Hyperparticle Recursion is Recursive

Erasmus Mundus Retrospective:
Closing Thoughts

LCT 2018

  1. Introduction
  2. Living in Prague
  3. Coursework in Computational Linguistics
  4. Extracurricular Projects
  5. Exploring Europe
  6. Closing Thoughts « You are here

Upon discovering my status as a graduate student in Europe, my friends and family were puzzled as to why I chose to study there. Given my personality and past choices, I can see why. I would think the same thing prior to my final decision to go. I’m a shy introvert who is cautious about trying new things. Living in Europe for two years would be little short of launching myself into outer space… or so I thought.

Weighing the Options

Nancy Light Show

For my undergraduate studies, I decided to go with Boise State so I could stay home just a little bit longer. In retrospect, it was a good decision: expenses were low, the computer science program had some excellent classes, and I spent quality time with family. During that time, I acquired a taste for the industry in a year-long internship as a software engineer at Sensus. This made me shift priorities a bit, convincing myself that graduate studies were unnecessary. But after working in natural language processing in my senior year, I desired to push for a degree in an AI-related field. I had wanted to work in an AI job all along, but did not know how to approach it in the right way until that moment.

That is when I decided to reevaluate my options. The LCT program looked interesting, but was it for me? Given strong academic performance, there were plenty of universities in the USA I could try. Most of them would be a short plane ride away. Europe feels like it’s on the other side of the solar system. It takes two whole days to complete a trip. I no longer get quick access to friends or family. I would be alone in a foreign land studying in an unfamiliar education system.

On the other hand, at no other point in my life would I get to do something quite like this. I would get to explore the refreshing atmosphere of European cities, absorb the culture of the countries of residence, enjoy the food, sights, and activities Europe has to offer, progress my career in a field I am deeply interested in, learn to be more independent, and then at the end of a couple years obtain two Master’s degrees. And the kicker? It’s all paid for, something that’s difficult to obtain with a Master’s in the USA. Getting married/having kids would limit mobility severely, likely closing that opportunity for good. Getting a Master’s or PhD degree elsewhere would disincentivize me, as it would be effectively redundant to get another in Europe. If I get situated with a good industry job, I would then be taking a pay cut.


Karlovy Vary Columns

A program in Europe is not for the faint of heart the first time around. Be prepared for tough real-life challenges, some of which were harder than any programming or math problem I have ever been given. It requires a heap of grit and patience. In the end, was it worth it? Certainly. It has been such a challenge, but I’ve lived all my life pursuing challenges. I have learned so much about being independent in a foreign country, and I am having heaps of fun doing it.

I think often what other paths I could have taken, and other decisions I could have executed. In the end, there was no right or wrong answer. I don’t know if I made the best choice, and neither do I care. It was an excellent one nonetheless. I would rather have made a choice than not made a choice at all, as illustrated by the following famous passage in The Bell Jar:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

—Sylvia Plath

How time flies: the future is as lofty and distant as a kite, yet as quick as a bullet. If you made it this far, congrats! Don’t idle… Now is the time to go out there and be the best version of yourself that you aspire to be!

Dan's Portrait