Recap: First Month at Brown University

Vocabulary of the day/week/month: gustatory

gustatory according to Google
gustatory according to Google

Why gustatory?

This morning, Prof Doeppner—my CS Systems professor and the Vice Chair of the CS department—sent out an email to the whole CS department. The email was titled “No Cafe CIT” and the message was basically, “Don’t eat food that is served at the CS events if you are not attending the events.” I found this rather funny, not because of the message, but rather because of the choice of words that Prof Doeppner used. Several phrases used include, “local purveyors,” “culinary creations,” and “gustatory pursuits.” I honestly did not know what gustatory meant, so I had to look it up on the internet. I also found a rather interesting definition on Urban Dictionary .

gustatory, according to UrbanDictionary
gustatory, according to UrbanDictionary

Anyway, back to the point. I’ve officially been a Brunonian for a month now! Hip hip hooray! I guess the best way to describe my first month would be: fascinating.

Brown University truly is a wonderful place; I’ve met all kinds of people from countries all around the world and from different walks of life, and it seems like everyone has their own interesting story. The Computer Science (CS) department is just amazing, and it’s definitely better than I thought. A lot of the CS peeps get recruited to top companies like Google and Microsoft, and my friend even said, “Pixar loooooves Brown!” If you don’t get what I’m talking about: if you’re a normal human being, then you’ve probably watched this film called Toy Story. Apparently, the ‘Andy’ from the movie is named after the famous CS Professor Andries van Dam! Isn’t that just cool?

There are also so many events happening each week. Every morning (at exactly 1am) I get these emails called the ‘Brown Morning Mail’ and it’s sort of like this online Brown ad, so you have a list of all the events coming up, and occasionally the “Apply to be a [insert job position] for [insert company or club name]!” ads. There are also numerous clubs on campus, and really interesting ones at that! I actually landed a position as a photographer for Liber Brunensis, which is the Brown University Yearbook, and I also submit photos weekly to the Brown Daily Herald. I am also a member of BRIO (Brown International Organization), BMSA (Brown Muslim Student Association) and the Global Brigades. Oh, in fact, I am going on a service learning slash volunteering trip with Global Brigades to Honduras this winter, which I am definitely looking forward to! If you’re feeling nice and have some money to spare, maybe consider clicking the donate button? As a college kid with not too much money to spare,I would greatly appreciate that. Just sayin’.

Classes have been interesting and it has involved a lot of hard work. I am taking four courses this semester:

  1. CSCI0330 : Introduction to Computer Systems taught by Prof Thomas Doeppner. This class is sort of like a ‘requirement’ for all CS undergrads. As the title suggests, I learn about the architecture and organization of computer systems, compilers, assembly and C language programming, and that kind of thing. So far, it’s been a really interesting class, and I’m definitely learning a lot. It is, definitely a class that requires a ton of time, dedication and effort. The professor is great though, and he delightfully answers questions posed in class.
  2. CSCI0530: The Matrix in Computer Science taught by Professor Philip Klein. As you might already know, Linear Algebra is a very important subject in Computer Science, but instead of taking a Linear Algebra class under the Math department, I’m taking one under the CS department. It basically teaches the concepts in Linear Algebra (vectors, matrices, linear combinations, etc.) and its applications in Computer Science, with Python as a means to delivering the concepts. Long story short, I love this class. The professor is also great, he’s really approachable and I can really see that he wants his students to succeed.
  3. CSCI1450: Introduction to Probability and Computing taught by  Professor Eli Upfal. I learn about probabilistic methods and statistical reasoning, as well as their application in CS. If I have to be completely honest, this class has to be the most boring class I’m taking this semester (I’m sorry Professor Upfal…). Prior to taking this class, I didn’t even know you could take a whole class on probabilities! It’s a pretty important part of CS though, so one way or another, I just have to go through this.
  4. PHYS0270: Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics taught by Professor Gregory Tucker. It’s a survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and well, we learn about the universe. I have always wanted to take an Astronomy class back when I was at GRCC, but I’ve unfortunately never had the time to do so, but now I do! So far, it’s been such an interesting class!

If I had to choose, I would probably say that I’m always looking forward to my Linear Algebra class the most, just because the professor’s so engaging and cool. However, I feel that the concepts being taught in my Systems class have been the most useful and interesting so far, just because…well, who doesn’t like coding in assembly language? 😉

"Who doesn't like coding in assembly language?"
“Who doesn’t like coding in assembly language?”

But in all seriousness, I really am having a ton of fun in my Systems class. As for Astronomy, as I said, I’m learning such cool things, and as for Probability class… well… let’s just say I’m not having the best of times in that class. But I’m working hard!

All in all, Brown’s been great so far. I am slowly adjusting to university life, and I think I’m getting closer to being comfortable with calling it my ‘home’. Once in a while,I reminisce about life at GRCC, but then I realize all the wonderful opportunities at Brown and I get really excited and motivated to do well.

So, I think that’s all I have for now. Thank you for reading and I hope this post has been worth your time. With that, I would like to end this post with this wonderful autumn-y scene at Brown University.

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