Monday, December 18, 2006


Sorry it's been a while since I've updated. I'm in the middle of finals now, and will be heading home this Friday! It will be so nice when the semester is finally finished, and I can just relax for the holidays. I'll do a huge update over break, so check back in a week and a half or so.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fall Formal 2006

Last weekend was the fall formal! Simmons, Next House, MacGregor, and McCormick put it on for the entire campus, so we got a few dollars off of the tickets since Simmons was a sponsor. The event was held at the Hyatt, just a few blocks from Simmons, so it was a short (but very cold!) walk. Inside the hotel MIT students had a large room all to themselves. Plus there was food, a live band, a DJ, and dancing of course. All in all it was an awesome party and Gus and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The weekend was actually rather momentous for Gus and I, since we went to the formal last year together, and it was one of our first dates :-).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pumpkin DROP!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween and ate lots of candy. Each year at MIT around Halloween, pumpkins are thrown off of the tallest building, the Green Building (Building 54 in MIT-speak). A huge crowd showed up to watch the event. Police are there and the whole building is roped off so no one gets crushed by the falling pumpkins. They threw off about 20 or so pumpkins and other forms of squash, which splattered onto the pavement below. There was even music in the background to make it more dramatic. Here are some pics of the remains of the pumpkins and Building 54:

Simmons also had a Halloween Carnival the same afternoon. Some of GRTs dressed up as characters from Nintendo’s Mario franchise, and their costumes were very creative. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics. I didn’t dress up, but I do have a picture of me looking frightened underneath a giant spider.

Random Fun Stuff

So, here's some random things I've been meaning to mention.

Think invisibility cloaks only exist in Harry Potter? Think again. Some researchers created the first cloaking device!

One of my friends was on the front page of slash dot (a very popular, and somewhat nerdy news website about cool things). Dheera has a bunch of awesome stuff on his website, including a description of how he made a giant LED display in the windows of Simmons. Being mentioned on slashdot is a big deal, so congrats to Dheera!

And, lastly, a really amusing Doonesbury comic because it captures the “spirit” of MIT. (And don’t worry for those of you applying, it really isn’t this bad here, you’ll probably only have a few days like this).

Meet the Parents: Parents Weekend at MIT

We had a four day weekend at the beginning of October, and I went with Gus’ parents to Rhode Island. This was my first time meeting them, so I was a little nervous, but after the first few minutes I felt comfortable with them. We stayed with some of their relatives in Rhode Island, and did some sightseeing (although, not as much as I would have liked, since I had to do a 6.001 computer programming project). During one trip, we went to see some of the famous mansions that go along the Rhode Island coast. All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I was finally able to meet Gus’ parents!

A few days later, it was Parents Weekend, and my parents came to visit! They sat in some of my classes, went to lectures, and hung out with me in general. They got to meet Gus’ parents too, and fortunately for me, it seems that our families are compatible with each other. On the weekend, we went to see the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Museum of Science, which was cool, but also disturbing (they are real bodies!). Check it out here:

It was great seeing my parents, I’ve missed them over the past few months!


A while ago, I went on a Simmons government retreat to the Franklin Park Zoo. The zoo was quite small compared to the ones I have visited, but it very quaint and cute. It was a nice break from studying, and we had a picnic in the park beforehand. During this retreat, we talked about how to improve social activities, dining, and many other things. I’m not officially part of the Simmons government, but anyone from Simmons could attend the retreat. Here are some pics (including a goofy one of Gus and I):

Sunday, October 22, 2006

First tests of the semester

My first tests did not go as I wanted them to. I didn't do horribly, but I didn't do outstanding either. I just had my music test last week, and I think that went well, but I have not gotten it back yet. I just need to adapt to these classes and now that the first tests are over, I know what to expect.

The last few weeks have been very stressful since I had three tests in one week, I had a 6.001 project I needed to do (and I met Gus' parents at the same time), and then my parents came for parents weekend, and then I had another test! This weekend I've had a bit of a break, even though I had to write an essay. But at least there are no tests next week!

I will give a more detailed update on all of these things shortly. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

Career Fair

MIT had its career fair in the middle of September. More than a hundred companies showed up to hand out tchotskies and talk to us about internship/job opportunities. I visited Intel, Shell, Procter and Gamble, General Electric, Baker Hughes, IBM, and many others. I handed out my resume to each of them, and I will apply to some of these companies to try and get an internship for this summer. Since I’m a sophomore, it will be harder for me to get an internship compared to upperclassmen. Here is a funny (but actually quite accurate) representation of the MIT career fair (it is from Volume 125, No. 41).

For a list of all the companies that showed up, go here:

Saturday, September 30, 2006

3 Tests!

I have three tests next week, so I'm studying a lot this weekend. Check back next week for a blog update!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An Awesome Hack (Fire Trucks Anyone?)

MIT has a "hacking" culture. For those of you who do not know, "hacking" is another word for "pulling a prank." There are a number of other meanings, too (like exploring buildings, etc.). So, at MIT a prank is called a "hack." There are acually many rules for hacking (people have to be respectful, and most people are), so most of the hacks are actually very well done and do not disrupt the flow of the university.

Yesterday on the morning of 9/11 (say a prayer for all of those who were affected on that terrifying day), a fire truck appeared on the top of the Great Dome! Not a full-fledged one, mind you, but a large truck nonetheless. A similar hack was pulled quite a few years ago with a car, and it is one of the most memorable hacks in the Institute's history.
(Update) It was verifed in The Tech (MIT's newspaper) that the hack was to commemorate the 5th anniversary of 9/11. A painted seal on the door states "Meminimus" which is Latin for "We remember." There are also toy dalmations sitting on the outside of the truck. The hack has been getting quite a bit of publicity lately. It was supposed to be taken down from 10-11 today, but it was still up at 3:30. I think this hack will be remembered for a long time to come.

To read the Tech article, go here:
Here are some more pictures of the hack:

MIT Ranked 1st in Engineering by USNews

This was announced a few weeks ago, but I never discussed it. MIT moved up in the USNews college rankings from #6 to #4 overall (of course we all think it should be #1) and was ranked 1st in Engineering!

U.S. News:
MIT Article:


Saturday, September 09, 2006

New MIT website!

