42 Wolfsburg remote Piscine — Last Week

Don’t Panic.

*/Warning: this post is heavily descriptive of my mental state by the last week of the Piscine. So if you are not in a good day, or you are not interested in this type of content, you can jump to the next one, which is the conclusion of the whole Piscine./*

The week already started with a “bang”: my rush01 evaluation was on the first slot, at 10:00 am. Luckily I woke up a bit earlier to check this and had time to grab a coffee before it started. The other person who worked on the project and I were both on time, but the third “non-existent” one didn’t even bother to come. It was really awkward to tell the evaluator that he didn’t help with anything, and she had to message him and ask him to come to the call. He just connected and didn’t say a word. The evaluator even spoke to him directly and asked direct questions and he didn’t answer. I really don’t get why a person that has 0 interest would subscribe to the rush, since it is optional. I feel frustrated because if we had 3 people, maybe we could have finished the project.

We failed the project, obviously, but I learned new things about memory allocation during the weekend, so it wasn’t a “waste of time”. I feel nothing is really a waste of time during the piscine, even bad or unexpected things are an opportunity to learn.

I finished C04 on Monday evening, so I submitted and scheduled the evaluations for the next day. I start to feel some inconsistencies in my learning. It is obvious that I’ve learned A LOT, as I have been able to do good progress in the projects, but I see the exercises as more of a “practical” and hands-on kind of learning, rather than theoretical. So most of the time I can make stuff work, pass the tests, I can write code that I will that will do the job, but sometimes I don’t fully understand the “how” or “why” of every little part. Of course, I can explain everything I did during evaluations and defend my code, but there are some details that I just say “I honestly don’t fully understand why, but it worked”, and I feel bad about it. I would like to dig deeper into some subjects and really KNOW it, but I also feel the pressure of the Piscine to keep advancing as far as I can.

I solve most exercises with a ridiculous amount of google search, a billion tabs opened, and grabbing some videos, peer help, tutorials here and there and putting it all together. But then, as a result, I don’t do as well on the Exams, and the staff sees it as inconsistency.

This week I had again a call with two staff members regarding last week’s test and had to explain why I was stuck on that question for hours. At the time they called, I thought I did something wrong, and I was very confused and anxious. But later I gathered the courage to ask what the call was really about and I was told that they did not “suspect” anything, and the call was for understanding why I was advanced on projects and couldn’t pass the second question on the Exam.

I passed C04 on Tuesday, and passed C05 on Wednesday. But after that, to be honest, I was *VERY* scared of submitting C06 and keep going forward, and then if I do badly in the Final Exam, they will think there is something wrong. It is very frustrating even considering “holding back” because I am afraid of what they will think.

I am really getting on my head, and I keep thinking that everything is part of a big “mind game” that they are playing on us: “If you push yourself to do well on challenges, it will be suspicious. If you push yourself to do well on the exam, it will be suspicious. If you do badly on one and succeed the other, it’s suspicious. If you do badly on everything, you don’t get in.”

This might sound very conspiratorial and paranoid, but after 4 weeks of doing my best without even knowing what they are looking for (because the criteria for admission is the best kept secret inside 42), and getting mixed signals like crazy calls from staff out of nowhere and weird questions, the whole thing was really getting to me.

On Tuesday there was some major drama with a member of my tribe. I won’t give details because it’s not really important right now, but on top of the stress of the whole situation, on the following day I received another call from a staff member to talk about it, and then a member of the wolf p.a.c.k. called about it… I was already in a very poor state of mind, and suddenly all this “important” people were after me to talk about things that made me even more nervous, it was terrible.

As a result, on Wednesday I felt absolutely drained and exhausted, and at some point even my body gave up. I had a major panic attack, my pressure dropped, I felt like fainting, felt sick, started shaking, couldn’t breath… After laying down and taking anxiety medicine, the only thing that kept me going was the thought that there was just one more day left. One more day, and the exam.

Thursday was better. No one called me out of the blue, and I decided to finish and submit C06. And I passed! I ended the Piscine with ZERO evaluation points, as I didn’t have any energy or mental stability left to evaluate others. So after I passed my second evaluation around 18h, I decided to stop everything, say my goodbyes to my tribe, and disconnect until the next day.

…Which, of course, didn’t happen because I was too anxious to rest. So I decided to do the backup of all my projects by hand (yes, good old ctrl+c ctrl+v), and seized the opportunity to review all the exercises I had done. And I see now that this was a great decision. It really helped me on the final exam.

Finally the last day! The Final Exam started at 10h and finished at 18h, and I stayed the whole 8 hours. I was surprised to see some challenges that were in the previous exams back, and I was **very** happy to be able to get them right this time. Remember that call I received from 2 staff members asking why I got stuck on a question on the second exam? Yes, it was back. And yes, I passed thanks to them! Looking back, I see that I was so stressed about that call, but in the end, it was a huge help. I also thanked both of them for this in the after-exam group call.

Doing the “manual backup” of the projects also paid off, as I was able to review the code from the first two weeks, and some of them were also back at the exam! I think this helped me remember things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Thanks all of this, I got to level 9 on the Final Exam, and I couldn’t be happier! I don’t know which level of difficulty is that, or how many questions there were, but as I normally suck at exams, this felt like a huge win.

After the exam, there was a brief call with the staff and wolf p.a.c.k., and then there was our virtual “afterparty”, which was organized by some volunteer pisciners and it was fun! They organized a cool talent show, where some people played musical instruments, others showed their artwork, music lyrics, etc. They also sent a questionnaire a few days before for us to vote on some people for funny categories and there was an “award ceremony” for the winners. Soon after that, I left, this time for good, to just celebrate with my husband and FINALLY get some rest.

Now that everything is over, all I can do is wait for the results, and hope that my progress and achievements were enough.

This post is already big, so I decided to make my final remarks on the next one. To continue reading, click here! And I couldn’t end this series without saying:

Just landed here? Check out the previous posts about the 42 Wolfsburg remote Piscine:

My brain has too many tabs open.