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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

Well, at least you didn’t fail, right? by Keri G. '10

A tale of mystery, wonder, and the worst possible way to handle too much work in too little time.

An hour-to-hour (kinda sorta somewhat close to one) description of the last five days, with exaggeration inserted only when absolutely, absolutely necessary

Saturday, 2 PM – I wake up. Come on, there was a party at 5th East the night before. It’s right across the street, and walking there involved minimal effort. If I could cross campus for a Baker party the Friday before, then skipping out on this would only be a sign of pure laziness.
2:02 PM – Brain function starts returning. Hmm, I have two tests and a pset to turn in on Wednesday.
2:03 PM – Roll over, reach for computer, start watching an episode from the fifth season of Scrubs. Decide that if I ever buy a half acre of land, I will build a deck on it à la JD.
2:21 PM – Wait, I have what on Wednesday?

Okay, so this will be painful but doable. But it’s Saturday, and according to my 18.03/Differential Equations instructor Arthur Mattuck’s addition to the 0x10 commandments (as sent in his last email to the class), “Thou shalt not tool* from sundown Friday to high noon Sunday.” Hello, procrastination.
2:23 PM – I remember the red formal dress I wore to an nowhere-near-formal party last night. (The dress was for the MedLinks Dating Auction, which went really well – we rose over $1000 for Tutoring Plus.) The thought makes me smile. Oh hey, self-esteem. It’s nice to see you again.

Am sufficiently distracted. Go to the mall with Kel ’10 because we’re hungry and tired of the food on campus. Spend the rest of my Saturday hanging out with friends from Senior Haus. Refuse to look at or even think about work.

Sunday, 12 PM – What have I done?

All right. Must work must work must work. Will only think in numbers and chair conformations from here on out.
1-3 PM – 5.12 (Organic Chemistry I) practice exam.
3-5 PM – 18.03 practice exam.
6-7 PM – 8.02 (Physics II) pset.
7 PM- 12 AM – Watching the Oscars with the Musical Theatre Guild. Should really get around to watching Little Miss Sunshine sometime soon.
12-2 AM – DJ Awesome and the Wonderfriends in Walker. Go go gadget radio! Hanna and I play obscure music with far too much electronic beeping and we’re proud of it. Have probably been listening to too much Enon, since “Disposable Parts” has been on repeat in my head for a week already. As the song is less than two minutes long to begin with, this is nothing good.
2AM – Tired tired tired need sleep.

Monday, 9 AM – 5.12 review
11 AM – 5.12 recitation. Am still wondering whether it is a benefit or an inconvenience to have this class directly before lecture.
12 PM – 5.12 lecture.
1 PM – annoy people in the MIT admissions office, just because I can. (Hi, Nance.)
2 PM – 18.03 lecture.
3-6 PM – 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 –
6 PM – focus group for a National Institutes of Health study on minority students majoring in science and engineering. The ensuing discussion is really engaging, but –
7:30 PM – leave early to attend two-hour 5.12 exam review. Am in love with Kimberly Berkowski. Briefly consider asking her to have my babies, until I realize that Jose ’10 across the hall would kill me for “stealing her before I even had the chance.” Perish the thought.
10 PM – Brain is melting from overexposure to organic chemistry. Continue work on 8.02 pset.
12 AM

Dear electricity and magnetism,

I hate you. Not you, Gauss’ Law. You’re cool. The rest of you can go away.

No love,

three minutes later – mmmm sleep.

