Sunday, December 11, 2005

Getting prepped for finals!

I made it back to MIT safely after Thanksgiving and I have been studying furiously these past few weeks. I have finals on the 19th-21st. I can't believe the semester is almost over! Then it will be Christmas and IAP (we get the whole month of January off, it stands for Independent Activities Period). I'm very excited! I will update with more things after finals are over with. Hopefully they won't be too bad.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Break

I'm finally home for thanksgiving! It almost feels like I never left in the first place. I've lived in CA for so long that it feels natural to be here. I am enjoying spending time with my parents and being in my old room. The past few days have gone by too fast! I can't believe I leave tomorrow to go back to MIT. I have homework to do on the plane....some "break." I also noticed that finals are only in a few weeks! At least I've been relaxed. Some old high school friends are coming to visit me in a few minutes, so I'm excited to hear what they have been up to these past few months. Hope everyone had a happy turkey day!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Elephants, Parties, and Rubber Ducks: The Past Month

So I am finally updating about the past month! Wow, so many things to talk about. This update will focus on all the fun things I have been doing, and then the next entry will be about school.

A few weeks back I went a party at Wellesley, which was quite fun. I went with Amanda B and some friends from Phi Sig. Getting to Wellesley was quite an experience. It turns out that you need tokens in order to use the bus, and all the places that sold tokens near MIT were sold out. Amanda and I were frantically calling people to find out if they knew what we could do. Luckily one of our friends from Phi Sig had a car and we ended up driving there. The traffic was insanely slow (Fenway had a game that night), but we made it eventually. It was awesome because I saw my “bestest best” friend Maggie (I’ve known her since I was a baby) and Ilang, a good friend from my home town, who both go to Wellesley. My friend Peter from Harvard was also there. This was my first official college party and it was a blast. I had a great time dancing and talking with people. After the party I got lost trying to find Maggie’s dorm, but we found each other after a half hour of wandering around and I got to meet her roommate.

Maggie and I at Wellesley

After the party we drove back in the car to Phi Sig. Everyone was still pretty wide awake so we proceeded to watch Super Troopers until about 5:30, and at that time most people were falling asleep. Then we went to Dunkin’ Doughnuts for breakfast and then it was back to Simmons to sleep. I had told Annelise I’d be back around 3, so in case she woke up before I got back, I left her a text message on her cell phone. At first I was going to have it read “I’m staying over at Phi Sig”, but seeing as how we still didn’t know each other that well, I instead wrote “staying with friends, be back in the morning.” (I didn’t want her to get the wrong impression of me :-). That was an awesome weekend even though I was tired the next day.

Random Phi Sig people sleeping

Annelise and I went to see the Ig Nobel lectues. This is a spoof of the Nobel Prize, it is for research that is just really random and funny. We got to throw paper airplanes at the speakers and when their 5 minutes were up everyone was allowed to ring their cell phones, so that might tell you a little about how goofy the atmosphere was. To see more information, go to:

One night I went out with Amanda M and Amanda B and her friends to see Just Like Heaven. Cutest movie ever. We really liked it, but the guys that came with us went to see Serenity though :-(. Afterwards we trudged through the pouring rain and went to eat at Uno’s (not the pizza place though, a different restaurant). When we got back Amanda M and I proceeded to watch Pirates of the Caribbean but were too tired to finish.

A great thing about MIT is that you get quite a few long weekends. These are called “Student Holidays” but to joke about the rumors and difficulty of MIT people call them “Suicide Prevention Days” (remember, this is jokingly, many people think that MIT students are always depressed and that a ton of suicides happen all the time---this is not true!). We took advantage of one of our five day weekends to go out shopping (I got new earrings!).

One of the most random things that happened the last month was that elephants walked down Mass Ave right in front of Lobby 7! The circus was in town and as a tradition the elephants walk to the circus though the streets. Very very cool! There were a bunch of people waiting for more than two hours to see them, and luckily I had a long time before my next class.


