Classes start in five days

What I’m Taking: 18.022, 8.01, 3.091, 21L.001, and 6.0001.

Non-MIT people are probably raising an eyebrow or mouthing “what the fuck?”

So MIT likes numbers, and it’s much easier to tell other classmates about their classes using building numbers or course numbers instead of actual descriptive words. Here is a cheat sheet for all the courses (MIT calls majors courses for some reason) that are available:

  1. Civil and Environmental Engineering
  2. Mechanical Engineering
  3. Material Science and Engineering
  4. Architecture
  5. Chemistry
  6. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  7. Biology
  8. Physics
  9. Brain and Cognitive Sciences
  10. Chemical Engineering
  11. Urban Studies and Planning
  12. Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
  13. [redacted]
  14. Economics
  15. Business and Management
  16. Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro)
  17. Political Science
  18. Mathematics
  19. [redacted]
  20. Biological Engineering
  21. Humanities and Arts (there are a lot of subcategories here)
  22. Nuclear Science and Engineering
  23. [redacted]
  24. Linguistics and Philosophy

There are other courses that aren’t numbers like WGS or CMS but you get the general gist of it. So when I say 18.022, I mean that I’m taking a class from the department of mathematics. Usually, the first digit indicates the general level of a course, so 18.0x(x) usually indicates a basic sequence or an introductory level course in that department. And indeed, 18.02x is multivariable calculus, a class everyone at MIT must pass to graduate.

What’s the extra 2 at the end? It’s just a little harder and more theoretical. Will I drop from 18.022 to 18.02 in a few weeks after I realize that I’m boned? Probably.

8.01 is introductory mechanical physics, 3.091 is introductory solid-state chemistry, 21L.001 is about poetry, and 6.0001 (an unusual course number usually pronounced six-triple-oh-one or 6-thousand-one) is intro to programming using Python. I think numbers are a lot faster than actually having to write all these words out. Oh well.

Where I Live

Fifth West, East Campus.

I literally just moved in permanently so I’m kind of in the middle of a huge mess right now where my bed is not even close to being fully made and my furniture and suitcases are in diagonal messes on the floor. Starting tomorrow I’m going to clean things up and really start to take some ownership of my single room. I have a door to paint, walls to decorate, and a huge whiteboard to hang up.

As for Fifth West, the hall seems pretty chill. So what happened in the past week was something called REX aka “Residence Exploration” aka “dorm rush.” I got temped (temporarily placed to live) in East Campus’ Third West (aka Floorpi) during REX and decided to stay on East Campus. However, if you don’t like your dorm and would like to try and lottery out for a new one, you may do so with FYRE, which I think stands for Freshman Year Residence Exchange but I’m not entirely too sure. After REX is over, there is “hall rush” for some dorms, especially East Campus where there are so many unique personalities and cultures for all ten halls/floors. Although I didn’t get my top choice hall, I don’t see anything wrong with Fifth West and I’m more than happy to give it a chance.

What I’ve Done

These are blog posts that merit their own, but let’s just say that I did a lot of stuff. And another thing: I am now an MIT Admissions blogger, which is extremely cool and gratifying to say the least. (Well I guess I’m not one yet since I haven’t even written a single post, but I will soon!) My point is that when it comes to MIT-related stuff, I’m going to try and write in a lot more narrative style and post new updates on the MIT Admissions website at mitadmissions.org, and not here. But I’ll probably mirror posts that I make there and post it again here for continuity.

So it’s very very late at night and I would like to get some sleep, so I will stop for now. Until next time…

 

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A Road Trip, Day Two

AKA “What the hell have I been doing?”

College! MIT! Adult things! (not really adult things.)

So a lot of things happened and again, instead of saying it all in a jumbled mess I’m going to try and structure this in a series of interval blog posts. The road trip is rather distant from my vivid memory now so it might be harder to conjure up the most detailed memories, but I do have a lot of pretty pictures for sure.

Leg 2: Grand Canyon West Rim > Las Vegas, Nevada

las vegas.jpg

We didn’t do much at Las Vegas, especially since I’m not 21 yet, so Las Vegas was pretty much just a fun place to stop that was near Hoover Dam. I watched Mystère by Cirque du Soleil here and ate my fair share of very delicious food. I can’t wait to go back in a couple years and get the full experience for myself.

