Going backwards to move forward

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Which way is the right way?

Some time ago I posted here how were my plans for the future. Back then I was still undecided about what do do; I had just become very disappointed with some people and so I was wondering what I could do from then on.

Since then, my mind has changed several times.

On the personal side, I lost hope on some people. One person in particular, who for many many years I considered as one of my closest friends, a dude I’ve known for over twenty years, decided to become a complete jackass. Disappointment was pretty big, but I got over it.

If there’s one thing that last few years have taught me was to better filter the people I relate to. At least ONE positive thigns that has come out of these bizarre times we have been living in: it has become easier to discern who’s worth the trouble from who isn’t. Although we are at a stage in which only the most devout followers still associate themselves with the asshole in the Alvorada Palace; being against him has become so commonplace that there are a lot of assholes (basically people just like him) who are also protesting against him (as I write this, MBL’s protest against him has just flopped).

2020 ended in a weird way. Since my wife (who’s a nurse working the COVID ICUs), we stood at home. And the mood was a little down so we didn’t do anything flashy or anything like that.

Remembering 2020

After that big debacle that was my LFA venture, I kind of gave up on Meteorology. I remained (and still do) enrolled, going after some alternative courses that I find interesting. A lot of stuff from Computer Science, mainly. I always enjoyed messing around with computers and I hade my eye on a Computer Science degree. Radical career change, moving from Physics into CS… Become a programmer? Maybe a network analyst? I wasn’t sure. But I registered for the entrance exams. Would be nice, being involved in Debian, would be a nice fit.

At least that I got (in part): I got directly involved in Debian, participated in Debconf, started packaging stuff… and am still doing that. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I don’t intend to stop now.

Anyway. There I went, taking the exams in a pandemic year. It was weird to say the least, the mask is annoying as hell (especially when you’re taking exams). I studied “a bit” and went on for the first phase. Got selected for the next one.

That took place in January; I took the exams and got out of there thinking I had got 100/100. Then I started to think about it, and started to realize some mistakes. In the end, I didn’t place very high so I wasn’t even close to being approved; didn’t even get into a waiting list.

It was to be expected, to be honest. I was arrogant to think I’d have any chance at entering in such a competitive course as CS without applying myself seriously (here in Brazil we don’t go through an admissions office; it’s just a test we take and those that place best get accepted). In the end, it wasn’t so bad (as it might become clearer later). I was upset that I wasn’t approved, of course. I thought of giving up, looking for something else. Wife insisted and I decided to give it another try. Even got into an online prep course.

Trying to make it different

Since then (May) I’ve been studying. Not as much as I’d like, because other things get in the way. Then things get complicated; I can’t just ignore everything and isolate myself. But I started to give a little more attention to those things I left away last year, like History and Geography.

Deep inside I worry about Physics and Math; and I do intend to study those, too, but my problem in this case is not content, really. It’s poor attention. There’s always that little detail that gets away that ends up screwing the whole thing.

And so registration for this year’s admission is open. There I went to register, to try again to get into the CS course. As I watched the list of courses roll by, something caught my eye: “Physics Institute and School of Medicine”. And, lo and behold, they are having the first class of Medical Physics starting next year…

“Back in the day” they used to have “habilitations” in the Physics degree. We’d get the course manual and see the blocks of courses we needed to get that additional stamp in our diploma that said we had that kind of instruction. And they had a Medical Physics one, but it was not a proper degree, so to speak. Just like the Astronomy and Physical Oceanography ones became actual degrees later.

What is funny is that during my path in Physics I ended up working with topics related to MP. Not just radiation (mostly X-rays) but also dipped my feet into medical applications, during masters and doctoral work.

The plot twist

When I saw that MP was available clicked in my head. Before that I had my mind made up, to get a CS degree and get into that “line of work”. I even had some freelance jobs as a programmer. But my love for Physics is too deep-rooted; besides, getting in would mean that I have most of the requisites already filled up since I already have a degree in Physics.

I can’t be sure of anything yet, though. They still don’t have the details on it available… I take it that it’s because the degree is new, so they need to come up with it. But, judging from a similar degree in Ribeirão Preto, it looks like I’ll be able to skip a lot.

And I’m still not sure what to think of it all. There is time until registration closes, but there’s a huge chance I’d take that path… maybe it’s presenting itself to me now because it’s the right moment. Skipping that much I’d have plenty of slots to fill up with extra credit.

Still, getting into the Physics program again after 23 years? I don’t think anyone has ever done that. But maybe that’s the way: going back to move forward.

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