Thursday, August 26
The Journey to A&M
It may seem crazy to want to drive down to Texas from my home just outside of Washington D.C., however, it was the only way to get my car down to Texas A&M besides spending thousands of dollars to ship it down.
To make this drive less of a hassle, my father and grandfather were kind enough to drive down with me, also, we decided to split the drive into four days and make the most of our experience.
Day One – D.C. to Great Smoky Mountains
This drive ended up being our longest as it was a little bit over seven hours, it was also probably the most boring for me since I have seen the Virginia landscape many times in my life. When we made it to Sevierville (the gateway to the Smokies), the driving had paid itself off. This was my first time seeing the Great Smokies so I really enjoyed seeing some big mountains on the east coast.
Day Two – Sevierville to Nashville
The second day of our journey we used as a sort of break day (it was only a three and a half hour drive). As it was for every place we visited on this trip, it was my first time in Nashville. The only things we really wanted to do in Nashville were to visit the Parthenon and eat some vegan soul food (my dad is vegan and I am vegetarian). The food definitely did not let us down!
Day Three – Nashville to Hot Springs, Arkansas
After our refreshing break in Nashville, we had another fairly long drive ahead of us in the six hour trip to Hot Springs. Honestly the highlight of this day was eating some fake Memphis BBQ sandwiches at lunch time. The main claim to fame in Hot Springs was that Bill Clinton grow in the area (also we saw a pretty cool display spring that had water at around 140 degrees coming from the ground).
Day Four – Hot Springs to College Station
This was the second longest drive of our trip as it was around six and a half hours, also little did I know I was in for quite an adventure around Tyler, Texas. After we had stopped to get lunch at a which wich, we were pulling out of the parking lot when all of the sudden we hit a fairly large bump and my trunk flew open. We were able to stop on the side of the road a few hundred meters ahead and close the trunk, however as I had feared, my two computer monitors which were on the top of the pile of stuff I had in my trunk, had fallen out. By the time we had turned around and went back to where it had happened, the monitors were no where to be found. Someone had scooped them up, whether good intentions or not I will never know (either way they were probably broken from falling out of my trunk). After this whole roller coaster experience, the rest of the drive was smooth sailing and we made it into College Station!
Sunday, September 5
First Week of Classes
I survived the first week of classes here at Texas A&M! Well, it wasn’t all that hard since I didn’t really have any thing to do in the classes besides learn the syllabi. I also got used to the (at the moment) scorching hot walk to each of the classes that I will be doing five days a week for the next nine months. Even though I did bring my car, I wasn’t able to get a parking spot on the campus, plus I don’t believe it is worth spending hundreds of dollars to save maybe 5 minutes of my time.
First A&M football game
This was probably the highlight of the week, as I am a huge sports fan. Despite this being the highlight to my week, the day started out kind of rough. When I woke up in the morning I was sweating and I worried that I had contracted some sort of sickness. However, when I went over to the thermostat in the front of my room I saw that it was 80 degrees in my room! I checked to see what the thermostat was set to and it was still set to my average night time temperature of 68 degrees. So, I then put in a maintenance request for the AC to be fixed. After a few hours of waiting for someone to come and fix the air conditioning, I decided to go the leasing office to ask them how long it would take for someone to look at it (it was 85 degrees in my room at that point). They told me that a few other people were having the same problems and they had one maintenance worker going around fixing it. I then just sucked up the heat until it was time to leave for the game, in which I was just hoping it would be fixed by the time I got back. The game itself was a blast (mostly the second half). It will definitely take me a few weeks to get used to all the chants and traditions at the football game, but I feel like people could at least tell that I was trying to fit in to the Aggie tradition (especially since I bought the $15 shirt special to this game). Once the game was over I checked my phone and saw that I had gotten a text message from the leasing office saying my maintenance request was complete. This helped not ruin my night since I was standing in the 90 some degree heat at the game for hours as well. Overall, my first week of classes and my first football game at A&M was a blast!