My parents came and visited me during Parents Weekend. It was really great to see them (I couldn’t believe it had already been more than a month and a half!). I have been fortunate not to be homesick. I took them to the science museum and also to my chemistry class. We also went to an acapella concert (MIT has a bunch of really wonderful acappellas groups—I have some of their CDs). Some of the names are really funny, for example, the “Logarhythms” is a popular all-male group that is very entertaining. It was a very relaxing weekend and I had fun spending time with my parents.

For Halloween MIT has yet another quirky tradition: the “Pumpkin Drop.” Pumpkins are thrown off MIT’s tallest building—the Greene Building—to explode into tiny pieces when they hit the pavement. The same weekend there was a Simmons Halloween dance. There were only about seven of us dancing, which was sort of sad, but we had a great time anyway.

Me with wings at the dance party

It was very exciting because a student from my high school, Michael, came to visit MIT. Amanda and I persuaded him to apply, and after talking to us he even said MIT had become his first choice! I hope he is accepted!

Another funny thing that happened this past month dealt with rubber duckies. Simmons’ strange architecture lures many architects to visit our dorm (they are only allowed in with a guide). One of the pieces of art we have is a ying-yang pond area. To make the area a bit more fun and welcoming, students have a tradition of putting rubber ducks into it. Unfortunately, a woman that organizes the art on the MIT campus, thought that there were altering the artist’s original meaning. We actually had a meeting with her (complete with pink peeps, save the ducks T-shirts, and duck-crossing signs). Luckily she agreed that we could keep the ducks in most of the time as long as they do not affect the sculpture in any way. We argued that this is our home, not a tourist attraction, and perhaps we could remove the ducks for architect tours. Right now there is an official duck committee that is in charge of making rules for the ducks. Really random….isn’t it? That’s MIT and Simmons Hall for you.

The Schrodinger Cats lounge went to see “Proof” a few weeks ago. It is a very good movie about an insane mathematician’s daughter and how she might be insane too. We appreciated a lot of the nerd jokes and MIT references. You should go see it!

I can also officially say that I saw the first snow of the season!!! One Sunday I saw white flakes drifting from the sky and got very excited. Annelise and I quickly grabbed our coats and ran outside. It only stuck to the grass, but we were able to eat a few snowflakes. After that day the weather became warmer again, and we have not had snow since. Hopefully this means we will have a relatively mild winter! The snow was gorgeous, a white blanket across the field outside.

Eating snowflakes

The last thing I want to discuss is the Star Wars Musical I saw last weekend. It was HILARIOUS!!!! They used songs from so many different musicals it was insane! There were even references to movies, like The Princess Bride and Pirates of the Caribbean. Our favorite line was from the Empire Strikes back, when Luke is battling Vader and is about to tell him he is Luke’s father. This is a reference to The Princess Bride when two men are battling each other with their left hands to be modest. When both realize that they are right handed, they switch hands.

Luke: I know something you don’t know.
Vader: And what is that?
Luke: I’m not left-handed!
Vader: (Cuts off Luke’s hand). You are now!

The show even had tap dancing storm troopers….how could that not make you laugh? I am soooo glad I went to it even though I was swamped with work. That’s what pass/no record is for, right?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rearranged Room

Annelise and I wanted to reconfigure our room when we first moved in. Finally, the facilities staff in Simmons helped us do it! Now my bed is lofted by my closet on the right and four drawers and a bookshelf on the left. We have a little sitting area where people can hang out with two chairs and a "table" (really Annelise's plastic box with pretty towl on top). My desk is now under my bed, so I have my own little cubby hole :-). We also moved our fridges to the corner of the room. Now when you walk in it is a very narrow hallway, but then once you get past that it is all bright and large! We are very excited. I put up two Stanford Basketball posters under my bed and an ISEF poster. We also have a Star Wars poster near the front door where my closet was earlier. It looks very nice, and we have a lot more room.

Kaitlyn and Josh enjoying our new setup.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Harry Potter!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Thursday night! In order to do this, I stayed up until 4 on Wednesday finishing psets, but it was sooooo worth it. Most nights I go to bed around 12-1 and wake up 8-8:30, so I'm still getting plenty of sleep.

