In Which I Take Care of Social Needs

October 15, 2014

My Sunday was largely composed of travel time, with a quick farewell in the morning to Jeannine and Rocky. I got a little lost on the way to the airport but soon enough made it and had just enough time to grab a quick drink and a few bananas from the United Business lounge before hopping on for a jaunt back to Philly. When I landed I was fairly exhausted and had some pressing work, so I unfortunately did not make the regular glee rehearsal. However, for what seemed like the first time at Penn, I went to bed at a reasonable hour.

The following week was right back to it, with intense work required to catch up on missing the past few days of class. Additionally, I had two exams to prepare for, one in Machine Learning and one in Algorithms. Thus, most of my week went by without major event other than many intense hours working and studying, often with the other PhD students.

Two notable points were my short breaks with Steph Li (of previous blog fame) and, Amy Miller. I hadn’t had the opportunity to catch up with Steph since returning to Penn as both of us had been neck deep in work and other commitments, however as with most of my close friends, it didn’t matter that there had a been a time delay, we were still as close as ever. Thursday I caught coffee with Amy Miller, a wonderful woman working for Wharton who had previously helped me remain at Penn for a second semester after I had run into troubles arranging it. We went to a relatively new coffee shop around campus ‘HubBub’, where I had a delicious iced-tea.

Other than that, much of my week was in preparation for Yom Kippur and the further holiday to come ahead.

In Which I Whine and Dine

September 9, 2014

The next few days were high on work and thankfully a little lower in outside commitments. I solved a few more problems for cryptography, got to work on some physics and managed a few last logistical things.

Wednesday night held the ‘whine and cheese’ reception for PGC, an event that since the introduction of strict liquor laws for those under 21 has been sorely lacking in wine, replaced with ‘whine’. With guest appearances from alumni and our honorary members, this event and subsequent rehearsal was most enjoyable, despite my harried appearance, racing back from the engineering buildings after some failed experimentation.

Thursday was kind of nightmarish with my discovery that the physics assignment with the printed due day of the next Thursday was in fact due that morning at 10:30AM. After a quick discussion with the professor it became clear that in the first class, which I had missed due to enrollment issues, he had informed the class of the error. I was granted an extension, however, I now had two sets of physics assignments due for a weeks time. Both of which would require many hours of work. At this point I considered dropping the course but decided after some thought that given my passion for it, it was not worth dropping it at the first sign of trouble.

The other significant event on Thursday was the Engineering Careers fair which I visited primarily for the purpose of visiting Connie Ho and Amalia Hawkins, two Penn Alums that were there recruiting and friends of mine from before.

Thursday night I stayed in to cram as much physics work down my throat as possible, meeting some success but not sufficient. It was going to be a long week.

In Which I Was Both Oriented and Disoriented

September 1, 2014

Today marked the first official day of proceedings for incoming graduate students. However before our 9.45AM start I had a few errands to run. One of which included the purchasing of a new phone. This was harder than it sounds given the outrageous prices that networks charge for service in the US. A standard bill will run upwards of $50/month for the same as I would pay $15/month for at home. I googled around and found a provider, Cricket (owned by AT&T) that seemed a little more reasonable and found a store within walking distance.

Not being super familiar with the area it was in, I printed out a copy of the map and set off with my phone and emergency roaming enabled. After around minutes of walking I soon realized the store was in perhaps a sub optimal location for me to be walking in alone. Dilapidated buildings on the side, people giving me strange looks, and streets in disrepair, north-west Philly was probably not the safest location. Furthermore a little later I found myself directionally challenged and ended up being escorted by a friendly guy down the street to where the tiny shop stood. After purchasing the phone, I high-tailed it out over to the Penn Museum where orientation was to begin.

Orientation itself was fairly predictable. The dean of the school of engineering was well spoken and gave an effective address to the new graduate students. The PhD students were seated alone on one side of the auditorium as we were to be excused early from the flood of un-informational speakers repeating orientation material that could be gleaned in a single glance of the universities website.

The department of Computer and Information Science’s orientation was a little better, much more down to earth and helpful. I sat next to Luke and Dagean, two students that I had already met and in front of Nadia, a professor with whom was to be working. After another hour we broke off for an early lunch and I had a chance to chat with both some old and new students. Amazingly enough I found someone who had met my close friend Rosa Zwier just a week prior in South Korea!

The afternoon sessions weren’t too exciting. More presentations about what student services were available and a sorry presentation by the engineering librarian, whose library had been closed over the summer break.

The orientation sessions closed with a PhD only happy hour over at the Tap House bar. I made a couple of new friends, in particular two girls in Electrical and Systems Engineering, Ling and Kelsey, who were very amiable and whom I would bump into many times over the next few days.

My day closed as expected with more glee commitments, this time a checking of our outfits that didn’t last too long and soon again, I was fast asleep in bed.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney