I’m Awesome (at) Parkour! by Shuli J. '22, MEng '23
and other fun things i'm doing this Independent Activities Period
IAP is in full swing, and I am having a blast! At MIT, the second semester doesn’t start until February; instead, we use January to do internships, travel, take classes, and/or just have fun. Here’s what I’m up to this IAP (with headers inspired by me realizing that parkour easily fit the IAP acronym, and then spending a quarter of an hour trying to come up with cute names for everything else I’m doing, too):…well, mediocre might be a more accurate word choice. But that’s unsurprising, considering i’ve been doing it for approximately two weeks! Parkour has been super fun and the two guys running it are very good teachers — I love that they break down all the different motions we learn for us and explain why they’re useful, even when we’re Which will NEVER be 'just' crawling to me again. Oh god, I'm so sore for the warmup. It’s definitely Real Exercise TM, which I wasn’t expecting as much as I should have been, but that’s honestly a bonus (living in EC means I really don’t get much unintentional exercise…) As we learn, the impressive-looking parts of parkour have started to seem more and more doable. I’m really looking forward to learning more ways to jump over, onto, and off various objects!
I’m taking 18.02A, a version of multivariable calculus that starts in the fall and finishes in January. It’s the realest class of all the classes I’m in, which means psets, a midterm, a final, and daily lectures. The pace is definitely way faster in IAP, and having only one class is a weird feeling — I’m not keeping busy, but I can’t relax either, and I sometimes find myself wishing that the semester would hurry up and come already, or that I could go back to break. With that said, learning math is super exciting!!!! I’m 100% that nerd in the front row, excitedly texting my parents I am now a master of div, grad, AND curl!!!…which is to say, I’m having a real good time :D
During the semester, if you live in a dorm with a dining hall (which I don’t), it’s mandatory to have at least some sort of meal plan. This isn’t true over IAP, so lots of people learn to “fend for themselves” by purposely choosing to go mealplanless and cook instead. I’ve been fending for myself for a few months now, but I did take this opportunity to cook more than I would normally have time to do! In addition to my usual meals, I tried out a new chicken marinade (it’s the first one on Google, but wow, it’s really good!!), made key lime pie (and then angel food cake to use up leftover ingredients), and recreated the butterscotch fudge of my childhood. I’ve been really impressed by how easy it is to make delicious, interesting food! Next up is loukoumades, aka When I looked these up so I could attach that Wikipedia link, I learned that they're not just Greek! If you're a etymology nerd like me, click through to find out the cool source of the name. dough balls soaked in honey. MMmmmm glucose 😋
Beginners’ ASL is one of the many non-credit classes you can take during IAP: it’s taught by two MIT students for three hours a week. I’ve been wanting to learn ASL for a loooong time, but to be honest, I’m not much of a self-starter, so I was super excited to sign up for this class. Turns out, of course, that learning a new language is hard! But it’s hard in a good way, the kind where you practice a little bit every day and slowly things get easier. It’s really, really interesting to be learning a language that’s so different from the ones I’ve learned before, like Latin and French, which are full of verb and noun endings. In ASL, there is no conjugation; instead, you reduplicate or alter symbols, and use your body language and facial expressions, to convey specific meanings about what you’re trying to say. This is definitely one of those activities, like brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand, that really stretches your brain and pushes it to be able to accept more than one way of doing things (and in this case, more than one way of communicating information). It’s a great feeling ^-^
I’ve always looooooooooved to read, but I haven’t had nearly as much time to do so since the end of eighth grade, when I realized that if I wanted to kick butt academically, I might have to stop reading while my teachers were talking (shocker, I know). This IAP, I’m getting back to reading in two ways: trying to read a little bit in the mornings after I wake up, and reading over lunch. During the semester, I’m always busy, running at 100%, and when I have a free moment I want to be able to relax completely. Because I’m less busy now, I can fill my free time with stuff that engages my brain!
…except, uh, so far I’ve just been rereading book series I loved in my childhood. (Tamora Pierce: my icon, my savior, my idol, etc. etc.) But soon I will go to Dewey library and take out some interesting new nonfiction. (Tomorrow? Hopefully, tomorrow!) I was really intrigued by what I saw there when I visited in October, and I want go to take out a whole stack of books and learn a whole stack of things.
I did a bunch of gift-knitting over the holidays, and it reminded me that I really like knitting! I learned when I was pretty young, so I didn’t get into any of the fancy stuff. Now that I’m older and probably wiser, I want to try all of that out. I borrowed a learn-to-knit book* and some needles and yarn from my mom and brought them back with me… but since then, I haven’t actually sat down to knit. Like reading, it’s another one of those activities that takes place during my “relaxing” time, but actually requires a lot of my effort and attention, which means I often find myself just not doing it. I really want to learn new techniques, though, so I’m going to try to set aside some time this week to start (it should help that a few recent stresses have resolved themselves, and I’m less busy than I’ve been).
*it’s this super cool one where you learn 63 different patterns, knit 63 different small squares, and then have a blanket!! I have no delusions of actually finishing a blanket, but the idea itself is very charming, and I like that each technique only requires a square’s worth of commitment.
So… that’s what I’ve been up to. In between all of this, or perhaps vice versa, I’ve been sleeping, talking, laughing, going out with friends, puzzle-solving (more on that another time!), Wikipedia-bingeing, and generally continuing to exist, as one does. Stay tuned to hear about my (many, many) plans for next semester — and for those of you currently experiencing some frigid winter weather, I hope you’re managing to stay safe and warm. <3
- Which will NEVER be 'just' crawling to me again. Oh god, I'm so sore back to text ↑
- When I looked these up so I could attach that Wikipedia link, I learned that they're not just Greek! If you're a etymology nerd like me, click through to find out the cool source of the name. back to text ↑