The Year of Hacker School

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A year back this time, I landed in New York city amidst a lot of snow fall. I had gotten into Hacker School for the Winter'14 batch, and a lot of new things were in store for me. I was gonna be living on my own in a new country for the first time. When I got to my subletted apartment, the incessant sirens of fire engines and ambulances that make you wonder how many things could possibly be wrong in this city - intimidated me. But I grew the most in those three months.

I fell in love with New York, my own independent life, my amazing roommate, new friends and all the stuff that I'd never have tried otherwise. Most of all, Hacker School. I've tried explaining Hacker School to a lot of people - and I always like to say - it's an amazing place to learn whatever you want, work with others, meet the experts and talk to them and all that, but that's not what makes it special. What makes it unique is the learning environment it seeks to create - with all the social rules and embracing diversity - making it the place where everyone can thrive - no matter who they are or where they come from.

I spent most of my time there learning Clojure, among other things. I built small simple things, but I realized I had so much more focus. I was putting in the effort to dig into the tools I used, understand how things worked underneath. Other people read my code and helped me make it better. I was no more the programmer who was trying to put together different things and libraries and make an "app". It felt good.

When I came back to India in May, I made some elaborate plan for this year that doesn't matter anymore. But it involved having to wait for stuff to happen for a few more months, and I thought what better to do than go back to Hacker School once again. And so in August I was back in New York, all ready to start a new batch in September.

This time around I got to contribute to Hacker School's internal site, Community and implement search for it, do fancier stuff in Clojure like writing a bittorrent client. I played around with Distributed Systems which I realized I love working on very much. I went to two of the best tech conferences - StrangeLoop and Clojure/conj - and met people I admire and people who've helped me out so much.

I made a lot of friends at Hacker School. Friends who took me dancing. Friends who helped me out in very difficult times. Friends who threw the most amazing Christmas potluck dinner ever. And friends who I can always turn to for anything.

I finished my second batch of Hacker School in November, and came back home in January. And then I realized, all of 2014, I'd done Hacker School! I've wondered if I was doing the right thing by investing a whole year in it - but seeing how much I've grown - it was pretty damn worth it.

I have new exciting beginnings coming up - more on that later.

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