On the way to San Francisco! Feeling nervous, yet excited :S

8 weeks just flew by. Wow. It just seemed like we arrived at Stanford yesterday. I remember us squeezing into the Super Shuttle with all our luggages, arriving at Stanford and getting checked in and finding out I had been assigned to a single room. Now, at the end of 8 weeks, we’re all saying our goodbyes to our friends and hall mates for the past 8 weeks. What Dean Whobrey said did come true though. He said that after 8 weeks, none of us would want to leave, but we have to leave anyways. It has been a magical summer. The sights I had been waking up to, I can’t forget. I see hills and the sun creeping up on them slowly. So just like that, on the 14th of August, the Branner lounge, where all of us had chilled in at some point in time or another, was filled with our luggages and farewells.

I remember when I first received the email to say that I had been offered a spot at the Stanford Summer International Honours Programme. I was in disbelief at first. Since I was checking the results from my friend’s phone, I thought I was looking at his email instead by accident. Yes, I did go “Uhh, I think you forgot to log out from your email account”. When I checked and saw that I was indeed in my email account, I was thinking that I would probably not go. My thoughts then were about the recent news of plane disasters, bombings, terrorism, etc. Plus, I had never been abroad before by myself and I had roles which would require reshuffling if I were to go abroad. I thought it would be best if I stay put and not go. My friends, on the other hand, were encouraging me to take it up. After all, such an opportunity was rare. I did take it up in the end, but up till the point when I was saying goodbye to my family members at Changi Airport, I still had my doubts. I was travelling with 15 other SUTD people whom I knew not. I was thinking then to myself, “It’s just 8 weeks. You can do it. Think about all the adventures you’re going to go on!”

Over the 8 weeks there, i have learnt much. I took two Computer Science modules, after consulting 4 professors back in SUTD, prior to choosing my modules. I was (and probably still am) deciding between EPD and ISTD. From past experience, I’m a lousy programmer (I had destroyed my friend’s code whilst trying to change some variables and she couldn’t get the code to work despite undoing all the changes I made) and I had stayed as far as I possibly could from coding, but 10.009 made me face what I proclaimed myself to be lousy in and I had actually enjoyed it so much that I did consider going into ISTD instead. I took this opportunity to not only improve my ability to code, but to see if I did really want to go into ISTD. What I did not expect was how much I would learn. From the Programming Abstractions course, I reacquainted myself with the horrifying C++ and learnt about recursion, algorithmic analysis, and data abstraction. From the Client Side Internet Technologies course, I learnt HTML and JavaScript. I went in blank, not knowing what to expect, and came out desiring to keep these skills and not let them fade overtime. On another note, the hostel stay in Freshmore year did prepare me for living by myself.

To maximise my time there, I had to strike a balance between my adventures and studies. After all, since I’m already there, I should make full use of my time there and do as much as I can, no? What I did was to set aside Saturdays and Sundays as adventure days, Mondays to Thursdays as study, homework and school days and Friday as a buffer day. I’ve managed to visit so many places without neglecting my studies too much. I’ve visited places like Half Moon Bay, Yosemite, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Alcatraz and Berkeley, just to name a few. There are so many places to visit but so little time! Sacrifices have to be made too, like waking up early just to go on a trip, some meals from the meal plan (hehe oops), etc. The earliest I had to wake up for a trip was 3.30am (the travel time to the pick up point for the tour was really long, like 3h-ish). It was hard, but so exciting. No regrets there (sans the headache I got in the end from lack of sleep). The trip to Yosemite was so worth it, though I wished I could have spent more time in the park at the end of the day. I would have loved to visit the Dish as well, located just outside Stanford’s campus, a few other national parks like Land’s End, but time was short and I had to prioritise.

I’ll end off with a few pictures of the places I visited.

We’ve reached! The weather here is sooo niceee!
The Oval at Stanford
Wandering around picturesque Stanford. It’s a really pretty place!
World famous Golden We spent the day exploring San Francisco. This is Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. It’s really windy and cold on the bridge. Do not attempt to cross in just t-shirt, shorts and slippers >< (Note: There was a Summer Session organised trip, but slots were limited. We did not manage to get a slot, so we organised a trip by ourselves.)
Venice Beach at Half Moon Bay. There are several beaches here, apart from Venice Beach, but I felt Venice Beach was the prettiest, being slightly secluded with one side facing the sea, and another side facing a moor and a forest (or something like that).
4th of July Fireworks at Foster City! The place was so crowded. It was a little scary given the bomb threat scare. The fireworks display was spectacular though! (Note: This trip was co-organised by Branner Hall and another hall.)
The displays at the Computer History Museum are pretty cool if you’re interested. They have quite a good collection, detailing the development of computer related stuff over the years. (Note: This was a Summer Session organised trip)
Android Marshmallow at Android Garden, Google HQ, Mountain View, California (Note: This was a Summer Session organised trip)
At Apple HQ! Nothing much to see here, but still cool (Note: This was a Summer Session organised trip)
Sather Tower at UC Berkeley (Thanks for bringing me around guys!)
Smores straight from the fire at Lake Lagunita. Yummm (Note: This was organised by a few halls I think)
Alcatraz Island. This trip had a lot of sign ups. Tickets here are sold out way in advanced, so really thankful I managed to get a slot. It’s highly informative about the history of Alcatraz, and its ecological status now. (Note: This is a Summer Session organised trip. You really want to go for this one.)
At the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It’s a small amusement park next to the beach that has a good collection of video games, both past and present. (Note: This was a Summer Session organised trip)
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium with the sea creatures. Blub! (Note: This is a Summer Session organised trip)
Inspiration Point at Yosemite! So excited to be here, though it’s really quite crowded with tourists. (Note: This was a self-organised trip)
Yosemite! It’s very mountainous, so unless you’re pretty confident of your driving skills, try finding an alternative way to get here because some roads have no rails to keep you from driving off the edge. Yikes!
Celebrating Singapore’s National Day on 6th August at Burlingame, California. Nice to see so many Singaporeans after so long, but the Singaporean-ish food served sure can’t beat local food! (Note: This event was organised by MFA I think)

I’m so missing this already

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