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Alexa J. '20

Feb 17 2018

Ciao, Italy! (Part 2)

Posted in: Academics & Research, Life & Culture

Part 2/2 documenting my Italy IAP trip :) Enjoy!

Day 15: A magical day in Bologna, especially after chancing upon a fellow group of internationals at my hostel. More churches and panoramic views, but this time, accented by sightseeing of seven of the city’s “secrets” from an Argentinian girl studying abroad in the quaint city. They included a window into a small canal called “Little Venice” and hidden pictorial inscriptions of old storefronts by the main square. We communicated through a plethora of languages, a flurry of French, Spanish, English, and Italian words, moderated by a fearless French girl, who knew all four. In that beautiful moment, I wished I could understand it all, and I promised myself that I would take more language classes (in vain, given the hell that is this semester’s upcoming schedule). It was one flaw of my packed technical curriculum; in the hopes of learning as much as I can in my major, my humanities side is often neglected.

 

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Ragù (Bolognese)... read the post »

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Feb 5 2018

Ciao, Italy!

Posted in: Academics & Research, Life & Culture

Pre-trip background: IAP (Independent Activities Period) in Pavia, Italy through MISTI’s (MIT International Science and Technology Initiative) GTL (Global Teaching Labs –– we sure do love our acronyms), teaching computer science, math, and physics at Liceo Classico Ugo Foscolo.

Day 1: Ciao, Italy. Because of the snowstorm in the Northeast of the U.S., getting on a flight to Milan was quite a struggle. All flights to the New York’s JFK airport (where my trans-atlantic flight was leaving from) out of Boston were cancelled, so after arguing with the American Airlines customer representative for an hour and a half to keep the second leg of the journey valid, I booked a bus to NYC and booked it there. Hence, when I finally got to the Malpensa airport in Milan, I was a little shell-shocked that I had actually made it there before I was supposed to start teaching, and everything felt surreal, partly from how thrillingly unfamiliar it all was and partly from pure exhaustion.

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Day 3:... read the post »

Discussion

Jan 18 2018

The Aftershock

Posted in: Life & Culture

In memory of Kate Hunter ‘20 (1997-2017), who will always be remembered for her big heart, bright mind, and beautiful smile.

According to psychiatrists, when you hear terrible news, you go through 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But that’s not quite how grief manifested itself in me. Instead, it was a tangled balloon of emotions that when released, flew around the room in every which way, confusing everyone, making weird sounds, and refusing to be consoled until it was a slobbery, deflated mess on the floor.

For the sake of writing a cohesive post, I will relabel and map out this process like it was linear, but it really backtracked and sped forward and took 3 steps backward every few days. And I’m sure it all is a fraction of what her family is feeling as they process everything.

I got a missed call notification sometime before the New Year’s countdown. Thinking it was just to wish me a happy new year, I figured I would reach out the... read the post »

Discussion

Dec 1 2017

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Life & Culture

10,968 hours. That’s 457 days, which is 1 year and 3 months since I’d last been home. This past Thanksgiving break, as I turned into my driveway as I had done thousands of times before (driving was weird in and of itself), it felt foreign, nothing like walking through the familiarity of the infinite. Maybe it seems silly, but even grabbing something out of the fridge felt like I was a guest in my own home.

Even more than that, I feel like a different person than I was in high school, which is a rare observation because I think it’s often hard to notice change in yourself since you hang out with yourself 24/7. Here are some thoughts about what else has changed.

D E S K  S P A C E
As a student, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at my desk. As a student studying computer science, I spend nearly all of my waking hours hunched over a desk coding. Therefore, my study locations hold a very special place in my heart, as they’re often the place of absolute highs and lows,... read the post »

Discussion

Oct 27 2017

Classes 2.0

Posted in: Academics & Research, Life & Culture

Here’s to a basically mid-semester check-in to what I spend my time doing. I waited because I naively hoped that life would settle down into a rhythm before I profile it, but also because I was procrastinating as bloggers do. Probably primarily the latter.

6.009 Fundamentals of Programming

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I made that cat black and white and blurry (on purpose)! That was me! Mind you, this was the very first problem set. About a month and half in now, it’s safe to say that I will have learned a lot by the end of this semester. Perhaps even enough to compensate for the fact that my Sundays have been renamed “Day of 6.009 Office Hours.”

6.006 Introduction to Algorithms

This class focuses on “mathematical modeling of computational problems,” which basically means runtime and common algorithms, like merge sorts and Dijkstra’s shortest path. I fluctuate in this class from really feeling like I have a grasp on the material to feeling like the professor is speaking a foreign language. This... read the post »

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