So Matt McGann, who’s actually a fan of Taiwanese TV shows in secret, suggested that I blog about this. I feel ashamed that even Matt knows more about what’s going on Taiwanese TV shows than I do (jk, Matt =p).
But anywhoo, in Taiwan there’s this moderately popular TV show called Da Xue Sheng Ler Mei. The show is targeted towards college students, and basically they invite a bunch of college students from different universities in Taiwan with different majors and they discuss a bunch of college-related things (e.g. fashion, dorms, girls, dating, coursework, cheap food…etc. etc.).
Back in May, they invited MIT to appear on the show, and they invited three MIT alums to be the panelists – Berta (Matt’s friend, from ’00), Janet Hsieh ( graduated ’01 – omg, I just discovered that she was the FUN TAIWAN host on the Living and Traveling channel on Taiwan…anyways, you probably won’t get this unless you’ve watched her shows), and Jennifer Hu (an MIT EC in Taipei).
I’ll try my best to translate/capture the most interesting things from the show (partitioned into 5 sections). =p (note after writing the entry: I basically translated the whole show…haha >_>)
1:00 to 1:30: That guy is a pretty famous internet comic artist in Taiwan who’s at NTU (National Taiwan University).
Impressions of Engineering Students:
2:00 to 2:08: Dirty, don’t wash their hair.
2:30 to 2:45: Dexter?! Lol.
3:00 to 3:30: The guy is from Donghai University, Chemical Engineering Division, in Taichung.
4:06 to 4:16: “MIT students are geniuses and monsters…if I talk to them, they would feel like I’m retarded.”
4:34 to 4:50: “There are a lot of geniuses at MIT, but there are also some that feel like they might not be the best, but they try really hard and are fervent about their research.” (me: this girl spent some time as an exchange student at MIT – see her MIT mug in front of her)
5:04 to 5:11: “There’s a lot of pressure at MIT. I heard that if you get Cs for two semesters in a row, you get kicked out of the school.” (me: lol)
5:13 to 5:15: “MIT is the Harvard of science.”
5:32 to 5:41: “Taiwanese at MIT are really impressive. For example, the first person who invented helicopters in Taiwan and the ballistics leader of Taiwan.” Host: “Taiwanese students are really smart.”
5:53 to 8:30: Introducing Janet. She graduated with degrees in Spanish and Biology. She says she’s the first student to graduate with a degree in Spanish. She knows five languages. “Word hard, play harder.” = “Trabajar muy duro, y jugar mas duro?” lol. She’s an EMT, she plays the violin, she does the taikwondo, and she was a sushi chef at one point….and the host proceeds to laud her for a bit. Janet says she’s the most lazy student at MIT, but she says when she took classes later at California, she got first without studying [because of her rigorous preparation from MIT].
0:00 to 0:10: The question from before was how did she feel when she got into MIT. Janet thought they confused her name with someone else’s since she applied to 6 colleges but MIT was the only one she got into.
0:14 to 1:33: Introducing Jennifer – who graduated with a degree in Course XIV and she explains a bit about the EC and interviewing system of MIT (since she’s an EC in Taipei – I met her!). She says that because MIT is so science-focused, only a couple of schools have applicants to MIT every year and she says the interview is there to explore the applicant’s personality, which might not be captured on paper.
1:34 to 1:40: Introducing Berta – who had a degree in Course XVII.
1:45 to 2:16: Host: “What was your initial reaction when you got into MIT?” Janet: “Aww man, I’m going to be with a bunch of nerds! My friends used to laugh at me because they say there won’t be hot guys around. But again there’s the reaction that people are pretty smart there.”
2:16 to 2:45: Host: “So what do geniuses look like? Do they not comb their hair or take baths?” Janet: “That’s what everyone thinks – but I consider my roommate to be a genius and she does crew as well! There’s also the 15-year-olds that got into MIT, who graduates when they’re 16, and makes a million by 17.” (me: umm…)
2:45 to 3:10: Jennifer: “I was really happy when I got the admission because MIT releases their decisions earlier than everyone else, so I thought that there’s nothing to worry about now. The other thing is that I thought I was pretty good in math and science in high school – but after coming to MIT, everyone’s so much better!”