Leg 3: Las Vegas > Hoover Dam

So Hoover Dam was actually a huge pain in the ass to build, and the project was one of the most impressive feats of American engineering at the time. There were a lot of intermediate steps involved, including building gigantic tunnels to divert the entire freaking Colorado River, making intermediary tunnels, and creating an artificial lake. TL;DR:

diagram.jpg

The lake on the right is man-made, and it’s called Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the United States. You’d think that it’s a pretty boring lake, but it’s actually very beautiful!

lakemead.jpg

They even had a burger place floating on the lake that was 8/10.

yumfood.jpg

As for the dam itself, well… I’ll close out this blog post with that.

hooverwall1.jpg

 

hoover2

hoover1

 

 

Transitional

Hello referentially nonexistent audience/readership. Haven’t blogged in a while.

The reason for this has been a number of things; firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I’d been slacking a little bit. If I put in a bit more effort I would certainly have been inspired to write more.

But life took me on a couple twists and turns.

While redacting some personal events, I’ll update you with some of the tangibles first: I comMITed and am now MIT ’20! I’m not very sure on what I’ll major in. Freshmen can’t even declare a major until the end of their freshman year anyways. I’m thinking of three possible choices: 6-2, 2-A with 6, or 18C. All three curriculums have a comp sci component while also focusing on another concentration (electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and math respectively). If I do 6-2 or 2-A with 6, I might see if I can minor or concentrate in math depending on how the course loads are.

Then I graduated high school, did prom, and all that. These events were significant but a lot less significant than I perceived at the time. The ‘magic’ of graduating or going to prom really wasn’t there for a number of reasons. But it was certainly something. A bunch of speeches, sweltering hot weather, fidgeting with my mortarboard, then walking up and receiving my diploma and that was that. I graduated. Weird.

I’m working in New York City for the summer sitting behind a receptionist’s desk at one of my extended family members’ dental practice. I’m not the only one behind the desk; I’m just helping the main receptionist, which is good, because there are still so many things that I don’t know and never will know. But I’ve been doing some cute projects on my own. I learned some javascript on the fly (which is different from Java, the language I know best, but not that hard to understand if you know programming fundamentals) and made some Google Scripts. After about a week of programming and a lot of data transferring I made a script that automatically reminds patients when they’re due for a cleaning. The pay is okay, and more than enough for a summer job fortunately.

The grind is real, and it’s very much like school again where I’m finding not that much free time on the weekdays. I leave to take the train into the city at 8 AM and come back home at 7:30 PM. I want to refresh my memory of 18.02 so I can possibly ASE out of it, I want to get my real estate salesperson license just because, I want to make more Youtube videos. But when I get home on the weekdays I eat dinner and feel tired and browse Reddit for a while and an hour goes by and my bed already beckons to me. I await Fridays in eager anticipation.

And then on the weekends I have a little more free time but still not that much because I’ve just been going to friends’ grad parties which are almost all day affairs. I’ve gotten really good at Kan Jam to say the least.

My last day of work will be on the first week of August. Then my parents and I are going to fly out to Nevada and meet up with my mother’s friend and her two sons who just immigrated to Canada from Korea. We’re going on a weeklong road trip, which sounds pretty awesome and I’m really excited about it. (I might open up Pokemon Go again and try and catch some of those pesky Ground types too.) I also want to get into photography, so I’m looking at cameras. My girlfriend exposed me to the DigitalRev Youtube channel and jesus christ I love Kai’s voice I could listen to it all day. I’m probably going to get a Canon 750D or a 760D.

And then… that’s it. I’ll buy my things, pack my bags, and head off. Who knows what’s going to happen then? I’m in that weird transitional state between two major time periods in my life.

I just know that I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

 

Campus Preview Weekend – Part 1

MIT’s welcome weekend is insane. With 666 events spread out over three and a half days, there’s no way you can get to even a quarter of them. Because my phone had a serious battery issue, I wasn’t able to get everything on camera, but I have enough to give you a glimpse of what it was like.

