Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Aug 13, '09 10:40 PM EST

    School is slowly starting to ramp up over the next few weeks: Tomorrow is the first of two sessions where incoming students can go to Gund Hall to have our mandatory lobotomies and microchip implants—uh, I mean, free software installations in Microsoft XP. Next Wednesday, our one-week “Digital Skills” workshop will begin, for those of us who are not familiar with Rhino and other recommended software. The day after that ends is the orientation for international students, then the horse-and-pony show of registration and orientation for everyone, and then—as we collectively nurse our hangovers—classes will begin.

    I guess it’s about the right time for all this. This past Monday I celebrated my one-month anniversary of becoming a resident of Somerville (and of the United States), and I guess I have to accept that this summer, like so many others, might not last forever. I just wish I had a bit more time to finish my dissertation—but even there, I’m looking forward to finally getting it done and other with, and in that sense the deadline is my friend.

    I’m excited to start school. I’m conscious of how fortunate I am to have the time, freedom, and means to spend the next few years of my life learning, exploring, pushing myself, making new friends, and hopefully becoming a better designer and a better and stronger person—not to mention getting one step closer to becoming an architect. There’s no better time to be doing this, both in terms of my personal life and the economic situation, and there’s no place I’d rather be than at Harvard.

    But I’ve also got to admit that part of me is aware of the fact that, in choosing to study at the GSD, I’ve picked a difficult place for myself. Not just that I’ll have really bright and ambitious colleagues—no doubt about that—but the school’s strengths correlate pretty well to my weaknesses. An easier fit for me would have been somewhere where I could do lots of theory, work on my hand-drawing, and have the freedom to follow my own little idiosyncratic projects. I also remember I was pretty “smudgy” in my first (and only) year studio, so I hope I can learn to pump out the designs, render, and make tidy models and clean graphics well enough to get by at the GSD. (And there are probably many other challenges that I don’t know about yet, with my limited knowledge of the school.) All of this, of course, is part of why I thought this would be the best place for me, since I would have no choice but to learn some serious skills, both off and on (ok, let's be honest, mostly on) the computer. I’m glad that this program will push me out of my comfort zone.

    At the same time, this, by definition, promises to take me to some uncomfortable places.

    I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading.


    P.S. Here's a picture of Geryon, my new little pal. He's a Betta splendens (aka Siamese Fighting Fish).


    • Kamu Kakizaki

      very poetic an ambitions. good luck with getting things started, geared up, and ready to roll!

      Aug 13, 09 11:57 pm  · 

      sounds very challenging. getting out of one's comfort zone is always a good thing...though geryon looks very comfortable.

      Aug 17, 09 12:47 pm  · 
      John Tubles

      good luck on everything! and please keep us updated on your program...

      Aug 17, 09 6:35 pm  · 

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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