Ilang, Amanda M, and I took the T to Boston Commons to see the midnight showing. There were Harry Potter fans all around us! (In order to show her spirit, Ilang wore a black pointy hat with the Hogwarts' symbol on it). The movie was very well done and I enjoyed it. Each movie the acting gets better. The director had to cut a ton out from the book, but he kept in the most important things. It was very fast paced, the dialogue was spectacular (very funny and even sexual....which is why it's PG-13), and the visual effects were really cool. And I must say, the guy who played Cedric Diggory is HOT (see for yourself, truthfully, a lot of the people in the movie are really cute. It's so much fun to see a movie with fans because they clap, scream, "Ohhhh," "Awwww," and a lot of other things through out the whole movie; it just makes it more fun. Unfortunately, we missed the first 5 minutes because the theatre people screwed up the reel, but it was still okay (the crowd was VERY mad about that...). We were shoved into the movie, but once we got into it we all forgot about the blunder. After the movie we took a taxi home and went to bed around 3:30. Luckily I didn't have class until 1 the next day, so I was able to sleep in and finish my chemistry pset.
It was strange seeing a movie on a school night, but this is college, and I got all my work done!

Yesterday I watched Casa Blanca with Amanda M and Annelise, and then we bugged our friend Dan who works at desk. I went to bed around 12:30 to make sure I could be efficient this weekend. Sunday we are going to see the Star Wars Musical, which should be entertaining.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Most people do not think MIT is beautiful. Compared to Princeton or Dartmouth, there isn't much competition, but MIT has it's own beauty.

Today I had a meeting with the writing tutor for my HASS class (she has to sit down with every student and talk to them about their paper). The meeting was all the way in E51, which is about 10 minutes past the Great Dome, which means it's about a 20 minute walk from Simmons. At first I was annoyed that I had to walk so far, and I was worried that the weather would turn nasty. It was windy outside but not cold. But as I walked to and from E51 I realized how amazingly beautiful MIT is. The wind swept through my hair and pushed me gently, making me feel like I was flying. The leaves swirled around me, making intricate patterns. The Charles river and the Boston skyline were to one side, the Great Dome to my other. Absolutely gorgeous sight! I felt like I was dreaming.

This is the true MIT, the one most people would look right past and never see. I am so glad I came here, I love this school.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fall Formal. Dance the night away!

I am writing up a very long post that I will post during Thanksgiving break but to tie people over until then, I will tell you about our Fall formal. We had a three day weekend!

Simmons and a few other dorms put on a very dressy formal dance last weekend. It was a ton of fun! We got to get all dressed up. I asked a sophmore named Gus to the dance. Annelise and Kaitlyn went together since they both have boyfriends (Kaitlyn was the guy, as can be seen with her hat). Amanda and the very tall (6 feet 9 inches!) Adam went together. We all had a great time dancing and talking and getting hyper off of coffee (all the food was gone by the time we arrived and the only free drink besides water was coffee). The hotel where it was held was very ornate and pretty.

After the formal, which ended around 1 am, we went back to Simmons and watched the movie Hackers (hilarious for MIT students, it was very cool). Then we went to bed around 4.... It was an awesome time and I think everyone had fun.

(Left) Gus and I. (Right) The girls all dressed up! (Kaitlyn, me, Amanda, a friend, Annelise in green)

The gang afer putting on some more comfortable clothing.

The next night I watched Fight Club with some people and Ilang came over. That is a really bizarre movie, but very good. Then on Saturday night I watched Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban with Amanda B and our friend Jason. Then we watched music videos, very fun.

It has been a bit stressful the last few weeks, but Im staying sane and looking forward to thanksgiving break.

Enjoy the pics and I will have a HUGE update soon.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Haha, updating....yeah

Oh I 'm soooo sorry I haven't updated in a while. I promise next weekend I WILL update! It's a three day weekend so I don't have any excuses. The past few weeks have been very busy for me and when I actually did have free time I completely forgot about my yeah, I will update next weekend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Update soon!

