I’m not going to lie; being a senior pretty much rocks. I’m only taking three classes this term, and the grade in all of them is based almost entirely on tests… so basically I have three tests, a pset, and possibly a paper between me and graduation. Not to mention that my grad school only cares that I actually graduate, and is completely uninterested in the actual grades I get this term. (I wish I could be all badass and be like “I’m getting straight D’s, baby!” because wouldn’t it be cool to not care at all for one time in my life? In reality, I may very well get my first 5.0 at MIT, because I’m not as good at slacking off as I try to pretend I am. I give up.)
Since I don’t have that much schoolwork, I’ve had crazy amounts of free time recently. Not that I’ve really done anything earth-shattering with them.
Some things I have done recently
Go shopping. Adam and I went to the Cambridgeside Galleria on Friday. I wanted to buy towels and bedsheets for our new apartment. Adam wanted to buy Brain Age for his Nintendo DS. He won; we bought the game, but didn’t find any suitable (read: cheap) towels. I have nonetheless been kicking his ass in the game, so maybe he didn’t win in the end.
Get furniture. MIT dorm rooms come furnished with beds, mattresses, desks, and shelving, so I’ve never had to own furniture before. But Adam and I are moving to Westgate at the end of the month, and suddenly we have to buy things like a bed and a mattress and a microwave. Furniture is expensive!
Get fit. Cheerleading practice is over for the year (and, I mean, forever for me), so I figure I have to start some sort of exercise routine and stick with it before it becomes summer and I laze out on the couch and eat potato chips in the air conditioning. All you warm-climate kids are probably like “oh my lord, Boston is freezing” and to that I say, as a public service announcement: not in the summer it’s not. And every year I wait until like June 1 to start my exercise program, and I quit around June 15 because it’s too hotttttt and I’m too lazyyyyyy. But since I am no longer going to be a college athlete, I think I’d better start exercising now or I’ll gain the First Year of Graduate School Fifteen. (I gained the Freshman Negative Five when I came to MIT. Join a club sport! It’s good for you!)
Watch absurd amounts of TV. Jomar ’06 bought the first season of Lost recently, and basically our entire entry watched the whole season on Saturday and Sunday. And then Adam and I downloaded all of season 2 from iTunes. And before that, we read most of the episode recaps from Television Without Pity. I’m officially addicted, but on the upside, so is everybody with whom I live.
Not do so hot in lab. I went in today to image some neurons I prepared last week on the lab’s worth-more-than-my-life confocal microscope, and they looked like crap. I cannot even tell you how mad that makes me, especially since I would really like to get my project finished up before I graduate and leave the lab. So I came home and made meatcubes and garlic bread and spaghetti, because even if my neurons suck, my cooking is awesome.
Some public service announcements
These are just some things I’ve heard people asking here and there. If you have any other questions, as always, please feel free to ask.
Does it cost extra to stay in the dorms over IAP? Do the dorms close for winter and spring breaks?
No, IAP tuition and housing is included in your payment for the entire year. It doesn’t cost anything extra to stay on campus for the month of January, except for what you consume in food, I guess. The dorms don’t close for winter or spring breaks; if you so desired, you could stay in the dorm from the end of August to the end of May and never move a muscle. It does cost extra money to stay in the dorms over the summer.
Where does one buy MIT textboooks?
The Coop definitely sells textbooks, but they mostly sell said textbooks at a much higher price than other vendors. However, sneaky persons that they are, they don’t release the names/ISBNs of books needed for class anywhere but at the Coop itself. (Smart, eh?)
What I usually do is go to the Coop, write down the ISBNs of the books I need for classes, then use a book search engine like this one to see how the prices online + shipping compare to the Coop’s prices. If I know someone who’s taken one of my classes, I’ll go see if they want to sell the book too. (There used to be a website where MIT students bought and sold their used textbooks, but it closed down and like five sites replaced it. No one site has emerged as the clear leader in the MIT used book business.) Usually I end up ordering most of my books online and buying the ones with a negligible price difference from the Coop. Particularly for freshman classes, it’s useful to ask the sophomores/juniors around you if they still have their GIR books — most are happy to be rid of them for a few bucks.
