Well, this is going to be my final post on this CSC148 courSe LOG (SLOG) and I’m only now realizing how difficult a task it’s going to be to sum up this semester. But one thing’s for sure: my first semester at the University of Toronto has been phenomenally educational and a great deal of fun.
When I walked into BA1180 on Monday, the 9th of September at 9am, I was nervous, afraid that the other 150 people in the room would be far smarter than me and that the lecture content would prove too challenging. That I was coming in with only a Java background (whereas CSC148 is Python-based) didn’t help my nerves.
Within the next hour though, my nerves settled and I found things to be running smoothly. Most importantly, I found that my professor, Danny Heap, is absolutely brilliant. I still don’t know how he manages to keep us engaged while also remembering most of the students’ names and, of course, providing complex, important information in an easy-to-understand way. Without Danny, I am sure this class would not have been nearly as fun and interesting.
As the semester wore on, I began to understand that learning a new language is really not as hard as it seemed, and that the core functioning of most OOPs is the same, regardless of the language. Indeed, my past experience in Java helped me a great deal in many parts of the course, from understanding recursion to LinkedLists to BSTs and efficiency. Even for the parts I didn’t know, like memoization and reduce(), I found myself consciously drawing upon my high school education. Having this prior knowledge, in some strange way, actually helped me better understand the concepts and gave me a frame of reference to compare my knowledge.
The exercises and labs too, I felt, were excellent. For the first half of the semester, we got a weekly exercise to complete, which forced me to review my lecture notes and concepts, helping me to perform better in the course. Though they were oftentimes challenging, I feel all of us could have benefitted from some more exercises in the second half of the semester. The labs were also highly educational for two reasons: (1) I worked with two other people, and we continuously helped each other and this shored up my knowledge, and (2) my TA, Amirali, was excellent because he always gave us a different perspective on the problem and helped us think in new, creative ways. For this, I thank you, Mr. Amirali.
And of course, I can’t leave out this SLOG itself. Oddly enough, I have found that maintaining a continuous blog on the course has actually forced me to review my notes and has made me think about the concepts in a clear and concise way. Reading and commenting on other students’ SLOGs (like the ones in my Blogroll, on the right-navigation-bar) also gave me greater depth of understanding. So this courSe LOG has, contrary to my initial belief, helped me do better and better in this course.
Now, with less than 5 days to go for the final exam, the nerves I had at the beginning of the semester are once again beginning to show up. But this time, I go in with a different mind-set. This time, I know I can cut it, I know that I am good enough. This time, I know that CSC148 has prepared me well enough. This time, I know I can succeed.