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MIT student blogger twins Danny and Allan G. '20

Semester Reflections by Danny and Allan G. '20

This past semester has been different than any of our other semesters at MIT (and even any of our years in K-12), in that we only took ONE class together!

Not all twins are like this, but we just happened to always have very similar academic interests, and so we’ve always taken the same classes (often the timing of our schedules were different, but our courses were always the same).

Having similar academic interests is not what changed this semester though.

At MIT, combined with cross-registering, there are just so many freaking cool classes! Plus our major (Humanities and Engineering) is extremely flexible! So as opposed to in K-12, when there were only sooo many classes that we found interesting and that met requirements, we now have the option to BOTH have schedules we enjoy and that are different.

Granted, we’ve had this option for the past three semesters and have taken advantage of it to an extent in freshman spring and sophomore fall. But after three semesters, we finally felt that we were getting the hang of MIT enough to really step out of our comfort zone. So, this past semester, we just decided to take much more deliberate advantage of this option, as kind of an experiment, to see how it would be like to take mostly different classes.

These were our schedules:

6.009 Fundamentals of Programming
ES.1803 Differential Equations
21M.601 Drawing for Designers
CMS.339 Hacking VR: VR and Immersive Media
CHANI1 Character Animation (taken at MassArt)

6.009 Fundamentals of Programming
6.163 Strobe Project Lab
CMS.S60 Crafting Comics
DTB2 Digital Toolbox 2 (taken at MassArt)

The one class we decided to take together was our hardest one, so we can struggle through it together. But even with this class, the coding assignments had to be done individually. No one could really work together that much, since you really just needed to code your own solution.

Obviously, we still did some things together this semester, like making these very blogs and helping run some clubs that we are both involved in. But in general, this past semester has been the first semester we’ve conquered mainly individually!

So here are some reflections from a semester spent mostly apart:

1) This semester, the ratio of us meeting people as individuals to us meeting people as twins was a lot higher than in the past. We’ve never minded meeting people together, but often times, our first conversation with those persons would end up being about how we are twins, and we assume this translates to their first impression of us as being part of a set, as “the twins.” Regardless if that assumption is accurate, we kind of embraced that perception — we call ourselves “da twins” on these blogs, for example. But with that said, it definitely was cool to meet people on a regular basis this past semester, without right away revealing our now secret identities (muh ha ha ha ha) as twins.

2) Following this thought, it was also fascinating to see the reactions of people when they did learn we are twins. Two instances stand out.

  • Allan: One person on my strobe lab team tried saying hi to Danny, who he thought was me, in the infinite, only to get ignored. In our next lab session, he asked me, confused and hesitantly, “would you happen to be a twin?” I replied, also confused (thinking how my teammate guessed), “yeeeessss?” He then explained how he tried waving at Danny, and thought I was rude (for not waving back) for about 5 seconds before coming up with this theory. My teammate then revealed that he, himself, is also a twin! Go figure!
  • Danny: As I was walking out of my VR class with one of my teammates, Allan bumped into us (I think he was leaving from 6.009 office hours), and my teammate was so shocked to find out that I have a twin that she wanted to get a picture with us. It was an amusing experience, since this was the first time we’ve taken a selfie with someone solely because we’re twins.

3) Eating dinner alone is a thing. We were kind of scared to eat dinner alone in freshman year, because of social awkwardness. This was usually not a problem though because we would sit with our wing from Next House, or if we went down to dining too late, we’d just eat together. This semester, however, with our schedules so different and office hours consuming our lives, we rarely ate dinner with our wing at Next House or together. We usually had to stay on campus until 10pm every single day, because of either office hours or club meetings or whatever else. Sometimes we’d be able to coordinate dinner together, but mostly, we would separately eat dinner in McCormick (which is closer to campus than Next House is, and is also the best dining hall in our opinions).  Sometimes, we would sit with friends we’d bump into at McCormick, but usually we would each eat dinner by ourselves. And it’s actually not at all scary as freshman-we thought! It is kind of more productive if anything, because you just focus on eating and then leave. This was actually very necessary many times during the rough spots of the semester, when every second had to be used at maximum productivity.

4) Recapping days. We have done this before, telling each other interesting snippets of things we did not both experience. Allan was on RingComm, we had different CMS.100 sections, Danny was in a club Allan wasn’t in, we’ve taken classes separately before, and have been on separate teams for project-based classes we’ve both taken, so there has been plenty content to share. But this semester, we regularly would spend entire days not experiencing things together, and thus was the first semester we regularly recapped entire days to each other.

5) A byproduct of number 4 is that this semester was the first time we deliberately kept things out of our recaps. In other words, we kept secrets from each other :0. Not with malicious intent of course… there was just one situation where a piece of information had to be kept hidden from Allan for about a month. Any other semester, we would just have had too many interactions for a secret to be kept that long or even at all.

6) Studying by ourselves. We’ve done this before, but not to the extent that we did this semester, where basically everything we studied for was different and we could not rely on each other for academic support or being study buddies. This ended up being totally fine, because office hours.

7) Clothes became slightly more complicated. As children, we wanted to be exactlyyyyyy the same. We were the twins that wore the same outfit every day. We grew out of this towards the end of elementary school, but still kind of cringe at our past image. (Sidenote: This is not to say that there is anything wrong with twins who wear similar or the same clothes. We, personally, just do not like to anymore). So in recent years, we have been making deliberate efforts to wear different outfits. Usually that just means making sure that we’re not both wearing the same article of school gear or pieces of clothing that look really similar. But this semester, because of our separate schedules, we would wake up at different times and couldn’t coordinate our outfits to be different. By chance, it worked out that, mostly, our outfits were different enough. But likewise, by chance, there was one cursed day when we wore literally, exactly, the same outfit: the same MIT 2020 sweatshirt, the same style jacket, and very similarly colored pants. And because we are extra and over-react, we mutually refused to eat lunch together that day haha. This did make us question why we find it important for us to wear different clothes. When curating our individual images, we do not put that much thought into what our clothes say about us. We usually just wear comfortable things, and things we think fit us well. But when curating our image as twins, we do care about our clothes, in so much that they are just different from each other. As much as our identities are centered around being twins and as much as we like working together on random projects and as much as we like twin-blogging, we also each have our own sense-of-self and value the differences in our personalities and ways of thinking. And we want our clothes to be different to show that … orrrrrrr, maybe we are just still embarrassed by our childhood pictures? or maybe both!


That’s about all the reflections we can think of now.