I arrived in California a day before yesterday on the 29th of July. My first impression was: Everything is so bright and sunny! My second impression was: It’s not as warm here as I thought, I should buy a hoodie. Ali, Usman and Mobin came to pick me up at the airport, and we drove around San Francisco. I loved the Golden Gate Bridge—it is grand and beautiful! We took some pictures there. I don’t look very nice in the pictures, thanks to a combination of jet lag and the cold, harsh Bay Area wind.

Today was my first day at the International Computer Science Institution (ICSI), my new workplace where I will be doing an internship. ICSI is home to some of the brightest Network Security researchers. I have read their papers and watched their presentations with great interest in the past. I was really excited to meet them in person. I did not have much work to do today, so I just did an operation ‘computer tidy-up and organise’. I am now ready to start working on my new project!

On the fifteen minutes walk back home, I was thinking about the great researchers I met earlier and what it would be like to work with them. Frankly, it seems a bit intimidating. Carrying a heavy backpack over my tired shoulders, I kept walking, contemplating the situation at each block.

Center Street: “I know C/C++, but I have never worked on C/C++ software this large.”
Addison Street: “The guy with whom I’ll be sharing office had some very impressive books on his shelf. I should have at least skimmed over Donald Knuth’s books on computer programming.”
University Avenue: “But that guy is close to finishing his PhD, and I am fresh out of grad school, this comparison makes no sense.”
Berkeley Way: With the kind of schedule PhD students have, there is little hope I will finish Knuth’s books in the next 5 years.”
Hearst Avenue: “Why did Donald Knuth have to write three volumes of the book?”
Delaware Street: “I type with two fingers, my typing speed is very slow.”
Picasso Street: “That’s just silly, this is not a typing competition.”

When I reached my house, I stopped at the footsteps and looked back. It was a rather long walk from office to home, especially with the heavy backpack (due to unnecssary items). Yesterday, I had a back pain, thanks to the backpack. Today, I struggled a bit but it did not feel as heavy. Tomorrow, it will be hardly noticeable. I did not enjoy coming to Berkeley when I first arrived, because this is the first time I am living alone. To my mind everyone on the street appeared a bit dodgy, and at night I recalled all the horror movies I had watched in my life. But last night I slept well, though I kept the light on. Tonight, there is a good chance that I will turn off the light.

The one thing I know for sure is that I do not give up. And therefore, I will get there eventually (even though I type with two fingers!).

نہ شود نصب دشمن، کہ شود ہلاک تیغت
سر دوستاں سلامت، کہ تو خنجر آزمائی

Why should my enemies be so fortunate to become your victims?
I am alive and ready,
So spin your sabres and sharpen your daggers, O Killer.

(by Fakhr al-dīn Ibrahīm ‘Irāqī)