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MIT student blogger Jessie L. '07

Greetings from Switzerland by Jessie L. '07

I did something today that I had previously sworn I would never do.

I joined College Confidential.

I finally decided that, no matter how much a lot of the stuff written in the MIT forum (and elsewhere, for that matter) makes me want to throw up or strangle the writers, it doesn’t do any good to pretend like it’s not there and allow misinformation to run rampant. The clincher was when a friend sent me a link to a post about gaming the housing lottery.

YOU DON’T NEED TO GAME THE GODDAMMED LOTTERY! YOU DON’T ACTUALLY CHOOSE YOUR PERMANENT LIVING GROUP UNTIL ORIENTATION! YOUR SUMMER ASSIGMENT IS SO THAT YOU HAVE A PLACE TO STAY UNTIL YOU’VE PICKED A PERMANENT LIVING GROUP!*

“I feel better having screamed, don’t you?” – R.E.M, “Ignoreland”

Heh. Now that I’ve said that, hello from Lausanne, Switzerland, where I’ve been living for the past 10 days. I’m writing this from a computer in EPFL‘s Brain Mind Institute, where I work. I’m staying in Ada-Logements, a downtown boarding house about two and a half miles from here. I’m also taking pictures. At some point, I’ll put these on the Internet, but I need to have time to acquire a power adaptor for my laptop so that I can actually use it in Europe.

Work is challenging and interesting. Mostly I’ve been writing code in MATLAB and C. The code reads neural traces stored as binary files, does some magic and digital-to-analog conversion, and eventually produces an ASCII file of spike peak times. I’ve also been tooling some in my free time, working my way through the books I started during term on C and UNIX systems (I’m self-taught in both of these), and through a textbook on theoretical neuroscience (i.e. computational/mathematical modelling of neurons and neural systems). Good stuff to know.

When I’m not working, I can explore the city and go to places like the Cathedral of Lausanne, which was built in the 13th century and was the site of the Dispute of Lausanne during the Reformation. Or, right next to it, the Lausanne Historical Museum. Or the city’s Ancient Roman ruins, or the International Olympic Committee headquarters.

Somebody asked in the last post how I got this job. Actually, I Googled “neuroscience internships” several months ago, and found the relevant website, and sent the famed Henry Markram, the co-director of the Brain Mind Institute and the leader of what is now my lab, my resume. He forwarded it on, asking if anyone was interested in working with an MIT student. From there, things gradually fell into place, and now I’m here, working with the financial support of a nice fellowship.

What are you doing this summer?

*This statement is not true if your summer assignment is to a living group with RBA (Residence-Based Advising). These would be Next House, McCormick, and two of the Cultural Houses. If you are put in one of those, you’re there for your whole freshman year, so you should consider the matter carefully if you’re thinking about RBA.

6 responses to “Greetings from Switzerland”

  1. Talia says:

    ahahahahhaha
    enjoy the CC boards. if i needed more ways to waste my time, i might revive my account there, but.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You may not need a different adaptor, only a different plug will probably work for your laptop.

  3. Laura says:

    Jessie, I admire that you managed to stay away from CC for so long. I wish I had. wink

  4. thekeri says:

    I still refuse to join CC, because it’s just scary. Ah, the stories of the misinformed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I’m a high school sophomore and really want to go to MIT. I have spent a lot of time reading the CC boards and have heard lot’s of crazy things about MIT and other universities. It will be great to have someone who ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT giving advice to us aspiring college students.

    Anyway, I will have my high school grad. requirements done by the end of my junior year (next year)and am thus considering applying to college a year early. What do you think? Do I have a chance of being accepted at MIT if I do this, or will one-year less of ECs set me at the hopelessly shallow end of the application pool? (As far as SAT, academics, recomendations, I would have the equivalent of most high school seniors).I know there’s no sure way to know whether or not I’ll get in, but do you think it’s even worth pursuing this option?

  6. sriram says:

    i don’t know why do u name that poor fellow as anonymous if u think u are right then u should also name me the same am i right.
    because u don’t who iam and also what for iam mailing for but i would say i found your site as a good place to give comments (certainly) if u dont mind can i continue in the future.
    from miles away (India)
    sriram (student-UG)