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MIT student blogger Nisha D. '21

tidbits by Nisha D. '21

i answer a bunch of random blogger prompts

Hello Internet! I’m briefly poking my head into the blogosphere as a respite from a very busy IAP (which I’ll hopefully get to blogging about eventually…). But since I don’t really have anything interesting to say about IAP yet, and I couldn’t think of a single unified topic to write about, I decided to answer a bunch of questions from the blogger bot that Lydia K. so generously created for us bloggers who can’t think of anything to blog about.

Pi or tau? Pi.

(If it’s okay with the other person(s),) tell us your funniest (PG-13) MIT  
relationship disaster story. I actually haven’t really had anything noteworthy in this arena – the first person I got into a relationship with at MIT is now my boyfriend :)

We often hear strange snippets of conversation as we walk through public  
spaces. Tell us about a time you overheard something interesting. Overheard at a fencing practice last year: “This is MUCH less sexual if you understand quantum field theory.”

Good news: another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day. How do  
you use those extra sixty minutes? Sleep, obviously.

What do you do to punt, de-stress, or reset, on or off the Internet? What  
things on the Internet help you feel more happy and less anxious? When I’m by myself, I like to listen to music or watch BBC nature documentaries. More frequently, I force myself out of my room to go wander around and find people to hang out with, or watch something on Netflix with my boyfriend.

Are you a night owl or are you the early bird? What’s your most productive  
time of day? When do you do your best work? I’m definitely not an early bird, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it more difficult to stay up late. Last semester, I found that my most productive hours were in the afternoon.

What are your resolutions? What do you want to accomplish over the next  
year/semester? Due to an unfortunate health complication, one of my resolutions is to be more healthy. This means cutting sugar and red meat out of my diet, and since those are most of the things that I enjoy eating, that’s going to be hard. I also want to be better at saving money; I realized between buying my own brass rat and taking a spring break trip to Vienna, I’ll need to have enough money put aside.

Film (or write about, I’m sure) anything related to music in MIT. This has already been done for me – check out this fusion performance of Phantom of the Opera by my a cappella group, the MIT Ohms (I solo at 2:15!)

Type up/embed/describe a short scene from a favorite book or movie and tell  
us about how something in your life is like that scene. There’s a scene from my favorite movie (Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children…surprise surprise) in which the protagonist Cloud (the guy with the spiky blond hair) is physically pulled upwards by all of his friends to fight the very, very large monster threatening to destroy the city. I always see it as a metaphor for the support that friends and family provide in one’s life – they pull you up and give you the boost you need to fight your own monsters. I cry every time I watch this scene. (I cried when I watched it before hyperlinking it to this paragraph)

What do you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day  
gets off on the right foot? What happened last time you didn’t? When I get up really early (before 11 am), I like to have a cup of tea or coffee to get me going. Otherwise, I like waiting until the last possible minute to get out of bed because there’s nothing than puts me in a worse mood than getting out of bed.

What’s your signature beverage? How did it achieve that status? It would probably have to be thai ice tea boba, the only flavor of boba I really enjoy. Unfortunately, I can no longer drink the boba that’s normally sold in MIT fundraisers, but fortunately, I’ve learned how to make my own, reasonable tasting approximation. I also just really like making people tea, so tea in general is probably my signature beverage. 

Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event  
you attended, participated in, or watched at MIT? At the first fencing meet of this year, I started off very strong in the preliminary bouts, and was ranked somewhere in the high 20s out of 50ish people going into single elimination. At some point in my single elimination bout, my muscle froze up and I made the mistake of trying to push through the match. After struggling and getting to 14-14, I couldn’t make the last touch and barely made it off the strip before my leg started spasming. I was really sad that I couldn’t have done better – moral of the story is to stretch better, I guess.

Tell us about something fun you do for/around pi day (especially if there  
are pis or pies or taus involved). My high school used to have a huge festival in the cafeteria with lots of pi/pie related activities. The one I remember most vividly was the chance to pie our principal in the face.

What’s messier right now—your bedroom or your computer’s desktop? Tell us  
how it got to that state. My computer desktop – I never look at it, and so it just builds up a layer of downloaded apps and files. My laundry basket does get obscenely full from time to time though. 

Your dorm is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are  
safe). What did you grab?

  1. A box of cards and notes that people have written me
  2. My guitar
  3. My Buster Sword necklace that I keep hanging next to my sink
  4. My blanket because it is really soft and I love it
  5. My equally soft body pillow

What did you do for fun in high school? How did these things define who you  
were then, and how have they defined who you are now? I played video games for fun – and now there’s a non-trivial chance that I might make video games for a living. Direct correlation!

Teach us something you’ve learned at MIT, academic or otherwise. After three semesters of being on varsity fencing, I’ve determined that it takes almost exactly four songs to speed walk from East Campus to the Z-Center for practice.