I just finished making a new website about MIT! It has a FAQ and lots of other things to explore. Go to to visit it!. The website is called Smoots: Student Life At MIT and it aims to provide information to prospective students, incoming freshman, parents, and other people curious about MIT.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fall Term Classes

Classes started on September 6th! It is strange that school is starting up again, but I know I feel much more comfortable than the new freshman. This term I am taking four academic classes (with a total of 51 units, most classes are 12 units each) and an exercise class (running at 7 in the morning!). I am Course 10 (Chemical Engineering), so I’m taking two chemistry/cheme related classes this semester.

10.10 Introduction to Chemical Engineering [H. H. Sawin]

This class has two psets each week. I really hope they don’t take a long time (I’ve heard the class is pretty difficult)! It introduces basic chemical engineering concepts using Matlab (a programming language). The lecturer so far seems great, I have yet to start falling asleep!

5.60 Thermodynamics and Kinetics [R. W. Field]

I’ve heard good and bad things about this class. I’ve heard it’s boring, and also interesting. I've also heard it is easy, but also hard. I suppose parts are interesting and parts are boring. I wanted to take 5.07 (Biochemistry I) instead, but the course 10 administrators changed when a higher level class was offered, so I need to take 5.60 this semester. It doesn’t seem bad so far…the first pset doesn’t look too hard.

6.001 Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs [W. E. L. Grimson]

If you remember one class at MIT, remember this one (pronounced six-double-oh-one). 6.001 is 15 units instead of 12. A large portion of the student population is course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), and this is the introductory class that all those people, and then some, take. Instead of focusing on learning a specific language, this class teaches people how to program in general, and how a computer language works, so basically, how to think like a programmer. It seems very good so far and I’ve heard it takes a lot of work but it is worth it. I wanted to take a course 6 class so I could learn more about computers and electronics, and I also wanted to keep my options open in case I don’t like chemical engineering.

21.M011 Introduction to Western Music [M. Marks]

At MIT 8 humanities (HASS) classes are required to graduate. This means you should take one per semester. I do not know a whole lot about music, although I took piano and drums when I was younger. This class will teach me about the vocabulary for music and how to listen and analyze music. It is fun so far! I enjoy listening to the Gregorian chants on the CD they gave us, it’s quite relaxing. The main focus of the class will be on Classical music, but right now we’re starting at the year 1000 A.D.

This semester looks the most challenging one yet, but also fun. I think I’ll enjoy all of these classes and learn many new things.

Friday, September 01, 2006

My Room!

REX: Choosing a Dorm

I’m finally back at MIT! I miss my parents but I’m very glad to see my friends again. Annelise and I have had a lot of fun planning our room and figuring out where to put our furniture (I ordered a rug, a little table, and a fridge before I came back, that’s how excited I was!). The past week has been very very busy, since it was Residential Exploration for the freshman. In order for me to come back to MIT early (school starts on September 6th), I had to help out with REX. Gus is in charge of it along with his friend Nunu, so it really wasn’t a bad thing :-).

MIT is unique compared to other colleges because they give you a lot of control over where you live. Each dorm is very different, so you should look around thoroughly. Before arriving at MIT, the frosh receive information about all the different dorms and they rank all of them in order of preference. During part of orientation, they are put in a “temp” dorm (based on their preferences and a lottery that is held). REX started last Friday and ended this Wednesday. During orientation/REX, there are a lot of activities that each dorm puts on. This allows freshman to go around the dorms and decide where they would feel most comfortable. If they do not want to stay in their temp dorm, they have to enter a second lottery (the same as the first lottery) to determine their dormitory. Most people get one of their tops choices. Yesterday Simmons’ residents found out their permanent room assignments. Within Simmons, we also have another preference sheet so the freshman have as much control as possible over what room they get. On the preference sheet you have to rank in order of importance to you: curvy vs. straight walls, size of room, Cambridge side or Boston side, which floor, etc. You can also choose a roommate, but if you don’t have anyone to room with you can fill out a roommate preference sheet too.

Here are the activities we did last week for the freshman:

-In the morning, we greeted freshman at the entrance to Simmons, there were donuts!
- We took some frosh out to dinner. My group went to Royal East, a Chinese restaurant.


- In the morning, we greeted freshman at the entrance to Simmons
-We had a barbeque outside for lunch and there was a water slide (I got all wet because Gus threw me in it :-).
-There was a Star Wars movie marathon that lasted until about 4 in the morning. We started at 8:00 with episodes IV, V, and VI. Our plan was to watch Episodes I, II, and III after that but I guess people went to sleep after Episode I.

-The housemasters served brunch to freshman
-We tie-dyed boxers, thongs, and t-shirts in the afternoon
-We gave tours of Simmons to parents and freshman
-There was a water war between East and West Campus, but it was raining so I don’t think many people went.
-Fluorescent party (including a DJ and glow in the dark stuff!) and capture the flag in Simmons at night
-We served waffles at midnight along with ice cream and other goodies (mmmm soooo yummy!)

-We went paint balling, it was awesome!

-We invited the freshman to do a 3.5 mile run along the river at 7:00 in the morning :-)

-Freshman know what dormitory they are staying in
-Simmons orientation, freshman met the different GRTs

-Simmons Mystery Hunt (puzzle solving competition!)

I had a lot of fun meeting the freshman and helping out with the events (I did almost all of them!). It was stressful at times but definitely worth it. We had a great REX this year thanks to all the Early Returns and Gus and Nunu!

Minor Planets and Huge Telescopes

Before I left for MIT (which was on the 23rd of August), my family planned a surprise for me. One of the science competitions I went to actually named “minor planets” after all the participants. A minor planet is similar to an asteroid. If you put “amberhess” in Google it will actually come right up. My “minor planet” is number 21431. Here’s some more information about minor planets:

There is a place called “MIRA” (Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy) near where I live. We drove up to the top of a mountain to visit the telescope they have there! It was so cool! The view was spectacular (the sunset was gorgeous), the telescope was huge, and I got to see my minor planet! I don’t have any pictures of the planet right now, but I should be getting some soon. When I do, I’ll post them!

In order to find “amberhess” we took multiple pictures using the telescope of the place we knew it should be. Since the other stars/galaxies and planets have such a larger orbit, they appear to be standing still. My asteroid orbits around the sun, and so the asteroid moves quite a bit in just a few minutes. So the bright dot that moves a bit from one picture to the next was my minor planet! Luckily there were not other asteroids in the area we photographed.

It was a very memorable experience and I thank my family and the researchers at MIRA for making it possible.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sea Turtles and Beaches Galore!

