It is crunch time at MIT. Classes are over this Wednesday, and exam week starts on Monday, December 17. There are two standard responses to a stressful situation like this: fight or flight. The alternative is to combine the two: fight (by studying hard for two weeks), then flight (home for the holidays!)
Many students will come back to MIT around January 7 for the start of Independent Activities Period (IAP). *Cue “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”* During IAP, students get to enjoy MIT without worrying about problem sets. Well, that’s not 100% true, there are some for-credit classes that do have tests and homework, but they’re definitely the minority. (For more about IAP, see my former entries on IAP 2007 and 2006.
So what do MIT students do with one month of freedom? I’ll be working on my senior thesis project, taking a wine tasting class, hopefully making some things in the Hobby Shop, and checking things off of my “101 Things to Do Before Graduating From MIT” list. I e-mailed my sorority and asked to hear about their plans. Here’s what they said:
“This IAP I was selected to participate in the January Scholars in France program, an incredible program for students who have shown a strong commitment to studying French at MIT. On January 6, I will be flown out to Paris along with 7 other MIT students. Together with an awesome professor with whom I’ve taken two courses, we will spend two weeks in Paris trying out all sorts of restaurants, visiting museums, attending theatrical performances, and more, all entirely paid for by this program. Two French guides who really know the ins-and-outs of Paris have worked with this program for several years now to give the January Scholars insider’s tours around certain “quartiers” in Paris. I’m also particularly excited about this trip because a French penpal I’ve been writing to since my freshman year in high school will be taking a few days off from school so we can finally meet and spend some time together in Paris. All the January Scholars will be staying in a hotel in the Latin quarter. The theme of this year’s program is “The People of Paris,” so we’ll all spend some time on our own exploring Paris and trying to better appreciate and understand certain distinctly French characteristics that interest us. This is not a for-credit assignment, just a fun project to help enrich this amazing experience.”- Emilienne, ‘09
“I’m doing the followings this IAP:
week 1: Women’s Initiative…An MIT alum and I are traveling to Fredericksburg, VA to talk to middle/high school girls about female engineers.
week 2: UPOP…intense engineering work place skills building
week3-4: UROP in Strano Lab doing researching single walled carbon nanotube complexes for solar energy conversion-synthetic analogs to natural processes.
Last year, I went to LeaderShape, which was amazing and eye opening :)”- Ploy ‘10
“I’m going to astronomy field camp at Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, AZ (12.411) and then backpacking through the Grand Canyon! all with course 12 (the Earth and Planetary Science department)! the entire IAP!!” –Jennifer ‘10
“This IAP, I’m going to Tanzania with my D-Lab (an intro to Development) Team. We’ll be working with NGOs, orphanages, wheelchair workshops, and local villages to introduce appropriate technology to address the basic needs of low-income households. In many ways, we are working on helping developing countries by working from the bottom up. My team will be introducing the charcoal project (this process burns agricultural waste to make charcoal, which is an inexpensive way to supply cooking fuel while limiting the deforestation in Tanzania), the pedal power grinder (as maize is a major food crop, this pedal power grinder will turn a typical two-hour chore into a 10 minute process, generating a supplementary income to wheelchair manufacturers and giving more time for women to devote to other enterprises), and the universal nut sheller (this device can shell peanuts, shea nuts, coffee in large quantities, increasing the potential enterprises for local farmers).”- Jodie ‘09
Tina ’09 sent me these pictures that she took a few IAPs ago. They built a wooden sled and race it down the steps of 77 Massachusetts Avenue (the main entrance to MIT):