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MIT student blogger Karen F. '11

An Entry About Snow by Karen F. '11

...Even though we don't have any

Over the years, I have discovered that just about anything can be used as a metaphor for life, and that it’s highly unoriginal to come up with supposedly clever sayings about boxes of chocolates, games of cards, onions or riding bicycles (have fun looking these up).

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from starting this entry explaining why I decided that life, or at least life at MIT, is like snowboarding.

You may or may not know that I absolutely *LOVE snow. I love snow more than MIT loves acronyms. I even love it more than Paul loves hacks (though I don’t love it quite as much as I love DUSP. But still, it’s a lot).

So when I found out that a snowboarding PE course existed over IAP, I jumped at the chance to throw myself from high places with just a piece of plastic attached to my feet. I had never snowboarded before and the last time I skiied was middle school, but I figured that if Johnny Tsunami could do it, then it couldn’t be that hard.

Alas, it turns out that Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about snowboarding, and I have the bruises to prove it. My left arm has a bruise that looks like black death, it still hurts to sit down from all the times I fell on my poor, poor bottom, and I’m pretty sure that yesterday I permanently restructured the shape of my skull when the back of my head slammed on the ground. The ski patroller asked me if I was alright and jokingly asked me how many fingers he was holding up. I panicked for a split second when I actually didn’t know how many – but then I realized I had just lost my glasses in the fall. It’s okay, I found them, and the guy was holding up three fingers, which I probably could have guessed because everyone always holds up three fingers when they’re asking how many fingers they’re holding up, but it’s too late now – he probably thinks I lost my vision forever.

Now, I realize that a certain stereotype prevails when it comes to nerds and their athletic ability: they have none. (This belief is largely due to, well, people like me. Sorry guys.)

But actually, it’s not true. In fact, there were several students in my snowboarding lesson that would often be able to do things on the first or second time without, um, losing control and ending up sliding down the hill way farther (further? does anyone really know the difference?…Of course, now I’m sure I’ll get multiple notes from people that actually do) than we were supposed to, and there are even some people that already *know* how to ski or snowboard and don’t even need to take lessons and in the ice skating PE class I took last semester (hi, ice skating classmates) there were people who were really really good at not falling as well.

I wasn’t one of them, but that’s not the point. Well, actually, it kind of is the point. Whatever.

Okay – this is the part where we get into the cheesy, reflective stuff, so listen up:

When (if) you come to MIT, you might feel kind of like I do when I’m snowboarding. You might not be as quick at learning J-turns or organic chemistry as other people and sometimes you might start to resent those students that already seem to know everything. And sometimes you’ll fall as soon as you try to get up and it’ll hurt, and other times you might not fall but things (like, say, your board, or your physics class) will go faster than you’re comfortable with and you’ll just hope to God that the snow at the bottom of the hill is soft (it wasn’t. The real snow, I mean, not the metaphorical snow. Although technically, because of the unusually warm weather we’ve been having, it was actually fake snow. Real snow is probably softer than chemically-altered chunks of ice).

But that’s okay, really. Because the bruise on my arm is a great conversation piece (“Oh my GOD what happened?!” “I was snowboarding and-” “You snowboard?” “Er, I try…”) and falling is a good way to learn to laugh at yourself (not that I ever really need any more excuses to laugh at myself, but just in case I run out).

HOWEVER, (and this is where my advice goes a little beyond the standard “it’s okay to make mistakes”) it is not okay to keep making the same mistakes. You can’t just tell yourself “Oh, well, I’ll do better next time,” but not actually change anything the next time. I did this a lot last semester. It didn’t work out.

So next Tuesday during snowboarding, I think I’ll set a goal, of, say, only falling 15% of the time as opposed to the current….50%? ‘Cause as useful as my bruise is for making lasting impressions on people I meet, I think I’d rather they remember me for being that one girl who’s really good at snowboarding instead of that one girl who thinks it’s cool that she’s really bad at it.

*In fact, while Snively opted to play with snow indoors because it was “too cold,” I spent four hours outside building an igloo with a couple of my friends.

18 responses to “An Entry About Snow”

  1. Dimitri says:

    Snowboarding is awesome, and Johnny Tsunami is the coolest disney movie ever.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love snowboarding, and this is my first season.

    I love it, even though I’ve already spent half an hour in the First Aid station.

  3. Shubhi says:

    I’ve never skied or been snowboarding before…

    I think the closest thing I did was place a piece of cardboard under my feet, and slide down a frozen hill of snow… Let’s just say that didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped.

