Skip to content ↓

COVID-19

Learn more about how MIT Admissions is responding to COVID-19 in this blog post from our Dean and new dedicated FAQs.

MIT blogger Cami M. '23

A Week in the Life of My MIT Sophomore Fall by Cami M. '23

this time, with more zoom u!

I did this for my classes last semester, and it was pretty tragic, so let’s see if this one goes  bit better this time!

screenshot of my gcal

Here’s my gcal! This semester I’m taking 6 classes, but I like to tell people it’s 5 because one of them is a 3 unit class, meaning it really doesn’t take up that much of my time!

My classes:

  • 8.021 – Physics E&M; I originally took 8.02 this past spring, but got a 25% on the first midterm, meaning I dropped that immediately because there was no way my grade would recover from that. Or there was a very slight chance of it, but I just had to get 100s on the psets and above 80s on the remaining midterms, which was…a very low, low chance. The 8.0×1 classes (like 8.021 and 8.011) are classes offered to students who failed or especially struggled with their parent class (8.02 and 8.01 respectively) in a previous semester. Since I got that hefty 25%, I qualify!
  • 18.02 – Multivariable Calculus; Just a GIR I put off til sophomore year because I wanted to take some Course 6 classes instead. Honestly really excited for this class since Semyon is teaching it and he’s a very kind little man who dances at the end of every lecture.
  • 6.009 – Fundamentals of Python; You’ll recall from my last semester blogpost that this class was the bane of my existence and I actually dropped it a week after being in it. Real nervous to take this one.
  • 21G.703 – Spanish III; My kind of wild card class! I really wanted to take a language this fall and I really think Spanish is the way to go, since I took three years of it in high school, every year in middle school, and every year in elementary school. You’d think I’d be better than Spanish 3 for all those classes, but no! I took a placement test with Helena, one of the Spanish department faculty, and she said I placed “somewhere in between Spanish 2 and 3.” I then opted to take Spanish 3, try it for a week, and if it’s too difficult, drop into Spanish 2.
  • 15.000 – Explorations in Management; This is a small 3 unit pass/fail class I’m taking since I recently discovered my interest in management and business. I wanted to use this class as an opportunity to, well, explore more about the field that I’m entering and learn about the sheer breadth and opportunity within management. I’m really excited to honestly be listening to a bunch of lectures from experienced work people. Normally, we would get food in person every time we attended, but unfortunately due to the pandemic, we just sit at home and be sad.
  • 15.312 – Organizational Processes for Business Analytics; Since I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a 15-1 or not, I’ve decided to take a business class this fall to try and test out the waters. I’m really excited for this class, though I do know it’s a bit discussion, reading, and paper heavy.

Tuesday

Classes

21G.703

I start off my first day of my sophomore year with 21G.703, Spanish 3, at 12:05 PM. I was really nervous that I would really struggle in the class, but upon entering the Zoom, I found myself able to follow my professor’s instructions and conversation accurately! We eventually split into breakout rooms to introduce ourselves and make small talk in Spanish and I was really relieved to hear that no one actually fluently spoke Spanish. I was really nervous that I’d be paired with some Spanish-speaking deity who was just taking Spanish 3 for shits and giggles, but instead, I found it was all people who more or less could speak at the level I could!

We were then assigned some reading for the next class and I was pretty happy with my experience. I then took a small break to grab a snack and prepped for my next class.

8.021

So as many of you may or may not know, I really struggle with physics! It is by far the hardest subject for me to grasp conceptually. I was really nervous for 8.021, but let me just tell you that I would take BULLETS for Joe Checkelsky!!!

When I hopped on the Zoom, I saw this kind looking man with a bandana and lots of plants surrounding him and I quickly realized that this was my professor. The class is relatively small, about 13ish people in the class, and I recognized some friends in there like Julie and Diane.

He proceeded to talk about how he spent a lot of time working on his set-up: a three camera whiteboard view with velcro to sticky them down, and fancy wipes and spray to clean up the boards efficiently. I was very endeared by this funky little man’s behavior and he just seemed to genuinely care about us and our learning.

We even asked him midway through lecture if he preferred we turned our cameras on (since no one at this point had them on) and he very shyly said he’d appreciate it if we did, but understood if we didn’t since it is Covid times and knows that not everyone is comfortable on camera. It was very heartwarming to see four or five us, including myself!, turn on our cameras and see his little smile when he exclaimed, “Aha! There are people!”

As you can tell I am very endeared by my 8.021 professor. The entire time I had this strong urge to make him soup or knit him a sweater because I just think he deserves good things. Content-wise, he explained things so well and I’m really grateful for this change of pace compared to the very fast and confusing 8.02 from the previous semester.

