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Hello, Ma Sheng Li Gong by Chris S. '11

A journey of four years begins with a single blog.

Three summers ago, I visited MIT with one of my fellow schoolmates. We were
en route to Mathcamp 2004 (which was held in Colby College, ME), and we decided
to stay in Boston for a couple of nights before heading up north. Interestingly
enough, the family friend that we were staying with knew a grad student from
MIT and asked us whether we would like to stay over for a night at the
Institute. Having heard so many amazing tales about what MIT contained, we
cheerfully agreed.

I still remember tossing around a Frisbee in front of
Killian Court at dusk. I still remember the maze of corridors and first hearing
about “the Infinite.” And, of course, I still remember the chirping crosswalk in
front of 77 Mass Ave.

Fast forward to 2007.

I am standing underneath the shadow of the colossal marble columns, no longer holding a tourist’s guide
to Boston, but rather, a thick stack of 18.02 course notes. I have learned that
the big domey place with the “Established for the Advancement of…etc. etc.”
is called “Lobby 7.” And, of course, I have learned why the Infinite Corridor
is called “the Infinite” (just run from New House to 26-152, the Physics Room,
when you are already late for class. You’ll figure out what I mean somewhere
along the middle of your journey).

So this will be my home for the next
four years. (Along with my Mathcamp schoolmate from 3 years ago, Jeremy L.
’10).

Anyways, that was a big introduction to nothing in particular,
but sometimes I still pause and think, “Wow, I’m at MIT. The MIT.”
Sounds silly, but if you know where I’m coming from, you might
understand.

I guess I am categorized as an “ABC,” but I’m not your
typical ABC. For one thing, I have never gone to school in the US, even though
I was born here. My parents moved back to Taiwan when I was still a toddler,
and so I spent my entire childhood (and all of my teenage years – so yes, my
entire life) in that lovely island in Asia.

Having no idea of my
citizenship, I grew up speaking Mandarin and Taiwanese and attending Taiwanese
schools. When my parents decided to transfer me to an international school in
third grade, I was depressed for weeks. However, I started learning English,
and now – ten years later – I can’t imagine how I would have turned out, if I
stayed in the Taiwanese system.

Despite going to an international school
(e.g. taking AP courses, having classes in English, freaking out about SAT 2s),
I guess I never felt like I was actually going to America. College was always
“in that place across the ocean” – and who cares about the future, as long as I
get yummy sticky rice and REAL bubble tea everyday? So it really
hit me when I logged on to the MIT notification system (prefrosh: prepare for
the most melodramatic moment of your life…) and read the admission letter. I
finally felt like, “Wow, so I am leaving this place, I am going to
America.”

So that’s me, in a nutshell, before coming to the US.

I post a lot of comments (which are somewhat helpful, I hope) on College
Confidential
. I’m known as “Oasis” there, so you might have noticed that
I’ve been commenting on the MIT blogs as “Oasis.” Don’t ask me why I picked
that screen name – I don’t really know myself (no, it doesn’t have to do with
the band – though I did start listening to them after people commented on my
username!). However, I do have a lot of posts on CC (read: too much free
time in high school). All of this goes to say that 1) I’m unfortunately
addicted to that website (but I managed to stay off it for a month!) and 2) I
like giving advice in general – especially if I’ve been through something and
there’s no need for you to repeat the same mistakes that I’ve made. I
probably would not know too much about the strategies of Halo 3 or whether USC
will win this year in football, but feel free to ask me questions. I’ll do my
best to respond. :)

I still do not know exactly what course I’m going to
be at MIT – but I know I’m going to go in the Chemistry, Biology, or
Biological Engineering direction (in other words, Courses 5, 7, or 20). I love
to travel – so I also hope to tie in that interest through the things that
we’re going to be doing in iHouse (more on this soon!) and D-lab (first semester next
year). It should be an amazing journey.

Mm-hmm. That was a lot of text,
and I definitely hope I did not succeed in boring you to death with my
ruminations – therefore, I’ll let some pictures tell you the story of my
first couple of weeks at MIT:

Fraternity Rush

Fraternity Rush is basically the last
weekend before the start of school (yes, these pictures are old…I know…)
and a couple of days into the new school year. Froshies get taken around to all
of MIT’s fraternities (there’s 27 of them! – and 5 sororities) and they
basically enjoy a ton of free food (mmm – includes the traditional
free lobster and steak dinners) and – if you get to know some
fraternities to a greater detail – off campus trips (I went on a kayaking trip,
a beach trip, and a Boston “food tour” this year!).  ‘Twas fun.
:)

