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Purgatory by Ella T. '25

My 2023 IAP

This past month has been my first IAP spent entirely at MIT.

IAP is a weird time. A lot of people say IAP is one of MIT’s best offerings and the most pleasurable month of the academic calendar, but I don’t agree with either of those sentiments. I like to think IAP is a sort of purgatory in which you are your own god. You have choices. You can make IAP as much of a continuation of the fall as possible, or you can do nothing. Yet, most people do neither. They stay in purgatory and do some amalgamation of everything and nothing all at once.

It is also worth nothing that Cambridge is a strange place to host a purgatory. I suppose I never fully realized how dominated the city is by MIT until a large fraction of those who make up campus are no longer physically present. One night in particular, I walked from Macgregor and into Central Square without seeing a single soul. Not one person. It is never like that in the fall. To make matters worse, I feel like purgatory should be tepid, but I am currently freezing. All it ever does is sleet and snow.

All this to say, I have been doing some things. I’m taking a class on prosody, which can be transcribed and annotated using a system called ToBI in conjunction with a software called Praat. I look at things that look like this:

speech sample shown in Praat

Once the class is through, I’ll likely write an entire piece about prosody, but I will leave you to parse through the poorly-developed Wikipedia pages I linked for now.

During my time at MIT, I’ve discovered that I love linguistics in the same way a young child loves princesses or trucks. I am infatuated with it. I want to talk about it. This is fundamentally different than the way I feel about my major. I love my major in a way that is less obsessive and more fulfilling. I don’t want to talk about my major as much as I want to understand it in private. I can see myself settling down with my major across multiple decades, whereas I feel like I am in a sort of toxic relationship with linguistics. For example, I did a UROP in linguistics for an entire year, and I loved it, but by the end I felt like I was going insane. I’m going to minor in it anyways.

I am also cooking loads. Each suite in MacGregor is equipped with a small kitchenette that cannot possibly adhere to modern fire safety rules but are pleasurable to cook in nonetheless. MIT gives eligible students $125 a week, which I affectionately refer to as Poor People Money (PPM), to spend on groceries at locations like H-Mart and Daily Table. So, once a week, I make the trek to Daily Table and buy as much as I can hold. Then, I cross the street and enter H-Mart, where I buy overpriced snacks and an absurd amount of Bok Choy. I adore Bok Choy. Then, I cook myself whatever meals I want.It has been a nice ritual, and I will miss not having PPM during the semester.

Speaking of rituals, I am taking another PE class, since I forgot I need four to graduate and I’ve only taken one. I’m taking Yoga and Meditation, which meets twice a week for an hour in Dupont. If you know me in real life, you know that I don’t seem like a very peaceful person, but I am making a concerted effort to be more still this year. It also feels nice to be doing an activity with other MIT students, even if they are strangers.

I am also lifting, which I personally think is hilarious. Lifting is a very blogger thing to do. Cami is sort of famous for it, and I know Kathleen, Jeremy, and Petey lift too. [Edit: I forgot Amber and MG and Audrey!] To be honest, I don’t really care about being strong. I guess I just don’t value it in the same way most people who lift do. But I do like the mental feeling of lifting progressively heavier things. Alone in the Macgregor weights room on the verge of passing out, I feel sort of free. Maybe one day in the far future I will become strong as a byproduct.

Finally, I am working on my spread for MIT’s Infinite Fashion Magazine, which is an organization I’ve been a part of since I first started at MIT. During my freshman year, I worked for other people’s spreads, but this year I am blessed to have my own with my very own design team. I don’t want to spoil it now, but all the pieces are handmade by me, so wish us luck.

That’s all for my purgatory. Have a somewhat heavenly or somewhat hellish IAP!

(P.S. I am also officially in my internship era as of a few days ago, so be prepared for whiplash as I blog about Ella in a corporate setting for summer 2023…)