Tuesday, 8 AM – Wake up for 9:30 24.900 (Introduction to Linguistics) lecture. Am starting to forget that I am in fact registered for a fourth class.
11 AM-1 PM – 18.03 18.03 18.03.
1 PM – 18.03 recitation.
2 PM – please don’t let me screw up the first two exams of term come on optimism I am awesome I am awesome I can do this I am starting to forget anything I have ever learned about sentence structure and grammar. The irony of this occurring mere hours after attending a linguistics lecture does not escape me.
3-5 PM – 8.02. The concepts related to conductors and capacitance make sense. Apparently AP Physics B was at least halfway useful. Yayyyy.
5-7 PM – 18.03 18.03 18.03. Lather, rinse, repeat. Have spent more time in the lounge off the Infinite than in my room since Sunday. Should probably move in there – the tourist friendly glass windows may take a while to get used to (“Look! A real life MIT student! And it appears to be banging its head into its textbook in despair!”), but the square footage is a definite plus.
7-8 PM – 18.03 exam review. The TA knows what he’s doing. This is a godsend after the disaster that was 18.02 last term.
9 PM – Check email. Have made it through the first round of applications for a summer job as an RA/TA to high school students taking advanced classes at Northwestern University. Sweet!

…Have been saying “sweet” far too often lately.
11 PM – OKAY SLEEP (Please, please, please make the complex numbers stop floating around in my head)

Wednesday, 9 AM – Had a dream in which I was eaten by a linear first-order ordinary differential equation. Feeling thoroughly prepared for this afternoon’s exam, albeit terrified. Complete and turn in 8.02 pset.
12 PM – Pick up a Java Chip frappucino from Starbucks before rocking the 5.12 exam.
1:30 PM – Start feeling sick. Not test anxiety sick, but “well, this certainly isn’t good” sick. Hope this doesn’t screw with my ability to take 18.03 exam.
2 PM – Suffer through mysterious stomach cramps during entirety of exam.
3:30 PM – cramps are gone in time for my “Upgrade your Health and Happiness” PE class.

Dear fates,

Why do you hate me?

You get no love either –

5 PM – six-mile run in the Z Center.
6 PM – Return to the lounge off the Infinite and start to pull out 18.03 notebook. Realize the rest of my week is free and clear. Am frozen in general shock and disbelief.
6:01 PM – Haven’t blogged in a while. Take out journal, start writing: An hour-to-hour (kinda sorta somewhat close to one) description of the last five days, with exaggeration inserted only when absolutely, absolutely necessary…

*tool: at MIT, to study like nothing else. Antonym: to punt, or not do work. Punting problem set after problem set = bad idea.

34 responses to “Well, at least you didn’t fail, right?”

  1. Kelly says:

    Eww, Gauss’s law isn’t all that nice either. Though it’s certainly better than all the rest of static electricity… my entire Physics AP class has been begging our teacher to take us back to mechanics ever since we started E&M this term. Ah, mechanics.

  2. Alyssa says:

    “Dear electricity and magnetism,

    I hate you. Not you, Gauss’ Law. You’re cool. The rest of you can go away.

    No love,

    But really, I prefer E&M to Mechanics…Mostly becuase I love writing Ω for ohms!! (My teacher did a tutorial on drawing greek symbols because omega and rho…we are so dysfunctional)

  3. Adam S. says:

    Gauss’ law? Fun stuff – just learnt* it recently. I love how I finally can start applying my Calc knowledge to real things. Purely manipulating symbols is fine, but it’s definitely best when it is modeling real things!

    *learned should be spelt** ‘learnt’.
    **spelled should be spelt ‘spelt’.

  4. Solomon says:

    Man, there is really going to be some adjusting at MIT. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  5. Anonymous says:

    this so reminds me of Addison’s “The Spectator”…everything’s listed out!

  6. herman says:

    i agree, gauss’s law is pretty cool…finding electrical potential from a nonuniform distribution of charges…now theres a pain

  7. Jillian says:

    You are awesome.

  8. o god gauss has saved my life so many times. and yet im sick of E&M already..gosh does it even get easier with the potential and the energy and the….garsh my brain’s mush

  9. Elizabeth says:

    OK so a couple things. 1.) You REALLY need to watch Little Miss Sunshine. It is AWESOME. 2.) This blog is my equivalent of your scrubs episode. I have lots of homework tonight, I have only practiced piano since getting home from lacrosse, and tomorrow I have a piano lesson after lacrosse and therefore will not be home until after 9. But I realllllly need to work now. 3.)Physics pretty much is annoying when you have procrastinated. I understand, but it was annoying. This year no Physics! I get to laugh at all my friends taking it now when i took it last year. Hahaha!