Tell us about a time you made a false assumption about a person, a place, a  
class, or a department. How did they prove you wrong? Somewhere halfway through the middle of last semester, I was wholly convinced that I would never have to apply any of the knowledge gleaned from my 6.004 (Computation Structures) class, mostly because I was doing poorly in it and I was trying to console myself. As a 6-3, 6.004 is the most “hardware” class that I’ll ever have to take, and I was fairly sure that if I just got through the class, I would never have to think about it again. I proved myself royally wrong by getting an entire job interview filled with stuff I wouldn’t have known a thing about without some knowledge of 6.004. I also got that job, and that’s what I’ll be doing this summer, so I paid a lot more attention to 6.004 after that…

Tell us about the last time you got lost at MIT or in Boston/Cambridge. Was  
it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? (Disclaimer: This story has been *edited* slightly for reasons) I remember that I was exploring the 30-something buildings with some friends, and we split off to explore and said we’d reconvene in building 9 in fifteen minutes. The challenge was to do this without ever exiting the buildings. I proceeded to get very lost – fun fact, the 30-something buildings are only connected through the 3rd floor and I did not know this as a freshman – so I spent twenty minutes running around with a dead phone, with no idea of where I was, and I eventually gave up and took Vassar Street to get to building 9.

A prefrosh needs directions to Baker House. Instead of the fastest route,  
give him/her the one involving the most fun (legal) detours. To be honest, I barely know where the dorms on Dorm Row are, so I can’t even give a good answer to this.

How did you handle the waiting period between hitting submit and March (or  
even between then and August (also known as senior year))? I graduated early and took a gap semester in Japan my senior year. I also studied for a bunch of ASEs, none of which I ended up passing (pro tip to seniors: just enjoy your summer, cause it’s probably the last one you’ll ever have in which you’ll have lots of free time).

Take some selfies with your friends and tell us about who your friends are  
and what you guys are doing together.

My friends and I are watching Spiderman 3 while I write this post! I’m writing as I complain about how bad this movie is :P

Tell us a story about your relationship with a musical instrument and how  
that relationship has played into (hah) your experiences at MIT. I taught myself how to play guitar in junior year of high school because I was too shy to sing songs a cappella, which means without any instrumental accompaniment (how the times have changed). It was the only instrument that I brought to MIT and I’ve initiated many a late night jam session with it. Playing the guitar always reminds me of the many ways that music brings people together; with just a few chords and a well-known pop song, you can get an entire room of people to sing along with you, and I think that’s something magical.

Take a photo of ordinary equipment that you use regularly at a UROP or  
elsewhere, and tell us about what it does and how you use it.

Jibo the personal robot!

I don’t *use* Jibo yet, but he’s too cute not to post on here. I’m UROPing in the Personal Robots group at the Media Lab for this IAP and the Spring, and I’ve been tasked with creating a puzzle game that school children can play with Jibo. In just a few weeks, I’ve learned more Unity and Photoshop tricks than I ever have before, and I’ve tried to teach myself Unity and Photoshop quite a few times in my life. This is the first UROP where I really feel like I’m in my element, and I really hope to work on this project until completion!

Machines and appliances sometimes feel like they have their own  
personalities. Tell us about the machines you own or interact with.

…Let’s go back to Jibo for this prompt! Despite his WALL-E-esque design, Jibo always surprises me with how lifelike some of his actions are. I’ll walk into lab sometimes and be startled by the Jibo that I sit near turning to me and saying hello. My interactions with Jibo are remarkably similar to my interactions with other people, and I think that’s really cool and speaks to how well he was designed. And while we’re on this topic – Cynthia Breazeal, the head of the Personal Robots lab, goes a little more in depth about the reasons why we sometimes feel like machines (specifically robots) have feelings and personalities in her TED Talk!

How it is that you socialize? (How DO people socialize? MIT prefrosh want  
to know (but really)) I’m not really one for going to social events outside East Campus unless there’s a definitive offer of free stuff, so I normally socialize by going to East Campus parties, hanging out in lounges, and recently, playing a lot of Super Smash Ultimate (I main Cloud, because of course I do). But I’ve noticed since last semester that it’s remarkably easy to not socialize, which struck me as a surprise, since during freshman year I pretty much did nothing but socializing. Classes have become harder, and time management has become more stressful, and it’s hard to pset in lounges when you can’t hear yourself think and even harder to find the energy to balance all the things you’re supposed to do.  I personally believe that if I ever have no time in a day to hang out with friends, I’m probably doing too many things, and I’m going to try to adhere to this for the rest of the semesters that I’ll be here. 

Take photos of some places you’ve fallen asleep on campus. What are the  
benefits and drawbacks of being asleep there?

I have actually only *intentionally* fallen asleep (morning classes suck eom) in one place on campus: the nap area in 26-110, better known as the Banana Lounge.

A picture of the nap area from The Tech article about the Banana Lounge.

The nap area is really nice because the lights above it are dimmed, and people generally aren’t loud in the lounge out of respect to the people who are sleeping. And when you’re tired enough, even a yoga mat on the floor and a blanket will be the comfiest thing in the world.

Take a photo or a video of your/your prof’s/your friend’s pet and tell us  
about him/her/it. Bonus points if it’s a plant or a pet rock.

Flora <3

This is my family’s cat, Flora! I’ve met a lot of cats in East Campus (and in life in general, I guess), but she’s still the cutest one I’ve ever seen.


That’s all the prompts that I’ve answered so far. This is actually pretty fun, so I’ll probably blog a few more sometime in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more tidbits about my life!