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MIT student blogger Jenny X. '13

10 Things I Learned 1st Semester by Jenny X. '13


Say hello to the holidays and winter break!!! Now, sitting at home in Central Jersey, I can’t help but reminisce about 1st semester and MIT. I can’t say I truly miss the Lagrange multipliers or the gyroscopes (No – never gyroscopes!). But there are certain feelings and observations, lessons and epiphanies that I keep thinking of…
Or that I keep recounting whenever someone from home asks my all-time-favorite “How’s college?!?!” Wooo – Here’s a sample.

1) People love Indian food and/or frozen-yogurt-more-endearingly-“Froyo”. I can’t count how many “Ordering Indian in 10! Come to Room # if you want in!” emails I’ve gotten over these past few months. My family eats rice every night and do not dine out much; I’ve never had Indian food in my life. I got my first taste of Indian cuisine this semester, however. I had a mixed chicken curry or something. It blew my mind away – more because of the spiciness than anything else. While i had to keep chugging down water, it was no doubt delicious. Now froyo: again, never had it in my life. But once I arrived at MIT, it seems almost blasphemous if you’ve never had froyo or do not like it. But my concern is: although froyo is logically healthy, the containers they’re delivered in seem huge. Bottom line: is probably the root of Freshman-15 and much college-related weight gain; it’s like “Hey, it might be freezing outside, but they deliver so you can still have froyo in a warm comfy room.” Crap.

2) Sometimes you need to impulsively hit that “Send” button.. There were many times this semester I had to send awkward emails – like asking a professor about UROP opportunities, or asking my chemistry TA how to make up a quiz that I overslept :X. When facing an unpleasant topic or intimidating recipient, writing emails can become anxiety-mongering. But I remember reading a cartoon that described how the student spends 15 minutes crafting an email that the professor processes in 5 seconds… So what I tried to do is: read it over once, smash the send button, and just breathe. (Sometimes I say under my breath, ”OMG, OMG, OMG” afterwards, but same idea.)

3) Ink lasts quite a while. – This semester, I took Disease and Society in America, which is a HASS history class, and there were many papers to write. But that’s nothing compared to the countless randomosities I had to print for writing-centric high school classes like US Government and Psychology. With that said, invest in your own printer for college – might just add a few years to your lifespan. I remember dedicating quite a few Facebook statuses to the irritatingly unpredictable nature of MIT printers.

4) Do not be afraid to go forward – in solving integrals. . This one’s quite specific and personal. I am slow at math and continue to lack the skill of cleverly manipulating …integrands – a.k.a. functions to be integrated. But solving problems by applying trig. identities one after another, substituting multiple times, invoking the scary-sounding integration by parts, and sometimes a combination of these dreaded steps, have pushed the limits of my mathematical patience. On several quizzes and exams, I’ve gotten the feedback “Keep going…” Ahh – so close!!! Must not be afraid to take one more (annoying) step; perhaps this experience could be applied to life at large?

5) Online scheduling/sign-up applications are the bomb! How come I’ve never used Doodle or Google Docs before coming to college? They are so incredibly useful! My dorm uses them for potluck planning. The Taekwondo team uses them for banquet/Secret Santa planning. Chris used it in the beginning of the year to schedule the first Blogger Meet-Up. Just this week, I used it to set up a get-together in New York City. Yes! I learned something in college!

6) Spam Mailing Lists are fun. There are times during the endless p-setting night when you just neeeeed a break. Luckily (?) for me, my floormates on Burton 1 have lots of diversions to supply. Funny/cute/absurd/ridiculous/amazing Youtube videos, random questions, requests for envelops or batteries or lime-colored things, and cookies-up-for-grabs that turn into tea parties… I love checking my email! And procrastinating…

7) First impressions can be mistaken and inhibiting. During orientation and dorm rush, I noticed that this girl was really pretty, but she bore a really guarded expression for most of the event we were attending. I thought, “Why??? God – just take it easy!” So somehow my brain connected those observations and thought she was mean or obnoxious. But she ends up being on my floor and my initial ideas about her are every bit off. I’ve since realized to not let odd first judgments irrationally deter me from saying Hello.

8) MIT campus-wide wifi is unbeatable and oh-I-miss-it-so. Anywhere else – Starbucks, on the Megabus, even @ home – wifi is comparably unstable and/or slow. Enough said.

9) Rain boots are a way of life. This may apply to the female population @ MIT more so than the male…but in general, I’ve never seen a greater concentration of rain boots in greater variety of patterns than at MIT/Cambridge/Boston. When it rains (or even snows) outside, forget the umbrellas – put on some rain boots and skip away. (I think the forgetting umbrella part is just me though.)