Career Fair

One of the amazing things about MIT is the scope of its
connections with the major companies and corporations from all the world – yes,
we are talking about companies like Microsoft, Google, Morgan Stanley, IBM, Sun
Microsystems, Limewire, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Xerox…you name it, MIT has it
– it’s really not an understatement to say that these companies recruit straight
out of MIT (in fact, that’s what a lot of them do through Career Fair). In short,
Career Fair is an annual massive conglomeration of company representatives who
are interested in recruiting MIT students to work for them. A lot of students
(juniors and seniors) submit their resumes and get all dressed up for the
affair…while others, like HaoQi ’11 in the picture, go and collect
check out all the cool gadgets. I actually missed out on this year’s career
fair (because I was being a good student, and went to class…ahem) –
but it’s alright, there’s always next year. =p

iHouse
retreat!

Like I mentioned before, iHouse is my dorm. I don’t want to go
into too much detail here – because you will surely hear a lot from me about
iHouse in the entries to come, but iHouse is the newest (we’re the inaugural
year!) living and learning community within MIT. So what exactly is a
living and learning community? Is it after-hours school within the dorm (eww)?
Basically, we all would have opportunities over the four years to conduct
international development projects (very similar to the ones under operation in
D-lab), under the guidance of Amy Smith (D-lab instructor, also the lady above talking
about Honduran chlorination systems) and the Public Service Center
(which also maintains blogs on MIT Admissions!). But most of all, we get to work
with one another, toss around ideas, and just share our visions while still
living under the same rooftop!

And, finally…

Food,
glorious food!

Be warned – in the time to come, I will probably be blogging a
fair amount about food, since I love to eat (don’t worry, it will not
dominate my blog, I promise :)). I can save money on everything else, but I
will not save money on food. I actually bought the Zagat Survey Guidebook for Boston
and fully intend to work my way through the majority of it over the four years
that I have here (it would be my personal “101 Things to Eat Before I
Graduate!”)

Hey, we all live 60-70-80 years on this earth, so why not
make the most of what you eat before you get old and cannot eat as heartily as
you can now? Carpe diem, bon appetit!

46 responses to “Hello, Ma Sheng Li Gong”

  1. Isshak says:

    So you are Oasis’11 ! So saying to you welcome isn’t really justified ^^
    Yya iHouse !!! Your blog is going to be so interesting I can feel it already ! Who knows maybe you will travel to my country ! And I know what you mean when you talk about the stress of the SAT 2’s ! And I can’t believe you were able to get all of that (even more stuff then Snively) at carreer fair ! I want a firefox tee shirt ! But why do they give you toothpaste ?

  2. Star says:

    Great first post!! I-house sounds really cool, not to mention it reminds me of I-hop smile Can’t wait to hear about your experiences this year though, expect lots of annoying comments from me smile

  3. Star says:

    Fine, Isshak, beat me almost “FIRST POST!!11!” raspberry I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving (read: more obsessed) of MIT than we are smile

    And pressure of SATs… well it should start getting to me pretty soon, I’m taking them for the first time this weekend… and I kinda haven’t started studying yet…

  4. Isshak says:

    Hehe trust me, studying is what I’ve only been doing since my first post on this website (I’m sure Paul remembers…). The SAT is okay, but the SAT 2,s, that’s totally different (you guys (read here americans) are so in advence in almost everything!).

  5. Star says:

    Yeah, I’m not American so I’m not exactly sure how my preparation matches up, but studying is just so… boring! I know it’s probably so stupid of me, but I can’t help it…hopefully it doesn’t turn out too bad. Wish me luck!

  6. Isshak says:

    Lol I’m not american either so wish me luck too ! SAT 2 is in November for me. How was the SAT 2 from a “international” student point of view Chris (I read your bio) ?

  7. Doris says:

    I love Taiwan! You should tell us more about what it was like growing up there… I often wish that my parents had raised me in Taiwan (partly because then my Mandarin would be better and I would also understand more Taiwanese). I only get to go back once every two years during summer vacation. :(

    And I’m applying to MIT this year, so I’ll definitely check out your posts on College Confidential. smile

  8. Karen says:

    Your huge array of free stuff has basically convinced me that if I get in, I’m going to MIT smile Nothing like giveaways to recruit students!

  9. wonderful post Chris! You made me nostalgic by mentioning CC…I had spammed with gazillions of posts over there… the moderators must be still looking for me… LOL

  10. Anonymous says:

    RUBIX CUBE!!!!!!!!

    (you guys (read here americans) are so in advence in almost everything!).

    Americans aren’t advanced. The stuff is just weird and you don’t study elsewhere.

