Whew. Sorry for the long absence. It’s really been a tough month for me. There’s so many things I wished I had written about, but just couldn’t given the time constraints. Believe it or not, these do take a fair bit of time to write (3, 4 hours). But anyways, here’s a quick recap of what I did during my digital disappearance. The fun stuff starts at the Personal section (drama »> work) but I would say the end of University is also worth a read.
I am continuing my work in the PaSh team, and we’re prepping for a paper submission in April. I’ve run into a fair number of troubles, mostly stemming from the jankiness of Scikit-Learn’s internal code. But that part is done as of this week, and up next is optimizing the benchmark for PaSh integration. This is completely different from what I’ve been doing so far, so I’m excited to see what’s in store.
School-wise, I dropped my fifth course: Operating Systems. Honestly, with research going on, the extra course was stretching it too far. The choice in the course I dropped may come across as a bit odd considering I chose Lexical Semantics (Linguistics) and Global Remote Sensing (Environmental Studies) over OS. For remote sensing, I’ve just been completely captivated by the material. There’s so much satellite data out there, yet so little has been examined. So whereever I look, there’s a good chance that what I’m looking at has never been examined to the same degree ever before. It’s an incredibly fulfilling course, and I would frankly choose this course over my two CS courses were I to take only one course.
Lexical Semantics is a bit of a different story. I do really enjoy the course, especially learning about the mathematical aspects of language. I can’t say I feel as strongly about it, but the course brought about a new way of thinking about communication.
But the biggest reason for dropping OS is that it was too… OS-y. This is entirely my fault for having wrong expectations, because a course titled OS should be about OS. I went into the course thinking I’ll learn a bit of OS but more generally about systems programming (as I did in the prerequisite course). But no, this course is OPERATING SYSTEMS. Much of the material was on specific implementation strategies in specific OSs like Unix or IBM360, whether that be file systems or scheduling. All the crazy parallel, concurrency, crash-safety stuff turned out not to be my cup of tea. Plus, the material was a bit out of date as well, since the professor discussed topics from the period when he was very active in research.
Without a doubt the biggest stirrup in the last month were personal issues, very broadly speaking. Lots of problems have been eating away at my mind. Issues like
- Housing over the summer for my internship
- Managing my involvement for clubs I’m not as passionate about
- Expanding my friend group and professional network
- Participating in GDC during the semester
- A major personal event I won’t discuss on a public blog on the internet
Many of these problems I’ve never even thought about, yet here they were, waiting for my attention amidst all the work.
With all that said, I was able to reasonably keep steadfast with school and research. I managed to resolve some of the problems above and feel closer to a resolution for others. But I paid dearly mentally and physically. I developed a bad habit of biting my inner lip from the stress. I don’t remember the last time I had 8 hours of sleep and the trip to GDC has completely messed with my sleep schedule.
Thankfully, Spring Break started on Friday, so I can recharge for the next 10 days or so. But damn it was close. I don’t ever want to push myself this far ever again, not that I wanted to this time either.
Some people may say that it was worth it since now I “know my limit.” But I think that’s a bad yield from such a shitty experience. Rather than knowing my limit and saying “I’ll do 90% of what I did then,” I think my major takeaway is to never put myself in this situation again. I don’t mean not to intellectualy challenge myself or to reach out of my comfort zone: extending is necessary to grow IMO. I learned that I had a highly inaccurate sense of how much I was stretching myself. When I had a lot of headroom in the beginning of the semester, I thought I could easily handle everything I set up for myself. Only when I dove into the thick of things did I realize how much work I signed myself up for, how little time I had left after school and research. And when personal issues came up, I had no energy to spare.
I believed that I am minimally affected by personal issues, that I can keep on doing what needs to be done. But this too was disproven. Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about this new discovery about myself. Is it a flaw? Is it okay to be susceptible to such issues?
Either way, the impact of this new issue has taught me that I should leave more buffer space for more dips and spikes in my life. Before, if I felt that I wasn’t not giving my full effort, I would extend a bit more. Perhaps, the wiser option would be to wait and see. If I feel the same way two months down the road, I can consider doing something extra, but even then, I’ll leave some space so I can breathe even when unforseen circumstances strike.
I think this is a happy medium between griding and taking care of myself.