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MIT student blogger Anthony R. '09

Asking for Directions by Anthony R. '09

Two weeks of pondering, photography, and prose.

When I applied to MIT, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” Having been a computer nut since age four, I happily wrote down “computer science” on the line of my application indicating my intended major. I was reaching for the top — what better place to study computing than MIT? And so it went. I got in and my dream of being some eminent CS guy was on its way.

Strengthening my plan was the fact that MIT has one of the nation’s top undergrad business schools, and I could even double major in both computer science and business. What a winning combination! Sounds like the perfect training for the next big Internet startup, right?

That’s when I learned about MIT’s department of civil engineering, home to some interesting and important transportation research. Visions of shaping new developments in the world’s train networks were starting to look pretty appealing. And besides, I wanted to keep computing as a hobby, right? Didn’t want to study it to death, else I might start looking at it as a job… so out went Course 6 and in went Course 1. I really couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to study. Transportation just looked so interesting.

And that’s not to say it doesn’t now. I’m just still keeping my mind open. It’s kinda weird, I mean… sometime during last calendar year, my passion for exploring the far-reaching ends of the computer went dormant, replaced by a new enthusiasm for travel. I had built this support structure, this foundation on which my life ran, of computers and servers and networks and programming, and while the knowledge or expertise didn’t vanish, the interest of pursuing it seemed to.

I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have to choose a major until the end of the year. :-)

(It still doesn’t feel like the year is almost half over. It feels like I just got here.)

So what have I been doing since my last update?

Dheera (fellow Third East resident) and I took the bus to Montreal and Quebec City last weekend, taking advantage of the holiday to cover some extra spots on the map.

We saw a lot of stuff — took the metro to various parts of Montreal, checked out some markets, saw a lot of history, and crossed the St. Lawrence more than a few times. ;-)

Quebec City is (one of?) the last walled city in North America. The place looks very much out of a storybook :-) It’s an easy two and a half hours from Montreal by bus or train.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures… (you can see more on Dheera’s website)

In my transportation seminar, we were asked to identify travel options, routes and fares for the Boston-Washington corridor during a specified date period, select the best option, defend our choices, and estimate how many people per day we thought utilized each mode of transport. The actual work of the assignment was pretty simple, but more interesting was seeing what everyone else came up with. I was the only one who would pick the train. :-( My choice, however, was reasonable — the difference in total time between air and rail is only a couple of hours when you consider the hours in advance you have to spend at the airport, the security delays, air traffic control delays, and baggage claim — as there’s more usable time onboard a train. I can get work done for the entire duration of the trip, and at the very end I’m left in the center of the city, right where I want to be. There’s so much waiting and shuffling when you fly.

In my writing class, we’re currently working on an assignment to explore an aspect of modern-day computing and its broader social implications. I chose the subject of college admissions and how the computer is changing the experience for both applicant and college. :-) We’ll see how that turns out.

How are your applications going? The folks in admissions are hard at work reading all your files (for early applicants), but for those electing regular action, you’ve still got a couple weeks. Good luck!

12 responses to “Asking for Directions”

  1. Catherine says:

    So that’s what you’re (thinking of) doing. I’d been meaning to ask you what you’re majoring in. Lovely, lovely pictures. =)

  2. Clark Poland says:

    I’ll let the admissions officers have fun reading my application grin

  3. Dave says:

    Although I am also interested in computers, building things is definately my life goal, which is why I applied to the MIT Civil Engineering Department. Even though a lot of Civil Engineering is focused on how construction effects the environment and such, what I really want to study is building brisges and buildings and those types of things. What’s the Department like?

  4. Oren Hazi says:

    Heh… I feel the same way. I’ve been obsessed with computers practically since birth, yet I’ve always been fascinated by airplanes (Most of my early experiences on the computer were doing dangerous things on my flight simulator wink). I sort of go through “phases” where for a few months, I’m dead set on studying electrical engineering like my dad, and doing things with computers, and just flying as a hobby, but then I completely switch over to wanting to study aerospace engineering, with computers as a hobby.

    In fact… It just occurred to me that I must have had one of these “phase” shifts sometime between filling out part one and part two of my application. I put “Computer Science & Engineering” for the “What field of study appeals to you the most right now” question in part one. And then I wrote about airplanes on the second short answer question about which MIT department appeals to you and why. Oh well… hmmm

    Excellent pictures, by the way.

  5. Hmmm… I believe it helps in life to have a good idea (not necessarily “fixed idea”) about what you want to do in life. It helps you chart your course, so you can, at the right time, plunge straight in and pursue your passions.

    Conversely, if we didn’t have a goal in life, then we’d be drifting in society, doing a lot of general stuff, but never intensely engaging ourself with anything. I think it’s a great thing that you’ve got an idea of what you want to do; even if you’re vascillating between two options, it’s better than having no options in life.

    For whoever’s interested, my interests lie in astronomy and biological sciences. Hmmm… I think I’m gonna be the one who finds intelligent life out there. wink

  6. Amy says:

    Wow~ beautiful pictures! I’ve been looking at a lot of different majors, including computer science and biomedical engineering, and it’s becoming harder and harder to choose! It’s a good thing I’ll get a while to decide, I guess. What’s mechanical engineering like at MIT?

  7. Laura says:

    Nice pictures- that sounds like a fun trip.

    Sometimes I think I have ADD. I’ll never be able to pick a major. I can’t remain interested in anything long enough. =)

  8. Mridul says:

    Hello!
    Nice pictures!
    Could somebody please tell me what’s this big triangle type building in MIT. You can see it on;http://ludhiana.sancharnet.in/mridul_nangal/MIT.jpg

  9. Mridul says:

    Hello!
    Nice pictures!
    Could somebody please tell me what’s this big triangle type building in MIT. You can see it on;http://ludhiana.sancharnet.in/mridul_nangal/MIT.jpg

  10. Anthony says:

    That’s Kresge Auditorium on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue. grin

  11. Kateri says:

    Hahaha!

    I read the names you posted for Bryan Nance’s expected baby boy:
    Jules Wentworth Nance
    Felix Phineas Nance
    Algernon Alastair Nance

    And I was like, “What kind of crazy kid would suggest these names for an admissions recruiter’s son?!?”

    I love them. It’s too bad Nance gets first choice, because I call Felix Phineas.

  12. Rhainnon says:

    Quebec is indeed the sole remaining walled city in North America. Hooray for milk-carton trivia!