My roommates and I came back home today to find our apartment completely clean. The bi-weekly maids had our beds made, dirty dishes washed, tables and desks completely organized, with fresh towels on bathroom rack. After half an hour of Super Smash Bros on GameCube and two scoops of cookies and cream ice-cream, Dhruv exclaims, “Man, our lives are so good!”

Last Sunday. 2 in the morning. After a 20 hour journey, I’ve returned to Norcal, a place where I seem to be more familiar than any other in the States. This time, however, for a purpose not even close to any other visits before. To put it in cliche (cause there just doesn’t seem to be any other way), I’m stepping in an unfamiliar chapter of life. Some might even say, I’m finally an adult! (Though, others would argue, Peter can never be one.)

Hello, Google!

Thanks to Google, who organized some wonderful corporate housing for us interns, I had a chance to meet some wonderful people. Zach from University of Pittsburgh, Chris from Columbia and Dhruv from U Penn made my first few days here such an enjoyment. We gathered the 12 other Freshman Engineering Practicum interns in our session and hosted a small party at our apartment, filled with hotdogs, nerf guns bananagrams (which were quite similar to real gun at the gun source), and just so much fun. It almost seemed like a perfect glimpse of what’s going to happen in the next 10 weeks.

The first few days in Google was all about classes – from how Google works to UX suggestions to security. Honestly, it feels a lot like going back to school. After every technical lecture there would be code labs, where we put what we learned in practice with “TA’s” on the side to help.

Although I’ve only been here for a little more than a week, I’ve already been thoroughly impressed by its unique office culture. I swear, there is something magical about how Google runs things. Something that makes me stay in the office until 9p.m., look forward to work every morning, and somehow stay motivated the whole day, reading through millions of lines of codes in its massive codebase.

Maybe it’s the food? The 25 different cafes on campus have never once disappointed me once yet. The other day when Blaze cafe had some “Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Sausages” with strawberry banana smoothies for breakfast, believe me, I was sold. The slight Jalapeno flavor mixed in the cheddar cheese which bursts out into your mouth as you bite into the sausage.. ahhhhhh. But that doesn’t quite explain why everybody else is into this company so much, does it?

Perhaps it’s the office environment. I have a gigantic desk, dual-24” screens, and a kick-butt workstation. (They even welcomed me to my desk with balloons!) Within a few steps, there are a ton of snacks and drinks (like, fancy drinks. Like the Sparkling Apple Juice I found the other day) in the microkitchens, and all sorts of facilities like nap pods (yes, they are insanely comfortable), and walkstations (treadmill + giant monitor) Not to mention the giant catalog of gadgets that you can simply request to have at your workstation… I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one feeling like spoiled.

But all in all, I think the ultimate reason of why I love it here is Google’s underlying philosophy and culture of self-motivation. There are no real “deadlines” – goals are self-imposed, and progress self-evaluated. That said, you are almost guaranteed to be challenged (heck, after all, you’re working in the same office with the top geniuses in the world!), while staying far away from over-pressure. I feel that, in a system like this, procrastinate or not isn’t the question anymore; rather, work became a way we use to challenge ourselves. I want to reach milestones, not because I was forced to, but because I enjoy reaching that goal and living through that process.

Approaching from this perspective, schoolwork might have just started to look a little better. 🙂 Then again, perhaps it’s just my “Google Kool-Aid” talking, as Andrew, Leon, Jeremy and Henry all agree. We’ll see – I plan to blog about my experiences every week; so that at the very least I can keep myself in check. 😛

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