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July 12, 2016

Off-trailing To Class: My Journey So Far at iXperience

Written by

Pietro Arredondo

I was a little disappointed with my freshman year at Boston University. Yes, I took engaging courses ranging from American History of Reform to Business Ethics and joined an amazing professional business fraternity; but I struggled to see how these classes would give me hard skills that were worthy of putting on my resume and prepare me for an internship. After researching online and speaking to an iX alumnus, I felt iX provided a more modern, industry-oriented education experience that would give me a taste of the real world.

I’ve studied abroad before in London. It was an enriching experience where I explored the city alongside friends— but the work wasn’t challenging. I would teeter on the edge of curfew and procrastinate on assignments, while still receiving high marks that only reinforced my bad habits. iX is not at all like that.

As the plane touched down on Cape Town’s International Airport , I was playing a battle of “what if” in my head. Not only had I never been on a 14 hour flight before or been so far from home before. I also had never been so excited to see what iXperience and Cape Town had to offer me.

As a business student, I constantly hear how coding is “the gateway to success”, and “the sparkle on a resume.” This has partly fueled my decision to enroll in the Web Development course, but I have also always been interested in design. I am fascinated with sleek, innovative products that revolutionaries such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have created. These people have shaken up the industry, something I’d like to emulate— but I had no idea where to start.

My teacher, Rafi Khan, told us our first-week project: a personal website. Our class learned the basics of HTML and I looked at him, feeling puzzled. "Hm, he’s probably setting his goals too high, a personal site at the end of four weeks might be more feasible," I thought. But surely enough, on Thursday night, I skillfully and easily coded my personal site with design that complimented and enhanced its content. While my newly-learned skills helped me code my website, my desire to partake in Cape Town’s Thursday night festivities fueled my work pace and focus.

As I hopped around Kloof Street experiencing Cape Town’s energy, I couldn’t help but think how excited I was for class tomorrow. In school, class was a drag to attend (can’t tell you how many macroeconomic lectures I slept through.) In contrast, at iX, I’m an active participant in class and always attempting to go above and beyond in my assignments. My friends and I are working to get good grades, we also tried to go explore Cape Town as much as we can.

I tried to be adventurous and go off trail (sorry mom), which included literally going off the hiking trail while exploring Table Mountain, in the heart of the city. Suddenly my friends and I were at a point were we definitely couldn’t go back down the way we came—the only way was up. As I gripped the mountain face with terror, I stopped and saw how amazing the view was: the ocean blue and jagged rock cut into each other, with the greenery peeking out, trying hard to capture the mountain. I had never been surrounded with such natural beauty; I felt so humbled to be able to study in this magical city. While I was nervous someone could get hurt, we eventually managed to get on trail. We hiked to the top, taking photos that are graced with genuine smiles. We were all happy to be safe and happy to be together. Then, we all ran down the mountain to get to class.

Today marks my first completed week in Cape Town. While it saddens me that my iXperience is already 1/8th done, I’m excited to tackle more assignments, learn more things in the remaining 7 weeks than I have thus far in both my collegiate semesters, and take more photos with genuine smiles.

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