Hey all, sorry to be absent for… what has it been by now… three weeks? That’s inexcusable for a freshman blogger! So I will have to make it up by posting much MORE often… it looks like some order might be coming into my life now so this may indeed be possible…
But… now there are a whole two months of MIT to blog about, where to start?
So you’re thinking about MIT…
You may have read about the opportunities available to you from the minute that you step onto campus as an MIT student, and perhaps that’s why you’d like to come. What goes on here is nothing short of amazing. Exciting. Insane. Definitely take a look at the main MIT site and other blog posts (you can even check out my first post, The Land of MIT).
Wonderful? Out of this world?
No, the question is…
Can you SURVIVE???
I lied. That’s not the real question. Even though it may seem like it.
The answer is YES, you can. People will say this a million times – but if you get into MIT, it IS possible. You can survive.
The real question is…
Will you be HAPPY (at least ~50% of the time)???
There’s a reason why MIT’s motto is IHTFP – “I Hate This F***ing Place” or “I Have Truly Found Paradise.” Most of the time, you’ll agree with one of them. Our emotions are usually at one of these two extremes.
When we say that “MIT is hard,” we mean it. You may have to rethink your study skills. Some people just never had to study before they got here. You have to learn to manage your time. This may happen at any college, especially when you move away. Suddenly you’re on your own. A million activities are thrown your way, a million possibilities for each minute, and you would go to every single one of them but there are only 24 hours in a day and you also have to get food and get done with everything early enough to get sleep – at least some sleep. MIT is just a liiiitle harder than most other colleges, so you have to pset and study too. (I actually believe that MIT is THE hardest college in the world, though someone said there’s another school in India which may compare… forgot what it’s called though =/)
We all have our reality checks. I mean, the overwhelming trend I’ve noticed at MIT is that everyone wants to take the hardest classes that they can even dream of passing. There really is a strong work ethic here. For the most part, the system (or the sanity that a few students seem to have) keeps people in classes based on their level of preparation for each course. For instance, most freshmen choose one of 8 flavors of math (18.01, 18.01A/2A, 18.014, 18.02, 18.022, 18.023, 18.024 – the 18.01’s are types of single-variable calculus and the 18.02’s are types of multi-variable calculus). I came in with Calculus BC and was able to choose from 18.02 (regular calculus), 18.022 (theory and challenging), or 18.023 (calculus with applications). (18.024 is a proof-based course that you can only take after 18.014). In my high school I was in the “honors math” sequence. I liked thinking about calculus and its applications – in economics, in general, in everything.
Well, anyway, the point is that I heard 18.022 once described as “honors math at MIT.” When I told my advisor I was interested in the class she said, “I don’t know. That’s a HARD class.” I guess the MIT freshman mentality was still in me, and I thought, “Wouldn’t I be wasting my time here if I wasn’t challenging myself? Won’t this help me be REALLY awesome at EVERYTHING having to do with math later in life?”
Fast forward a month to… OUR FIRST MIT EXAM WEEK EVER…
“Time to lock myself in my room and do nothing but 18.022 for the test on Tuesday!”
“Wait, there’s a chem test on Wednesday? Schrodinger’s equation… I can’t do that either, but what I REALLY can’t do is math. Chem after math… chem after math…”
“Oh crap I also have an 18.022 pset DUE ON MONDAY? Guess I’ll have to study everything else… tomorrow.”
“YES! PSET HANDED IN! I totally don’t know if what I did was right for half of them though. It would be NICE to get the PSET back BEFORE the test… not that that’s happening…
“Oookay, for the test. Who knows how I had time to attempt this practice test? Anyway, time to compare these practice test questions with the answers pasted on the door of our professor’s office… oh THAT’S how you do it, I still don’t get that, I calculated that wrong, I don’t get polar/cylindrical/spherical coordinates yet I’m so screwed omg, hey wait the professor messed this part up too… so he gave himself a 97…”
“My recitation T.A. gave me entirely DIFFERENT answers for this polar/spherical/cylindrical coordinate question, let me check them… they’re still different… hey wait he graded himself AGAIN?”
(Monday’s facebook status)
“My professor got a 94 on his own test!”
(Monday at 8:30, at Sport Tae Kwon Do PE, trying to decide whether to leave after the first hour or stay for another)
Me to 18.022-er: “Hey, are you ready for the test?”
18.022-er: “No. No way. Are you crazy? Are you kidding?”
Me to other 18.022-er: “Are you ready for the test?”
Other 18.022-er: “I actually have the math test and a comp sci test tomorrow… and I haven’t really started studying…”
Other 18.022-er: “But I’m probably going to stay for the second hour. Are you?”
Me: “Ha, ha, hahaha!”
(leaves to study)
(Monday at 1)
Another 18.022-er: Hey, have you been studying? How much have you been studying? I bet you haven’t been studying Marcela.
Me: Hey! You can’t say anything. I’ve studied for at least 6 hours by now, by the time I call it quits at 3 it’ll be 8… I read the whole textbook chapters that cover what we’re doing in class up till now, I reread them this weekend, I bought notecards and wrote every single important equation or formula on them, I took the practice tests, I met with my T.A. to go over the last three psets…….. I think I’m ready…
(Tuesday at 1)
Another 18.022-er: You ready?
Me: Sure… You ready?
18.022-er: No. You ready?