3:15 to 3:47: Jennifer talks a bit about what colleges look at on their applications. Test scores, TOEFL, Personal Essay, Interview…
4:00 to 4:57: Host: “What should you write about in your personal essay?” Janet: “I was an average student in high school, but I think what got me in was the interview. I talked with my interviewer for 3 hours, when the normal average is around 30 minutes (me: uh…not that short!). I think the most important thing is about having something that you’re very capable of doing – admissions doesn’t just boil down to the difference between 98.5% and 99%.”
5:00 to 5:36: Berta: “I wrote about chocolate chip cookies in my application essay. The chocolate chip cookie, if you look at it, contains elements of chemistry and art.” Host: “Oh, so you used this as an analogy of yourself!”
5:38 to 6:33: Host: “If you were applying to MIT, what would you write about in your application essay?” Miko: “Rubik’s Cube, because it is also a mesh of chemistry and art. I’m multi-faceted, just like a Rubik’s Cube.” Jennifer: “This captures some of the MIT spirit.”
6:33 to 7:30: Shiao Guang: [One pair of feet. One mouth. Walk the world.] “I wrote about one pair of feet because I really traveled around Taiwan, and I wrote about the mouth because I study Arabic and stayed in Kuwait before. If MIT has a Department of Arabic, I think I can bring a lot to the community.” Janet: “I think he’s really cool. I think you’re unique in your thinking and this is a great idea.”
7:33 to 8:22: Yi Jieh: [“Soul of Engineering.”] “I wrote about the “Soul of Engineering” because it is the mesh of Concentration, Passion, Care, and Diligence. Practically, I can stare at my fish bowl (me: ???), or my program for 4-5 hours just to debug.” Host: “What does your fish bowl need?” Yi Jieh: “See if the food needs food! It’s about Care and Concentration.” Jennifer: “I think it’s important to focus on details, since Taiwan students are generally more lacking in this area.” (me: ??? I would think the opposite.)
0:00 to 1:00: Yi Shang: [“Fire Shield”] (me: self-explanatory…something from Naruto) 0:50 = Janet: “I think you should apply to Harvard.” Berta: “Or Yale. Yale has a drama school.”
1:17 to 1:41: “What interview questions are there for MIT?” Janet: “Out of all the people past and present, if you had to choose only one person to hug or to chat, who would it be?” Host: [to the students] “Who would you choose?”
2:22 to 2:53: Jia Yuan: [Xiao Chiao (a famous beauty in ancient China)] Host: “Do you think he would make it?” Jennifer: “I think this depends on the inclination of the alumnus, since interviews are more subjective.”
2:55 to 3:27: Wei Mei: [Buddha] “I want to hug him because I think he is very wise, and I think I can gain wisdom from him.” Jennifer: “I think she has some religious inclination.” (me: umm, I think the EC is running out of stuff to say =p) Host: “But the important thing is for you to explain yourself – the interview questions aren’t just supposed to be answered with one word.”
3:33 to 4:21: Xiong Bao: [Mona Lisa] “You know when you were a kid, you would cuddle up to your mom – but as you grow older, you think that’s kind of embarrassing. So I’m trying to look for someone that I feel conveys motherly love.” Berta: “I think this conveys two messages to the interviewer: 1) you really love your mom, or 2) have you become independent yet?!”
4:23 to 4:40: Yi Jieh: [Myself] “I think in this limited world, the person that is the most difficult to hug would be yourself, and thus I would probably have no chance of hugging myself, so I chose ‘myself’.” Host: “WOW.”
5:02 to 6:44: Guest: “How do you fund your education?” Berta: “90% of students have financial aid. The finaid includes loans, work, and grant.” Host: “About how much does it cost for one semester?” Janet: “When I was still a student, it was $40,000.” Berta: “This year, it’s about $48,000 including your dorm.” Jennifer: “When I was still a student, MIT’s tuition was the highest in the country.” Janet: “I saved a lot of money because I spent a year in Argentina, and saved about 70% of the tuition.”
6:44 to 8:24: They spend a long time talking about Jennifer’s paper tuition bill. (me: woah, I’ve never seen a MIT paper bill =p). Then the girl who was an exchange student at MIT last year also showed her bill. Her bill is interesting in the sense that she was charged by units of study, rather than a set price (me: was this because she was an exchange student?). The exchange student said that her school in Taiwan paid for her tuition, so she saved a lot of money.
