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MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

A major problem is not a major problem by Yan Z. '12

Why the text next to my picture is lying to you.

Three months ago, I informed MIT admissions of my firm intent to major in Course 2 or 6 (translation: Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). Someone took this information, typed it onto a JPG image with my picture, stuck it on my blog page while it was still in its embryonic stages, shuttled off my finished webpage into the abysmal depths of the Internet, and didn’t capitalize any proper nouns in the banner, for some unknown reason. Anyway, as much as I admire the banner that now waves (well, emits light waves) proudly over this clotted jumble of text and pictures stuffed into the semblance of an admissions information page, it appears that I will have to be identified as an aspiring Course 2 or 6 major for the rest of eternity, or at least until someone finds the JPG file and does some photoshopping (whichever one comes first).

Dear Internet, I am not in Course 2 or 6. Also, I like you a lot. Thanks. –Yan

In fact, MIT doesn’t allow students to declare majors until after they complete freshman year (mandatory exception: unless you’re academically stylish and enter the Institute with enough panache and credits to nab sophomore standing after one semester, a la Chris S.). This gives freshmen enough flexibility to explore their interests, decide to major in Physics, take the first 8.012 test, decide to major in Literature, pull an all-nighter over a HASS paper, decide to major in Mechanical Engineering, take an introductory programming class, decide to major in Course 6, go to department open-houses, and declare a major in Physics. Putting the MIT in comMITment, the freshmen are not.

Personally, I applied to MIT as an intended Physics major with a Music minor, switched to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science after getting accepted (Course 6), changed to Mechanical Engineering (Course 2) after doing a pre-orientation program in the course, switched back to Course 6, considered Chemical Engineering (Course 10) for 30 minutes, reverted to Mechanical Engineering (Course 2), randomly picked factors of 24 during the month of October, and finally decided to be undecided. This week, I’m a Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3) major with a minor in Physics (Course 8), which is working out impressively well so far. Apparently, Materials Science majors receive even more free food than other majors. I just had a great sandwich.

In full seriousness, a Course 3 major swirled with strong flavors of Course 8 feels like it might be The One. It’s like waffles and avocado- the combination is unusual, but it just sounds perfect.

Luckily, I still have the next four years to (1) decide on a major and (2) wait for avocados to go on sale. I promise you, both will happen someday even if Boston has to annex California in the process*.

*Not sure how this will help me pick a major, but the world is full of mysteries.

To end this inconclusive tale of my brief and vaccillatory life thus far at MIT, I leave you with a list of tasks I must complete before hopping on a plane, exiting in the dead-middle of America, and at some point hallowing out the flesh of dead turkeys before I can unguiltily return to Boston as someone with family values. That is, I’ll be going home for Thanksgiving.

-Understand gyroscopes.
-Take a quiz in solid state chem.
-Find a UROP.
-Blog about my most excellent and megapixel-lent Veteran’s Day weekend.
-Finish a neurobiology reading.
-Take a biology exam.
-Tutor AP Physics in Boston.
-Attend a mandatory workshop on Tinikling dance.
-Go see throat singers in Boston and dine at a restaurant with my advising group.
-Write a final paper about Vietnamese noun phrase structure.
-Bribe my Vietnamese friend with free dinner.
-Do an arts show-and-tell with my advising group.
-Finish a physics problem set.
-Take a chemistry test.
-Learn to play squash for continuous time intervals longer than 15 seconds.
-Finish off 4 eggs, a carton of soymilk, half a loaf of bread, a bag of grapes, three pounds of apples, three clementines, 6 ounces of hummus, and 21939102402 pounds of spinach. Some people do not believe in the existence of predetermined fates, but these people probably don’t follow expiration dates either.

Speaking of which, I’m currenly locked in a vicious cycle of spinach and apple salad, thanks to my inability to deplete supplies of both at exactly the same time (apples come in 5 pound bags, spinach in 10-ounce quantities- lowest common denominator remains undiscovered). Tart, fibery morsels spiced with the autumnal breath of nutmeg and cloves will forever haunt my recollections of freshman year.

