Getting back into the game (alternate title: Summer Sixteen)

Hi there! I’ve been in the process of coding my own website from scratch for almost a year. I received a free .me domain from Namecheap as part of a student deal at U of T and I am using GitHub Pages to host the site.

As I was in the process of starting it up, I wanted to write a blog, but wasn’t sure where to start. I did write an introductory “blog post” about three months ago explaining the very nature of the blog, but all it was really was just text typed in between some blocks of HTML code. Recently, I discovered Medium. I noticed a lot of people use Medium to blog about things, and I thought to myself, why not give it a try? It’s summer, too, so that means more time to devote to improving my website and adding the content I promised I would add ages ago but never got around to doing because of school and other commitments.

My summer has been going quite well so far. I have been pretty busy over the past two months because I was taking a math summer course. Of course, math is very demanding and the only way to do well in math is to spend a lot of time going through the suggested problems in the textbook as well as lecture notes and tutorial problems. I wanted to spend more time with my friends and family, but most importantly, I wanted to spend more time programming. I ended up doing well in the course because it was the only course I was taking.

I received disappointing news on Canada Day. The admissions for the CS programs (major, minor, specialist) had come out. I logged on to ACORN and saw that I got refused, which, of course, was something I wasn’t expecting. My initial plan was to do a major in CS and double minor in environmental geography and environmental studies, because I feel as if that combination of programs opens many doors. I was in the CS stream when I started university in 2014, but I couldn’t apply to the major last summer. I had failed a course in my first year. The worst part was that it was a course I needed for the major. The marks were released at such an inconvenient time; summer school had started and I already decided what I wanted to do last summer. So I instead took it again in my second year. I made several bad decisions in my first year which is why I didn’t reach some of the goals I implemented for the year, and it took me a fairly long time to almost completely transition into university.

With a field like CS, concepts may take a lot of time to understand, and that’s okay. They aren’t meant to be easy. For me, I’m a bit of a slow learner, so I haven’t seen rapid improvement, but rather gradual improvement. It took me a second attempt at my Intro to Computer Science course to get recursion. I was also aiming to practice my programming skills a lot last summer, but I ended up being largely engrossed in my calculus and environment courses (I was doing a full course load), and I only had three weeks in between the end of the summer semester and the start of second year all to myself. I instead spent a large chunk of those weeks with my friends and family. Having a social life is important, but you need to find the right balance between that and taking time to improve on the skills you potentially need for your career.

Like most people, time management is something I need to work on. I’ve been getting into the habit of using Google Calendar and a University of Toronto planner to manage my time. I use Google Calendar to keep track of scheduled events, such as lectures, appointments, tutorials, and office hours. I set reminders for these things at least half an hour before on my phone. As for things I need to do, I write it all down in a planner. I look at the things I’ve written down on the same night or the next morning and check off the items that I’ve accomplished. There’s also a “Notes” section at the bottom; if the day went well, I note that, and if not, then I write down suggestions for improvement. In terms of working on my website or practicing my other programming skills, I will write down what exactly I’m going to work on and try to accomplish that goal. I’ve got plenty of time this summer and I’m hoping to use the time wisely.

Thank you for reading! Until next time!