Pi Day Reflection

It’s Pi Day again, which reminds me of the MIT decision date (I always loved enjoying their decision trailer because it’s incredibly entertaining. One thing I couldn’t help thinking of, however, was what would happen if I were to choose MIT on April 30 three years ago? I still remember the Pi Day when I logged into decisions.mit.edu, thrilled at the sentence “it’s our pleasure to offer you…”, yet an awkward ambivalence arose when I sensed that I wasn’t likely to commit to MIT (and no, I didn’t choose MIT, obviously).

This thought led me to the whirlwind of memory lane between December 2015 and August 2016: arguably one of the best moments I have in life. Just fresh from completing my A-Levels exam, I was on full course to complete my university application processes: the Regular decision of US colleges, and several others in Hong Kong and Canada. I was first threw a surprise admission offer by Princeton, then by Cambridge and MIT itself (on the Pi Day!), along with some full scholarship offer at other colleges. It feels like hard work from the IMO, A-Levels and SAT preparation that together took me years to prepare finally paid off, and the power is with me to make a choice.

Thereafter, gone were the days of idling (beyond teaching math Olympiad and picking up programming), and I were set to attend Waterloo. The romanization of life in another continent, and the warm Residence Welcome video stole my hype for this Canadian university. Only after settling down here did I realize the stress piling up when exams and interviews started, and the fantasy started transformed into anxiety. Perhaps this made me think of the same question again: how would I be if I were to be placed in MIT (or similar)?

It’s been three years, and however stressful life at Waterloo could be, I am grateful that the rigorous curriculum in math and computer science, and also the internship program made me a person that I want to be (though, there’s still a long way to go). And all these are attributable to the people around me — being in an environment where people around you are working on improving they appearance on resume definitely motivated me to work hard on that. On a not-so-serious remark, choosing a school in Canada also enabled me to blend into the life of the Canadians, ranging from embracing the Canadian hobbies (like skating and skiing) to simply exploring the cities and neighbourhoods around me. Perhaps, the only thing I would long for is the balance between a tech-focused environment and a multi-disciplined interests like humanities and physical sciences: something I did in the A-Levels and worked hard on (Physics and Economics). And this is something I envision to be something the Ivies look seriously on.

“Stay well and thrive”, a note to self as I continue along the Waterloo journey (which was also something I wrote three years ago).

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