To Europe (Again)
Ever since I’ve returned from Zaragoza, Spain with School Year Abroad almost a decade ago, I’ve wanted to go back – not necessarily to Spain, but just somewhere European. My experiences there had a huge impact on my sixteen-year-old self, impacts that I am deeply grateful for today. The language skills, maturity, and worldly understanding and appreciation that I came away with have been invaluable intellectual assets as I’ve navigated the famously treacherous path of adulthood.
Within the last year, I’ve been feeling restless. I live one of the most privileged lifestyles a twentysomething could live nowadays – as a tech worker in Silicon Valley: big pay, nice apartment in the SOMA district of San Francisco, inspiring coworkers, wonderful friends, and lots of party time. I have my qualms with the Valley, but mostly I’ve developed this lingering sense of being unfulfilled, a sense that I am missing out on some external "thing". Maybe I’m just bored with my quotidian routine. In any event, I’ve found myself craving something novel and formidable.\
Concurrent with my want for adventure has been a developing taste for more mathematical aspects of computer science. It seems that many of the exciting and profound developments in technology are rooted in computational mathematics: self-driving cars, natural language processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and brain-computer interfaces for example. Elon Musk recently urged entrepreneurs to consider areas outside of the Internet because there are many other industries that could use that innovative spirit. His advice really struck me; there are SO many things outside of the Internet which have a huge impact on our lives, the aforementioned being some of the most exciting for me. The Internet is greatly important and impactful and I’m grateful to have been a part of a company contributing to that (LinkedIn). But now, I’ve realized there is a whole different landscape of exciting problems to conquer and I want to be a part of THAT.
So, finally, what have I done about all this? I applied and was admitted to the European Master’s Program in Computational Logic, which incorporates travel through Europe and computational mathematics. It’s perfect…theoretically. The first semester is spent in Dresden, Germany, the second in Bolzano, Italy, and the third year at either of the aforementioned or Vienna, Austria, or Lisbon Portugal. During the intervening Summer, the program encourages students to do research at NICTA in Australia. The program starts on October 4th, well, at least that’s when the orientation occurs and when I’m planning to be there. I’m leaving my job on August 30th (two weeks!!!) to begin my journey towards Europe.
I can’t believe that I’ve made it to this point.
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