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MIT student blogger Rachel D. '16

New Semester by Rachel D. '16

From caving adventures to amazing classes, MIT is awesome.

Hi! So I disappeared for a bit last semester on the interwebs, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get back to doing one of the things I absolutely love to do: Blogging.

I love sharing my stories, dreams and struggles in the hopes that someone will benefit from my sharing, and I hope you enjoy reading about them :)

Thus, I decided to write a “what’s happening this semester” post and explain what’s new for this year.




(Photo Credit: Pistol Instructor Michael Conti)

My friend Nico F. ’16 knew that I was really interested after I took the beginner pistol physical education class during first semester, and he got me a tryout!

I had my first competition the first week that I joined the team, and I did quite terrible. But I’m improving so much!! I can get almost every shot in the black area of a target, and it is such a great form of relaxation. Strange, huh? The reason why it’s relaxing is because it’s so focused on clearing your mind of everything else that exists and just focusing on the moment and your breathing. MIT students are some of the best shooters in the country because we have such great concentration skills. We used to be a varsity sport at MIT, one of the best teams ever. But, due to budget cuts of many important varsity sports and teams, the MIT Pistol Team is now student-run and our coaches are all volunteer alums of MIT! The volunteer coaches are so great, and they have helped me so much with improving over time.

I went to our first away match of the semester on the 2nd and 3rd of February, and I had almost a 60 point increase from my last match, coming just 8 points away from qualifying to move from air pistol to ’22 caliber pistols! This really meant a lot to me, and I can’t wait to spend the next year on the team! The competition was at West Point Military Academy, and we competed against the Army, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and Yale. The Academy had an amazing electronic air pistol range, with black tape that rolled down after each shot!

I’m really excited for sectionals this weekend, and I know that we’ll do awesome.



At the beginning of last semester, something terrible happened – I started running. Why is this so terrible? I was not used to running at all, let alone 5 miles at least once every day for four weeks. I started to feel pain in my foot, and I eventually couldn’t walk anymore. I went to MIT medical for three days, deciding that the wait was too long for the first two days and then waiting for hours on the third day to see doctors once the pain got really bad. I had a stress fracture in my foot, and I was stuck in a boot for the whole semester.

Luckily, I’m all healed now! I stayed away from all foot-using activities and kept my boot on, and now I can run and more importantly, go exploring. I decided to go on a caving adventure to Bentley’s Cave in New York led by Becca G. ’14. It was beautiful there!

I got all dressed up in my wet suit and multiple layers, and got really muddy!

It was so much fun, and I really am looking forward to the next caving adventure I get the chance to go on!



Now that I have been a Medlink for a full semester, I really want to get more involved! I like being available for my friends and helping them out when they don’t feel well, and I can’t wait to eventually become an EMT. We had our beginning of the semester meeting on reg day (the last day to register for classes), and we got masks and antiseptic stuff to hand out to hall! I’m also planning on putting post-its on the mirrors that say inspirational things for Valentine’s Day as a part of Operation Post-It, and I’m so excited to make people happy!




I got this awesome UROP (undergraduate research opportunity) in chemical engineering!! I still think that I want to study materials science, but chemical engineering research is so interesting!! The graduate student that I am working with is a third year PhD student working on the continuous manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs on polymer surfaces. We are going to work on making an efficient production system of crystallizing the pharmaceutical drugs on the surfaces of the polymers by increasing the surface area of the polymers and through other methods. The equipment in the Trout and Myerson labs is so incredible, and I am so excited to learn all about the research and equipment.



We had a huge blizzard in honor of the start of the new semester!! His name was Nemo, and he was beautiful. (See posts by: Connie H. ’15, Michael C. ’16, and Jenny X. ’13).  There was fun to be had by all, including my mother and sister who came to visit me for the first time just in time for the blizzard.  They got to spend some quality time with the cats on hall and we got to make tons of food!

Here are some pictures I took of the snow and the amazing snow battle that my hall won in Killian last Saturday.

Many of these pictures display the pi rhos, victorious after a vicious battle



Last semester, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in my classes. Thankfully, I was able to pass all of my classes (18.01A Single Variable Calculus, 18.02A Multivariable Calculus, 8.01L Physics, 7.012 Biology, 3.091 Solid-State Chemistry, 12.000 Terrascope), but I didn’t get to put in as much time and effort as I would have liked into each one. I honestly regret taking all science and math courses instead of taking a HASS (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) class as recommended for first semester, since it really was an incredibly difficult and draining semester and IAP. Therefore, I decided to only take four classes this semester, one of which is a 9-unit class and two of which are HASS classes.

Last semester, I didn’t take a CI-H, which is a required communication intensive humanities writing class that all freshman must take during their first year at MIT. I placed out of the CI-W requirement because I did well in AP English Language, but I don’t know if my writing is strong enough to do well in my CI-H class, which is 24.06, or Bioethics. The class looks extraordinarily interesting though, which will definitely help me do well in the class.

In addition to 24.06, I am taking 18.03, or differential equations, and 8.02, or Physics (electricity and magnetism). I am also taking 3.094, which is a really awesome 9-unit class about archaeology and the human experience. We get to work in the forge, and a bunch of my friends are in the class!!


New Semester

Last semester, I was really frightened. I was so excited to have found my home here at MIT and make some of my best friends in the world, but MIT is just so difficult and I was constantly afraid and aware that I was not smart enough, not good enough, and not hardcore enough for MIT. I now look back at the first semester and realize that I am MIT enough; it’s just that I wasn’t doing it right. I think I’m on a good track right now, and I am grateful to have the learning experience of last semester behind me. I’m ready for the second half of my freshman year.


Also, cat: