After four years in the making, I graduated from the University of Toronto, got my Honours B.Sc. in Computer Science & Math and celebrated the finale of my undergraduate life with my family and friends. Looking back at these four years I realized that it was definitely a process of growth, both professional and (especially) personal. What stimulated this growth was the decision I made early on when I started my studies at UofT: to do well in a demanding academic environment, and at the same time have fun and do exciting activites outside of the classroom. I wanted to explore as much of the world that was unknown to me as possible, without putting school to a second fate.
Along the way I tried things that I hadn’t tried before I went to university: from baseball to salsa dancing, from white water rafting to skating, from juggling to driving a car (I still find a lot of similarities between the two), from camping in serene nature to exploring big cities, from playing the guitar to programming robots.
I also met a lot of interesting people who opened up a sea of possiblities for me. The funny thing is that most of them didn’t realize the positive effect they had on me. Fortunately, I tend to notice details in their stories that are invisible to them.
Academically, I took a range of stimulating courses. I managed to become better in programming, and I even learned a new language: mathematics. It is amazing how many people speak it and how it connects those people. On the flip side, those who don’t speak it or have never tried to learn it tend to look at you as if you just escaped from an asylum — especially in parties 🙂 I remember once talking to a member of the Glendon Musical Ensemble (a very beautiful bilingual campus, part of York University, where most students study psychology, french, english and arts). After she introduced herself, she asked me what do I study. I swear that my answer horrified her and her eyes passed through a number of phases: first denial (it can’t be…there are actually people who study those things?), then silent contemplation (what kind of a person would study something like that?), then disgust (ewww). OK, fine, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you get the point: math usually makes it difficult to be immediately accepted by people who hate it, because they assume they can infer everything their is to know about your personality just by the fact that you’ve decided to study something they consider hard and hideous. That said, I am always amused by how quickly their impression changes as soon as they make the effort to get to know you a little better; all the stereotypes collapse.
So, thank you UofT for the last four amazing years! Hopefully our roads will cross again in the future. In the meantime, my next journey is going to begin in September at McGill University. I’m going to do my M.Sc. at the School of Computer Science, hopefully working at the Mobile Robotics Lab or the Reasoning and Learning Lab. I’m looking forward to the adventures I am going to have in Montreal.