Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

Sunday in the Park by Yan Z. '12

With chemistry

If you walk down Massachusetts Avenue to the Charles River esplanade and cross the Harvard Bridge without getting knocked over by a militant stampede of Nike-shod joggers, you can congratulate yourself by turning left down a ramp that winds straight into the lushest pad of greenery ever seen outside of a salad that contains neither fruit, nor croutons, nor dismembered chickens, nor whatever other non-greenery mars the verdantness of thy salad (/exaggeration). Every morning for the past two weeks, I’ve dipped into this light-dappled jewel of a park where tendriled weeping willows echo the curves of smoothly arching bridges and cyclists have the decency to ring their bells at least 3 meters before nicking off your left earlobe as they glide by with beautiful, ear-splitting swiftness. Past the sunbathers sprawled supine like sardines on a plate, over the stone bridge and sandwiched between river and path, there sits a grove speckled with many a bench and shaded by many a tree. Every time I pass, beautiful and poetic sentences spontaneously run through my mind. Sentences like, “This looks like a good place to study solid-state chemistry.”

So I should confess now that I’m conspicuously irregular in my sleep schedule, and I say this relative to the rest of the MIT student body. Historians believe that Kepler, while studying the orbits of human consciousness, mathematically determined that my sleep cycle was actually elliptical. Typically, I prefer to wake up two hours before classes start (meaning between 7:00 and 8:00 . . . that’s AM, in case this isn’t clear, which it probably isn’t to my roommate). Within 10 minutes of waking up, I’m running down Massachusetts Avenue, half-groggy and half juiced with adrenaline. Within 20, I’m in Boston, drowning in an exhilarating expresso of sunlight and sharp cold air.

Within 150 minutes, the energy boost from my 30-minute run bursts like an abused pinata, and distracting little candies manufactured by Sleep Deprivation and Co. spill right into the middle of my morning lecture.

Anyway, one of the perks of running is the spontaneous discovery of nice study spots.

Now, take the sum of everything that I’ve just written, factor in the MIT constant of Potentially Bad Ideas, convert it to Standard Blog Units, and you have the story of last Sunday. If you didn’t get the results that I’ve shown below, you probably messed up while completing the square, or something like that. I say this because I always complete the square completely, and so clearly this would be not an error on my part. In fact, squares are so used to being completed by me that nowadays they just complete themselves whenever I’m around.

Onward we go.

I woke up on Sunday and immediately knew that this was a day of unusuality. The sun was brighter than usual, the breeze through the window was livelier than usual, my mattress was harder than usual, more leaves were sprouting from my ceiling than usual, and . . .

This wasn’t my dorm! For one, there were no power outlets. I was holding a camera for some reason, so I snapped a picture of the view:

I turned around and realized that my pillowcase was a laptop bag. And my pillow was a laptop.

Apparently, I had fallen asleep on a park bench by the side of the Charles River using valuable electronics items as ersatz bedding. After a bit of intense blinking, I remembered grabbing a bunch of homework, my laptop, and Katelyn ’12 from Random Hall at around noon for an impromptu study session in the great outdoors. Further checking of the pictures on my camera confirmed my hypothesis that I had been homeworking at some point earlier in the afternoon prior to my nap.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to wake up, suffer a confusingly disorienting memory lapse, and unexpectedly realize that you suddenly know everything that’s going to be on the chemistry quiz on Tuesday.

A gondola sailed by, which temporarily turned my life into a Tour Italy special on PBS.

Moral of the story: You might have noticed that the Princeton Review recently graced MIT with the superlative, “University Where Students Study the Most”. For the unacquainted pre-frosh, this no doubt conjured grim visions of long hours in sterile libraries and windowless classrooms, which, admittedly, exist here in noticeable quantities. However, there’s always less mind-numbing options within reach, whether it be in the park or in your dorm lounge with the company of friends and Youtube and a deep fryer. Granted that this was not the most efficient or accessible way to study, it was certainly one of the least stressful.

Plus, I now have a place to live if housing costs go up. (Honestly, that bench wasn’t too different from my mattress.)

29 responses to “Sunday in the Park”

  1. Your dorm has a deep fryer???

  2. Your poetic writing makes my eyes bleed liquid gold.

  3. And where was George?

  4. Piper says:

    @Daniel Barkowitz – He had to move on. Though he noticed every tree, I’m sure wink.

  5. Reena says:

    Ahhhh, such pretty tree photos! Greeeen…

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Viridescence of thy salad” has a MUCH better ring to it.

  7. Oasis '11 says:

    Your first paragraph is so delicious. :D

  8. Yan Z. says:

    @ Moneyman, Comment 1:
    I feel like you’re trying to tell me something about my financial aid package for next year. At least, I hope so.

    @ Anonymous:
    I acquiescently admit in reminiscence that my decision in relation to the arborescent species was prepubescent and that your phrase is far more coalescent.

