Skip to content ↓

Please note:

MIT and the admissions office will be closed November 24–25 for Thanksgiving break, and will open on November 28.

MIT student blogger Jack-William B. '21

Wrapping Up First Semester by Jack-William B. '21

Two more weeks to go.

With my classes ending on Wednesday and finals starting the following Monday, my first semester here is abruptly coming to an end. I have preregistered for IAP and Spring Term classes, started discussing new research plans for the future, and also will be hitting the 50% point in my book challenge!

On the most exciting note to me, I have spent the past three months immersing myself in as many books as I can cram in the windows of free time that I have. Here’s a picture of my bookshelf that has grown from just one to now having two full shelves!

So, initially, when my semester was kind of in a lull period in terms of work, I vowed to finish a book every other day. Well, that was the initial plan. Although I succeeded in this by reading The Alchemist and The Road, I quickly found myself falling behind this goal, so I changed it to finish fifteen books by the end of the semester and fifteen more the following semester! A lot more doable indeed. I currently am finishing up the book on the shelf called Significant Figures that talks about the histories of some of the great mathematicians. I always found it pretty neat to learn about the individuals and history behind some of the most groundbreaking mathematical and physics discoveries, and I tend to get a tad sidetracked in the popular science section in Barnes and Noble. I knew I was getting a book addiction when the guy at the counter stared at me with my armful of books and said, “Oh, you again.”

Also, I am rereading The Little Book of String Theory that I read back in high school. With the concepts behind the theory discussed, and the math and technicalities left behind, the book is pretty easy to read and get an idea about some of my long-term goals within physics! Speaking of that book, the writer of it just gave a talk at MIT last week that my friend and I attended, where we both sat looking at each other like, “yup he isn’t even speaking English.” It was a technical talk, and we knew that we wouldn’t have barely the slightest clue what was going on, but we went anyway. At one point, he said, “Raise p to the negative box power” and I have never felt so disturbed by math before. How does one box power. I don’t know, but I hope one day I will. It will be sure to be on the bucket list. Anyways, It was just super cool to actually see the guy there in person speaking not to mention the slew of physics professors in the crowd. It was basically like seeing a celebrity!

Other than the more science and mathy books, I am also started Guns, Germs, and Steel that my foreign policy professor had mentioned and caught my interest. I am not far into it, but I will be working on that one in particular this week. I find it good to get a nice balance between fiction, science, and even some spiritual/motivation books because I can pick up a different one depending on the mood I’m in. Reading has always been something I love doing, and I didn’t do much of it senior year because I was so busy. Although I’m still busy, I like finding time to escape in a book instead of wasting it staring at my phone. It is a way to have peace in times that can seem super crammed and stressful.

Other than the books, classes are all getting to that emotional part where you don’t want to have to say bye to some of the professors, but you are also ready for a fresh start. I really got to like all my professors this first semester luckily. My UROP that I spoke about earlier is starting to wrap up as well. I will be continuing data analysis during IAP, and we are hopefully publishing a paper in the coming month or so! I will be sure to update you all on that when the day comes! There are only a few more experiments left, and I have managed to not burn down the lab yet, so I am truly hoping I can hold out these last few weeks. I am currently finalizing plans for a new UROP in the spring but no spoilers yet. Also, today was the last Seminar XL, a program through the OME, and my seminar group and I took a final photo commemorating the semester together that was filled with all of us trying to scream out the right answer to bio worksheets that made Thursday nights and Saturday mornings something to look forward to. Here we are!

And with that, I will go grab a book off the bookshelf, Blood Meridian because I am feeling like a thriller, turn on the Keurig, and enjoy the rest of this snowy night. (First snowfall of the year yesterday and my first time seeing snow!)