I’m torn between which remark to make about having been here over two months now. Sometimes it feels like a “wow, time flies, it seems like last week I moved in” moment, and others like an “only been two months, it feels like I’ve been here for ever” vibe. Either way both are good, right? Time flies when you’re having fun, and I’m already starting to think about Southampton as home, despite the taste of the water!
Freshers Week was the one week of 2011 I was most looking forward to, and fearing, the most. It was nothing like what I expected, in some ways better. ECS ran Jumpstart to welcome all the freshers, which is a great way of meeting people in the exact same situation as you and lets you get as far into it as you want to go, starting with going to talks about the course, coming up with a defense plan for the city when the Zombie Alarm goes off with your tutor group (may seriously come to regret this, but: http://youtu.be/_7gusWGGpLI), free pizza & (warm!) beer in the marquee and even an “educational demonstration” of the route between The Stags, The Hobbit and Sobar! The Halls JCR also put on loads of events like a welcome party & UV rave and there was even a Fresher’s Cèilidh – basically something for everyone. They’re great to help you meet people, and you do meet so many people – I must have asked or been asked the standard “what’s your name, what you studying, what halls you in, where you from” about 500 times over the first couple of weeks – totally cliched, but it’s the perfect ice-breaker and helps you meet so many people – just go and talk to them, they’re probably feeling the same as you! (I heard that so many times before I came here it just washed over me, but it’s so true).
Even after you’ve recovered from the first week there is still plenty going on – the Silicon Valley comes to the UK appathon is a perfect example – actual, real-life, touchable engineers from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, the Government and loads of start-ups coming to the Uni on a weekend to mentor us making apps – it’s a great way to meet people, learn some new skills and even suck up to network with potential employers – I knew I was getting too far into it when I got a photo with the partner engineer from Facebook!
I’m really enjoying the course so far – it’s so different from school and even college – it’s better, one of the lecturers even said he was banning us from rote-learning how to pass exams – win!
I had a gap year doing coding last year, so have been going along to the “Space Cadets” to get more into the “academic and algorithmic” ways of thinking, which is really interesting since it really makes you think about more interesting problems and how data structures and the like all work. It has been really good so far and lets you explore things you’d only ever see at Uni but can take the ideas and use them in useful things.
To anyone who hasn’t coded before though, I’d say don’t be put off. I only started at sixth-form, and was bad at it to the point where I considered giving up – but I knew I wanted to give it a try, and don’t regret it.
Imagine being born as a baby in the UK – you feel hungry/thirsty/cold/sitting in your own …./tired, but all you can do is cry. Eventually, you learn to associate feelings with words and can say “I’m hungry”, “change my nappy” etc – in English. Imagine you end up in China – you wouldn’t know the language, but all you’d have to do is learn the words – you already know how to think – you’d just learn the new word for “food” or “jumper” – it’s the same with coding, once you can think like a coder and know you need an if statement, or an array, or to open a socket, query a database, make an object to represent that – you find out how to do it in that language – so it’s a big learning curve, but once you get there you don’t look back – call me a nerd if you like, but I now love finding new and cool things to do with code :D.
Even outside coding there is so much to do (discrete maths doesn’t count!) – I’m doing Badminton, joined the DofE group, the Picnic Society!! They’re a great way of meeting new people like you – that’s what I’ve found. There’s, what, 25,000+ students here? Chances are you’ll get along with some of them – go and find them! It’s so much easier than you think!
Basically, this place is awesome, I’m loving it – the course & the life – can’t recommend it enough!