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MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

Life during finals season by Yan Z. '12

It's always darkest before the holidays.

9 AM: Departure from Mattress, Top Bunk, 212 Random Hall, Cambridge, MA 02139. Please mail excess pillows to address above.

9:20 AM: Conduct first-hand research on the process by which humans die by freezing. Selected approach is to go for a long run in sub-zero weather and the sort of wind chill that eats Jack London novels for breakfast.

10:00 AM: Toast, hummus, crushed olives. High-fiber cereal. Soymilk.

10:20 AM: Start studying physics.

12:05 PM: Pretzels leftover from Katelyn’s fondue study break on the previous eve. Half-priced sunburst tangerine from the organic supermarket down the street. Granola bar of unknown provenance.

12:30 PM: Resume consumption of knowledge.

3:30 PM: Study break! I decide that I can afford to treat myself to quality relaxation time, so I spend half an hour writing my undergraduate research (UROP) proposal*. It’s like yoga for the brain cells.

(*In the past two days, I’ve been taking study breaks to the limit. Unfortunately, this appears to be the limit of absurdity as fun approaches zero. Recent themes of mine have been the 250% Vitamin A Study Break, during which I ate carrot sticks, the Turn on My Calculator Study Break, during which I applied pressure to the On button, and the Blog for MIT Admissions Study Break, which really, really sucked. Just kidding on the last one. Once, I also took a study break from studying biology by studying chemistry.)

4:00 PM: Study: The Return of the Coursework comes out in theatres. I go for the IMAX experience, so to speak.

5:00 PM: French toast for dinner. I underestimate the absorbency of bread, or overestimate the viscosity of eggs. I drink soup from a can, except that this is semantically misleading because I actually poured it into a bowl before drinking it. Finished off with more pretzels. Classy.

5:40 PM: I go on a spontaneous ski trip in New Hampshire and fall down a slope and break my collarbone on a large, protruding rock. (Not really. I studied.)

6:10 PM: Naptime. Tonight, my subconscious is in a recursive mood. I dream that I fell asleep and woke up at 2:23 AM. “I should have woken up earlier,” I thought. At this stage in the dream, I immediately wake up in real life, clutching a cell phone that reads 8:07 PM.

8:10 PM: I resume my glorious pursuit of infinite knowledge.

9:20 PM: Blog. After which I will travel across the land, searching far and wide, teach Pokemon to understand the power that’s inside, Pokemon! / Gotta catch ’em all . . . I mean, study.

(To be fair, Random Hall smothers its residents with group dinners, desserts, massages, daily breakfasts, and even wake-up calls upon request as they descend into the level of Hell reserved for final exams. If not for the onslaught of tests next week, this weekend would be the cherry lovingly dropped on top of the semester sundae. As is, it’s the pits. Pun intended, as always.)

Famous last words: I send my dearest wishes to all the EA applicants! Please, try not to explode.


3:10 AM: Just finished studying. The power goes out. Bedtime is postponed another half hour while I join the rest of Random Hall in playing with glowsticks and running around various floors pretending to be zombies. I also draft a plan to steal back my floor’s bowls from the fourth floor while the lights are off, but Expedition Dinnerware: Total Stealth fails due to lack of volunteers. This is the highlight of my day.

62 responses to “Life during finals season”

  1. Cam says:


    Pokemon don’t reproduce! They just appear in the grass! Or, you give them to a weird little man in the woods and he magically makes new ones for you (I think that was in Gold & Silver — aka the still-good versions before the series went south).

    Likewise, they only faint when suffering severe physical injury and perhaps poisoning. You can easily revive them with weird beeping and booping noises on a special table, though.

  2. Vivi says:

    Ahh, good old study breaks. Mine usually consist of mixing 50+ singers in Audacity, trying to install new operating systems, and constraining myself from putting a hole through my laptop screen after my latest coding project ends up being a failure.

    … maybe 8.012 -is- preferable to study breaks after all.

  3. Vaibhav says:

    I didn’t get what you meant by the 4pm entry (i.e. Study: The Return of the Coursework comes out in theatres…..and so on)
    And how did you take a break from studying Physics by studying Chemistry…..(gosh! -Organic Chem. is tough!!)
    Your exams start from Thursday then?
    Good Luck with them!:D

    You watched YouTube videos for 4 hours?!?
    *look of disbelief*
    And you woke up at 4am??
    I thought that people either slept very late here or got up early?! – Not both……!

  4. rose says:

    Yan you rock. every single entry of yours is awesome! wish you luck for finals.

  5. Yan says:

    @ Vaibhav:

    That’s ok, this post and thread seems to be full of miscommunication anyway.

    I’m actually in Solid State Chem., not organic. I love the subject, so it’s literally a break from biology.

