Serendipity: Learning More from a Day off than from Class

Today, I stopped by a former professor’s office to ask if he wanted to meet for coffee. Immediately, he responded affirmatively, and we spent the next half hour enjoying the caffeinated warmth, which combatted the numbing cold outside.

I’d intended to meet with him and a few professors since last spring, but I hadn’t reached out to them to find a convenient time, what with classes, TAing, running an orchestra, interviewing, and myriad other responsibilities. However, with classes cancelled today and stuck on a couple of problem sets, I found myself with an open schedule. This led me to wandering around Tepper with no set direction, and I serendipitously came across the professor’s office and found the opportunity staring at me.

As we spoke, I remembered why I’d intended to meet with him in the first place. Although I hadn’t found myself enthralled by his class, Optimization for Business, it had interested me; the professor is always open to questions; and he comports himself with great patience, understanding, and kindness. He had made time for me to help my understanding, but I found myself finding excuses not to request to meet with him. This coffee chat allowed me to abstract myself from the minutia of school, figuring out my career, and general work, and reminded me to appreciate friends in life, whether they are my peers, my mentors, or, more fundamentally, other human beings.

With this in mind, I look forward to reaching out to other professors, friends who aren’t yet my good friends, and acquaintances who aren’t yet friends.

My parents always tell me that they pay for me to attend school and learn the material, yes, but, of far more significance, to make friendships and meaningful connections. Perhaps I learned more today on this day off than I would have had CMU’s administration not cancelled classes.

(Tangentially, I disagree with CMU’s decision to cancel class, for little reason to do so comes with the cold without snow, and I am confident in this statement as a lifelong resident of Boston, MA.)

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