Geeking Out with No Shame: Tan Khye Lin ’20

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Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Today, The Daily Gazette welcomes the class of 2020 with a series of articles written entirely by and about first year students. Welcome to Swarthmore!

Coming to Swarthmore and hearing about all the productive things that my classmates did over the summer, I felt even more like Human Trash than I have past months quite literally living on my couch. There were those who spent their summer after high school working, getting back in shape, or Making A Difference In This World™, but me? Nope, I crashed on my couch the moment I graduated and stayed there till the time came to pack for Swat.

After explaining such an unproductive lifestyle, many would proceed to explain that the couch-crashing was a result of a tragedy befalling a member of their family, or because they had been simultaneously volunteering to help combat homelessness and sitting for finals.  As it is, I crashed on that couch because I was a zombified IB survivor who desperately needed some therapeutic fandom immersion.

Let me explain. I, Tan Khye Lin (first name Khye Lin, last name Tan, this is how Chinese names work, deal with it), am a massive nerd. I will shamelessly geek out over a wide range of stuff, from Aimee Bender’s flawlessly synesthetic writing style to the awesomeness of Captain America: Civil War*.

I come from Malaysia, which is really not as distant and exotic as you think it is. There is a bit of a one-sided language barrier, i.e. if you disturb my slumber, I will probably yell at you in Malay that you probably can’t understand.

My free time is spent watching sci-fi movies, rereading many of my favorite books, listening to musical soundtracks, and researching various esoteric subjects that are somehow crucial to the development of one of my story ideas.

Oh. Yeah. About that…I write stuff, usually of the fictional variety. 90% of it will never see the light of day and 400% of it will never end up in the DG.

So, I spent my summer on the couch watching the first season of Gotham, passive-aggressively reblogging posts on Tumblr, reading comics on Marvel Unlimited, and following the US Presidential Election with growing fascination and terror. And, of course, I slept. I’d completely forgotten that sleep was a thing people did, and now I expect Swat will make me forget again.

And now, a moment of silence for the all-nighters we will inevitably pull at some point this semester.

* * *

Living at Swat has been amazing so far, but living in ML has been a nightmare. The walk is just as “not-fun” as everyone says. If I forget to bring something to class, I can’t just run back and grab it, and the pleasure of taking nice, cool showers in the middle of the day is pointless. By the time I walk back to campus, I’m dripping with sweat all over again. (Insert sexual innuendo of your choice.) On the plus side, the rooms are huge and the vending machine actually works. The distance itself is always a convenient excuse to stay in my room and marathon Star Trek Voyager instead of going out and socializing (oh, the horror!).


Right now, I’m in a love-hate relationship with Latin and Russian. I’m even debating changing my Facebook status to “It’s complicated.” It’s a lot of work, but I’m loving it. If you speak either of those language, feel free to come talk to me! I seriously need to practice with someone other than my stuffed toy dog (who is of no help whatsoever).

Well, that’s it, I guess. I’m just a kid from Penang who thinks too much for her own good, tends toward mayhem, and frequently brings dishonor upon her family and (figurative) cow by peaking at a B average. Really, Admissions, why did you think adding me to the Class of 2020 was a good idea?

Seriously though, I am actually very happy to be here. Please don’t rescind your decision.

*To be honest, I thought The Winter Soldier was a better movie. I am willing to fight anyone who disagrees.

**Like, very little. Set your expectations to rock bottom.

Featured images courtesy of Tan Khye Lin ’20

Khye Lin Tan

Khye Lin is a freshman from Penang, Malaysia. She spends most of her time in class or doing homework because, hello, this is Swarthmore. When she’s not thus occupied, she mostly just flails awkwardly and fangirls on Tumblr. She joined the DG in the hopes that the editors will occasionally take pity on her and allow her geekery to pass for an article. She has recently succeeded in petitioning for her adorable stuffed toy dog to become the unofficial DG mascot.