After Class

After classes, I worked on Lab 0 released by 009. As you all may recall, I really struggled with 009 around this part. Like really hard. I stayed in office hours every day and submitted my code about 5 minutes after it was due and was awkwardly crying in Stata in front of one of the 009 LAs.

On this day, I spent a couple of hours doing the lab, needing minimal assistance (save for a DM to Emi, a frosh!, who had already completed the lab, and within those hours, I ended up finishing. This was a HUGE accomplishment for me. I did the lab mostly by myself, working through any bugs or hiccups I ran into with rationality and a level head, and I am just so, so proud of the growth I’ve demonstrated. Comparing this lab with last semester’s lab, it’s obvious that my coding and problem solving skills have improved immensely. I was able to  get my checkoff, a live session where we explain our code to an 009 TA/LA, with ease, and she even ended up complimenting my code and style!!!

I was absolutely ecstatic about this and I am just so, so happy to see how far I’ve come.

Wednesday

Classes

Wednesdays are definitely the most hellish day out of my week, featuring a straight 11-5 Zoom session with a brief thirty minute break from 3:30-4.

6.009

I started off my day with 009 recitation, where we covered how Python interprets data passed through it. It’s really interesting to see how Python handles code and how different attempts to change information will rely heavily on the data structure at hand. Like how you can edit lists directly, but not tuples. Or how you can add onto strings and it’ll make new objects entirely, but you cannot change the original string itself. This class really represents me learning the deeper meat and potatoes of coding that I used to ignore, and I’m really glad to be taking this class so I can learn it!

21G.703

I immediately hopped into Spanish 3 right after and we held some basic discussions about the difference between the terms Latino and Hispanic, the common misunderstandings between these labels, as well as the increasing population of Spanish speakers within the US. I really love Spanish 3; I think it’s a really good cleanse and break from the hustle and bustle of technical classes, while simultaneously giving my mind a challenge since a lot of the class is improvisation and speaking in Spanish.

8.021

This time we had 8.021 recitation! We were led by this really nice graduate student TA named Geoffrey who was really kind to us and went through problems really thoroughly with the class and, since we’re such a small class, even paused to go over extra things he didn’t originally prepare for recitation. I feel a lot more comfortable in this class so far, and I really think the small class size plays a huge factor in that. I’m able to communicate clearer and quicker to faculty and it overall is just a very homey feeling.

15.312

So this class was really awkward at first because we were placed into breakout rooms for 15 minutes with no other instruction than to “introduce ourselves.” But after that really awkward 15 minutes of silence, we talked about the concept of “firefighting” within businesses, specifically looking at product management and design. Essentially, firefighting is where companies who don’t invest a lot of time or resources into the beginning stages of a product — audience research, design process, etc. — have to put out quickly arising problems, or “fires”, around launch time.

We read a paper that essentially said that firefighting begets firefighting. In other words, firefighting, in the moment, can seem heroic and good for a company. After all, they’re essentially saving your company’s new product from crashing and burning and saving it from this brink of disaster. However, the reality is that the resources you’re utilizing on this last minute firefighting depletes resources and time originally dedicated to the next big product. And as a result, you rush that product’s beginning stages. And then have to put out those fires. And so on, so forth. Firefighting creates a vicious cycle.

I’ve never taken a business class before, but I really, really enjoyed the discussions we had in this class. We had a lot of useful conversations about why firefighting occurs, essentially comparing it to procrastination and also just human nature. The ways to prevent firefighting just are very counterintuitive to the human mind. One solution was to simply kill your darlings, or in essence, triage your failing project. But as humans, we are reluctant to do this because we view the world under three main lenses: algorithmic/rational, promise/relational, story/cultural.

For context, we discussed why people simply do not avoid firefighting.

Algorithmic/rational: I’ve already invested far too much. It would be a waste of resources.

Promise/relational: There are people who have worked on this project. Their hard work would be destroyed.

Story/cultural: If I save this, I will look like a hero.

This business lecture really felt almost like a church sermon to me. It was very much the experience I had (back when I was a kid) and I’d listen to the priest preach to me about some overarching moral gained from the Bible, taking a story and then producing some great worldly conclusion from it. I was so entranced by how my professor could take this concept of firefighting and suddenly place it into this wider business context and lens. I really, really enjoyed it, and, although the lectures run a tad bit long, I thought it was really engaging.

18.02

So far I think 18.02 is my …least favorite class? None of the lectures are synchronous and the recitations are really overwhelming and scary for me. I really prefer live lectures because you can ask clarifying questions afterwards, and also the 18.02 Q&A live sessions are during my 8.021 lectures, so really I just think I’ve fucked myself over.

