Updated: 2024-02-26 Mon 10:47

RC: Week 1

Hello RC!

I just started the winter 1 batch of 2023 at the Recurse Center (RC)! I'm very happy, I wasn't sure that I was going to make it as I applied very late and worried that I would miss the deadline for this batch. However, the process went super smooth and here I am at then end of week 1 (actually start of week 3, but I just now got my website up and running).

I will be keeping notes on RC here, mostly weekly retrospects where I will reflect and potentially plan for the coming week together with short updates about what I'm doing.

A truly hybrid week

RC operates a truly hybrid retreat where participants come from all over the world (and timezones). As of writing this (day 2 of week 3, I'm a bit out of sync but aim to catch up to my current day soon!) I am in Sweden as I am sorting out my visa. Week 1 was split into two sections as the hub wasn't opened for the Winter 1 2023 (or just W1'23 batch) until the Wednesday of this week. So Monday and Tuesday were remote while the rest of the week I was present in the hub.

I think this format really works well, since it is designed with being hybrid in mind and not tacked onto an already existing model. I think the tools really help here as I find Zulip a joy to use once you get the hang of it compared to for example Slack and the virtual RC hub is fun and interactive. However, being physically in the hub is also great, the space is very cool and inspiring (it really has a nice, comfy hacker vibe).

Socializing is fun, but how am I supposed to remember all of these people?

This week was spent mainly getting to know people of the batch, who they are, what they do and what their plans were. According to the directory of participants of my batch we are 45 people and additionally there are people from the previous batch who are also around, making it 93 people in total. The directory really helps keeping track since I can study who I met and do some quick mental notes, but I have several times re-introduced myself to others at the hub.

I think taking an organic approach to this is best

  • Try to meet as many people as you can.
    • Go to events and be ready to try new things out
    • Introduce yourself even if you may not have the time to chat properly as this will set a context for further interaction and make it less awkward to talk
  • Don't worry about meeting everyone, just be nice and things will sort itself out in time
  • Naturally you will gravitate towards some people, either due to vibing or just because you share similar interests. However, don't let this make you insular, form inclusive contexts rather than insular cliques

Typing out the above it also strikes me that everyone present has a responsibility to make this retreat inclusive and enjoyable. This is basically some additional aspirations in addition to the RC social rules.

The Manual and online resources

RC has an online manual which lays out what RC is, the environment and how to make the most out of your batch including logistics, planning your stay and the philosophy of this unusual experience. The manual contains a lot of material, but I found it really comprehensive and great for setting the tone for the retreat. In any case, it can be used as a reference as you go through your batch.

There are also other resources available internally which I've found really helpful such as the directory of nevergraduated RC alumni. The wiki is great and contains a lot of project that previous RC people have created.

Finally, I think it's so refreshing to have things written down. Often we don't find the time to actually document processes, which leads to repetition which can become tiring, or worse, we may be uncertain what processes are or they may be implicit.

Going forward

At the end of the first week I felt excited, a bit overwhelmed, and slightly anxious about what my project would be. The self-directives were mentioned a lot and we also did some exercises about building our volitional muscles which I appreciate since I have a tendency to become a bit paralyzed when trying to scope out new projects and I should just get to it rather than just doing background reading perpetually!

It was a joy to meet everyone during the first week and looking forward to meeting more people in the coming week, working together on different projects and pair programme!