Coding in Paradise


I’m in Costa Rica for 8 weeks to code in paradise and learn Python.  Some of you may understand that statement, others may not. Let me break it down:

coding = programming = my head hurts

I graduated as a Computer Engineer.  What does that mean? If  Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have a baby, theoretically, that baby would be a Computer Engineer. I put a lot of pressure on myself for being a “Computer Engineer”. It’s like people expect me to be a computer and coding expert. I am not. Frankly, after college and a couple of internships, I felt the work was lonely and felt boring.  The experience served me as reasons why this career was not for me.

It’s funny how life can lead you in a circle.  Currently, I am beginning my journey through a programming class over the course of 8 weeks.  I’ll be re-learning what I thought I would never be doing again.  Why? Because, after 5 years in industry, I find that the ability to code allows for many opportunities.  The glimpse I got was a poor one. Coding can lead you to work on innovative projects, with fun teams, and the work can be rewarding.  There are many companies that understand the value in having competent coders and this is exciting.  Also, tech companies need more people like me: A technical, creative, good-spirited latina who loves to solve problems and work with people!

I chose GoCode.org because they have a brilliant approach to teaching and immersion.  The program, based out of the states, takes the students internationally for the class. We are staying in Costa Rica, a block from the beach in a beautiful resort.

Our main goal: Learn to code!

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The hustle and bustle of our lives is left behind…all we need to do is focus.The commute is a 2 minute walk from our condos.  During lunch, I jump in the pool to cool down, and rest my brain from the morning class.  In the evenings, I stroll the beach and watch the sunset before getting back to reviewing material.  Time is used so efficiently the stress of the class is bearable.  No burnout so far in the first week!

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If I could do it alone– no help, this boot camp would be pointless. Perhaps I could self-teach, but where is the fun in that? Another reason I chose GoCode.org is because the classes are small.  This cohort is only 8 students(4:1 student to teacher ratio).  Judging from the first week, the group is great!  It takes a certain personality to leave your life for 8 weeks, move to Costa Rica, and learn to code. Surprisingly, there are 6 female and 2 male students.  I guess women like to travel more than men?

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My first day:

Turns out all the students are very nice. Audrey, my roommate was the only one I met prior to class.  It feels like the students are very familiar to the concepts. I’m slower than the rest to complete the exercises (But that’s my Mode of Operation…it just takes me longer to “warm up”).  Audrey is killing it; she’s flying through the code challenges and making it look like child’s play. Not going to lie, I felt “dumb” even asking questions. I got over it by the afternoon session though, and just asked when I needed help.  No shame in that.  We all have to start somewhere!

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After our class was done(16:10), I didn’t finish all of the exercises but they said we could make it up on our own time. Dinner was at 5:30 and I just wanted to hit the water. So I rushed with Hannah, Lisa, and Audrey to the beach. All of us but Audrey got into the sea.  It felt great to be in the refreshing cool water…a nice break from the brain teasing day I had.

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Dinner was on the beach with the team. We watch the sunset and drink Coco Locos (coconut water, coconut cream, rum, tequila, served in a frozen coconut) and I ordered their signature dish Loco Coco. We enjoyed our refreshment and bonded over a nice dinner with the sea breeze.

As much as I want to complete my assignment and make up for my slacking, I feel like my mind and body are telling me: end the day and start a new adventure tomorrow. I’m going to listen to it.

Who know what shenanigans I will get to judging by the first day!

My First Week

The first week was tough!  It’s been a while since my brain was in “school mode”.  I have to say that the material we learned the first week made a lot more sense than when I learned it in college.  We advanced quickly through a lot of material. I found that when I looped back to complete some exercises I missed, they were easier! Immersion can be overwhelming but the most satisfactory part is when you realize something you struggled with day 1 is muscle memory by day 3.  Its fun seeing the class learn and evolve so quickly.

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Also, our relationship as peers is great.  We basically live together in a resort which allows us to bond.  To wrap up the week, GoCode took is on a boat trip.  It was a great team building exercise at sea with some snorkeling and sunset sprinkled in.  Coding is NOT fun alone.  Having others who can help you makes all the difference.  Our group has proven to be collaborative and this will make the 8 weeks productive and fun. I am excited about what is to come.

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