Hello there! Last time we left off on the blog, I was still in Yangon mid-2019 a little bit after getting into Northeastern. It’s been two semesters, so I am only halfway into my masters program, but it’s been such a wild ride already even with the rest of 2020 cancelled due to the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have learned so much and made many new friends through classes and extracurriculars, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Last year, after a nerve-wracking round of applications that deserves a post of its own, I got into NEU and started my Masters career in Energy Systems. Although during my first semester I faced many logistical difficulties like finding a suitable apartment space, I made it through the semester in one piece (mostly) and got to explore most of what Northeastern had to offer compared to Georgia Tech. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised to experience a similar college atmosphere with great instructors and motivated colleagues, and even got to meet visiting faculty from GT. Through the annual Energy Conference

I gained a broad exposure to the broad scope of energy systems, all the way from utility services (such as EverSource) to electronics cooling, electric vehicles, and power generation schemes. Furthermore, the presence of an active ASME community with activities such as soldering workshops and weekly guest speakers made me feel right at home. Most notable among the groups I participated in, however, were NUSBO (Northeastern University Sustainable Buildings Organization) for its friendly atmosphere (with weekly free food and hangouts!) and excellent speakers, and the NU SEDS (Students for Exploration and Development of Space) CubeSat group where I learned a lot about microsatellite design (another topic which deserves a separate post). Finally, I met current NEU students from Myanmar and got to see the formation of the fledgling Burmese Students Association.

As you can probably see, however, all that running around with different extracurriculars left me feeling a little over-extended, so I mainly put time into NUSBO and exploring the Boston + Cambridge area for this year’s spring semester. I buckled up and put more time into this semester’s hydropower and engineering economics classes as well, and was in the middle of a pretty regular routine (including going to the gym, believe it or not) when the aftereffects of some guy eating a bat COVID-19 struck the US. My family and I discussed the issue and saw the writing on the wall, so we made the call and I left the US in late March just when practically all university facilities were shut down. After arriving in Yangon everyone in the flight including myself got instantly put into quarantine (another separate post!) which made it difficult to work on online classes for two weeks, but persistence and force of habit prevailed so I was in a pretty good spot academically by the end of the semester and didn’t have to use the Pass/Fail option given as a pandemic accommodation.

Even after the semester has ended, however, there were plenty of other things on the old bucket list that I’ve been putting off for a while so that was a good way to start spending my free time. Right now I’m learning some elementary Japanese, revising my now-rusty Python, updating this website, and curating my e-book collection (PSA about e-books coming soon). With any luck, I’ll be able to beat my chronic blog procrastination this time and post more of what I am up to these few months.


-Shwe Myat

Approximate time until end of Yangon COVID-19 restrictions as of June 18, 2020