Skip to content ↓
amber avatar

lookin’ at the blur of this semester by Amber V. '24

and ahead at the next one!

This semester I took seven classes — 72 units,01 typically classes are 12 units each, so an average semester is 48-60 units, or 4-5 classes since one class was a 3-unit and one was a 9-unit. I learned many things, consumed many coffees, and saw dawn too many times. These are some of the things I loved and would like to repeat, and some that I didn’t and wouldn’t.

Then there is a section of what I wanna do next semester!

This blog is a sine wave of academic and personal thoughts so enjoy the whirlwind, mates.

  • taking 72 units – downvote :(

I learned a lot from each class, and don’t specifically regret taking any of them. However, in total, 72 units was too many.

  • I skipped most of my technical lectures because my HASS classes all had mandatory attendance, so technicals were the only place to carve time out of my schedule. I learned the content during the psets, which would have gone more smoothly if I did the psets during daylight hours.
  • I had one pset due at 9 am, and over the course of the semester, I finished it later and later. First it was done at 10pm the night before, then 12 am, then 1… The final night I turned it in at 6 am and promptly went to sleep. This wasn’t a great use of time, either, since I had classes from 10am-5pm the next day, and I was more or less a zombie for that. Speaking of which,

sleep is very important

  • and i didn’t get much of it 🙁 

humanities classes — learned a lot :D

cookie with note reading 'for Selena only'

other important things include saving this cookie for Selena

  • I mention this in another blog, but I did nearly all of my readings this semester! I was in a writing workshop that assigned 60-100 pages of fiction per week, on average (the first month we read one book per week, circa 200 pages). My Celtic Folklore class had about 10-70 pages per week, so all told, I read ~100 pages every week.
  • I really enjoyed this, since it meant I knew what was going on in my Harvard classes. I plan to prioritize readings in the future, since although doing so may mean taking fewer classes, it also guarantees that I absorb more content from each class I take.
  • I felt like I was expanding my knowledge of wordcraft and folklore, and ended the semester with new ideas for my existing stories and a concept for a new story! I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this every semester, but I enjoyed doing it now.

disconnect w meche community :(

  • I took a few classes out of the typical order, and as such didn’t spend as much time psetting with my cohort.
    • At the 2.009 presentations, a friend said, “Where have you been?”
    • “Oh, around,” I said. “I put off 2.671, but I’ve been taking blacksmithing!”
  • Last year, before sophomore spring, I had three core meche classes to check off: 2.005, Thermo I, hard; 2.086, MatLab for MechEs (actually titled Numerical Computations or somethin’), kinda hard for those new to coding; and 2.003, Dynamics, less hard. I was taking 2.007, which had a reputation of taking a lot of time, and three HASS classes, so I wanted to add just one other technical. I’d be taking three technicals in fall; didn’t it make sense to take the hardest one now, and the easier ones later? Following this logic, I took 2.005 my sophomore spring, and 2.003 and 2.086 my junior fall.
  • The issue is that most meches take 2.086 and 2.003 their sophomore year, and 2.005 and 2.671 (Do a Research Project) their junior fall. So while my academic path made sense for me, I was separated from the junior meche community for a semester. 
  • The ‘25s are really nice, and I got to spend time with a Course 22 junior friend in 2.086, so I had a good time. I also dodged a bullet with 2.005, which was much harder in fall than in spring. Going forward, however, I want to be more in sync with the ‘24 meches around me.

missing time with friends

  • I still went to parties and hung out with friends around campus, but I had less time to do so, and I missed everyone sometimes 🙁 
  • Also my company after 2 all-nighters is less entertaining than usual.

improved my ironwork skills :D

  • I made a dragon sword!
  • Spent about 6 hours in the forge each week, a major improvement from 2 hours. And I got a UROP with one of the forge instructors!
  • hilt of sword shaped like a dragon, side viewhilt of sword shaped like a dragon

solid friend groups :D

  • This fall, for the first time since high school, I came back from summer to well-established friend groups and dorm communities I cared about, and who cared about me. My friends were definitely the highlight of my semester.

went to a lotta concerts :D

  • 5 of them!!
  • Chronologically: My Chemical Romance, The Killers,02 I SAW THEMMMM MY FAVORITE BAND IC3PEAK, Jinjer, and The Happy Fits
  • plus Depths of Wikipedia but I dunno if that counts.

    me and mg

    we are at the Killers!!

working out :D

  • After a year off the bandwagon, I jumped back on and pumped iron all semester! My bench PR has gone up by 20 lbs. I can forge with the 4-lb hammer now.


