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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

17 Days by Chris S. '11

"Hey baby, I motion for an one-on-one unmoderated caucus!"

(title inspired by Derrick’s recent blog =D)

So, the Early Action deadline came and went. For those that submitted EA applications, good job and best wishes! :)

On November 7, I received an email. To be honest, I was very surprised that someone noticed this fact. The note was short and simple:

“Should I be expecting an entry today? ;)” [name omitted by request]

Kudos to you and your eagle-eyed observation skills! Indeed, I was planning to draft an entry on November 7, but I had to call it off because I was too busy tooling psets and recovering from sleep deprivation.

(If you haven’t noticed, I have been drafting on a 12-day posting schedule. It wasn’t deliberate in the beginning but I wrote the third entry intentionally on October 26 because I wanted to keep the “pattern” =p)

I’m back, after 12+5 days! I’ll let pictures tell the story of this last two weeks-ish. :)

Before the weather turned cold, Allen and I went sailing for the last time. Allen was my sailing partner in the Sailing PE class that I took during first quarter, so we went out again after the sailing season was officially closed for the year.

Every student that graduates from MIT is required to attain 8 PE points before the end of his/her sophomore year* as part of the PE GIRs (General Institute Requirements) set down by MIT (which also entails an 100-yard Swim Test). Students may satisfy these points in a variety of ways. If you take a standard Physical Education class during the term, it generally gives you 2 points and lasts for one quarter (about 2 months). You can also gain points for PE courses taken during IAP (like skiing!) and special PE classes like backpacking for a weekend in the White Mountains. The PE course offering at MIT is incredibly diverse, ranging from sailing to pistol to ballroom dancing to scuba diving to skating – and I’m only scraping the surface!

(* = thanks for the correction!)

I took Sailing the first quarter and learned how to set up and operate a Tech Dinghy, which is the most basic type of sailboats at MIT. In order to take Sailing, you will also need to pass a “Boating Test” after your Swim Test offered in the beginning of the year, and it basically entails being able to tread water for ten minutes (hey – you also get to chat with the other people who are taking the boating test while bobbing up and down in the water!).

When I first arrived at MIT, I must admit that I was somewhat disheartened that Physical Education, a class I hated intensely disliked in high school, would follow me to college. However, through taking sailing, I started thoroughly enjoying the experience, sometimes even looking forward to another afternoon on the Charles River. In high school, I always felt that PE was something tedious to get through, a class that didn’t mean much but still provided a grade on the transcript. At MIT, after browsing the incredibly extensive PE course listing and going through my first PE class, I’m amazed at all the sports/activities that one can learn here through the Physical Education program (ALL FREE for the vast majority of classes!) It provides a much needed diversion from the tedium of too many problem sets, and provides entry-level instruction without requiring prior experience in most classes. I’m taking Pistol this quarter, and I’m also enjoying it. :)

For most of the first half of last week, I basically lived in Libraries and Study Rooms for the majority of my evenings. I had a big paper due in 17.40* last Tuesday, so I was holed up in Dewey Library (the social science library), voraciously consuming more than 1000 pages of primary text on international terrorism on Monday. On Tuesday night, I was dozing in Hayden Library, exhausted from completing the 8.01* pset (problem sets, or MIT’s more-sophisticated way of saying “homework”). On Wednesday, I was working the night away in Barker Library, studying 18.02*. I love the different personalities of each MIT library, and that’s why I chose to do the majority of my work in them, frequenting them in cycles like what I did in the first half of this week. I will blog about them soon, stay tuned!

*17.40 = American Foreign Policy, 8.01 = Physics: Mechanics, 18.02 = Multivariable Calculus.

Of course, after working hard on the psets, there is always some much needed repast. I may not be the greatest chef, but I am happy to say that I have discovered the art of frying Japanese noodles.

(after all, Anyone Can Cook, right? Ahh, Ratatouille love <3)

Of course, there’s a reason for working this hard the first half of this week. I was leaving on a MUN conference! :)

I’ve done Model United Nations in high school, and its magic once again captured me in college, so I decided to attend this conference. The conference is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from Thursday to Sunday. (UPMUNC = University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference). Six of us from MIT’s MUN Team went for this conference!