    Exams start Monday! My last one is on Thursday.

    (End of Reply-to-Comments study break.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yo quiero Taco Bell.

  7. first?

    Also, my finals aren’t until after winter break. So that means if I do explode before Monday 9pm, I won’t have to take my finals.


  8. JieMin says:

    Thanks, will try and keep that in mind.

    And good luck on finals!

  9. zax says:

    thanks for the wishes. finals week seems quite colorful.

  10. Alim says:

    1) Yay for MIT EA Decisions!
    2) Yay for Finals!
    3) Yay for Naruto Sage Mode!

    Just kidding about 2, and maybe 1 smile

    Good luck on your finals!

  11. Cathy says:

    “and the sort of wind chill that eats Jack London novels for breakfast. “

    I got kind of confused here, I thought you were saying that it was the sort of wind chills that eat Jack London novels for breakfast. (WHAT…???) ^^ But on a second reading, I realized that that was just me.

    Good luck on your finals and to all EA applicants!!! We’re in this together…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Whenever I get a question about what I want to go into in college (from my friends, I mean), my response is always the same–
    “..the very best, that no one ever was…”

  13. Cathy says:

    “…and the sort of wind chill that eats Jack London novels for breakfast. “

    I got kind of confused here, I thought you were writing about a kind of wind chill that eats Jack London novels for breakfast. (WHAT…??!) But then I took a second look and realized that was just me. ^^

    And definitely, good luck on your exams, and good luck to all EA applicants!!!

  14. Snively says:

    No pictures!?!?!? NOoooooooo!

  15. Yan says:

    @ Snively:

    Darnit, now people will notice.

  16. Cam says:

    For your research on death by freezing, I have supplementary data: 8 hours standing outside without chairs, selling krispy kreme donuts, almost resulted in death by freezing. And $2100 cash.

    My nap was 5pm-9pm, though.

    And, what Snively said.


  17. Evedizzy 12' says:

    Nice Pokemon reference… very slick indeed!!!!!!!!

    Oh yeah, EA applicants don’t fret just make sure that you come and visit right after you get notified that you got accepted I need a PREFROSH!!!!! (Overnight program)

  18. Chris says:

    I must say, I am amazed you got yourself up at 9 in the morning. Good job =P

  19. Suril says:

    Aaw.. it’s so unpicturesque! *Cheers, Snively* J

  20. AGH says:

    End of check-mitadmissions-blogs-for-new-blog-entries study break…now back to the wonderful world of english essays and calc IB projects


  21. Rebeca says:

    Oh, you’re my best friend in a world we must defend…

  22. deng says:

    oh hey, I actually wrote one of my short answers for the app on taking a study break from an english paper by studying for math

  23. Anonymous says:

    only at mit do you take a study break by studying another subject

  24. Narce says:

    It’s okay that you don’t have pictures. At least you still talked about food =D

    Also, epic Pocket Monsters reference XD

  25. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Vaibhav –

    Correction: I slept at 6:30 AM last night. It’s almost 2 PM now. I just woke up. =D

  26. hamsi says:


    yeah, you’re right. i didn’t notice the lack of pictures until snively pointed it out.

    i like semantically misleading sentences.

    and yes, i will try not to explode…

  27. pikachu says:

    oooh its you and me, you know it’s my destiny.

  28. REM says:

    Hey good luck to all EA´s!!!! and best wishes for your finals!

  29. Oasis '11 says:

    If you push everything in your schedule back by 5 hours, it becomes mine. =p

    Today I spent 4 hours on “Watch Pointless Videos on Youtube” study break. Needless to say I felt like banging my head on the wall when I noticed I still have about 100 genetics problems to go through before Tuesday.

  30. Yan says:

    @ Chris:

    Genetics sucks. Evolution is for Pokemon.

    (After the Biology final on Thursday, I shall never speak of living organisms, ever again).

  31. matto says:

    yay for runners who are crazy and hate running in the cold but do it anyway.

    yay for EA.

  32. CAPTCHA says:

    @ hpaqaahu
    Yay, more spam. I missed you….

    @ Alim
    Actually, yay++ for more Ryujin Jakka!

    @ Yan @ Chris
    Or Digimon. Don’t forget Digimon.

  33. moose says:

    LOL, that’s amazing, Yan, you just summed up what life has consisted of for the past few days so beautifully =)
    @ vivi:
    nothing is preferable to studying for 8.012. however, Everything is preferable to taking the 8.012 final, if that makes any sense…
    good luck with finals, everyone, and best of luck to all EA applicants out there!! =D

  34. Oasis '11 says:

    I bet there’s no such things as autosomal recessive, autosomal dominant, X-linked recessive, X-linked dominant, paternal imprinting, maternal imprinting, cytoplasmic inheritance, and maternal effects in Pokemon genetics.

