MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Kevin S. '19

Dec 21, 2017

The final stretch

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Academics & Research, Life & Culture

We're halfway through finals week. This semester, though, I lucked out on not having to take any once again.

Last semester, I took all project-based classes. This semester, I have one class with an optional final, 6.034 Artificial Intelligence. The grading for this class is quite unique. We have 10 labs, 4 midterms -- each broken down to the Core section and the Spiritual/Right Now section. The final exam is there to provide an additional opportunity to improve your score on any section of one of the 4 midterms. I lucked out and squeezed a high enough grade on our fourth midterm that I don't need the take the final.

For my other Course 6 class, 6.815 Digital and Computational Photography, we had our final project due last Wednesday on the last day of classes. We had the liberty to choose any topic or field to explore in the realm of computational photography, and I picked non-photorealistic rendering. The algorithm I implemented turned any photo into a brush-stroke painting depending on what type of paint brush was used. Fun stuff. But, the assignment and write-up was due at 21:00 sharp. At 20:50, I was putting last-minute touches to my write-up and cleaning up my code. At 20:55, I uploaded my work and the code crashed on the server. I panicked. Fortunately, the submission site did show the console logs, and there was something off about some of my print statements. I quickly commented them out, re-uploaded my code, and at 20:57, the code was still uploading. I panicked some more. For context, our assignments are due before the hour, sharp. Even one second after the hour, the assignment would be considered incomplete and graded with zero marks. At 20:58, the code finally uploaded... and compiled. Another class down, one more assignment to go.


Notes from one of the labs in 6.034 Artificial Intelligence


A Non-photorealistic rendering of a pic of my family's puppers


For my HASS class, 21M.734 Lighting Design, we had our final project presentations the week before, and our last assignment was a reflection write-up. I finished it the next day, and turned it in. My last assignment for Junior fall complete, I'm free. No more finals, no more psets, no more classes.


A Shot from my group's final presentation to a scene in Waiting for Godot


It's felt quite anti-climatic to be done, a feeling that seems to repeat itself semester after semester. You turn in your last pset, present your final projects, complete your final exams. You're done. You might celebrate a bit, go out with friends, treat yourself to a good night's sleep (read: crash after being sleep deprived for days). But there's nothing after that, at least not for a few weeks. And it's a good thing. But at least for me, it's hard to completely relax and resume to normalcy after the most intense and grueling final days of the semester.

Since turning in my final assignment, I've felt the need to study for a coming exam, start a next pset. But I don't. It's a funny feeling, really. With all my classes complete, I feel a bit aimless, no structure or regiment to follow, no one big objective to tackle next. It will take a few days before I can fully relax and clear my mind.

Instead of flying home like I did last semester, I took a spontaneous trip to NYC with a friend to visit our friend, Class of 2017, for his birthday. We took the bus, which took almost 7 hours to navigate through rush-hour traffic and sleet conditions. We took a grand food tour of the city, walking over 25,000 steps in one day throughout the streets of Manhattan and window-shopped, sight-seeing, and eating at bakeries, cafes, and restaurants along the way. It was wonderful to be back in one of my favorite cities, celebrate the end of the semester, and just have fun.


Pics from a grand food tour of Manhattan


But this week, I'm back in Boston, and for the rest of Winter Break, to train for my upcoming competition. It's given me some much-needed structure during my time off. It's still finals week for most of the MIT community, but for me, I am wrapping up the year in a different way. I have a laundry list of things to do before I leave for ETH Zurich next semester -- forms to fill out, meetings to set up, all my stuff to pack up.

In the meantime, I'm trying to cram in as much elementary German that I can before I leave for an IAP trip to Germany, and then Switzerland. More on that in the next one!

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