700 words each -- they were hardly journals). What were they about? Bloody writing about sounds. Cue second suicide. The first essay required us to sit in a public place for an hour and then write a paper commenting on everything we heard. Bizarre? No no no... X-files was bizarre. This is Bellevue. The big league. The real deal, where no crazy has ever been before. It also doesn't help when the prof was incredibly monotone, with low volume and little frequency changes -- oh hey! I can comment on sounds too! At least the TA was pretty cool.
Boom or bust?: Bust.

2nd Round: (January - April, 2009)

5th pick: CMNS 230 -- Cultural Industries in Canada.
Potential: Unfazed by the sea of mediocrity that was the previous semester, I went for more CMNS courses the semester afterwards. This one had some promise though, talking about music, television and movies. Shouldn't be bad.
Reality: There were three essays. The first one was a 100-word "essay" (although I wouldn't call it that) writing a profile for myself. The second essay was a profile on an actor / actress of my choosing. So I went for Robin Williams and researched by watching his stand-up shows. Third essay? You guessed it! Yet another profile. On who? P.I.X.A.R. So yes, some lengthy research (read: movie watching) has went into this one. There was a final too which worth quite a lot though. No worries, it was an open-book and notes-allowed exam. The final was 6 pages long. We had 3 hours to read our notes.
Boom or bust?: Two words: A minus. Pure awesomeness.

6th pick: CMNS 260 -- Empirical Research Methods.
Potential: Not so awesome? A course about math. Even worse? A course about math that is compulsory. Worse to the point that it makes you want to be a homicidal maniac? A compulsory course about math, and has a class 2 days a week at 8:30 in the morning. This is that course.
Reality: It sucks. People seemed to love it, but they are psychos. Who the heck would have statistics class at 8:30 in the morning? And I just want to throw this out there -- if your English is less than steller, don't fucking teach. I've had it up to here with incompetent teachers trying to teach -- as if I didn't see enough of those in Hong Kong already. I had such a hard time trying to comprehend what my Chinese TA was talking about, it's tragic. I am Chinese and even I didn't know what he was saying.
Boom or bust?: This course is the equivalent of a trainload of kittens crashing into a busload of babies.

7th pick: CMNS 262 -- Qualitative Research in Communications.
Potential: Yet again another course that I was forced to take. Well, when I say "forced", I meant there were three courses to choose from, of which I had to pick two. CMNS 260, the one I mentioned previously; CMNS 261, which allegedly had a 20-page research paper and an 80% student suicide rate (okay I made that up); and this. Since I wasn't insane, I went for this instead.
Reality: This class wasn't bad though, albeit a tad forgettable. The course wasn't that hard at all -- with three moderately long essays but all with pretty interesting topics. One of my essays required me to go to a public venue to record audience response. So we went to see the State of Shock in a concert. Awesome, no? Okay, I had no clue who they were, but it's a concert with a lot of noises and flashy lights. What's not to like?
Boom or bust?: Solid.

8th pick: POL 101W -- Introduction to Politics and Government.
Potential: Since we had to take a certain a mount of elective courses, I was rather stumped as to what to go for. Although it should be noted that this was roughly the same time I discovered the wonderful awesomeness that is the West Wing, the NBC drama that centered around the White House. So this was a bit of an experiment for me to see just how much the knowledge I got from the TV show translated to... Well, a poli-sci course.
Reality: As it turns out, it was pretty darn good. Everything in the course was pretty common sense and straight forward. And after the train wreck that was the previous semester (where I had close to 20 pieces of writing to do), I can pretty much take anything this course throw at me. So I did. The prof for this course was a white, middle-aged guy who was originally from South Africa -- and would occasionally speak with an African accent whenever he caught us napping to liven things up mid-lecture. If this was Hong Kong, the professor would've thrown a fit already.
Boom or bust?: As predicted, not a bad course at all.

3rd Round: (May - August, 2008)

9th pick: LING 110 -- The Wonder of Words.
Potential: As a lot of you may know, I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry -- mainly because he has this almost unnatural way of turning words into something of an art form in the most effortless way possible. Seeing this, I thought LING 110 would offer me a similar thing -- how to have fun with the English language. Hell, even the title "The Wonder of Words" speaks volumes about the potential for this course. What could go wrong?
Reality: Sigh. I had no idea that the professors in the linguistics department were such similar with the freaks at the math and science department -- their idea of "fun" usually concerns equations and memorizing theories like a zombie. In this case, it was "exploring" the origin of words, and pretty much simply memorizing the Latin / Greek / Old English / Middle English form of each bloody word. It is hardly what us normal people would consider fun. Not to mention the utter misleading nature of the course title too. The "wonder" of words? More like "memorize memorize memorize memorize and memorize some more just to get your SODDING ANSWERS COMPLETELY WRONG IN THE FINAL EXAM!" WHAT'S THE BLOODY EFFIN' FUN IN THAT? Needless to say, this was the only course other than CMNS 130 in which I got a C in.
Boom or bust?: $*#&^@)(!#@$%&$@^@#shit@$&#!)!*&&^!

10th pick: POL 151 -- The Administration of Justice.
Potential: After POL 101, I decided to give poli-sci courses another crack at it. This was the only other course in the poli-sci department that was offered in first year. So I took it.
Reality: Ignoring the fact that my professor shared a great resemblance to Richard Attenborough from Jurassic Park, the course was a delight. Yeah yeah, the materials were a tad boring, but as long as they weren't ridiculously hard, no? One awesome thing: I managed to find the textbook used online on Amazon (also authored by John Hammond the prof), so I managed to get it dirt cheap. Even better? Sonia Mak took this course too. Although this meant that she'd study the exam notes that I typed out and somehow get better grades than I did. That douche.
Boom or bust?: Decided to declare a minor in Poli-sci after taking this course, so yeah it was good.


This concludes my second year.

Read about first year courses here.

Coming soon: 2009 SFU Junior Draft.


  1. I can't believe you actually remember all your courses. BTW, our prof was hot.

  2. Yeah I tend to remember a lot of useless information like that, I suppose.

    Gee, no wonder you never missed a class in 221. ; )

  3. good to see what cmns courses i shouldn't take