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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

Oh the Places You’ll Go! by Chris S. '11

Did you know Dr. Seuss was a SigEp?

The land of 85% humidity, cheap food, and scooters that can outmaneuver any NYC taxi.

The Motherland.

I woke up last morning to the slow hum of the air conditioner, the lazy sunlight streaming in through the gaps in the blinds. I rolled over, and realized – to my delight – that I was back in my “own” bed. I half expected my sister to open the door, telling me that we’re going to school (for some odd reason, I never used an alarm clock in high school – my sister always got up before me, so she would always wake me up).

It felt so nice being back; and yet so different.

It seems almost hard to imagine that this time last week, I was having trouble falling asleep due to the impending 8.02 final (which I managed to get one percent higher than what I needed to get an A for the course…as a result my course grade was 0.2% higher than the A cutoff. booyah!).

And yet, now it’s all over. I’ve completed all of my science GIRs, and I would never have to take another physics class in my life.

On my long flight back from Boston back to Taipei, I spent some time reflecting on what this year to meant to me, and even though I have no intention of making this a sappy, nostalgic recollection – I do feel it’s worthwhile to jot down a few of my thoughts before they fade into obscurity. And I do have a habit of doing this anyway – I feel like reflection is a great way of bringing closure. Even though it isn’t like I’m bring closure to anything significant (like graduating, for example), I’ve nonetheless “graduated” from a year of GIRs, a year of transition, a first year at MIT.



Discovery for me came in many forms – I discovered a country during IAP, I discovered that I could never wake up for 10 AM lectures, I discovered that Miami-ians hate Boston winters as much as I do.

I felt the best learning I got this year didn’t happen in the classroom – it happened in the sleazy bars of Madrid, the intriguing iHouse speaker dinners, the dark fluorescent microscope room in my UROP lab.

1. Discovery is finding out that I needed to draft a study plan for my courses at MIT, rather than relying on last-minute cramming like I did in high school.

7. Discovery is learning to manage a SAT preparation program with over 300 students and answering hundreds of emails from concerned parents.

10. Discovery is having three-hour dinners with my Spanish host over raisins and rice, and each trying to understand the other’s limited vocabulary.

13. Discovery is the first time I fired a gun in the Pistol PE course I took, and getting an adrenaline rush every time I pulled the trigger.

19. Discovery is making a snow angel.

23. Discovery is going to a MUN conference, delivering a speech to delegates from colleges across the United States, and taking a walk around Philadelphia at two in the morning.

28. Discovery is finally understanding this t-shirt.

31. Discovery is seeing how the magnetic constant and the electric constant relate to the speed of light.

32. Discovery is learning that you will burn down the dorm room if you throw a towel over the light bulb in a valiant effort to make the room less bright for sleeping roommates.

44. Discovery is figuring out that you’re supposed to tip your barber.

49. Discovery is dozing off on a sunny day on the Boston Esplanade.

68. Discovery is knowing that it takes exactly 7 minutes to walk from New House to 77 Mass Ave.

70. Discovery is running off to Canada during spring break and taking the Toronto -> NYC Amtrak train which took friggin 13 hours.

79. Discovery is seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time in my life.

82. Discovery is learning that the guinea pig cannot synthesize its own Vitamin C in 5.111.

86. Discovery is watching another beautiful Charles sunrise after psetting for ~10 hours.

91. Discovery is saving money by buying textbooks from Amazon Marketplace instead of from the MIT Coop.

94. Discovery is realizing that you can’t make agar plates using tap water, even if you autoclave everything.

97. Discovery is knowing that Kresge is 1/8 of a perfect sphere.

100. Discovery is falling in love with pho in Boston.

Just nine months ago, I was a confused prefrosh holding a stack of brand-new 18.02 notes. Nine months later, I’ve successfully navigated my way through the mandatory science classes, completed dozens of psets, and gotten a taste of the MIT firehose. Nine months later, I feel like my head’s became a lot bigger, and maybe – became a little bit smarter.

