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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

The View From the Other Side of Hell by Chris S. '11

If MIT is a 400-meter race, am I really at the beginning of the home stretch? :(

Two days ago, Sophia ’10 drove Kathy ’10 and I to Cape Cod, where we spent a blissful afternoon walking around Provincetown. After a refreshing nap on the beach and on the drive back, I remarked, “It’s so nice not having any work – normally if this was any other weekend during term, we would be worrying about how much stuff there is still to do tonight.”

I think it’s true.


Five days ago, I was tucked away in a lounge on the third floor somewhere on MIT campus, frantically studying for my impending final on Thursday. I had not done anything fun since Saturday afternoon, when I hunkered down and started studying for my four finals this semester. Over the next five days, I put in 50+ hours of solid, sweat-n-tears work for my finals, left my dorm at 8:30 AM and returned at 3 AM daily, and generally had close to zero human interaction (with the exception of a really nice custodian that would always come by around 2 AM that I got to know pretty well for the next few days – seriously!).

I also had not blogged much this semester, and this term also broke the record for me in terms of not traveling to NYC at all. That’s saying a lot – considering I probably spent upwards of several weeks over the last three years (I feel old :( ) being in NYC during term on weekends, longer weekends, and Thanksgiving/spring breaks.

So what did I spend my time doing? Here’s a snapshot :) Consider this my obligatory picture post, long overdue :P

Every once in awhile, you come to MIT and you hear of kids here who take 8 or 9 classes in one term…

(one such friend I have hilariously showed me his registration schedule once and lamented that he had to be in four classrooms at once Monday and Wednesdays from 1-3. he requested a conflict exam in a class where the professor didn’t offer conflict exams for any reason – he explained to the bemused professor that he *really* had to take a conflict exam because he already had three exams at the same time from three classes that didn’t offer conflict exams!)

…but I discovered from trial of fire that six classes is A LOT – I took two science classes and four history classes. Now before you all engineering majors berate me…

[obligatory Kanye entrance]

Yo engineering majors I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but if you go through MIT pooh-poohing the humanities classes, you will have missed out on some of the best professors of all time. OF ALL TIME.

But no, seriously – all of my history classes were taught by crazily-awesome professors (including this character), which will be detailed in the entry where I explain why I declared a history major at MIT, so you’ll have to wait to hear that story. Suffice it to say that declaring a history major on top of biology is a tremendously good idea and one of best decisions I made here (despite writing six papers totaling 88 pages this semester! i feel like i need to go adopt a tree now). I did have also have four finals this semester, which was perhaps a little bit more intense than I anticipated (I rarely even had four in high school). But it’s all good – the race had been run, and the good fight had been fought.

Isn’t that domo-rolly thing one of the most awesome things you’ve seen? HAHA. Made by the same Kathy as above in the extremely hyped toy design class at MIT – 2.00b. See when Snively took it! (2008). By the way, the rolly-thing is not the final toy. It’s the first project in the course designed for students to get to know the tools that they’ll be working with later on, but I think it’s always pretty awesome to see what people come up with :)

We (MIT Model UN) invited Prof. Noam Chomsky to come and speak for us in March! If you don’t know who he is, google him right now. start here.

Taiwanese represent. US CENSUS 2010.

Went to Senior Ball! SO FUN. Senior Ball is basically the last big social event for seniors before they graduate, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend! :) It’s a great night filled with pretty good food, and A LOT of dancing afterwards. The level of partying that happened this year has definitely jumped up a notch, especially this semester, haha.



(I’m going to show them to you anyway, cuz this is my blog. haha)

Boston’s North End is famous for its Italian food – this is a sample from a restaurant that we waited in the March cold for 1.5 hours before getting in. It was well worth the wait.

My ex-roommates (Steve and Zach ’11) love Applebee’s, so this is the obligatory Applebee’s picture. We really should take a picture of Bartley’s Burgers too, I think we’ve been there 4 times just this one semester. haha.

Have you ever seen a tofu bibimbap? I chanced upon this really cool discovery courtesy of my vegan friend. I thought a tofu bibimbap would essentially be a contradiction in terms, but I think it’s still amazing. :)

There’s also this really amazing Cuban restaurant in Jamaica Plains, a suburb of Boston. I haven’t been there since frosh year, and I got to go again this semester. It was as good as I remembered it to be. CURRENT STUDENTS – don’t graduate without trying it! :)

Finally, this (froyo! NOT ice cream!) makes me complete. You don’t know how happy this makes me all the time. Other than the old favorites of Berryline in Harvard Square and the new arrival of Red Mango by Symphony Hall in Boston, the real secret is that the best froyo comes from this Korean dessert store in Allston. Poke me if you want to go. :P

(by the way, strawberry+kiwi is the best froyo combo of all time. OF ALL TIME. strawberry+kiwi+mango tastes as good as it looks, but 3 toppings is usually not too economical :( le sigh)


Staying on MIT campus after finals week has been interesting – it’s so quiet now that all the students have left. Will be heading to NYC via Chinatown bus on Wednesday, and then flying out of JFK (that’s one major airport in the US that I have yet to go to – that and Atlanta) on Thursday morning. Home till mid-June, with a trip to Shanghai thrown in. Then back to NYC – so excited for summer in the City! :) Perhaps this was my way for making up for not spending any time there at all this semester, haha.

Many entries yet to come about this semester!

21 responses to “The View From the Other Side of Hell”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Please don’t encourage students to be a history major…..

