My love-hate relationship with computer science

I’ve had one hell of an extended absence from the internet. My last post was last September. It’s March now. What happened to me?

Well, this happened.

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Yep, my foolhardy self decided it would be a great idea to move across the country and learn computer science. In a master’s program. Even though I’ve never touched code before.

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My program is a little different from your typical CS master’s degree. The first year is supposed to be a “crash course” in comp sci, an intense information overload designed to get you up to speed. After that, the rest of the program is master level courses.

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I mean, it’s impossible to fit four years of coursework into one. Not that they haven’t tried. Our professors are not afraid to introduce content fast. 

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And the professors are not afraid to give us work. The assignments we’ve received have been long and daunting. When I’m not at work or in class, I’m coding.

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Even when I’m not coding… I’m coding.

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And when I’m REALLY not coding… I’m thinking about how I should be coding.

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Hell, the only reason I’m able to blog right now is because I’m on spring break. Even as I write this, though, I’m thinking:

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Learning computer science is different from learning biology. Biology requires a lot of memorization. Even if I didn’t understand something fully, I could often BS my way through class from sheer rote memory.

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Computer science is not like that. Learning comp sci is like learning how to solve increasingly complex logic problems. You have to understand everything, or your program won’t work.

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Thus, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with programming. Programming can be incredibly frustrating. I have spent hours and hours stuck on one problem, unable to debug it or Google a solution.

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I’ve never been this intellectually challenged, ever. I made it through college! I can’t be that dumb. But in this program, I feel flat-out stupid.

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Yeah. I’m 60% sure that my professor thinks I’m a dumbass.

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Or maybe we just like to give each other shit. (In all honesty, though, he’s a great teacher!)

So, yeah. Coding! Who knew that it would mean hours upon hours of frustration, swearing, stress eating, and punching walls? Sometimes, all at the same time?

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Since I entered this program just to try it out, my friends often ask how I’m finding it so far.

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To be honest, I don’t know if it’s a yes. Those hours of banging my head on my keyboard? They suck. But when all that struggle turns into a running program, I’m all like,

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Either way, I’m lucky to get to try it in the first place– and I think I’ll be sticking with it for a little longer.








17 thoughts on “My love-hate relationship with computer science

  1. Life continues moving for all of us, it seems. I have honestly missed your posts, but, for good or not, my stroke’s affecting of my memory caused me to forget about you until you wrote again. Thanks very much for catching us up. I became a programmer for a large firm with 1 hour in college computer science and using a language not taught in school.
    It was well-worth all the problems. I do love coding. Now, I stick to modding some of Bethesda’s games, but still – it’s as frustrating as it is fun!
    Good luck, but you won’t need luck!

    • I’m sorry to hear about your memory problems! 😥 And I wish I could post more often, but grad school has taken over my life– my apologies for that.

      It’s heartening to hear that you love coding, even though you didn’t get much formal education! I find it incredible that people can teach themselves these advanced concepts, since I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it myself. Good on you!

      • Have always had a knack for logical puzzles. Coding, to me, was a way to create something new, even though the idea came from someone else. I latched onto it and loved it.
        I fully understand about grad school. When I did grad school I was married and working a full time job, so only two night classes at a time. After that, it was two master’s certificates in elementary education and special education. My daughter told me I had almost as many hours racked up as she did for her doctorate. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
        Good luck – though I don’t really think you will need luck. It’s determination that will do it.

        • That’s why I signed up! Coding sounded awesome because you get to create something new. I like creating things! Unfortunately, I’ve never had a knack for logic problems at all. 😛

          But you’re right– even if it may not come to me easily, with a little determination I can get through it! 😀

  2. D: Hang in there. You probably already have a better understanding of CS than half the graduates in the country. Depending on how in-depth the program is, however, things could get worse. The hardest courses for the CS degree where I go to school are Compilers (2 classes, 2nd is much harder), Operating Systems (writing portions of an Operating System for OS161), and a class which is programming in assembly (IA32, MIPS is a different class which is much easier).

    CS isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I think it’s one of the most rewarding degrees that exists right now. The concepts will continue to get harder as time goes on, but the more you learn, the easier it is to understand what is going on.

    • All those classes do indeed sound hard! I hear that programming in Assembly is a pain in the butt.

      I have to say, one of the things I DO like about CS is that the more you learn, the more you can do and make. And I find that really neat! I’m glad to hear that you found it rewarding, it makes me feel better about my future. 🙂

  3. Grad school is totally good at sucking up all your time. I just finished my first semester (German semesters are weird) of a program in Political Economy. I majored in economics as an undergrad, but politics is uncharted territory for me. There are so many theories and all these famous political thinkers that most people have already heard of. Meanwhile I’m sitting there trying to remember the major differences between liberal and idealist theories, and how in the hell you pronounce “Liphart” since he’s such an important thinker. Add in the fact that I’m trying to learn German and it’s safe to say my brain is fried 95% of the time, and the other 5% I’m crashed in bed. I wish you the best of luck with CS. My friend majored in CS for his Bachelor’s, and I remember receiving updates throughout the nights during his debugging sagas. I can’t imagine packing his four-year trauma into one.

    • Oh man, the fact that you’re doing your master’s program in Germany is totally mind-boggling to me. There are a lot of Chinese international students in my program, and I can only imagine how difficult it is to not only be in grad school but also navigate daily life in a language that’s not your own. Your brain never takes a break!

      Haha and man, can I tell you that the late-night debugging sagas are really something. I NEVER drank coffee before coming to Seattle, but more and more I’ll find myself reaching for that Starbucks latte at midnight!

  4. I find it so mind boggling that you’re doing a 4 year course in 1! It seems like you’re getting on fine though with all the hard work you’re putting in 🙂 So are you graduating this year then?

    I’ve been a (silent) reader for 2-3 years and have always been curious on what device/software you use to create the comic posts on…So, how do you do it?

    Love your blog by the way! ❤

    • Hi there! I don’t think I’m going to get the full 4 years of knowledge in 1 year, but they’re certainly cramming in as much as they can. It’s been crazy! I’ll be graduating in about a year and a half, probably at the end of 2017.

      As for making the comic, everything is drawn directly into Photoshop CS6 using a Wacom Intuos 4. The blog is run on WordPress with one of their free templates… though maybe, with my studies, I’ll be able to customize it myself soon! 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions! And thanks for reading my blog; I’m so glad you enjoy it. 🙂

  5. hey comicsmaniac,
    I am a college student from germany and I find your programming comics hilarious and very true :,D . I study social media and communication-informatics (I know interesting combination right xD?) so I find these really funny :D. Our course has got a small Facebook page and I wanted to ask for your permission to share the comics with my fellow students.
    of course I would mark it as your copyright and link it to your webpage 🙂
    tell me what you think^^
    kind regards

  6. It is sooo funny because it is true 😀 .. No matter what programming job you get there is one thing that is always the same …. the program breaks and never works.. until you compile it once and it suddenly works 😀

    … I feel your pain .. as a fellow programmer all I can say is:

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