Hopefully they get better…

After class

Honestly I had a lot of commitments, even though I desperately wanted to just Rest.

Panelist Training

I was accepted to be an MIT Admissions Panelist, where I go into Q&A webinars about twice a week and talk to prospective applicants about life as an MIT student! We went over basic things like conduct, expectations, etc.

Meet MIT Consulting Group

I’ve been looking to join a lot more clubs this semester (looking at CodeIt, Sloan Business Club, TechX, MIT Consulting Group, MIT Women Business Leaders, and MIT Minority Business Association) that are more tutoring/mentorship and consulting/business focused since I’ve identified those as new interests that I’d like to explore! This event was a really nice introduction to what the club does and what consulting really is. I’ll hopefully do a blogpost in the future on the result of all of these applications (since these are all application only clubs…) and maybe talk clearer more on what my commitments are for the fall.

Thursday

Classes

I only have two classes today, so it’s not that bad!

21G.703

We do some fun breakout sessions where we talked about the growth of the presence of Spanish in media, the workplace, and the US as a whole for about 20 minutes and it was really fun to talk about very heavy real-world topics in a foreign language to improve our fluency. We then did some exercises about reading numbers in Spanish and also the cardinal numbers! I really like the class, honestly.

8.021

I had another cute lecture today!! It was super helpful and clear and I even was able to ask some clarifying questions on some mistakes made in lecture and was thanked for catching them, so that definitely made my heart feel very happy. I really love these small setting lectures and 8.021 even has a ten minute break around the midway point for us to get lunch and sit and talk. It’s super duper nice.

After Class

I went over to my mom’s hotel to watch a movie with her before she flies back home. It was really nice having my mom here to help me move into my new apartment, especially with my fractured ankle. I definitely needed the extra help.

SWE x Mujeres

I only briefly stepped into the SWE x Mujeres Latinas panel, but essentially it was a panel to highlight current issues surrounding women and women’s rights, alongside a q&a panel designated for frosh to learn more about MIT. I’d love to be more active with SWE things, so it was really nice showing up briefly to the panel.

MIT McKinsey Info Session

Since I’m looking more into business-y things, I’ve decided to look more into business and consulting related internships. One part of this is attending a whole shitload of info sessions to try and get acquainted with these companies and craft a better idea of my ideal workplace.

Student Council Meeting

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the MIT 2023 Vice President! My current project has been working on the 2023-2024 pen pal program, where stuco and I are working on pairing MIT 2023s with MIT 2024s for mentorship and camaraderie based on a Google preference form they submitted about two weeks ago. It’s a really difficult and arduous, but simultaneously very rewarding task, so I’m just really excited to wrap it up and get it done soon.

Friday

This Friday, I basically had no classes. 8.021 quizzes are typically on Fridays, but, seeing as we just started, there wasn’t really anything for me to do. 18.02 lectures are fully virtual, so there’s also nothing to do.

But in short, let’s just say Friday was a frustrating day.

This was the day I was supposed to pick up my boxes from Random that I had stored back in March when we were suddenly kicked off campus. However, they Forgot I was coming this day and didn’t let me into the building because the woman in charge of letting me in just…left. And wasn’t going to come back until Tuesday.

So, understandably, I was pretty frustrated and upset. On top of that, the mail system lost my iPad that was supposed to arrive so I was already pretty pissy. Let’s just say Friday was not a good day.

Saturday

Saturday was notably much, much better! I woke up today and had my TechX THINK interview, where I talked for about 20 minutes about my experiences with mentorship. I then proceeded to work out, do my panelist training (I’m going to be an MIT panelist and answer people’s questions !!!), do laundry, do my 009 lab for a little bit, go to some rush events for IFC, and then even meet up with some freshmen (Sarah, Mel, and Selena!!) for some socially distanced LA Burdicks and Pokeworks. It was a really nice time getting out of the apartment and socializing and talking.

All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty solid week.

I’m also going to end the blogpost here just because I don’t think my Sunday will be all too eventful — just psetting, cleaning the bathrooms, and more laundry.

It’s been an absolute dream living with my roommates. My boyfriend’s been kind of teaching me how to cook, or in other words, I just help him cook and he tells me what to do because I’m pretty useless without proper instructions. It’s really nice to have MIT resources just right outside my door, but I also get my own private room to watch Zoom lectures and study. Hopefully, I can write a follow-up blogpost to this about when I get my official responses from all the things I applied to so I know what my commitments will look like for the fall!