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Melis A. '08

Dec 7, 2007

A truly independent activities period

Posted in: Academics & Research

It is crunch time at MIT. Classes are over this Wednesday, and exam week starts on Monday, December 17. There are two standard responses to a stressful situation like this: fight or flight. The alternative is to combine the two: fight (by studying hard for two weeks), then flight (home for the holidays!)

Many students will come back to MIT around January 7 for the start of Independent Activities Period (IAP). *Cue “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”* During IAP, students get to enjoy MIT without worrying about problem sets. Well, that’s not 100% true, there are some for-credit classes that do have tests and homework, but they’re definitely the minority. (For more about IAP, see my former entries on IAP 2007 and 2006.

So what do MIT students do with one month of freedom? I’ll be working on my senior thesis project, taking a wine tasting class, hopefully making some things in the Hobby Shop, and checking things off of my “101 Things to Do Before Graduating From MIT” list. I e-mailed my sorority and asked to hear about their plans. Here’s what they said:

“This IAP I was selected to participate in the January Scholars in France program, an incredible program for students who have shown a strong commitment to studying French at MIT. On January 6, I will be flown out to Paris along with 7 other MIT students. Together with an awesome professor with whom I've taken two courses, we will spend two weeks in Paris trying out all sorts of restaurants, visiting museums, attending theatrical performances, and more, all entirely paid for by this program. Two French guides who really know the ins-and-outs of Paris have worked with this program for several years now to give the January Scholars insider's tours around certain "quartiers" in Paris. I'm also particularly excited about this trip because a French penpal I've been writing to since my freshman year in high school will be taking a few days off from school so we can finally meet and spend some time together in Paris. All the January Scholars will be staying in a hotel in the Latin quarter. The theme of this year's program is "The People of Paris," so we'll all spend some time on our own exploring Paris and trying to better appreciate and understand certain distinctly French characteristics that interest us. This is not a for-credit assignment, just a fun project to help enrich this amazing experience.”- Emilienne, ‘09

“I'm doing the followings this IAP:
week 1: Women's Initiative...An MIT alum and I are traveling to Fredericksburg, VA to talk to middle/high school girls about female engineers.
week 2: UPOP...intense engineering work place skills building
week3-4: UROP in Strano Lab doing researching single walled carbon nanotube complexes for solar energy conversion-synthetic analogs to natural processes.
Last year, I went to LeaderShape, which was amazing and eye opening :)”- Ploy ‘10

“I'm going to astronomy field camp at Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, AZ (12.411) and then backpacking through the Grand Canyon! all with course 12 (the Earth and Planetary Science department)! the entire IAP!!” –Jennifer ‘10

“This IAP, I'm going to Tanzania with my D-Lab (an intro to Development) Team. We'll be working with NGOs, orphanages, wheelchair workshops, and local villages to introduce appropriate technology to address the basic needs of low-income households. In many ways, we are working on helping developing countries by working from the bottom up. My team will be introducing the charcoal project (this process burns agricultural waste to make charcoal, which is an inexpensive way to supply cooking fuel while limiting the deforestation in Tanzania), the pedal power grinder (as maize is a major food crop, this pedal power grinder will turn a typical two-hour chore into a 10 minute process, generating a supplementary income to wheelchair manufacturers and giving more time for women to devote to other enterprises), and the universal nut sheller (this device can shell peanuts, shea nuts, coffee in large quantities, increasing the potential enterprises for local farmers).”- Jodie ‘09

“During IAP, I am taking 6.470, which is a web programming competition/class. There are 10 days of lecture in which we learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, server-side scripting, databases, SQL, and how to put them together. For the following 7 days (and nights), we program constantly until we're ready to present our final product. Besides the intensity of 6.470, I plan on taking relaxing P.E. classes like pilates and advanced swimming.”- Britni, ‘11

Tina '09 sent me these pictures that she took a few IAPs ago. They built a wooden sled and race it down the steps of 77 Massachusetts Avenue (the main entrance to MIT):

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

First!

Posted by: Anon1 on December 7, 2007

IAP is half the reason i wanna go to MIT...

Posted by: Kayla on December 7, 2007

agree with kayla, sounds like so much fun!

Posted by: marie on December 7, 2007

Amazing! I just love all the opportunities and all the excitement about all the opportunities. And I now understand how MIT students stay sane. :D

Posted by: Cathy on December 7, 2007

IAP @ MIT in 2009 - I want to be there!

Posted by: Chris T on December 7, 2007

Sounds neat. I guess I'll know in one week whether I'll be able to do that next year hehe.

Posted by: OmarA on December 7, 2007

I really hope that Chem Eng ( course 10-C) students can do linguistics or foreign languages because I have always dreamed of going to Paris ( J'ai toujours rêvé d'aller à Paris)and I want to do some French and Spanish courses while at MIT! And i wish that students like myself can take part in the IAP trip to France. No, I'm not in MIT yet, but I really want to do course 10-C ( one of the plethora of reasons for me applying to MIT)

Posted by: Masud on December 7, 2007

So apparently students from MIT are coming to my high school through the Women's Initiative program in January - do you know who's visiting Chicago?

