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So, What Exactly Happens? by Paige B. '24

y'know, over IAP?

I went home for about two weeks before IAP started. I went to all the food places, the aquarium, the coffee shop 5 billion times, and then I was back on a plane to Massachusetts for the beginning of IAP. People were always shocked I had to head back so early for what they presume is some form of a “month-long winter break”. And it isn’t not a winter break, but it is slightly different. It’s the Independent Activity Period.

I could try (and likely be unsuccessful in) compiling a list of activities that go on over IAP, but there’s just far too many. I tried to write down what I am doing over IAP (see here), but the post just didn’t really encapsulate what exactly happens, y’know?

Like sure, I did do what I sought out to at the beginning of IAP, but there were far smaller mini activities that went on at the same time. Here’s a compilation of the ones I can remember.

  • Playing numerous 3-5 hour sessions of Dungeons and Dragons in the lands of Foxgrove on 3West (a wing in the dorm Next House). We encountered crazy wizards in the small settlement and fought off rock lizards in the mines. All told, we probably played about 20 hours total this IAP, and who knows what’ll happen over the course of the semester.
  • Puzzling with a friend in MacGregor. We started and completed two 1000+ puzzles this IAP, one filled with colorful candy bar wrappers, and another of classic Nintendo merchandise (like Nintendo Entertainment Systems and N64 cartridges). MIT is the perfect place to start a puzzle, especially when there are people who want to puzzle with you.
  • Writing poems. Before this IAP, I had hardly ever written poems. This is for a few reasons, but one of the largest being that I prefer to write about myself autobiographically. But throughout a poetry workshop that ran this January, I found that I was able to write autobiographically in a completely different ways, and I got to see what others write about in their amazing poems. I didn’t get to attend as many of the workshops as I would’ve liked, but I have loved reading and writing poems [even if I may never share them with the world].
  • Trips to Verdes and the Stud (perhaps too often). This year, MIT offered financial aid for low-income students in the form of TechCash to grab food around campus, and I spent way too much of that funding at Verdes– the little grocery store in the student center. But cest la vie, that’s what the funding was for.
  • Seeing MIThenge again. For some students, this will have been their last MIThenge as an undergraduate at MIT. That’s vaguely terrifying, but also exciting.
  • Passing the torch for The Tech, in which starting this next volume I will no longer be the Campus Life Editor. Instead, it will be Vivian ’25 who has been writing for The Tech about as long as I have. I loved the position, but want to focus on my writing a bit more than my editing at the moment. See this year’s Year In Review (which will be coming out soon) for more.
  • Preparing talks and presentations. I’m preparing for my MIT Monologue coming soon in February, and have to give a talk for the ending of the Directed Reading Program this Friday. Neither of which I am particularly terrified by, it’s just a lot of work and memorization. But I love presenting.
  • UROPing. Things are going well with my undergraduate research! We might have a paper out by the beginning of the new semester, which would be exciting.
  • Watching so many movies and TV shows:
    • Puss in Boots 2 in 3West
    • Isle of Dogs at Pika
    • White Lotus in 3West
    • The Brothers Bloom in 3West,
    • and many many more.

Things do actually happen over IAP– more than I can even say in this blog post given many things are still in the works. For some what happens is just recuperating from the Fall semester, for others IAP is packed with 10,000 activities and puzzle hunts and more. I find it hard to quite put the feeling of IAP into words.

But soon, i.e. less than a week, the new semester will begin. I’m not quite ready for that yet. While I don’t know what happens over IAP, what I do know is the semester is hectic. The semester, however, is also routine– standardized. That I look forward to. I look forward to being able to find answers to the question: “So what exactly happens [during the semester]?” I especially look forward to sharing some of these words with you.