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MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

Retrospective by Hamsika C. '13

Wait, what? I'm done with my first year?

When I walked out of my last final, all I felt was a huge sensation of relief. I kept thinking Thank God it’s over and I’ve waited forever for this day to come, for this year to end.

But now, a large part of me really wishes I were still a freshman and not a sophomore. It feels strange to no longer be among the ‘babies’ of the school, to be replaced by the ’14s, and to hear about prospective ’15s, not to mention a few ambitious ’18s =P

I could describe this past year simply as a learning experience, but that doesn’t do any justice to the individual ups and downs I’ve been through this past year. So instead, I’m going to start at the very beginning of freshman year – and run through it all :)


Part I: Pre-Orientation

Several of you ’14s are looking into FPOPs (Freshman Pre-Orientation Programs) right now, and some of you might even be done filling out your apps. For those of you who haven’t applied already, I strongly recommend that you do! The FPOP that I did was DUSP (Discover Urban Studies and Planning – haha, yeah, I know – too many acronyms), which was essentially a three-day exploration of Boston. My first choice FPOP was actually DBCS (Discover Brain and Cognitive Sciences) – but DUSP ended up being a lot of fun! My favorite part was when we went to the very top of the Prudential Center and got to look out on the entire city:

Fenway Park

I love Boston

Part II: Orientation

Following pre-orientation was, of course, orientation. Our theme was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and we had three wonderful Orientation Coordinators:


Orientation was basically a more laid-back version of CPW, with just as much fun but a little more time to enjoy everything. A couple of my friends and I got to go apple-picking:


And enjoy views like this:


Part III: Fall Semester

One of the most memorable events in 18.02 (Multivariable Calculus) took place the day just before our first midterm (photo credit to Carin ’13):

“The midterm will be unlike the homework in that the problems will be solvable…” – thanks, Professor! :)

To be fair, he wasn’t kidding; the midterms were significantly more doable than the problem sets, which often took me a few days and some visits to TA’s office hours.
5.112 (Principles of Chem) problem sets tended to take a little less time – and 8.01 (Physics I) didn’t assign problem sets at all. That might have been a bad thing though, since the class average on our 8.01 final exam was around a 50…heh.
First semester, many of us did our homework in groups – before we figured out that we ended up taking more study breaks than actually doing work, haha:

Photo Booth = Awesome Study Break: “Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil!”

Oh – and we got to see a real Nobel Prize:

And have some fun with garba at Milan, an event organized by MIT SAAS (South Asian American Society):


It was with deep sadness that I bid farewell to first semester – and the safety net that is Pass/No Record :(

Part IV: Winter Break + IAP

I spent some time during winter break, wandering about Disney World and repping MIT with my hoodie:

On the Kali River Rapids, in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

And then proceeded to return to MIT for my EMT class, from which was born the following photo:


And the following birthday surprise:


And the following adaptation of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”:

Despite the long classroom hours, choosing to take the IAP EMT class was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Also – we’re getting a new stretcher! And it’ll have a button to lower/lift it! Which means my biceps and triceps won’t fail me anymore! YAY! Yes, I’m excited – in case you couldn’t tell.

Part V: Spring Semester

While much of this semester was cold, some warm weather eventually came our way, and we took full advantage of it.

There was Holi – the Indian festival of colors:


And classes that took place outside:


And chairs that somehow found their way to the top of Kresge Auditorium:


And all of this was mixed in with some good old organic chemistry, complete with M√∂bius strips I’ve come to know and love:

The birth of a Möbius strip Рright before our very eyes!

I actually think 5.12 (Organic Chemistry) – and not 21W.755 (Reading and Writing Short Stories), as I wrote in a previous entry – was my most enjoyable class this past semester. Not the least because there was a 5.12 poetry competition, from which one of my favorite excerpts is the following, from “We Didn’t Start Reactions” (inspired by Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”) by Maita ’13. (Warning: some knowledge of organic chemistry may be required):

P-sets twenty pages long, my carbon count is all wrong
Nanobeaver, Newman, retroanalysis
Solvents, selectivity, prediction of stability
Mechanisms, structures, design a synthesis

Curved arrows, enantiomers, draw all the isomers
Transition state, conjugate, gauche, anti, mesylate
Enols can tautomerize, radicals polymerize
Who won that Nobel Prize? It’s all too much to memorize!