Other 18.022-er: I think so…
Proctor: TEST START GO
(Tuesday at 1:55)
Professor: Hey, everyone, I’m giving you an extra five minutes!
(Tuesday at 2:00)
Proctor: PENCILS DOWN
Tests: *handed up*
18.022-ers: X X;;;;;;
18.022-ers: X X;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
(Tuesday at 5)
“OK, all right. It’s time to study CHEM. I’ve got to pass one test this week. I’ve got to do well on this one. Ugh I’m breaking my resolution not to cram… but I STUDIED ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT FOR THAT 18.022 TEST THING OMG AND I SPENT SO MUCH TIME STUDYING AND I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW MUCH OF MY LIFE I WASTED STUDYING AND OK Marcela go study for chem.
(Tuesday at 7)
Another 18.022-er: Hey Marcela, the results are online! Can you open them with me?
Another 18.022-er: OK, let’s count!
Me: All right, 1, 2, 3…
Another 18.022-er: AHHH.
(Wednesday at 10:30 AM, I’m in the student center getting food before the chem (5.111) test at 12)
Me: Oh hey 5.111-er!
Me: You ready for the test?
5.111-er: You know, I studied for days for that test, and I didn’t study last night because I had had enough. I think I’m ready.
Me: And what math are you in?
5.111-er: 18.02. Why? Oh, and by the way, I got a 100 on our last test. I think a lot of people got hundreds. It was a pretty straightforward test.
Me: …. X____X
5.111-er: Hey, by the way, do you know what time it is? You’ve got your calculator – maybe that has the time?
Me: Check it out, I don’t know if it does though =/ I’ve gotta study study STUDY…
(Wednesday at 11:30)
5.111-er: Let’s go!
Me: OK! Wait. Where’s my calculator? *looks in bag*
5.111-er: I’m sure it’s in your bag somewhere. Where else could it be? It’s not on the table.
Me: But I don’t seee it… Ah, all right, I’ll look later.
(Wednesday at 11:55)
Me: ZOMG WHERE’S MY CALCULATOR.
5.111 TA – Here’s a calculator you can use… *hands me a scientific calculator*
Me: YAYYY… Wait… how do you multiply things by 10^10? And wait why are these numbers disappearing after I press add or subtract? Ahhh why is time passing so fast OK I’m just going to add up the powers of ten and multiply all the other numbers and then combine them and hope that I don’t make stupid mistakes or run out of time…
(Wednesday at 12:55)
Me: *rushed through the problems and just ran out of time*
(Wednesday at 1:00)
Me: NOW we get our psets back? And I FAILED this pset and I get it back NOW? Wow, I’m going to check ALL of these psets with my 18.022 friends from now on…
(Wednesday at 5)
Voicemail from 5.111-er from 2: AHHHH MARCELA I HAVE TWO CALCULATORS!!!!!!!
(Wednesday at 11)
“Physics prelab english reading english writing omg OMG I CAN’T TAKE ANYMOREEEE”
(Thursday at 1)
Professor: I owe you guys a BIG apology. That test was too long. As long as you’re doing well on the psets, don’t worry about it.
Me after class: Er I didn’t do too well on the last two psets… even though I just barely passed the test by four points (the passing grade was a 42)
Professor: Well, that might be a problem. You might have to devote more time to the class.
Me: I’ve been spending a LOT of time on the class. You don’t even KNOW.
Professor: Well, I would love it if you would stay, but if you want to switch to 18.02 you have to take the test they’re giving in an hour. It’s the last test that you can take to get into 18.02.
(an hour later, taking the 18.02 test)
Me: Wait how do you take the inverse matrix of a 4×4… and how do you maximize this with dot products… oh man I forgot everything in high school and we’re not learning this now and I’m going to fail this test even worse than the other test…
(after the test)
Me: *no energy or willpower to even say “IHTFP”*
(Thursday at about 7)
Friends: “Hey, want to play DDR?”
(Friday at 12:30 AM)
Me: *gets back from DDR*
Me: *goes into kitchen*
TV which is on: *plays The Fugitive*
Me: “OMG THE FUGITIVE.”
The Fugitive: *is watched*
Me at 3 – I can’t take another half hour. Bedtime…
Friday-Sunday: LONG WEEKEND!!!
Long weekend: Apple pie baking, sleeping (16 hours on Saturday), more movies, running a race for charity…
Me: *dreams “I have Truly Found Paradise…”*
So I ended up staying in 18.022. Before I was hesitant to ask for help, but now I work with pset groups and readily ask any and all of my friends for advice. And sometimes I can offer insights too. (Sometimes.) Perhaps this is the best way to go because:
1) First term is PASS/NO RECORD!!!
2) The class really IS interesting, especially once you start catching on =)
Will it apply in real life in any special way that 18.02 would not? Perhaps not unless you’re a mathematician… but still, it’s interesting. My goal is to PASS!
One thing I wanted to show you is that it’s important that MIT is the way it is – that we don’t just “work hard,” but we “party hard.” Partying doesn’t mean heading out to the nearest frat party every weekend (many people – but not all – do!) Partying means taking time to do FUN STUFF. Hanging out with friends and having a life. Forgetting about work for a little while to take the time to hang out with the amazing people that you meet here. Not every weekend is a three day weekend, and everyone has to study at some point, but you have to LIVE. Enjoy your freedom – those tests don’t matter in the long run (at least freshman year! XD).