42 Silicon Valley: Piscine or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Code

jraleman
jraleman
Sep 26, 2016 · 4 min read

tl;dr: Be organized, pay attention to details, make friends, and have fun!

The Piscine has probably been one of the best experience of my life. It’s hard, demanding, but it’s definitely worth it. Imagine being a baby, and your parents throw you into a pool (Piscine), how fucked are you?

Even babies can swim, don’t drown!

If you’re a novice, you probably have some questions, such as:

How do I survive the Piscine

If you want to survive the Piscine, just follow these steps:

  1. Don’t give up
  2. Don’t give up
Remember this pose when you succeed.

That’s it. Really.

What should I bring if I’m staying at the dorms?

First, congrats. Getting a dorm now is harder than before.

  1. Bring a credit card! Pretty much everything that you’re gonna pay here is with a credit or debit card. You’ll need this because for the dorm check-in, you’ll need to pay $100 as a deposit.
  2. Bring stuff for the room. You’ll need pillows, towels, toilette paper, soap, shampoo, etc… For the bed sheets, you can buy this set, or a similar size (twin size, 84 x 110").
  3. Lock your room when you leave, no one is gonna take responsibility if you lose something.
A view from the backyard.
This is how your room is going to look like. Empty, right? Bring anything you think you need.
The dorms are just 5 minutes away from the school. 42 seconds if you’re in a hurry. :P

What should I learn before starting the Piscine?

There are no requirements at all… Actually, everything that you’ll need, you’re going to learn it during the Piscine. But there are some things that can help you work a bit faster during the Piscine. If you want, you can try to:

  • Learn how to use the Unix shell. For example, how to move between directories, copy and delete files, create new ones, etc… You’re going to learn this during the Piscine, but having a bit of practice before can be useful, because you’re going to use the terminal… a lot. ;)
  • Refresh your math skills. You can try to solve some problems from the Euler Project. This can help you when you’re facing a problem that needs a bit of thinking.
  • Write down these commands in a piece of paper, or somewhere you can look it up later (you’re going to remember most of them before the first day is over, trust me):

Copy text or object: ⌘ + c

Cut text or object: ⌘ + x

Paste text or object: ⌘ + v

Save the current file: ⌘ + s

Undo last action: ⌘ + z

Open a search window: ⌘ + f

Open the force quit window: ⌘ + Option + Esc

Put computer to sleep: Ctrl + Shift + Eject

You can always bring something to remember which computer you were using. There are tons and tons of computers. But don’t scratch or damage them. Something like a plushie should be fine.

Then… What should I really be prepared for?

Just keep in mind these ten (10) things:

  1. Be organized and clean, in your workstation, in your dorm, and in yourself (be sure to shower every day).
  2. Make friends. There’ll be hundreds of people, and most of them will share the same interest as you, such as music, video games, books, sports, and of course, coding. Also, work in team, preferable with your new friends.
  3. Accept failure. You’re going to work your ass off for a whole day in a series of problems, and sometimes you’re going to fail that project for some bullshit reason. Just breath in, breath out, move on, and continue working in the next project. There’s no need to waste time in something that has already been graded.
  4. Read everything, and make sure you understand everything.
  5. Be always on time (especially for the exams).
  6. Don’t hold a grudge with anyone, learn to forgive and forget.
  7. Eat and sleep well, and make sure to do some sort of exercise, like walking, jogging, ping-pong, etc…
  8. Do NOT leave you’re computer unlocked. Lock it every time you take a break.
  9. Remember: Quality > Quantity.
  10. Clap every day at 11:42pm. Make sure to make some noise if it’s necessary. ;)
Remember, work in team, and help anyone if you can. But also, make sure to finish your work before.

Conclusion

If you’re going to participate in a 42 Piscine, remember that you’re doing something crazy… going to a place you don’t know, probably alone, and staying there for a month with strangers, which at the end, they won’t be strangers any more, but friends, and some of them, friends for life!

La Banda — Mexico, Panama, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, etc…

This is something my grandpa used to say, and I realized after the Piscine, how useful it’s.

1. Make sure to do it right.

2. If not, do it again.

3. You never have enough time to do #2.

Good luck! :D

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