Aaron Tan's Blog

01 Jan 2018

Happy New Years!

Goodbye 2017, and hello 2018! A reflection on a year of ups and downs, and hopes for the new year.



It’s weird to think about now, but a year ago, I was writing my AIF and wondering whether I was good enough to get into Waterloo. It seems so quaint now! I think if I could talk to myself at this time last year, I’d tell myself to not worry so much and to take it easy.

In school, I was also taking ICS3U at this point, and also worrying about integration and redox tests for math and chemistry. Looking back… those tests were pretty bad so I’d say spend less time on the AIF and more time studying for those.


February was the languages month - debating and effective speaking and concours d’art oratoire everywhere. Plus, the trabajo escrito and tâche écrite were due, both of which I’m still pretty proud of. That was a good time. Speaking of good times, that was also when the Waterloo early acceptances came out: during the CCC! I remember Edward telling me that he got into Tron right after and me being super worried about whether I also got accepted, but turns out I didn’t need to worry. :)

alt I love info slides!


¡Fue en marzo que visité España con un grupo de mi escuela! Visitamos la Sagrada Família y el parque Güell en Barcelona, varios museos de arte, el Palacio Real, la Plaza Mayor (donde el guía nos compró churros con chocolate caliente muy ricos) en Madrid, unas catedrales en Córdoba, un crucero en Sevilla, la Alhambra… ¡Y la comida! Pulpo, callos a la madrileña, la paella, las tapas sin fin, bocadillos de calamares, demasiadas papas - ¡pensé que mi estómago iba a explotar con la cantidad de comida que devoré! Un país con tanta historia y un idioma que me enamora; esta es la España. Fue una experiencia que nunca olvidaré.

alt El mercado La Boquería en Barcelona, cerca de las Ramblas

alt La paella que comimos frente a la Sagrada Família

alt ¡Churros de medianoche!

alt Ay dios mío

alt Me gustó mucho la arquitectura y las colores muy vivas de los edificios en Sevilla

alt ¡Qué hermoso!

Not to mention that this was the month where our cadet band came in SECOND in provincials! That is something that to this day I am still proud about. Considering that we didn’t even have a full instrumental band until September of the previous year, this was a monumental occasion that I don’t think anybody could have predicted.

alt wow my hair is bad



4 / 20 / 2017


(of course not us, but we could smell it in the air)


IB exams! Very happy with how those turned out. Also the bittersweet IB dinner where we celebrated being free of the damending master that is the International Bacchalaureate Program and laughed and cried at our shared traumas over the past years.


Annual Ceremonial Review. Last performance with the 872 Band as conductor. Returning cadet uniform. :( Another chapter ended.

alt That’s me and my children!


我跟朋友们回了中国!咱们在北京一起去了看长城,故宫,还有吃了很多北京烤鸭。 我们在西安见了几个(别的)朋友;她们吃的火锅真辣呀!(我一点辣的食物也受不了D:)我们也去了乌镇;杭州;南京;苏州;去了很多地方。在上海见到我的表哥,在他的大学那里走了一天;晚上我自己去了外滩散步。上海晚上真漂亮啊!外滩那里有很多游客-我在那时候听见英文,法文,西班牙文,普通话,广东话。。。但是一点上海话也没听到 :(

我回广州时坐了八个小时火车。我的表弟想练一下他的英文,所以我们晚上在床上就练了基础的句子:”How are you doing? What do you want to do when you grow up? What type of cars do you like?” 我的姑姐和姑丈也带了我去东莞看赛车:很激动!爷爷嬷嬷也带了我去乡下见一下我的大家庭和他们刚刚建设的祠堂, 很漂亮。我也跟了我的大舅父和舅母去深圳,因为我的表哥在华为开始工作!


alt 我家庭的祠堂


Unpack. My aunt visits from Australia and has some poutine with us.

alt C’est La Banquise à Montréal; probablement de la meilleure poutine que j’ai mangée et je mangerai.

Hang out with friends for the last time. Say bye to Luke who’s going to Berkeley! Say bye to cadet friends who are staying for Carleton! Pack up and move to Waterloo.


New school, new me. (loljk I’m not that fake) Meet new people at O-week (although it’s more like an O-four days). Hunker down and get on the workload. ECBraking becomes a meme, and so does Marmoset. Physics makes us all want to die a little bit. Math is fun.

I meet Stephen and Sharon and Eric at O-week and we tease Stephen for being 真棒 at everything. I see a guy with a Pebble in Chemistry and sit next to him; it’s (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA)Kash Pirani. Hengcheng is Lily’s lab partner. There are so many new people to meet and so many new people in general!

alt we are, we are, we are the engineers


ECE Boys Night becomes a thing! We play board games on Saturday nights because Saturday Nights are for the boys. We set up games in the living room that smells a little bit like trash and annoy my roommates by playing until 2 or 3 in the morning while also having (not really) deep talks about things like how cheese is made.

Co-op interviews begin and things are scary for a while. Cracking the Coding Interview becomes a fun night-time read. Leetcode is the new drug. I miss lots of class this month, which is probably why some of those midterms didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped they would. :P


I get Fitbit. I am happy.

I see ECE 150 project. I am not happy.

I buy a Google Home Mini and set it to respond “Onions make me want to cry too” when I say “I want to die.” I do not recommend buying anything made by Onion.io.

I buy Philips Hue lights. They sync to my music. This makes me happy.

Kash sets Cortana to call me Daddy. Lily is shocked.

Kash: Look what we did!

Aaron: Hey Cortana

Aaron: What’s my name?

Cortana: Your name is daddy.

Lily: What the fuck.

We make an umbrella light up. This makes me happy.


A semester passes by so quickly. It’s final seasons, and then back to home. Our family takes a weeklong trip to New York which is super fun (except for some of the people but that’s a story for another time). We see Waitress, we go on High line, we go to the Transit Museum (have I mentioned how much I love transit systems?), and so many more things.

alt In New York you can be a new man…

I have fun with friends after the trip. The ball drops and…


It’s a New Year! I’m very excited for this year, although to be completely honest I think I probably peaked in 2017 already.

Reasons to be excited:

  • I have a great co-op
  • The Fitbit Waterloo team is going to San Diego in February! CALI 1A HERE I COME
  • There are even more people to meet and people are switching to computer engineering (looking at you, Andrew Xing) :)
  • I can ask friends who have already taken courses in 1B about what courses and profs to look out for
  • Saturday nights with the boys
  • Turning 19!
  • I am not old, and also do not have arthritis

Reasons to be worried:

  • What if I’m an imposter and don’t live up to Fibit’s expectations?
  • What if 1B is harder than 1A (and it probably will because there are three physics courses which I’m not looking forward to…)
  • Will I have friends in Stream 4 that I’m close with?
  • Where am I living come September?
  • I need to start my S I D E P R O J E C T but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time or the energy for that
  • Is my grandmother going to be OK for another year?
  • Are my friends going to get the jobs that they want?
  • Am I going to lose my languages? Can I afford to keep learning Spanish and Chinese and French?

In any case, happy new years, and to a bigger, better 2018! Here’s to more blog posts and better writing in general.

aaron at 23:53