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Semester Two by Ella T. '25

Hosed, feeling, writing, love and hatred and whatever else

Back in my first semester, I wrote a lot. I had spare hours each day, and if I wanted to write, I would. If I wanted to spend an hour commuting to a new location to write, I would. I had time to do it. I like to think I wrote some quality pieces. Some of them made their way here, others I published elsewhere, and the rest I kept to myself, on napkins and in journals.

I’m approximately four weeks into my second semester, and time has taken on a new form. From the second my head lifts from the pillow to the second it hits the pillow again, I am moving. For the sake of concreteness, here is the course load:

  1. 18.02 Vector Calculus. This class is fine. It gives the same energy as 18.01. There will always be a weekly problem set due. There will always be multiple exams. Consistency.
  2. 8.02 Physics E&M. I hate this class. If I will ever drop a class, it will be this one. I loathe attending its mandatory lectures. I will likely do mediocre.
  3. 6.009 Fundamentals of Programming. I have Stockholm Syndrome for this class. It is indisputably the most time consuming, soul draining class I’ve ever taken, and yet I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be one of my favorite classes at MIT. I will likely write an entire post about it soon.
  4. 9.00 Intro to Psychology. I don’t show up to a single lecture. I don’t do a single reading. I go to recitation and look at optical illusions. Next.
  5. CMS.100 Intro to Media Studies. Unfortunately, I don’t care for CMS as much as I expected to. We debated for an entire ninety minutes about what media constitutes, only to reach a resolution that “Everything is Media.” I left that room with less brain cells than I entered with.

I also am continuing my UROP from IAP with MIT’s Language Acquisition Lab, which I genuinely enjoy, but it is time consuming. When paired with five classes and a few other extracurricular commitments, I am on campus from 10AM to 2AM most days. When I’m not on campus, I am asleep, likely still in my clothes from the day.

I’m also around people more often. My once small group of friends has expanded into something not so small, which brings me great joy. I love to see the people I care about care for each other. Sometimes, when we’re all together, I step back and take a picture. One day, I’ll post all these pictures here.

Back to writing. I miss the amount of blogging I was able to do last semester. I miss writing about mundanities and hobbies, friends and thoughts. Now, I feel like every time I open my computer, a thousand things have changed, and I can’t be bothered to do anything but summarize them. I don’t think I’ve lost the creativity. If anything, I cling to thinking about writing like its the last non-technical thought I will ever have. I just don’t have the time, because if I have time to write, I’m writing code, or writing UROP reports, or writing an email.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my time at MIT in general. A few months back, I checked into a hotel room, and when the desk worker asked which school I went to and I said MIT, he asked “Is it as bad as people say it is?” Before I could formulate a response, before I could think of the joy and fulfillment MIT brings me, I looked him in the eyes and said “Even worse.”

I don’t know if I actually believe this. Most days, I love MIT. Even on the days where I’ve spent six hours in the same chair debugging the same code, I find myself joking with a friend on the elevator ride down.

I hate this fucking school

“Do you really?”

“Not at all.”

Other days, I do hate MIT. I hate the disparities in its student population. I hate the way I can try so hard and still fail. I hate the rejections. I hate the sleeplessness. I hate the nagging desire to escape MIT at the end of the week. I hate the way MIT churns forward, with or without me, like some well-oiled torture machine.

I feel my love for MIT and my hatred for MIT equally deeply, and I don’t think that is a rare sentiment. In fact, I’m starting to believe it is a defining feature of existing here. I wish I could feel neutral about my life on any given day, but it is impossible.

That’s the most exhausting part.

Yet after all, I am writing again.