Going to Maui was a very relaxing vacation. It was a great end to the summer, and now I feel rested and very excited to go back to MIT. While snorkeling, we saw a lot of brightly colored fish and even sea turtles! The turtles were really cool, and they are huge! They can weigh up to 300 pounds! They go down among the rocks to have fish clean off the algae on their bodies and when they come up for air, they surface right next to you! We also went surfing (very small waves, since we are beginners). It actually is not very hard to stand up on a board. The beginners have much larger boards than advanced surfers (you should be able to use physics and/or common sense to figure out why :-).

I read quite a lot while I was in Maui. I finished George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows (Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire series). This one wasn’t as good as the last few (not a whole lot actually happens), but he still has a few more books coming out so hopefully they will be better. I also read Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment, which was quite amusing. It’s a great book to pick up if you want to read something that has depth, but is also rather silly. I laughed out loud a few times while reading it. At the same time though, Pratchett uses the humor to point out important issues about war, sexism, and everyday life in general. I’ve also been reading Democracy in the United States: Promise and Performance by Robert A. Dahl. It is a fascinating account of how the constitution was formed, and its effects today. Although the people who wrote the constitution were not almighty and no where near perfect, their insight into democracy was certainly unique, and the proof of that still stands today. No democracy had ever been placed over such a large area as the United States, and many democracies fail in general. I just find it so amazing that our constitution is still here, and hardly altered.

Hmmm….I have diverged a lot from my main topic. So back to Maui :-). We also ate REALLY good food while there. I had so much fish and pineapple! Soooo delicious. I think I was full every single night. And of course I can’t forget about the wonderful smoothies! One day we took a trip to Lahaina, a shopping area with tons of stores. My mom and I went through some of the more touristy stores and got pretty dresses. I got a mouse pad from David and Goliath (The Stupid Factory), a rather interesting store that has lots of random things to buy. My mouse pad says “How do you do this thing on?!” and it has a girl with pigtails holding pompoms. Since I go to MIT and I am relatively good at using computers it was rather amusing. I am a little tanner, but not very much (30 spf is not the best thing to tan with….), and I am now sufficiently relaxed.

I have so many things to do before I leave for MIT though, so it’s time for me to start packing! I leave on the 23rd!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I finished my job at Agilent about a week ago. It was a great experience; I learned a lot about the working world and about biochemistry (more details on this later!).

Right now I am packing for a trip to go to Maui with my parents! I'm very excited! I can't wait to relax, read a lot, listen to my ipod, and sit by the pool. We're going to swim and surf and snorkel (such a strange word)!

It's so crazy that I only have about three weeks until I go back to MIT. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer so far.

I will do more updates when I get back (which will be on the 14th), including lots of pictures!

PLEASE POST COMMENTS on my blog! I like it when people leave notes or suggestions. So far no one is posting anything except for Gus :-(.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Review of the 1st Year: My thoughts on MIT

So, here’s the update you’ve all been waiting for (drumroll please)….what do I think of MIT?

Was it the right place for me? Is it the right choice for others? Read on to find out…

When I was looking at colleges, I never would have thought I would end up at MIT. I had heard so many bad rumors about it: the campus was ugly, the people had bad social skills and didn’t party at all, all the students did was work, everyone was depressed because it was so tough. But after being persuaded by my parents to visit MIT on our East Coast college tour, I became in love with it. The campus wasn’t as ugly as I thought it would be (it’s not like Princeton, but each building’s architecture is very unique and there are quite a few green areas…plus you are right on the Charles river with the Boston skyline in the background!). The people were so friendly; we must have had at least two people stop and ask if we needed directions. I also talked with a few alumni and current students, and all of them said that MIT was an awesome place, and even though it was hard, it was not impossible to do well. After visiting, MIT became my first choice!

Then I got in, which was a very exciting occasion. So after all that wonderful history about my life, I will finally tell you what my first year was like. Here is a list of questions I asked MIT students, and now I will answer them myself.

How much sleep do you get on average (can you get 8 hours of sleep)?

Most of the time, I averaged 7-8 hours each night. Of course there was one or two nights each week where I got only 4 hours or so, but it really isn’t all that bad. If sleep is very important to you, you can get enough sleep, it’s all about organizing your time. This was actually one of my worst fears about going to MIT. I get headaches if I do not get enough sleep (sometimes this happens with 7 hours!), and I the only time I got headaches in college was on weekends, and I think I only got two minor ones the entire year! So if I survived my freshman year, I think you’ll do just fine. Another thing that helps is that most classes do not start until 9 or 10 in the morning, so you can sleep in until at least 8 and still have a ton of time to get ready in the morning. The people who get hardly any sleep are the ones who start their psets the night before they are due and do not pace themselves. So don’t do that!

How much time do you spend doing homework?

This varies a ton on the class. For HASS classes, I definitely did not spend as much time on homework as I was supposed to. I did most of the readings and did all the papers, and I don’t think I spent seven hours per week preparing for class. For some of my science classes, the homework would take a very long time (seven hours or so), but a lot of this was because it was late at night and I was tired, so I was very inefficient. I studied at least four hours a day after school and a few hours on weekends. I would say homework takes at least thirty hours each week. At the same time though, those four hours of studying were often interrupted by friends dropping by and such, and I survived somehow.

Do you have time to do anything else except study? If yes, what do you spend your free time doing?

Definitely! Although on weekdays I would mostly just study, I still had time for all the essentials, and then some. I had time to eat dinner, take a shower, talk to friends, go to study breaks, and exercise. On weekends, even though I would do homework during the day (and not very efficiently sometimes I might add), I still had time to watch movies with friends, go to parties, go out shopping every once in a while, play video games, and spend time with my boyfriend. And Boston is right across the river, so we would sometimes go out to dinner or walk around Boston a little bit. I also have lots of friends who participated in sports everyday. So you do have free time as long as you manage your time well.

Are the classes totally impossible, or can you actually do well in them?

The classes may seem impossible at times, but with some effort you can do well in them (my GPA is testimony to that). And when I say well I mean you can get a B or an A. Lots of times the test scores will seem very low (50s and 60s are very often the average), but the professors scale them to benefit everyone (there are no bell curves that force some people to fail). If you spend time on the class and are serious about doing well, you will be able to. Sure, some tests you might study your butt off and still do badly, but the next test around you will probably have adapted and then you’ll do better. If you don’t slack off, you can do very well here.

