Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring 2017/Junior Year Recap

I have never been so happy to see a quarter end. On Monday, I turned in my capstone final report; on Tuesday, I packed my things and went home. It's Friday now, and I've spent much of the last few days sleeping, reading, doing as little as possible. This afternoon I did a slew of paperwork and registering for things and so on, and next Monday I start work.

This was the end of spring quarter and also junior year. I'll tackle them in that order, but obviously one is a subset of the other.

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Spring 2017

Classes I took: my design capstone, a class on renewable energy, a class on Roman engineering, second-year German, the RA class. A lighter load than in previous quarters. The capstone was the one through which I learned the most, because I had to do the most work and the most collaboratively. As it turns out, I do like structural engineering, and I could, I think, do well at it. If I choose to do that. I did really well in the RE class and had a good time with it, which is nice because I've been waiting to take this class since freshman year.

The Roman engineering class was fun and I kind of enjoyed looking through the literature for our final paper. Learning about the Horologium of Augustus was heart-warming. German was...well. I don't know how much I really learned, although it's not a fair comparison because the other German classes I've taken were either the first year sequence, where I could feel my improvement week by week, or the one I took while in Berlin, where I was surrounded by the language and made a lot of progress that way. I liked the class, though, and haven't ruled out getting a double major since I only need four more classes.

Preparing to be an RA has been a major part of this quarter. The class was fine, although the other participants were all sophomores and for some of them, it really, really showed. Getting to know my co-staff better has been rewarding; I've also become friends with a fair number of the frosh who will be sophomores in the dorm next year, and I look forward to getting to know them better. I'm really looking forward to being back in a dorm with real community.

Although classes have all gone well this quarter, it was still really rough. Although I tend to think of myself as fairly self-reliant, independent, etc., and am certainly an introvert who needs lots of alone time, this quarter it felt like most of my on-campus support network straight up disappeared. I took that a lot harder than I expected. It also didn't help that my competition team was done for the year: more sleep, but less built-in time around people I care about. I felt the same sort of empty loneliness that I danced with last summer, except I was on campus, not in the middle of a beautiful old city, and I was nominally surrounded by people. And of course one must always be considerate of others' schedules and remember that 1) we're full-time students, everyone is busy out of their minds 2) just because people don't reach out doesn't mean they don't care. I'm trying not to overstate the angst, but day after day of not being able to talk to someone who cares really, really took its toll.

Enough of that, though. I did sleep better. I didn't have an exercise routine this quarter but I was a lot better about using Duolingo--although I am dubious about its effectiveness as a language learning tool. I read a lot more--not only finishing the Temeraire series but also starting The Raven Cycle (Maggie Stiefvater), which about ten people recommended to me in high school and which is better than I thought it would be. My writing has stagnated, but there's no time like the present to pick things up again.

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Junior Year

Academically, this was hands-down the most challenging year I've had. Fall and Winter I had four legit engineering classes apiece, and this quarter I had two but one was my capstone. I've come out of it with my grades intact and, more importantly, with much, much more confidence in my abilities. Hell, I know things! My competition team did extremely well and we all grew as a team. I led a pre-professional society and more or less burned out on it because some people are real difficult to work with, but it did teach me a lot about working with people and organizing efforts.

One of the biggest academic curveballs has been the discovery that I like and am good at structural engineering, which isn't necessarily a problem but does mean that I'm not so sure I will apply to construction-focused grad programs. This summer I'm going to be taking the GRE and the FE Exam, for which I will begin reviewing shortly. By fall, after my internship, I should have a better idea of what I want to do.

Speaking of which, this is the first time I've gotten an internship all on my own, without relying on connections, and I am proud of myself for having done so, and having done so early. After two years of job anxiety, it feels good to have spared myself that stress.

I applied for and got my dream RA position, and am really, really looking forward to it. As I said before, I know a lot of the residents, and I'm looking forward to doing stuff with them--fun events, difficult conversations, und so weiter. Of course, I am also looking forward to getting to know the frosh next year, and helping them through what I know, from my experiences, was a very difficult and exciting time.

Personally, this year has been...well. Fall quarter was probably the same level of loneliness as spring but one of my friends who is the person on campus who understands me the best wasn't abroad yet. Winter was stressful and I fell asleep in a lot of classes but I think I spent a lot of time with people that matter so it didn't feel quite as bad. And I've already written about how spring went. There are friends that I've burned out on and whom I will thankfully see less of next year; there are friends that I've come to rely upon, maybe too much; there are the people who will be in the same dorm as me next year, whom I can feel approaching higher tiers of friendship. So it goes.

Writing has been a bit of a bust, although I am excited about the story I'm working on and will probably post some preliminary information about it soon. It's about the Eastern Bloc and fairy tales.

In the wider world: Trump was elected president in the fall and inaugurated in the winter, and the shock waves davon have been propagating this whole time. What a time to live in. But the conservative right suffered losses in the Netherlands, France, and the UK. I've been trying to broaden my awareness of the world but sometimes it's exhausting and I'm still struggling with it. Also, because of my sources, my view is very Eurocentric. As I said, still struggling.

I've had a lot fewer conversations this year about race and gender and other heavy aspects of identity than last year; instead, I think I've been consolidating. Becoming someone. I've slowly switched out most of my wardrobe to come from the men's section (although there is something to criticize about identity-through-consumption) and I speak in my lower register pretty much automatically. I am openly proud to be the child of immigrants and have delighted in telling a low-key racist white dude that I'm considering working in Texas after I finish my schooling because that's where my parents first lived in the US.

This year I've grown a lot and sometimes that hurts, but I am becoming myself and it's a good road to travel.

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Music
  • Ease - Troye Sivan ft. Broods
  • I Want to Change the World - Jetta
  • Unsteady - X Ambassadors
  • Heart is Cement - Thomston
  • Rocketfuel - Thomston
  • Sunrise - Sno
  • How Far I'll Go - Auli'i Cravalho
  • Starlight - Starset
  • Never Look Away - Vienna Teng
  • Straight Into Your Arms - Vance Joy
  • Unbecoming - Starset
  • Self-Control - Frank Ocean
  • Everglow - Starset
  • Ricochet - Starset (can you tell I had a favorite album)
  • Üsküdar'a Gider İken - Zeki Müren
  • Alright - Kendrick Lamar
  • Dein Weg - Eisbrecher
  • i - Kendrick Lamar
  • 3005 - Childish Gambino
  • Tired - Alan Walker ft. Gavin James

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