I was enjoying a hot spring in Utah when a red-haired lady came to join me. Small talks ensued. I told her I was a creative writing student and I wanted to become a writer. She seemed confused.
“Do they teach Vietnamese writing here?”
“No, I’m studying English writing.”
“You want to write in English?”
Now she was really confused. I had an accent, I still do, and she was probably wondering how a person who didn’t even speak English could even dream of making a living out of it. Continue reading “[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English”
It’s summer! The feeling of having no homework is amazing. I can finally do all the things that I’ve been doing throughout the year, but with much less guilt.
I still can’t decide if I had a good year or not. On the one hand, I suffered. A LOT. I overloaded myself with too many things: projects, teaching, writing, rocky relationships, and in the end half-assed everything. In hindsight, I believe I could have learned a lot more if I had tried to learn less.
On the other hand, it was a year of personal growth with amazing experiences. It was the year when I published my third book in Vietnamese. I finished my 2016’s reading challenge: read 50 books. I taught a course at Stanford, which was endorsed by Google, Kaggle, DeepLearning4J and was featured on front page of HackerNews, AI Weekly, and GitHub. A professor invited me to Hungary to help his team with a machine learning project — I accepted and had the time of my life. I started working at one of the world’s most interesting companies. I also fell in love.
Continue reading “[Day 406] It’s the end of junior year as I know it”
Some of the cool things that happened today:
- Jeff Dean high-fived me! I was having a drink with Brennan Saeta at the TensorFlow after party when I looked up and realized that standing right next to me was Jeff Dean. “OMG that’s Jeff Dean,” I said, slightly freaking out. “I’m just going to act casual. No big deal.” Brennan laughed: “Would you like to say hi to him?” “Maaaybe.” SoBrennan introduced me to Jeff and Jeff thought that teaching a TensorFlow class was cool.
- I guess my *new* best friend just got on the cover of Nature. Brett Kuprel was featured on the cover of Nature before he turned 25. PhD students these days (shaking head).
Continue reading “[Day 282] The pressure of impressing new people”
I just finished reading “I am Malala” and I realized that I’m not patriotic. I never talk about Vietnam the way Malala talks about Swat valley, how she yearns for the mountains, the trees, the people of the valley. If she is traumatized that she is displaced from her homeland, my whole life I’ve been working to be able to be away. If she talks to her friends in Pakistan every day when she’s in England, I talk to my family probably once a month and my friends back home around once a year.
I don’t miss home. I don’t have that overwhelming sense of pride when I tell people that I’m Vietnamese. It doesn’t matter to me if I was born in Vietnam or in England or in Malawi. I took no part in deciding where I was born, therefore I deserve no pride in my nationality.
Continue reading “[Day 232] Patriotism for sale”
As some of you have kindly pointed out, I haven’t blogged for a while. Here are two possible explanations:
- Juggling school, teaching, writing, and a decent social life is rough.
- I’m an unmotivated, lazy piece of sh*t.
So, to keep you up to date with my life, because you know it’s sooo exciting, here are some of the things that have happened to me recently, via Facebook:
Continue reading “[Day 207] Quick update on what I’ve been up to”
I just want to let you know that I’ve been off Facebook for a month, and I haven’t had any desire to get back on it. It’s liberating. Here are some aspects of my life that have become much better without Facebook.
- I feel more connected to people. It’s ironic since Facebook is supposed to help you connect to your friends, but I feel that connections on Facebook are superficial because they are too convenient. Now, people I interact with are people who really want to interact with me. They would go out of their way to get my number or to send me an email. And I do the same to people I want to connect with.
Continue reading “[Day 164] Life without Facebook”
I have a love-hate relationship with all the I’m-bored-and-just-want-you-to-entertain-me kind of messages: “What’s up”, “How are you”, “What’s new”. On the one hand, it’s flattering as it means someone thinks of me once in while. On the other hand, it’s annoying as it leaves me nothing to respond to, and if I do respond, the best it could amount to was some pointless small talk. Take this conversation:
A: “How are you?”
B: “Pretty good. You?”
Continue reading “[Day 68] The danger of the “What’s up” message”