Another Winter Vacation in the Books

My four weeks at home have gone very quickly, and last week I took the flight back to the smallish city/town in the US where I’ll start another semester of graduate studies. Just like last winter vacation and the year before that, I spent most of my time at home, relaxing and doing a little bit of research work. I had wanted to go skiing, but I am not really good enough to go on anything other than a bunny hill and I can’t find people to go with me. Plus, skiing near Vancouver is expensive, so I’ll probably do it back in the states where it is less costly. Unlike the previous years, my grandparents were around this winter, and this meant that we ate out more than usual. I had quite a few big meals in Chinese restaurants while I was back home. The food was of course delicious, and I probably ate too much. The food was probably the highlight of this winter break and here is a photo collage of some of the dishes I’ve tasted.

Some of the delicious food I've had this winter vacation
Yum yum yum.

Needless to say, I probably gained around 5 lbs over the break, but I’m confident I can work it off at school. I’m unlikely to eat so much so often back in the states, and I’ll exercise a lot more when compared to my time at home. That’s pretty much everything worth mentioning, and it’s time for me to get back to the mood for school.

2012 Fall Term in Review

It’s the last day of 2012, and I suppose this is as good of a day as any to look at my previous academic semester. The fall 2012 semester was my fifth as a graduate student. Since I’ve been doing grad studies for a while now, I only needed to take two courses. The two courses I took in the fall were a little different than the technical courses that I usually take, and here is what I thought of them.

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My Second Year (and a Half) in Graduate School

Supposedly every year I write a reflections post looking back at what I did on the previous year. My last such post was in August of 2011, which means I’m four months past the due date :roll: . I only remembered because I decided to change the look of this blog, so this post will cover the last year and four months. So in the last 16 months, quite a bit has happened. I received another degree, and traveled around more than I ever had. Keep reading to find out more.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

Once again, I haven’t posted here for a while. It’s not that I don’t have stuff to post nor is it that I’m that busy; it’s just that I’ve been lazy with this blog like usual. School has started, but I only have two courses and neither are particularly difficult. I’m not making much progress on research, but fortunately I don’t have any hard deadlines as of yet. In between academic obligations and everyday life, I managed to do some fun stuff along the way.

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2012 Winter Term in Review

It’s been more than two months since the end of my latest academic semester. The winter term was my fourth term as a graduate student, and it was a pretty tough term with two out of three courses being quite challenging. I managed to survive though, and here are some thoughts on the courses.

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Jack of No Trades, but Master of Science

After four semesters of graduate studies, I finally get to walk across the stage for my master’s degree. I actually earned my degree at the end of last year, but my school only has one graduation ceremony a year. Getting the degree feels good of course, and I have to thank my family, friends and my advisor. However, there is still much to do. I probably have at least two more years until I can get my PhD. It ain’t going to be easy, but I’ll work hard to get through it.

I'm not going to state which school I'm attending, but you may be able to tell from the picture.

Got My Master Degree

Today I received my Master of Science diploma in the mail. Officially, I completed my Master degree course work and thesis at the end of 2011, but it takes some time for the school to process the documents and mail out the diploma. I knew I had met the degree requirements, but it’s good to have the diploma to physically hold in my hands. I got my degree after three semesters, and I have to thank my adviser for letting me get my degree in this relatively short amount of time. Now that I’m officially done with my Master degree, I can focus on getting my PhD degree, and that’ll probably take at least two and half more years. Three semesters went by pretty quickly, but there is still a long way to go before I get out of school.

2011 Fall Term in Review

I am at home now waiting for Christmas, and that means another semester of graduate school had come and gone. This was my third term as a grad student and also my final term as a Masters student. Because I had to take my doctoral qualifying exams and finish my Master’s thesis, I only took two courses in the past semester rather than three for my previous two semesters. As always, here are my thoughts on the courses.

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Back Home for the Holidays Once Again

It’s the holiday season once again, and like millions around the world I traveled back home to spend my winter vacation with my parents. I managed to get off my exams slightly earlier than last year so I was able to travel yesterday (Dec 20) versus last year where I flew back on Dec 22. Since the place I study at is rather far from Vancouver, traveling back will always be a bit of a pain, but the prospect of spending almost a month at home is well worth the effort.

I don’t have any big plans for my winter break. My adviser expects me to do work, so I can’t just bum around and do nothing. I’ll probably just stay around Vancouver/Richmond. I’ll likely be eating out a lot given that the town I go to school at can’t compare with Vancouver in terms of the Chinese food. On the other hand, it means I’ll probably gain a few pounds during my vacation. I’ll have to make sure that I get enough exercise even when I’m at home.

I wish all of you a Happy Holidays :grin: .

Done with Master’s Thesis and Black Friday

My second Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the States has arrived. Before the holiday weekend, I finished up my Master’s thesis and handed it in to my university. Before handing the thesis in, I did a presentation on my research for my adviser and a small number of professors and colleagues in the department, and I think that went pretty well. Unlike a PhD dissertation defense, I’m not being evaluated on my presentation, so there wasn’t much pressure. My thesis went through a couple of revisions to make sure that the content, spelling/grammar and formatting were correct, so hopefully the university won’t reject it because the margins are 0.1 inch off or something. If the thesis is accepted, then all I have to do is to pass my two courses for the semester and I shall receive my Master’s degree diploma in the mail in January. Even though my thesis is done, I’ll probably still continue to work on the project to add features and fix bugs.

I was pretty happy to finish my thesis before Thanksgiving, because it meant I had more free time to enjoy the holiday and go shopping for Black Friday deals. I went to the nearby outlet stores on Black Friday midnight to buy some clothing, and I bought a couple of t-shirts, two pair of jeans and a pair of runners for about $100 which is pretty good considering that they are all from decent brands. There were a fair number of people braving the winter chills at the outlets, but it’s not really crowded or crazy like some Wal-Marts and big box store that sell electronics. I don’t think I’m ever going to those places to line up for Black Friday sale. On the downside for shopping in the wee hours of the morning, I was pretty much half-asleep during the day time on Friday because I didn’t get enough sleep. Besides clothing, I also picked up a vehicle GPS from an online retailer because my car doesn’t have navigation. I’ll probably write a post on my new gadget once I receive it in the mail.

I hope all of you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend as well.