    But that’s just all good and dandy. smile

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I’m suprised nobody’s told you the difference between farther and further yet.
    Farther refers only to distance, and further refers to things like time or other forms of measurement.

    So you slid down farther wink

  5. Hyun Jin says:

    Snowboarding is the best sport ever invented. Period.
    Heh, hopefully everyone in that group won’t end up with any broken bones. Snowboarding injuries are like Purple hearts, but painful nonetheless.

    Hope you get the hang of it!

  6. Akshay says:

    Hey nice comparison between life and snowboarding.

    I don’t know if I’d like snowboarding as I’ve never tried it.

    But I’d say keep trying until you reach your goal. Learn from the story of spider.

    And, of course, Get well soon!!!

  7. Piper says:

    Haha, Karen, you basically described my semester. “I’m stupid, everyone’s better than me, *tear tear*.” But you turn things around and make them awesome =)

    But I’ve definitely changed things this IAP from last semester. And I’m starting to get it right =P

    Listen to Karen, she’s a wise one.

    Also, I can’t skate. Or snowboard. Or ski. GAH.

  8. Hawkins says:

    Being a grammar nazi, I must interject.

    farther: used with physical distance
    I wanted to run farther, but I became too exhausted.

    further: used with abstract distance or depth
    I asked that there be further discussion on the matter.

    You were correct in using farther. And I liked your snowboarding/life analogy. =)

  9. Marissa says:

    Skiing is infinitely better than snowboarding raspberry

  10. Cody says:

    Awesome! Have fun and stay safe! As always, an awesome post. :D

  11. Libin Daniel says:

    Thanks for the awesome post. Being the top in the class isn’t everything..You write it down in much more interesting ways.
    Thanks a ton for the post. Hope I too snowboard this year..

  12. Karen #2 says:

    Thanks for answering my question about sickness on my blog – you are generally incredibly awesome about things like that smile

    It’s extremely weird to be in January and not getting any snow. Also, I have never quite understood the motivation behind wanting to go skiing / snowboarding – perhaps I’m just less adventurous than most, but maybe it’s something that I’ll get the chance to try next January. As always, your posts have encouraged me to expand my horizons a little bit more!

  13. Anonymous says:

    i have a question related to the fin aid mterials. I’m an international student and i was wondering if the int. student. financial aid app (ISFAA) has to be filled separately for each college or is it ok to mail copies?

  14. Stephan '11 says:

    I think I damaged my neck and both wrist from Thursday. My knee and other parts are killing me too. The ground was much harder on Thursday than Tuesday.

  15. archimedes says:

    Good job on trying snowboarding because I really can’t get myself to (I like my wrists too much, but then people tell me you don’t fall on your wrists that much-I still think there’s a chance). Good lesson, too!

  16. donadGuy '12 says:

    Wow!! For some reason I didn’t think of this class existing. I already have snowboarded a few (I think 4) times, but I’d love to do it more and get better at it. This sounds like a great way to get PE points.

    So, I could probably answer these questions with some googling .. but why not ask someone who’d know even better:

    1) How much instruction is involved? do you work with an instructor like the whole time or just the first day and then you are on your own? Is it any better than the typical ski resort 2-hour lesson?

    2) Do you stay somewhere at a ski place? or do you commute from MIT?

    3) Is this contiguous or, as your entry seems to suggest, at intervals? (once a week, twice a week?)

    4) How much IAP time does it take up? Can you still do lots of other fun (and/or interesting) things?

    5) How many PE points does it get you?

    Thanks to anyone who answers!
    ~Donald Guy

  17. Karen says:

    Donald: We have lessons with about five or six other people for about an hour each session. After that, we have a couple hours left to practice on our own. Also, there are different levels of lessons, so if you feel you don’t need to start as a very beginner, you don’t have to, and if you feel you’re too high, you can always switch back down.

    2. We commute from MIT. The trip takes about an hour – we leave (theoretically) at 5:30 and return to MIT at 11:30…ish?

    3. Tuesdays and Thursdays – six sessions total

    4. Since it’s at night, you don’t miss much of regular IAP activities at all. You still have plenty of time to do other cool things smile

    5. We get two PE points for this class, the institute requirement is eight.

    …Also, it costs $300, but it’s six sessions with lessons all the way through, and it’s also considerably cheaper than going any other way. If you have your own equipment, it’s $200. MIT also has a club called Snowriders that organizes its own ski trips, but it’s a little more expensive and you don’t get PE points. They do, however, go places besides where we go (Nashoba Valley). It’s just another way to get experience, or to go without having to make a six-session commitment.


    you can mail copies to MIT. I think schools vary, so I would check each one as to whether that’s true.