  10. Meara says:

    That was glorious.

  11. Christina says:

    Punting problem set after problem set = bad idea.

    what? no.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Well, I suppose it’s ok that I was up late doing homework last night cuz we’ve got a snow day. Again. I don’t WANT to make up the time! Hopefully we seniors won’t have to.
    Josh: AP Physics completely depends on the teacher; I took the AP last year and we hadn’t even mentioned one of the free response topics. Ever. Yeah, 4 works for me, I don’t know if like anyone at our school has gotten a 5 on the Physics AP, so don’t feel like you’re missin’ out necessarily. We were supposed to have a calc quiz today, but nope, no school. Sorry Seattle schools, you’ve got school!

  13. Yossarian says:

    The complete and utter awesomeness of Scrubs is of epic proportions.

    Thanks for the insight into a typical day in the life of a real, live, MIT student. It seemed to be the only thing lacking in these blogs.

    At least it was only a single differential equation eating you. Do you know if you were tasty or not?

  14. Sandrine says:

    Your professor’s quote on “tooling” reminded me of something stupid yet funny that my friends and I were debating about. It’s obvious that in the Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf falls off the cliff, he says “Fly, you fools!” but somehow, my friend was convinced he had said, “Run, you tools.”

  15. Josh V says:

    Oh my God! I WISH I knew about Gauss’ Law! I hate my physics class! I just have to keep on reading ahead. If only my school had AP Physics.

    Calc test on Fri though. haha. should be really fun (i bet!). yay for L’Hopital.

  16. E&M says:

    Dear Keri,

    Personally, we didn’t care for you much, either.

    Ephemerally yours,

  17. Basant says:

    Josh, you don’t know Gauss’ Law! Hard to believe!

  18. anonymous says:

    I live 15 minutes from Northwestern University. It’s a pretty cool place! (gosh I love Evanston!)

    waaaaaaay less awesome than MIT, though

  19. deb says:

    haha yo. we started electricity today (or maybe this week sometime) in my school… haha and we have 2 months to finish it before we take the ap. yea… so not happening. =) hope things get less hectic for you

  20. Anonymous says:

    HI KERI i am from india,far away, my dream i to study at mit as undergraduate,in aeronautical engineering or automobile engineering.please guide me ,tell me all the details,about
    1 entrance test
    2 preparing for entrance
    3 reference books to crack mit entrance test
    4 date of test ,applications
    5 admission criteria for international student,as i m an indian
    6 financ
    I AM NOT KIDDING,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,SEND

  21. Josh V says:

    basant, elizabteh.
    i don’t think you understand. seattle prep science is sooo bad. prep is mainly a lit/history/religion school. in 6 months, we have covered: your basic motion stuff (without any calculus at all), vectors…for like 3 months, centripetal force, and today i just spent 85 minutes going over F=G(m1m2/d^2) like 7268763282 times. i’m losing my mind in that class. we wont even get to e&m by the end of the year. and of course we have no honors or ap anything in terms of science for my class (they added honors bio and chem the year after i took them, but still no accelerated physics…they think they will add it next year. boo!!!).

    this sucks because 1)i really love science and having to read ahead on my own isn’t as fun as learning it with my classmates 2)this is probably what will keep me from getting in. =(
    the state of our science program (except anatomy & physiology which is awesome) almost makes me want to become a teacher to improve it.

    btw elizabeth, we may have had school today, but i don’t have to make up any missed school days b/c its a private (jesuit) school! yesss. hahaha.