10) The heating in my dorm is amazing. Now at home, I’m typing with a coat on. It does not feel good. If I was still in my room @ MIT, I could be wearing a t-shirt. During dorm tours at CPW, I remember hearing about how Burton-Conner has no heating. And when I got Burton-Conner as my final dorm, I was wary but skeptical that BC could legally have no heating. Well – nothing to worry about there! Heating is ample ‚ò∫. That will certainly be one thing I’m going to miss over the next two weeks.

Keep warm! or cool!- depending on where you are :)

Happy Holidays everyone!

[P.S. I just realized half of the things I wrote relate somehow to the computer or Internet…Is it a blogger instinct? An MIT psyche? or a sign I need to get more of a life? HAHA.]

39 responses to “10 Things I Learned 1st Semester”

  1. Wendy says:

    Now I’ll go back and read what you wrote raspberry

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lagrange… no capital G. grin Merry christmas!

  3. Thank you! That post makes me wish more and more that I’ll get into MIT.

    Numbers 2 and 4 are the most useful pieces of advice, I think. Will definitely have to write that on the wall so that I can look up at it from time to time.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. FuLanKe says:

    Great blog! your choice of topic has given me(us) things to expect for @MIT. Happy holidays to you too!
    And oh.. I think the reason why you are writing about computers and internet is prolly because you are getting a new laptop for Christmas.So try opening one of the boxes or look around HAHA!

  5. Val'14? says:

    Froyo is amazing! And(reportedly) less fatty than ice cream.
    Actually the real trick is to eat it outside so it won’t melt. =P

  6. Ooce says:

    Interesting post right through…

  7. Anonymous says:

    You think Indian food is good? You HAVE to try Sri Lankan food.

  8. Caio '14? says:

    I LOOOVE frozen yogurt! Unfortunately, there is no FroYo in my city :(, so I just put the normal yogurts on the freezer. haha

    And Indian food is really spicy :

  9. Sreyan says:

    Come to india and you’ll get a taste of true Indian food. The American Indian food is bland compared to the Indian Indian food! :D
    It’s fantastic and I’d say without doubt, gastronomically India is the best place in the world…. smile

  10. Sreyan says:

    Yes and next time you order, try a “Tandoori Chicken” or a “Chicken Biryani”!
    I’d be happy to give you some next fall provided I get a tube in march!

  11. '13 says:

    What’s funny is that even though heating’s good, some of the windows are bad, and don’t close completely. Haha, that’s the case in my suite lounge anyway!

  12. Zeki '14? says:


    Frozen Yogurt doesn’t taste like ice cream.(Not as sweet as it).I’m actually from the motherland of Yogurt (Yoƒüurt),Turkey!It is produced by cow milk.It is yeasted by Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteries.

    And I love it and its all products.Also Indian cuisine is great.Maybe MIT is great smile

  13. Nathan '!3 says:

    Haha! I’m also a prospective Course 4-er, and live on Connor 4. btw, loved it! Great take on such an insane semester. :D

  14. Caio '14? says:


    1) Buy some yogurt at the supermarket

    2) Put it in the freezer

    3) Gotcha! Your frozen yogurt is frozen :D

  15. Jenny '13 says:

    @ Anonymous – thanks! will correct it. :p

    @ FuLanke- Nope, no laptops. haha

    @ Nathan ’13 – Gooo Course 4 raspberry Cool – I was temped @ Conner 4. smile

    @ Piper ’12 – Very true…in the end it depends on personal preferences I guess.

    @’13 – Hmm. You probably need maintenance asap then! raspberry

    @ Sreyan – Thanks for the food suggestions! And good luck in March- although if admitted, there wouldn’t be any tube … :( Just a regular big envelop, but I doubt you’d mind.

    @ Zeki- Yeah, it doesn’t taste completely like ice cream, but it feels like ice cream – that’s good enough for me, haha.

    @ Caio’14? – As simple as those 3 steps are, i actually never thought to do it! hmm. Have to remember during IAP. Froyo definitely spices up regular yogurt.

  16. Steph says:

    This is good to hear since Indian food is my most favorite kind of food. MIT This is good to hear since Indian food is my most favorite kind of food. MIT <3

  17. anon says:

    I’ve heard the exact opposite about the wifi

    But that might be because the dorm my friend lives in is old and the walls are probably laced with lead

  18. Piper '12 says:

    I too first ate Indian food at MIT. It’s amazing smile

    I find the MIT printers to be more than adequate for my needs. Learning the command to check printers ahead of time (lpq -Pprintername) is really useful for printing something on the way to class and wanting to know what’s not busy. (I ended up selling my printer when I switched to Mac because it didn’t have the proper driver. I haven’t missed it.)

