A little bit more about the masters class

The MSC program that I am attending is called MSC in Reliable Embedded Systems. It is offered by university of leicester. It is a 2 year part time program covering 6 modules. Each module is done in 5 days, Saturday till Wednesday. That means I need to take leave on 3 working day. Every year, there will be 3 such classes and the lecturers will come all the way down form UK to deliver the class.

The course, is paid in Pounds sterling and compared to other masters class offered locally, they are one of the more expensive classes.

All assignments and exercises that you would expect to finish in one semester, is done in that 5 days. So normally lab work that usually takes one week in school, we have 20 hours to finish it. So you can say it is an intense 5 day class.

The stress is only for 5 days, 3 times a year but the schedule fits all of us. Short and stressful.

Some people tell me that is not a good way to learn as I am not given much time to digest and absorb. Yup, I agree. That is we are given notes and books to read up AFTER the class is over. There are exams.. yup.. I am rushing for a final assignment now which is due in a few more days for a draft review.

One thing I admired, even after paying them so much.. you would expect them to let you off easy.. but they are very strict when it comes to exercises and assignments. Need to hand in on time and no cheating, no copying.. no peeking. The lecturers are there to help if you don’t understand but most of the ground work is done by the students.

It is a tough 5 days and we did ask the lecturer why is it so.

He said that at the end of this class, we should have a sense of achievement. a sense that we have worked our ass off, sacrificed a lot of effort and time and then get the masters. You need to feel that you have worked for it. Otherwise, getting the masters after 2 years, is not something that you feel you have achieved.

I think so too.

Update:

Since the classes are in compressed modules, I asked to take couple of the classes in UK. One of the reason is that I wanted to see the university (to make it look more legit that I am studying in a UK university) and secondly because I signed up late for the course so the subject that I missed will be available in UK. I had to pay for my own stay and travel, which has the feel that I am legitimately a foreign student, especially during the border control questions. Few of the the classmates also went along, it was a good trip

Photos of our 2011 trip to Leicester. 

 

5 more to go

Wife saved up this phrase for me for one week “one down, 5 more to go”

she is referring to the module that I have to complete for my masters.

Yes, I am taking masters. For those who knows me, you are probably saying.. geeze finally.

I have been talking about it for about 5 years now and if i had taken the class when I talked about it, i would have finished it by now..

Though I am really doing this masters for myself, a lot of people are sharing the joy. My parents are spreading the word that I am taking masters even before the university has accepted my application! Well a lot of my cousins are masters holders themselves. So it is nature that dad was happy.

I had my apprehension on the first day of class. It feels like the first day of school. New faces, new people. Not sure how they will react, not sure how I will react. The teacher.

All scary shit man.

First day was hard, i kid you not. I am considered the newbies and it seem that most of the people there already know each other. They have been in class for the past 2 modules (i joined late).

But at the end, it turned out well. I think I was happy at the end of the module. I still have one more assignment to hand out in 2 weeks for early comments and then hand it up in 6 weeks. I got a project to think about.

tell you guys more about the class. Lets say it is a compressed class.

first time in 7 years

I am going back to school. After 7 years away from school, I am going back to school.

Part time masters class. Masters in science. If I am doing masters, going to spend all the effort, the time, the tears, it has to be something more difficult and more challenging then an MBA.

People looked surprised that I am taking masters, when I tell them so. The raised eyebrows and the “huh?”

What, see me no up? (haven’t used that phrase in a long time).

I have been telling people that I want to take up masters since joining this company. A lot of people around me took their masters during their first few years in the company. Also a lot of people who joined the company has masters. I feel, inadequate.

My friends tell me if I took up masters when I said I wanted to, I would have gotten in by now! So shut up and sign up.

I did, maybe 5 years too late but I did.

Feels like first day in school all over again.

Student Number

I got an email today from the university that I have been accepted for the course and I got a student number. WOW. The last time I had anything similar to a student number was 7 years ago. After that, I had an employee number in this company, the 3rd company in my working life. And now, I did a full circle and have a student number. Makes me feel younger all over again.

Yup, I am going back to school, part time that is. The course is a masters in science with University of Leicester. It is a distance learning course and they university lecturers will come to Penang to deliver the course.

there is a little bit anxiety whether I can still pass the exams or not.

One lesson

One of the method to deal with anger (as opposed to controlling anger) is apparently the way I talk. The counselor, after asking me a few case study question, said that I use a lot of the word “you”. Example.. when I get mad and want to screw someone, I would start blasting that poor bugger with all the nasty.. “you should not have done this”.. “you should have informed me first”.. “why did you do this and getting us all screwed”..

Apparently, that is not the best method to deal with the anger. The advise she gave me was to start the conversation with the word “I”. I should say, “I feel that you have betrayed me, you should have….”… or “I feel angry now because you did …. “.

