Writing FluxClassify this semester has been a rewarding and interesting experience for me. I've learned a lot about how computer graphics and graphical user interfaces work and how to design a program that is easy and fun to use -- in short, a good program. It's also been a bit of a relief.
To understand why you need to know that I consider my hunger for knowledge to be a very integral part of myself, to the point that when I began to suspect I was losing it last year it was cause for much distress. Coming to college for knowledge is rather like satisfying your thirst by drinking from a fire hose, and after three years I found that I just wasn't as interested in my classes as much. A lot of people think I'm really smart (and I suppose having a good memory helps), but the truth is that I'm just motivated to put effort into finding out about things that interest me. When I became less interested in my classes I put less effort in, and that led directly to my first non-A grade in college. I began to fear that perhaps my innate curiosity had been satisfied, which is what drives physicists in the first place. Overall the last two semesters have had a semi-constant background of worry about whether I was really suited for the lot in life I've always wanted.
However, over the summer and fall I've come to realize that my hunger for knowledge never really left me -- my appetites just changed! Looking back over the last two semesters I see that I was still interested in learning thing. They may not always have been related to what I was learning in class, but I was still as voracious as ever in my pursuit of knowledge. Working with Dr. Takamiya helped because it introduced me to a latent desire to learn more about computer programming that's been a steady background of my life for over a year and half now.
My research experience has been helpful as well because what I learn from working on it mimics more closely how I learn naturally in life than learning in a classroom. My Observational Astronomy Lab this semester pleasantly surprised me in this respect, because our final project (for the remainder of the semester) involves going out, taking actual data, and writing a report about it, and I'm actually really interested in it. In short, all my changing knowledge appetite means is that I'm a little bored of classroom learning for the moment and ready to apply it (which is good news for grad school!). I suppose it's no big ground-breaking realization, but it has been a slow process of discovery for me, and I'm very relieved to see that while my curiosity may be satisfied on one subject for a while, it'll just find something else to investigate. Because, really, a physicist without curiosity is an oxymoron.
And now I need to finish this long-winded post and leave for a day of volunteering on Mauna Kea. A hui hou!