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. I promise I'll update soon! Check back at the end of the weekend.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I’m taking four classes this term, plus an advising seminar. At MIT, everything is referred to by number. We love numbers at MIT. All the buildings are numbered, all the courses are numbered, and we use the numbers all the time. For example, many of my lectures are in 10-250. This means building 10, 2nd floor, room 250. Each course has a number (5 is chemistry, 8 is physics, 18 is mathematics etc.) I’m thinking about majoring in course 10, which is chemical engineering. Many people (about 23%) major in course 6 (electrical engineering and computer science).

So far I have had a steady workload, but I still have some free time. I actually don’t mind the work too much. I’ve noticed that having a positive attitude really helps things. It depend upon the class how long each problem set (pset) takes me. I spend most of my nights doing homework, but I’ve been able to take almost a day off on the weekend (not last weekend however, as I had a paper and a test to study for). I’ve been able to go to bed around 12 and wake up at 8 (my earliest class it at 9, and sometimes I don’t have class until 12 or 1!). So getting sleep is not a problem if you pace yourself. Waiting until the last minute to do things is definitely NOT a good idea. If you come to MIT, prepare to work your butt off. So far though, it’s really not that bad. I’m enjoying myself even with the work. The first semester at MIT is pass/no record, so all you have to do is pass all your classes and you’re fine! It’s a great help in adjusting to MIT and college life in general.

At MIT there are a certain number of core requirements you must complete to graduate. These include:

-2 semesters of calculus (18.01/18.02 or 18.012/18.022 or another variation)
-2 semesters of physics (8.01/8.02 or 8.012/8.022)
-1 semester of biology (7.012, 7.013, or 7.014)
-1 semester of chemistry (5.111, 5.112, or 3.091)
-8 Humanities classes

For each class, if the number is a 1 after the main course number, it is the first level. (After taking 8.01 physics I will take 8.02 physics). In general, introductory classes with a higher number than 1 after them mean that they are more challenging. For example, I have a few friends in 8.012, which is pretty much the same curriculum as 8.01 physics, but they give you harder problems. Same for 18.012/18.022. Annelise is taking 18.023, which is the same as my class but with practical applications, supposedly it is a little easier, but that is open to debate.

Chemistry 5.112:

I’m taking 5.112 (five-eleven-two) which is the advanced introductory chemistry class. The psets for this class are easier than the ones for my other classes (partly because some of it is review, and partly because I seem to have a knack for chemistry). I think this pset only takes about 3-4 hours for me to do. I have one pset per week. The teacher for 5.112 is really enthusiastic and she’s easy to understand. It’s nice because they give you the lecture notes before the lecture, so you can just add to them and actually pay attention to the professor. I have three lectures per week and two recitations per week with a graduate student. So far I have found the TA to be helpful in the recitation.

Physics 8.01:

For physics I’m taking 8.01 (eight-o-one). This is the basic physics class for mechanics (8.02 is electricity and magnetism). I really like physics so far. The physics problems are challenging on the psets, but they are not impossible. I have fun doing the homework because the problems do more with things in real life. We have one pset per week and also problems online twice per week (they are in a program called Mastering Physics). My AP Physics B class was great preparation for 8.01, since most of it is review. Our classroom is really cool because there are screens all over the walls so that the professor can be viewed any way you are seating (there are many round tables throughout the room). We do many experiments with the help of software, and we also have challenging problems to work on in class every Friday.

Multivariable Calculus 18.02

Since I received a 5 on the AP Calculus BC test, I placed out of 18.01 and I am taking 18.02 (eighteen-o-two). This is my hardest class at the moment since everything is new to me. I’ve found that reading the textbook before going to lecture greatly helps me absorb the material (this is good advice for any high school or college class in general). The last two psets probably took me around 10 hours each (for the most recent pset, I spent an entire night trying to solve the last problem by myself…..I should have asked someone for help. I got it eventually though). 18.02 is interesting and I am glad I am challenging myself by taking it. Many people opted to take 18.01A which is an accelerated course that leads into 18.02A. They cover the same material, but they review some single variable calculus and finish the class during the January independent activities period (IAP).