One thing I’d like to emphasize: MIT IS NOT CUTTHROAT! Sure, it’s competitive here, but since there are no honors, rankings, or anything like that, people aren’t afraid to help each other. I often work with friends on homework, and people generally seem to WANT to help you with your studies. The person you end up competing the most against is yourself.

What is your overall experience with professors (do you think they are good teachers?)

Just like high school, you have good professors and bad professors, and good TAs and bad TAs. I’ve seen a very wide range. Many of the teachers I had were quite good, very interesting and enthusiastic, organized, and obviously cared about the students. Others were just okay, and some were terrible. Luckily I only ran into one terrible person. Overall I am happy about the quality of teaching here. Another nice thing MIT does is that they have you fill out an evaluation for the TAs and professors, and they put the results online. I’m sure some professors totally ignore the suggestions students give them, but others probably do listen. And it’s great since you can see online which professors are must-haves and which are ones to avoid.

One question that is also asked a lot is about the humanities. Since MIT is known for its engineering and science programs, aren’t the humanities left out? Actually, in my experience, my humanities professors have been very good. I enjoyed my classes, and although HASS classes do not require as much work as your other classes, I’ve found the teachers do not grade easily. You need to write a good essay to get an A, and A’s are not just handed out on a silver platter to anyone. MIT is not just science and engineering, the administration is very focused on creating well-rounded scientists/engineers that are able to communicate well. MIT has some outstanding humanities majors, specifically Economics, Political Science, and Management. Supposedly our creative writing program is also well ranked (I took a creative writing class and enjoyed it immensely).

What are the worst things about MIT?

There’s a big workload, and sometimes you want to scream “IHTFP!” (I Hate This F****** Place, see So if you come here, be prepared to work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a science stud and think you’re all that, whether you got 1600 (or 2400) on your SATs, if you won the international science fair or the international science Olympiad, you still have to work hard. Sure, there are a few geniuses here that seem to pick up everything they hear, but those are very rare. All of my friends are very smart, but they still have to work their butts off. Sometimes the workload does get to you, and if it does, take a break, and just remember that YOU chose to come to MIT.

Also, the weather was a big adjustment. Luckily this winter wasn’t all that bad, but it was still cold to me. The snow is fun, but I would much rather be in California. So it’s something to consider.

Even though MIT is a pretty big name school, there are lots of people who have never heard of it. That isn’t really what is important to me, but sometimes it can get annoying. I get “Michigan?” quite a lot, and sometimes, I even have to explain that there is more than one type of engineering than “engineering.” MIT does still carry around some bad reputation for depressed students and whatnot, and I’ve had a ton of people ask me if I feel comfortable being a girl there (it’s almost 50:50 male:female ratio now by-the-way). But that really doesn’t matter because I know the people that have heard of MIT are the ones that are going to give me and job in the future, and that is what counts.

What are the best things about MIT?

So many things, where to start?

I love the people here: I think almost everyone here deserved to get in. Everyone is smart, friendly and fun. MIT students are very enthusiastic and passionate about what they do, and they all have a drive to succeed. I love my friends so much! We all support each other in whatever we do, whether it is going to a concert someone is performing in, giving surprise birthday parties, and helping each other with homework. The upperclassman try to help, too, even if they may not remember what you are studying. I love how people work together on problem sets, and that MIT is not cutthroat.

I don’t feel like the nerd or the geek anymore like I did in high school, because everyone here is interested in having intellectual conversations and talking about crazy physics ideas or going over a strange math proof. It’s nice to finally feel accepted. At the same time, it’s not all “geeks and nerds” here either (see my response about that below).

I love how MIT challenges you but doesn’t kill you. How you feel like you’ve accomplished something just by finishing a pset. I love how I’ve gotten much better at managing my time. I love how MIT teaches how to be a hard worker.

Another thing that is great about MIT is how the administration is always looking at how to improve things. As I said before, students can fill out surveys about their professors, and the results are posted online. MIT is also trying to constantly change the way things are done in the classroom. Sometimes these changes are for the better, and others sound good on paper but do not work well. But the point is that the administration does care. The TEAL format of my physics class was one of these changes (and you can argue it was not well executed, but there are also positive things about it). Right now MIT is looking to change its General Institute Requirements, and they even had a student committee to give input.

I love how the administration is very approachable. Teachers and TAs often lead review sessions before tests, hold office hours (and they don’t seem to think it’s a pain). Even before I was accepted, the admissions officers were not stuffy in the least, and they actually seemed to care about me as a person.

I love how I’ve been challenged in new ways, and I love seeing how I’m improving each day. I love how MIT teaches you how to solve problems so that you can solve anything. I love how MIT education does not emphasize memorization, but understanding the general concepts and then applying them to much more difficult situations.

I love how we have a unique sort of school spirit. Our “brass rat” school rings are the 2nd most recognized ring in the world besides the Super bowl ring, and any alumni will proudly show it to you and start talking about fond memories of pulling a prank, blowing up something, and how “that class was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.” We have nerd pride, it’s true, and we aren’t afraid to show it.

I love how MIT has a reputation for being a “bootcamp” for science and engineering. I know that when I come out of this place, I will be able to do anything. You can’t get the same level of respect from people when they find out you went to MIT anywhere else (maybe Caltech….but honestly, why would you go there? :-). I know I will be very well prepared for life after college. MIT will teach me how to be the best engineer and person I can possibly be.

I love how there are so many opportunities at MIT. There are so many things to do: you can start your own research, join a club (or twenty), participate in a sport, do community service (or start your own non-profit), join the student government and change school policies…the list goes on and on. If you want to do something at MIT, you probably can. The possibilities are endless.

I could continue on, but I’ll spare you the text.

There is a rumor that most MIT students are depressed (the whole suicide rate thing), what are your comments on that?

To put this straight, MIT’s suicide rate is either the national average or below it (I’ve heard both). Either way, we are not ABOVE the average. Sure, MIT is stressful at times, but there is no need for people to become depressed. In fact, since a few years back when a student committed suicide and it was all over the papers, the faculty has taken depression very seriously. One time Annelise called the nurse about having a stomach ache, and when she mentioned something about being stressed out a little, they asked her all these questions about how she was feeling. Sometimes it can actually get a little annoying, but it’s nice to know that they do watch out for it. Our GRTs (the graduate students that look after us in the dorms), also come by often to see how we’re doing.

