Weeks ago I got an invitation to see a CyberDefence competition in one of the classes in University of Louisville – Speed School (Computer Science department).
To be honest, I really had some tough time trying to find the right building, UofL campus is Huge !!,
I would easily compare it by the size of one of the biggest neighbourhoods in Prishtina.
CyberDefense competition was lots of fun…
I was very excited to see students practising their knowledge in that field… Just being in an environment where people do stuff that I love and do best was inspiring and very motivational for me at the same time.
CyberDefense competition worked like this:
There were 5 teams made out of students, each trying to protect their virtual servers while the Red team (in another room) which was made out of senior students and professors were trying to hack into their systems…
At the beginning it wasn’t that fun bcs I saw that everyone was using Windows (-.-) !!! until I moved to the Red Team where I proved myself wrong… there was ONLY one server on Linux but yet most of the Red Team students were using Linux and one of the professors was running a Back Track machine (a linux distribution) to hack into their systems !! It was surprising for me to see that I already knew that stuff… and I was telling my self: “I always knew it… sometimes University is not always the place where you learn everything.”
I had the chance to talk to some of the professors there and showed them what I do, projects and all activities that I did/ do with FLOSSK, Mozilla etc.. and also some plans that I ‘m working on here in US…
Luckily they were all willing to help me, I managed to make some kind of agreement with them to support my ideas… but obviously they were impressed of my age after I told them that I’m still 17, yet the most interesting part was when one of them asked me to give a speech to his students….
I was like: “wow,would this ever happen in Kosovo ?? A professor asking me to give a speech in a university ?? NEVER…”
Well, of course I said yes… !!
Even though I was in contact for months now, I finally got to meet my mentor Mr.Adel (chair of Speed School) with whom I had a very good conversation and got a really good tour of his department.
To be honest I never thought that UofL which is a not well known University (actually I never heard of it before) from where I come has so many research departments and does all those incredible stuff on projects sponsored by NASA, US army etc..
Things that he showed me made me feel SO Small, honestly I knew it but now I proved the quote “The more you learn the less you know…”
Because he has travelled a lot around the world and knows so many people in this field, he explained to me the opportunities of going to College here in US.
His point of view was that there is no need to study abroad unless you want to have the Masters degree. He said that every University around the world probably doesn’t have the best programs and conditions for successful studies but all of them provide you the same quality in theory !!
He mentioned then some of his students that came from different parts of the world, “It took them only one semester to get used to the American system” he said, and then added “but they were not less knowledgeable than the American students…”.
Well it definitely made me think twice, but that was not enough to convince me that Kosovo is one of those countries, “I don’t see any perspective studying in Kosovo” I replied while we were further talking…”I just don’t !!”…
I wasn’t really trying to put down the education level in Kosovo, but I wasn’t lying at least, (not in Technology) I was telling him what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen so far…
He then asked what are my plans for the future (what am I going to study) !?
“I am probably aiming higher than I should, but it was always my dream to study in MIT, I’m going to apply there…” I said.
It didn’t take him much to reply, “Why not !? All what it takes is to show them that you have good grades, good test scores and that you’re not an ordinary student…” *continued talking* while I could tell that I never felt more confident in me!
Compared to Kosovo, US is really giving me lot’s of opportunities to develop my skills and do stuff that I do best, I am really looking forward to study abroad just as many of my fellow citizens do, “BUT I WANT TO COME BACK after”.
Most importantly my stay in US as an exchange student day by day is making me realize that it’s time to take life seriously, It’s time to work on my forever messed up-teenager-life-schedule that I currently have and make it work in order to achieve success, I am not doing bad but I know that it’s not even the right way, I don’t know how long this will take me, how long will I fight myself to change my habits but I’m trying to do my best… and I will, soon !