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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

The Junior Fall Line-Up, Part 2: Extracurriculars by Anna H. '14

My academic plans? I've got bigger plans. Better plans.

Overheard at MIT (Fall 2012)

[MIT Sophomore walks around in a circle.]
MIT Sophomore: I am doing no work… :(
MIT Freshman: Woah…you actually AREN’T doing work, because the total work in circular motion is zero!
FYI, the line “my academic plans? I’ve got bigger plans. Better plans.” is from a musical written by MIT students that I performed in. The moral: there is more to MIT than earning your degree.
Without further ado, these are the various extracurricular things that I’m involved with this semester:
French House Cooking
I live in French House, one of the cultural houses within New House (the others are German House, Spanish House, Chocolate City, and International House.) New House doesn’t have a dining plan, so it’s up to the residents to feed ourselves. Different living groups choose different self-feeding methods: French House has a very organized cooking system. The 25-or-so members are split up (by day of the week) into cooking teams of 3-5 people. I’m on the Friday cooking team. This means that, every Friday, I show up in the kitchen at 4pm, cook with my team-mates, serve dinner at 6:15pm sharp, eat, then clean up.
What we cook depends on who’s cheffing. Within a cooking team, we rotate through being the chef. It’s the chef’s job to
1. Come up with a menu, which usually consists of four dishes.
2. Send the list of ingredients, and cooking instructions, to the French House food steward. The food steward multiplies the list of ingredients by whatever fraction necessary to feed the whole house, places the online order, and has it all delivered to the house in time for the cooking day.
3. Show up on the day, and ensure that all the dishes are cooked and served on time.
I cheffed two Fridays ago. Here’s what my menu was, in case you’re curious (note that it’s not French, at all):
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 pound seedless green grapes, halved
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 (8 ounce) container strawberry yogurt
½ cup canola oil
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon white sugar
1 pinch black pepper
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and cubed
5 cubes ice
3 tablespoons hite sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced including tops
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup peas
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
The fried rice turned out kind of sticky, and I should’ve been a little braver about putting sauce on the green beans, but all in all I think it was a success. Om nom nom.
MIT’s Educational Studies Program (ESP)
I love teaching. In High School, I did a lot of tutoring and mentoring. ESP runs a number of programs that give MIT undergraduates the opportunity to teach whatever they want: from random, one-off things like “How much do you know about Canada?” and “Lockpicking 101” to full-year AP preparation courses. Since freshman year, I’ve been teaching one-off classes in whatever strikes my fancy at the time (ex. “Senses and Sense-abilities”, a class about the neuroscience behind your sensory systems). Sophomore spring, my friend and J-Lab partner Eric ’14 and I taught an eight-week introductory cosmology class, for High School students. This fall, I’m preparing to teach two classes for ESP’s big Splash event, in which a gazillion MIT students teach awesome one-off classes to a gazillion middle- and high-school kids: “Introduction to Radio Astronomy”, and “Introduction to Pulsars”. Basically: classes inspired by my summer research.
This semester, I’m also working behind-the-scenes with the ESP admin crew – planning events, brainstorming ways to make the events better, that kind of thing. They are wonderful people.
The BU (Boston University) Astronomy Club
One of my friends from my summer research program goes to BU, and is the president of their astronomy club. They meet for an hour every Wednesday, then go help with the BU public observing night on the roof. They bring in speakers, travel to New Hampshire and Maine to observe, and are hoping to conduct a research project with Harvard this fall.
On Wednesdays, I make the trek across the river – it’s refreshing to get off-campus for a while, and geek out with non-MIT students. One of the perks of going to university in the Cambridge/Boston area: how many other awesome universities are in the area. Take advantage of it.
French House Sports
I’m the sports chair for French House, which means that I coordinate our athletics program. This semester, we’ll be fielding a badminton team for MIT’s intramural sports program. This fits nicely with my:
MedLinking + role as an Associate Advisor
I will point you to one of my recent blog posts for a description.
UROP with the MIT Astrophysics Division 
My advisor from the summer collaborates with a professor in MIT’s Astrophysics division; I met with him a couple weeks back, and will be working with him through the year in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). The research he does nicely complements my work from the summer – I feel prepared to jump right in without too much additional training – and it’ll be nice to see pulsar/neutron star research from a different perspective.
Now I’m off to pset, because despite how exciting I am about my various extracurricular commitments, classes come first. Questions? Comment below.