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MIT student blogger Rachel D. '16

Wooo Summer by Rachel D. '16

The goal as usual is to do ALL the things

I know this is delayed, but I never got to write an end-of-school-year beginning-of-summer post, and it feels like so much has happened since classes ended, but I’d like to sum things up in one post and just get it all out.

I really have learned a lot during my freshman year at MIT.  I learned that Pass/No Record does not mean that you can just sit around and have fun all the time.  I really had to struggle to just pass my classes, and although I worked harder than I ever had before and felt like I learned as much as I could, it was never enough to more-than-pass.  I learned how to study for math, although I never mastered studying for physics.  Physics really does not like me.  But I’m done with math and science general institute required classes!! YAYY!!  And learned SO MUCH and I am proud of myself for doing the best I could.

I also learned that HASS (Humanities, arts, and social sciences) classes are AWESOME.  First semester, I didn’t take any HASS classes becuase I was ignorant and, again, I misunderstood the meaning of Pass/No Record.  I thought I’m going to take all technical classes and pass them all and it will be easy because all I have to do is pass and happy happy happy yayyy frosh.  I was wrong.  I did not get a break from problem sets, and there were weeks when I would have three tests over a span of 18 hours or less.  This semester, I took two HASS classes and they helped me maintain my sanity.  I took 3.094, which is Archeology and the Human Experience, and it was so great!  The class was split into a study of ancient Andean culture and critical materials and it was really interesting.  For the first half of the semester during the study of ancient Andean culture, we had labs where we spent hours in the forges of MIT creating metal alloys and casting them.  During the second half of the semester, we got into groups and developed a mitigation plan for solving some problems with critical materials. It was a really fun class and I recommend it to all future second semester MIT freshmen!

The other HASS class that I took was 24.06, or Bioethics.  Bioethics was also really interesting, and I actually took advantage of the resources MIT gives us by going to the Writing Advisor for the class for advice on my papers which was really helpful.  I really enjoy writing philosophy papers even though it feels strange, but it’s a really interesting type of strange writing and I am excited to take more philosophy classes in the future.  I am now considering doing a concentration in either archaelogy or philosophy in the future because of my great experiences with these classes.

So all in all, even though it was terrible at times, I really enjoyed my freshman year.  I made mistakes and overloaded myself, but I rediscovered my passion for discovery and engineering and made a new home for myself that I never want to leave.

Anyways, enough about classes, IT IS SUMMER! Here are my summer plans :)


I WENT TO ISRAEL ON BIRTHRIGH IT WAS SO GREAT!!  Birthright is a free trip to Israel for Jewish people ages 18-26 and it  was so much fun!  We went to so many amazing places and I made friends that I am definitely going to keep in touch with.  In fact, just last week a bunch of us got together at my dorm, made cookies, and then went Swing Dancing!

Side note: Every Wednesday night in Lobdell in the Student Center there is Swing Dancing! That was my first time going and I’m terrified of dancing but it was so much fun and I absolutely loved it!

One thing that was unique about this birthright trip is that although it was an MIT-organized trip, it was really for the Boston area and many students from other colleges like Wellesley and Brandeis and Olin college came along!

After Birthright, a bunch of us stayed in Israel for an extra five days for an MIT extension run through MIT’s MISTI program, and now I really want to work abroad in Israel next summer!

I’ll post more information about how to get involved with birthright in the fall, but in the meantime here are some pictures!!

My new Israeli friend Karen and I!!

There were cats all over the street – they are like our equivalent of squirrels in Israel!

The streets were beautiful, as were the views.

We even got to go to a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv during some free time near the beach!  I want to work in Tel Aviv next summer.


So my initial plan after I went to Israel was to go home for about a week to see my sister graduate from high school (congrats Stacey!) and then go back to MIT to work for the summer.  But then I went to the dentist.

I am terrified of the dentist.

