Beyond NY Carrie Holt

Python; Or How to Swallow Something Bigger Than Your Head

We've all been there. Everyone has come to that looming cloud of doom and terror that we have no choice but to endure. It also takes the form of a never ending mountain of tasks or encyclopedias of information you must somehow fit inside your brain. In my case, the seemingly impossible comes in the form of a computer programming language.

This past weekend, I went to the Smithsonian National Zoo with my roommates. It was super nice (and FREE). I didn't even get to see everything. But I saw enough for one day. I think my new favorite animal might be a sloth bear. (Google it. They are funny looking and precious.) I also made my way into the reptile house where I found some pretty great critters. Growing up in South Carolina, I'm not too phased by snakes. I actually think they are awesome. I'm checking out the pythons and I notice this peculiar sign that I found hilarious at the time. Little did I know how frequently my mind would look back on it later...

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My second week at NASA Goddard, I endured Python Bootcamp. Like my mother, you might be imagining some sort of brutal physical activity over a large snake pit filled with pythons. Or maybe you imagined an intense training in the wilderness where I must befriend a large scaly beast before it squishes the life out of me. Come to think of it, that is slightly more accurate. Python Bootcamp is three very long days of hardcore training in the programming language called Python. Now, I have heard of Python before. It's the most current language for astrophysics, so I really need to know it. My research this summer involves developing code... in Python... so I really REALLY need to know it.

After my first day in the bootcamp, I'm thinking, "How am I going to absorb all of this information and then how am I going to know how to use it?" I remembered the sign I saw at the zoo next to the animal, the python (weird, right?). "How am I gonna swallow something larger than my head?" In case you don't get it, the same thing can be phrased, "How am I going to absorb and apply something so much larger than my brain like an entire programming language in such a short amount of time?"

If a python can do it, so can I! (I mean the programming language. I'm not going to dislocate my jaw or anything.) And YOU CAN TOO. The python's approach isn't too bad. Let's try to apply the python's steps to a helpful list for our personal use so that we might also conquer "something larger than our heads."

How To Swallow Something Bigger Than Your Head

1. Start with the right mindset and materials: You must be confident, yet flexible. Know where you're going and how to get there. Gather your materials ahead of time such as supplies, references, and snacks (they can be very crucial to your success).

2. Begin to tackle your obstacle with optimism and positivity: When you begin your task, remember to keep your head high and know that you can and will do this. You are more capable than you think. Now go for it.

3. Take your time & go step by step: After your initial leap, take your time. Just "Walk." Start simple and go from there. Remember to take breaks. No point in losing all of your energy at the beginning.

4. Take advantage of the resources around you: I've found that things are much simpler if you just ask for help. There are so many people who want to see you succeed and will help you. There are also resources to help you all over the internet (just be careful who you listen to). Take advantage of  people and their advice to make your task easier.

There could be many more steps and many more awful (but great) metaphors. Please comment with your own helpful hints (I could use the advice)! If they are in the form of a metaphor, that's even better.