Getting Ready for Grad School… Part 1

AJung in 2009 taking a ferry from Osaka, Japan to Busan, Korea, before moving to Vancouver for grad school.. This was when SARS was the big no-no, and everyone in Japan were asked to wear masks, including on the ferry.

Later in May I convocated, along with my labmate Tom and fellow Mechanical Engineering students.

It was somewhat of a weird experience since, as you may know already, I am not going anywhere. The day I finished my MASc., I started my PhD. So convocation itself didn’t feel like the dramatic end of a long journey and start of a new life that so many valedictorians tend to emphasize.

To be perfectly honest with you, taking a vacation in Miami after my thesis defence was more dramatic than the convocation. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the convocation. The weather was perfectly sunny that day, so the pictures turned out nicely I think – although my sister is holding onto the pictures still… And if there’s one thing that I look forward to during UBC convocation is the cake they give out for you and your guests for free… yum…!!

Anyways, dramatic or not, convocation definitely is one of those things that puts a period at the end of your sentence. Even if you don’t attend, the fact that you receive your degree after that day just kind of puts the proper closure to things like getting your MASc or PhD.

So, now that it’s already mid-June, which means it will be September before you know it, I took a moment today to think back at those pre-grad days…

I used to look so much younger back then... This picture is from my trip to Japan in 2009. Hopefully I'll get the chance to go back one of these days? 😀

About three years ago, I had just graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours Mechatronics Engineering program. And, with my passion for roboethics and human-robot interaction, I ambitiously went to a robotics conference in Japan and toured around Korea. That was how I spent my last summer before starting grad school. That trip also led me to take on a part time job in Seoul, completely forget my birthday (seriously, I don’t even know how I managed to do that), and empty out most of the money I had saved up from my previous co-op terms.

But it was definitely worth while. It gave me a good exposure to the field of robotics, and roboethics. Some of the people I met at the conference are now my collaborators /mentors /friends within the field of robotics. More importantly, I got to spend some time with my family and my relatives. I still remember flying out to Vancouver with my sister in August of 2009. My sister had flown with me to help me settle down and to spend the last few days of my freedom with me.

I remember feeling quite anxious about my new life as a graduate student. I was thankful that I got into the program I had so wanted to get into. At the same time, everything seemed so uncertain — including what kinds of lab mates would I be working with, what courses I should be taking, whether to address my supervisors by their first names etc.

So in the next few posts, I think I will think back to those early days and share what I did during the last summer before grad school. Hopefully this will be helpful for some of you? If not, no worries. I’ll still be blabbering about these things eventually anyway. Haha… But for those of you who are prospective UBC grad students, please do feel free to ask me specific questions. I’ll try my best to write relevant/helpful posts for you.


2 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Grad School… Part 1

  1. Igor

    Hi there,

    I came by your website by accident while looking up some info on grad school robotics. I also graduated from UW Mechatronics Engineering, small world, and am now looking at grad schools to start next year.

    Why did you end up at UBC for grad studies? Send me an e-mail, it would be nice to learn about some of your decision making thoughts.



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