School Part 1 of 2

I just finished my degree this past December. I graduated from the University of Alberta’s Electrical Engineering Co-Operative five-year program with a half-victory lap. I know some people have an enormous appetite for school, but I was getting restless. By some people, I mean those doctor-types who school for 12 years before seeing the light of a work day. With the graduation, however, it affords me a limited-time, sentimental nostalgia which I’m mostly going to concentrate here. I think when these big life-changing events take place, it’s important to just talk about it. I don’t have much of a point. I just wanna talk about it.

I have never felt this way ever.

I matriculated in September 2006 in the Faculty of Science at the U of A, ie. I was still trying to find myself. (Un)Luckily, I decided that summer to switch into Engineering, but I couldn’t just switch. I didn’t list Engineering as a second or third choice program, so I couldn’t transfer immediately; I had to resubmit a $75 application following first year in order to apply to the new program. Despite that little hiccup, I feel fortunate that I had the presence of mind to jump tracks. I think a lot of people imagine success in school to be a straightforward, certain, powerful thrust into whatever field they want to. My experience in finding the field I wanted to work in was a quiet, slow, thoughtful reflection. I spent a lot of nights staring at my ceiling fan, sitting up now and again to furrow my brow and cross my arms in conflicted contemplation. You see, I was the victim of the “Asian Doctor” syndrome. I studied harder for Biology in high school, even though Physic and Math came much more easily to me. As you already know about my life, I was a natural memorizer from my piano training, giving me the false impression that I could memorize things until the end of time. Graduating from high school gave me the now-familiar feeling of growing independence, leading me to the realization that the doctor dream was not my own. I liked to break things and understand how they worked. I was a natural reverse-engineer. I deconstructed our family car engine and put it back together within a week. Okay, that wasn’t true, but really, I did. Okay, maybe not, but yeah, I did.

This is me putting together the BMW M70 V12 engine with my bare hands.

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one jumping ship to the Engineering ship. I was in pretty good company, and I had a few good friends that were in pretty much every class with me. I had a set schedule studying everyday in the Students’ Union Building with a set study group. Life was pretty good.

Then the Christmas break of ’06 came ’round, and I built my first Cmoy. Electrical Engineering, it was.

Skip forward one year. I got my marks back from my first semester in EE. Wow, studying for classes in Science was really different from succeeding in Engineering. I couldn’t just cram two days before the final anymore. I had to actually do the assignments because they actually told you what was on the exams. Mind you, I was never an excellent student. I always floated around average, but those two D’s really woke me up.

One thing I know about school and memories is that they can be marked by the music we listened to. Many people remember their summers by what annoying songs were (over)playing on the radio. I remember the summer of 2008 as Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Ugh. I remember studying in SUB with the tunes of Hillsong United’s Introduction to the album “United We Stand” playing probably over 100 times in the semester. This past term was saturated with Yeezy from The College Dropout to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. As the new semester is starting for many of you (chumps), take note of what you’re listening to. When you’re feeling nostalgic, whip out an old record and give it a whirl. Music is an excellent way of marking memories, so take careful note of what you were listening to at important, and even unimportant, stages of your life. You never know what you’ll be reminded of. My hope is that a good set of headphones will take you there.

I hope listening to The College Dropout doesn’t jinx me.

Tune in next week to learn about my experience in EE at the U of A. I know this was a bit of a short post, but again, I’ve been busy moving my life down to Calgary. Changing phone numbers, buying furniture, making it happen, getting it done(, son). January will be a pretty volatile time for me. I’ll be in a different city every week, so expect some consistency in February.

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