MIT wants you to succeed (and people do, we have a very high retention rate), and consequently there are lots of resources for help. Whether it be tutoring, office hours, talking to a GRT or psychologist, there is no reason to get depressed unless you let yourself. I love MIT, I’m happy there, and so are my friends. Of course we complain about the coursework, of course we get frustrated at times, but we still can’t imagine ourselves anywhere else.

So, how many nerds are there really?

This really depends upon how you define a nerd/geek. I consider myself a nerd. I don’t dress up in suspenders every day and talk in a high pitched voice, but I do enjoy learning things. Almost everyone here likes intellectual conversations, and we have lots of jokes about science and math, but there are surprisingly few people that have no social skills. I was surprised at how many “normal” people there were at MIT. Everyone is smart, but most people do not act “geeky.” But most of us do enjoy a good Star Trek episode or Star Wars marathon (excluding the prequels….at least for me :-).

Why should you go to MIT? Is it the right place for everyone?

You should go to MIT if you love math and science and learning in general. If you’ve ever felt alone in your high school for your love of Star Wars, physics, and other intellectual hobbies, then this is the place for you. If you were bored in high school and want a challenge, MIT is for you. If you want to go to the best school in the world for science and engineering, MIT is for you. And, if you want to meet some of the brightest kids in the world, MIT is for you.

If you slacked off in high school because you were really smart and could get straight A’s without any effort, and want the same thing to happen in college, you might not want to come here. If you want to party all the time in college, don’t come here. Geniuses who didn’t need to put any effort into high school often find MIT to be very difficult because they don’t know how to work hard. If you come here, be prepared to put in the time and effort. I don’t say that to discourage you from looking at MIT, it’s just something that people need to know. You will need to work hard, but that’s not all you’ll be doing. You’re going to be learning a ton of cool things, meeting awesome people, participating in amazing activities, and having fun in general. MIT isn’t a place where people study all the time. Sure, it takes up a lot of our time, but college isn’t college without other things too. You can have a balanced life at MIT as long as you are organized.

You probably should not come to MIT if you absolutely detest science. Although MIT does have some world-class humanities programs (economics, political science, and management in particular), you might feel a little left out of all the science jokes. At the same time, there are tons of niches for non-science and math people. So the choice is up to you.

If you think you are the best thing since milk and cookies, MIT is definitely not the place for you. We are very friendly and down-to-earth people (you have to be to survive here, since you'll be relying a lot on others to succeed). Of course we have a few people who think they are "all that", but almost everyone I’ve met at MIT doesn’t have a high opinion of his/herself. Let’s put it this way: don’t expect to be at the top of your class anymore. At the same time though (and as I’ve repeated a billion times), there are many ways to shine here, and it is not impossible to do well.

I love MIT, and I am so glad I came here. I can’t see myself anywhere else.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

4th of July in Boston

Being away from Gus from a month has been like going with out water. Okay, so maybe not that horrible, but I do miss him a lot! I guess it feels like losing your watch and not being able to have coffee when you have it every morning. Maybe that’s also a bad analogy, but I feel like something’s missing all the time, and I have this weird craving in my stomach, like I’m addicted to something and I’m not sure what (but a good addiction, mind you).

Luckily, I was able to go back to Boston and visit Gus (he’s doing research in the Media Lab). And even better, it was on the 4th of July weekend!!!! I took the redeye flight out of San Jose and arrived in Boston at 5:30 in the morning. Gus met me at South Station (he was so excited to see me he stayed up all night :-), and then we walked back to Simmons. It was so great to see him! We had both been counting down the days before we would see each other. It seemed to take forever until it was finally June 30th.

We walked around in Boston a little bit, saw Superman Returns (good movie, by-the-way), ate lunch along the river, played Nintendo (I brought back some of my Nintendo 64 games for him, including The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask, so he was very happy, and we played Banjo Kazooie and then Gus showed me some old school Nintendo, like the original Legend of Zelda and Star Tropics), watched some crazy movies at the dorm, exercised on the treadmill, and had a romantic dinner (which included candles!!!). Aww my boyfriend is so sweet. Don't worry, I won’t bore you with all lovey-dovey details, but I will say this: I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed. I had the time of my life, and I will always remember it.

And how could I forget to talk about the fireworks?! Thousands of people must have shown up across the Charles River. MIT was flooded with people, and the Harvard Bridge was completely packed. Gus and I were on the MIT side of the river, and we had a spectacular view of the fireworks. They lit off so many it seemed like a large golden cloud had been formed. I’ve never seen anything like it! Boston is an awesome place to go for the 4th of July because its history is a major part of America’s independence. Here is a pic of Gus and I and my lame attempt at catching some of the fireworks. Unfortunately I didn't take too many good pictures on this trip:

Now I’m back in California :-(, and I miss Gus again. I’m counting down the days until school starts and I get to see him!

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

Agilent Internship

I’m now about three weeks or so into my Agilent Internship. My parents own a small townhouse up in the Bay Area (my dad was always going back and forth for work), so it has come in handy for me because it only takes twenty minutes to get to work. I also enjoy the peace and quiet, although at times I do get lonely, which is when I call Gus. On the weekends I come home to visit my parents.

My work at Agilent has been very interesting so far, and I’ve learned a lot. We still haven’t started on the actual experiment yet, but everything is finally starting to come along. Agilent just moved into the Santa Clara site a few months ago, and they are still remodeling the buildings, so it took a long time for everything to get set up. Our machines appear to be in working order now.

The great thing about this internship is that I came in just as Viorica, my boss, was starting this new project. So I can pretend that I know just as much as she does….or something like that. We’re studying enzymes called Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are in the matrix where cells are located. MMPs do lots of things, from eating away at collagen or breaking up other parts of your body. If MMPs go out of hand, recent research suggests that they play a role in arthritis, cancer, and many other diseases. Essentially, they are an important batch of proteins that are worth looking at. Viorica and I are going to develop a method to detect MMPs with an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). This particular machine allows you to determine the concentration of metal ions in a sample (which in our case will be blood serum), and MMPs are have a center of calcium and zinc. Want to learn how one works? It’s quite cool actually. Visit this link:

At the moment we have been gathering a bunch of research articles to see what other people have done before us. No one has ever used an ICP-MS before to measure MMPs, so it’s rather unique. Soon though, we’ll start the real experiment!

