Finals Week and Lessons Learned from My First Semester at Sheridan

code monster

It’s that time of year: the final week when all our projects are due and you think you can’t possibly finish them all. Breathe. Breathe. We can vanquish those monstrous bugs in our code, we can motion-tween our way through gruelling Flash assignments. The end is near, so fight on fellow web designers, fight on! We can do this. We are <strong>

…see what I did there?

REFLECTIONS ON TERM 1

I’m surprised I’m getting the hang of this ‘coding’ thing. It was my biggest fear coming into the program that I wouldn’t ‘get it’ quickly enough, or that I’d lag behind. Fast forward to the last week of Term 1 and I can code with a sense of calm and determination. Thanks to the tremendous help from my professors, Gillian and Sibylle, in those first few projects, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I also learned a ton from my classmates, both in terms of design and coding. Being able to work and collaborate with such a variety of talented people is a gift. Just seeing everyone’s projects helps to inspire and motivate me to do my best.

workspace

Exhibit A: Here we see Abby’s desk in a relatively calm work peak. You do NOT want to see it during finals week. You should thank me for sparing your eyes.

I realized the clutter of my work desk is relative to the amount of deadlines I have to meet for that week. The more deadlines, the more clutter–but I prefer to call it an “organized” mess. 

LESSON 1: YOU DON’T NEED TO SUFFER ALONE

Coding my first ‘real’ web design project was intimidating to say the least. I had dappled with code a few times before, but this time it was either sink or swim. That first night when I was trying to code the home page of my fitness site, I thought I was utterly doomed because the divs weren’t floating right, and everything looked like a jumbled puzzle piece.

web design project

My personal training site came together piece by piece. Every error I encountered was a lesson learned.

Thankfully, the morning came with new mercies. Gillian helped me A LOT with how to fix my many code bugs, and I eventually had my homepage looking and working the way I wanted it to. Afterwards, when I went home to do the rest of the pages, it became easier.

LESSON 2: GOOD HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GOOD GRADES

By the start of November, aka ‘crunch time’, people were literally “dropping like flies”–a very apt term that Gillian used. Seven or so people got sick, myself included, but we still pushed ourselves to finish our assignments. I look back on that week with a sort of fondness–not for the sickness part, but because our professors are actually concerned for our well being. Gillian was the first to notice that I did not look well, even though I tried to tough it out and go to class. Lo and behold, the next day I was feeling even more under the weather (more like under my covers), so I was bedridden and couldn’t do any work. Bottom line is that taking care of yourself is way more important than getting good grades, which are flimsy things that don’t actually measure your self worth. A healthy designer is a happy designer, and usually happy designers produce good work.

LESSON 3: HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL

Taking time out of your day to hang out with friends is definitely a necessity. I don’t think I could ever just do pure school work or else I’d go insane. We should stop and smell the roses more often–or in my case, the living wall.

living wall

Yuhan and I stopped to admire the huge living wall at the Sheridan Davis Campus.

I’ve noticed that in the past (especially during my university years), talking to no one for weeks on end and focusing solely on assignments results in a very depressing and lackluster week. Now, whenever I feel like I can’t possibly do any more homework, I know that it’s time to go outside and hang out with friends. Seeing others always refuels my inspiration, then I return home and tackle my assignments with a new-found vigor. Music has also been a huge energy boost for me. Putting on an upbeat tune helps me get through those days when I just want to take a nice long nap.

LESSON 3: DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY

You’ve probably heard it said before in my past guest speaker entries, but it’s nonetheless true. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Web design can mean some pretty serious business, but don’t let the work get to you. Let go and laugh with friends, it really helps relieve stress from the mountains of projects waiting for you back home.

sushi break

Sushi breaks are a blessing from all the work.

We started this program as strangers, and now we’re one huge family. I’m so glad to have met everyone in this program, and I hope we’ll all do our best in second semester!

PARTING ADVICE:
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions and admit to when you just aren’t ‘getting’ something. Your professors and peers are there to help you.
• When in doubt, clear:both (hahah)
• Cuddling cats is a very good stress reliever.
• Breathe, it’s gonna be all right!

Cheers to the end of first semester and the start of Winter Break!
Abby

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