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Courses 2009 - 2012

The courses I’ve taken during my time at Cornell, sorted by department and then chronologically.

Computer Science
Intro to Computing Using Java [David Gries & Lillian Lee]
Discrete Structures [Bart Selman]
Object-Oriented Programming & Data Structures [Graeme Bailey]
Practicum in AI [Hod Lipson]
C++ Programming [Ron DiNapoli]
Intro to Mobile App Development [Jeffrey Davidson]
Computer System Organization and Programming [Hakim Weatherspoon]
Intro to Analysis of Algorithms [Bobby Kleinberg]
Data Structures and Functional Programming [Ramin Zabih]
Machine Learning [Thorsten Joachims]
Human Computer Interaction I @ LMU Munich [Florian Echtler]
Managing Massively Multiplayer Online Games @ LMU Munich [Matthias Schubert]
Operating Systems [Emin Sirer]
Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence [Bart Selman]
Computer Vision [Noah Snavely]

German Studies
Freshman Writing Seminar: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud [Brent McBride]
German Lifestyle 2.0 [Grit Matthias]
Berlin: Fast Forward [Elke Siegel]
Munich and National Socialism @ Junior Year in Munich [Susanne Wanninger]
Advanced German Language II @ Junior Year in Munich [Anna Breitsameter]

Asian Studies
Vietnamese Literature in Translation [Lorraine Paterson]
Advanced Vietnamese @ LMU Munich [Mai-Phuong Dinh]
Intermediate Vietnamese Reading & Composition [Thuy Tranviet]
Elementary Cantonese I [Hong Huang]

Linear Algebra [Lars Wahlbin]
Multivariable Calculus [Allen Hatcher]
Basic Probability [Jonathon Peterson]

Freshman Writing Seminar: Nightmare and Fantasy [Tamra Fallman]
Physics I: Mechanics [Andre LeClair]
Nutrition, Health, and Society [David Levitsky]
Psychology of Music [Carol Krumhansl]

The final ‘essay’ I wrote for my Vietnamese class this semester, with significant help from my mom. It’s about my plans for after this semester in Germany ends. Too bad in terms of spoken fluency I’m still behind several of my cousins! (though I hope the gap is closing)

Sau kỳ học tại Đức này, tôi sẽ đi về nhà ở Ca Li. Tôi sẽ ở đó với ba má tôi ba tuần rưỡi. Ca Li là nơi tôi lớn lên và có nhiều bạn nên tôi có nhiều sinh họat vui như đi leo núi. Bạn trai tôi cũng ở Ca Li và chúng tôi làm nhiều thứ cùng với nhau, như đi nhảy đầm và đi ra phố. Tôi cũng thích nấu các món ăn Việt Nam với má tôi. Khi tôi còn nhỏ thì tôi đã không nấu ăn nhiều với má tôi nên bây giờ tôi muốn học nấu các món như nấu phở, bún bò huế, chả giò, vân vân.

Trường đại học của tôi ở New York và tháng mười hai năm nay tôi sẽ ra trường. Sau đó tôi muốn dọn về ở Ca Li. Cũng vì vậy mà tôi sẽ đi tìm việc cho sau khi ra trường trong thời gian ba tuần ở nhà. Tôi đã được hãng Google nhận làm kỹ sư phần mềm rồi mà tôi còn muốn đi tìm việc thêm để xem có cơ hội nào khác không. Nếu được nhiều chỗ khác nhận, thì tôi có thể thương lượng một lương tốt hơn. Đi tìm việc làm khó lắm nhưng tôi được hãng Google nhận rồi nên tôi không cần lo nhiều lắm.

Học kỳ cuối cùng ở đại học Cornell, tôi sẽ lấy ba lớp khoa vi tính: Trí tuệ nhân tạo, Hệ điều hành và Thị giác máy tính. Ba lớp này là bắt buộc. Tôi cũng muốn lấy thêm lớp tiếng Việt và lớp tiếng Quảng Đông. Tôi thích ngoại ngữ và bạn trai tôi nói được tiếng Quảng Đông nên tôi nghĩ học tiếng Quảng Đông sẽ vui lắm. Bạn trai tôi vẫn nói rằng tiếng Quảng Đông là một ngôn ngữ tức cười, với nhiều tiếng lóng. Có thể là tôi không lấy được lớp tiếng Việt. Nếu không được thì chắc tôi sẽ lấy lớp viết văn bình luận.

