Green, red, and white

Green. September. The interchanging between summer and fall. Sun scorched the lush green plants, the grass field and us students during the orientation week. The grilling 27C and vigorous running immersed my shirt in the horrendous sweat and drained me into lethargy.

Orientation week!
Orientation week!

Orientation week provided us the great platform to extend our friend circles by virtue of “hi, nice to meet you” and joining them for crazy physical activities inside the Waterloo park under the scorching sun. The first month of university also saw me exploring all interests, passion and aptitude: having fun in the ACM selection (both the North American Qualifier and the Waterloo local contest) and Hackerrank coding contests. Complementing my adventure and explorations were the finding the inter-building connection via bridges and tunnels, searching for fit in the clubs and societies day, and pampering my taste buds with awesome Chinese food.

Never mind that the contest attempts weren’t successful, or that the act of exploration took me time and energy. I felt myself having the vitality to go around for my interest and examine my passion, unfettered by failures: just like the grass and the trees during the green days.

Red, October-Mid November. How great it would be to stay under the tree, surrounded by red and yellow fallen leaves. How breathtaking it was to stay outdoors, enjoy myself in the soothing breeze at 15C, and look at maple trees decorated by red and yellow leaves: the national symbol of Canada.

Leaves turning red
Leaves turning red
Frost covering the grass
Frost covering the grass

Midterms. Assignments. Presentations. All those came concurrently like the successive punches on the arm wrestling stage. As we wanted to relax ourselves during the 5-day Thanksgiving break, all undone tasks and revisions dissuaded us to do so; the mind-bending nature of CS 145 assignments successfully averted me from my eager in Codeforces or Hackerrank coding leisure, and made me another frequent visitor of CS tutorial centre.

Just like how the leaves returned to the soil after having its well-spent adventure of gathering sunlight, I gradually returned (or rather, restricted) my attention to my schoolwork. (Luckily Jay Ching and I still had the luxury to visit Toronto as a post midterm getaway.)

U of T residence
U of T residence

White, mid-November to present. Words could never describe my ecstasy upon seeing snow for the first time on November 19, but soon the cold drove me to the fear of going out from my cozy warm little room. Till now, the prospects of being able to see a snowman, to look at the picturesque snowfield, and to learn that sky darkens at 5pm are still surreal for me–after staying in a tropical country for 20 years.

Snowman anyone?

Stay in. Don’t go out. That’s the advice during winter. Figuratively, there’s another reason to do so: the final exam was near and that was 50% of our grades.

December 3 marked the end of my period where I could stay away from books: I took part in the Putnam contest; after the day I decided I couldn’t be productive and went for an acapella concert. Thereafter, reviews, reviews, reviews. I looked through the calculus identities, had my hands dirty on the algebra problems, and some challenging mechanics questions. But the rest of my time devoted to lambda calculus, regular languages, models of computations, and experiments on DrRacket: in attempt to remedy the wreckage from CS midterms that led me to self-questioning of whether I fit into CS 145 (or rather a more practical question: CS 146 of CS 136?)

Soon, four papers were completed: December 17 marked the end of our struggles in polishing our transcript with great scores. Anxiety on grades aside, the O(mg)=O(W) squad decided to have a getaway in Kitchener for celebration of both the end of exam and Jay Ching’s birthday.

It snowed throughout the week following that Saturday. But now it symbolized jovial following the end of tortures (like movies featuring Christmas scene) instead of the need of staying inside your cozy dorm.

Now, time for academic respite before the university reopens in January! šŸ˜€

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