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MIT student blogger Kirsten L. '15

To the Class of 2016 by Kirsten L. '15

General life advice

After the chaos and confusion that was associated with MIT FPOPs (Freshman Preorientation Programs), orientation, and sorority recruitment, I’m finally free to come back to the blogs (:

It’s not that I haven’t been thinking of them. In fact, I even wrote a little outline of this blog down on a napkin…
I just haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit down and actually type everything out. So here we go:

Dear Class of 2016,

Welcome to MIT! In the upcoming weeks, you’ll soon find yourself in the true swing of things at MIT. Classes. Psets. Exams. Eventually, you’ll learn the true meaning of IHTFP. MIT can be a wonderful or awful place depending on how you decide it’ll be. Here’s just some things to keep in mind as you brave through your first semester here:

  1. Keep an open mind.
    There are some things that you hear before you come to MIT, and even while you’re here, that might influence how you perceive things at the ‘Tute. I remember as a freshmen hearing the stereotypes about dorms and greek life, and letting them initially prevent me from making my own decisions about different things on campus. But having been here for a year, you realize that there’s always exceptions to the stereotype, and that things you never thought you’d like are actually quite likeable. For that reason, keep an open mind. You’ll never know what new opportunities might come out of the new things you try and the people you meet.
  2. Take care of yourself
    Sleep. Eat. Exercise.
    It’s easy to let your health slip, especially when it’s snowing outside and you’re stressed about all the work you have due the next week. Don’t fall into the pithole though! Your health should be your first priority. If you’re not feeling well, you’re probably not going to be able to work your best anyways. So if you’re tired, don’t be afraid to take a nap (they’ll become your new favorite pastime). If you’re sick, don’t be afraid to head over to MIT Medical or your floor’s MedLink. If you’re feeling stressed, take a walk along the Charles or run at the Z center. You’ll find you’ll be much happier if you take care of yourself during your time here.Don’t forget to mentally take care of yourself either! By this I mean, make time for yourself. Whether it’s an hour bridge loop run, painting a picture, or playing your favorite instrument, make sure you have time to decompress. “You” time is never a waste of time.
  3. You’re not alone!
    During the thick of things, it’s easy to fall behind. But the important thing to remember is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often times, you’ll find that you’re not the only one confused about specific topics.I remember my Spring semester, I struggled quite a bit. I took on a little too much, and because of all my commitments, I actually failed my first 5.111 test. But after I made it past all my emotions, I realized I needed to actually take action to fix my fifth week flag. I ended up scheduling an appointment with my TA to go over my test, and I found it was pretty helpful. I realized I didn’t have a solid understanding on certain topics, which combined with some silly mistakes, resulted in a poor test grade. It happens. As the semester went on, I participated more in recitation and made sure to ask questions, and at the end of the semester, I actually ended up acing the class. Just goes to show you that you can finish strong even if you struggle at first.

    Moral of the story is that MIT’s a challenging place, but you’re never alone if you need help. All you need to do is ask.  Don’t be afraid to seek help from your TA, your GRT, or your roommate. Don’t forget that office hours and S^3 are a good resource. Most importantly though, don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. It’s something that a many people here, myself included, struggle with sometimes. But often times, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and time if you just talk to someone!

  4. Do what you love.
    I can’t stress how important this is. MIT has many activities that you can get yourself involved in. You’ll find that here, time will become your most precious commodity. For that reason, find what you really love to do and commit the free time you do have to it. If you really love the activity, you’ll get a lot more out of it and find an awesome community. On the other hand, if you don’t really enjoy it, try something else! There’s lots of choices here, so don’t settle for second best. It’s all about finding what you like. Plus…  with PASS/NR you have no reason to not explore MIT :)

Best of luck your first semester!