July 6: What have I become?

When I first heard what we should accomplish and learn to do by week 6, I was genuinely worried, and rightfully so. The version of me that arrived three Sundays ago was not even close in mindset and sharpness to being able to pull off the magnificent feat of transforming into a near-professional scientist and astronomer in a mere 39 days. So I wondered, why have I been able to keep up, then even get ahead and why do I feel capable of overcoming bigger and bigger hurdles? So this is my summary of how I (and probably most of my fellow SSP students) have been transformed to make this happen:

Morning routine:

Day 1: Gets up 45 minutes early due to jetlag and enthusiasm to work on problem sets. Breakfast takes about 20 minutes, tea, pancakes on his plate.

Day 18: Calculates most efficient time use for maximized sleep. Calculates optimal trajectory within dining hall, breakfast takes about 7-8 minutes and consists of coffee, and the most carbohydrates he can find.

Problem sets:

Day 1: Has never spent more than a few hours per day doing homework, normally feels disgust when confronted with 2 hours of History homework. Is determined to do all problem sets alone and work days ahead.

Day 18: Is nervous when he can spend ’only’ 5 hours on homework on a specific day. Is excited to start a new problem. Feels guilty about asking so many people for help, collaboration seems trivial.


Day 1: Gets 6-7 hours of sleep, except when staying up for baseball or football (which starts in the middle of the night European time)

Day 18: Gets 5 hours of sleep, except when done with homework (this has never happened), on Sundays (12 hours), or after late shift on the telescope (4 hours)


Day 1: Barely speaks, carefully observes group dynamics. (not true for everyone) Sees faculty as faculty.

Day 18: Sang karaoke as part of the Backstreet Boys. (I think that’s enough to describe the change) Sees faculty as friends.


Day 1: Doesn’t believe he will ever know 8-page Etscorn manual by heart. Sees telescope as hypercomplicated piece of technology.

Day 18: Knows 8-page Etscorn manual by heart. Sees telescope as friend (and manifestation of R2-D2, with whom he has a perfect understanding and whom he communicates in an interesting form of the binary language of moisture vaporators developed in the Outer Rim called TheSkyX, but let’s not get into the details. It might seem too geeky)


Day 1: Forgets colons after defining a function. Forgets how for loops work.

Day 18: Does not forget colons, and knows how for loops work. Has written hundreds of lines of code and feels like a Wozniak (although he’s not there yet by a long, long shot)

And for our Facebook find of the day, the founder himself, Nick:bsb.png



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