The Ancient World: Greece 21H.301

You have to take about 8 HASS classes (humanities arts and social sciences) in order to graduate at MIT. This equals one per semester. I’m taking a Greek History class. I always loved Greek myths as a child, and so this class is fun for me. We are reading ancient texts such as Herodotus and Thucydides and the Iliad. Both Herodotus and Thucydides are actually quite easy to read, and they are very interesting. The HASS classes are supposed to be easier than your other classes, and I’ve found that the reading does not take me very long (I’d say at most three hours per week). I have to write four seven-page papers though, which I’m not looking forward to. I love reading, but I don’t generally like analytical writing about literature.

The Magic of Magnets Advising Seminar

At MIT there are many types of advising:
-Traditional advising. This is regular advising, you have an adult assigned to you and you meet with them every so often
-Residential Based Advising (RBA). Certain dorms have RBA. This is similar to regular advising there is more of a community atmosphere, so it is more social.
-Advising seminars. You are assigned an advisor and you meet as a group each week to discuss a certain topic. In this way you get to meet more people and you get to learn something.

I really like my advising seminar. My advisor is very enthusiastic and funny. He wrote the book we’re reading: The Magic of Magnets. I would suggest that anyone interested in learning more about science should read it. Even if you do not have a strong science background, it is easy to understand. You will learn so many things, like how a VCR and TV work, how we get electricity, and a myriad of other things you probably did not know about magnets (they don’t just sit on your fridge, we depend on them for many things in our everyday lives!). Each week we have a short reading and writing assignment, so it doesn’t take much time. I have met some cool people and I am also learning a lot of really neat science, so I’m glad I decided to do the seminar.

I think that’s it for classes, at least for now.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Simmons: My Crazy Dorm

Simmons is called the “Giant Sponge” and the “Silver Waffle.” Why? See for yourself:

If you think the architecture on the outside is crazy, wait until I post pics from the inside.

I love Simmons. It is one of the farthest dorms from classes (about a ten-fifteen minute walk), but it is so worth it. It is located across the field from where all the other dorms, so we are sort of by ourselves. We have the most free food out of all the other dorms, we are the newest dorm, and the people are really cool. Although some people say that since Simmons is new, it doesn’t yet have a personality, I disagree. We have our own quirkiness and social atmosphere. There is a large variety of people: we have jocks, studiers, partiers, East Campus-like people, and of course, all of us are nerdy is some form. Our pride in Simmons unites us. Simmons isn’t a party dorm, but we do have social events, which I will describe later. In general I would say we are all relatively laid back: we work hard, but we also have fun. My Graduate Resident Tutor (GRT) is really sweet. She keeps giving us study breaks! Amanda (the girl from my school) is also in Simmons, which totally rocks.

Simmons is on the west side of campus. There is also the east side of campus. East and West both have stereotypes associated with them. East Campus pulls all the pranks and is considered the stereotypical nerdy student residential area whereas west campus people are more “normal.” And I would like to emphasize that normal is relative at MIT. To make it more confusing there is a dorm called “East Campus” on east campus or “EC” as we like to call it. When people refer to East Campus they are normally referring to the dorm.

I really like my roommate, Annelise. We are so perfect for each other it is scary. We have the exact same computer, the same lamp, and some other objects that I can’t remember, we also like to go to bed early and get up early, we both get headaches if we don’t get enough sleep, and we are both moderately neat, the list keeps going….etc. Annelise is really into anime and chemistry. She plans on being a Course 5 (Chemistry) major. Although she is from a small town in Minnesota, Annelise does not have a Minnesotan accent. We have been getting along really well so far. My two other good friends are Amanda (a different Amanda than from my school) and Kaitlyn who live in the temporary room we had during orientation. Amanda is from Philadelphia and Kaitlyn is from Maine.