  19. I think some American Indian food is bland, but it depends…if you get Indian food made by Indian friends or in authentically Indian restaurants (where I live in San Antonio has some awesome places downtown), then it’s not bad. I am half Burmese, so I am used to spicy food–love Indian. And masala tea smile Go to England for really spicy outside-of-India Indian, though. It’ll blow you away!

  20. Armin says:

    What is frozen yogurt? Does it taste like ice-cream?

    I tried Indian food too, taste great but they can damage my skin if eaten up too much.

    Merry Christmas everyone

  21. eliasskordas says:

    hey i’m from greece and im 15 yrs old!!!my dream is to go to MIT!!!when it’s done i will live my dream!!!thanks and congratulations for getting there!!!

  22. Hana '13 says:

    omg so true. I love this!

  23. Brad says:

    Oh that’s some pretty good info there. Can’t believe you missed your quiz though! Maybe i’ll experience some of these things next yr. If i get tubed! XD

  24. Anonymous says:

    The best place for frozen yogurt is BerryLine (3 arrow street Harvard Sq.)I suggest you give it a try, if you haven’t already!
    And I also have realized this year that ink lasts way longer than lead pencils.

    What kind of ReCaptcha is Undersea commissioner!! :D

  25. Anonymous says:

    Burton Conner has heating, but no AC, which just means it’s bad in the summer.

  26. Anonymous says:

    hahaha you are so funny! Too bad I didn’t apply for MIT this year. But thanks for your blogs, esp the one on college apps essays. I knew the tricks before, but it’s always nice to hear them reiterated in a clear, concise (kinda) format.

  27. RecentAlum says:

    I like Jenny’s #2, 3, #4 (am regretting my past laziness on this one), $5, and especially #7.


  28. Angela'13 says:

    Hey I don’t know you are a blogger Jenny :D Merry post-Christmas

    Oh I know the wifi’s AMAZING!!! and i feel like dat’s cuz indian food is comparably cheap and tasty? (oh i can’t stand the chinese food ….. cuz it’s just too different from that i have at home)

  29. Oasis '11 says:

    froyo = LOVE

    for some reason I think there’s more steps to making froyo than what caio ’14 suggested raspberry

    i second not needing a printer. i bought a printer my frosh year but i haven’t even opened the box yet. (but this is probably because i live right on top of one of the athena printers in new house)


    ^ that makes me so happy that MIT doesn’t have a print quota raspberry

  30. Allison '13 says:

    JENNY you are too cute !

  31. Winnie says:

    I have never even SEEN froyo before. I really want to find out what all the fuss is about…

  32. How many weeks are in a semester?

  33. John says:

    You’ve nailed my frustration with integrals, Jenny. They’re so obnoxious sometimes…AHH…

  34. Jenny '13 says:

    @ Winnie – hmm where you are from;;; i feel like froyo is getting pretty big; do a search it might be closer than you think. raspberry

    @ Patricia – there were 63 days in the fall 09 semester and there will be 65 days in the spring ’10 semester – which would both roughly equal 13 weeks.

    @ John – ughhh; now I’m trying to tackle double integrals….by ‘now’ i mean …in a few days but still – AHH is right; they’re incredibly irritating esp. if you can’t visualize the solids…

  35. Saher says:

    cool !! but how about the top 10 academic stuff you learned this semester…

  36. Yayyy, a Jennypost that has nothing to do with admissions!

    Campusfood = my survival method.
    But apparently, my mother is tired of me spending so much money on food that isn’t even Korean, so she’s packing me off with lots and lots of frozen Korean food (even kimchi!). Which means, Jenny, that B1 is going to have a ton of Korean foodiness next semester!

    And I’m not sure why I’m telling you this here, in a public forum. But it is 6AM, the first day of the New Year, and I’m tireedddddd.

    Yayyy, a Jennypost that has nothing to do with admissions!

    Campusfood = my survival method.
    But apparently, my mother is tired of me spending so much money on food that isn’t even Korean, so she’s packing me off with lots and lots of frozen Korean food (even kimchi!). Which means, Jenny, that B1 is going to have a ton of Korean foodiness next semester!

    And I’m not sure why I’m telling you this here, in a public forum. But it is 6AM, the first day of the New Year, and I’m tireedddddd.


  37. Adi says:

    i realize how much it will be silly:
    – Jenny, how is the LIFE at MIT?
    it is the first time i am writing in blogs. with my speed of internet connection of 28 kbitsec, i really don’t have as much enjoyment as you

  38. Jenny '13 says:

    @ Adi – hmm…LIFE @ mit well, is LIVELY.
    Everyone’s super busy – and many times, busy with fun stuff; which is not necessarily a bad thing, because academics is really so hardcore. LIFE; some people enjoy it more than others, but let’s just say it will not pass you by without causing a scene.

    //And high speed internet connection really makes LIFE so much better