Monday, September 13
Second Week of Classes
Finished with the second week of classes (and really the first week of actually having homework). Didn’t really have too much going on this week except for a few homework assignments and the career fair. The career fair was available to attend in person on Wednesday and Thursday with a extra virtual day on Friday. With my class schedule, it would have been hard to attend the Wednesday and Friday sessions, plus the main company I wanted to speak with, NVIDIA, was only available on the online session Friday. I was able to attend a meeting to learn more about the company and was able to fill out some forms about myself (which included my résumé and what positions I would be interested in). Other than that, there wasn’t too much going on since the football game was away this weekend. The main highlight of the weekend had to have been trying this new taco place, Velvet Taco, and watching NFL games. Of the four vegetarian taco options they had at Velvet Taco, I tried the Nashville hot tofu and the Beer battered cauliflower. They were both amazing!
Monday, September 20
Third Week of Classes
This week I would say is when the classes started to actually ramp up. I had a few quizzes this week and a programming assignment that took between 6-8 hours. However, as the classes have been ramping up, I have been acclimating to the new lifestyle and have become closer with some people in my classes. I actually ended up meeting up with someone who is in a few of my classes and studied for our math quiz. We also ended up meeting up later in the week too, this time to study for our programming class. Besides schoolwork, the thing that made my week was my favorite team the Baltimore Ravens winning in one of the most exciting games I’ve watched. Since I am used to watching the games with my dad, we were texting throughout the game whenever a big play happened (which was quite often in this game). Overall, I think I made big progress this week in actually becoming an Aggie.
Tuesday, September 28
Fourth Week of Classes
Just had my first exam today, not sure how it went yet. I don’t think the test was overly hard, however it was early in the morning and the room it was held in was around 80 degrees! This made it pretty hard to focus and lead to me being kind of tight on time during some questions. Other than the exam today, not too much happened in the last week. As many of you know A&M lost their first game of the season last weekend, and the Ravens made the recurring theme of giving their fans a heart attack each week continue. I tried another new Mexican restaurant last week with some classmates who claimed it was a necessity for Aggies. I think the place, Fuego, lived up to the hype. I got a breakfast soft taco with eggs, cheese, and mushrooms, and two soft tacos with corn, pico, onions, guac, grilled peppers and cheese. The food was also way cheaper than Velvet Taco and came with a lot more.
Tuesday, October 5
Fifth Week of Classes
The last week or so has definitely been the busiest I have been since I’ve got here. Within the past week I have had two exams (and I have one more tomorrow), have applied for some internships, and completed a ton of homework. I think when this current week is over, I will get to breathe a sigh of relief. Also, this weekend I get to see Texas A&M vs Alabama, which at this point I’m not sure is going to go well. Either way, it should be an entertaining game and a much needed break from the past few weeks of non-stop schoolwork. Haven’t really got to try any new food places in the past week, I hope to try this burger place that is near here within the next week though.
Tuesday, October 12
Sixth Week of Classes
As many of you probably already now, A&M beat #1 ranked Alabama last week! The game was great and all, however right before the game started I was walking through the parking garage when I realized my car was missing. My first thought was “Ok hopefully I just got towed for some reason”, because the other option was way worse. After mulling what to do for a while I figured out the apartment complex had an after hours hotline since the leasing office closes at 5pm on weekends and it was already about 7. So I called them and a lady was able to give me the towing company’s phone number who then assured that they had my car. I then had to uber to where they were holding my car and pay a hefty fee to get it back. At that point I was not very happy but when I got back to my room I was able to watch the second half of the game which was able to brighten my mood (if you don’t know what happened A&M won on a last second field goal). The next day I went to the leasing office to discuss why my car had been towed (it said unauthorized vehicle on the document at the towing place, which I found funny because my car is completely authorized). I asked the front office if it was because my sticker was on the back of the car instead of the front, in which they replied maybe, however that isn’t a reason to tow. So I am now working on getting my money back from the towing company since they don’t know why my car was towed (either they didn’t see the sticker or they towed the wrong car altogether). Overall, it was a pretty crazy weekend!
