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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

It’s Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies by Chris S. '11

Inspired by Paul and Snively.

So, I’m in the Stratton Reading Room right now and the number of students here had dwindled down to single digits. I logged on to take a short study break, and…

This entry is going to be really spontaneous, since Snively and Paul both coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally, since everyone is feeling hosed right now – yup, and it’s ONLY been 4 weeks of class!) decided to blog about schoolwork, I decided to pitch in my own ideas.

So, you all probably has heard that “getting an education at MIT is like taking a drink from a fire hose,” right? (If you haven’t, I’ll glomp you! – jk. =D)

The truth is, as cliched as the statement had become, it’s very much true. At MIT, the courses are not just fast-paced; they practically gallop. I think one of my fellow ’11s put it quite well:

“Taking classes at MIT is like riding a train whose speed increases exponentially with time. Additionally, this train does not have any seats. Instead, you are given handlebars on the side of the train to hang on to. In the beginning, the train starts out really slow, so sometimes you don’t even have to hold on. You can jog on the side of the train and still be quite alright. However, as the train gains momentum, you gotta jump onto the train, hang on to the handlebars, and meet the blast of wind in your face head-on.”

Coincidentally, I didn’t delete an email I received a couple of days ago just because one sentence in it made me chuckle:

“It’s the start of yet another week… woo hoo. Even if you managed to have a nice weekend, it’s now time to return to the crazy world of enormous textbooks, incomprehensible psets, and mind-numbing lectures.”

…I just had to laugh. =p

Intense, eh?

So this was my day:

1:17 AM: Began studying for the 18.03 test that Paul mentioned.
3:02 AM: Decided resistance is futile. Shower. Pack up.
3:27 AM: Bedtime!


10:20 AM: Riiiiiing! Groggily turns off the alarm.
10:27 AM: *looks at the clock* *tries to decipher clock hands* *face hits the pillow*
10:43 AM: *looks at the clock* *tries to decipher clock hands* “AH I’m going to be late!” (my first class was a language class, and tardiness+absences will kill your grade)
10:47 Am: Gets ready while mentally getting annoyed at self for being so sleepy even after sleeping seven hours. Note to self: Must be the New England weather.
10:53 AM: Power walks down Dorm Row (note: iHouse is almost as far from campus as Next is).
11:02 AM: Gets to the first floor of Building 16, all the way across campus (this is almost East Campus). Meets Spanish professor while waiting for the elevator. (“phew, I’m not late.“)
11:55 AM: Class dismissed. Heads on to 5.111 (chemistry).
12:00 PM: Arrives in class. Professor begins talking about periodic trends.
12:47 PM: *yawn* Begins to feel that “increasing” and “decreasing” starts to sound curiously similar.
1:00 PM: Arrive at 14.01 (economics) lecture, professor begins drawing pretty graphs and curves on the board.
1:32 PM: Drifts off into the merry land where everything is in equilibrium and there isn’t any math equations to solve…
1:48 PM: Jolts to a start and realizes that, in fact, life is full of equations and variables, as evidenced by the chalkboard, which had since begun filling up with mathematics statements.
2:00 PM: Arrives at 18.03 (differential equations) lecture, professor began debating with self about the pros and cons of non-linear functions and linear functions.
2:28 PM: Paid rapt attention in anticipation for the exam on Wednesday. Note-taking interrupted by a snore from the kid beside me that had begun napping.
2:53 PM: Kid beside me wakes up. (“good timing!“)
3:00 PM: Famished, heads off to Stata Center for lunch.
3:32 PM: Checks email and surfs the Web (I discovered what 419 scams and scam-baiters are today!)
4:02 PM: Heads off to Hayden Library to do some work.
4:08 PM: Begins reading physics (8.02), from Chapter 1.
4:59 PM: Reviewed all the material since Week 1. Feels proud of self.
5:02 PM: Decides to take a little break to reward self.
5:03 PM: Promptly falls asleep in the cushy armchairs in the library.


6:47 PM: Groggily peers at a clock. “WOAH, it’s almost 7?!”
6:50 PM: Decides to get some dinner.
6:51 PM: Cold blast of air from the outside immediately killed any sleepbugs.
7:00 PM: Arrives at Au Bon Pain, by Kendall Square.
7:08 PM: Ordered a sandwich and some soup and began studying while eating. (Note: I actually like studying in cafes during weekday nights sometimes because I really enjoy the ambience. Also, cafes are generally not very loud on weekday nights as well, so it all works out =p)
8:47 PM: Cleaning lady starts to clean up the shop.
9:02 PM: Cleaning lady starts to throw me evil looks and begins vacuuming very close to me.
9:06 PM: Leaves the restaurant, proceeds to Stratton Reading Room.
9:10 PM: Decided to traverse from East Campus to Building 7 completely using the underground tunnel systems (something I haven’t done since Orientation). Discovered several interesting nooks and crannies.
9:25 PM: Arrives at Reading Room.
9:34 PM: Resumes studying physics.
10:10 PM: A girl nearby begins complaining about her boyfriend, who apparently is in another state and therefore “cannot find out about what I say,” to her friend. (I’m in the Lounge, where talking is allowed)
10:13 PM: Girl A ends her tirade. Girl B begins sympathizing with Girl A.
10:15 PM: Girl A refuses to be consoled. Complains about her boyfriend some more.
10:47 PM: Switches gears to studying for 18.03.
11:03 PM: Some friends from 18.03 arrive, discussed some questions.


