Reality Sets In

Well, I’m finally here. I think often I let myself get caught up in the negative aspects of a new place or experience so in this post I will focus on everything good here at KAIST so far. The transition to living in a dorm after having my own space for the better part of my life has actually been very smooth so far. I have an awesome roommate, and the dorm facilities are clean and bright. Sadly, this dorm does not have private bathrooms or showers, however, the shared spaces that it does have are very nice. Cafeteria food is good and extremely cheap (3,000 - 4,000 krw / $2.8-$3.7 per meal), and while it definitely isn’t restaurant living, it is cheaper than any comparable meal I could make myself.

The weather has been particularly wonderful the past couple of days as orientation has come and gone. Speaking of which, the orientation program was very well put together and provided a great balance of important necessary information as well as campus life improvement tips. It also consisted of talking with a few different current M.S. and Ph.D. students which was very helpful while remaining borderline terrifying. Moving forward, I think the most important aspect for me will be making sure to carve out time to keep myself sane for the many hours of incoming lab and course work. Letting sleep hours take a hit is an easy trap to fall into, and while some students swear its necessary, I think there are other ways to deal with a growing workload that are less burnout inducing.

On the topic of lab work / research, I am at least very excited about moving forward with the research ideas I have ready. Mixing the current advancements in Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN’s) for place and object recognition with a topological approach to localization (where the map is represented as a graph with spaces being nodes and connections between the spaces being edges) could eventually make robots much easier to work with in a home or similar scenario. Imagine being able to guide a robot the same way you would guide a person to your kitchen sink, refrigerator, or anywhere else in the house instead of telling it to move to a specific point on a map that you have to indicate.

I will be meeting with my professor soon to discuss my ideas for my research as well as meeting the lab for the first time. It is an exciting, though terrifying, time in my life, and I look forward to being able to push the boundaries of what is possible and come out on the other side of this journey a stronger person. If anyone reading this would like to get in touch, please do not hesitate to do so! My kakao talk id is: kentsommer (kakao talk is THE messaging app in Korea), otherwise feel free to email me or simply leave a comment on any of the blog posts.

Till next time! - Kent

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