Where Has The Time Gone?

As I dive deeper and deeper into my degree, I find that time is speeding up more and more.

It is crazy to think that just six months ago I was starting my first semester at NC State. After four grueling months of an intense workload, the Christmas holidays had come to rescue me. Finally, after two and a half years, I was able to go back home to South Africa where I was able to relax, spend time with old friends and, most importantly, reconnect with my family.

My trip started with a bang (taking multiple flights which summed up to 24 hours of flight time), I did some really cool stuff in between, and finished with a bang. After spending a week with my family and old friends, I was joined by some of my other friends from America. They arrived on Christmas day – a glorious day to feast. Having a reservation for some fine cuisine, I was excited to show them a good time and expose them to some of the South African delicacies. In true South African fashion, we arrived to find the restaurant was closed. Looking like a bunch of tourists on an empty street, we frantically called the next Uber out of there. With plan B in place, we had our pizza orders ready, and made the call to have it delivered. It was nine o’clock and they were closed. Many more minutes flew by before finally succumbing to getting KFC. We had to take yet another Uber to find that they were also closed, but then, out of the corner of our eyes we saw a beaming light from across the street. There it was, in all its glory, McDonald’s! Hopefully, that will never happen again. We made the most of our remaining time there by visiting Mozambique and Lesotho. We went on safaris and traveled around Cape Town on a tour bus. It was weird being a tourist in my own country, but it allowed me to see my home city from a different angle. Overall, it was an unforgettable trip that allowed me to relax and recharge before starting my next semester.

Four stressful, but very satisfying months had gone by in the blink of an eye. While I was unable to achieve all of my goals that I had set out for myself, I was content with what I had accomplished.

On the flight home I found myself reminiscing about my previous semester. Four stressful, but very satisfying months had gone by in the blink of an eye. While I was unable to achieve all of my goals that I had set out for myself, I was content with what I had accomplished. One of the biggest and most important goals that I had achieved was landing my first internship. Being twenty-six, married, and having spent many years in the service industry, I am extremely driven to obtain my degree and venture out into the real world. I think I took about twelve interviews before finally getting an offer. I’m not saying that I didn’t get any other offers, I’m just saying that once I was offered my dream job, I instantly accepted it. With three months left to go, I am thrilled to begin this internship as it encompasses everything I want out of a career. I will be taking on challenging tasks at a financial institution by developing innovative software and analyzing data. Needless to say, I won’t be getting much sun this summer.

With my internship around the corner, I am doing everything I can to prepare for it. Having taken all of my general courses at Wake Tech, I am left with my computer science and statistics classes at NC State. While I am enjoying all of my classes, it’s really hard to spend this much time on the computer and still be able to think straight. I often find that it’s impossible to pry myself away from the computer, but when I do, I am able to think more abstractly about a given assignment or project. I came to this realization after spending ten straight hours on one of my projects. I went to bed at around 5AM, and after spending some time waiting to fall asleep, I was able to figure out the problem. Was it worth spending that much time forcing myself to think of the solution or should I have taken a break in the first place? It is often a stressful decision to make given the assignment needs to be done ASAP. Fortunately, just when life seems as though the only thing I breathe is schoolwork, I am fortunate enough to have the Goodnight Scholars Program to provide events for me to attend. Not only do some of these events come with FREE FOOD, but I am also able to spend time with my fellow Goodnight cohort and learn a thing or two. This makes for a great study break, and forces me to step away from whatever coding challenge that demands my attention.

This semester I set out a goal to obtain an undergraduate research position, and I am happy to say that this is another goal I can humbly check off my list. I will be coding primarily in JavaScript, and will be applying this code to analyze the way people code. This research will ultimately go towards a larger research project with the aim of detecting fraudulent code. This is a great opportunity to apply what I have learned over the years and to better prepare me for a career in research. When I first started at Wake Tech, I wasn’t sure about a post-graduate degree. However, as I dive further into the computer science realm, and having a brief experience in the research field, I am definitely leaning more towards taking my studies further. That being said, I would like to gain a few years of experience to add to my belt and hope that when the time comes, that I will be able to go back to school and get my Masters, or possibly even PhD degree.

As I write this, I have reached another milestone: four years of being married. High five! Another anniversary that reminds me of the many life challenges I have overcome to be here today. I maintain an optimistic view on life, and having faced the difficult task of immigration, I embrace any change and challenge that is placed before me. Whenever life feels hard, I know that this feeling is relative to what I have experienced before. Four years ago, I would have told you that I had no clue what my life was going to be like today, and today I can confidently tell you where I expect to be in the next four years.

Photography credit: Richard Trevorrow/Goodnight Scholars Program