I read through some website for easy understanding on this technique. At that time, I was hungry and I could not pay attention to what the counselor was saying about using the word “I”. She was being a bit abstract. I was in no attention span for something abstract. I found this website that explains it quite clearly. (http://www.stressgroup.com/abcscrashcourse.html)

By using the word “I”, starting the statement with “I am angry..” puts the anger as my responsibility. Saying.. “you should have done this”.. makes the other person responsible for my anger. This is not the case, as I was told. Anger is mine and they did not cause it. they may have triggered it but it was my irrational belief that cause the anger burst. So by using the word “I”, I put the responsibility for that anger to be mine.

interesting concept.

Just that the implementation was not that easy. Lets just say I had almost had a fuse this afternoon after some inconsiderate leach proposed a very outrageous suggestion. I kept saying.. you should.. you must.. you you you.. it was after he left, that I realised that I should have used what I had been taught.

I still have a long way to go.

I went to the shrink

For my anger management problem. Well technically she was just a counselor and not a shrink. And the session was paid for the by the company, so what the heck, I thought. Anger was something that I did not think I had. I think I am a happy person, positive and never had a care. Apparently, the wife noticed that do I snap once in a while. It gets more frequent these days. And then I started to notice too.  I can be driving on a slow Saturday, someone overtakes me and I turn into godzilla. I can trail that fellow no matter how fast he driver. Wife can see the rage in my face, I can feel the rage all over the body. I so want to make someone hurt bad.

You know how this always ends, everyone gets hurt and nothing is gained from it. So I decided to make use of company benefits and see the shrink.

Her advise started with the usual, breathing technique and then how to clench your fist. Apparently, there are ways to calm down, decide what to do and then act on it.

I mean.. it sounds easy right. Try pissing me off these days and we shall see blood!

She did teach something interesting though. The ABC of anger management.You can read more here but I think the article is too complicated. Basically

A – Stands for Action. Someone’s action, which I cannot control.

B – is for the irrational belief that I held. This is in the mind. Example, I think people should not overtake from the left.

C – for the consequences. I get angry, slam the accelerator and make a fool of myself.

In this technique, I am supposed to challenge the Belief. Idiots exist on the roads. The end up killing people. As long as I am not the one getting Killed, live with it.

Does not sound right.. hhmm..

Anyway, it is the B that takes the A to C. Without the belief, someone’s action will not translate to my consequences. I should first calm down, then challenge my irrational belief, then subsequently take control of the situation.

I am supposed to start a journal about how I overcome my anger. Take the ABC and note down. I don’t think I want to do it here in the blog. But perhaps I should share some once in a while.

You heard of the song ” I want my money back”?

I want my old life back. Whatever happened to the happy go lucky fellow.

A different angle

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As an effort by my department to improve our so called soft skill, the boss bought each of us Strengths Finder 2.0. It cost something like RM75 per book, but here is the thing, the value of the book is not in the book. The value is in this passcode, sealed at the back of the book, that allows you to take ONE online strengths test. The test is a series of questions that will ultimately reveal your inner strengths. One passcode only allows you to take one test. So if you want to get the whole department to take the test, then buy everyone one book.

After finishing the test, the site will send you a report on what are your top 5 strenghts, what does it mean and how you can take advantage of those strenghts. Half the book tells you what this test is all about. How they come up with this test and what does it mean for the organisation. The other half, list down all the strenghts and what they all mean and how to make use of the strenghts.

So the value of this book is in the test.

For me at least, I find that the test is quite accurate. Most of my colleague who took the test also say the same thing, that the test is quite accurate. So it is worth the money.

I find that one of the objective of this book is insightful. Our culture, community and organisation always concentrate on your weakness. If you are not good in talking, they send you for communication class. Don’t have the skills in planning? send the poor fellow to project management class to polish up the skill, so called. This book says we should not concentrate too much on the weakness. It does not give a good ROI. Concentrate on the strengths and work on them. Use the strengths with the right opportunity and the ROI would be better. The example given was a boy, who was not good in  football (american football that is), who worked his way up by hard work, training and perseverance till he finally made it to the professional football team. The people adores him and always quote him as a good example. The book says, if people knew what his real strengths were, he could have tried something else, same success, less effort!

My top strength is communication. It says that I can my thoughts into words. I should be a journalist, marketing, sales or Ministry. Ministry? as in spreading the word of god? Hmm.. I find this true, apparently people who have communication strength loves to talk and write. I have a blog. That has to be true. Although I may be good in communication, it does not mean that what I say is right. I could be communicating junk. So one of the thing to fix so that I can fully make use of this skill is to get more knowledge. Learn more so that I can communicate the right ideas, the right facts.

My next strength is belief. Apparently, people with a belief strength lived by a set of values. According to the examples given in the book, people who join scouts and NGO’s, mostly have belief as strenghts. I think this is true.

The test also say that I have the need to know history and what happened in the past, in order for me to move on with the future. History is important to me and knowing what happened when is important. I find this a bit true. I personally belief that everything done has a story and I want to know the story. That is why these days, I ask people “what’s the story” when they want to tell me something. I will then “let me tell you THE story”, when I am trying to explain things to people. It is all about THE STORY.

I also found out, though not the first time, that I have the capacity for useless information as a strengths.

What else is new?

But the book gives a beautiful insight as to what I need to do, in order for me to capatilize on my strengths.