It’s the 16th of August 2015 and I’m writing a physics assignment about Identifying Brønsted–Lowry Acids and Bases and Their Conjugates. I have no idea where or how I’ll apply this. I don’t know exactly how this applies to me. All I know is that I am supposed to answer a couple of questions and get graded.
It’s the 28th of October 2016 and I’m working on a C programming project about building a fractal generator and explorer. I know why I am doing this though. I am building a graphics engine and applying mathematical  principles to it. In this way it will perform better than using intuition.
On the 9th of May 2016 I started a journey. A journey so far removed from my plans and capabilities that it took a moment for me to comprehend why I chose this route. Then it dawned on me. It’s the thrill of it. The beauty of it. The passion of it. All this from one month of bootcamp. A bootcamp that was such a terribly beautiful experience that it ensnared me. I knew then as much as I  know now that I… was home.
I am curious and like to solve problems. Simple enough right? Nope. I am currently working on a project called expert systems. Expert systems being a means of creating an AI of sorts that helps with the making of decisions or the evaluation of already made decisions. And to be honest. I am drowning. I don’t see an end. The task is overwhelmingly difficult. I am sleep deprived. I haven’t seen the sun in a while but I am leveling up.
I am capable of building sites, graphics engines, unix systems, AI and using algorithms. More importantly not only can I visualise the real world applications of such skills, I cant wait to apply them in tackling real world problems.
In 2015 I was on a level, then came the bootcamp in February and I leveled up. Then came the cohort in May and a week later I leveled up and I have been leveling up since.
My grades have plenty of fails and few passes yet I have retained all that I learned in attempting these projects. When I say level up I mean I became better as a person, both as a thinker and as a programmer.
The physics assignment I told you about? I got 83% for it. The fractal project I told you about? I got 0% for it. Yet I can create a fractal from its mathematical formula and graphically represent it on the screen. And I still don’t quite understand why I needed to know Acid and Base conjugates.
It’s the 13th of October 2016 and I have a project due on the 16th. Time to level up.
Written by Mandisi Makwakwa
This story is part of a regular series written for by students of WeThinkCode_, a revolutionary new teaching college in downtown Johannesburg, reflecting on what it’s like to be a young technologist starting out in South Africa today. Find out more about WeThinkCode_ here.