  • I had a few ideas for personal projects, but the 72 units I was taking swept them away.
  • Instead, I spent this semester focused on projects for classes: I built a cactus lamp in October, and forged an array of bottle openers and a dragon sword in November and December. I learned many blacksmithing skills over the course of these builds, from sheet metal work to chieseling to tying knots with metal.
  • My goals for future projects are to get my hands on group building projects (such as the yo-yos in 2.008, or various engineering clubs), explore more integrated systems (such as the Arcturus boats or the project in my new UROP), and learn about meshing electronics with mechanical systems (from 2.007, but also my UROP, Arcturus, etc). I’m tailoring my schedule for next year to account for those goals, which fell by the wayside this semester. Which brings me to…03 do I have concluding thoughts for this section? Absolutely not. No ragerts, as someone on the internet tattooed on their skin


and how to accomplish ‘em

generally being conscious and cognizant 

  • sleep more → take fewer classes
  • gym on a more routine schedule → do research during IAP about realistic gym goals; schedule time and set goals
  • run more → create time blocks in calendar. Also find entertaining podcasts/playlists
  • discover new music → I enjoyed doing this once and now want to find even more! Friend recs, prep for upcoming concerts
  • read more than one book ever → I’m gonna try to re-wire myself to take breaks via reading instead of by disappearing into my phone. Wish me luck.


  • spent more time with friends!!! → take fewer classes, schedule less work on Saturday mornings
  • meet new people → have more free time; do work ahead of time so you can join spontaneous activities; invest time in clubs and go to unfamiliar events
    • clubs in mind: Divest, SHPE, Arcturus, MIT Monologues
    • I also want to go to Berklee house concerts. I think it will be nice to leave the MIT bubble and spend time around artists. However these are quite far from campus so we will see how easy it is to rally people to join me
  • engage with the energy and sustainability communities at MIT → attend club meetings, hackathons, and conferences


    Happy Fits concert :)


  • group projects → 2.008, Arcturus
  • systems engineering → Arcturus, UROP
  • electrical engineering → Arc, UROP
  • enhance CAD skills → UROP, 2.008
  • apply MatLab skills → 2.671
  • design a research project (I am not terribly passionate about this, but 2.671 requires it, so I’ll bring the hype)
  • decide what to do this summer (do I want to be in Italy or be in Cambridge at my cool new UROP)
    • also maybe globally?
  • learn more about electronics → 2.679 maybe?
  • understand the energy industry → read The Tech, listen to 1-2 episodes of a recommended podcast each week. Take notes.
    • also, go to exploration events by MechE, CAPD,04 the career dept SHPE,05 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers SWE,06 society of women engineers etc.
  • ironwork: make a dragon with long horns
    dragon head

    attempt 2: horns started out thick and nice but got scraggly during forge welding, may be salvageable though

    horns but one is broken

    attempt 1: one of his horns burned off in the forge :(


  • financial planning on a longer timescale → made some spreadsheets
  • be punctual → arrive. on time.
  • find a therapist outside of MIT Medical → simply call them
  • read / learn about queer history! → there is a queer bookshop in Tucson that will help


  • publish in small mags → during IAP, write a clear publishing to-do list so I can submit without feeling/thinking/crying internally all that much.
  • write a new set of stories / novel-length piece — probably in summer, unclear, the world is coming so fast
  • edit “Another Taste this Winter”
  • and “Red”
  • and also “All the World’s Sunlight”
  • MIT Monologues performance

While writing this blog, I had a look-see at some of the goals I had for myself at the dawn of 2021. Most of them are writing and reading focused; the others are mainly personal, to the tune of finding myself and growing. I did grow a lot in the directions I’d been hoping (though I am still hopelessly awkward for a week or so at every new job07 I was awkwardly asking my boss for permission to go to a metal festival at the last one, so I guess there was growth ). I’m at a place now where that steady growth is working for me, I feel pretty good, and I can invest more energy into developing and maintaining personal relationships and learning new things, like MatLab and facts about banshees.

Most of my goals right now are related to becoming a better mechanical engineer. This general shift of focus has been pleasantly surprising. Writing, however, has fallen by the wayside. I knew this would happen at MIT but I miss it, and I’m trying to incorporate writing, wordcraft, and research for future stories into my time at school. 

2023, let’s go!



pie my friend Josephine baked for Thanksgiving

  1. typically classes are 12 units each, so an average semester is 48-60 units, or 4-5 classes back to text
  3. do I have concluding thoughts for this section? Absolutely not. No ragerts, as someone on the internet tattooed on their skin back to text
  4. the career dept back to text
  5. Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers back to text
  6. back to text
  7. I was awkwardly asking my boss for permission to go to a metal festival at the last one, so I guess there was growth back to text