  2. Oasis '11 says:

    ^ Why not? I see nothing wrong with it.

    The Humanities department at MIT is always undervalued, and I think it’s time to change that. Sure – science and engineering are the hallmarks of MIT, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the only path here.

    I don’t necessarily agree with coming here to be a sole Humanities major, but humanities couples really well with an existing science/engineering major (like me with biology), or as a minor.

    I believe that the single stereotype that students shouldn’t even consider MIT if they are more of the “well-rounded” type in high school is utterly wrong and I’m on a mission to propagate a reversal of that idea.

  3. Also Anon says:

    Please don’t tell people what to write in their blogs…..

  4. Anon says:


  5. Three things:

    1) The best professor at MIT is your Course 7 advisor. wink

    2) I identify as “Taiwanese” as much as the next guy, culturally… but I think it’s inappropriate to identify yourself as Taiwanese, racially, unless you are descended from those Formosan indigenous people, etc. I mean, you’re Han Chinese, aren’t you?

    3) GIACOMO’S IS THE BEST, ISN’T IT?! Though it IS easy to avoid having to wait as long as 1.5 hours for a seat, even in the dead of March…

  6. Armin says:

    > left my dorm at 8:30 AM and returned at 3 AM daily

    I don’t believe this, you must be exaggerating.
    Neither I believe you’ve ever had beef tongue O_o

    bibimbap must be tasty =P~

    … what do you suggest for someone applying as transfer for the 2nd time …

  7. Anonymous says:

    What’s so crazy about beef tongue? Lengua–it’s delicious.

  8. Steph says:

    I agree that the arts and humanities are fun. I would love to take glass blowing. Plus, I’m an engineering major and work in an art gallery. I even have a photograph in the current show. It’s nice to try new things.

    Omg the Atlanta airport is huge! You need to take a mini subway just to get to baggage claim! It definitely puts my local LAX to shame.

  9. Armin says:

    Sausages have all kinds of tongue, intestines, lounge … That’s OK. But When I’m entirely trying tongue, I better not know what I’m eating.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong, but the mentality before serving them for the first time.

    btw, I had African Pepper Soup this semester with all those non-crazy stuff smile

  10. Oasis '11 says:

    8:30 AM to 3 AM is not an exaggeration. I have never studied so hard at MIT till this year. wink

    CAPTCHA: clumsy prisoners. teehee

  11. Oasis '11 says:


    1. WHYYYYY is 7.06 with her so hard? :(

    2. Yes, but it’s not about being factually right. In the words from the website, it’s about developing a social consciousness that we have the right to push for a Taiwanese lobby. To anthropologists we are all the same, but over the last 60 years Taiwan has developed interests that are very different from the mainlanders. My father’s family has been in Taiwan for 150 years, and I’m a quarter Manchu from my mother’s side. Yes, I’m 3/4 Han Chinese, but I want to forgo that technicality and push for Taiwanese interests.

    3. Yes…yes, I know. We have since learned to either go really early or really late (past 9) on weekends, or just go on weekdays and avoid the tourist rush smile Hey, but waiting in line’s not bad – we met some really nice people from Harvard that other day in line. Giacomo’s: Promoting Harvard-MIT Relationships! Harhar.

  12. genius ('18) says:

    OMG!!!!! That food is amazing!!!!!

  13. Armin says:

    @ Chris

    I’m glad you didn’t turn out to become a Zombie.
    That was far too much than being hosed…

    Any advises for reapply? Gimme some of your wild humanitarian inspirations, grrr

  14. '14 says:

    I’m afraid that this isn’t really the correct forum for this, but may I ask whether you did anadvising seminar or traditional advising? (or another advising option?) What was your experience? Do you know anyone who had particularly amazing or awful experiences with either of those options? And how much time does the seminar take — is it REALLY 6 additional hour a week, or could it end up being closer to 16? Thanks so much, and great entry!

  15. Oasis '11 says:

    I did traditional advising (with Matt McGann!), also with Terrascope (this is not supposed to be allowed, since if you’re in Terrascope you’re supposed to have a Terrascope adviser, but I fell through the cracks).

    Terrascope was a LOT of work, especially towards the end when you put together the final project (we didn’t sleep for 2 nights). Traditional advising means no real time commitments, except a few meetings during term and dinner out if your adviser is nice.

    From my friends, I think the seminars are usually manageable. I have never heard of anyone complain about the seminar workload enough for it to become a hindrance.

  16. Jess '12 says:

    Poke – you and Zach! Whenever you’re back from your international summer.

    “(I’m going to show them to you anyway, cuz this is my blog. haha)” totally sounds like you. Also in punctuating sentences with “haha.”

  17. '14 says:

    Thanks Chris! Still not sure which I’m going to pick, but I’m sure it will all work out.
    See you in the fall smile

  18. tsquare says:

    I love the quote “OF ALL TIME”. Can we go to Applebee some time when people get back? Whatever Zach is eating looks really yummy~

  19. Armin says:

    Looks like a kind of ice-cream to me. I bet they serve this stuff cold.

    Yet, bibimbap is more mysterious. Lots of different ingredient combinations and it even sounds cool.

  20. '14er says:


    I think MIT is an 800 meter race. The 400 isn’t grueling enough to be compared to the 4 years here raspberry

  21. Steve says:

    Zach was eating the best dessert of all time. OF ALL TIME.

    Chris wasn’t exaggerating when he said 8:30 – 3 every day. I have an e-mail from 2 AM asking if he ever planned to come home and sleep.