  11. Fantastic first post. I really enjoyed it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    a v v v coooooooool post…..

  13. anon says:

    @ginger
    hey, mind pasting some of oasis’s college confidential comments here?

  14. Karen says:

    Oh my gosh your picture is so 可愛!

  15. 某人 says:

    I’m so happy there’s a Taiwanese blogger !

  16. Saad Zaheer says:

    oh, I love those beach chairs… congratulations man. SigEp rocks!

  17. Reg says:

    Other than being Chinese (Hong Konger here!), you went to an INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL?!?

    I’d love to hear more from you smile

  18. Arya '10 says:

    Chris Su! you’re awesome! nice job on the blog!

  19. Lirao says:

    Great to see an international student! On the other hand, since you went to an international school, your education was still a largely American one. If you stayed in an Asian system you would be freaking out about SAT1 instead.(like me -_-) Still it’s only a difference of (2-1)=1 smile

    Sid: thanks for the sparknotes recommendation! I’ll definitely check it out. Funny that I was looking at its SAT essay comments and went on to waste alot of time doing its personality tests today…
    Unfortunately I only have, what, 24 hours until my next SAT? I’m soo dreading that essay…

  20. Jenny Liu says:

    Hey Chris.
    Yesss…it is Jenny from MCA ’07. haha.
    My stalkerish behavior has extended from facebook onto MIT.
    Anyway, wow! iHouse sounds terrific! Can’t wait to hear more about the type of projects and things you guys will get into. I am envious of the amount of info and corporations you get at MIT! look at all those freebies…haha.
    I have to say, my fav part of your biography is..”I heart green tea.”
    ditto, dude. ditto wink

  21. Ying Wei says:

    Do you know a girl called Kelly Chiu?
    She is one of the ’11er and she also comes from taichung ^^

  22. Aditi says:

    great post!!!!

    I know i’m completely in love with MIT but wow i think it just got better ( or in my case the obsession just got worse! raspberry)

    AAaaaargh SATs! i still havent done them! yes its very suicidal because i’ll get only one shot at each! oh well….

    anyhow. keep posting!

  23. an '11's mom says:

    Hi Chris,

    你好 臺灣來的孩子究竟是不一樣 想家時可以和我的孩子來我家玩

  24. an '11's mom says:

    Chris,

    我的孩子也去過兩年Canada/USA Mathcamp. 歡迎來我家玩.

  25. 湘娥 says:

    很高兴终于有个来自东亚的博客主!

    I’m very overjoyed to read from a MIT blogger with an East Asian background. Thank you, Admin!

    I shall look forward to the food blogs. I simply adore food. Yum…..

  26. anon says:

    Hey, can u plz post some of ur CC coments on MIT blogs, thus save a little time for us?

  27. Ginger says:

    Wow…I love the pictures you posted. The food looks really delicious. So you’re oasis! I really liked your advice on College Confidential; they made me more confident smile

  28. Sid says:

    Hey Chris mate, amazing post. It was great to have an international applicant relate some of his experiences. I look forward to reading more about your adventures prior and post the MIT admission.

    @Isshak
    I know what you feel like man. I am taking the SAT 2s as well. Being in Australia, however, i find that the topics tested aren’t exactly hard as much as they are different. For ex: The SAT Physics tests a lot on electric fields, which we haven’t done at all. Whereas, we have learnt a lot of complex electronics, amplifier circuits, kinematics and electromagnetism which is mainly tested in the AP courses.
    The American schooling system in my opinion is challenging in the AP curricula. If you want to study a hard high school course (in preparation for college or fun), i suggest the ICSE course in India. I moved from India in 8th grade and hadn’t learnt anything overly new until this year in both maths and science.

    @ Everyone yet to do either SATs
    You guys probably know this already but a great place for practice for the Subject tests is http://www.sparknotes.com (surprisingly)
    The site offers numerous practice tests for SAT 1 and II. Each account is allowed one free practice test. So create as many free accounts as your imagination lets you and knock yourself out with preparation material.
    The site provides a lot of notes and explanations for all topics covered in all the Subject Tests.

    PS: If anyone needs more practice SAT Reasoning Tests just email me at [email protected] or add me on MSN Messenger.

    I hope this helps and hopefully we can all see each other next year.

  29. Where did you get that cute penguin from? You should wear contacts la. Dude my community service club sucks in comparison to your iHouse (sounds like an extension of Apple into MIT, if you ask me). We were talking today about calling ourselves World Service instead of Community Service. Now imagine that emblazoned on a T-shirt: we may as well call ourselves “Samartitans International” and get done with it. Honduran chlorination systems sound intimidating. Good luck. In house pictures don’t suck as much as before. We got skill, man, cuz i’m on the team.

