Sep 29, 2007
Internet is Gonna Get Me
Posted in: Process & Statistics
Last week I had my first exam, shortly to be followed by two others, and I'm happy to say that I suffer from this painful disease that seems particularly contagious at MIT - procrastination. Symptoms are particularly deadly since there are little to no signs when you're first afflicted (mostly because you deny them), until the night before your exams hit. At this point, there's no cure except fervent studying and the occasional swearing that you'll do better next time (unfortunately, the illness becomes asymptomatic again and the cycle repeats). So I'm in the reading room. It's a beautiful study room in the fifth floor of the student center that was renovated shortly before I came to MIT, where sound goes to die except for the occasional Justin Timberlake ringtone. Basic politeness isn't even permitted:
RANDOM GUY: (enormous sneeze)
ME: Bless you!
MY FRIEND MATT COHEN, AND THE GUY NEXT TO MY FRIEND MATT COHEN: (stare)
ME: I mean.. uh.. (barely discernable whisper) bless you.
Despite the silence, though, I can never seem to focus - you know that Gloria Estefan song where she warns the rhythm is going to get you? The internet is going to get me. That's why I'm blogging right now. (Also, My Friend Matt Cohen and I are looking up funny words i.e. pogonotrophy (beardedness).) So in order to divide my short attention span even more - ask me questions! Ask me questions. Better for you to come up with what I should write about rather than me; otherwise you'll just end up having to read about what I did this weekend.
(In case you were actually wondering, this weekend I made chocolate-chip pancakes. They were funky-tasting, because I'd never tried the recipe before, but they had definite potential. Next time I will not use so much baking powder.) (The great thing about cooking in college is that regardless of how much you experiment with the ingredients, someone will always be around to eat it. Never underestimate the stomachs of hungry college kids.)
This entry is a bit long, and without pictures because my camera is still broken (if you guys would like to remedy that, it's a Canon Powershot SD600 and I take PayPal donations), but I've quite a bit of questions to catch up on. So!
Anonymous asks: Can you also give us some info about the grocery stores, department stores to buy warm clothing, furniture like lamps, fans, refrigerators and so on around MIT area and how far away are they, how to get to these stores and so on...?
Sure, Anon (can I call you Anon? I feel like we're already good friends). That's a lot to cover, but I'll do my best. Just off the top of my head:
Grocery stores: Star Market is right next to the Hotel at MIT, near Central Square, and is a good standard supermarket - it's definitely within walking distance, but there's a Saferide in case you overload yourself and end up buying four bags of frozen peas (what? They were on sale. Also, they make good ice packs). Another option is Whole Foods, across the Harvard Bridge and a couple streets down into Boston, which has more organic options but tends to be a little more pricey. Coming from California, I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's - there's one past Next House near the Hyatt and a small one across the street from the Pru (sorry for these approximate directions, you can Google them if you'd like to know more). I think a study published in The Tech actually found that Trader Joe's was somewhat cheaper on average than Star Market food, but it depends based on what you're buying.
Department Stores: I've mostly shopped at CambridgeSide Galleria, which is a pretty good mall in Cambridge, and there's even a free shuttle from Kendall Square every 20 minutes or so (it's not too far to walk, but can be a bit heavy with bags). You can also take the green line on the T to Downtown Crossing in Boston, and if you're looking for warm clothes there's Filene's Basement, Macy's, TJ Max, and a pretty nice H&M.
Furniture: There's a Target in Somerville - take the Red Line to Lechmere, and then I think there's a bus from there? - if you're looking for lamps, fans, etc. There's also a Sears in the Galleria, where Neha and I got our fridge last year. If you want cheap and totally hip Swedish furniture, though, you can go to Ikea, which is about half an hour away by car (you'd need to rent a car; Next House rents a bus to go every fall). Plus, because it's totally Swedish, you can have interesting conversations like this one:
MY FRIEND ALBERT: Man, this juice is so good.
ME: What is it?
MY FRIEND ALBERT: Klingon berry juice.
(He meant Lingonberry.)
Emily ponders: Just how necessary are laptops? Like when you say you've known people to survive for a while in Athena clusters..how long is a long time?
A long time is maybe like two months, after which he (the one person I knew) caved and bought a refurbished one. Laptops are pretty necessary, because you'll most likely need to use MATLAB at some point, whether you're an engineering, math, or science major. There are also humanities requirements (called CI-H, or Communications Intensive in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) that expect you to write several papers per semester. If you choose to do so with on papyrus with a sharpened reed, that's up to you, but you won't be able to quickly find the facts you need on Wikipedia (i.e. what pogonotrophy is).
Isshak wonders: How big are the tables in the classroom ? Because my computer is the large screen 17" type, so it's pretty massive.
It depends on the classroom. Classes in Stata tend to have giant surfaces you sit behind, for both your writing pleasure and also in case of a major natural disaster, but the pull-out desks in the Brain and Cognitive Science building (46) are so flimsy that they'll shatter under four sheets of binder paper. In those classes, I generally just put my computer on my lap. In most of the main classrooms (i.e. 10-250 and 54-100), the pull-out desks are both sturdy and sizeable, so I think you should be fine with a 17" laptop; if not, they're pull-out, so you don't necessarily need to use them.
Isshak has a question: Jess, I had a question, could you explain to us what rush dorm really is ? Because I didn't really understand how they place you. Do you answer questions like "I would like to have my own bedroom, near school, great view) things like that ?
The housing process really is one of the coolest parts of being an MIT freshman. During the summer, Housing sends you a booklet with a page written by each of the dorms, along with a DVD with short movies made by each of the dorms (the i3 videos, or Interactive Introduction to the Institute, can be found here). You read, and watch, and then fill out a preference sheet online with a few words about yourself (no need to re-copy your college essay; think more of a personal ad). You're also asked if you'd prefer a single, double, triple, or quad, but while your preferences are taken into account, they don't necessarily mean you'll get what you want (as it's a lottery). You get temped in a dormitory, where you live for a week (or two if you choose to do a pre-orientation program) - which is a time period called REX, or Residence Exploration, during which you're highly encouraged to check out the other dorms available to you. After that week you fill out another preference sheet, during which you can try to lottery into another dorm or elect to stay in your current dorm. This is not the case for Next House and McCormick, which are Residence-Based Advising dorms and thus will not allow you to move out of those dorms if you pref one of them.
And now that I've fully blown off an entire evening of studying, I'm going to stop listening to Gloria Estefan, turn off the internet, and try to do some work. But please keep asking questions!