here we go!

We’re beyond the end of my sophomore year at UCI. What’s ahead? Our roaring twenties! More goodbyes. And a little more time to ponder about the future.

My words from last year still stand.

Academically, my goodness. The quarter system is rough, trying to be a Software Engineer is tough… But if it wasn’t a challenge, I don’t think I would’ve been down to try.

Spring quarter already feels so far away, and so does winter, and so does fall- actually, I may just be trying to block out a quarter of Linear Algebra (the row did not reduce me), and the reappearance and resurgence of matrices, binary trees and finite state machines throughout different classes.

An image of a Finite State Machine from a Software Testing lecture.

Without a doubt, overlap is expected; but the intricacies are indeed interesting. In contrast, also hilarious when you’re able to turn anything into a time-complexity or search algorithm problem.

Do I sort my laundry in O(N) or could I place them in heaps to optimize my sort-time?

cavatappi pasta, cinnamon rolls, and more anteaters

This academic year, I was only as strong as the support I had to endure another three quarters, and thankfully my support system grew. Though a residual feeling from high-school is feeling as if I don’t do enough, I think on paper, it is. I surpassed 25 tours as a tour guide. Another hackathon in the books, my very first culture night, and even ICS Week!

Each event, each giving me a reason to keep going, even as the quarter grew rough.

A photo of the group known as ‘cavatappi’.

My love for those I’ve surrounded myself with is unbounded with an immense amount of appreciation. Assimilating with a group of friends I can rely on, referred to as cavatappi (pictured above, we love pasta and our jobs), who I can truly live college through with, and make spam musubi with at 11am is one of a kind

…on top of buying all the musubi I do from the PUSO club on Ring Road ;)

Connecting within my cultural community, with wonderful ates and k-sibs who truly looked out for me, even as I coughed my lungs at home out during fam-reveal. I’ve had no dull moments with them, and as my ates move on to the real world, I only wish them the best.

And the same can be said to my graduating seniors from the Campus Representatives programs. True mentors who’ve shaped the way I share my love of UCI to others.

As I said in Slack:

I have an immense amount of love for the seniors graduating this year, carried over by the immense amount of love for the seniors of our past. Forever shaping the program into a community of love, friendly competition, with the devotion to always lookout for others (and behind you when walking backwards).

There are so many more, and between my “past” and present, also not forgetting about the many other crossover episodes of the year. Friends from last year, and friends from high school who reemerged this academic year.

To me, there’s something warm and fuzzy about sharing the same experiences of fun I’ve had here. The late night runs to Seaside, and the opportunity to present my hackathon team’s work. Along with creating new memories, bonding on more levels, and continuing to feel more at home with my friends here in Irvine.

the unwashed dishes, the un-renewed lease

John Daniel sitting down at his desk.

Moving away from the on-campus dorms felt sudden, but getting a lease at Plaza Verde was the best thing I could ask for. Not getting that lease renewed… that’s a story for a different day.

Living with three other people, still enjoyable. Hopefully, we get to do that house-outing at some point, we have two months to go! I knew I could be a better house-mate, but I still think I was better than most. It didn’t have to come to shoes piling up at the front door, but I digress.

Our home had many moments, many I forgot to simply attach a Polaroid to the back of our door. From a cupcake night, to a few hangouts and kitchen-study sessions. Nothing will beat coming home to the smell of chicken, or the late night talks around the living room and kitchen. And for my rooomate within the bedroom, the best one I could’ve ever asked for as well!

There were many times I ran to the bus, many times I endured the crosswalks to get to Campus Plaza. And many, many attempts to cook for myself, until I succumbed to Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Dominos. Look, I have a feeling that I will remain be a mess wherever I go. But, as I fuly enter my commuter-era, I do know that home still isn’t defined by a building, simply the feelings.

two more years to go

Part of this year had real challenges, and failure of sorts: the aformentioned cooking era, my inability to cuckoo-hash. Those setbacks do not define me though, and they’re experiences that shouldn’t hinder me from perpetually remaining in a state of discovery, a state to learn, and to inspire.

The scariest feeling so far is the representation that somehow, I’m almost an adult; I’m close to exiting adolescence. Although I sometimes feel like I’m still stuck in junior year of high school, at the beginning of lockdown, life continues to take me places I’ve never been before (and so has the car I drive now, lol). Heck, I’ve already voted in two elections.

This academic year taught me much. The importance of watering the flowers, as I continue to plant more in this garden. That is, continuing to look out for others, myself; and most importantly, keeping in touch with those I value a lot. Along with new people, more insight to myself through a dimension of self-awareness unlocked by reaching out for help.

Here’s to the first half of college. On to the second half we go!