4-day weekend 003

4-day weekend 001

Back to work.

46 responses to “A major problem is not a major problem”

  1. Mickey says:

    Yummy. I wants it.

  2. Yan says:

    @ Anon:
    Yep, in fact, I need to be in 24.900 in 15 minutes.

    @ Anonymous:

  3. Anonymous says:

    your food photos are scrumptious…if your current major choice doesn’t work out, you have a career in food photography ready-made. smile

  4. Colton says:

    It is the ability to try different majors to make a decision on which one is the right one that will make a better college experience for me. I have so many interests, it is hard to narrow them down before going off to college without getting a chance to see what the majors are actually like.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “It’s like waffles and avocado- the combination is unusual, but it just sounds perfect.” WAFFLES AND AVOCADO?

  6. Yan says:

    Say what you will, my anonymous friend, but waffles and avocado are a heavenly duet. I speak from accidental experience.

  7. YES! Another blog! You have no idea how many times a day I go to your blog list and f5 in anticipation of a new entry. Its kind of odd because when I read your blogs and you use these large words along with great metaphores and analogies it makes me feel so terrible about my abilities in English. Keep it up :D

  8. Cody Dean says:

    “…And at some point hallowing out the flesh of dead turkeys before I can unguiltily return to Boston as someone with family values.”

    Priceless! haha Welcome (late welcome) to the blogs!

    great post!

  9. Yan says:

    Um, thanks. I mean, I’m sorry. I can’t decide which one is more appropriate.

  10. Ahmed says:

    Yan, have you ever had waffles topped with fried chicken? I’ve never eaten them with avocados, but with chicken it is heaven (Breakfast Klub in Houston–scrumptious, if anyone’s in the area). I was skeptical at first, but now I’m convinced that anything tastes good with waffles.

  11. Anna says:

    You do Tinikling? Or at least learning how to? That’s a really awesome workshop. Does it come complete with costume? smile

  12. Yan says:

    @ Ahmed:

    Chicken and waffles has been heard of, but I’ve never tried it. Maybe I’ll do it on Thanksgiving instead of turkey.

    I think you’ve just stumbled upon a fundamental truth: Waffles are omnitasty. You should publish this.

    @ Anna:

    I’d never heard of Tinikling before I signed up for the workshop, but now I’m excited. I’ll try to get pictures!

  13. Narce says:

    Hahahah, this was epic XD

    I’m making sure to read your blog from now on.

  14. Narce says:

    Also, you have surprisingly good taste. Most people can’t stand odd food combinations, though I personally haven’t tried waffles and avocado, it does sound good.

    Have you tried Oreos and applesauce?

  15. Yan says:

    @ Narce:

    Nope, but mostly because I never buy Oreos.

    We should start a running list of oddly delicious food combinations. Add: scrambled eggs and hummus, carrot and avocado and honey mustard, cornbread and maple syrup, tamarind chutney and dumplings.

    All because I don’t buy groceries often enough to sustain a conventional diet.

  16. Ahmed says:

    Ah yes, I can see it now:

    On the Origin of Tastiness by Means of Cooking Batter, or the Preservation of Flavoured Spaces in the Squares of Waffles.

  17. Narce says:

    Well, my parents still buy most of the food in the house, and I wouldn’t call my diet conventional >.>

    We can easily add ramen and chocolate syrup to that list.

  18. sauza says:

    course III rocks

  19. Seamus '12 says:

    Nice post. I guess the Wulff Lecture got you thinking too.

  20. Yan says:

    Yep, fantastic lecture, fantastic sandwiches. Glad to hear that you also went! Talking to the Course 3 majors afterwards was a big help.

  21. lulu says:

    3 is a good choice! i’d make sure to take 8 through quantum though, if you wanna actually do something with 3. raspberry

  22. Tree says:

    scrambled egg and hummus?!