I’m glad that I am doing an internship, it keeps me busy, keeps my mind working, and it’s fun earning money! I highly suggest you do something over the summer after your first year of college.

Family time! Bridesmaids Are Awesome

A week after I saw my cousin Christopher graduate from high school, I went back to Texas again for his brother, Kyle’s, wedding. I’ve known Kyle’s wife for a few years now, so she already seemed a part of the family because the two of them were always together.

The wedding went so perfectly. Our dresses were pretty, Katie looked gorgeous, Kyle looked handsome, and our baby cousins Logan and Lucy (5 years and 3 years respectively), performed their duties as a flower girl and ring bearer adorably. It was so wonderful to see the family again, we are all very close. We always play a mean game of Pictionary (the best game ever created!) when we get together. The great thing about Pictionary is that you have to guess what someone is drawing, and since people think differently, there are a ton of amusing drawings. One of my favorites was Christopher’s drawing of “Scent of a Woman,” which consisted of a girl that had smells radiating from her body (including armpits). We were never able to guess it :-). Here is a picture of me wearing my bridesmaid dress. I will upload more once I get the pictures from my dad.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summer is here: finishing finals, storing all my stuff, and saying goodbye

Finals are over! I did well on all my exams, giving me a much higher GPA then I thought I would have. Somehow I ended up with A’s in everything except physics :-). So you can see that it is not impossible to do well here, and I’m far from being a genius (I thought I would get B’s or worse in all my subjects this term, just shows where putting in some extra effort gets you).

My finals were over quickly, but they were very crammed together. They started on Monday, May 22nd and ended the next day. I had my two hardest finals, 8.022 (physics II) and 5.12 (organic chemistry) on Monday. 18.03 (differential equations) was on Tuesday afternoon. Luckily I didn’t have a final in my creative writing class. I finished much earlier than most people. My mom came out to Boston to help me pack up everything. I stored some of my things in the dorm, and some right down the street in a storage facility. There was actually plenty of room in Simmons (wish I would have known that before hauling some of my stuff down the street).

On Thursday I spent time with Gus and my mom, and we went for lunch in Boston, then in the afternoon we saw “Over the Hedge” at a movie theatre, it was entertaining and pretty well done. I would suggest going to see it. It was so sad saying goodbye to all of my friends, especially Gus. We'll all keep in touch over the summer.

Now I am finally home! Before flying back to California, we stopped in Texas for my cousin’s graduation. I’ll be flying back again next week for his older brother’s wedding.

I have an internship at Agilent Technologies this summer. I won the internship at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last year, but decided that I didn’t want to do it last summer. I’ll be working in a lab doing biotech/ chemical engineering specifically with cofactors and enzymes. My mentor even said that I would learn how to use DNA electrophoresis! I’m very excited.

I’ll be doing a write up shortly on my entire first year at MIT: what I learned, what I would do differently, and whether I would recommend MIT to others.

I hope everyone enjoyed Memorial Day weekend!

Spring Weekend: Steer Roast, Cake Concert, Piano Drop

There were a few things I forgot to mention in my last blog entry. Two people from Simmons mud-wrestled during Steer Roast. Steer Roast is an annual party that Senior Haus puts on. They roast a giant steer, and it is a really unique party (definitely not for everyone). It was quite fun to see our friends get spattered in mud: a huge group of Simmon’s Residents showed up for the event. Click here for more info:

After the wrestling, Gus and I went out into Boston for dinner. Surprisingly, we ran into Rajiv (Gus’ “cousin”) at the restaurant we chose (it was called Island Hopper). We had a good time chatting with his friends and pigging out.

Another annual event was held at Baker House: The Piano Drop. A piano is dropped from the top floor of the building, smashed into the pavement below. Unfortunately I got there just after they dropped it, but I did get a souvenir.

During Spring Weekend, there were a whole bunch of activities. Gus, Kaitlyn, and I went to see the band “Cake” perform in the athletic center. Amanda M. was on the committee to organize it. I’ve never been to an actual concert before (unless you count Bach concerts :-). The thrill of hearing a band perform live was very exciting. Cake had a lot of energy and they sounded great! The athletic center was packed full of people singing Cake songs and cheering for an encore. I’m definitely going to more concerts next year!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Last week before finals

My hellish weekend is over! Last week I had a 5.12 test and two psets. The only things due next week are my two short stories, which I’ve already written and just have to edit. So it’s just studying for finals now.

I finally sent in the final version of my research paper to the Journal of Chemical Education! Hopefully they will not have many comments and it will be published soon (within the year). I was also able to compile my Matlab program, there are still some things that I need to tweak, but it does work.

I did well on my 5.12 test (103/100)!! The average was about 83. I also did well on my 18.03 test, getting about ten points above the average, which was 73 if I recall. My physics test did not go as well, so I’ll have to study a lot for the final. In other good news, my HASS teacher really liked my new short stories, so hopefully I will get a good grade in that class.

Two weekends ago Gus and I went to half of a sorority lip sync fundraiser. A bunch of annoying guys kept yelling and screaming stuff for most of it, so we left. After an hour or so of exploring the basements of MIT’s main buildings and going into mechanical rooms, we decided to go a bit higher….on top of buildings :-). We went to the top of the small dome and on top of Walker Memorial. The sky was clear, and we had a spectacular view of Boston (it was very romantic).

Last weekend the Massachusetts State Science Fair was held in the athletic center at MIT. Gus and I went to see some of the projects. Only the high schoolers were presenting at this time, the middle schoolers present in June. It was fun talking to the students about their projects--so nostalgic for me. I love science fairs! (my inner nerd is coming out :-).

This week there was the Electronic Entertainment Expo
(E3) in Los Angeles. I’ve been keeping up with everything online. It’s exciting because the PS3 and the new Nintendo “Wii” system are coming out. If I have enough spending money I will probably get both of them. The PS3 graphics are amazing! The Nintendo Wii has weaker graphics than both the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but it has a really cool controller that allows you to point at the screen, making control easier for games. Plus I love Nintendo franchises like the Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Metroid.

Last night Kaitlyn had a wind ensemble concert, which Amanda, Gus, and I attended. She played very well! I also went to a party up on the 9
th floor for about 30 minutes last night, and then promptly went to bed.

