I’ve moved quite a few times in my life. At 18, I moved from Toronto to Beijing, without knowing anybody there or the language. When I moved back to Toronto, it felt like everybody stayed the same; I was the one who changed.
In Beijing I was forced to make friends. The timezone and the physical distance did not permit keeping up relationships people back in Toronto. That’s also why I started this blog; a schedule independant way to keep people in the loop.
After undergrad, I moved to Waterloo to do a masters’ degree. I was coming back to Toronto every other weekend, so it didn’t really feel like I left. However, I notice small changes to the city when I walk downtown, or drive along the highway. The changes are gradual, but I’m away long enough that I notice each one. Only through prolonged absence, can you truly feel change.
The lesson I learned from Waterloo is: if you don’t make time for friends, you won’t have any. My first year and a half was hectic; I spent 9AM-9PM in the office on the weekdays, so I would have time to maintain a relationship in Toronto. In retrospect, it wasn’t that different from the workload in undergrad. However, grad level courses require a lot more thinking; to really learn the material you must immerse yourself in it. You need to think about it all the time, and find your own help. This made ‘turning off’ on the weekends much more difficult. Working this way I didn’t make many friends. I also developed a back problem from sitting hunched over the computer all the time. I ended up neglecting my social and health needs.
The last 8 months I’ve really made an effort to get out more. I joined the UW/Laurier salsa club, and started going to the gym. I found an interest in robotics, and joined the UW First (Robotics) Alumni student group. I’ve made many more friends this way, and have been a much happier person.
Being the office can get boring if you don’t share some laughs every so often. You also never know when you could need a second eye to debug code, or borrow old tests.
The body is as important as the mind. Critical thinking stems from healthy body and happy heart. I love Latin ballroom dancing because it attracts people who just want to celebrate live. Unlike most club scenes, you can actually go there, dance, and not worry about talking to people or trying to look good. I’ve only missed one Thursday at the Flying Dog. It’s consistently been the of the highlight of my week.
I wish I had started robotics earlier in my life. It combines the competitive spirt and passon for technology into a practical, marketable skill. Not to mention it’s fun as hell. I’ve never seen lego been used like this before!