Joseph Surin
Computing & Software Systems @ The University of Melbourne

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First Semester at Unimelb

I just finished up my first round of exams at Unimelb and so I thought I'd write a bit about how the semester was.

The subjects I took were:

Foundations of Computing

This was an introductory course into programming/computer science and was taught in Python. We had tasks to complete each week on an online platform called Grok and there were 3 projects. The tasks and projects were very manageable for someone who has done a bit of programming before. There was a mid semester test and a final exam, both of which were also fairly straightforward given a bit of study. Nonetheless, the subject was coordinated extremely well and the lecturers were awesome.

Calculus II

This was a mathematics course for those who had done Maths Specialist in VCE (or some equivalent) but didn't have a high enough grade to do the accelerated pathway (or for those who just didn't want to). I found this subject easier than I was expecting/had heard about it. It wasn't a whole too much different from what I had done in high school and the content wasn't very deep (easy calculations and methods, just takes practice). There was an assignment every week starting from the second week, all of which were easy marks if you put a bit of time and effort into (although it was easy to lose marks on things like notation). The tutorials were fun and having a great tutor + people to talk and do work with during the tutes added to the overall enjoyability of the course. The final exam for this sem seemed a lot harder than the previous ones, but I think most people who prepared well would have found it rather doable.

Linear Algebra

This was probably my most favourite subject out of the four. From what I observed in my tutorial sessions, a lot of people taking this subject either really liked it and actually understood what's going on, or didn't really know what's going on and were just doing their best to memorise how to solve common problems. Just like with Calc 2, there was an assignment every week starting from the second (I found the Linalg assignments much more straightforward compared to the Calc 2 ones). Unlike Calc 2 however, Linear Algebra had a MATLAB assessment component, which was a 45 minute test during the computer lab workshop on the last week of sem. The test didn't have anything unexpected and was easy marks given you had done the worksheets throughout the semester. I found the exam this semester was much easier than past exams.

Japanese 7

I picked Japanese as my breadth because there wasn't really anything else that seemed interesting to me. I was lucky to have gotten a good group to do the group project with as it really helped me to get a good mark (we got 95 for the project! :) ). The actual lecture and seminar content was overall a bit boring and irrelevant in the final exam, but the lecturers were very nice and the classes were genuinely fun some times. There were a couple essays and writing pieces due throughout the semester, as is expected from an Arts subject, however the 80% attendance hurdle requirement was pretty annoying. The final exam was basically all multiple choice questions, with a bit of writing; overall quite cruisy.

Summary Table

Subject enjoyability difficulty how much I learnt
Foundations of Computing 5/10 2/10 2/10
Calculus II 6/10 4/10 4/10
Linear Algebra 8/10 4/10 6/10
Japanese 7 7/10 3/10 2/10

If you happen to be reading this and are undecided between taking Foundations of Computing or Foundations of Algorithms, or between Calc 2/Linalg and AM1/AM2, I would recommend taking the harder subjects as you may find the easier ones are a bit too lacking.

Also, I joined the Information Security club and became a general committee member! If you're reading this and you go to Unimelb you should definitely come check us out :)