  22. Josh V says:

    ps: and its not like i haven’t brought this up with my teacher on numerous occasions, but nothing can be done because so many kids in my class are struggling with it. i’m more like tutoring them than moving on with new material.

    i am trying to read our textbook cover to cover, but its not all that great of a book. this summer i’m buying a different physics textbook and reading it all the way through…also while reading deathly hallows of course!

    (and for chem, we didn’t get past the mole…big help that was for the sat chem test…)

  23. Ishan says:

    You dont know Gauss law? Its easy.
    Integral E.dA=Charge enclosed/epsilon.
    I am in class XII andI like elecrostatics more than mechanics. All those problems like field due to unsymmetric charge distribution etc. are so good.

  24. Ishan says:

    I like Ampere cicuit law more. It solves 80% of all problems. I know its simple to use but still like it despite our teachertelling us it is not applicable everywhere.

  25. Senorita Keri

    MY MyMit says

    “Application tracking is no longer available for entry year 2007”

    Does that mean you have thrown me away ??

  26. Keri says:

    Madman –

    It means there’s no need to track your application anymore. I can’t tell you anything other than that.

    Anonymous –

    First of all, keep in mind that there is no MIT entrance test (unless you’re counting the SAT and/or ACT, which is required for nearly all college applications in the United States), nor is there any set admissions criteria for any prospective students. Other than “take challenging courses and get involved in activities you’re really passionate about if you can,” there isn’t much to say. However, everything else you’re looking for can be found under the “Apply” and “Finaid” sections in the banner at the top of the page, and dates for the SAT can be found at – click on “Students” at the front page, and it should lead you to information about the SAT, including test dates and locations, registration, and test preparation.

  27. theresa says:

    I hate Gauss’s Law with a passion —
    (why I’m not taking EM exam :D)
    In all fairness, circuits are fun, though. :D

  28. Ying Wei says:

    Keri, are u taking UROP currently?
    Mind to share your research story with us?


  29. Colin says:

    Whoever posted as “E&M” is amazing.

    Also, you totally beat me. I didn’t do nearly that much on Sunday. WHOOPS.

  30. Keri says:

    Alex M. –

    I took AP Euro there the summer after sophomore year, and AP US Government/Politics the year after. CTD makes my life. ^_^

    Ying Wei –

    I’d love to share my UROP story with you; there’s just that one minor detail where I don’t have one. (With the time commitments for classes and my other activities, I just can’t fit one in this term.) Melis’ blog has quite a few posts about undergraduate research many students are currently working on, though.

    Luci, Elizabeth – I’m totally with you on AP Physics depending on the teacher. I had an amazing teacher in high school for Physics B, and he was a great help when I ISed the Physics C: Mechanics exam. Even with those two classes under my belt and a year of Honors Physics beforehand, I still had issues understanding the newer mathematical concepts in 8.01 here – my sections was led by one of the younger associate professors who didn’t explain things very well, which is always an issue, but especially so in a physics class. My professor in 8.02, however, is great. (The similarities to my high school teacher are uncanny, though – they don’t look alike, but they’ve got the same voice, the same handwriting, the same explanations for everything…)

  31. Luci says:

    I agree with Elizbeth: The teacher makes the class. My AP Physics C teacher can’t figure out a simple intergral… Taking the exam ? NO WAY. We teach ourselves from the text book. So while Physics last year was amazing, this year it is pointless. Can’t wait for MIT. Class of 11 baby! i will soon have professors worth listening to. (My senior year has been a disappointment as far a that goes)

  32. Alex M. says:

    I took AP Statistics at Northwestern last summer as part of CTD – best three weeks of my life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  33. Omar says:

    mmm… this time last year… I remember how stressed I was…

  34. Susan says:

    Eeep. This is a little scary to read; I didn’t know AP Physics would be available this year so I didn’t take it. I know I’m not the only one in that situation, but it’s still somewhat unnerving.

    Keri – good luck with physics. This post was just plain excellent. And one can never use the phrases “Sweet!”, “Woot!” or “Yes!” (while pumping one’s fist up and down in glee) too often.