Thursday, January 24, 2013

AP Euro Struggles and Successes

Around this time last year, I was a freshman in high school, ready to complete my course selections for my upcoming sophomore year. I was totally set in all of my core subjects except for one, my Social Studies course. I was taking a freshman accelerated history course, Honors World History, and I loved it and knew I wanted to continue down that path, but I just didn't know what to do. That was when my teacher recommended me to take AP European History.

AP European History is a 10-12th grade level course, but most sophomores take it. It is notorious as one of Neuqua Valley's hardest classes to take, but it's a ton of fun too! We do plenty of skits & group projects, watch movies, and eat a ton of food, since we have Wednesday Treat Day every week.  

My year in AP Euro started off pretty successful: turning in all my summer work and getting good marks for it and receiving a fair grade on the first test of the year. I met a ton of new people through the class, and reconnected with some old faces, and we all bonded! I thought with these grades, and this kind of support system, I knew what to expect, but was I wrong

Because marching band took over, I struggled in this class for a while. I failed or received D's on three tests in a row, wasted tons of time on my note taking when really I was just copying my textbook word for word, and got too caught up in the social aspect of the class with the mentality "It's a college level course. Of course it's hard and of course I'm going to struggle. If I get a B in the class, whatever, I won't care.". 

But I smartened up a bit after the class got very intense and my schedule started to get even crazier in October. I went in for help, developed a new studying habit (flashcards!), made my two textbooks become my best friends, and emailed my old teacher to tell him about my progress. While it was tedious, receiving high marks for homework assignments, class projects, and an essay here or there, but receiving low grades on tests (the biggest part of my grade category), all the hard work paid off in November. My test scores started to improve to high C's and B's (the average in the class), and my overall grade was an 86% by the end of November, something that is usually unheard of in the class. It felt awesome to be doing above average (well, almost) and to be understanding the level of material given to me. 

But, all of my work really paid off when I got an 82% on the final exam, and with curved points, got a final grade on the exam of an 89%. I screamed and ran and danced around my house like there was no tomorrow!! 

So, at the tail end of the first semester, my final grade was a mid-range 87%. But with the HUGE opportunity of 3% extra credit, I received a 90.52% as my final grade, an extremely low, but still there A. 

It was, and is, gratifying to know that all the hard work, long nights, and immeasurable ink stains paid off for something. I can now go into the second semester confidently, and I am confident that I can go into junior year AP U.S. History with high expectations for myself with a great work ethic and understanding of what is expected of me. 

I know that if I try really hard again, maybe I could swing another A in the class for second semester. But an A in this kind of class is like a shooting star: hard to find, but the gratification when you spot one is amazing. I am just content I surpassed my own standards for myself and I am ready to beat the new ones for myself!! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plain Girly Things

If I could divide how I spent my time over winter break, it would have been: 

-5% eating 
-10% sleeping 
-10% watching TV/movies 
-10% listening to music 
-And 65% shopping online or in person, doing my nails, hair or makeup, planning outfits, etc. etc.  

Since I have very specific clothing tastes, which have driven my parents crazy since the day I could make my opinions known, I usually only get gift cards for Christmas, birthdays, etc., or I point out something extremely specific that I would like (for example: American Eagle Classic Utility Shirt in Light Blue, size medium, found at three areas in the surrounding fifty mile radius of Naperville).  

It is only then that I am happy. 

But, over the past three months or so, I have started to like more clothing brands and more styles, so I only asked my mom for gift cards for Christmas, so I COULD buy the things I wanted. And she happily obliged! 

With these lovely gift cards and much Christmas cash, I went out to both new and old stores to pick out what I wanted to dress to impress for the new year at school. 

                                         Shopping In Downtown Naperville w/ the Fam.     

Orange Sweater: Debbie Morgan via Macys. Jeans: American Boot Socks: Sonoma via Kohls. Boots: American Necklace: Body Central.   

Doing Errands and Friend's Party

Navy Sweater: Topshop via Nordstroms. Black Leggings: Forever 21. TOMS: Nordstoms.  

I also took the initiative over break and went on some beauty blogging websites and found out different and interesting ways to do my hair and nails! While the most complicated thing I learned how to do was French Braid my hair, I learned how to do my nails in a really cool way! Just go onto Google and search "tape nails". It's super easy and took me fifteen minutes max!

Tape Nails

I did my nails using two nail polishes from The Gap: a navy called Neptune and a metallic silver called Silver Bullet.  

Besides the beauty orientated part of my break, I spent a very quiet break here, at home, with mainly my family. But trust me, I am NOT complaining in the slightest. A quiet break alone, at home, was just what I needed to relax and recharge after the extremely hectic 2012 I had! 

I spent my last day of break, unfortunately, doing my extra credit for AP European History! I had to watch a movie on the revolutionary age in American and France. So I chose The Scarlet Pimpernel with Merle Oberon and I sat in my room with my mom's iPad, coffee, and Skinny Pop popcorn and spent a relaxing, quiet afternoon to myself. The perfect way, I would say, to end my break and start off the new year on the right foot at school: relaxed, recharged, and ready to go!  

Just a quick visual for how I spent my last day of break. VERY cozy!