Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: Highlights, Milestones, Reflections

2009 was a special year. I went to Africa, graduated from MIT, worked and lived in Manhattan, and started graduate school.

The Sierra Leone trip seems like a distant memory now. Such a crazy trip. Who would have thought! But I feel like this trip never ended as I keep running across related things like rammed earth construction in Dubai and soil berm construction in Indonesia. I hope it never does. I feel like there's so much more we can still do and it would be such a shame if it all ended after our month long trip.

I think I spent a lot of freshman year wondering how I ended up at MIT. Every time I crossed 77, I would stare at the big columns; I couldn't believe my luck. Now I can't believe I've graduated. Senior year was such a hectic year. Nearly all my classes during the last semester consisted of team projects. It was insane. But it was because of these crazy projects that I was sitting in a classroom at midnight and thus was able to sign up for the skydiving trip. My mom made a comment a few days earlier that she can't believe that I went skydiving but is still too scared to drive. She said something about me being unbalanced... Anyway, graduation passed by in a blur. Everything happened so fast at the end. Everyone left so quickly. I was on a bus the next day going to New York. I spent most of that trip in a daze, wondering when I would see the campus again, my home for the last few years.

Living in Manhattan was something I have been wanting to do since I first visited back in 10th grade. The city seemed so full of life and excitement. Endless places to explore. I guess I particularly like the feeling of freedom because of the extensive subway system. I think I even had great schemes about how to end up living there for a summer by getting the right internship offer. Well, I finally got my wish this summer and it seemed to happen almost by chance. When I got the call about the interview for an internship, I only had a vague memory of applying to the company and couldn't, for the life of me, remember where or what I had applied to. Up until that point, I had been thinking about staying in Boston for the summer and now all of a sudden, not only did I have the opportunity to live in Manhattan, I could stay being roommates with Yalu for an extra few months. So I accepted the internship offer while on a bus en route from Cornell to Pittsburgh. That would have been the most depressing bus ride ever had it not been for that phone call. Anyway, living in Manhattan was pretty fulfilling. I liked my job and traveled around the boroughs doing volunteer work on the weekends. I also picked up running and visited Central Park a lot.

So far, graduate student life at Stanford has been great. I marvel at the beauty of the campus several times a day and can't imagine why anyone would ever want to go to the east coast for school. I met a lot of new friends the first couple of weeks which made me really happy. When I started MIT, I had a sudden realization (probably right after my parents left) that I had no friends there and should really try hard to make some. I didn't feel such an urge during orientation at Stanford but I also made a conscious choice not to rely on MIT friends so much. I think I didn't try very hard to make friends at Cambridge and that was one of the main reasons why I wasn't very happy there. So it made me really happy during day three of orientation to realize that I was going bar hopping with new friends and no MIT friends in sight. Don't get me wrong, I like MIT people. But I didn't want to rely on the "old circle" again. I didn't want my Stanford experience to become like Cambridge.

The only bad thing about Stanford is that it is suburbia and public transportation is not as great as it could be. While there shuttles and friends with cars to take me grocery shopping, it is still a problem when I want to do crazy things. Such as run a half marathon in San Francisco on a Sunday morning. There is just no way I can get to SF on a Sunday morning from the south bay on public transportation. So unless I find someone who is also running the race that morning, I think I have to go back to Oakland the night before. Such a hassle. Anyway, all this is to say that I've picked up running as a new hobby. The endorphins are pretty addicting once you get used to feeling them every morning. Hopefully my knee will decide to cooperate soon so that I can get back into a shape for this half marathon that I am going to run before I am ready.

I hope every year will be as special as this one.

1 comment:

yalu said...

Yeah see, 2009 was such a great year (I mean, it was our year...we were '09s!) so we have to make 2010 really good... can't be too much of a disappointment in comparison. And so that means we have to do cool stuff too, like go on vacation, etc...

You still have next summer too!

Also - driving is a constant danger. When you were skydiving, after you were strapped on you kind of had no choice. Hehehe... ;-)