Kesja’s June 18th Blog

The first week of SSP passed by really quickly—I can’t believe it is Sunday already! During the week, we got a crash course on python, astronomy, and calculus—the pace of learning is really quick, but the concepts are fun. One of the amazing things about SSP is that there are no grades—we do the PSETs because we want to learn and be challenged, not to achieve a specific grade or simply “get it done”. Although we often spend late nights at the study hall solving many complex PSET problems, we are all struggling together and the atmosphere is truly supportive.

After a week of lectures, it was nice to have a day off—as I woke up at 9am, the dormitory was strangely silent; it seemed that most people were still deep in slumber, catching up on precious sleep. For breakfast, I had a protein bar and some dried seaweed—a weird combination, I know, but the dining hall breakfast was over, so I ate what I had. At 11am, the dormitory lounge was full of SSPeople waiting for the movie morning to start (the nights are reserved for PSETs) organized by Delano! Since I watched the movie before, I decided to go back to my air-conditioned (this is an essential thing as the weather gets really hot) dorm to work on the Calculus PSET due Monday. In the afternoon, most people went to the Cosmic Cantena, which serves Mexican-style food, for lunch so as to get a break from the dining hall food. The dining hall food is very hit-or-miss, but I appreciate that there is a fresh salad bar on which I survive. After lunch, there was a spike ball tournament organized as spike ball has become very popular amongst SSP participants. I only played in one match because I am so bad at spike ball; however, some people were real pros (shoutout to Jose and Joseph who won the tournament!). Some groups also played frisbee or volleyball—the weather was sunny and it was so nice to be outside. The UNC campus has a lot of nature—there are squirrels everywhere and you can even spot a deer every now and then! 

The dinner was as usual at 6pm; however, we were not required to wear formal outfits, which we all took advantage of. The dining hall is a 15-minute-walk away, which we often complain about, but honestly, it is a nice time to chat and get some movement in. At dinner, we sit in groups with either the Professors or TAs, which is the perfect time to discuss different interesting topics! 

After dinner, we have time to work on our PSETs in the study hall—we spent long hours there, but it is so satisfying to finally solve a problem and go to sleep, tired, but fulfilled. Today, many people are working on a difficult programming question, discussing the possibilities and collaborating to solve it. The atmosphere at SSP is one of passion and cooperation, everyone being eager to help each other. So far, it has been really challenging, but I can’t wait to see how much I will grow in the 5.5 weeks. This Sunday helped us recharge and enjoy the outdoors, resting after a week of hard work—I realized how fast the time passes; I should cherish every moment more, and perhaps complain about the PSETs less 😉 We’re all in this together, and that is what matters! 

Hi! I am Kesja and am originally from Poland, but have lived in four countries so far! I am a rising senior and in my free time, I enjoy reading books, watching psychological thrillers or Wes Anderson movies, doing digital art, or swimming! Since I was small I was fascinated with outer space and a tiny bit obsessed with aliens. As the years passed, I dove deeper and deeper into the mysteries of black holes, supernova explosions, and theories. When I learned about SSP, I knew I had to apply, but I did not think I would get in!