1:47 AM: Did all I can do with 18.03. Began working on Spanish assignment.
2:01 AM: Finished Spanish assignment.
2:10 AM: Logs on to the Internet.
3:12 AM: And here I am.

I guess I’m about 70% finished for studying for the 18.03 exam, and somewhat prepped for my 8.02 exam next Thursday (I have four exam next week, oh bother).

I think it’s time to sleep. Good night! =D


(and because I don’t like blogging w/o photos)

(ok, I know it says “ful sunrise” – it’s late =p)

23 responses to “It’s Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies”

  1. Shubhang says:

    Just wanted to know what exactly are RA’S

  2. Ana says:

    OK, it’s hard, but it’s totally worth it, right?

  3. Anonymous says:

    i got a score of 1530/1600 in maths level 1 and physics and my percenrile is 95 and 87 respectively just wanted to know if they would benefit my application

  4. baggy says:

    I got the same total but different percentile

  5. Paul says:

    Let’s not talk numbers. =/ The stats are available here; 1530/1600 is well within the middle 50% of the admitted class.

  6. Natalie says:

    Chris, I love your entry title–Maroon 5 rocks! Good luck on your exam!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I really sympathize with you… I had four exams, three lab reports and miscellaneous homework to hand in last week… Also, I think I know how Snively feels about his psets since I always take anywhere from half a day to nearly an entire day to finish one pset.

  8. christine says:

    you’re not the only one awake and studying right now smile

    -reporting from NYC

  9. andy bernard says:

    haha now no one can say first

  10. Shruthi says:

    You have a way with words :D Lol… Get some sleep Chris!

  11. Hawkins says:

    … it’s compromise that moves us along.

    Anyway, good luck with all those exams! Nice entry. Was this a pretty average day in terms of time spent studying?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Freshman year and so much work!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m considering taking “a”, no, maybe like 4 gap year(S)!!

  14. Morgan '12 says:

    Awww, a charles river sunrise! Tired or not, that’s just awesome.

  15. Shruthi says:

    Hey Matt, are you wearing your tie yet? :D

    P.S – Matt/Ben – Any updates on the selection front that you can blog about? smile

  16. job'12 says:

    lol, my grandparents read this and they started freaking out “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO DIE OF STRESS” and i was just smiling to myself going “yep…but it will rock”

  17. At least you don’t have class until 11am…

    (Sure beats 9am classes every day…)

  18. Oasis says:

    @ Hawkins –

    This is more studying than I do on usual. This is more like pre-exam bursts of mad-studying.

    Usually, I’ll work for a couple of hours a night on a pset, but generally not from 4 pm to 2 am (like above, minus the nap).

    7 pm (or 8 pm) to 1 am is more like the norm.

  19. Tracy says:

    You know, a 4.0 GPA means a B average here at MIT. We’re on a 5.0 scale. But still, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to expect yourself to get straight A’s here. That’s really not what’s important.

    On a separate note, I can’t believe that someone fell asleep during Miller’s debate with himself in 18.03! That was the funniest thing ever! his cute little hats…*sigh*

  20. Anonymous says:

    I hope my 4.0 GPA record doesnt get destroyed when I get into MIT. Correction: IF i get into MIT.

  21. Chris T says:

    First, congrats on making sophomore status after your first semester!!!

    Several months ago, Paul blogged about his tough Physics class, which he was struggling and then, recovered after joining a study group. Some entries in the MIT blog give me the impression that many MIT students may NOT be taking advantage of doing psets in groups.

    Please give us your inside impression. Also, please share how you handled the psets during your first semester. Did you brainstorm and collaborate with fellow classmates with most psets, or did you complete them on your own? Thanks!

  22. Grace '11 says:

    yeah i can’t believe people fell asleep during the chao s./linn e.r. debate sooo cute! i wish i’d had a camera on me in lecture

  23. Sam R. '12 says:

    Wow, that sounds like my regular day except add swimming practice and exhaustion and cut the sleep from 10am to 6am. I leave all my sleep for Sundays because on saturdays theres always an early school activity.
    -sam r.