C for Cal: collegiate commentary from a recent Cal grad

Balloons in South Hall
Balloons in South Hall

It’s weird not being a student anymore. I’ve been attending one commencement reception or ceremony a day, trying to hold on to the nostalgia of being an undergrad.

Many people have asked how I feel about graduation, and I’ve managed to summarize most of my feelings in this farewell graduation column for the Daily Californian. While it’s ultimately a triumphant story, the 900-word limit forced me to condense my thoughts.

Here are some aspects of life at Cal that I want to explore further:

Read More »


My chosen wall calendar 2016: Wicked

Photo from broadway.com

Every year, I carefully choose a new wall calendar that represents who I am or who I want to be. Here’s how I made my choice for 2016:

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz was the first Broadway musical that I remember watching live, and even sitting in a seat with an obstructed view did nothing to dampen the thrill of the show. I got goosebumps every time Elphaba’s voice soared high, or whenever the whole cast sang together. I bought the overpriced soundtrack CD, memorized all the lyrics, and delighted in spotting all the clever wordplay. Later, I found the soundtrack score and played the songs on the piano. I was obsessed.

That was six years, a lifetime, ago. In the meantime, I’d forgotten about my passion for Wicked. The last time I remember singing “The Wizard and I” was freshman year in the dorm shower stall.

So when I saw the Wicked 2016 calendar sitting on the shelf at the Valley Fair Mall, I felt like I had neglected a long lost friend. It was guilt that prompted me to buy the calendar, even though it wasn’t the prettiest I’d ever seen.
Read More »

My 2015 in under 150 words

A great writing prompt I found on Medium says, “In one hundred and fifty words or less, describe one of the happiest days of your life.” Instead, I will use these 150 words to describe how my 2015 went:

Opportunities appeared, while others faded. This year, I enjoyed my favorite college classes and struggled through my least favorite. My newly declared career path demanded focus, so others fell away as mere passing fancies. I neglected music in order to hop on the computer science bandwagon. I found and lost a relationship. I climbed my way to a leadership position at The Daily Californian but relinquished other extracurricular activities. Ireland became a new home, but I lost any illusions I had about the perfection of Europe. Despite my desire to explore every corner of the world, I discovered limits to my time and energy. But those limits also helped me gain focus, and now my world is sharper than ever.

Summary of winter break/Star Wars mania:
My brother and I raced to find a product with Star Wars packaging in the Target groceries section. He won by finding Darth Vader (and friends) Mac & Cheese.

Few regrets.

How was your 2015?

A workaholic’s struggle with Christmas

Tonight is Christmas Eve, and I’m desperately trying to squeeze this blog post out onto the Internet. Vacation? What vacation?
I never thought I was a workaholic. I usually watch other people and think, “Wow, they work so much harder than I do!” But tonight is evidence that I am overly obsessed with productivity.
This week, the first week of freedom after my final exams, I felt guilty every time I hung out with my friends or watched Netflix. I also watched Star Wars, went on a family trip, and completed a home-improvement project. I am spending holiday break like I should be. Why do I feel so guilty?
I made a list of a billion projects to complete over break, but never thought to actually enjoy my break. I have trouble focusing on the present moment. When I try to meditate, a string of thoughts rudely run through my head to plan out the next minute, the next hour, the next week. I’m terrible at meditating because I’m terrible at relaxing.
So the next item on my to-do list: learn how to take a break.
Merry Christmas!

Why I’m considering a career in technical writing

Now that I’m a college senior, I’ve been answering more and more questions about my post-graduation career plans. Thankfully, I’ve found a solid answer. But when I tell people I want to be a “technical writer,” I get lots of different reactions, from “that sounds boring,” to “what is that?” to “Hey, that’s an actual job!” So to explain the reasoning behind my choice more clearly, I compiled a list of reasons I believe my skills and interests are relevant to the role of the technical writer.

Before I begin, I must add that there’s so much more I need to learn about the technical communications field. I’m also keeping an open mind about my career options (marketing is also a good choice). But it’s nice to leave college with a fully articulated goal. So here goes:Read More »

My coding journey thus far

console.logbunnyI figure the completion of my final assignment this semester for Computer Science 61A (the introductory computer science course at UC Berkeley) is a reasonable checkpoint for me to reflect on my involvement in programming. For our last class project, the last few lines of directions read “Assuming your tests are good and you’ve passed them all, consider yourself a proper computer scientist!” Sadly, I failed all the tests for the extra-credit question. Even if I had aced every problem, I don’t believe that adding tiny bits of code here and there to the massive skeleton provided by the course instructors necessarily qualifies me as a “proper computer scientist.” Heading into the future, I want to cling to Professor DeNero’s hand, crying “Don’t leave me!”

Read More »

What we should really learn in college

question-globeWhen I took AP English in high school, our teacher would begin every class by asking, “Any questions about the reading from last night?” At first, no one would raise their hands, and he would punish us for our silence with pop quizzes on minute details of the plot. Eventually we discovered that if we asked more thoughtful questions, he would reward us with informative answers, long enough to take up more class time and stall pop quizzes. Despite the stressful nature of the class, I realized that our teacher was training us in the art of asking intelligent questions, which became one of the most important skills I ever had to use in college.

Read More »

How I became an “outgoing introvert”

“Introverting-” a great picture I found in Budapest.

For years, I exhibited all the signs of a textbook introvert. I refused to approach authority figures on my own or answer the phone at home when it rudely interrupted my thoughts. I brought books to parties and dinners, even when my mother pointed out that I was being antisocial. She felt sorry for me whenever I trailed behind other people or kept to myself in the corner of a crowded room. Not only was I introverted, but I was also painfully shy.

I’ve read more articles than I can count that nobly attempt to dispel myths that introverts are “shy,” “don’t like to talk,” or “always want to be alone.” Many more articles attempt to guide the poor misunderstood introvert through a society that favors extraversion. Among the general population, introversion is often associated with crippling shyness, lack of social skills, and solitude. The introvert is the proverbial turtle, ready to retreat into his shell without a moment’s notice. Thus, many teachers make the special effort to pull introverted students “out of their shells.” Amusing animal metaphors aside, people often forget that each individual is a human being with a wide spectrum of personality traits, skills, and dispositions, as well as a capacity for change beyond his identification of “extravert” or “introvert.”

Read More »