    I wish people could reproduce like Pokemon (however the heck they reproduce…=p).

  35. Katelyn '12 says:

    Hey Yan, you still need to respond to your proposal. raspberry

  36. Yan says:

    @ Katelyn:

    Initially I thought you were talking about my UROP proposal, and I was going to thank you for reminding me to finish writing it. Actually, thanks anyway because now I’m going to take a study break and finish my UROP proposal.

    @ Charles:

    Of course.

  37. Narce says:

    Pfft, Charles beat me to it.

    Yan, would you like to become a female polygamist? T.T

  38. Charles says:

    I love your blog! Will you marry me?

  39. Student says:

    Congratulations on studying.

  40. Matt A. says:

    this is my Government case briefs and literary term wild goose chase study break, where I encounter the repeated break outs of the pokemon theme song…awesome.

    Good luck to all other EA’s out there, we’re in the final 24 hours!! (School tomorrow will be like the going up the chain lift on a roller coaster)

  41. deng says:

    congrats on the engagement

  42. David E. says:

    @ Matt

    LOVED the roller coaster analogy!
    This whole weekend has been a total adrenaline rush (waiting in line for the ride, if i dare to take the reference too far…)

    Good luck to everyone INDEED! Try to have fun tomorrow!

  43. Cam says:

    Here’s one to take all of your minds off it:

  44. Morrisa says:

    Good luck to all you other EA people.

    Lamely trying to continue the roller coaster analogy…this journey (especially this weekend) has felt like when you get in line and once you’ve been in it for a while, you find out it’s way longer than you thought. And then you decide to follow the rest of the excitedly anxious mob and stay in line anyway. You know you won’t regret it in the end; even if the roller coaster is not quite as satisfying as you hoped, at least you still had the experience, you can say you tried but it just wasn’t going to quite work out.

    I think I went a bit to far with the analogy, oh well. I guess I’ll have to settle with trying to remember that life will most likely resume eventually regardless of tomorrow’s outcome … we’ll see how long this works for … (at least I don’t have to deal with any finals, yet)

    Anyway, thank you Yan and all the other bloggers for making this experience fun and memorable (whatever happens tomorrow). And good luck on your finals!

  45. Yan says:

    Also, I’ve initiated the MIT 2013 Facebook Group:

    Best of luck. Whatever happens, the world will still go on.

  46. m says:

    Thank you Yan…..any luck with Expedition Dinnerware Sigh…big day.

  47. Colton says:

    IMAX experience? Aye, that’s outdated, try these for a better experience:

    Attack of the Coursework in IMAX 3D
    8.01 Again in 4K Digital 3-D Cinema
    PSets: The Ride at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot

  48. Brandon says:

    EA Applicants!
    I updated the site to include a few new goodies.
    Check it out, I think you’ll like it.

  49. ben says:

    Thanks for this blog,

    Beats doing calc homework, really funny smile. Also both relieves and heightens tension for tomorrow (the joys of a paradox). Good luck with finals!

  50. Narce says:

    Yan, I made it!!

    You’re the first person I’ll find when I show up, because I want to thank you for your wonderful food blogs.

  51. Yan says:

    Congrats, Narce! The same to all the other acceptees lurking around.

  52. Charles says:

    Awesome now we have to plan our wedding raspberry.

  53. Narce says:

    Eh? Charles, you were admitted too?

    btw, Yan, by your blog page, you started from your HS junior year, so you’re actually the age of the incoming freshmen?

  54. Yan says:

    @ Narce:

    Yeah, I’m 17 until May, which means that your class is actually my class. Until it wasn’t, I guess.

  55. Charles says:

    Nah, I didn’t apply EA. I’m just a slacker like that raspberry.

    But congrats on getting in!

  56. Narce says:

    Ahh, good luck in RA then!

    Except that if you don’t go, it’ll be harder for you to marry Yan >.>

  57. Narce says:

    That’s what I thought.

    Wow, that puts you two months younger than me.

  58. Narce says:

    XD That would make you illegal for me when CPW rolls around!

    (v wasn’t thinking anything like that >.>)

  59. Charles says:

    It’s on my to do list!

  60. T_Ted says:

    You should’ve photocaptured the power outage. Your photography skills will make even the darkness shine in all its photogenic glory. Really, even a picture of the dark would’ve nearly tripled your word count.

  61. Yan says:

    @ T_Ted:

    The darkness shines when I use flash.

    Also, I doubt I could have captured the full glory of zombie Teddy.

  62. Narce says:

    It’s not very often I see something like that in print.

    My everything-casual username, HikaruYami, is a rough translation to Japanese of “Shining Darkness”~