Wednesday, October 20
Seventh Week of Classes
This week I was able to have a nice and relaxing week, at least compared to the last few weeks. For the first time in nearly a month, I had a week without an exam, also I seemed to have less homework then usual this week. The extra free time allowed me to try a few new restaurants on campus. One of the places I tried “Abu Omar Halal” is a Mediterranean restaurant. I ordered a falafel sandwich which I really enjoyed, also it wasn’t too expensive which was nice. The other new place I got to try this week was “Piada”, an Italian restaurant. From Piada I got something called a “power bowl” (which was actually more Mediterranean as well) that had broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, pickled onions, over quinoa with harissa and yogurt drizzle. This was also really good, and I will likely go here quite often as it was a quick counter service restaurant similar to Chipotle in style.
Wednesday, October 27
Eight Week of Classes
Parents weekend! Well, not officially but this was the week my parents decided to come visit. My parents flew down last Thursday night and we were able to go and see Austin for the first time on Friday. In Austin we did a bus tour in which we were shown the main highlights including the river, the state capital building and the many food trucks that call Austin their home. I really enjoyed Austin as it seemed like a haven for younger people who are trying to make their name heard in their respective careers. After we got back to College Station, I showed my parents around the campus and we were able to see the South Carolina vs Texas A&M game in person! Unfortunately the game wasn’t very close but we still were able to enjoy it. My parents then flew out on Sunday after we went shopping in the morning. Classes this week didn’t have too much going on as in most classes I had to prepare for the three exams that I have next week.
Saturday, November 6
Ninth Week of Classes
This week was definitely the busiest week of the school year by far. Matter of fact, it was probably the busiest week of school I’ve ever had. It started off on Saturday in which I had a coding project due which took most of Friday and Saturday to complete. Then I had another coding project for a different class due on Monday which took most of Sunday to complete. Next I had an exam on Tuesday which I was studying for on Monday. Followed by another exam and more homework due Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday I had yet another exam along with a take home quiz and another coding project due. After all of that I was finally able to relax some today. Next week should be a lot less busy as I only have one coding project and one exam.
Sunday, November 14
Tenth Week of Classes
Not too much going on in the past week, the main focus was one exam that I had on Thursday. The exam actually ended up being way harder than I thought it would be, but whatever can’t change how I did on it now. Other than that I mostly got to relax following the extremely busy week. I tried a new Mexican place Friday night called Taco Cabana. They had a big menu of Beyond Meat items. I ended up getting a two taco, rice, and beans combo which was pretty good but sometimes I feel the Beyond Meat kind of overpowers the other aspects of the food. I was also able to watch some more sports games this week since most of my work was done by Thursday night. The ravens ended up losing to the dolphins which I was not expecting, and then A&M lost to Ole Miss as well. However, my favorite basketball team, the Wizards, are somehow at the top of the Eastern Conference which many people were not expecting. Overall, last week wasn’t too bad and next week should be even easier as I don’t have any more exams until finals.
Sunday, November 21
Eleventh Week of Classes
This week was a nice, slow paced week where all I had to do was some math homework and two programming assignments. Compared to how the last few weeks went this felt like nothing. The main focus for this weekend was what classes to take next year. For some reason even though I am considered junior level, I have the latest time slot available for registration which is tomorrow starting at 5 am. I have some of the classes I want to register for picked out, but I am not sure which ones I will get into since of the late registration time. Other than that, this week should be pretty fun since Thanksgiving break starts on Wednesday! I am also really excited to go and visit my friend in Oklahoma over the break and see him for the first time in almost two years. I may have to do some Thanksgiving cooking on my own for the first time since he is not vegetarian. I mean I usually help make the Thanksgiving food but I’ve never had to actually make any of the stuff all on my own. Any ways, it should be a fun time and I will update everyone next week!
Sunday, November 28
Twelfth Week of Classes (Thanksgiving Week)
School-wise, there was not too much going on this week which was great. On Tuesday after my morning classes I prepared to fly out to Oklahoma City where I would be meeting up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in nearly two years. The flight was nice and easy since it was less than two hours from Houston to OKC, and when I got there it was around a 40 minute drive to his house. The first full day there we did a mix of relaxing/catching up and having him show me around University of Oklahoma where he goes. The next day, Thanksgiving day, we went to his aunt’s house and I got to have some delicious vegetarian food that his sister and father were kind enough to make for me. On Friday we relaxed for the first half of the day, then went and saw the new Ghostbusters movie in theaters, which was suprisingly good (and we had no idea that it took place in Oklahoma). Finally, on my last day, we got to meet up with his friend who I had only talked with online, and we went bowling for a couple hours. Overall, it was fun catching up with him and his family and I hope I don’t have to wait as long before I see him next time.