This weekend I’m starting to study for finals. It’s been rainy and gloomy all week long, so I guess that is a good thing because I can’t go outside and distract myself from studying. Simmons is having a campus wide barbeque (indoors) tonight, so I will be helping out with that. Amanda M. is organizing it.

We are getting special 5.12 t-shirts! There is a little acetal “person” running up a beta-carotene molecule. Very amusing.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stressful Weekend

Last weekend was Amanda's Birthday so we threw a surprise birthday party for her. Once I upload pictures from my camera I will add some. I also went to "Masti" a South American Asian concert that had lots of dancing, skits, and singing. Rajiv (Gus' "nephew," a first year grad student), danced in it. All the students were very enthusiastic, it was a lot of fun to watch.

Gus and I went to church on Easter Sunday. I hope everyone had a great Easter! Since it was a 4 day weekend I was pretty efficient with getting work done, I studied a lot for my 5.12 test, which I got above average on (which was a B), so it was worth it.

This weekend however, isn't too fun. I have an 8.022 test on Tuesday, an 18.03 test on Wednesday, and a 5.12 pset due on Wednesday. And 8.022 is going to be very hard. I also found out that I got a really low lottery pick for my room next year (230....and there are 236 people total). Annelise got 215. Hopefully we will just room together and get a larger double than this year. We are really good roommates and great friends, but both of us are used to having our own room. We'll see what happens....but there probably won't be too many singles left after the upperclassmen pick their rooms. (Simmons has a lottery system for each class, sophmores are last). We were both really unlucky, as was Gus. He will still be able to get a single, but he was one of the last rising juniors picked out of the junior lottery. I hope everyone else is having a better weekend than me.

On a positive note however, my neighbor's that lived next to us before we moved visited me yesterday, and Gus and I went out to dinner with them. It was wonderful to see them! Their daughter is a sophmore and already starting to look at colleges. Visiting with them was a nice break from all my studying.

I just have to get past this week and then all I really have to worry about if finals!!!!

Friday, April 14, 2006


Winter is now over I think! It has been gorgeous the last few weeks, nice and sunny and warm. I haven't needed a jacket or anything. When we got back from break, it was Campus Preview Weekend (CPW)! CPW is when all the accepted students come to visit MIT. I had sooooo much fun last year, it was one of the best weekends of my life. Annelise and I both hosted a prefrosh, so our room was a little full at night. We didn't get to see much of our prefrosh because they were out doing so many things. I helped set up a Karaoke night and Games night at Simmons, both of which went very well. I had so much fun singing my heart out with my friends and embarrassing people. Overall I think CPW went really well. There are so many activities for people to attend, I wish I could be a prefrosh again! Here’s just a sampling of what went on:

On Thursday, a cannon appeared next to the Green Building. And not just ANY cannon. The CALTECH cannon--yes that's right, the official Caltech cannon that is like a mascot to them, found it's way to MIT. Some MIT students stole it, posing as a moving company. It was a very well done prank. They made a plaque for it, and they even made a huge brass rat (the MIT ring) to go over it. Everyone was talking about the cannon! Since Caltech and MIT don't have an official rival, we sort of pick on each other, especially since we're both technical schools. The reason MIT stole the cannon was because of last year's CPW. Caltech students came and put t-shirts in the free t-shirts pile that said "MIT" on the front and "because not everyone can get into Caltech" onto the back. The also changed the wording on the small dome to "The Other Institute of Technology," MIT retaliated by putting up "the only." Go here to see pictures of the cannon:

Right now we have a four-day weekend, but I'll be studying for most of it (I have a 5.12 test on Wednesday and then I have 8.022 and 18.03 the week after that). At least it's still a four day weekend. I'll just study during the day and then go out and do things at night.

Spring Break

After my second round of tests, which I did much better than the last ones (but can still improve), I flew back to California with Gus. I think he was nervous about meeting my parents, but it all worked out. My parents liked him and we had tons of fun. I showed Gus around Carmel, went to the beach, walked around Cannery Row and went to the Aquarium, and we drove by the coast. Then on my last day, I visited my high school and said hi to people there. One of the juniors is going to ISEF this year, so I talked with him about it, he should have a blast! It was very amusing because while we were at my house we watched Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers--Gus had never seen them before, and didn't want him to watch them before we left for fear he would be afraid of ruining his chances with my parents. It was nice to have a break from school. When I got back to MIT, I had to finish up a story for my HASS class, hopefully the teacher will like it!

Friday, March 17, 2006

First Tests

I’ve bravely traversed across the fiery pits of despair (my first tests) of the semester. I was frustrated because my speed is not as good as it was before. I need to practice doing problems quickly again, because I wasn’t able to finish any of my tests (although other people also had trouble, but I especially affects me because I’m a slow test taker in general). 18.03 and 5.12 were not too bad, but not finishing affected my score, and I could have done much better.

My most difficult test was in my hardest class (not surprisingly). The 8.022 test was one of the hardest exams I have ever taken in my entire life. The average was a 49….I was ecstatic just to pass, and I even got average! Which means that I am average in a more competitive class with more intense students. I am proud of myself, and if I study harder, I can be above average!

So, in summary, I need to get back into practice with my test taking. This weekend I am going to do practice problems as fast as I possibly can, and I’ll be efficient in studying so I can maximize my scores.

I really like all of my classes so far. What I said earlier about them has remained true. My 8.022 psets take forever, and are very challenging, but I feel so good when I get a problem by myself.

Two tests and a pset next week, and then I’m free!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Remember how it was my birthday a few weeks ago? Well I never finished what happened during my birthday week! Not only did my friends surprise me with dinner and decorating my room, they also threw a surprise party for me that Friday! I was getting a little suspicious because they kept disappearing randomly and Gus kept making up excuses like “they’re umm…making cookies….” and “I need to go meet with friends to practice our role-playing game…” It was a lot of fun and I was definitely surprised. I got homemade cake and we danced to music late into the night. My friends are awesome!

For Valentine’s Day, I cleaned Gus’ bathroom (three guys sharing a bathroom….can you even imagine—or maybe you don’t want to—how awful that was?). They were very appreciative though, and now it isn’t gross anymore…at least for a little while. I figure that my present was practical and since it was disgusting it means I care about him….or something like that. I also made him breakfast. Gus surprised me during Valentine’s Day by having the Muses (an all-female a capella group, you can hire them to sing for your sweetheart the week before the big day) serenade me during my 8.022 lecture. Then we went to dinner over the weekend at Harvard (gasp!).

