I’ve been a busy bee bzbz. Full of little moments, nothing super exciting to say overall, but I’ve been happy. My days are mostly going to classes, doing schoolwork, and finding moments in between to hang out with friends. I’ve been spending more time at UPenn lately because my new transportation card allows me to ride the train into the city for free on weekends! When I find that I’m not being very productive working by myself, I’ll pop on over, super cas[ual].
Mom is always trying to find ways to bribe us out of the house, and she knows that the best way to bribe me out of the house is to take me to a cafe. Usually my family goes to the same cafes in Beijing, but this one was a new discovery. And wow I’m in love! And I’m sure that any blogger or Instagrammer would agree.
I feel like I’m always doing work right up until class starts and I feel like a terrible student for it, especially so early in the school year! I think it’s because the assignments for the majority of my classes can never really be “finished”–the assignments for my digital design class at UPenn are all about the process, so I’m constantly thinking about it, always trying to either complete an idea or come up with a new one, and for my two senior seminars (for my double major), well, I won’t be done with that until I turn in my senior thesis at the end of the semester! I’ve also been spending a ton of time on Her Campus; I’m going to have to be better about delegating responsibilities, especially as the year progresses and my work increases. Unfortunately, I haven’t had very much time to be creative on my own (photoshoots and blogging). But I have been feeling motivated academically. It feels like I’m always working and I kind of like it, but it doesn’t feel like I’m getting enough done, which I guess goes back to the never-being-finished thing.
What better time of the school year to make new friends than at the beginning of it? I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share this little anecdote, and I think that moment is now.
Let me take you back in time to the fall semester of my first year at college. I had just finished a club meeting and there was someone in that club who was so cool (and wholesome??) and I wanted to be their friend, but I knew we were different kinds of people. I could see us potentially being friends because that person is a friendly person and all around good. But I knew we probably wouldn’t be best buddies. And I was okay with that. I was okay if all they did was say hi to me when we crossed paths.
Though I started going to classes last week, this was my first full week of classes. As it’s the beginning of the school year, there’s lots of new and exciting and good things, as you can see from the length of this weekly update! I’ve been spending a lot of time doing work in my sketchbook and on Illustrator for my Art, Design, and Digital Culture course at UPenn. Honestly, if that was my only responsibility, I would be totally fine spending the majority of my days working on it. Most of the rest of my time has been spent launching Her Campus at my campus and establishing its structure. This is a lot of fun for me too, but again, I spend more time on it than I should! On the other hand, what I don’t spend enough time on is thinking about my senior thesis. The linguistics department really gets on us about our timeline, so my linguistics senior seminar is actually the “course” I’m most stressed out about. It’s only the first week and I already feel behind on my thesis?? The computer science department is a lot more lax, so I’m not as stressed about the computer science senior seminar. And the only other course I’m taking that I haven’t talked about yet is Speech Synthesis. It’s only the first week, so we’ve just been going over introductory linguistics, which I’m familiar with, and we haven’t gotten any homework yet!
– I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. –
Is vocabulary destiny? Why do clocks “talk” to the Nahua people of Mexico? Will A.I. researchers ever produce true human-machine dialogue? In this mesmerizing collection of essays, Daniel Tammet answers these and many other questions about the intricacy and profound power of language.
In Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing, Tammet goes back in time to London to explore the numeric language of his autistic childhood; in Iceland, he learns why the name Blær became a court case; in Canada, he meets one of the world’s most accomplished lip readers. He chats with chatbots; contrives an “e”-less essay on lipograms; studies the grammar of the telephone; contemplates the significance of disappearing dialects; and corresponds with native Esperanto speakers – in their mother tongue.
A joyous romp through the world of words, letters, stories, and meanings, Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing explores the way communication shapes reality. From the art of translation to the lyricism of sign language, these essays display the stunning range of Tammet’s literary and polyglot talents.
Three years ago I wrote a letter to myself. It was an assignment given by the school to all the incoming first-years. I’m sure that the majority of the people my year totally ignored this assignment; nobody checked up on us so who could blame them. And it was sort of a lame assignment. I guess it was more of an exercise than an assignment.
I remember getting the same assignment as a high school first-year, which I did because we were forced to write them in class, but it was not a helpful experience because all I wrote about was how the authority was making us do this dumb assignment. Probably.
But when it came time to write a letter to myself as an incoming college first-year, I was totally on board. I wrote a motivational letter to myself, full of first-year energy, quoted some of my favourite bloggers, and shared the letter on my blog as well. Some parts of that letter I wrote three years ago were a little cringe-y, but maybe one day I’ll find those parts endearing.
It’s interesting to see how my attitude has changed over the years. Most obviously, my excitement and motivation has declined drastically. During my junior year, I was selective and stingy about where I put my effort, I was constantly complaining about how the liberal arts education wasn’t preparing me with practical skills for the real world, I didn’t see the point of doing what I was doing, and I was tired of the small college bubble that only felt like it was shrinking, tired of seeing all the same people in all the same places. I wanted to be done with academia but at the same time I wasn’t confident I’d be able to find a job.
And I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, I have a surprising number of friends graduating a semester early, each for their own reasons. I’m not gonna lie, it makes me a little nervous about my spring semester of senior year. But anyways, yeah… excitement and motivation has been low.
But recently I met up with a friend for coffee. She’s two years above me, so she’s been working in the real world for a full year now and is starting her second. There was a lot of catching up to do, and our conversation touched upon several topics, but especially our college experiences and our futures. After our conversation, where I was so full of doubt, I was now full of hope. So I wanted to tidy up my thoughts from that conversation in a letter to myself. It’s probably time for me to reflect on that letter I wrote three years ago anyway.
Ideally this blog post would have gone up right on the last day of my junior year of college, but here it is just in time before my senior year of college. Like in high school, junior year was my toughest year so far. Now I know why people study abroad during their junior year of college! Do I wish I studied abroad during my junior year of college too? Yes. But it’s not the end of the world. It would have been too stressful coming back and having to cram all the required courses for my double major. Anyways, I think I’ve made up for it with all the traveling I did this summer!
– I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. –
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.
When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?