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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Give the girl what she wants by Laura N. '09

Ruth '07 wants pictures, she can have them.

Ruth said: “Seriously, update! A more pictures, less blocks of text. Go!”

The girl wants pictures, let’s give her pictures:

Ruth Miller ’07, the newly-elected Undergraduate Association Vice President, gracefully has her cake and eats it too.


And the rest of Conner 2 (plus some guests) looks on:

Happy birthday, Ruth. =D

So, where have I been? Well, I finally made it home and then spent a lot of time catching up on lost sleep. It’s really kind of pathetic, actually. I haven’t even unpacked anything yet. Yeah, I know. I never said I wasn’t a slacker.

Anyway, my last few days at MIT were a blur- I had 3 exams and lots of stuff to pack in a few short days. Speaking of packing, April and I made a pretty big mess while we were in the process of putting things away. We get a limited amount of storage space in Burton-Conner and only had access to the storage room during certain hours, which made packing even more complicated. Our room was like a maze for a few days.

Responses to comments:
Several people have wondered about taking AP and college credits to MIT. Is it a good idea, is it a bad idea, will I fall behind if I don’t take the credit, will I feel out of my league if I do, etc.

All this is completely a matter of personal preference. Plenty of people don’t test out of anything. They spend freshman year taking a whole bunch of GIRs. Some people test out of introductory classes (common ones are 18.01, 8.01, and 7.01x). They get stuck with a lot of the same GIRs freshman year but they usually have the option to take a course or two in their major during the spring term- which is cool for them but by no means necessary. Of course, there are some people who test out of everything and try to double major in 3 years or something, but those people are crazy anyway. I was encouraged by some upper classmen to take whatever credit I could and run with it, so I did. So far I’m very happy with that decision, but it remains to be seen if I’ll still be happy about it next year. I’m not sure if skipping 8.01 is going to make my life difficult when I start taking classes in Course 2. But for 18.03 I don’t think you’ll have a problem. The hardest calculus you need to know for that class is integration by parts. Sure, it’ll be your first MIT math class but you have to start somewhere. And trust me, you will have no problems finding fellow pset partygoers. Everyone’s taking the same classes, and you’re bound to find pset partners without even leaving your floor. The bottom line is that it’s up to you- if you’d like some extra time in your schedule to explore major options and did pretty well in high school calc or physics, you may want to get the credit for it. If you’re not comfortable testing out of the material, there’s nothing wrong with starting from square 1 in your first semester. The one recommendation I have is this: upperclassmen can be great resources. You’ll have plenty of time on campus before you actually have to register for classes. Talk to your orientation leader, the people in your temp dorm, whoever. You’ll usually be able to find someone who has been in a similar situation or is able to offer relevant advice or at the very least just guide you through making your own decisions. Plus, don’t forget you can always add, drop, and change subjects- I did it the second day of classes first semester. You’ll have plenty of time to think about it, discuss it, and explore- so don’t lose sleep over it now.

Anonymous said: I’ve never really learned physics since it pretty much sucks at my high school. So what’s your experience been with freshman physics? Does TEAL have any lecturing professors or is it like an independent study with classmates? Are there any “traditional” freshman physics classes?

To which Evan I responded:
Freshman physics begins with 8.01. It’s as traditional as a physics course can get, from what I gather, and employs the TEAL system. Now, to help all of us out with our adjustments, there are some variations on this course: 8.011, which is a similar course design without TEAL, 8.012, which is read as “8.01 for physics fanatics,” and 8.01L, which slows the course down to extend into the IAP time. This way, MIT does its best to cater to the previous experience that all incoming freshmen have.

If you’d like to do some more exploration of the courses and what they entail, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/m8a.html should act as a great starting point.

Thanks Evan. You’re completely right. Just a few comments/clarifications. First of all, the TEAL format incorporates both lecture and “independent study.” Each section has about 80 students who sit in small groups. The professor lectures to the whole class and occasionally asks the students to do problems as a group or work on experiements. On certain days, there is no lecture and students simply work on practice problems in their groups. As Evan said, 8.011 is “traditional” physics, but I’m not sure exactly how one would be able to enroll in 8.011. They generally like all freshmen to take TEAL, so I don’t think it’s offered fall semester. Although it is worthwhile to look into some of the learning communities (like ESG, for example)- sometimes they have different class structures, like smaller classes. I’m not all that familiar with these things, but you should look into them if you’re not sure that the standard classes will be right for you.


So, what are my plans for summer?

I’ve been spending my days at my awesome summer job- as a lifeguard at Runaway Rapids Waterpark. I get paid to get a great tan. I don’t get paid much, but it’s still a really fun job.

Of course, one of the hazards of said job is sunburn. Last summer I burned the backs of my legs so badly that I couldn’t walk for 3 days. We’re talking sunburn of the I-wonder-how-I-managed-to-NOT-get-skin-cancer variety. Well, this year I learned my lesson, but still got a little red in places. Only…they’re weird places.

So now we’re going to take the interactive nature of the blog to a whole new level.

It’s like one of those psychoanalysis inkblot questions. What do you see in this sunburn pattern on my leg?

Because I can’t for the life of me figure it out.

5 responses to “Give the girl what she wants”

  1. Faye says:

    Looks a bit like 2 giant, swollen mosquito bites. Sorry, I’m from Houston, mosquitoes here are killer.

  2. Emily '10 says:

    Thanks for the advice on taking/not taking credit. Its reassuring to hear that we have plenty of time to decide what to do.

    As for the sunburn, it sort of looks like a crop circle to me. SPF 50 is the only way to go in the summer…

  3. Mia says:

    Looks like a genie lamp with an axe for a handle. I also see a girl with her hair pulled back. I’ve always wanted to take one of those tests…

  4. Jared says:

    I see a fish head. Definitely a fish head. Extending the image up your knee, I can start to see a ghost, a la Mario Bros.

    -Jared

  5. bhavya says:

    looks like u’ve been havin a lot of trouble . its itchy!u hv had a strong sunburn