“CMU is home.” These words do not sink in as effortlessly as one might expect, even for a day-dreamer like myself. If I could describe myself in just two words, I'd say “starry-eyed.” I felt like I had reached the stars when I was accepted into Carnegie Mellon University.
Having completed one whole semester, I am still in awe of the place and its people. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, Snow White until midnight, and the Pevensie siblings in Narnia, like a giant larger than life painting on the wall that never ceases to show the most beautiful things one can yearn for through hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, honesty. This is a place that has shown me how wrong I was, how awfully distorted my perceptions of learning were, and for that I will always be grateful to the people I have met. I have truly learned to look beyond mistakes, that there is so much more to life than grades, and perfection is not a part of the “recipe” to success, but the latter is entirely dependent on the former. I put the word recipe in double quotes because I have come to realise being off the wall is actually a cool thing and it is in being independent that you realise how much you can do for yourself — it's your life! Nobody defines the rules, nobody, in the words of an American, gives a heck to what you do. I think this is when you start to realise your dreams can actually shape your perceptions and broaden your outlook — that's really when you start living.
CMU is a place that makes you do just that. Despite the fact that the culture emphasises creative freedom, I will never be able to get over my admiration and awe for the people here. This, folks, is awesomeness! No matter who you are, be it a world-renowned researcher, or the former vice-president of a multi-billion dollar company, or post doc from an Ivy League school, it just doesn't matter! The simple fact is you are a professor who teaches students and none of all that is cast in the movie. It's just the lessons, the students and how you can make them understand the subjects, end of story.
When it comes right down to it, teaching is an art. I have never seen it being practised with so much elegance and proficiency. I have always marvelled at my professors, and they never fail to amaze me each day, each class. When you are in CMU, you never look for inspiration, it just finds you right there in your classroom. That, ladies and gentlemen, is art.
When you learn from people like the men and women who walk the hallowed halls of CMU, you realise learning can after all be fun. When one of my professors was teaching Game Theory, the first slide of the lesson was a picture from a popular Hollywood movie. He explained that one of the scenes in the movie was an example of bad screenwriting because the economist played by the leading man would never have uttered that dialogue; it made no sense and was counterintuitive to Game Theory.
When a student suggested he play the scene, the professor did exactly that. I could understand the concept even before he began teaching! My professors infuse creativity in teaching, and just being in that classroom is an experience I will always remember as the best days of my life.
As I write this, I'm on the verge of the start of a new semester. I have Financial Accounting at 10.30 a.m. This will be the first time I am studying Finance, and I know I will have fun. I know I will enjoy learning (I've heard great things about the professor!). I was wondering, during my break, how I was going to cope with another four months of slogging, but self-realisation crept in as I penned down the article. Forget the results, concentrate on the present, at the end of the day you should have had fun, and frankly it matters the most.
As for the details I missed, it is not much. I expect to fill a book about CMU by the end of the next two semesters, and struggle to fill a page about myself.
I'm just another grad student, and yes, I have always wanted to be an Information Systems student at CMU (which I, fortunately am). I hold an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Rajalakshmi Engineering College (near Chennai, 2006-2010). I spill the beans, I lay it on the table, I hereby profess unabashedly — I really am the regular starry-eyed girl!
Carnegie Mellon University