8:35 to end: Janet: “We party really hard in MIT. There’s a lot of colleges in Boston, but we have the best parties. People from like Harvard and Wellesley often come over.”
0:10 to 0:51: Janet: “We had a party where everyone took off their clothes – young, old, guy, girl – during the first snow of the year and ran around in a circle. (me: ehh…never heard of this)” Host: “Did you go?” Janet: “No, I didn’t” Host: “Why not?!” Janet: “I was from Texas so I was scared of the cold…”
0:54 to 1:33: Janet: “We also have another tradition called “showering” (me: now this exists) It’s when upperclassmen drag freshman into the showers with their clothes on after the exams (me: isn’t it before?). Someone tried to avoid showering by spreading himself with honey, so he would be too sticky and the people wouldn’t be able to shower him (me: uh, that’s really drastic). But he was still showered anyway.
1:37 to 2:01: Jennifer: “There were a lot of international students at MIT, and they formed their own cultural clubs with had events that we could go to. I thought those were really fun and meaningful. We also have a lot of fraternities and sororities and dorms which would have their own parties.”
2:10 to 2:37: SIMMONS! Janet said she’s never seen it before when she was an undergrad. The exchange student said she lived in a grad dorm though, with a pub at the bottom (me: she’s talking about Ashdown).
2:52 to 4:01: Miko: “Is there something unique about MIT that doesn’t exist at other colleges?” Jennifer: “There’s an Orange Tour during Orientation where they’ll take you tunnel-exploring under MIT.” Host: “What is the MIT mascot?” Jennifer: “It’s the beaver.” (me: she said it wrong in Chinese – she said a mole at first) Host: “So no wonder why you go and build these tunnels.” Janet: “I heard that MIT has the second most-extensive tunnel system in the States. The first is Pentagon.” (me: this is true). Jennifer: “We also have atomic bomb laboratories from WWII still at MIT.”
4:02 to 4:50: [map of MIT] Jennifer: “All of the buildings are numbered, and most of the buildings are connected by a hallway called the Infinite Corridor.” Janet: “Our unique number system means I can tell someone that I’m going to 8.01 in 10-250 at 10:00 and they’ll understand what I mean.”
4:51 to 6:40: [picture of a hack] Jennifer: “This is what the hackers did when Harry Potter came out. They renamed Building 9 to 9 and 3/4.” Janet: “MIT hackers are world-famous. One year, they put a police car on the top of the dome [picture at 5:37].” Jennifer: “This happened the day before finals in my last semester at MIT. I heard that they pieced it together at the top.” Berta: “There’s a mannequin of a policeman inside the car, complete with coffee and donuts.” Janet: “The hackers have a rule of ethics that say they wouldn’t damage anything. They even gave instructions within the police car about how to tear it down afterwards for the Facilities people.” Berta: “The students put the police car up in one night, but the Facilities people spent one whole day tearing it down.”
6:41 to 8:00: Berta: “During the second year, your class elects a bunch of representatives, who design the class ring. Because of this, all of them are different.” (me: in actuality, this happens towards the end of frosh year, as you probably read about in Snively’s RingComm posts). [Brass Rat picture at 6:55 – this is also Matt’s Brass Rat! From 2000]. Jennifer: “We always have a beaver in the front. (me: this time she got the name of the animal right) And there’s a ton of other details hidden in the ring, depending on what year designs the ring. When we are in school, the beaver faces us, but once we graduate, aside from flipping over the tassel, we also turn the beaver around.” (me: she neglected to mention the “reason” =p I guess it would be hard to explain in Chinese, haha)
8:02 to end: Yi Jieh: “Berta, I really agree with your point about meshing art and science. Are there buildings at MIT that also convey this style?” Jennifer: “We host our graduations on Killian Court [picture at 8:32], and many people shoot movies there. It’s also where the dome is.” Janet: “ID4 and Good Will Hunting included Killian Court in their films.”
