2018 was a big year for me. It was a year of firsts and lasts, of learning and growing, and one full of highs and lows and everything in between.
From graduating high school to starting college across the country, 2018 was full of changes in my life. During my last semester of high school, I learned to become more and more independent from scheduling my own appointments, to budgeting my money, to taking accountability for my responsibilities and duties. Now that both the swim and mountain biking team seasons had ended, I established a gym routine that I actually stuck to for once. Somewhere during this last semester, I found out I had gotten an ROTC scholarship from both the Air Force and Army. I was eternally grateful for this opportunity, as it meant I would get my tuition paid for, and I would get the opportunity to serve my country. I went to blue devil days
The last semester of high school was fun to spend with my friends, but although we all knew we would hangout after graduation, there was the feeling of the time being fleeting and short, and it did feel like everything was wrapping up. There were certainly many fun experiences throughout though, such as my last prom (where I broke into a locked cabin with a pipe - with the owner’s consent of course!), my last HS swim meet, and generally just spending time with my friends.
Graduation wasn’t the most exciting event (mostly just sitting there listening to boring speeches), but it did provide a sense of closure to this period of my life, and a sense of accomplishment. In today’s world, a high school diploma is basically expected out of most members of society, but my peers and I still worked very hard for them and I was personally very proud of that stupid piece of paper I spent 12 years of my life to earn. As we walked out of graduation, there was a guy handing out letters, and as I opened mine, I saw it was a recruiting letter from Vector (an MLM), and I thought it was funny how some people had the audacity to try and ruin the lives of people who were just starting their lives with these pyrmaid schemes. One other thing to note I also broke my 3 year fast from soda upon graduation. Was not worth it.
I spent most of my summer working. Most people hate their first food service job, but to be honest, I loved it (although I wouldn’t do it for free). In my opinion, what really makes or breaks that kind of job is management, and I always felt like I had great managers who cared and worked tirelessly to ensure that their team was performing optimally while stepping up to solve any issues. So shoutout to my In-N-Out managers. In addition to working there, I also worked on my personal coding projects, and in the process, learned about the nuances and features of the new Universal Windows Platform and C++/CX very well. I’ll probably post about that here sometime soon.
During my freetime in the summer, I spent a lot of time mountain biking and hiking. Some of my favorite trails around the northern Utah Valley area that I hit often were in corner canyon. However, the Valley Vista trails were finished this year too, and they were about a two minute bike ride from my house so I was on those very frequently. On one of the hikes I did with friends, we met this dude who was finishing up his graduate research program and it was his last day in the US. Super cool guy, and I’m really glad we got to have a conversation with him and he did most of the descent with us.
As the summer progressed, I realized I really love Utah and would really miss it as I moved out of the state for college. In particular, I was really going to miss the vast variety of outdoor recreation in every part of the state including areas around my house, the high Uintas, Lake Powell, and the various national parks. The sunsets almost every night were prime, and I would often watch them thinking about life and the various events of the day. As I sit here writing this reflection after nearly 5 months away from here, I have to say that I was right, I really do miss this place and am hoping I can experience as much of the outdoors, culture, and time with my friends before going back to Durham.
I took a family roadtrip with my brother and dad (unfortunately my mom was too swamped in work) to go to Lake Powell. We decided to take a detour and stop at Bryce Canyon along the way, and I am so glad we did. The views at Bryce Canyon did not disappoint, and I was certainly in awe of some of the amazing landscape and features. From there, was went to Lake Powell, and rented a boat. This was where I learned wake boarding is not nearly as easy as it looks and I failed miserably.
Unfortunately, after we returned the boat, we realized we had lost the keys to our car. We called a few locksmiths, and unfortunately none of the local ones had the resources to produce a replacement for our car, because it has one of the newer “keyless” remotes. After evaluating our options, we realized the only option was to get our mom to ship us the spare key. However, in the meantime, we were still stranded at the lake with barely any cell signal. I bought a flyswatter from the giftshop and managed to break into our locked car, which meant we at least could access the stuff inside, including our tent and other camping supplies. We decided since we had to wait for the spare key to arrive through the mail, we might as well rent a car and go to the grand canyon.
The grand canyon was truly breathtaking, and we managed to arrive early and snag one of the coveted camping spots inside the park. I always knew the grand canyon was big, but I had always thought of it in the paradigm of canyons that I was used to. This was truly on another level, and was almost incomprehensibly big.
Towards the end of the summer, we took a trip to the big island of Hawaii. This place is truly amazing and it was as close to paradise as I’ve gotten. Hurricane Hector, a category 4 storm, was a threat that materialized right before our trip and threatened to hit the island, but luckily it diverted and passed just south of the island.
We lodged on the Kona side of the island, but explored most of the island except Mauna Kea which was closed due to weather, and Volcanoes National Park which closed due to active eruptions. Snorkeling at Captain Cook’s monument, where we got to see sea turtles, dolphins, and a wide range of other aquatic life, as well as ziplining in Hilo were some of my favorite highlights from this trip.
We enjoyed a wide variety of beaches, with many different features such as black or green sand, calm surfs, beautiful sunsets and more.
On the way back, I flew in the exit row of my plane (highly recommend, way more legroom as long as you are willing to help if needed), and talked with this really cool flight attendant. He told me about what working as a flight attendant was like, and the various benefits and experiences he got to have because of it. We talked about life, about me moving to college, and other things. Definitely made up for the fact that the plane was ancient and couldn’t stay heated enough for comfort (as a bonus, it was old enough to still have an ashtray).
The morning I left for college was bittersweet, I was super excited to start college and have a fresh new start at a place where I didn’t know everyone, but I was also sad to leave my two dogs behind and everyone else. I took quite a bit of stuff (including my desktop computer because I’m that kind of nerd) because Southwest is super great in that everyone gets two checked bags + carry on for free.
O-Week was really fun for me, because I really enjoyed meeting new people and having fun without the stress of classes happening yet. I felt super welcome at Duke and learned a lot about Duke and myself in the process of meeting new people and jumping outside my comfort zone.
My schedule wasn’t easy, and I filled up most of my free time with networking events and interest clubs. Once the workloads hit, I realized college would probably be 4 years of sleep deprivation and caffeine addiction. I did get an aeropress and started making some pretty good coffee though. I had to get used to waking up at 5:00 AM to go to PT, although I did score above 95 on our second fitness assessment which meant I didn’t have to come for morning PTs on Thursdays at our detachment which was very nice. Having good friends and food at Duke, as well as having a lot of fun on weekends made the stress manageable though, and I’m very glad I joined the clubs and activities I did.
From having random in depth conversations about programming or politics, to opening up to friends about whatever was on my mind, to going to basketball games to Cameron or meeting people from diverse backgrounds and interests, college has really been an amazing experience so far. I’m very glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and did things like go to my friends house in SC for break, or going on adventures for no reason. It’s really helped me become a more independent, confident, and accountable person.
So that’s a quick rundown of what happened in the year, I hope the rest of these blog posts won’t be so long and ranty. I’m going to put some random pictures from the year below.