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MIT student blogger Marcela R. '13

TLM by Marcela R. '13

The Land of MIT. It's a planet.

Back when I was about seven I dreamed of being an astronaut. Of traveling to different planets, perhaps living in a ship for years until reaching a completely different planet and moving there. Until about two and a half months ago, I thought that was just one of my many fleeting childhood interests.

I never thought that by going to college here I would be leaving for another planet.

But that’s how it is. This is not the Earth that I knew in grade school. Not even the Earth that I knew from my magnet high school in NYC.

This is a planet of it’s own. It’s called TLM. The Land of MIT.

And its inhabitants, the Students, look like this.

Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. That’s just one specimen. If you look closely there are similarities to that species on Earth that we all know as homo sapiens. Actually, if you took one person from each of the planets and had them stand next to each other, they wouldn’t look that different at all – beyond the ordinary variations. Even the DNA tests could match up.

But The Land of MIT is a new planet altogether. And here’s a quick field guide:

– The Students at The Land of MIT have this crazy energy. It practically radiates from them, so when I see them walking across Kresge lawn or in the Infinite Corridor they glow. Seriously. You can practically see the brain waves flashing through their heads as they engage in heated conversations about anything and everything that’s out there, ranging from healthcare reform, government in China and the U.S., the 18.022 pset that’s due next week, or the two kids at the math diagnostic that were overheard whispering, “We’re going to be at the bottom of our math class!” (They’re both IMO finalists.)

– The planet itself is well equipped with space stations and rockets ready to launch. The stations are named MISTI, Go Global, D-Lab, IAP, MITPSC (Public Service Center), UROP, and many more names that just won’t fit here. But there are an incredible number of rockets leaving each station every term. Students travel to several countries, take part in countless research projects, and win grants for service projects to… typically, build stuff.

– The rockets were designed and assembled by the Students. The raw material came from the land that is usually called the University Endowment, but the students really take initiative and handle almost everything. Many study abroad experiences and UROPS are designed by the higher beings that pretend to rule over the planet (aka the faculty and the other non-student People who Plan Things), but students still create their own experiences there and just as often design their own projects abroad or in the lab.

– However, the conditions on that planet are a little hard to acclimate to. It seems that this planet has low air pressure – after a few weeks one of my friends said, “I don’t have time to breathe.” Night only falls for 4-8 hours a day, depending on the time of year – closer to 8 on the weekend and closer to 4 on the day before an extraordinarily evil pset is due. It seems like everyone has different sleep cycles here, but for me – I typically sleep from 2-3 AM and wake up at 8 or 11 AM, depending on which classes I have the next day. I’m supposedly in one of the dorms (McCormick) where people actually sleep. I don’t know if that means anything.

There is a lot in the way of support at MIT, contrary to what some might believe, but teachers will not generally hold your hand and walk you through each class. Someone who perseveres through each trial and error and is fiercely independent and driven would be well-adapted to thrive at this climate. Going to class is not enough – you have to gather rations of knowledge at office hours and find pset buddies or groups to get your work done. The Students are very cooperative.

The key is to remember that every Student at MIT was once an Earthling. And every one of them had, by the end of high school, built a rocket out of their own achievements that launched from the Earth and landed them at MIT. And if you make it in here, you did too. And, if you are ready to work hard, this is the perfect place for you to build more and bigger rockets that will take you wherever you want to go.

18 responses to “TLM”

  1. Val'14? says:

    Great analogy and a great first entry!!!
    Yeah I hope I can land on TLM too.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hi Marcela! After reading your blog, I realized you just got into MIT and I thought “OMG SHE’S SO COOL!!! AND ONLY 1 YEAR AHEAD OF ME =O ” Great first blog, and I hope my rocket will be landing at TLM. Since you just got in, I thought it appropriate to ask, how was your interview? I’m going on mine in a week or so, and I’m kinda nervous. Have any advice? Oh and good luck with your PSETs (how hard are they, really? =P )

  3. Steph says:

    Quirky interpretation, Marcela. I like it. smile

  4. marcela says:

    @ Everyone – Thanks for your comments! They’re so motivating =)

    @ QA – You’re so sweet! And I’ve never seen a “Mars” in my name before… Best of luck to you and your rocket!