Part VI: Post-Finals Euphoria – and Home ‚ô•

When finals ended, it was liberating but also surreal – to be done, to pack, and to see my once-full room like this:


And now, I’m at home – loving summer, missing MIT people, and getting ready to go to Germany (more on that later :D )

24 responses to “Retrospective”

  1. Yun '12 says:

    Win Post! Hope you have a great summer Hamsika! See you at camp smile

  2. Banerjee says:


  3. Daphne says:

    Do you speak German?

  4. I love this post! Have a great summer, Hamsika!

  5. jennifer '14 says:

    can someone please outline the HASS requirements? I’m still a little confused because I feel like there are so many little things that need to be completed like writing and communication. THANKSSS!!!!!!

  6. Rohit says:

    Hi di!Great blog as ever.By the way what is EMT class?

  7. J. Michael says:

    In Germany you should definitly go to Hamburg, I have first hand information that it is the most awesome town in Europe.

    PS. I live there

    congrats to the finals btw

  8. You’re going to Germany?
    Life is not fair.
    Aaaah. I love Holi. In India nowadays they’re using those funky little plastic bags filled with water. I tried to throw one on my friend’s back to make it break but it ended up slipping and I slapped her (hard) by accident. XD

  9. Matt Hung says:

    I reiterate – I love you

    Your Biggest Fan,
    Matt Hung

    see you on campus next year! :D

  10. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ jennifer – check this site out:

    Hopefully, that helps smile

    @ J. Michael – hahaha, will do. i’m really excited!!

  11. Hamsika '13 says:

    Oh and @Daphne – nope, i don’t speak German smile

  12. Amethyst says:

    @jennifer ’14: If no MIT student speaks up I will try to write them out for you; I did a detailed outline of them earlier on in the year (for school) which is still on my computer. smile But it won’t be for a few days (end-of-term homework glut).

  13. J. Michael says:

    oh and btw if you’re in Hamburg and wanna say hi to a local guy, just say “moin” instead. You’re gonna make friends very fast …raspberry

  14. '12 says:

    @ Jennifer ’14

    The HASS requirement just changed for you class, so this might not be exactly right. I think you still need at least 8 HASS classes over the 4 years. At least two must be CI-H (communication intensive), meaning there’s at least 20 pages of writing and some presentation aspect. You must also have a concentration, made up of 3-4 subjects. And you must take at least one subject from each of the three categories; humanities, arts, and social sciences. Other students, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…

  15. Hello,
    Nice blog !
    I think that ‘Orgo’ is becoming your favourite subject smile Retrospective blog ~ retroanalysis raspberry (nice work ) Organic poem !!(that was good, next time do write a Physics poem ) smile lol
    Keep it up.

    Best of journey for Germany smile

  16. Madhav says:

    Hi Hamsika
    i really enjoyed reading your blog.
    i wanna do MS in MIT
    what do i need to have to get into MIT?

  17. Aswath says:


    I am visiting MIT on 12 & 13th June – Campus Tour before my freshman admission.

    Would you be around? Can we get in touch for some info about courses & credits pl.?


  18. Anonymous says:

    When I took 5.12, the winning poem was:

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Sugar is sweet,
    5.12 sucks.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  19. 5.12 is Awesome smile

    This blog and its writer are also Awesome smile

  20. genius ('18) says:

    LoL…I’m not actually an ’18! I like the number 18, so I picked it. I’m actually a LOT sooner…
    Maybe I should change my name to just genius.

    ReCaptcha: the muddles {yes-talk about muddled up…}

  21. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ genius (’18) – lol! i wasn’t thinking of you – there are some others who actually are ambitious ’18s smile

  22. Kunal says:

    I’m Indian..
    Can u enligten me about the details of mit…?

  23. genius ('18) says:

    ok ok…I confess.
    So maybe I am a hopeful (’18)…LOL.
    Hey we can all dream right wink
    Just when I was going to change my name to plain “genius”…(sigh)

    ReCaptcha:furthermore smugness (Wow, this recaptcha thing is really good at following me!)

  24. ~A says:

    R C- engineering new;

    Am I? or no?
    lets wait and watch :D

    Happy sunnydays…~~cheersssss~~