When hundreds of families descend on the MIT campus once again – it’ll be the beginning of another journey for all of us. The start of a thousand different stories, and the second episode of my time at MIT. But until then…

…there’s the summer in between. :)

25 responses to “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”

  1. Zaira '11 says:

    I must disagree with the 7 minutes from NH to 77 Mass ave. It usually takes me 10-12 minutes to get there. Maybe I’m just slow.

    Oh, and I totally agree about the “And God Said… and there was light” shirt. I thought I would never understand it. Last time I went to the Coop, a man was explaining the shirt to the cashier. It was so funny.

  2. E says:

    Great entry Chris, I wish you a happy summer!

  3. 103 says:

    Your discoveries are really happy smile

  4. Tanmay '12 says:

    Right. Happy numbers sequence…

  5. Paul says:

    Another awesome entry.

    By the way, somehow the photos I took of Simmons never turned out that nicely…someday you must teach me your secret ninja photography skills. wink

  6. Anonymous says:

    You’re amazing.

  7. Piper says:

    This post makes me feel inspired inside This post makes me feel inspired inside <3

  8. Does the photo have anything to do with the blog entry’s subject matter, or was it just added because of its aethetic value? smile

  9. Steph says:

    Wonderful post. Discovery 91 is the best. I do it all the time.

  10. Ginger says:

    My physics teacher has that t-shirt hanging in our classroom and calls it the “Holy T-shirt” and since we finished E&M,I finally understand it :D

  11. Snively says:

    #31 would have been really handy on that wave question on the 8.02 final. Hm.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think the titles of all blog entries from this point forward should be Dr. Seuss quotes.

    Just sayin’.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful entry, Chris. I applaud you!

  14. donaldGuy says:

    Very nice entry!! I am so very much looking forward to getting to MIT.. even if there’s a pretty cool summer between

    maybe I am missing something .. but what is with the jumpy numbering?


  15. job '12 says:

    Headlines: Dr. Seuss invades MIT admissions

    no seriously, I love it! *sigh* counting down the weeks till fall…(and shuddering too, GIR in electromag…eek)

  16. Anonymous says:

    try squaring each digit and adding them together.

    (oops, am I not supposed to give it away?)

  17. Ty'12 says:

    I am with Donald here; squaring each digit and adding them together?

    1 => 1
    7 => 13
    10 => 1
    13 => 10
    19 => 82
    23 => 13
    28 => 68
    31 => 10
    32 => 13
    44 => 32
    49 => 97
    68 => 100
    70 => 49
    79 => 130
    82 => 68
    86 => 100
    91 => 82
    94 => 97
    97 => 130
    100 => 1

    Well, there are some sums-of-squares-of-digits in the numbering of Discoveries, with exception of 130. And Discovery 7, 91, and 94 are missing. Did I do my math right?

  18. Reuben '12 says:

    Sorry to give it away, but it’s already in the comments above… Anyway, Wikipedia “friendly numbers.” Alternatively, keep going on the square-the-digits-and-sum process until it repeats.

  19. Reuben '12 says:

    Before you ask, to Wikipedia is indeed a verb.

  20. Aditi says:

    great post

    I ummm got very excited when I discovered 31 during a physics class this year. (I might even have scared the teacher) smile

    Simmons does indeed look very nice in that picture

  21. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Zaira –

    I must point out that 7 minutes is the “omg-i-am-so-late-for-class-its-not-even-funny” pace of walking. =p

    @ Simmons Resident –

    Aesthetics value, hahaha.

    @ Snively –

    Actually I forgot the relation as well, but then I scoured the equation sheet and there was miraculously one on there which you can rearrange some terms around and get the right equation so you can express E0 in terms of mu0 and c. =p

    About the numbering –

    Google/wikipedia “happy numbers!” smile

  22. Ahana says:

    Beautiful post!…the great number ordering makes it even better;)

  23. seriously says:

    simmons is ugly.

  24. Shamarah says:

    7 minutes? Psh if you’re SUPERMAN.

  25. tendelle says:

    yay simmons!!
    p.s. you walk fast!