May 19, 2020#college | #review

Reflections: Freshman Year

Well that didn't quite end the way I planned it... This virus ended up lasting through the remaining few weeks of college, so I guess that's a wrap for freshman year. I still had a decent time while I was present on campus, to be fair, so it wasn't a complete disaster.

Socially, things were at their prime this year. I've never been surrounded by so many amazing people who care enough about me to not just ask for help on homework and then leave. The latter has been my experience for years and years, with people only coming up to me in the year they sought help with a common class, and then disappearing into thin air when I no longer took the same classes. But such is life.

Academically, things started off great and then settled at good. The biggest reason for this was the online learning, which severely detracted from my motivation to study and my learning environment was suboptimal -- college classes aren't made to be taken from the comfort of an office room. Nevertheless, I stuck to the task at hand and grinded through the finish line, no matter how far away it felt.

More importantly though, some of my college plans changed. Not just because we have no idea when we'll be back on campus, but because I experienced varying emotions while engaging in the activities I once loved as well as in the activities I never considered as life goals.

I ended up dropping French. It was painful, but I didn't have a choice. Already this semester, our teacher has introduced us to the fact that we'd be reading ~50 pages a night of literature in every upper division French class moving forward. Originally, I figured this would be like high school, but adding on close reading and note-taking to that made the process far more time-consuming. The first night, it took an hour to read ~5 pages. With EE/CS classes that get harder and harder, there was no way I could keep up with that kind of reading.

I ended up taking the massively supplemental free time I had from that and putting part of it into teaching. Specifically, I became an Academic Intern for CS 61A, Berkeley's renowned Intro-to-CS class. I didn't originally expect much from it, but it ended up being the greatest experience I had the entire semester. Watching people's faces light up when they figured out a lab problem that they had nearly given up on was almost exhilarating. So much so that I stuck to it for a while even after we switched to online learning, despite the program being officially suspended and our requirements relieved. I helped the TA I was working with by answering questions in his online discussions, as well as by providing occasional walkthroughs for lab concepts. He appreciated it, and I felt a rush of impact by way of passing on what I'd learned in the class myself last semester.

All in all, the year itself was okay. I didn't end up joining any clubs or participating in a lot of activities, but I thoroughly enjoyed the activities I did participate in. I'm actually a TA for 61A this summer, and I'm more than excited to spend my summer doing what I've come to enjoy. This is also going to be my opportunity to figure out how much I want to pursue teaching, so I'm going to make the most of it -- just as I did my first year of college.