From Journalism to Coding Bootcamp — Weeks 1 / 2

“What was I thinking?” — this sentence crossed my mind a few times in the past two weeks. “Why on Earth did I think I could learn how to code?”. But then something clicked in my head, I figured the solution to an exercise and I was back at the “I am a God” frame of mind. These weeks were a bit of a rollercoaster, let’s put it like this.

But let’s start with day one. Green Fox Academy (GFA), where I chose to study programming, doesn’t want to teach you just that. The people there know how intense the next few months are going to be and how important it is to get along well with our colleagues, so we spent the whole of the first day doing team building activities to get to know each other — all supervised by our assigned psychologist. To finish the day — and because we are in the party city of Budapest — the group headed to one of the ruin pubs to say “Egészségére” (that’s “cheers” in Hungarian!).

But enough of party. Day two was hard work already. This is how a typical day goes at GFA: we start with a check-in, where everybody lets the others know how they are doing. Then, we continue with material review, based on the videos we are supposed to watch at home the day before (basically tutorial videos everybody can find on Youtube). This is done by one of our three mentors and goes on for around 1h30–2h00. Next, we dive into practice with a series of exercises that make use of the knowledge we just acquired — we call this the “workshop” and it lasts pretty much the rest of the day. Before going home, we do a check-out round, where everybody has the chance to talk about how their day went. And then we head home — only to face ourselves with another two hours or so of videos to watch and, if we want, all the exercises of the day to finish if we haven’t done so at Green Fox — we never do anyway, they told us we are given way more than we can handle on purpose.

Before starting this daily routine, we greet the week with a “Week Start”, where we gather with the other classes. And, by Friday, we finish with a presentation about what we learnt those days — something that, later on, will prove especially useful, as Green Fox’s partner companies will start showing up, possibly with the intention of headhunting.

So, back to day two. In one day, we covered all the basics of HTML and CSS and managed to do a website that looks like this:

This was a fun task for me, as I had some knowledge with HTML + CSS already and it was good to brush it up. Although that header was a bit of a headache. But nothing compared to the following day, where we covered Command Line, Git and Github. I felt very lost. I think the problem for me was that I could not see a direct outcome of every command I was writing (or I could see way more lines than I was able to understand), so it became quite confusing in my head.

Luckily, during the weekend, I met up with a GFA colleague who managed to explain me the whole thing in a way that was easier for me to understand. The following week, I felt very confident with all this already.

I have experienced something these weeks: the day I learn something, and when I start doing exercises with that specific subject, I feel quite lost. But we move forward, I sleep, and the next day it feels like my brain has somehow assimilated the material from the day before and is now capable of processing it all. Has any of you experienced this before?

In Hungary, these past two weeks were both full of holidays, which meant that my first week at Green Fox only ran from Wednesday to Friday and the second from Monday to Wednesday.

On the second week, on Monday, we started with Java — this was the programming language that was assigned to our group for the first two months. I was not particularly happy with this, since I had done some online courses on JavaScript and Python but had never had any contact with Java. And it’s proving to be more challenging than other languages. But, as we were told on the first Week Start, we don’t know anything yet to already have a preference for a programming language. Alright, it makes sense.

On our first day using Java, we started using expressions && control flow. On the second day, we dived into methods && arrays. The days were filled with exercises that killed our brains but also revealed a very healthy and helpful team spirit amongst all the students and the mentors. Let me tell you a word about the mentors: they are not there to give us the answers. They are there to point us in a direction. That is the way things work at Green Fox Academy. Because, if they just show us a solution, we will soon forget about it but if they teach us how to think, we will remember the next time we need it!

What have I learnt these two weeks?

Apart from the actual technologies used, I learnt a few things these weeks. First of all, I confirmed what I already suspected: that the next few months are going to be INTENSE! Between time at Green Fox and homework, we are expected to commit 9–11h hours per day to learning, sometimes at the sacrifice of sleeping — which, to be honest, does not help when I need to focus on solving complex exercises. Another major takeaway from these first two weeks was that team work is the way forward. Asking for help from mentors and colleagues has proved to be extremely helpful during these days. Sometimes, I was stuck with an exercise for a while and, when I reached out, other people’s help made me see things in a new perspective. Regardless, the third takeaway from this week is also very important: I need patience!

So, what’s next? According to the syllabus, in the next two weeks we will learn about data structures, files and recursion. What is that? No idea yet, but I am hoping to tell you all about it in the next article. Stay tuned!

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