Monday, December 6
Thirteenth Week of Classes
This past week was the last full week of classes, the semester felt like it flew by so fast! At this point, I am done with pretty much all work that is due for each class. The only thing left to do is finals. At the time I am writing this I only have two more days of classes and then one day of pure studying before I have THREE finals on Friday. It’s going to be rough, especially since I have one at 7:30 in the morning. Hopefully I am able to get a nap in before my next test which is at 12:30. After I get through the insane day that Friday is going to be, I think I should be pretty relieved and calm for the rest of the semester. The only thing that will be left is one more exam which is not until the next Wednesday. Also, this exam is the one that I am the least worried about. Overall, as this semester is coming to an end, I am proud about how I have done thus far both academically and in meeting new people.
Thursday, December 16
Just finished finals, and they were pretty hard… It definitely didn’t help that as mentioned before three of them were on the same day. I felt like I had some much stuff jammed into my head from studying that things I already knew were leaking out before I could finish the tests. All in all, I’m fine with just being able to pass the classes as this semester was challenging both academically and just being able to get set up and used to a new environment. I am back home in Virginia now, and can’t wait to update more when I begin my next semester at A&M!
Wednesday, January 19
The return to College (Station)
After returning to College Station from winter break the first thing I remembered that I missed was the weather. I usually feel the same way returning to Columbia after winter break from my home around Washington D.C, however, this is a whole other level of not having a winter. Although tomorrow is only supposed to be around 45 (which would be a nice winter day back in Virginia) it has been upper 50’s to 70’s since I’ve been back. Anyways, now that I have had two days of classes I believe that this semester’s courses should be more interesting to me than last semesters were (this semester I can take elective math and CSCE courses which are more catered to my interests). Another thing that I realized I had been missing was the food down here, specifically Fuego. I was able to order Fuego for the first time in over a month tonight and it was just as good as I remembered.
Saturday, January 29
First (full) week of classes
Done with the first full week of classes, and I think I can tell so far that these classes should be challenging and interesting. I haven’t had too much due yet, just a few quizzes, however, I think I should be able to succeed in these classes while still having enough time to enjoy College Station and hopefully explore Texas some more. I was able to try some more new places in the past week and I think I found a few more good ones. First, last weekend I tried a Vietnamese restaurant where I got Banh Mi (a Vietnamese sandwich) and Thai tea. I also tried an Indian restaurant that was really good where I got a cheese dish (Paneer) and a mango lassi. Overall, this was a good week with not too much work to do and hopefully next week can be similar!
Sunday, February 7
Second week of classes
This is where things start to ramp up for the semester. Class attendance wise, this week was pretty easy. If you even believe it, we got a snow day on Thursday (although it was more ice than snow). I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising to me since they had a bad snow storm last year. However, I thought that it was an anomaly at the time, I wasn’t expecting it to happen again (don’t get me wrong this wasn’t nearly as bad as last years snow here seemed to be). Anyways, besides the snow day on Thursday, I had off Friday because I had an online exam in my only class for that day. I did pretty well on the exam which made the weekend start off nice. This weekend ended up being me grinding some coding projects for almost the entire weekend though. Regardless it was still pretty enjoyable when you know you are doing things right on your work. Once I am done with this coding project in the next day or two this week shouldn’t be that bad either.
Tuesday, February 15
Third week of classes
This past week was one of the busiest ones I’ve had in a while. I definitely should have started some of the projects sooner, but now I know how long the projects take in the comp sci classes I’m taking. I was working on the projects most of the time while I wasn’t in class so I didn’t really have much time to try anywhere new to eat. Besides the projects, I also got an internship lined up for the summer which I am happy about! I think having a good internship this summer will help with my senior year and relieve some of the stress of graduating college. Overall, this week should be a step down from last week, but I definitely will start my comp sci projects earlier this time.