A short explanation of MUN (for those of you that might not know what it is):
Model United Nations is a simulated conference of the actual United Nations. Each student attending the conference typically represents a country in a specific council (they’re called “delegates”). For example, a student may represent Iceland on the Economic and Social Council of MUN that deals specifically with the issue of Global Pandemics. The conference is comprised of many different councils (many of which actually exist in the UN – different General Assemblies (Human Rights, Global Security…) and more specialized councils like the UN Security Council and the Economic and Social Councils (ECOSOCs), for example), and each council tries to reach a solution on an issue designated by the conference staff prior to the conference by passing resolutions. Other students (generally the students from the hosting school) called “Chairs” conduct the meetings and ensure order and smooth proceeding during conference. Meetings are conducted in formal United Nations rules of order, so everything is very procedural and orderly (most of the time).

For all you visual learners, here’s a Dummy’s Guide to how MUN works:

I’m sure you enjoy the artistic-ness of my stick figures. The sketch is a VERY simplified version of all the negotiations, debates, and bantering that go on during conference, but that’s the spirit of the conference. Aside from formal debate, there’s time to explore the city, meet the delegations from other schools (there’s more than 60 colleges present!), and just have a good time in general:

I ventured over to UPenn…

Saw the Liberty Bell…(did you know that there are 55 Replica Liberty Bells scattered over the United States?)

Had some amazing food…(I didn’t intend to just take pictures of the amazing Philly Asian food. I actually had Philly Cheesesteak and some great grilled food but forgot to take the pictures =/)

And, of course, spent a lot of time in committee drafting and debating resolutions!

Yup, so that was my two weeks in condensed form.

Now I’m ready to tackle the next onslaught of psets and exams.

Work hard + Play Hard = MIT.

48 responses to “17 Days”

  1. Ying Wei says:


    Life at MIT are so amazing! ! How much i wish that i can be a member of class of 2012… trying very hard though

    P/S:I saw polystyrene on the pictures.(was i wrong)

    Maybe MUN can discuss something to encourage people use it less?

  2. Carla '11 says:

    Great post!

    I am also a library junkie! I would say Rotch is really nice, but I’ve definitely spent time in Hayden. It has an amazing view of the Charles and Boston.

  3. Hey there are “Library junkies” at MIT!! cool! I love libraries too smile – I would definitely agree they’re great places to do work. Hayden is the only MIT library I’ve been to, though I’m dying to check out the music library. Have you ever been to the Boston Public Library (a little bit out of the way for an MIT-er I guess)? I went there for the first time about a year ago and fell in love :-D It has a really nice study room…

  4. Lauren says:

    Though Hayden disappointed me last night as it did not have an article I was looking for… :-(

  5. Timog says:

    Hello Chris.


    i would have been scared to beans (we say that here in my contry:. smile

  6. Snively says:

    I went to the music library for the first time the other day and it was amazing! It’s my new favorite tooling locale.

  7. EA applicant says:

    AHH!! I have exactly the same light blue mechanical pencil as you!!!
    Talking about paper cuts, I’ve gotten 4 paper cuts from History homework just in my Sophomore year. None from math or physics, YET. I learned that metal working tools can cause more blood to come out than just paper. xP

    You are making me hungry with all the pictures of food!!!

  8. Marissa says:

    Yummm, a bento box!

    I want one :(

  9. awesome post, but with one minor correction. the pe credit has to be completed by the end of sophomore year, not the beginning of second term. you nearly gave me a heart attack (i have 4 more to do) and so i went and checked. definetly by the end of second term, sophomore year.

  10. Jübāgəl says:

    Crunch work is best done lonely, in messy rooms lit only by the glow of the monitor, listening to to the soothing tones of Sigur Ros as loud as one’s headphones can handle. Anything else is bright enough for one to escape said work without tripping and being hurt, and quiet enough that the small noises distract; and yet, the music is so good at being the background. The shadow, the monitor’s glow, and the cold light of the northern reaches make all assignments go by fast.

    I mean, libraries are nice ‘n’all that, but there’s somethin’ t’be said for one such an environment.

  11. Matt L. says:

    Chris, that sounds really amazing.

    I’ve been doing MUN since my freshman year in high school and loved every minute of it. I’ve been to a few state and national conferences and enjoyed it a lot.

    MUN is one of the things I’m interested in continuing with, but I have no idea how it works in college. Can you tell me how college MUN is different from high school MUN?

  12. Paul says:

    I love the Boston Public Library! It is a little out of the way, but it’s such a beautiful building. And the books…! I ended up getting my BPL library card during Rush this year (long story), and I still carry it around with me all the time. smile

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great post…love the pics and the course #s were really helpful


  14. Diego says:

    What an amazing post! Thanks so much for all of the pictures and insight. smile

  15. Isshak says:

    Mmmmmm, what you cooked looks delicious ! ^^ I’m hungry now !