Our room rocks! Since we are on the 6th floor we have a great view of the football field and the Boston skyline. We have 18 windows in our room! Crazy isn’t it? That’s Simmons for ya, tons and tons of windows. We also have our own bathroom that is right outside of our door. This means we have to clean it, but it’s not like people really clean public bathrooms, right? So it will be way cleaner than most bathrooms! I actually enjoy cleaning, since it is a break from studying and it looks (and smells) nice when you are done. We have lots of colorful thing in our room, and even better, everything matches! My bed is red/orange/green and Annelise’s is purple and blue. We have a very bright carpet by our beds that ties all of these colors together. I must say that our decorating skills are brilliant! :-). Annelise brought posters, so we also have a wall covered with various pictures.

Annelise's bed/wall. Our closets.

My lovely desk and bed.

Our many windows, and the view from our room. The other dorms are across from us.

Our front door and pantry/fridge area

Simmons has its own dining hall. We have to pay for every item we eat, but everyone who lives here gets a discount, so it’s not too bad. On the first floor, there is also a little cafĂ©. There’s no breakfast or lunch in the dorm, so I’ve been eating power bars and milk for breakfast and I make my own sandwich for lunch (there are places to eat on campus but I enjoy being in my dorm room). Simmons is unique because it has a “Lounge” system. Throughout each floor there are lounges spread about. These are used as study areas, but some have kitchenettes and TVs. Certain lounges have a group associated with them. For example, I signed up for the “Schrodinger’s cat lounge”. Here’s their description: “We're the superposition of study and lounge, work and play, pain and pleasure. Bring us your impossible problem sets and we'll feed you. Who knows, maybe you'll even get salsa lessons from or serenaded by some of our members.” (And if you want to learn more about what a Schrodinger’s cat is, go here:,,sid9_gci341236,00.html)
The lounges are essentially like clubs. Each lounge gets $30 per person, so we get to go out and do fun things! We haven’t done anything yet but I’m sure we will soon.

Another cool thing about Simmons is that ANYONE that lives in Simmons can attend the government meetings. It is similar to a town meeting, where everyone gathers together to discuss issues in the dorm. We discuss anything from giving out money from the house funds for DVDs, brooms, hiking trips, etc. No other dorm has this unique government.

The day we moved into our final room assignments, Simmons had a mini “Mystery Hunt.” During Independent Activities Period (IAP we get the whole month of January off!) there is a week long series of puzzles that people stay up for days trying to solve. The people who solve the most get to organize the next year’s Mystery Hunt. We stayed up past twelve trying to solve some very tough puzzles. One of them Annelise solved because it was a beefed up word search with anime characters! After solving these puzzles, we had to use the answers to solve an even larger one. Our team did very well—we got second! This is what MIT is all about: problem solving. Once I come out of this place I will be able to look at an “impossible” problem and solve it.

More about classes will come later, so stay tuned.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The First 2 Weeks

So much has happened in the past few weeks, I don’t know where to begin. I’m going to put everything into chunks: pre-orientation, orientation, rush, and the past two weeks.


I went on a red-eye flight from San Jose to Boston with my friend Amanda. At the airport, my parents were very well behaved. They did not kidnap me so that I could not get on the plane, nor did they sabotage any of the plane’s equipment. JetBlue is quite awesome I must say. Individual TV screens and the crew was very friendly. Everything was clean. And best of all—no layovers!

We arrived in Boston at 4:30 in the morning with maybe 2 hours of sleep. After hauling our duffle bags to another terminal, we waited for the MIT shuttle for almost two hours. It turns out that they thought it would be easier to pick us up at the JetBlue terminal (which makes sense), but we had followed instructions and walked all the way to the official meeting place. It took them a while to figure out that we had gone there. Somehow we were able to fit all of our luggage into the shuttle, and we finally arrived at MIT, exhausted.

Me dead tired at the airport. Not a pretty picture.

Before orientation starts, freshmen are able to choose a pre-orientation program. These programs range from camping, to sailing or arts. Mine was “Discover History in Boston” (DHB). During the program I met a lot of cool people. The first day we went the Musem of Fine Arts and the Boston Public Library, which was actually more exciting than it sounds. In the museum we saw many old Greek pots which all told a story, mostly about Troy. I met the professor who will teach my Greek history class, he is very enthusiastic. At the library we got to see the first book printed in America, as well as John Adam’s personal library (he annotated many of the books). It was REALLY cool to be in the same room with such old artifacts. That night we went to a “Hatch Shell” concert. The stage looks like a quarter of a sphere. The New Philharmonia Orchestra played some really fun songs, including the Sound of Music and Stars and Stripes Forever.