Wednesday, February 23
Fourth / Fifth week of classes
Towards the end of last week I ended up getting a few days that I didn’t have that much work, but besides that it has been pretty busy (and the next few days are definitely gonna be busy since I have an exam both days). I was able to try another good Halal place towards the end of last week, unfortunately I forgot to take a picture but the place is called “Naqs Halal Food” and I ordered a falafel gyro and some fries which were both pretty good! Besides that and school work, I made plans for spring break to explore some more of Texas with my father who is going to fly in to Houston. I won’t go into too much detail so that I have plenty to write about once we make the trip, but we are planning on seeing San Antonio for the first time and some of Texas’ eastern (and only) coast. Once I make it through the next few days it should be pretty smooth sailing until the exams right before spring break…
Saturday, March 5
Sixth week of classes
Finished another week of classes, and this one wasn’t too bad work wise. Also I managed to get started on some of my projects earlier than I have been which should make next week not as bad either. I know UofSC (and most other colleges) are on spring break next week, for us it isn’t until the week after. I am excited to finally get to do some more exploring of Texas and get a break from my classes. However, my brain can’t quite check out yet since I have some exams right before break. It seems like it has warmed up here now to where I can wear shorts every day when walking to classes again, I assume it is around that point in Columbia as well if I remember correctly. Anyways, not too much went on this past week but I should have a lot to write about the next few weeks as I will have some exams / projects and then spring break!
Sunday, March 20
Well, spring break is over. I would have updated sooner, but I didn’t have wifi during most of the trip. On the first day of the break, after picking up my father from the Houston airport, we drove to San Antonio which we were both visiting for the first time. I really enjoyed seeing the river walk and the Alamo (even though we didn’t go inside for an official tour). The river walk sort of reminded me of Disney World for some reason and I’m not quite sure why. After San Antonio, we drove down to a park on the Rio Grande called Falcon State Park. It was a pretty relaxing two days of camping at Falcon State Park. The main attraction there was the colorful birds which I believe my father really enjoyed (and I did too but he took lots of pictures that I will hopefully get tomorrow to put on here). Next we drove east to Goose Island which is on the Gulf of Mexico. We camped another two days here and enjoyed seeing sunsets over the Corpus Christi Bay. Also, we managed to go to the beaches on Port Aransas and Mustang Island which were pretty relaxing since I didn’t end up going in the water. Finally on our last few days of break we drove up to the Galveston area where we again were able to go to the beach and walk around down town Galveston which seemed like a nice area (Galveston is probably comparable to Ocean City or Myrtle Beach as it seemed like kind of a touristy area but still a nice beach). Overall, the break was really relaxing and I enjoyed getting to see more parts of Texas that I hadn’t yet seen.
Wednesday, March 30
First week after break
It was a surprisingly semi-busy first week back from break. I had one exam, which went pretty well, and a project which I am just now finishing up. Besides that, the weather here has been pretty nice, with the exception of one day. That one day, last Tuesday, we actually had a tornado touch down in South Western College Station. It didn’t seem to really cause much damage, however, I still played it safe and hung out in the lobby for an hour while we had the tornado warning. Other than the wild weather day and schoolwork, me getting advised for my UofSC senior classes was the only real highlight of the week. The next week or so should be pretty similar to this one as I have another exam next Thursday and another project due around the same time. Oh yeah and here are the photos that I forgot to upload last week.
Sunday, April 10
Second / Third week after break
As I thought the past week or so was about as busy as it has been since coming back from break. I had one exam which I actually thought was pretty easy for a change, also I had one project due which went alright. Besides that there wasn’t too much going on last week. My roommate and I finally signed a lease for next year at UofSC. Also I did have some time to get some of the places I like around here like Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Bon AppeTea (got a Tofu Banh Mi and Thai Tea), and Fuego. The only other thing I can think of that happened was that my friend bought a plane ticket to fly down the day after I am done with my exams so that he can help me drive back home. We need to figure out if we want to do the same route back as I took to drive here or if we want to go south this time through Alabama and Mississippi. We probably will end up doing the same route as I took on the way down as I enjoyed that drive, but either way we will plan it out in the next few weeks.