  16. You were at Penn??!??! I was there those days too, visiting! Actually, I kind of hated it. It made me want to go to MIT even more. smile Yay.

  17. I motion for you to make me some of that food it looks yummy!!! Second anyone?

  18. GK says:

    Macs rule =)

  19. Anonymous says:

    PE does not have to be completed by the end of sophomore year, it’s just expected.
    You have until you graduate, you just have to file a petition.

  20. Matt says:

    Chris! Matt from Penn here. Just realized you were one of the MIT bloggers when I was replying the post on your wall. haha.. No wonder you mentioned you were working at the admissions office.

    Awesome blog dude! Today somebody just hacked that LOVE monument you took a picture off.. Wrapped it in gold foil and put a crown on top of it, don’t know why. Lol

  21. Meagan says:

    I was at a MUN conference this weekend, as well. Brown University Simulation of United Nations!! However, this year I was in a crisis program, rather than a UN committee. I was Robert Gates in the United States National Security Council. The crisis was set in Oct. ’08 and Pakistan had fallen into civil war. It was awesome.

  22. Karen says:

    This is just barely related, but we had a Congressional Debate tournament this weekend and the most memorable thing was the judge who lectured my chamber on how you ‘move’ for a recess, not ‘motion’.

    I am pretty sure that either one is gramatically correct, but I didn’t argue. They are far less sympathetic than our Model U.N. chairs.

  23. Grace '11 says:

    ooh i second geneva. i’ve been too lazy to cook…or go to the libraries. i meant to do it during orientation but the tour guide was missing or something and i got an amc ticket instead. yay!

  24. Anonymous says:

    aww, MIT sophomores still read the blogs!

  25. Raina says:

    Oh wow, thanks so much for this post! I had no idea that MIT had a MUN program. I was going to miss going to conferences after graduating from high school. I’m just about to have my last Rutgers MUN conference this upcoming weekend. UPMUNC looks amazing! For some reason, the closing ceremony room looks exactly like the Rutgers MUN room! Was the conference held in the Hyatt by any chance? smile

  26. Hunter '11 says:

    The PE thing is more of a suggestion, actually – at least, that’s what I hear from upperclassmen. The rule is that you complete it by the end of sophomore, but most don’t do it.

    I have yet to go to the Boston Library. I should do that..

    8.01 makes me cry.

  27. John says:

    Can I get into MIT with a 590 Math and 540 Writing Im really worried

  28. tania '07 says:

    hey, i want second (third?) anonymous and hunter ’11. you don’t have to complete your pe requirements by sophomore year. you have till graduation. i did 2 out of my 4 required classes senior year. you just need to “file a petition” which basically is just signing a piece of paper during the petition period. keep up with the good work bloggers! i miss the ‘tute.

  29. uh-oh- you actually used primary sources for your 17.40 paper? Yeah…such a good student I just sort of…used the text book as my source.
    Great post though, I like the pictures raspberry

  30. Hyun Jin says:

    So MIT does have a MUN team
    If (an enormous IF in capitals) I somehow, miraculously end up at MIT next year, I’m definitely joining. MUN is by far one of my favorite extracurriculars.
    Oooh and the placards are actually typed up. XD Never seen those before. Where I live, we improvise with notebook paper… no wonder my school never hosts a conference…

  31. Nihar says:

    Hi Chris!
    The last equation sure made my day! It is the kinda mantra Iv been following wherever I go. Pleased to hear MIT enforces the

    Right, I had one question though. Its regarding the MUN. You see our school neither holds nor sends students to be a part of it(sad,I know!), but I have come to think that its a fantastic experience to partake of.
    Thanks to you(and your stick figures ^^), I did understand most of the procedure. I am a little confused about the final resolution though. When everyone votes and it is finally passed, what does the MUN do with it??. Pretty fundamental but I hope you would tell me..

    Thanks…n great post! about another in 12-5 days now? wink

  32. lirao says:

    Wow! That self-cooked noodle looks great^_~ 卖相很好!

    Do you have windsurfing or other water activities in MIT?

  33. Ginger says:

    Wow…There’s a MUN team at MIT. That’s awesome! I hope you had fun at the conference! Which committee and topic did you ahve?

  34. Hunter '11 says:

    John – while I’d try to up those scores, people in the past have gotten in with 500s. Definitely worth working on, though.

  35. Amirah says:

    Wow – you have MUN at MIT?? I am in love with MUN. raspberry I’m such a nerd.

