Wednesday, February 16, 2011

HK Housing, TA-ing, etc.

Another long week! Just finished a midterm today so I don't really feel like doing very much. I've been hooked on looking at apartments in HK lately. I finally tried searching in Chinese and lo-and-behold, the prices were much cheaper, in more central locations, and less furnished. Okay, the places are smaller too but I honestly don't need a big fancy place. One thing I've found out is that if I search for 1 bedroom, the results will typically consists of one-bedrooms within a multi-bedroom place. So now I'm only searching for studios. Sometimes it's hard to tell. I think I know what I want to find so it shouldn't be too difficult. Part of me wishes I can be there already so that I can call these people and go look at places. Good thing I had that experience of looking for apartments with Yalu and friends in NYC. It'll be a different experience, of course, but it's good to know what to look for. Imagine going into this apartment looking business for the first time in a different country!

I had to cover lecture for the foundations class yesterday. I went over the notes in detail but it was very different having to write things out on the board. It's a very interesting experience. I was nervous at first but I think I got the hang of things about halfway into the lecture. Hopefully, I didn't seem too incompetent! hahaha. Unfortunately, I also had the lecture on bearing capacity, which is a subject that I don't particularly enjoy myself. I've "learned" this topic about 3 times now, Cambridge, MIT (I think?), and Stanford (last year). And these shape functions still annoy me. I was looking over my geotech notes from Cambridge and they are actually pretty good! Their 3rd year course is actually pretty advance. I don't think I was ready for it at the time. And the notes, true to the Cambridge style, doesn't give you everything you need to know.

In contrast, students here expect their professors to give them everything they need to know... But students here do have more stuff going on and really have less time to go sit in the library and figure things out for themselves. I think some kind of middle ground is needed here.

Anyway, the latest foundations homework requires the students to do some analysis of slopes. They are much more realistic problems than the typical textbook problem. So there's much more variability and some thinking is needed. I would be able to figure out these problems now, having been taught the theories in school and applied them in internships. I'm really glad that my coworkers have pushed me to think beyond just inputting data and clicking solve. I think that's what I need to do with the students on this homework. I'm not sure they've realized that the program doesn't do much more than an excel sheet and that they really need to know what they want. Hopefully some of them can think for themselves though. Because if every one of them needs me to walk them through the problems, that would be overwhelming for me. I think this was supposed to be a 10 hr a week job....

Other news, my allergies have gotten better due to the recent rain. It's good that there hasn't been too much rain. No big downpours. Just enough to keep my allergies away.

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