It’s been a while…
I had told myself that I wouldn’t let this happen again, but things got pretty crazy at the end of the semester. But more on that later; first the picture.
I know this is not one of my clearer pictures that I’ve posted on here, but I really liked the effect, and it kinda fit what I wanted to write about. This is a shot of the staircase of Slusher Tower taken from across the drillfield, by the entrance to McBryde. This is another reason that I love the zoom on my camera. If I had had to walk across the drillfield to get closer, the angle of the shot and of the sun would have been completely ruined. I had gone out about half an hour before the sunset and decided on a whim to go through and take some pictures on the academic side of campus for a change. I ended up with some pretty good ones, which I’m sure will be up here in the near future.
This semester, and not just the past few weeks, has really been a doozy. After making it through exams and coming home late last week, I’ve had a little bit of time to sit back and reflect on all that’s happened. I think it’s safe to say, that without a doubt, this past semester has been my best one at Tech so far.
Academically, everything seemed to go my way this semester. Though I had to drop my Real Analysis course, I think doing that allowed me to focus more on everything else. There were some unpleasant times with a couple of group projects throughout the semester, but at this point in my life, I’m pretty much used to that, and I know how to cope with it. Final exams really stressed me out this year, some before I took them, and some after the fact. I spent a lot of time preparing for my history exam, and ended up doing extremely well on it. I felt kind of blindsided by a huge essay section on one of my CS exams though, and was worried about my grade in the class until our final grades came out this weekend. In the end, though, everything turned out fine.
My main new academic adventure this semester was my undergraduate research with the math department. Working with one of my favorite professors from the year before, Dr. Peter Linnell, I conducted a project researching “Ultraproducts of Finite Groups.” The culmination of this project was a final report, which I’ll put up here sometime soon, and a presentation to the Layman Prize committee. I was really freaked out about the presentation, which had to be 20-30 minutes long, but I spent plenty of time preparing and practicing, and everything went surprisingly smoothly, unlike my experiences in public speaking a couple of semesters ago. I guess I’m just a lot more comfortable talking about something like this that I’ve spent the whole semester working on rather than the more spur of the moment speeches in other classes. Anyway, my project was chosen by the committee for the Layman Prize, which had a nice cash component to it as well.
Things went pretty well outside of the classroom as well. After being introduced to swing dancing at the beginning of the semester, I came to enjoy it a lot. Everyone at the SVSDS dances was really friendly and welcoming to newcomers, and after the first few weeks, I was feeling a lot more at home on Friday nights at the Y. I also started going to Blues Night at the cellar every Monday with my friend Caleb. Though I was way too scared the first couple of weeks, eventually he persuaded me to get up and dance in front of a group of complete strangers. With live music and plenty of dancing, Monday nights became one of the things I looked forward to every week. Now, I didn’t forget about salsa during this time. I kept my position within the club and kept teaching lessons, which I really enjoyed doing.
One of the things I know I’ve talked about here a lot is attempting to find the right balance between work and play to keep me sane and happy. I don’t think I’ve quite found the magic formula yet, but I’m a whole lot closer than before. I made sure to make time this semester for the things and the people that I care about. Despite taking 20 hours of classes, I was able to spend more time with my friends this semester. I think I was fairly successful in reconnecting with a couple of the people that I had somewhat drifted apart from. I also became very close with a couple of people that I had known before, but not very well. And on top of that, I made several amazing new friends who have been there to pick me up and help keep me going when things started turning south.
It’s not to say that everything went my way this semester. I most certainly have my fair share of regrets. Plenty of things that I wish I had said, and a couple that I wish I hadn’t. I let myself walk out on a limb a number of times, and while the number of times that it snapped is fairly low, I feel like the majority of the time I couldn’t really chalk it up as a win or a loss. I could have been a little more aggressive in pursuing a number of things, but there’s no guarantee that that would have worked out any better.
In the end, though, the good far outweighs the bad. I don’t think I burned any bridges in getting to where I am now, and the possibilities are all still in front of me. In giving myself a few days to think before writing this, I’ve come to realize that I really can’t go back and change anything at this point, and there are more than a few things about just those last few days on campus that I would change, so there’s no real reason to keep worrying about it. I’ve got to let them go, and make the best of the opportunities that the future holds.
And to end on a more positive note, I am really looking forward to my trip out west in a few weeks. I’m planning on driving from N.C. to Oregon over the course of about 12 days, stopping to see a couple of friends and hopefully spending some days around Yellowstone or Glacier National Park.