A Thank You to the People Who First Sparked my Interest in Computer Science
I am eternally grateful to the friends I met in college. The people who I met during my freshman year at Tufts University colored my life for the next four years, and I’ll never forget many of the things I experienced with them: sledding on pieces of cardboard during a blizzard, inventing a new game to be played in the dining hall called “Apple Fork,” and the many nights that we stayed up all night until morning to eat breakfast together.
Although their influence has certainly diminished after we graduated in 2018 and scattered to various corners of the globe, I still think of them often, for I credit them with introducing me to a world I’m still living in today – a world where Computer Science is something exciting, to be enjoyed, rather than something inscrutable and accessible only to a select few who were naturally gifted.
When I first arrived at Tufts, I had never given Computer Science much thought other than to dismiss it as something that was “too technical” for me to ever understand. I had excelled at the humanities in high school, and I planned to play to my perceived strengths and major in English and Spanish.
My friends, however, had other ideas. Most of them enrolled in COMP 11, the Computer Science department’s introductory course, during our first semester. Before long, it seemed like COMP 11 was all they ever talked about – in the dining hall, in the laundry room, even at parties. Although I didn’t really understand anything that they were saying, I couldn’t help but understand their passion. They were speaking about their assignments in a tone I’d never before heard anyone use to talk about their homework. They seemed excited and fascinated at the prospect of solving the problems they’d been handed.
I enrolled in COMP 11 during the first semester of my sophomore year, just to understand what all the fuss was about. And I understood – more than I ever thought myself capable of understanding. I saw that coding wasn’t magic, but just a way of providing logical instructions. From there, it was easy to see how debugging was simply the process of finding and fixing instances where you forgot to provide instructions or the computer hadn’t interpreted your instructions as you intended.
I also grew to understand their passion. I had never dreamed about course material until I took COMP 11. I had people report entering the computer lab at noon and staying until 3AM without realizing how much time had passed. I thought these people were lying or exaggerating until I did it myself, several times.
Many of those times, my friends were in the building as well, working on assignments for the more advanced classes that they were taking. Some of them even served as my TAs, but it’s clear to me that they all helped me, more than they know. I’m grateful to have met them, even if they did regularly beat me at Apple Fork.
How to Play Apple Fork:
- Spear an apple on the prongs of a fork.
- Hold the other end of the fork, and launch the apple and its embedded fork at another person, who is holding another fork, tines out.
- That other person should attempt to spear the apple on their fork. If successful, the apple will now have two embedded forks, one held by the catching player.
- The catching player will launch the apple at a third person, who will try to catch it on their fork. If successful, the apple will now have 3 embedded forks.
- Repeat until the apple disintegrates, someone fails to catch the apple on their fork, or the apple has so many forks protruding from it that the game becomes too dangerous to continue.