I admit it now, graduate school is not a picnic; I have been in a vicious circle for the past few weeks, racing to get assignment “A” done, barely submit on time, to get engaged in assignment “B” due three more days.
For the first time in my life, I switched off my Autopilot, and had to pay attention to every moment. Otherwise, I will not survive. Two months ago I had daydreams of excelling in my study, getting full marks, working part-time, going out, and no sweat! What I have experienced so far is away from the “No Sweat Zone”, everyone is expected to sweat, to run out of breath and to frequently run into emotional stress (I found out recently that it is normal to consult professional psychiatrists with my problems). The good news is that everyone suffers with me, that means I am not stupid! A fellow graduate student once asked me about one of the assignments, and he held his tears, I had the same problems he described, we both complained about the time we spent working on this assignments and found out that we have spent in average 120 hours, trying to solve it! I had to extend my delivery date by one day, losing one out of five days allowed over the entire course! We even thought out loud about the possibility of withdrawing this course. The funny part, is that two more fellow graduate students joined our discussion and shared the same concerns.
While learning new scientific concepts, I have to review mathematics, programming languages, physics, writing style and way of life! But it’s fun. I did enjoy the 120 hours task more than simple ones solved in a couple of hours. I feel somehow stronger. As if I had workout for my brain.
I just finished writing a full fledged recursive parser to read some complex file structure in C++, now I have to do the real work and display whatever read from the file on screen as 3D graphics, with motion! Never thought one year back that I would reach that far with coding.
I want to clarify that after those harsh moments, I do not regret taking this path. I can claim it is the best thing ever happened to me. Yes, it comes at cost, but I am enjoying it. If technology ever allowed me to go back in time, I would take the same path again. Well, maybe I would spend more time learning about Eigen Vectors, C++ coding, Calculus, using LaTeX and general machine learning. But definitely I would still pursue education.
I guess time management is one of the qualities I have to master, in addition to stamina and nerves made of steel.