    @ Divyansh and Val – good luck to you too!

    @ Lauren – Ha, I don’t know if I’m really THAT cool, but thanks XD Oh and… um, the interview. So, the thing is, I applied regular and kind of decided to try MIT last minute, but it was after the deadline for interviews. I coullld have hypothetically tried to contact my assigned interviewer after the deadline to see if I could still get an interview, but…. I’m not really good with interviews, and I wasn’t sure about MIT, so I… didn’t do the interview. XD;

    Then again, most people that got into MIT DID do the interviews (or so I’ve heard), and the site says interviews are very important. The point is that they won’t make or break anything.

    I did interviews for other schools, and my best interviews were when I had a kind of agenda (like, keeping in mind three things or so that you want the interviewer to remember about you) but was also willing to engage in conversation (for one school the interviewer started asking me about my views on environmental politics and kind of quizzed me on my knowledge of the news, but after that we basically had a whole discussion that involved environmental stuff and investment banks in the U.S. Definitely practice with someone, but don’t overtrain – you want to be natural, but you don’t want to get stumped by the questions. Overall go in confident and ready to talk about how awesome you are. And why you do every awesome thing that you do.

    One biggie: make sure you only bring up things that you’ve REALLY been involved in or that you’re really passionate about. No one wants to see people padding up their stats on the few one-time community service events they did in freshman year, or that club that you almost never go to but think looks good (some people do this with things like Model UN or such)… This is a general thing that applies everywhere, feel free to talk about failed ventures or mistakes or such but be honest, be yourself, and you’ll be fine.

    Feel free to email me if you have any more specific questions, or you could contact other bloggers that have gone through MIT interviews too! =)

  5. QA (14'???) says:

    Well done Marcela, I like this entry, really high spiritual. Yeah it’s true that if you are willing to build the rocket of achievement and ready to work hard for it. TLM is the perfect place (or should be raspberry)
    Keep this up Marc… wow I just realized that the beginning of your name sounds really like Mars ^^. Well try to be assiduous to attain that and higher. You’ve got the gut of an astronaut :D

  6. Divyansh says:

    First!!!
    hope i can also land into TLM

  7. makesense says:

    This is one of the best entries I have ever read! I hope I land in TLM as well (2 years).

  8. Vinay says:

    You’re great at analogies. Stay golden Pony Boy.

  9. Lauren says:

    Thanks for answering my question Marcela =)

    And OMG CONGRATS! on getting in without an interview. I know it’s not going to make or break me, but it is important, and it’s pretty awesome that you got in without one.

    I just want to make a good impression, and I’m nervous because this is my first interview. Thanks again for the help, and I’ll be sure to email you if I have any questions. What is your email?

  10. Lauren says:

    Oh, nevermind my last question. I’m so silly… I forgot that you can find it on your page XD

  11. Ian ('16?) says:

    Great post Marcela. Let’s hope I have a rocket good enought to get to TLM. I’m also from New York City and want to know where you went to high school? Can’t wait for your next post!

  12. marcela says:

    @ Ian,

    Cool! I’m from Stuyvesant =) I think Cristen C. is from there too!

  13. cristen says:

    yes I am!! slowly we’ll take over the world, or something.. ^_^

    great entry Marcela =D

  14. Cathy '13 says:

    MARCELA!! u can def blog!! i just added one new thing to the amazing things about Marcela list (right after loving asian music and being a revolutionary DDR dancer) smile

  15. Sheila '13 says:

    Awesome post! I think I’ve seen you around but haven’t met you exactly. I think we both ate at the same table at the coffeeshop, when the Anime club was serving us cake and tea. lol

  16. Apurv says:

    Wow, that was different…in its truest sense, coz that was one of the most intriguing MIT analogy out there
    TLM has got a nice ring to it smile
    I hope it catches on…

  17. Amber '12 says:

    Yes for the DEAPS picture!!!

  18. Marcelle '13 says:

    YAY Marcela!! Well done! i am so proud of you! GREAT blog.