  1. Welcome to Swarthmore! You sound a lot like me–I spent this past summer playing an average of 4 hours of Mass Effect per day, and boy howdy did I feel inadequate as hell.

    On the plus side, you’re now in geek heaven, and don’t even have to do crazy mental gymnastics to justify spending 2+ hours a day in a room full of sci-fi and fantasy books, nerdy games, and fellow nerds! Don’t worry about feeling inadequate, embrace the geek and have fun. Drop by Psi Phi on Saturday, you’ll love it. 🙂

    And between you and me…Winter Soldier was better, but I honestly have a soft spot for the old-school feel of First Avenger. Winter Soldier has a more powerful storyline but tbh sometimes you just need to see Captain America punch a Nazi in the face.

    • Oh my gosh, that’s so true, CATFA was pure gold! I love that they gave Steve his winged helmet from the old comics. Also, Peggy Carter shoots people in the face a lot and I am all for that. But Winter Soldier is technically brilliant (well, as technically brilliant as Marvel cash cows get) and Natasha Romanoff is in it. 😝 CACW is really freaking awesome, though! The Panther-Soldier-Cap chase scene and the airport battle will go down in MCU history. Plus, more Widow being badass, and they finally–FINALLY–got Hawkeye right!

      Yeah, um, maybe don’t strike up a conversation with me on Marvel unless you want the verbal equivalent of an entire senior thesis, especially if it concerns Romanoff and Barton? As for Star Trek, I argued in the Physics homework I just handed in that a spaceship in a particular question was a Starfleet vessel with a damaged warp engine fleeing from a hostile force, so… maybe don’t strike up a conversation with me, period, because we’ll both feed off one another’s enthusiasm and I’ll end up procrastinating doing my Latin homework (which is exactly what I’m doing right now). Unless it’s a Sunday or late Saturday night; I usually give up on straight As then, so talk away!

      P.S. I loved Psi Phi. Myself and some other frosh were talking about enacting a shrine to the Ice God. We will dutifully offer up sacrifices of water to atone for the lack of devotion of all the alternate timelines in which there is no Block of Ice. Also, an altar for the gods Fraction, Aja, Edmonson and Noto may at some point be constructed.

      • Bah, I have a shitload of opinions myself and have to regularly warn people to outright tell me to shut up. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, I welcome long conversations with fellow nerds! Best way to spend a few free hours.

        Drop by my room sometime, we can watch Star Trek and geek out. I need to introduce you to DS9, you’ll need strong emotions to get through “Duet” (forget not crying, you will cry through that one), and of course “Rocks and Shoals” is a masterpiece, you’ll cry your eyes out over that one, and there’s no space battle cooler than the epic smackdown in “Sacrifice of Angels”…and then we can call Sam and discuss Romulan linguistics and run tactical simulations of Romulan warbirds versus Klingon battlecruisers, and rewrite Nemesis to suck less…

        Yeah, it’s great to have more nerds around. 🙂

        As for the ice god…do not forget the Sacred Consort and the Beloved 637 geth programs, or the weird time stuff that ended up happening. Best icebreaker ever. 🙂

  2. Khye Lin, Welcome to Swarthmore! I hope that you manage to find a balance that allows for regular sleep. (It’s possible, I watched people do it, though I only learned how when I was a Senior). As a Russian major I just wanted to give a shout out to the Russian department and to encourage you to be patient with yourself. Russian table is a great place to practice (though, this early in the semester there might not be a set schedule of Russian tables yet). If you’d like recommendations of Russian music let me know I can send you youtube links to everything from super pop to alternative rock to Russian rap.
    Take care!

    • Здравствуй, Maria! The Russian tables have actually already begun, but the timing clashes with Physics lunch (which I went for instead last week). I’ll definitely check it out either this week or next, though.

      Also, yes please on the Russian music–I’ll listen to more or less anything at least once, so everything from super pop to alternative rock to Russian rap sounds great.


      • Ooh, Russian music is awesome. Shostakovich is my favorite, but Soviet marches are also great to listen to late at night when you need to stay awake to study.

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