End of semester reflection

I just finished my first semester as an MEng student! It’s been a whirlwind of a semester, so I figured now would be a good time to reflect on everything that has happened these past couple of months.

  • Thesis progress: The new and improved App Inventor gallery is alive and well. The bare bones web app is mostly there, though there is much work to be done to make it production ready. Also, there are still several features from my original design that I still need/want to implement. Let’s hope that I can be super productive this January and crank out the remaining code prior to user testing.
  • TA for 6.00: My biggest time commitment/highest priority this semester has been doing work as a TA for the introductory programming class. I love being a TA for this course. My responsibilities included holding office hours, drafting problem sets, and answering student questions on the Piazza Q+A forum. I’m very proud of my nearly 3000 contributions to the Piazza forum. Not to brag or anything, but I received a decent number of shoutouts on the MIT Confessions page, too 🙂 It feels super rewarding to contribute to the learning of more than 500 students in the class.
  • Club volleyball: Joining the women’s club volleyball team was probably one of the best decisions I made this semester. I’ve met some super cool women on the court, and in general, playing a team sport is great motivation for me to exercise on a regular basis. I didn’t compete at any tournaments this semester, but I’m planning on competing next semester 🙂
  • Clarinet: Unfortunately, clarinet playing fell to the sidelines this semester. I continued taking lessons from Tom every couple of weeks, but to be honest, I didn’t practice all that much between lessons. My excuse is that traveling between San Francisco and Boston nearly every week does not leave much time or energy to practice. At the very least, winter break and IAP will be a good chance for me to resume my clarinet practice habits.
  • Cooking: I am sorry to say that my cooking skills have not improved. In fact, I might go as far as to say that they have gotten worse since the summer after freshman year. It’s pretty hard to motivate myself to cook quality meals for myself, so my goal over IAP is to cook with my roommates more often. Fingers crossed that this helps me at least maintain my current weight 😅
  • Job search: Studying for software engineering interviews actually paid off! I ended up landing offers from way more companies than I thought I would, so I had the opportunity to choose from some fantastic options. Without going into too much detail, I will note that the job selection process ending up being much more hectic, stressful, and emotionally draining than I expected. Fortunately, all the drama is finally over, and now I can just look forward to starting my first full-time job in August!

If I were to compare my undergraduate experience with the first semester of my master’s studies, I would say that while being an undergrad was extremely stressful due to academic and extracurricular demands, grad life has been more emotionally draining. In any case, I am more or less proud of what I’ve accomplished this past semester, though there are definitely things I’d like to continue working on next semester. Until then, I’m going to chill at home and hopefully catch up on all the books I wanted to read this past semester but never got to 😂

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Life decision

On Friday, October 16th at around 5:30pm, I decided that I wanted to attend some School of Education for grad school. I can’t believe it had never occurred to me that that was an option, but now that I think about it, the decision couldn’t be more obvious.

Last week was pretty rough for me, not because of school work, but because of life in general. I went through my classes routinely, and they were fine. However, it wasn’t until I went to my education class–we only met once this week, but we normally meet twice–that I completely forgot about my life’s worries. It was an incredible feeling. My classmates and I were designing our ideal school, taking into consideration everything from building design to professional development to graduation requirements. I often tell my friends that being in my education class doesn’t even feel like going to class. I would choose to spend my time doing those activities even if I didn’t have to. So yeah. I sort of love my education class 🙂

Anyway, the event that actually triggered my epiphany was working on Code It curriculum. I spend my Friday nights making lesson plans for the following afternoon, and although some people wouldn’t consider that their ideal Friday night, I happen to love developing curriculum. My high point of the past week was without a doubt going over the questions my students had from last week, looking through potential Scratch projects, and coming up with creative ways to teach the new material. While I was browsing different Scratch teaching resources, I came across Creative Computing and happened to notice the URL. I saw that Creative Computing was affiliated with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and then I thought to myself… huh, wouldn’t that be awesome if I could continue learning about education even after my intro to education classes? YEAH. Of course that would be awesome.

And that, my friends, is how I made my latest, greatest life decision.