Aside from that, IAP is definitely what I'm most looking forward to, if I get admitted! A whole month of learning just for fun, what's not to like smile

Posted by: Karen on December 7, 2007

Wow! I love the fact that MIT gives you variety! Hope I can explore them next year! smile

Posted by: Vani on December 7, 2007

YAY! I mean, no yay for midterms, but I hope you're looking forward to the holidays & IAP! =)

Oh I remember when I visited MIT this June, the person who gave us a lecture said he literally stayed home in PJs and watched cartoons for the whole IAP... I think his name was Mike, maybe?

Anyway, about the UROP program, I was looking at their descriptions and all of the jobs available seem REALLY intense... is there like a preparation course for each UROP job available?

Posted by: Jing Jing on December 7, 2007

No one cares who is first, no matter who it is, no matter what entry.

Posted by: 0 on December 7, 2007

IAP sounds awesome! I hope I get a chance to experience it first-hand!

Posted by: Ben P. on December 7, 2007

i saw you in the infinite corridor today, you said hi to the tour guide smile

Posted by: Sh1fty on December 7, 2007

IAP sounds so cool. What a nice way to spend a month after 4 months of work.

Posted by: 0 on December 8, 2007

Congratulations on being a Rhodes Scholar!!! that is just too awesome!!

Posted by: Monica on December 8, 2007

Masud: Yes, Course 10 students can definitely do foreign languages. I even know a 10-B student who's going on the same trip as Emilienne.

Karen: Sorry, I don't know who's visiting Chicago =( I'll ask Ploy...

Jing Jing: There are a bunch of people who end up just chilling in their room for the whole month. I'm planning on getting a Netflix account...Also, there's no prep class for UROPs, but there's a shadowing program that you can do during IAP. I wouldn't worry about being unprepared, all the UROP supervisors know that undergrads require training, it's part of the process.

Sh1fty: Why didn't you say hi? =)

Posted by: Melis on December 8, 2007

A. Maze. Ing. IAP is just one of the myriad answers to "Why MIT?" I was particularly impressed with the student going to Tanizia-- I wanna do that some day! That and spend an IAP studying Quenya. "Elen sila lummen omentielvo..." Sorry, it's a Ringer thing...
Of course, that's assuming I get in. Which I'm not quite sure about after all. Anticipation's a killer! Good luck, everyone!

Posted by: E Rosser on December 8, 2007

*Tanzania, sorry...

Posted by: E Rosser on December 8, 2007

¿Patrocina MIT un viaje a España? Allí está quiero ir, y viajaré allí si (es decir, cuando) alcanzo mi meta de ingreso. Claro, solamente si hay un viaje como lo que deseo. El periodo de actividades independientes es muy chévere. ¡Encontraré ustedes en el otoño!

Posted by: Nate on December 9, 2007

Wow! This is so cool... I know some french and hope to continue in MIT right now I am in the middle of exams... what a killer. It will be cool to go to France. Enjoy your stay there.

Posted by: Rahul Jain on December 9, 2007

does one have to do IAP, or can one have a really long vacation til February?

Posted by: Mayen '12 on December 9, 2007

Oh man!! Observatory then Grand Canyon! Sounds perfect!

Posted by: Future Astrophysicist, Carolina on December 9, 2007

Mayen:
Yes, you can have a very long vacation if you'd like. It's up to you.

Posted by: Melis on December 9, 2007

I want to go to MIT!!! Every time I read the blogs my stomach feels queezy thinking about Dec. 15th decisions. The IAPs sound like fun!

Posted by: Arathi on December 9, 2007

Wow! That French program sounds really cool. Do you guys do anything with the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Lyon?

Posted by: Will on December 9, 2007

-Nate

Great use of the word "chevere." I'm in Spanish V and that is one of the only words I can remember. Wow, how bad is that?

Posted by: Craig on December 9, 2007

How does housing/dining work during IAP?

I heard basically nothing changes with housing; you can stay in your dorm for free for all of winter break and IAP if you want. But no one I've asked so far remembers what they did for food during IAP last year!

Posted by: Krypton on December 9, 2007

Thanks Craig. What I was asking, does MIT sponsor a trip to Spain?

Posted by: Nate on December 10, 2007

sweet, Ploy '10 is a true course 10. working for Strano after doing that 10.10 project... that's pretty intense. smile

it wasn't that bad actually.

Posted by: Omar '10 on December 11, 2007

Masud,

As Melis said, you can definitely take language classes while being course 10, now the only think I want to say about course 10-C is that it's usually not a good option as your main degree (and usually people use it as a double major) because it's not accredited.

"Course 10-C leads to the Bachelor of Science without specification; this is not accredited and requires fewer chemical engineering subjects."

That's from the MIT course catalog. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.

Posted by: Omar '10 on December 11, 2007

sweet, thanks Melis

Posted by: Mayen'12 on December 14, 2007

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