The next day we visited Salem, where the Salem witch trials were held. Everything has to do with witches in the town (there were sooooo many tourist shops that sold Halloween type stuff). The trials were very sad because so many were killed who were innocent. Much of it had to do with politics and not religion. The court system back then was very different from nowadays; there were a group of girls who claimed to be bewitched by certain men and woman in the town. They even started twitching and making strange sounds; this was taken as “proof” that the girls had been bewitched. Nowadays no one would be trusted for something like that.

Salem graveyard. Spooooky. Lowell linen machines.

We also went to a museum in Salem. My Pakistani friend, Saad, explained much of his history as we went through some of the artifacts. It is amazing how many different cultures were represented in the museum. There was also an old Chinese house that was moved from China and rebuilt there. I cannot believe that the Chinese used to bind their women’s feet!!! They would bind them in cloth and force them into small shoes so that they grew deformed; small feet were considered beautiful. If your daughter did not have small feet she would have a very hard time getting married.

Our last stop was in Lowell, a major milling town. We saw a lot of cotton weaving machines. Unfortunately, most of the information they had at the museum there was social, there was nothing how the machines functioned. We’re engineers! We want to know how it works. Oh well, it was still interesting. That night we saw a professional baseball game (low in the professional levels) with the Lowell Spinners. Lowell won. I really need to get into baseball—go Red Sox!!!

One of these nights some of the girls from DHB came over to Simmons (my dorm) and we played a very strange (but very awesome) card game called Mau. I’m not even going to try to explain it. It’s so crazy I will though. Basically, for each card you lay down, there are certain things you have to say for it. You play by suit and there are many rules (which you can add onto). For example, let’s say you put down a king of hearts. You would have to say “I love (insert something). He’s a nice old man….oink. A red rose.” (the “love” part is because it is a heart, and we also had to say an object that was red for any red card.) The funniest thing someone said was: “I love Orlando Bloom. He’s a nice old man….oink.” That was pretty hilarious….maybe you had to be there.

For our last day my friends from DHB and I traveled around to Quincy Market (good shopping), Boston Commons (very green and pretty), and Newbury Street (good shopping). Now I have gone to some of the most touristy places in Boston! Yay!


Orientation was pretty fun, too. Unfortunately, I was the only one in my group who showed up to everything, but that was ok. Some upperclassmen did a skit about drugs, sex, and alcohol, and it was very entertaining. There were also discussions about diversity (racism, sexism, etc.) and sexual assault, which was serious.

As for fun stuff: I can sum it up in one word, “orange.” MIT has special “secret” tours called “Orange Tours” that East Campus puts on. I don’t want to give much away, except I will say that the view on top of the dome is breathtaking. (“We are going to Baker House…..ermmmm we took a slight detour”). Let’s just say that East Campus has sort of a secret society that knows the underground (and rooftops) of MIT very well. If you ever get a chance to go on an Orange Tour, YOU MUST GO ON ONE!

Another night we went to East Campus to see the water slide that they build. Yes, they built a water slide. They also had lots of other strange contraptions, like a machine that spun you around and then there was a rope that they could attach you to and you could swing across some of the trees. Of course, it had to start raining, and we went inside. But then it stopped! And we watched some people spaghetti wrestle, evidently it is a tradition or something. Quite hilarious.

Spagetti wresting: a new trend?

At the end of orientation, there was a 2009 boat cruise. I was extremely tired, so I mostly sat on a chair looking really out of it and listening to my friends talk. I suddenly got a huge rush of energy off the boat though. My friend Ilang from Wellesley met up with me at the carnival afterwards. It was so good to see her. I also ran into my friend Mike from ISEF (International Science Fair).


We got our class picture taken in front of the Great Dome. It was very warm sitting in the sun, and I got sunburned. Afterwards, rush started.

