ECSS After Exams Social

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I write this, my first blog entry, in the wake of the ECSS After Exams Social. I think I speak for all the second year Computer Scientists (and I suspect all ECS students in general) when I say that this semester has been a lot of hard work, and it’s always nice to get out of it for a bit and see everyone in a location other than Zepler Labs for a change!

As much as I’ve been working this semester, it has still been a really good few months for me, for a number of reasons. First of all, the modules that are involved in second year Computer Science surprised me somewhat; I must say I was not expecting to be studying some of the things I have been studying. For one there is Human Computer Interaction – a topic very relevant to Computer Science but at the same time, completely different from anything else on the course so far. It’s all about the psychology behind the way people use computers, and how best to design interfaces to make full use of this information. It’s a very interesting module, and I had no idea when I first came here that my A-Level in Psychology would actually come in useful! I guess the moral of the story is to never make the misconception that Computer Science is all about programming. I would say the main reason I took this course in the first place is because I loved programming, but as a result I’ve found so many new interests in areas I never knew existed!

One of the other reasons why I say the past semester has been a good one for me is purely down to my friends. One of the most important things I’ve learnt this semester is that working in groups, whether it be coursework, assignments or revision, is actually very useful. Whereas private studying definitely has its place, and is probably essential if you need to learn stuff for yourself, group studying has so many more benefits. For example, a group of us got together and decided to play our own version of University Challenge to aid our revision a couple of weeks ago. When it actually came around to the exam, I found that I could recall the information I needed to a lot more easily, because I actually had the memory of us discussing it and people talking about it; something that is not really possible when working solo. I think possibly the biggest mistake I made in my first year is that I didn’t get to know enough people in ECS. I got really lucky with the people I was put in halls with, so I never really found the need to get to know more than a few people on the course. Getting to know more people has really improved my confidence, and probably my grades too. Well, one can hope anyway…

A friend made an interesting point to me the other day; when it comes down to it, we are all in competition here to get the best grades, so is helping other people harming your own chances? I disagree. I’ve actually found that helping others with the material actually helped me more than anyone, as it not only reinforces your own understanding but also makes you realise what you’re not so good at and need to improve on. And, most important of all, you get lots of free drinks when it’s all over.

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