It is not like I have ever had any major teeth problems, so I have no right to complain.  But something terrible happened when I went to this special dentist, becuase he was an oral surgeon.

He told me I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out :(

I am very sensitive to pain, so I was not very happy.  I had to rearrange some summer plans and instead of staying home for a week after Israel as I had initially planned, I went back to MIT to work for three days, took a bus back to New York to see Stacey graduate, and then got my wisdom teeth taken out three days later.  Everyone told me that I would be fine in a couple days and could go back to Boston to start working again, but it took me a full week to recover and feel comfortable enough to sort of function and travel back to Boston. I can finally eat solid foods without being really sad; it just took some time.  I’m glad I got them all taken out at once, though, I never want to go back!!


Now, back at MIT, I spend most of my week in the lab.  I am continuing with my research from second semester in a Chemical Engineering laboratory.  I am working on the continuous nucleation of pharmeceutical ingredients on polymer surfaces at the side of a really awesome grad student, Li.

Even though the research is really interesting, I am slowly but surely learning that Chemical Engineering is not for me.  I love materials, and there are a  lot of materials in Chemical Engineering, but there are also a lot of tedious tasks and everything needs to be absolutely perfect to get a good result.  And it takes forever to just get a small set of data.  I really enjoy results and playing with data and discovering new things, and I feel like materials science would be a more enjoyable way for me to have that type of an experience.   I think I am going to take a UROP break next semester, and then pick up reserach again around IAP time.


By day, I work. By night, I work.  Every Monday-Thursday for six weeks this summer, I am teaching high school students for the Educational Studies Program Junction!  Each night I teach a different subject since I am a seminar teacher, and I am really enjoying it.  The kids are really interested in the subjects, I just hope that they stay that excited throughout the program.

My classes range from the Science of Explosions to Engineering Polymers to Resume Writing to Introductory Philosophy.  I do admit that some of the classes will be a bit dryer to teach (and learn from), but I’m excited nonetheless to share knowledge that I have and I hope that the students learn a lot!

Tour Guideing

I am also going to be a tour guide for the MIT visitor center!  I got a super fancy tour guideing polo and I love showing prefrosh and their families around MIT!  It has been really hot lately so I’ve had to give a very modified schedule in order to keep people in the air conditioning as much as possible, but the prefrosh still get to see everything and be inspired to apply and hopefully come to MIT!


At the end of the summer, I am going to be a freshman pre-orientation program (FPOP) mentor for the materials science FPOP!!  We are going to play fun games and go sailing and do materials things. I really like polymers, so this makes me happy.

I’m working on planning some activities for the polymers and biomaterials section of the FPOP, actually!  We are going to make polymers and more fun things, and I’m going to try out some of the acivities during one of my Junction classes to ensure success :)

Associate Advising

I got chosen to be an Associate Advisor for freshmen in the fall!  When you get your advising group, I might be the one nagging you not to take four technicals and trying to secretly convince you that materials science is better than computer science.


This is a very busy summer for me, as usual.  I have spent the past two summers working in a lab back in New York, and this is definitely a new experience being on a new campus for the summer with a bunch of my really good friends.  I do feel the amount of work taking its toll on me – I rarely have free time since I am trying to make up hours by working on some weekends – but I think these experiences will let me do awesome things in the future, and help me grow as a person.

I do get to take some breaks.  At the end of July I am going to California to visit my boyfriend who is working at Jet Propulsions Laboratory over in Pasadena, and I get to see Caltech and Los Angeles and the beach and JPL and more! I’m so excited!  And this past weekend I went to Warped Tour ’13 out on Long Island with three MIT alumni.  This was year 6 for me of Warped Tour, and it is always a great experience!

Also, I am still living in an awesome place where fun is always had, East Campus.

Our cats are still adorable, and through snugging them daily everything becomes wonderful.

When things get tough, I remember where I am.  Boston and MIT are just beautiful and amazing places, and I wouldn’t want to spend this summer anywhere else.