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Attending the Recurse Center and the Rite of Passage


Recently I've been pretty into programming languages and compilers. My knowledge is still pretty lacking, but learning about how different programming languages are structured and why really appeals to me. My curiousity about compilers stems out of necessity of learning about programming languages.

In an effort to learn more about compilers, I was googling around two weeks ago for tutorials on or experiences of writing a C compiler. One of the tutorials I came across was Nora Sandler's series on the topic. Something I noticed was that the footer on each page of her site was something along the lines of "want to become a better programmer? Join the Recurse Center!"

"Huh," I thought, "if someone writing a blog series on creating a C compiler for fun is advertising this, maybe there's something to it." So I followed the link and was immediately intrigued. It was exactly the type of thing I had been looking for and I'm not sure I was fully aware I was looking for it.

For those who don't know, the Recurse Center is an educational retreat for programmers in Brooklyn. It's self-directed, so you're choosing what to work on while you're there (ideally project(s) on the edge of your ability). It's free, but they make money from finder's fees from their built-in recruiting agency.

Within the hour of reading the FAQ and whatnot, I had applied. They were very quick about getting back to me and I had all my other interviews within the week. A little over a week later, I found out I had been accepted. Woo hoo!

I accepted pretty soon after receiving word and I'll be attending either the Fall 1 or 2 2019 batch. Not sure yet, which I choose depends on a few factors that I won't go into here.

Not fully sure what I'm going to want to dive into and build while I'm there yet, but it'll most likely be related to or a combination of the following topics: programming languages (specifically Lisps), compiler tech, generative art, computational linguistics, maybe even security.

So not only am I excited just my the nature of the Center, but as I've been browsing around at various blog posts on programming languages and compiler tech I've been looking at most of these authors' "about" pages. And it seems like an inordinate number of them have been to Recurse Center. I had no idea. And the more people I find who I admire (by virtue of them being interested in programming languages, compiler tech, and various other topics that aren't just "career advancement" but actual curiousity) and who have gone to the Recurse Center, the more I feel that the Recurse Center is a sort of rite-of-passage for what I want to do with my life.

I'm not entirely sure what the future holds for me but I have a feeling that attending the Recurse Center will have a large role to play for me.

I'm very excited and looking forward to it!