In Which My New Education Begins

Posted on 3rd September 2014

Note for some of you unfamiliar with my blog, I’m always late in writing things up, so this post refers to the events of 27/Aug.

Today was my first day of classes however the day didn’t start till 10:30, leaving me plenty of time for a sleep in. After waking up late, I headed to the library to pick up some books and subsequently to the distributed systems lab (where I had a desk) to lay down my belongings. My first lecture was CIS520: Machine Learning with Lyle Ungar which was so overfull that around fifteen people sat on the stairs for the duration of the lecture. The lecture itself was brilliant. Lyle was highly energetic, clear, concise and gave excellent examples and motivation for everything he did. I was really looking forward to future lectures. Following that was cryptography with Nadia. The course wasn’t quite as thrilling given that I’d seen the material before, however what was really exciting was the homework released at the end! Eleven ciphers all encoded using a ‘one-time-pad’ with the mistake of additionally using the same encryption key for all of the messages.

After a meeting with Nadia to discuss my first semester of research (breaking the Linux PRNG), I obtained a key to the first year PhD office from Charity Payne and sat down there to work on breaking the codes. The first year office was actually quite nice, with around twenty desks and plenty of natural light. There was a kitchenette, a whiteboard and a nice meeting area with some couches. My own desk had a terminal and some drawers and served quite nicely for my uses. I sat down to work on cracking the codes with an almost single minded focus, not making much progress for a while. When I glanced at the clock I found hours had passed! It was already time for me to run off to a final new graduate student event at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts.

I arrived there and caught up with a few of the other PhD students that I remembered, grabbed a snack and walked around the booths offering student services. The event was fairly fancy but I surmised that it would be the last pricey looking event that I’d be invited to as a graduate student for some time. After the speeches I met a girl from the Graduate School of Education by the name of Kimberly. She had bright red hair and an equally glowing smile. After a few minutes of conversation I found that her parents had educated her well, teaching her dungeons and dragons and initiating her into most of geek-culture from a young age. We got caught up talking for quite some time and when I looked at my phone to check the time I realized I was over forty minutes late for Glee Club call-time. I apologized and raced off, forgetting her name and missing her contact details.

That evening was the Glee Club ‘free show’, an introductory concert for freshman to advertise to them for the purposes of encouraging auditions. I unfortunately had to sit out on a few of the dance numbers giving my lack of experience with them. The show went fairly well and a few alumni I hadn’t seen in the past year made it out to see us, which was wonderful. The free show left me exhausted so after another full day, I went straight to sleep without anything in between.


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