Never Go With What People Tell You

In my freshman year, my major required lots of science classes: astronomy, pre-calculus, programming, so I was getting ready for a busy semester. The first day of my pre-calculus class, was sort of, intimidating. Usually at the first class you get the hang of it from the teacher, the syllabus, the pace of the class.  Not with this one. There was some degree of uncertainty as to what to expect from this class.

When I was a student, I always liked the challenge.  I believe that if you study and prepare, there is no such thing as a hard class.  That’s why when some of my classmates gathered around at the end of the calculus class, somebody starting saying that this professor had fame for being extremely hard and that every semester, most of his students fail or end up with a C.  A good friend of mine decided that he was going to switch to a class with an ‘easier’ professor; he suggested I’d do the same.  I kindly declined and decided to stay.

I must say that in the next couple weeks I starting doubting if I made the right decision.  At one class I remember asking a question and the professor answered it in a way I thought was very condescending.  That day I went home sad, disappointed, and I even remember telling my husband about the whole thing, me having the opportunity to change classes and I didn’t. Since the deadline to switch the class without penalties was over, I had no choice but to stay. My husband cheered me up and I just thought of doing my best as with every class.

On the first project, we had to do something with exponential formulas utilizing real data and using the knowledge and formulas we learned in class. I did mine about the exponential growth in population within the next 20 years for my hometown in Saltillo, Mexico. The following week, the professor was giving back the graded projects but by the look of my classmates, this was no good. I saw lots of F’s and C’s and all I thought was why I didn’t listen to my friend then.

When he gave all the projects back except mine, I started to worry.  The professor then proceeded to explain how this particular student did the project while he is holding it in the air (his voice very serious). At this point I am totally freaking out. All I thought was, if this guy starts making fun of me, I don’t care, I am getting up right now and I am dropping this class even if it stays in my student records for eternity.

It turned out he began praising ‘this’ student project. How organized, neat, professional, detailed, useful content, pages numbered, he even loved the cover page.  He said he wanted from now on to have all projects to follow this same format; and then he called my name… This made me feel so proud and motivated to study even harder, but especially gave me the confidence I needed. I would not say his class was easy, after all calculus is not an easy topic, but his way of teaching helped me to truly think and analyze math concepts to then be applied to real life situations.

At the end of the semester, not only I did very well, I truly enjoyed his class and learned a lot.  I also understood why this professor was nationally recognized as a great math teacher, and why he was so avoided by students.  Sometimes students want the easy A and don’t care whether they learn something or not. I also saw my friend who switched classes at the beginning of the term and I asked him how it went with the easy teacher.  Turns out he got a C which he claims was because the class had an easy teacher and therefore he did not study as hard as he should of.

The lessons learned here are, a) listen to your inner voice and don’t follow the crowd, 2) the old say about studying hard and doing your best does pay off, and 3) never go with what people tell you. Just because someone had a bad experience at something, it doesn’t mean you will have it too. Oh, and 4) there is no such thing as an easy teacher or an easy class. NEVER.

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Churros

Churros are a Mexican pastry, dough that is twisted, baked, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, cut in small strips, and commonly sold on the street.  You cannot miss them because of the sweet, inviting aroma that literally takes you there and you have no choice but to buy a bag.

Churros

Photo by Flickr user miamism’s

The first time I encountered such exquisite aroma, I was about eight years old.  My mom and grandmother took my three sisters and myself to the plaza. Across the plaza there was a church, and that night the town was celebrating St. Nicolas Tolentino, patron of Ramos Arizpe, the town where my grandmother lived.

Among the festive colors, the Matachines dancers, the fireworks, and the carnival rides, an almost hypnotizing aroma of fresh baked bread infused with cinnamon, called my immediate attention. “What is that mamá?” I asked. “Churros”, she said. “”Do you want to try them?” She bought my sisters and myself a bag each. The bag contained about five or six churros, each one about five inches long and half inch thick.

I had to smell them again. The smell was heavenly sweet. It was that kind of smell that if the food tastes as it smells, you know it’s going to be good. I grabbed the first one, still warm and bit into it. The crunchy texture from the dough with the sugar was the most gloriously harmony I have ever experienced in my short life. I ate the next, and the next, and the next until the bag was empty.

My mom was happy that I liked them, so she agreed on sharing some of hers. When we were done with thers I asked, “Can I have more, please?” My grandmother, wise in her years said, “You know, when you eat too much of this stuff, you can get sick—Te puedes empachar, you know?” I wasn’t listening to her, I was just looking at the churro vendor, “Can I have some more, PLEASE?”

None of them complied with my nag. Lucky for me, that day was a Sunday, allowance day.  I grabbed my girly purse and grabbed my 5 pesos my father gave me earlier and confident I went and bought I think three or four bags more. Oh I ate them with pleasure and joy ignoring both mom’s and grandma’s condescending look. “You are going to get sick” I kept hearing, do you think I cared?

So the evening went, we went on the rides and had a lot of fun. I remember that night we all stayed at my Grandmother’s house. We said our Ave Marias, and went to sleep. Suddenly, I woke up in the middle of the night with this horrible, excruciating stomach pain. “Mama, Abuelita, my belly!!!!” I got so violently sick that all I could hear was “I told you so.” From that day on I got this aversion to churros to the point that the pure smell of it made me sick and all I can think of is, “I know, you both told me so!”