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Winter is coming. by Michael C. '16

actually, it's already here.

Confession time: I’m one of those West Coasters. The ones who get really excited about snow. The ones who keep yapping on about how pretty the snow is while everyone else got sick of it three weeks ago.

But can you blame me?  Just look at the results of last night’s storm:

it's like nature put a black-and-white filter on everything

^ the Charles River, newly defrosted from winter break

I like to call that statue 'centaur being hit by a comet'

Pretty gorgeous, eh?

Anyways!  It’s the greatest month of the year at MIT: IAP, aka Independent Activities Period, aka the month after winter break where there’s no required classes but lots of fun, aka that thing you constantly talk about with your friends back home to make them jealous.  Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been up to this past week, divided completely arbitrarily into three categories:

Python

soooo many glowing Apple logos.

Coming into MIT with zero coding experience, I figured IAP was as good a time as any to cast off my noobishness.  I’m taking Intro to Python (6.S189), and it’s actually a really fun class.  In the first week of class, we’ve:

coded a fairly graphic hangman game:

Being a font geek, I spent way too much time trying to find my favorite font for coding. Right now I'm using Monaco.

and written somewhat amusing user error messages:

har har. 

Okay, maybe I’m still a complete noob.  But there’s still three weeks left!

Food

Fun fact!  Before coming to MIT, I had never cooked before in my life.  Nada.  Zip.  (okay, maybe I boiled an egg once).  And being the logical teenager that I am, I decided immediately to live in a non-meal-plan dorm and cook all my meals myself (the meal plans at MIT are insanely expensive, and I wanted to learn how to cook).  I’m fairly sure I caused my mom a great deal of stress, as she envisioned me inhaling packets of ramen every night.  (sorry, mom).

Well, I’m happy to report that I haven’t once eaten ramen for dinner yet.  Thanks to Gordon Ramsay’s online food videos, I’ve actually been eating quite well; here’s some samplings from what I’ve been cooking in the past few weeks.

mmmm steak

I was so happy to discover that microwaving potatoes for mashing works just as well as boiling them

crispy salmon!

I have a weak spot for multicoloured pasta.

Not too shabby, eh?

Some prefrosh were asking about what non-dining-plan life at MIT is like, so here’s my two cents: it’s fantastic.  I’m saving boatloads of money, and I’m eating much better food (I ate at Baker Dining a few times during FPOPs, and quickly got bored of the same food every day).  And all those meals above?  They took around 20 minutes each to cook.  Really, the biggest hassle of cooking for yourself is dragging yourself out of bed each Sunday to get groceries at Star Market.  But it’s not that bad.

Besides, you get to laugh at all the dining-plan-people trying to cook for the first time during IAP (the normal meal plan doesn’t cover January).  One of my friends overheard someone calling his mom and asking what ingredients he needed to make scrambled eggs.

Ah, the non-dining life.

Impromptu Events

IAP’s also full of really great random events.  Some of these are classes that teach useful things: ballroom dance classes, personal finance classes, tips for finding an internship.  Some are less serious: truffle making classes, fried rice making competitions.  And some of them are ridiculously and lovably nerdy: the Integration Bee (get it?  like a spelling bee?  but calculus?).  Being the knowledge junkie that I am, you can bet that I’ve been going to as many of these events as possible.

Looking Ahead

Over half of IAP is left.  Some stuff I’m looking forward to: a LaTeX class (hey, if my resume’s going to be empty at least it’ll have a great typeface), my blacksmithing class, and Charm School (more on that in a later post).

Until then – adieu!  2013 is getting off to a great start.