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MIT student blogger Phoebe C. '18

Week in the Life by Phoebe C. '18

Hello, Google Calendar.


Hi. Meet my Google Calendar, the metronome to which my life runs.


Calendar: Hello, readers!

Anyway, it’s the beginning of the new semester, and I’m going to explain my classes and how I spent my first week.



On the day before spring-semester classes began, MIT held a tech showcase/career fair. I’m pretty done with job hunting (“done with” meaning “sick of” and not “finished, because I have landed my dream job, see ya next year”), so I sort of just wandered around and chatted with recruiters (seen: online platform to coordinate housing programs, 3D electronics printer, other things that are slipping my mind) and looked at the student projects (including: supersonic wind tunnel, graffiti art tracker, battlebot with single wheel).


I also had an interview on Monday. It was not for anything XFair-related.

“reg day meeting”

In the afternoon, I met with my advisor (“reg day meeting”). Typical protocol for class registration at MIT goes like this: student spends December/January deciding vaguely what classes to take, student “preregisters” for all the classes that look interesting; preregistration may involve entering lotteries for communication-intensive courses or “bidding” for Sloan courses.

On the day before classes start–February 1, for this semester–students narrow down their course selections to somewhere in the 4-7 range (usually with the intention of dropping a few, if they’re at the higher end of that range) and meet with their advisors to finalize their first-day schedules!

The math department is located in Building 2. In my previous three semesters at MIT, however, that building was under construction, and math offices were in building E17 (the “E” means “east”), which is incidentally right across the street from my dorm. So I will miss being able to quickly run across the street to turn in homework, but I do appreciate how new the renovated areas are.


Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day.


14.32, 14.05, 21W.755.

Michelle blogged about 14.32 and 14.05 already! My 14.32 attendance record has been pretty dismal, which is embarrassing because I usually don’t start missing class until week 4 or 5 of the semester. But I’ll be okay (I think).

21W.755 is “Reading and Writing Short Stories”–it’s taught by Shariann Lewitt, a prolific science fiction writer with the longest hair I’ve seen at MIT. We haven’t done much writing yet, so I can’t say too much about the course, but so far I’ve enjoyed the reading and the discussion.

“Rockspot climbing”

I went climbing on Tuesday night–I started climbing (indoor bouldering, specifically) a few times a week in December, and it is a lot of fun! Would highly recommend. Unfortunately, over IAP, I lost any progress I made in December, so I currently operate at the level of a complete beginner. Heh.


More classes!

18.125 is Measure Theory–it’s a grad math course with a reputation for being dry but fundamental. We’ve learned about “measure”, what it means to be measurable, Riemann integrals, and rectangles in n-space (exciting, I know). This is the class website; don’t worry if you don’t understand any of the words because I don’t, either!!

18.702 is Algebra II. I know Algebra II is the name of the high school class that comes after Algebra I and before precalculus, but in the MIT world it has (thus far) meant representation theory. It’s the course that follows 18.701, Algebra I, which is basically a primer in group theory and linear algebra. [website]

14.74 is Development Economics (or “Foundations: Dev Policy”). I’m currently registered for more classes than I’d like to take, so I might drop this one. In any case, this is an economics class that “explores the foundations of policy making in developing countries,” which is really freaking cool! Last May, I got hooked on an EdX course with similar (but less technical) material–linked here if this sounds like something you’d be interested in exploring.

Drop by Media Lab

Needed to pick up a rec letter from my UROP supervisor from last year. I never know how to explain my freshman UROP–it was data visualization in R, followed by screenprinting, followed by surveying subjects and distributing t-shirts. Look, a link!

Maseeh uswim meeting

Club meeting club meeting club meeting. (“Maseeh” = dorm, “uswim” = club for women in math, not swimming.) Another link! Wow!

The turnover of our executive board occurs in January, so this was our penultimate meeting–think froyo and tying up loose ends.

Iceland talk

I am trying to go to Iceland over spring break, which has taken quite a lot of planning. We are, in fact, still planning; I’m sitting in another “Iceland talk” as I write this sentence, at 11:39 PM on Tuesday the 9th.


Like Tuesday, but not Groundhog Day. :~/


Recitations (“rec” on my calendar)

Like lectures (“lec”), but with smaller groups, usually led by grad students and meant to review material from the past week.


Climbing that I failed to wake up for. I ended up going to see a talk by the author of Wait But Why?, eating dinner with my friend, and then participating in another “Iceland talk” in which we sorted out housing. (Trip planning is complicated, man!)


fam dinner

I had a really big (16-person) family dinner for Chinese New Year! We recently had a new addition to the family, and relatives have been flying into Boston to see the new baby. It was a good time and an excellent way to round out the week. I ate so much seafood. So much.

I’m going to do a lot of writing and math this semester, which are two things I like but find challenging. The first-week tingles have been weirdly absent from my life, which is odd, because I’m more interested in my classes than I’ve ever been in the past.

Yeah, so, that’s how I’m feeling. I wish courses would start going faster, but as soon as they speed up I’ll be wishing they’d slow down.

Obligatory final note: This semester is going to be great!!!! I am so excited!!!