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MIT student blogger Rachel F. '12

Yestermonth’s IAP by Rachel F. '12

Everyone else is doing it.

I’ve mentally partitioned my time here into “eras” with defining characteristics rather than temporal durations, although each of those eras happens to span precisely one academic year, rendering this system completely obsolete. Freshman year was intensely characterized by social adjustment and academic slacking. During sophomore year, I buckled down to work and finished most of my major. It wasn’t that exciting. As I passed the halfway point and realized that potential social experiences would bottleneck dramatically after college, junior year became the “just do it” era. This motto has led to some vaguely unfortunate situations, such as taking the hardcore software performance engineering death lab class that temporarily shifted my bedtime to 7am, but it’s never led to an absence of fun. (This applies to the lab, too.)

“Just do it” was difficult to implement during the semester, when I had 30-hour labs cropping up the instant I finished a round of 10-hour psets, but turned out to be wildly effective during IAP, which is popularly described as “MIT without the work”, i.e. the mystical utopia described by the admissions blogs. IAP is a truly magical time during which absolutely nothing is expected of you; ironically, you tend to get much more done for yourself. Some people spend IAP home, or go abroad, or work, and there are a few unfortunate frosh who devote it to GIRs, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an MIT student who doesn’t insist that you should spend at least one IAP at MIT, just doing things for fun. For the overachievers, there are tons of semi-structured activities to do — Battlecode, entrepreneurial bootcamps, poetry discussions, blacksmithing, pistol, etc.

That said, I’m finally getting back to the alleged topic of this post: a delayed overview of my IAP.

Through the convenience of MIT’s externship program, I spent IAP working at Monster (the job search engine, not the energy drink), located just 1.5 furlongs east of campus, where I developed a module for automatic query expansion based on job correlations, which were determined by scraping a resume database for sequences of jobs held by real people. As cool as this was, my spirits were a little soured by the first day, which I spent half of filling out and faxing a massive pile of paperwork so I could get paid, although I did get to spend the other half pondering my project and customizing my bash shell*.

*For the non-6-3s among you, shell customization is the art of increasing your productivity by writing macros for command line usage, and is incredibly addictive, but only to coders.

That was my 9-5 job. By night, I stalked the roofs of Gotham, a caped crusader of justice…

…um wrong story.

Actually, I made my first visit to NYC one weekend via bus. We spent a lot of time singing off-key in Korean karaoke bars, eating, watching Iron Chef, eating, taking pictures, riding the subway so we could find some place to eat, and eating food. Leptin abounded all round.

Back at MIT, I randomly decided to paint two murals on my hall in the middle of the night…

…and frolicked in the snow, a phenomenon unheard of in the Bay Area during my lifetime excepting that one time in 1993 when a meek scattering of flakes fell for all of two minutes…

…and, after three trials by oven, gained the ability to bake a perfect soft-on-the-inside, crusty-on-the-outside loaf of peasant bread…

…and suddenly decided to rearrange my room in conjunction with frequent room-rearranging buddies Ale’12 and Sam’12…

…and stayed up stupidly late…

…because I also filmed, directed, and helped produce a slightly creepy music video satirizing music videography. There’s still one scene left to shoot, so I don’t want to give anything away, but I promise it will revolutionize your Youtube-watching experience as much as I have revolutionized your hyphenated(-and-parentheticalized)-word-reading experience. Stay tuned.

So yeah, having fun is hard work — but it’s fun after all, so who cares. How was your yestermonth?

8 responses to “Yestermonth’s IAP”

  1. Vivek says:

    Your description of the “eras” is most colorful, presumable accurate and completely understandable. smile

    Love your room, by the way. Is it like that all the time? Or just for the photo shoots?…

    As for yestermonth? It’s been busy. Been giving practical final exams. Got theory final exams coming up in March, which means that the MIT decision is going to plonk itself cleanly in the middle of them. :| All I can say is that “tomorromonth” is going to be emotionally oscillatory to say the least.

    Looking forward to the music video. I work on video montages myself, so I’ll really enjoy it. :D

  2. Jared says:

    where’d you get the designs for your murals?

  3. Rachel'12 says:

    vivek: I took that picture immediately after cleaning my room. when I woke up this morning it had reverted to the primordial knee-deep swamp of scratch paper, discarded plastic bags, and cat fluff that I know and love.

    jared: left = hokusai’s great wave, right = just something I made up

  4. Anonymous says:

    New favorite blogger!

  5. (1) I miss IAP… why did I spend them UROPing ahah.
    (2) Rearranging room is fun tongue laugh
    (3) Parody videos are awesome. Meta-parodies could be exponentially more so…

  6. anon '14 says:

    are you a course 4 at heart? haha.
    also, what camera do you use/how long have you been photographing/painting?
    and, is your room a single? it seems rather enormous. also beautiful and clean.
    also how did you manage to finish most of 6-3 in sophomore year, or is that normal, or are you just super smart?
    also I hope you’re willing to answer lots of anonymous questions, because you seem awesome.

  7. Rachel '12 says:

    wow that’s a lot of questions. fortunately for you, i’m procrastinating right now and comment notifications go straight to my email.

    1) 4, 6-3, and 2. yes i’m aware that’s terribly prefroshy.
    2a) nikon d40 + sigma 30mm f/1.4
    2b) 3 years
    2c) since those murals
    3a) yes
    3b) ~140 sqft + optical illusions
    3c) not since that picture was taken
    4a) classes toward major: 3 as a frosh, 5 as a sophomore
    4b) maybe
    4c) no

  8. anon '14 says:

    3 course 6 classes as a freshman?! o___o; oh dang.

    thanks for answering smile