In the rush of finals and the end of the semester, I’ve been losing track of time. I flew back home to Pennsylvania for the first time on December 22 after my last final, drove home from the airport, and fell asleep in my bed for a solid thirteen hours. I’ve spent my time back home with my parents and brother, visiting my grandparents, seeing old high school and childhood friends, and blissfully wandering around town without a single thought of psets on my mind.
I didn’t anticipate the end of 2023 to sneak up so quickly, and I opened my planner last Wednesday to the shocking realization that there was less than a week until New Year’s Day.
New Years is in my only beaten by Chinese New Year lol I like the idea of a clean slate, starting again, and having a fresh beginning. Despite this, I’ve never truly made New Years resolutions with a strong commitment to them—I’ve always just had a vague idea of things that would be nice to do or learn without any concrete plans on how to achieve those goals. In the spirit of entering the !!!!! I want to reflect on 2023, but first, I want to set some goals for 2024.
Start my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
Why: I’m currently Course 20 (Biological Engineering), Course 2-A 20 (Mechanical Engineering Flex), Course 3 (Materials Science and Engineering), etc. without a definite idea of what I want to study. I knew I wanted a biology-related UROP, but I was unsure if I should stick to my previous research field or explore a new, but related, field. I ended up choosing a lab in the mechanical engineering department with a focus on biomedical devices, and I start next month during Independent Activities Period is a four week period in January where students don't have traditionally-scheduled classes. If they choose, students can opt into different independent learning and research opportunities.
During my second meeting with the lab, I learned part of my work would include coding and data set development. While I wasn’t initially anticipating this, I think it’s a good way for me to try a new field. Full discloser: I am very nervous, but I want to for right now; this changes almost daily and my lab mentors reassured me that I could learn when I told them I didn’t have experience in those areas.
How: I’m not necessarily sure how to quantify this resolution since the project is relatively new and not super defined right now. So, instead of measuring this goal by the project’s success, I’m setting two general goals from this UROP: 1.) figure out if I like mechanical engineering and/or computer science mixed with biology and 2.) learn how to organize an effective research plan. To reflect on these as my UROP continues, I’m keeping a small progress log about each day in my UROP. I’ve done this before for other research projects, and I liked being able to understand how my research progressed on a daily basis.
Learn Python and Fusion360.
Why: In a pinned note on my phone, there’s a running list of things I want to learn before leaving MIT. There’s a lot and definitely more than I can realistically do in one year: learn color theory, become financially literate, learn Spanish, learn the piano, etc. I reviewed my list yesterday just to realize how many of them were different software or programming applications. It’s been a goal of mine to learn how to code for a long time, but I always picked it up briefly only to drop it later on.
My goal is to learn the basics of Python and Fusion360. Right now, the software applications I can use are PyMOL is a play-on of the words Python and Molecule, VMD stands for Visual Molecular Dynamics, and NAMD stands for Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics. which are helpful for protein modeling, but not super applicable to other research fields and don’t involve a lot of coding in my experience. I picked Python because it’s complimentary with my UROP, and I chose Fusion360 because I want to improve my CAD skills for engineering.
How: I made a Notion calendar to track how much I work in both Python and Fusion360 over 2024. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll be able to practice daily, but I do want to put in enough time that I can see some progress every ~2 weeks. Python is easier to commit to since I’ll be practicing it by default through my UROP, but I’m also trying to MIT OpenCourseWare and YouTube video my way into learning more. As for Fusion360, my friends suggested a few beginner-friendly projects to get me started.
Fix my sleep schedule.
Why: In short, I had a terrible sleep schedule in the fall. To be clear, it was my problem: my sleep schedule started off well during the first few weeks of being on campus, but I started unnecessarily staying up to cram in assignments that weren’t even due or staying up abysmally late with friends. My schedule devolved into an unfortunate amount of 3am bedtimes.
How: I realized half-way through the semester that I am wayyy more productive when I’m not working in my dorm or room. Right now, I’ve been most effective at finishing work early if I drag myself to study in the Stud or Stata. I also started studying with a group of friends, which has helped hold me accountable for doing my work. Towards the end of finals week, I started falling back into my old habit of dorm studying when most study spots were crowded, but this Spring, I’m going to try and find more places on campus to study.
Explore MIT and Boston more.
Theres so much to do at MIT and in Boston. While I feel like I’ve taken advantage of it, I want to do a lot more: ice skating, pottery, dance workshops, painting classes, etc. I had plans that ended up getting pushed off for last minute finals studying, so I’m hoping to use IAP and second semester to explore the other special parts of the MIT community and Boston area.
Why: I think I forgot how much I enjoyed writing because, frankly, the last time I wrote for a significant period of time was for college applications. For my Engineering Life: Biotechnology and Society class, our final project was a paper on an STS topic of our choice. I chose to write about science communication, particularly how science can be misrepresented and lead to unintentional confusion for non-technical audiences. While the assignment took a long time, it helped me remember how much I liked writing—in 2024, I’m simply hoping to write more.
How: I’m taking a Communication Intensive HASS courses; typically involve more writing than a traditional HASS class class next semester, so I’m more-so hoping to do reflective writing in my free time. I’d like to start blogging more and journaling on a consistent base, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes at the end of each day.
2023, despite all of its difficulties, was one of my favorite years. January to May was fun because it was second semester of my senior year filled with Prom and Graduation. It was, by far, my favorite year in high school. I spent my summer with childhood and high school friends, enjoying our last time together before we were all scattered off into different states and colleges. I traveled to West Virginia for a summer camp and met some of my closest friends that I still keep in frequent contact with today. And, of course, I started my first year of college :)
Some other things I did in 2023:
- Went on a senior trip to New York with friends
- Graduated high school
- Hiked twelve miles
- Sat in a hammock for the first time
- Saw Hadestown on Broadway
- Visited DC, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Maine, West Virginia, and New Hampshire
- Went to my first concert (Joji!)
- Ate lots of hotpot
- Passed 8.01 after thinking I was going to No-record
- Watched a lot of sunsets by the Charles River
- Drank copious amounts of boba
- Planned and hosted Friendsgiving
- Baked 200+ cookies for the holiday
- Tried iHOP for the first time
- Visited Snowport
- Went to the 2.009 final presentation
- and more :)
There’s already a lot I’m excited for in 2024: taking more film photos, turning 19, visiting old friends, starting research, finishing my first year of college. I like New Years because it’s simple—it doesn’t promise anything, but it gives space to hope for something if you want to, and I’m excited to see where the new year takes me.
Happy New Year!
- only beaten by Chinese New Year lol back to text ↑
- !!!!! back to text ↑
- Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program back to text ↑
- Course 20 (Biological Engineering), Course 2-A 20 (Mechanical Engineering Flex), Course 3 (Materials Science and Engineering), etc. back to text ↑
- Independent Activities Period is a four week period in January where students don't have traditionally-scheduled classes. If they choose, students can opt into different independent learning and research opportunities. back to text ↑
- for right now; this changes almost daily back to text ↑
- PyMOL is a play-on of the words Python and Molecule, VMD stands for Visual Molecular Dynamics, and NAMD stands for Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics. back to text ↑
- MIT OpenCourseWare back to text ↑
- Engineering Life: Biotechnology and Society back to text ↑
- Communication Intensive HASS courses; typically involve more writing than a traditional HASS class back to text ↑
- No-record back to text ↑