The Great Dome. (From the left) Annelise, Kaitlyn, and me.

I felt very ignored as all of the fraternities were trying to recruit guys for their house (sororities recruit in January). All of my guy upperclassmen friends could only talk to me for a minute or so and then their duty was to talk to boys. I hung out with Phi Sigma Kappa guys a bunch (I have upperclassmen friends there). One day we went to the beach (yes, there are beaches here! And they are actually similar to the one near me in CA) and tried to throw people into the freezing cold water. Phi Sig also had a “Cage Rave” party one night. We danced a ton. Phi Sig is really an awesome place, if I were a guy I would definitely pledge there. They have a gorgeous view of Boston on the top of the frat, and they can display movies on the side of the building. We watched “Hitch” one night. At CPW (Campus Preview Weekend at MIT) Amanda and I hung out at Phi Sig almost every night. One day for dinner they served steak and lobster (the lobster was VERY messy). Seriously, frats go all out in order to recruit people, it’s insane.

We got some shopping in at Target (I got a bike….which I really need to practice riding. I’ve never been very solid on a bike, and I haven’t ridden one a long time). There is also a large market near us called Star Market (cheaper than the campus one, of course). It is a short walk from my dorm.

MIT has many quirky traditions, including hacks (pranks, the Orange Tour, and the Sodium Drop. The Sodium Drop was really really really cool. I don’t know if anyone has ever put some sodium or potassium in water in their chem class—if you haven’t you need to. Sodium reacts violently with water. We hurried off to East Campus (that’s where all the quirky stuff is :-). Some guy in a robe was talking about a deity called Krotus and dropping potatoes into the river for good luck (don’t ask me…..I live on West Campus, thank you very much….I’m just kidding, although EC is very different than West Campus, it is still very cool). A group of a few hundred walked to one of the bridges and lined all the way across it. After throwing in the potatoes and some spam (again, don’t ask me), they finally threw in the sodium. It was the loudest explosion I have ever heard. Water shot up from the river. And even better, they threw in MULTIPLE hunks! Water reacts violently with sodium. Why?

Here’s the chemical equation:

2 Na + 2 H2O ----> 2 NaOH + H2

The reaction produces hydrogen gas. The reaction is also exothermic, so it releases heat, and the hydrogen self-ignites. For more info, click here:

I have to wonder what the people passing by in the T (the subway) thought. Loud explosion = omg terrorists! My friend Darren was almost deaf afterwards. The Boston Police took quite a while to react. We saw some police as we were walking back to campus. I think they were about to roll down their window and ask us what was going on but decided against it (honestly, is there anything strange about seeing a few hundred people walking back from a bridge that there was just a large explosion? Didn’t think so :-).

One night, Annelise (my roommate), Kaitlyn (my neighbor), and I went to Random hall to play the game Settlers of Catan. It’s a cool strategy board game. It was amusing because it everything was in German. Random is a very interesting hall. Basically, anything you can say about Random, you can describe by the world “random.” Their house mascot is a disintegrated carton of spoiled milk that is over ten years old. Very cool place, just really random. While walking back to Simmons, we got caught in the rain. It has been proven that if you run in the rain, you will not get as wet. But, since Simmons is so far away, it would not matter much if we ran or walked, and so we proceeded to have some fun and get soaked.

All wet.

I think that’s about it for the first two weeks. I have been having a blast! I know there are some things I forgot; if they come to me I will put them in a later entry. I’ll update later with info about my my classes, dorm, parties, and whatever other crazy things I run into.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

First Post

My name is Amber Hess and I am a freshman at MIT. I will try to update this blog at least once a week but we'll see how that goes :-). My goal is to show people what MIT is like socially and academically. So, if you are a prospective student or you are just curious about MIT, you've come to the right place. If you have any questions please post them on the blog.

As for the name of the blog, "Smoots" are an actual measurement of distance. During rush a while back one pledge was used as a measuring stick on the Harvard Bridge. His last name was Smoots. The bridge measured 364.4 smoots and 1 ear. I thought that it would be a cool name for a blog, and it is one of many eccentric things at MIT.