It’s been a stressful week and some. Wheeeeeee…..
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two weeks that I’ve been working in deep computer science. I started learning how to code in Java using Eclipse, and last night I downloaded Android Studio. I’m also slogging through an online course on operating systems to understand the whole principle and theory behind the Android Stack system, which is based on the Linux Kernel. (I can’t help but think about popcorn). Now I’m working through a video to learn how to program in C, because you need to know C to understand operating systems, and you need to know operating systems to maximize the power of Java, and you need Java to keep up with these computer science classes. (Also, today I found out that a working knowledge of C++ would be very helpful.) I genuinely enjoy going to class and listening to the lecture and following along, and I LOVE the feeling of understanding what other people are talking about when they discuss their programming projects, but working through the material on my own is pretty boring. I couldn’t even get through the whole programming tutorial video in one shot, and it was only 13 minutes long. I don’t know how I feel about computer science. I mean, it really is interesting and new, and I’m quite thankful the professor is really sympathetic and good at explaining things. I also have a HUGE support network for when I get stuck. It’s been a subject that’s challenging and stretches my capability, and for that I’m really happy.
But at the same time, studying computer science feels selfish and limited. Despite the tantalizing in-field possibilities of improving upon the Android Stack OS, or designing a new and improved OS, or being able to move beyond the need for separate applications, or encrypting things, I struggle with the fact that no matter how far and advanced we can go in this area, it won’t make us less sinful, or make life better for “the bottom billion” (unless you count the large charitable donations that would be possible from the income of the production of such things), or give us better governments, or reduce waste, etc., etc. Our interpersonal relationships don’t really get any better either.
So in these regards, I think computer science falls short.
Computer science is far, far more interesting than either of my law classes. Law encompasses everything I don’t like about being a liberal arts major: long, wordy texts that say almost nothing, and details that aren’t applicable in more than one situation. I did a presentation on distinctiveness in trademarks, and I read through an abridged law case where two companies were using the same word to sell their products, one had put a trademark on that word and had brought the other company to court for using it, etc., etc., and I just thought this whole thing was incredibly stupid, like, don’t these people have better things to do with their time and money….staying awake in that class is really, really hard….
In my trade law class, due to a misunderstanding on my part, I ended up as the team leader for a group that can apparently only read and write in English, but not speak very well. (I thought I was in a group with a bunch of Chinese students.) All the theories I’ve learned about group dynamics just doesn’t seem to be matching up with reality these days. Furthermore, this professor spent four hours over two weeks repeating the same five points on how to make a presentation. I leave you to your thoughts.
Trade theory and architecture are pretty much entire classes based on research projects, so that’s great. As long as I keep up, it will be fine.
Recently, I’ve been working on my networking, and I’ve discovered some opportunities to connect with some in-industry professionals here. It’s super exciting. Also overwhelming. Because when I log into LinkedIn and check out activity in the groups I follow, or specifically look for people to try to connect to, it just comes crashing in on me like a big wave of never ending work. Network to find your next internship which will hopefully pay. So have your cover letter and resume and CV ready, and make sure it’s up to date….aaahhhhhh….I really, really hate doing this kind of thing, ESPECIALLY with the knowledge that no one really reads it, it’s scanned for grammar and format errors, which just kills me inside. I mean, I seriously think about turning in a Microsoft Word generated resume template with my name at the top with my phone number to see if that gets me any farther than the real thing…
So that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Not so bad, right? Here is the problem:
I don’t want to be a computer programmer. I really don’t want to be a lawyer. I have no plans to be an architect. I’m pretty certain I’m interested in sustainable tourism entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, but unfortunately, I’m not actually taking any classes for that, so I keep getting asked “Why are you in these classes that are completely unrelated to your actual major and career plans?”
I’m just tired of answering that.
I’m tired of these repetitious introductions and salutations with people I don’t know and may never see again. It’s great to be friends on FB, but there’s more, I swear there’s more than that to define and solidify a meaningful human connection, and I want it. I want to spend time with the people I already know and who know me. I want to speed up this “friend making process” to make deeper connections already…it’s only been three weeks that I’ve known anyone though, and you can’t rush a strong friendship, and so I’m in this dilemma which is really bothering me. It kills me inside to know that at the end of this semester, I will probably never see any of these people again, and probably not really keep in touch with any of them. It’s hard to face the prospect of that process again, because I’ve done it every semester since I started college in Taiwan.
I think that the stress and accompanying dissatisfaction about all of the above has forced me to reflect more deeply about what it means to be a human BEING (as opposed to a human DOING). Also, observing the other exchange students who are seemingly quite relaxed and un-bothered by academics or post-grad prospects makes me really jealous. I’ve been spending my free time this week hanging around a group of Indonesian exchange students who are content to just sit around a table in a group after dinner and not really do anything or say much, but just low-key enjoy each other’s company. I. just. don’t. get. it. I hung out with them for about 30 minutes in this “state of being” two nights ago and it was really nice….until I had to go back to studying. I couldn’t do nothing every night of the week even if I wanted to. Super American of me….(this reflection deserves its own post.)
I’m trying to be less hectic, I really am. I want to really enjoy my student life instead of worrying about the next step all the time. I’m tired of feeling like I have to have something to show for every hour that I’m awake. I think though, that keeping myself busy and engaged is a fundamental part of who I am. Still working on balancing everything out, but you know, maybe the constant, almost frenetic energy and enthusiasm is a gift. Maybe the capability and desire to know a lot and do a lot is something that I should develop more, instead of trying to convince myself to do less.
I’ll leave off here, I need to go get more caffeine. I have a lot of work to do. 🙂