    Lol ur calling Taiwan “a lovely island”? Dude, you must really be missing all those “REAL” bubble teas.

    PS – Stuco had a competition in the pit this week. The object was to eat a bowl of jen joos (that someone had walked all over) for a movie ticket. Now that sucks. U should review Ratatouille. It has to do with ur fav. thing: FOOD. smile

  30. Hawkins says:

    Hi, Chris! Nice first post! =)

  31. Hunter '11 says:

    Yay, more ’11ers posting! That’s so neat you’re in iHouse.

    And I love Rubik’s Cubes. I need to get a 4×4.

  32. Nihar says:

    Great first post Chris!
    (Do I need to say that uv definitely got all of us hooked onto ur blog already? Cant wait for ur second post!:)
    The pics look great!Cheers for iHouse!!
    Thats one reason why 2 out of every 3 students have MIT as their first choice..in addition to having a world-class education, the students have the time of their lives!!
    N just look at all the goodiessss…wish I could just reach out n grab em!!:)..haha ….Career fair sounds awesome…what with all the the big(understatement?) names going along with it…
    (Is that a google t shirt????????)
    Hope all the eating wont cut into the time u could spent writing great posts like these;)….bon appetit!

  33. KaYnaR says:

    Hi Chris!
    Nice first post! Hope to see you here as much as possible. So it’s one of my first posts and I’m hesitating and worried about my eniglish (international student).

    In following three months I have got three exams – TOEFL, SAT, SAT2. Senior year is really very depressive.

  34. Ana says:

    Hey, Chris! I am so happy an international student is blogging here! Your first post was amazing. Another (hopefully)international student over here. I am from Romania and I also spend lots of time on CC.

    And about someone saying SAT IIs are harder for internationals, I don’t know about every country, but for Romanians it’s definitely false. We have a completely different system from the American one, but the stuff covered on SAT seemed to me pretty easy. I only used Sparknotes to revise a little the material we have been using in school like forever.
    Our weakes part in my opinion is the SAT essay, since our system doesn’t emphasise too much writing, and we don’t have to do many essays in high school, not even in Romanian Universities.

  35. Oasis says:

    I think in a couple of blogs or so I’ll write a little bit about the whole college application process from an international school student’s angle (the perspective of taking American exams outside of the US and figuring out how everything works and stuff). I know I was definitely confused when I entered the college application process and was all O_____O at the forms, tests, and things like financial aid…so look out for that in the coming entries.

    An ’11’s mom: 請問您的小孩是?以後如果有事的話,非常歡迎直接用上面的電子信箱mail我。 他是哪一年參加mathcamp的呢?

  36. John says:

    We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the engineers~~

  37. Ginger says:

    @anon: Chris just posted so many great posts on CC that it’ll be difficult to show you them all here. The best thing to do would be to create a college confidential account and then search for “oasis” to find all his posts. Good luck!

  38. joy says:

    MIT is great…
    I could feel it.
    麻省理工大学! 不要总翻译成学院啊。。。明明就是大学嘛。。

  39. abel oloo says:

    well hi to whoever im talking to.all my life i have dreamt of joinig MIT.I believe its the best college to be in judging by the top world decison makers it has produced.the thing is that im in africa specifically in nairobi kenya and i dont have a clue on how i can join this prestigious institute.i have heard numerous rumours that if one doesnt score straight As in school there is no hope in joining this college is this true?what are the chances of a person from africa joinIng mit ESPECIALLY if he scores more OF grade Bs than As?again what are the chances of such a person getting a full scholarship?,i was hoping to join sometime next year so if there is anyone in here that can assist me with any information on the admission process i would really appreciate this.

    thank you.

  40. Jhl says:

    Different account at sparknotes = different practice tests?
    Where can i get free practice tests for SAT2 online?thanks..

  41. Krypton says:

    If you can’t say how you came up with “Oasis,” how about with “undefinedxyz” instead? smile

  42. CD12 says:

    Hahah, it’s funny how both of your food pics are rice dishes XD

    I’m really glad you’re a blogger on here… I’m kind of an international student, but only I was born in China and came to US to study when I was 7.

    iHouse sounds so awesome! =)

  43. Oasis says:

    ^ Haha, that is very true. I didn’t notice it myself!

    I guess obsession with rice runs too deeply in my genes…

  44. Hyun Jin says:

    Great to hear from an international student… (but the forty other people who’ve posted before me have already said that)
    Er… anyhow… you wouldn’t by any chance know whether if the IB and AP programs hold similar or different weight for the admissions officers?