I helped Annelise with a Quiz Bowl Tournament one weekend. I had to be a score keeper. For the first round, I was pretty bad (I totally screwed up the score….and it was embarrassing), but then for the other rounds I didn’t screw up at all, and I became pro! I just needed some practice.

In the meantime, we had one of our friends, Jongjin, dress up like a girl. He actually wasn’t a bad looking girl….kind of funny. Annelise and I have also been working on Simmons’ I3 Video. MIT sends videos of each dorm to incoming freshman so that they have an idea of what all the dorms are like. It’s been fun filming things around the dorm and getting people to do weird things for the camera. I think it will be pretty good when it’s done, and we were recruited at last minute to do the entire thing! Next year if we start earlier, it will be even better.

Only one more week until my spring break! Everyone else has spring break this week, so I will miss everyone when I get back. :-( Gus is coming with me to California, so it will be amusing. I’m sure (and I hope) that my parents and him get along. This weekend I am studying for two tests I have next Wednesday (18.03 and 5.12).

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tests Ahhh

I have two tests on Wednesday for 5.12 and 18.03, so hopefully I do well! I will update with more news later.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spring 2006 Classes

I’m taking four classes (48 units, for 12 units each) this semester. You are only allowed to take more than 57 units if you get sophomore standing, which can be read about here: Annelise got sophmore standing and one of my other friends did as well, so they are able to take 5 classes. I didn’t want to kill myself especially since I’m thinking about getting a UROP, so I decided against it.

5.12 Organic Chemistry I [B. Imperiali and B. Berkowski]
This is the class that doctors hated in college and most students fear. Annelise LOVES organic chemistry. So far, the lectures have been very enjoyable. Two women are teaching it, one will teach the first half of the semester and the other will teach the last half. Both of them seem very energetic, which I am thankful for—I have stayed awake in lectures! Lectures are interesting and easy to understand, the professor speaks clearly and I look forward to going to class. During our first lecture, they both emphasized how they wanted to make Ochem as fun and non-stressful as possible, because so many people have bad experiences with it. Hopefully it will be fun!

8.022 Physics II [G. Sciolla]
Since TEAL physics (the type I took last term) is sort of annoying, and I wanted a challenge, I decided to take the more advanced version of 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism). I really hope I don’t die. Annelise and Kaitlyn are also taking it, so I have a study group. The professor for this class is also energetic, she seems to be good. This will probably be my most challenging class besides 5.12.

18.03 Differential Equations [H. Miller]
This class seems pretty standard so far. I really wanted Professor Mattuck to teach it (I’ve heard he is a great professor), but no luck. I’ve been able to understand the lectures and the prof doesn’t put me to sleep, but he isn’t “exciting” either. I’m happy because my kickboxing teacher from last semester might end up being my TA! She’s very enthusiastic and is a great teacher (her name is Hoho).

21.755 Writing and Reading Short Stories [S. Lewitt]
I enjoy creative writing, and I’m really sick of analyzing books after all the English classes I’ve taken in highschool and last semester, so I thought I’d try this class. It is well organized (weird for an English teacher) and it looks like we will actually be covering HOW to improve our writing, which is wonderful. Most creative writing teachers seem kinda of flimsy, this one got her undergraduate and PhD at Yale, so maybe that’s why she is not.

After the first few weeks have gone by, and I’ve taken a few tests, I’ll give a more detailed description of my classes and what I think of them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's My Birthday! And IAP is over :-(

It’s my birthday today! I turn 19! Wow, in one year I will be 20, that’s pretty crazy. Gus made breakfast for me today, and then my friends decorated my desk and bed with a happy birthday sign and streamers and glittery ribbon. Gus also bought me flowers :-). After people got back from classes, Gus called me to go “play DDR,” but we actually went to dinner with friends at an Irish Pub called Azguard. I feel so appreciated!

IAP is now over :-(. Classes started yesterday and so far everything is going well. I will talk more about my classes in the next entry.

Annelise came back from Italy. She had a great time but was happy to be home. That night we went to a science fiction movie marathon in 26-100. We saw Serenity (very good, especially for fans of the series!) and Twelve Monkeys (really really bizarre, but good). I was falling asleep during Twelve Monkeys, which made it even stranger than it was. My last week of IAP consisted of trying to finish up lots of things, but not really getting anywhere. My GRT is still trying to help with my Matlab program, so my research is not completely ready to submit yet. I also had sorority recruitment from Wednesday to Sunday. (I know what you’re thinking---why on earth would a girl like me want to join a sorority?). At MIT, sororities are different than other schools. Whereas a stereotypical sorority has lots of parties and the girls don’t get much work done, MIT sororities are dry and they are more like a network of friends. I would never even think about joining a sorority at another school. Throughout the week I visited the 5 sororities at MIT and talked with the girls. Each day you are invited back by fewer and fewer sororities, until you end up with one or two that want you in their group. After it was almost over, I decided that a sorority wasn’t for me (I didn’t want to put too much time into it and I felt it was lame to pay to meet people every week, I already have a close group of friends and I can make other friends easily). If you want to learn more about sororities though, go here, because they are very different at MIT and you should at least check them out.

Last weekend Amanda, Gus, and I decided to go to the Galleria (mall). I still had to drop off my defective speakers at UPS, so we (meaning mostly Gus), hauled the package around Kendall Square for a long time. We were sent on a wild goose chase trying to find the UPS store. When we were FINALLY in the right area, we had to go all the way around the building to get to it. Guess what!? It was closed!!!! Gus called his graduate student friend (who has a car), and after pleading with him (and bribing him with a free dinner), he came and picked up the package and we drove to the Galleria. We had wasted almost two hours trying to find the UPS store, so we didn’t have much shopping time. It was very fun because we went into stores and forced Gus to try on clothes. We made him buy $15 jeans at Old Navy (great deal, isn’t it?) and then he tried on a $140 outfit at Express for Men (pic below).After this torture, we decided reward Gus by going to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. All in all we had a good time and now have a funny story to tell people (although, I don’t think others really find it very exciting….oh well). The last day before classes Gus and I went to Target to buy school supplies. It took us a little while to get there, but at least we could take a series of buses and not walk outside in the cold (although, we still can’t complain much about the weather). Afterwards we went to the COOP to get books.

I wish it were still IAP, but I have definitely had a long enough vacation. Hopefully this semester won’t be too hectic.