Monday, April 18
Things I have learned throughout my time here
- SEC football games are really top-notch (after growing up in Virginia and having only gone to VT football games I thought those games were crazy, however once I got to UofSC and now having gone to A&M games I realized that the SEC football games are as crazy as it can get)
- Austin is somewhere I would consider living in the future (I really enjoyed the vibes that Austin gave off, whether it was the friendly people, the veggie food trucks, or the overall hipster kind of feel that the layout gave off, I’m not sure but I really enjoyed the city)
- Texas is good for birding? (I never thought of Texas as somewhere that would have exotic birds, but when my dad who is into birding flew down we saw a ton of colorful birds like the green jay, the orioles, the caracaras, and the flycatchers)
- There are lots of vegetarian options here (before I got here I was unsure how much variety there would be in the vegetarian food, however, there are almost more options here than there are both at UofSC and back in northern Virginia)
- HEB is one of the best grocery stores (before I came to A&M I had never even heard of HEB (probably because for some reason they are only in Texas), but man they have a lot of variety and a surprising amount of vegetarian food)
- Different colleges actually have a surprising amount of differences in their major programs (not sure how much I can speak for other majors but here at A&M the way the computer science program works is way different than at UofSC. For example first years in engineering can’t even declare their major here, also they are way more focused on C++ here than we are at UofSC.)
- There actually is a different vocabulary in Texas (It was a big difference for me coming from Northern Virginia to South Carolina especially with “y’all”, and it feels like here there is even more of a difference especially “howdy” which at first I thought was just a stereotype.)
- I like the heat more than the cold (I already was pretty sure about this from my experiences in South Carolina, however with it being even hotter here and me being able to withstand it this confirmed my beliefs)
- People in the South are very easy-going / friendly (Again this was evident even in South Carolina, but people in the South are definitely more patient and friendly than they are in cities / suburbs (at least from my experiences).)
- Texas is surprisingly windy (I never really thought of Texas as a windy place, but it seems like at least three days or so a week the wind is pretty strong. I guess this makes sense since it is in the Midwest but I never really thought of it before coming here.)
Thursday, April 28
Looking back at my bucket list, I believe I was able to cross off most of the things that I had hoped to do while I was here. First off, my main point on my bucket list was being able to travel around Texas and see the places that I had hoped to see. I was able to see Austin, which I will see again in about a week where I will meet my friend to start our drive back. Going to Austin for the first time it was pretty much all I had hoped for it to be. From the vegan food trucks, to the overall new hipster feel of the city I believe that I will be back in Austin at some point in the next few years. Next off I was able to visit San Antonio which may have surprised me even more than Austin. I think the main reason for this is that I already had high expectations for Austin whereas for San Antonio I didn’t really know what to expect. I ended up really enjoying the river walk as it felt like somewhere I could walk down every day. Finally, I was able to see the Gulf Coast some on our drive back up during spring break. The beaches that we stopped at kind of reminded me of Ocean City or Myrtle beach which are a little to crowded / touristy compared to my ideal beach but the actual water seemed nice. One place I have not yet gotten to visit which I am planning on stopping at on our way back is Dallas. I don’t know what to expect from Dallas as in my mind it is not that much of a touristy city similar to Houston. Besides traveling my main other goal on my bucket list was to attend some sporting events while here at A&M. This I was also able to do as I went to a handful of the home football games (besides the Alabama one as I wrote about in an earlier entry). I enjoyed the football games a lot and they reminded me of a larger version of the Gamecock football games, I assume that all SEC football games have that intense feel to them that I have seen at both A&M and UofSC. Another thing I wasn’t able to do is go to a A&M basketball game. I was planning on doing so but at the beginning of the season they weren’t doing to hot which made me kind of hesitant about going (which I now regret). They ended up doing well after that, mostly when I was at home during winter break. All in all, I think I did a decent job of crossing off the main things that I wanted to do while I was here at Texas A&M.