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MIT student blogger Kirsten L. '15

Small Victories by Kirsten L. '15

The view from a month into MIT

Hello (again) World!
My goal to blog once a week has sadly failed… but I’ve been really hosed these past 2 weeks.
-Freeze-
For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology: hosed- (adj): to be completely and utterly floundering in the amount of work you have to do
The word itself comes from the fact that people say an education at MIT is like drinking from a fire hose.
-Back to story-
As school starts to take off, I’m slowly settling into a routine at MIT. Psets due every week on Tuesday and Thursday. Tests every couple of weeks (I just took my first couple tests this past week). Papers consistently due every month for my HASS. A million different interesting events happening at all hours of the day that I want to go to. It’s now evident how much MIT throws at its students. I’d be lying if I told you MIT was easy. Academically and organizationally, MIT challenges me every day. Time has become my currency (much like that new movie, In Time ), and I have to decide how to spend it.

MIT is a culture shock for this reason. I’m the kind of person who is used to saying yes to new opportunities (I’m sure many of you are similar). In the past, I always had time to do X and Y and then pile on Z. But, MIT has so many opportunities that the sheer number is overwhelming. It’s not physically possible to be involved in all of them, short of finding a way to clone myself. Plus, the classes are intellectually challenging, the hard psets are capable of replicating themselves when they’re finished (since we have one every week), and studying becomes a strenuous exercise. But I’ve discovered that the best way to survive is by recognizing the small victories.
[Although I’m using this in reference to life at MIT, recognizing small victories isn’t something that just applies to MIT, but to life in general. Perhaps it’s even applicable to those seniors out there who might be starting to feel the weight of college applications on their shoulders.]

In order to recognize the small victories:

1. Break down to-do items into more manageable tasks, and recognize when you accomplish each task.
MIT “homework” isn’t like high school homework. I always feel like I’m never really finished. Now one could think, “Okay, on to the next one.” But instead I think, “Win! I’m done with one! You’re awesome for finishing this!”

2. Keep things in the right perspective.
MIT definitely changed my perspective. The bar here is so much higher than back in high school. The other day when some of my friends and I checked our 7.012 (Intro Bio) test scores…

      Friend 1: YES I GOT A 65!
Friend 2: I GOT A 64!! CLOSE TO AVERAGE!!
Friend 1: Man… in high school when I got a 95, I used to think, “Dang, what did I do wrong?
Oh the irony.”

MIT is hard. I’m not going to get As on every test, and that’s a) being human, b) being around amazingly smart people, and c) having harder tests. Keeping things in perspective is probably the most important thing I consider when evaluating my abilities. At MIT, a 69 could be an amazing grade. I also recognize that whatever is bothering me at the moment likely won’t be my biggest problem in the future. There’s no need to be too stressed.

3. Remember that a life exists outside whatever you’re stressing about.
I’ve already touched on this, but the people that I’ve surround myself with make my life a million times better. Whether it’s making a funny joke during a serious pset session, randomly stopping by our room to serenade my roommate and I, or distracting me with some awesome song that they just found, friends make the bad times bearable. Friendships are one of the most valuable things that you can have. Grades (like SAT scores) will be forgotten after time, but friendships and memories last a lifetime.

4. Lastly, don’t forget what you will gain from an experience.
My friend and I were talking about adjusting to life at MIT, and my friend asked:

Friend: What is there to gain from going to MIT?
Me: IMMORTALITY.

Yes, graduating from MIT will make you live forever. Not like Voldemort. More like Bill Gates.
After graduating (although it’s a little premature to say), I do feel I’ll be well equipped to go out and revolutionize whatever field I choose to pursue. I know I’ll have the smarts, skills, and mindset that I need to leave a permanent mark on the world.

Sometimes, life at MIT will feel like you’re constantly being followed around by a storm cloud. But it’s at these times that you have to find these small victories such as having really incredible friends or finishing that seriously annoying pset question. You will make it through stressful times. After all, you can’t have a rainbow without the rain.

8 responses to “Small Victories”

  1. Justin says:

    I love the last part, how just being a part of this place gives you huge opportunities to live forever. Here’s to IMMORTALITY!

  2. School is where you get an education and learn lots of information about life, society and the world. You also get to learn new skills and have fun. School is not only the school buildings, it’s also the kids and teachers, and all the things you do there.
    School is where most of you spend a lot of your time, from about 5 to 17 years of age.

  3. Anthony L. '15 says:

    +++

    While I love this post, it makes me question myself. I’ve not been comfortable with calling myself “hosed,” and I think that’s because I’ve yet to truly be hosed. (That’s not to say it’s a breeze. There’s a lot of work, and taking care of myself is certainly a new challenge, but I just don’t find this whole experience as mind-expanding as some others express.) Am I doing it wrong, somehow? I feel unsatisfied with where I am, like I’m not the happiest I could be.

    Sorry for complaining about personal problems on admissions. I had to do it somewhere. And not to scare away you prefrosh: regardless of what I say, MIT is still an amazing place.

  4. Kirsten L. '15 says:

    Anthony: I don’t think you’re doing it wrong! Not being hosed at the moment is alright. Being hosed is all a matter of perspective right?

    But if you feel unsatisfied with where you are, you should definitely take time to consider what makes you happy. I feel like satisfaction comes from doing the things you love to do. Try to find what that is. Plus, there’s always the opportunity to try something new here too! MIT has so many different clubs and activities. You never know what you might find you really enjoy.
    Hope this helps! Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to.

  5. MIT '15er says:

    I really enjoyed the majority of this post, but the writing style of the last two paragraphs was a bit of a let-down. The second-to-last paragraph could have been phrased a bit less arrogantly and the final closure could have been less cliche. That said, I appreciate the overall sentiment you convey in this post.

  6. Kirdawg's BIG says:

    sup lil. stalkin ya all ova da internet now.