My first year here at the University of Washington Bothell was definitely a roller coaster of an experience. I took a pretty diverse group of classes in all my three quarters, but they are all still interconnected to each other through three themes. The first theme of my fist year at UW Bothell is communication. Communication can help you overcome any challenges that you may face through the help of others. Of course, it is better to have two people thinking about a problem rather than just one. The second theme is critical thinking. It was important to use critical thinking to come up with different and the best approaches to a challenge. Through critical thinking, you would also apply what you have learned in class and be able to manipulate it to your own advantage. Finally, there is the theme of passion. Passion is a vital characteristic to have in anything you do because it acts as a sort of strengthener in your motivation. These three themes have shaped my first year experience here at UW Bothell.
Communication has helped me a long way in my first year of university. First, it was very important for me to take initiative and communicate with other people because I came from a different country. I was unsure of how the people here in the United States would be like: were they going to be different, or similar to the people back in Abu Dhabi, I asked myself. Therefore, the only way to find out is to start communicating with them. Slowly but surely, I started making a lot of friends and now I am confident that my year would not have been the same without some of them. They have helped me tremendously, in both personal and professional ways. In terms of work, it is also important to have other people to go to when in need of help. One thing that I have learned specifically in math classes is that you have to form a group of people who are willing and able to study and work hard in class. With that group, you can collaborate with each other and help each other out. My first artifact, Novum Video Game, was a final project that we worked on in my first Discover Core, BCUSP 110, which was a class on Digital Thinking: Animation, Video Games and The Social Web. This was a group project, and obviously communication was highly required for it. We started working immediately and divided the workload among ourselves so that it was equal and according to what we were best at. The three of us each had our own strengths in specific skills. We made sure to make use of them and gave each other roles that corresponded to that strength. Fortunately, all of our skills and knowledge blended well together, and we came out with a very successful game. This was one of the few group projects that I have been in where each member had a significant contribution to the project. We had to communicate with each other to find out when and where we could meet to work on the project. Another reason why we did really well on the project was because we spent a lot of time outside of class working on it. At the end, we shared the game to the entire class and communicated our whole process with them. Another artifact that required some communication was my essay on How Do McGonigal’s 14 Fixes for Reality actually apply to The Sims 3? This was a research essay based on any game of our choice from my second Discovery Core Participatory Media Culture, and I chose the popular PC game The Sims 3. The Sims 3 is a simulation game that mimics the everyday life of regular human beings. One feature of the game is the ability to exchange items from one player to another. This is known as the Sims 3 Exchange. Through exchanging items such as household objects, houses and even families, you are communicating with other players and are able to see the things they have done in the game. Since playing the game was part of my research for this essay, I did go through the Sims 3 Exchange a couple times to look through the things that people were sharing with each other. I am going to need to be able to communicate, especially in business where you are surrounded by coworkers and managers. Communication right now is important for the future so that you can start building connections and networks to other potential businesses that could help you out in finding a job.
Critical thinking was also a very important theme throughout my first year at UW Bothell. I have been taught to think critically ever since high school, especially since I was a candidate of the International Baccalaureate Program. So I realized the value of it and learned that it was the key in thinking for yourself and taking your own approaches to situations. The Novum Video Game artifact required critical thinking in addition to communication. Making the game required a lot of coding, so we had to use all the coding we learned in class and turn that into a form of a game. My group started thinking of a simple, yet fun game that would showcase our knowledge of everything we learned throughout the quarter. We came up with the idea of re-inventing the classic Space Shooter game, but with our own twist to it. Of course, it was difficult to get things the way we wanted it to. Furthermore, we had problems with trying to figure out the right codes for specific actions. Therefore, we had to think critically of how to solve our problems and would sometimes look at the bigger picture. Part of critical thinking is “thinking outside of the box”. In other words, there’s not just one way of solving a problem, in our case, coding a specific part of the game. Similar to the video game, I also needed to think critically when I was working on my other artifact, Alice Animation. This was the final project for my CSS 107 class where we used this program called Alice to create amateur animations. It was similar to making the Novum Video Game in the sense that we had to use blocks on instructions in both of the programs to make them run. Fortunately the Alice program was really similar to the Processing program we used in for making the video game so it was not that hard for me to use it. It was, however, still necessary to think critically because it was important that each command was used appropriately and correctly. If one instruction in the program was wrong, then there could be a chance that you would have to redo that block again. Also, because the code for the animation was going to be lengthy, I decided to break it down into parts. It was important to make sure that breaking it down into parts would not have affected the way that the animation ran. Critical thinking is going to help me through the rest of my life at almost any situation, whether it is personal or professional problems. The chances of a solution that was not thoroughly thought through working out would be very slim.
Finally, the third, and what I think was the most important theme, is passion. It is important to actually enjoy the work that you are doing, especially in the long run. One thing I like about university over high school is that you get to choose the courses to take. In high school, you were thrown into classes based on the school system, whether you liked them or not. Since I did not have a burning desire for particular classes, I was not that motivated to do work in them. Here at university, you are given more freedom to choose your classes as well as the times of most of those classes. Most of my classes were somehow related to what I enjoy so I was actually interested in the topics we were learning which made me eager to pay attention, learn more and do the work. This theme is evident throughout all three of my artifacts. With the Novum Video Game, I was passionate about doing it because video game developing was one of my biggest interests when I was younger. In addition, we got to choose what video game to make, rather than being restricted to a certain type of game. The instructions and coding for the game seemed hard but my interest and passion drowned all that out. Furthermore, I got to talk about The Sims 3, which was a game that I often played when I was younger, in my essay. Since I was passionate about it I had a lot more to talk about. With my third artifact, I based my animation off of another amateur one that I saw years ago which had me in complete awe. In short, you know you’re passionate about something if you do not even notice the difficulty of doing it. I think that passion is important to have, especially in your career. Having a good job and simultaneously enjoying it would be easily killing two birds with one stone.
My overall experience at UW Bothell was an unforgettable one. Granted, there were a few bumps on the road, but that is what makes the year more memorable. I plan on applying for both CSS and IMD, and then decide where I would go from there. I was always interested in making my own animations like that of Pixar or Dreamworks. I would download free and available animating software and play around with it when I had the spare time. I also enjoyed making videos in general, and have made a couple of videos for big occasions at my high school. IMD is more focused towards that area, however it would be better to broaden out your opportunities, which is why I think that applying for CSS would be a safer choice. I would definitely still be communicating with more people to build connections, critically thinking about all my challenges in life, and making sure that the career path I choose will be something I am passionate about