0:15 to 0:43: Wei Mei (exchange student): “There’s also another building that looks really strange and really mechanical. The people who study robotics (me: does she mean Course VI, rather than robotics?) have classes inside.” [picture of Stata Center 0:24]
0:50 to 0:56: Host: “Sometimes when we go out of the country, seeing these different things and thinking in a different way – it’s becoming alive. There’s this real sense of freedom, you know?”
1:00 to 2:42: Lolita: “Did you join sororities, and what do you do in them?” Janet: “I joined.” Host: “What do sororities do?” Janet: “It’s actually pretty easy – once you get to school, there’s this period where you can go and meet the sororities and see where you fit in the best. Every sorority generally has their own personality. For example, if I say I’m Alpha Phi at another college, they’ll probably think of a girl with blonde hair and big breasts. However, at MIT it’s generally not like this.” Host: “So what do you do together, after you join a sorority?” Janet: “MIT sororities are generally pretty tame. I’ve heard of some that require you to take off your clothes with a spotlight to see how loyal you are to the sorority. After all, if you wouldn’t even do this, then it must mean that you don’t want to join badly enough. (me: hazing!) We don’t have this at MIT, but I’ve heard of this happening.” (me: Janet must be APhi when she was at MIT!)
2:43 to 4:20: Xun Chuan: “What is the biggest thing you got out of MIT that you probably can’t get at another school or at a school in Taiwan?” Jennifer: “I think the biggest thing is very, very smart classmates, especially their thirst of learning and diligence. Another thing is that MIT students are very supportive. There’s a lot of pressure, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a competitive school.” Host: “Berta, can you compare Taiwanese students against MIT students?” Berta: “I think MIT students are more like problem-solvers. When I was working, I found that if other people couldn’t solve a problem, they would rely on someone else to solve it for them. And I asked myself, ‘Why don’t you just sit down and think the problem though?’ I think Taiwanese students depend more on their teachers.” Janet: “When I was at MIT, a student corrected the professor. However, the professor, instead of being angry, was actually pleased that the student was right and may be smarter than him.”
4:38 to 5:10: Lei Lei: “What courses are popular at MIT aside from science classes?” Janet: “I think MIT really allows you to explore a wide range of classes. I took palmistry before (me: this exists? o___o must be during IAP). Gradually, as you explore all the options available to you, you’ll end up finding something that you like and you’ll graduate with it.”
5:10 to 5:50: Mini: “Are there weird assignments at MIT designed so the professors could stump the students?” Janet: “I think it’s more accurate to say that there are classes with interesting projects. For example, we have a class in mechanical engineering called 2.70 where the teacher gives you a box of material and some instructions, and you’re expected to build a functional robot that performs some sort of task.” [picture at 5:45]
6:04 to 7:30: VO: “What advice does MIT alums have for incoming students?”
Janet: “Don’t just focus on classroom learning. I feel like true learning comes from learning from your co-workers or your classmates. Don’t be too narrow-minded and expand your horizons. I feel like schools emphasize this when they’re looking for good applicants.”
Berta: “I think creativity and the ability to apply the things you learn is important. For example, people ask me often why I work in an electronics company if my major is political science. I feel like Americans feel college is just a way of providing tools for your future, and what is the most important is being able to apply the tools you picked up in college and apply them to your work in solving problems.”
7:40 to end: Xiong Bao: “In college, we had a class like 2.70 where we needed to make a working elevator.” Host: “So you think NTU is coming up to par?” Xiong Bao: “I think it should be around the Top 100 Global Universities. I feel like many professors who study abroad are bringing their experiences back to Taiwan and enhancing the education here.”
PHEW. That is a LOT of typing. Anyhow, I’ve been translating on the fly, so sorry if some of the text aren’t very grammatical in English. Hope you’re able to understand this, even if you don’t speak Chinese. :)
ps. The show’s name is actually a play on words in Chinese: Da Xue Sheng means “College Student” and Sheng Ler Mei means “Are you born yet? [literally]” In case you’re wondering about why there’s a college student and an egg in those intro clips in the middle.
pps. The actual name of the show taken together isn’t supposed to make literal sense, but it conveys an idea of “You’re an college student, but are you really getting an ‘college education?'” if you read between the lines.
Anywhoo, don’t know if that made sense. It’s just Chinese =p