    Any way,you take amazing pictures of food!

  23. Yan says:

    @ Lulu:
    I agree, because spintronics is awesome and big things are dumb. Is there a way to focus in quantum through the minor option? I feel like a prefrosh asking this.

    @ Tree:

    Re: Scrambled eggs and hummus. Apply Ahmed’s Waffle Theorem (detailed earlier in this thread), substitute “Hummus” for “Waffles”.

  24. Cam says:

    Things that probably DON’T go well together (that is, mixed): sprite and milk. Milk and sprite.

  25. Hummus + anything = WIN.

  26. edit: Oh, you just declared the Hummus Theorem. You have my support.

  27. Vivi says:

    Augh, gyroscopes. Don’t remind me about that upcoming 8.012 test; I need to keep my blood pressure levels down until 11pm tomorrow night.

  28. Narce says:

    It’s interesting to see how many actual current students visit these blogs~

  29. YES. says:

    No less than three of the items on your list are related to FASAP! Sickkkkkk.

    Oh, and I only found out today that we get to plan our own events next semester! Can you say Legally Blonde: The Musical?

    …because I can’t. The thought makes me sh-sh-shudder when you ask me what I’m thinking ’bout.

  30. Anon says:

    You in 24.900?

  31. Banerjee says:

    Gosh your pictures of food always make me so hungry!!!

  32. Anna says:

    That would be very amazing! I myself do not know how to, seeing as my lack of balance and rhythm would probably result in quite painful injuries. Pictures would also be very nice. I hope you enjoy it!

  33. Anna says:

    Another tasty combination would be Oishi Ribbed Cracklings and Sprite. And milk noodle soup.

  34. Moose says:

    8.012…. urrrgh. I hate gyroscopes. And then 8.012 pset *gak* Wonderful post tho…

  35. Anonymous says:

    “Putting the MIT in comMITtment, the freshmen are not.”

    Of course they aren’t. But what about “comMITment”?

    Also, putting the awesome in awesomesauce, the sentence preceding that quote is.

  36. Froshly '12 says:

    8.012 = death, but a delicious death. grin

    w00t course 8!

  37. I really have to try some of those recipes sometime. smile

  38. Susie says:




  39. Ernest says:

    I think decisions on major selection must not be overemphasized. Her article provides us with numerous inspirational lessons for us all…

  40. lulu says:


    there’s no “quantum” minor as far as I know… but I don’t know much. I’d never heard of a 21S or 21E major til a few weeks ago. It wouldn’t make sense in this case anyhow. The undergrad quantum sequence (8.04 8.05 8.06) really only has as its pre req 8.03. 8.044 might help but is not necessary. 8.06 is the most applications based class out of those (most applicable to course 3).

    Forget the minor. People tend to stress way too much about completing a minor degree that has absolutely no bearing on anything whatsoever. Just take the classes you want to take.

  41. lulu says:

    oh, and it’s helpful to know 18.03 and 18.06. I never took 18.06 though.

  42. Ginger '12 says:

    You should do something bioish! :D

    Just kidding,

    I know you dislike bio…But who knows, THAT may change :D

    (btw…probably not the best place to tell you this but I think they have Xifan Sunday at ATS this Sunday…not sure why the email hasn’t been sent out though)

  43. Narce says:

    I’m obviously not yet in college, but I agree wholeheartedly with lulu on everyone taking whatever classes you want to take. If you do that, then you’ll undoubtedly make yourself qualified for the job most suited to you!

    Unless you’re one of those people obsessed with the job that makes the most money rather than the one that you’ll be the most happy at *sigh*

  44. Ashwath says:

    I love gyroscopes! but your salad is mmm… absitively posolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to get hold of it smile

  45. sunrise says:

    smaaashing post! like, every single aspect of it is inspirational. and humorous. and downright RIDICULOUS :D

    aaand your photos are rockin. Just sayin’.