  36. Amirah says:

    @Nihar: to expand on MUN; if you’re a high school student and go to THIMUN (The Hague International MUN conference), the passed resolutions are sent to the UN headquarters in New York. Whether or not they do anything with the resolutions is another story…

  37. Amirah says:

    Chris: I’m so sorry for the wallspam! I keep thinking of things right after I’ve posted! :(

    @Nihar: organising an MUN conference is a lot of work (trust me, I’m organising one at my school right now!), but it’s worth it in the end. It’s so much fun and MUN’s really helped me with a lot of things. If you need any help with it, feel free to contact me. smile


  38. Nishanth says:

    this is exactly the kind of life i wished for .i feel jealous of you……….i wish i qualify for the addmission

  39. Nishanth says:

    this is exactly the kind of life i wished for .i feel jealous of you……….i wish i qualify for the addmission

  40. Oasis says:

    Responding to the Comments!

    Yes, I’m aware that PE doesn’t *have* to be finished by the end of sophomore year at all. I’m just going by the policy wink

    @ Matt L:
    I think your HS MUN experience really varies a lot depending on where you went for high school. For me, this conference was definitely the largest one that I’ve been to since my years of doing high school MUN. In high school, it is very rare for us to have a conference with 15+ schools (but perhaps there aren’t that many oversea schools that have MUN programs). This conference was amazingly large in the sense that it had more than 60 colleges attending. Otherwise, procedures and rules are generally very similar. A change that I noticed, however, between college MUN and HS MUN is that we were allowed to bring pre-drafted resolutions to conference and just merge them together (probably due to time constraints?). At UPMUNC, they actually banned laptops because they don’t want us to bring pre-prepared resolutions. I was just very used to laptop-friendly conferences, so I was pretty surprised.

    @ Raina:
    The conference was at Doubletree in Philly.

    @ Nihar:
    So basically because MUN is a simulation, passing a resolution IS the ultimate aim of the program. We don’t submit our resolutions to the government or anything…MUN is supposed to be realistic and centered around actual world events, but at the end, it’s just a simulation. We really cannot change the world in three days (even though we pretend that we did ;D).

    In the words of this year’s Secretary General:

    “I’m pleased to see the progress of our conference. We achieved global disarmament, peace in Darfur, and a solution for Iraq ALL IN THREE DAYS!”

    But really, reaching solutions isn’t the entire spirit of MUN. It’s learning how to behave in formal conference procedures, critical thinking, and collaboration with people that you’ve never met before.

    @ Ginger:
    I was on DISEC (Disarmament and International Security) as Egypt (hence the placard wink

    @ Lirao:
    I’ve definitely seen windsurfers on the Charles River, but I’m fairly certain they were out there by themselves, not as part of MIT. Windsurfing here is tricky because the wind on the Charles (we do all our activities on a river, not in the ocean) is often very unstable. I would say that the two biggest river activities here are crew (MIT’s only Division I sport!) and sailing.

  41. Nihar says:

    Aah!..that explains a lot. Thanks Chris! As much as Id like to be a part of it, I wonder if I could talk to my principal and persuade him to organize an MUN conference hosted by my school?…..or are there other pre-requisites involved?

  42. Aditi says:

    oh WOW! a MUN *sigh* quite a coincedence actually…i went for one this week. it concluded today. I represented Germany in the IAEA. IT WAS FUN :D and we won smile smile smile

    i hope i get into mit! and i hope i get to go for MIT MUN and UPMUNC and the harvard MUN!!!!

  43. karan says:

    I went for a MUN twice, 120 countries, I represented The Federated States of Micronesia and Haiti, Well you get countries like these if you register late. Great conference but being in committee 1 I really had nothing at all to say, but well I did make my presence felt, Got nicknamed Micronesia! But I did not manage the best delegate because I was not of the same school, and unfortunately my school and the organizing school are rivals! Politics prevailed yet again!
    I just wish to clear the admissions and be a part of it again! And shout “Point of personal privilege ” or better “motion to adjourn the debate “

  44. Roy says:

    Skiing courses are offered during IAP?!?!?!?!?

    I must go to this school!

  45. Ah Ratatouille was really the best…. (Remembers Anton fondly…)

  46. Waswani says:

    …Ever held a doggy biscuit above a dog’s head?(Hoping you have)Notice the way the dog wags its tail and puts its tongue out drooling for the biscuit…
    …This blog make us dogs,metaphorically speaking,drool even more for the biscuit(MIT)…

    ..kudos on this one!