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MIT blogger Joonho K. '20

Life during IAP by Joonho K. '20

i dump my brain a little

This post has no central topic or theme. This will simply be a random ordering of things during IAP that stuck out to me.

6.178 – Introduction to Software Engineering in Java

6.178 is a six-unit class offered only during IAP. It is student-taught: I actually knew/were friends with several of the instructors. The first two lectures or so were focused on using Git, a version control system that helps to coordinate/collaborate your code with other people (although we didn’t actually do any collaboration in the class). Differentiating between the lingo of add, commit, push, clone, et cetera was confusing at first, but by the end of the first week I had gotten used to it and can now say that I have a basic idea of how Git works!

The Java itself was pretty fast-paced, which makes sense as the class was only three weeks long. The topics, in rough chronological order, were: variables, loops, switch, if-then statements, arrays, strings, methods, classes, objects, fields, constructors, inheritance, casting, overriding, interfaces, exceptions, I/O, and testing with JUnit (now that I think about it, that’s actually a lot we learned ;-;)

I enjoyed the class and think it was well worth it for getting my feet wet with Git alone. Here’s a sample snippet of code from a pset (we made a Battleship game).


こんにちは!3ヶ月前、私は日本語の勉強をはじめました。韓国語をもう話します。日本語はすごく面白くて、もっと勉強したいです。ゆっくり日本語が上手になりました。来年「MISTI Japan」に行くつもりです。

Japanese is a difficult language, even as a fluent speaker of Korean. Korean and Japanese have very similar grammatical structures, and they also have similar pronunciations for many words. Some examples are 家族(かぞく) vs. 가족 (kazoku vs. kajok), 新聞(しんぶん) vs. 신문 (shinbun vs. shinmun), and many more. This is because both the readings for these words are usually based on the Chinese pronunciation of the Kanji, i.e. Chinese characters. In fact, Korean used to be written exclusively in Chinese characters before it was popular to adopt the Korean writing system. Approximately 60% of Korean vocabulary is not native Korean but Chinese in origin, and I would assume a similar percentage for Japanese as well. Learning Hanja/Kanji/Chinese characters can help expand one’s Korean vocabulary, even though in the present day Hanja is nearly obsolete and not readily used.

Although I do like watching anime and sometimes find myself immersed in Japanese pop culture, the decision to learn Japanese was more of a beginning towards a long-term personal goal of basic fluency in three major East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean). Learning Japanese has already been very rewarding for me. There are as many similarities between Japanese and Korean culture as there are differences. And studying the language itself comes with its riches of grammatical parallels, cognates, and more. I get a small but potent dose of happiness when I come across a Japanese phrase that is difficult to translate into English yet has an elegant, almost perfect Korean analog. Studying Kanji has led me to realize that so many more Korean words than I thought were based on Chinese characters. Interestingly by studying Japanese, I also learn Korean due to both languages’ incorporations of the Chinese writing system (although with Japanese, it is more obvious/explicit: the character is literally written, and Kanji is an essential topic for literacy).

I fully intended to take Japanese I over IAP, an extremely intensive introduction to the language. After attending the first day of lecture, however, I realized that I would actually be quite bored there. My Japanese language-learning frenzy the weeks before had paid off, and I sent an email to my professor that night that I would drop out and learn on my own:

だから、「げんき」1−2を一人で勉強します。頑張って、来年秋「Japanese V」を取りたい。



Her reply was reassuring.


I’m currently finishing up Genki I, the most commonly used college Japanese textbook for beginners. My goal is to finish Genki II by the end of the summer and take the JLPT N4. Wish me luck! :D

PE Downhill Skiing

Skiing is a class I thought didn’t exist at MIT until I looked at the PE course catalog for IAP. Every Tuesday and Thursday night at 5pm, you get on a bus and spend an hour getting to Nashoba Valley Ski Area. You get a one-hour lesson and then you’re free to ski or snowboard for the rest of the night until 10pm, after which you hop back on the bus and return to MIT at around 11pm. Was it worth it? I think so: I went with a couple friends I already knew, made some new ones, and learned how to parallel ski. In the beginning of the month, I was struggling to figure out how to turn and could barely do green (easy) trails without falling: after the last class a few days ago, I could go down some of the easier black diamonds (difficult) with ease.

Next quarter, I’m taking beginner archery with a friend. Gotta work on that pirate’s license! ;D


I do miss classes a little bit. I’ll be talking about the classes I’m taking in a future post.

Coincidentally coindicing with Bad Ideas weekend, which is a primarily EC-hosted series of events that are generally terrible ideas, like having a Chicken McNugget eating contest or baking 2^12 cookies in one day, I hosted a Cutthroat Kitchen contest with some of my friends. It was messy. There was sabotage. It was glorious. There were many videos. I’ve been passively working on cutting and gluing them together to make a large, cohesive video that I hope to share with you someday.

I miss Toons rehearsals: I desperately want to sing again.

I’ve been spending a lot more time in 2E at Next House lately. Questions of where I’ll be living next fall linger. Most likely I will stay in 5th West at East Campus, but there are other possibilities, in descending order of probability: I might move to Next House. I might transfer halls. I might join a particular fraternity. Who knows. Time will tell.

Allan invited many of the toons + others to a chill time in his room called WINTER IN SPACE: he read poems, people shared their musical art, I read some poems, and one person used everyone in the room as her instrument by instructing us to hum variations of a B minor chord. It was an experience I realized I had been sorely missing at MIT. The sharing of art that came from the individual in that small, ambient room was this wonderful, delicate, sacred thing. It made me happy to exist in time and space in that moment more than ever, if only for that time.

Recently, my mind has been wandering aimlessly amidst a weekend that could have gone better. A weekend that, despite the melancholy that somehow nips at me in the physical form that is cold wind and icy air, could not be more fitting for what will be a very tough semester ahead. I end my thoughts, and this blog post, with one of the poems I read:

sitting here

in the middle of all things-
i, a vessel of senses, have learned to take in
and let go.

my shirt’s juice-stain,
my body’s heart-strain,
my room’s window-pane
with no curtain, can’t be certain
of the life that passes through me.
you’re right- my heart’s a fickle thing
and wanes like that up there.

sometimes the algid cum. clouds
that haze that rocky waste
come down and wrap my heart
into a fog, an introspection
i myself can’t comprehend.

took a walk today-
february, frost, and flowers.
there was nothing of the latter, of course.
some days you have to wake up
and imagine that such things exist.
that’s what i hold on to,