Sau khi ra trường đại hoc, tôi sẽ ở với chị tôi hay ba má tôi. Nhà chị tôi gần hãng Google hơn nhà ba má tôi và gần nhà bạn trai tôi cũng như gần chỗ tôi đi tập thể dục leo núi. Nhưng mà ở nhà với ba má tôi thì cũng thoải mái. Có thể là tôi cũng sẽ học cao học khoa vi tính ở đại học Stanford. Học trong khi đi làm khó lắm, nhưng nếu hãng tôi trả tiền cho cao học tôi thì tôi phải giữ lấy cơ hội đó. Google là một trong các hãng trả tiền học phí cho người làm công.

Tôi vui vì biết sẽ làm gì cho thời gian sau khi ra trường đại học. Tôi rất hồi hộp cho thời gian bắt đầu cuộc sống người lớn của mình.

Today I was looking through all the courses I took and will take at Cornell (including study abroad). Apparently freshman spring semester I thought it was a great idea to take Physics: Mechanics and Multivariable Calculus even though they weren’t required at all. What was I thinking?! What is the point of doing CS in Arts & Sciences instead of Engineering if I wasn’t going to take all the fun classes, like astronomy and wines?

Slowly realizing that the “difficulty” of Cornell was almost purely my own fault…

Sheryl Sandberg

Women almost never make one decision to leave the workforce. It doesn’t happen that way. They make small little decisions along the way that eventually lead them there. Maybe it’s the last year of med school when they say, I’ll take a slightly less interesting specialty because I’m going to want more balance one day. Maybe it’s the fifth year in a law firm when they say, I’m not even sure I should go for partner, because I know I’m going to want kids eventually.

These women don’t even have relationships, and already they’re finding balance, balance for responsibilities they don’t yet have. And from that moment, they start quietly leaning back. The problem is, often they don’t even realize it. Everyone I know who has voluntarily left a child at home and come back to the workforce—and let’s face it, it’s not an option for most people. But for people in this audience, many of you are going to have this choice. Everyone who makes that choice will tell you the exact same thing: You’re only going to do it if your job is compelling.

If several years ago you stopped challenging yourself, you’re going to be bored. If you work for some guy who you used to sit next to, and really, he should be working for you, you’re going to feel undervalued, and you won’t come back. So, my heartfelt message to all of you is, and start thinking about this now, do not leave before you leave. Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.

Should you Wander the World or Build a Home?

Comment from Should you Wander the World or Build a Home? on Scott H Young’s blog:

I’ve spent my twenties living in various locations for periods of time. I’ve been bartending to support myself, and although I’ve gone to college and earned a degree, my gypsy lifestyle has prevented me from beginning a “career” other than bartending (I also didn’t really know what I wanted for a career). Now in my early thirties, my peers are in the midst of their careers and settling down, buying houses, getting married, having children, and I am starting from scratch all over again. It never bothered me before, because I always looked at it as one big adventure, but the last time I moved it frustrated me not to have a built up social network that allowed me to maneuver easily around town, not to mention learning the streets and people of this particular place. I came home, where I grew up, to get grounded and grow roots because for me it’s time.

I have had wonderful experiences along the way, have met wonderful people, and there are places that I will miss. The reason I chose to wander was because I wanted to do it before life’s more extreme obligations inhibited me. However those people that have remained where they are have built up wonderful social networks of people that have taken an entire decade to build. They have found people they can rely on and it makes life much easier and more fulfilling in the long run. These people are not unexperienced. They are world travelers who have made it a point to take vacations and explore the world. The one lovely thing is that they have a place they can call home.

The wonderful thing about my experience is that I’ve gotten a deeper perspective on what other places are truly like. When living in a place you learn so much more about the culture and lifestyle of the people than when just understanding a glimpse through a visitor’s lens. However, you can’t live everywhere! And there is only so much a person can absorb until you must find a place that suits you and call it home.

As you said, there are advantages and drawbacks to both options. I think a bit of living in other places is good for you, and offers perspective that few have the opportunity to attain. But ultimately, I believe that a place to call “home” is of greater value. There is still the option to visit places and gain incredible experiences, it’s just nice to have a “base camp”, if you know what I mean. So go, travel while you are young! Follow your heart and your dreams, especially if you have the ability to do it while earning an income (I think that’s everybody’s dream, really)!! But think of a place where you will eventually call home, even if you haven’t found it yet. I believe there is a greater value in quality over quantity, because ultimately it is the more meaningful connections you make in life that truly matter.


Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu:

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.

He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of will power.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.

Study Abroad in Munich Thoughts #1

Lately I’ve been thinking that I don’t like actually like traveling so much as I just love foreign languages. The most exciting part of being in Germany for me is being able to read books in German for free by sitting down in any bookstore or library, or turn on the TV and watch German TV, or just chilling and talking to people. As for sightseeing - it’s nice, but nothing more. This realization isn’t too surprising though, since I’ve always said if I studied abroad, I’d never go to an English-speaking country because then there’d be “no point”.