Should I do an FPOP?
Yes. FPOPs are fun, and they’re a great way to meet some of your new classmates.
What’s the deal with the meal plan?
You or someone with money puts money into your TechCash account, which is linked from your MIT ID card. When you want to buy some food somewhere on or around campus, you get your card swiped and the amount is subtracted from your balance. You want food, you pay money. It’s kind of like real life. ;) You can add money at any time, so don’t worry too much about estimating the exact amount you’ll need per semester — if you pay too much fall semester, it will just stay in your account for use later.
When can I get my MIT email address?
Okay, I know you all want to get MIT Facebook accounts. Deep breaths. As Matt said recently: “You’ll receive everything you need for an email address in the Next Big Mailing, set to go out in a couple weeks.” In the meantime, you might start thinking about what you’d like your user ID to be (you get to pick) — keeping in mind that this email address will be seen by all your friends, professors, and future employers/grad school admissions committees. Many people at MIT get their nicknames from their usernames. Choose wisely!
1. Chaine asked,
How do you schedule your UROP hours? I’ve noticed in the course catalog that some departments (like 10 and 22) offer a joint BS and MS. Your thoughts? Like how feasible?
When I finalize my class schedule for the term, I look at the open spots and fit in as many hours as I want to for my UROP, then give the schedule to my postdoc, who sticks it up behind his computer. Not too terribly complicated. :) I try to schedule my classes in the morning so I have most of the afternoon free to work in the lab — for example, my schedule for last term is here and the one from last spring is here.
A lot of people at MIT do five-year bachelors/masters programs, although most of them do it in course 6. To my knowledge, it’s not a great deal harder, but it does involve being sure you want a masters degree in your subject pretty much by the end of sophomore year, which is not something about which everybody is sure. But if you’re sure you want that masters degree, I think a five-year program is a super thing to do.
2. Anonymous commented,
As my EC told me, International students are a level up from domestic students( I am considered domestic myslef but I attended high school abroad :D) how do you feel that?? did you realize it??
In my experience, there aren’t really groups of MIT students who are more special or less special than others. We all take the same classes, and we all do the same work. Once you get to MIT, it doesn’t really matter what your background is, and people don’t even notice after a few weeks who went to public school, or private school, or school abroad, or who got a perfect score on the SAT. International students help domestic students on problem sets, and vice versa — because they’re not international or domestic anymore, they’re just MIT students.
3. Dimitri (’10) :) asked,
I have some small questions and you seem to be the most appropriate person to ask. My first dorm choice would be McGregor and I too love to be organized. I would love to have a file cabinet in my dorm. Is that allowed? Will I be able to find one in campus? (possibly for free?)
I would hate living in a dirty room. Will we have cleaning supplies at our disposition? Are the floors made from carpet? Does that carpet gets dirty/dusty fast?
You are more than welcome to have a filing cabinet in your room. It’s possible that you could find one for free — you can add yourself to an email list called “reuse”, which will inform you when there’s stuff around campus for the taking. People get computer parts and other kinds of equipment on reuse all the time.
In MacGregor, we have access to an entry vacuum cleaner; I’m not positive that other dorms have things like that, but they probably do. Our floors are covered in carpet, and I like to vacuum mine at least once a week — it doesn’t get terribly dirty, but it does get crumbs and dust and hair all over it. I actually own my own little Dustbuster, which I bought on sale at Target, and which is just the right size for a dorm room.
4. XYZ asked,
International students go back to their home country in summer. Still you feel that they will be able to manage loan component of their self help? Please guide me.
It’s certainly possible to make enough money if you stay at MIT for the summer (perhaps doing a UROP); many students don’t spend a great deal of time at home once they’re in college. I think it will be a little more clear how you’d like to spend your summer after you’ve been in school for a little while.
5. Fei asked (about MacGregor)
Hey Mollie, how many people share a room, or all of them are single rooms?
Yup, all the rooms in the dorm are singles.