  9. lulu says:

    oooh that last picture…

  10. asma says:

    i’m a classe preparatoir student,and i want to study in MIT.i want just to know the sum i have to pay to study their and the prescription that i have to falow to be admited their.
    NB: classe preparatoire is a 2 year studies of math and physics and engneering science plus french english.

  11. Livvy says:

    “Plus, I now have a place to live if housing costs go up.”

    LOL….waking up to the breeze in your face and the panoramic view won’t be so bad.
    Great entry.

  12. hey there….i really liked your housing plans….!!!! wink

  13. Vaibhav says:

    @Yan Z.
    My first comment (delayed) on your blog:
    I LOVE the way you mix words up in the way that some mad scientist would, only that you don’t blast up!! – totally WOW!!

    Just how did you get into sprouting words with “such high consonant density” with the ease of some seasoned pro? – what’s the trick to this (ANSWER!!)? read PG Wodehouse did you?:D

  14. Second! says:

    I like your entries :D

  15. Stacy says:

    You’re hilarious.

    Sigh, how I wish today could have been a “Sunday in the Park.”

  16. Anonymous says:

    Unprecedented entry.

  17. Yan Z. says:

    @ That’s so Random:
    Deep fryer? Oh yes.

    @ Stacy:
    Me too, actually. It was raining cats and dogs and biology tests today.

  18. Sumaiya says:


    Try getting away from a place with distractions. Don’t study in your dorm or people-filled areas, and find different places to rotate through so you get a variety of environments. Avoid bringing your computer unless absolutely necessary, and if you must, disable your wireless while you’re doing so. Keep your phone on silent, too, if you’re bringing it. Eat a good meal before you study and bring lots of water, so you avoid the snacks. It’s hard to improve, but it does work. ^_^

  19. Wooowwwww I am left in awe with this blog. The pictures and the writing =]. Good luck on the chem quiz!

  20. Chris says:

    Very nice entry, reminds me somewhat of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind smile

    I’m madly in love with the intro, it was fun to read.

  21. Cam says:

    Yay ridiculously early morning runs. Except, have you found anywhere nice to run except alongside the Charles? I’ve run some of the loops there, and it’s quite beautiful, but I like to mix up my runs / try new territory.

  22. What?!?!?! says:


    Thanks!! I thats really helpful. I can feel strait A+’s coming.

  23. What?!?! says:

    Hold on could you please tell me how to study? I think everyone around me studies harder than me. But I do find that I study very inefficiently such as checking my e-mail, standing up and moving around getting snacks and food in between study, checking the course syllabus, (fine I also youtube a little)… overall I think I study like 40% of the 100% i set out to study for. Is it just me or is studying just so inefficient for every one? I would really like not having to stay up long nights studying but maybe I am biting more than what i can chew?

  24. Yan Z. says:

    @ Vaibhav & Chris:
    Thanks! I’ve read a lot of great blogs in my long and fruitful life. That is to say, I steal tricks from other bloggers shamelessly (including but not limited to Sam Maurer).

    Otherwise, I madly admire writers like Nabokov.

    @ Gerardo:
    Yep, got 10/10 on the chem quiz. Test this Wednesday. Should sleep in the park Tuesday night.

    @ Cam:
    I’ve stuck to the river thus far since it gives me a sense of direction. Plus, if I’m running against the wind, I can use the moving water as a frame of reference so that it feels like I’m running really fast and excitingly.

    So by this point, all the hard-core runners reading this blog are probably cringing and choking on their gatorade. Sorry.

    @ Deng:
    I don’t actually talk much in real life, unlike Shannon and Chris M., who seem like great conversationalists. The freshmen next year will probably all expect me to be Truman Capote or something, darnit.

    @ Abby:
    My first class either starts at 9:30 or 10. A few wretched souls have ones that begin at 8:30, so I’ve heard.

  25. Cam says:

    @Yan: It’s okay, I’m not an especially hard-core runner. I just do it a lot and, for some freakish reason, enjoy it. In fact, I’ll be going for a run along the Charles on Tuesday perhaps. Maybe I’ll keep an eye out for that spot you mentioned.

    By the way, I love your writing style. It reminds me of mine plus a touch of delicious weirdness and a more delectable vocabulary. But enough of that, more blueberries and coding or some such.

  26. Cam says:

    Actually, I take that back. No, it reminds me of a combination of my writing style and somebody else’s whose name I can pinpoint / nobody would recognize anyway so it doesn’t matter. But whatever, it still flows very nicely and is entertaining.

  27. Coby says:

    “Your poetic writing makes my eyes bleed liquid gold.”

    Your face must be very heat resistant as gold’s melting point 1337 K (it’s nice number though).

    Although, only about 10 J of energy would be passed from the from the gold to your face assuming your the gold has a volume of ~1 mL, none of the heat is lost to the air (and Wikipedia isn’t lying to me).

  28. deng says:

    wow this is amazing
    do you talk the way you write? O__O I don’t think I’d follow at all if you do

  29. Abby says:

    Who has classes that start at 9:00 pm? Seriously. My sleep schedule isn’t that bad.