 

dan and joon
Me and fellow EA admit Daniel Gonzalez meeting up just after orientation
room 2
The frat I stayed in for CPW (Theta Xi) was pretty nice, and my host (Josh) was extra nice. 😀 The only downside was that it was across the river, which made getting to campus a pain.

room

kresge cooking
It was pouring on the first day. Didn’t stop some people from grilling burgers, though.

outside

stata steps
MIT’s iconic Stata building.
tunnels
Me and Daniel used the tunnels a lot on the first day to get around.
next lounge
Next house event.
next ln 2
Next house making LN2 ice cream!
ball pit simmons
I think our Caltech refugees + Daniel group went to the Simmons ball pit, like, five times during CPW.
ball pit
In the pit from left to right: me, Craig, Sarah, Mayukha, and Cayla. ❤
opening 1
The opening ceremony was packed and featured a lot of cool things, like Ceri ’16, Stu, and the Logarhythms (one of MIT’s acapella groups).
movie mccormick
McCormick Hall had a Harry Potter movie night with butterbeer!
physics until we die
This was one of the room schedules at Firehose, ESG’s event. Of course.
w20 green
Campus is pretty. ❤

boston 1

boston 2
Boston is pretty. ❤

(edit: here’s a really good video by Daniel that captured the event nicely. ^_^)

 

 

Interviews

I applied to eight colleges: Caltech, Case Western, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Princeton, and Stanford. Four offered me an interview. One was different in that the interview wasn’t really optional but an essential part of the application.

Although the interviews all had a general script of questions in common (such as tell me a little bit about yourself), the dynamic of each interview was subtly different.

MIT was my first experience back in December in a Starbucks at the Whitman mall. My interviewer was a mathematics professor well into his years, although his personality didn’t show it. He still embodied what I considered “the MIT spirit.” I had a little trouble getting going as I didn’t know where to start. Usually my general outline starts with talking about math and my conflict between math or engineering; I then move on to something like music and tennis or some of the more personal projects that I’ve been working on. Somewhere in there I talk about growing up in Astoria, Queens and my childhood and my turbulent family dynamics. It seems fairly strewn but my monologues are fairly consistent from interview to interview.

MIT’s interview was also the only time I brought my laptop to show my interviewer some of the projects I hyperlinked above. He seemed genuinely impressed but not blown away. If anything, I’m sure I proved to him that I had a passion for something and I’d gotten far with it. This was also the only time I had an extremely academic discussion with my interviewer about his research, which was symplectic geometry. Although I had trouble understanding much of what he said, I was fairly intrigued and very interested. It was fun to see him try to explain it to me, anyway.

Next was much later, in the middle of January. Princeton was downtown in the village at a Panera. The man speaking with me was middle-aged, old but not nearly as old as my previous interviewer. His presence gave off a sense that he had a firm grasp on how the world works, and that he was well-read. I also feel like this was my weakest interview, which was strange because he said that I made his day at the end.

The other three happened in the span of a single week. Harvard was at a different Panera in town and Columbia was at another Starbucks twenty minutes away. Not sure why, but Paneras and Starbucks seem like staple locales for college interviews.

I set up Stanford’s interview to be this Sunday, the day after Columbia’s at a cute coffee shop in the city. The reason I arranged for Sunday instead of Saturday was because I go to Columbia’s SHP in the morning, which runs past noon which was the time my interviewer wanted. (Psst: if you’re not a senior yet but live ~1 hour from Columbia and like science or math, apply for SHP. It’s free and awesome.) Much to my confusion, I unlocked my phone after class on Saturday to see three text messages and two missed calls. I had apparently stood up my Stanford interviewer for a half hour and counting.

I didn’t know if I had genuinely made a mistake or had a brain fart or it was something on his end, but of course I apologized profusely. I felt really bad for not responding to my interviewer for a half hour while he was slowly accruing salt at a table for two in a far-off LPQ. Eventually, the conflict was resolved. I had indeed scheduled the interview for Sunday and it was “his bad.” Whew. A sigh of relief. In immediate retrospect I thought that I could have called the interview off as I had some right to do so. After all, it wasn’t my fault. And he had backtracked his words and immediately shifted his tone of voice from annoyance to apologetic. Before, he said, I believe I cannot give Stanford a constructive interview of you any longer. It seems that I have put more effort into making this happen than you have. Now, he says, I’ll see you Sunday at noon, man, okay? 

In a not-so-immediate retrospect, calling off the interview would have been a very bad idea. I had a great interview- probably the best out of all that I’d had so far. The man I thought was slightly tense and stuck-up was in fact extremely laid-back and easygoing. He sipped his cup of tea+milk as he heard me talk about engineering, what my dad did for a living, and how I’d spent two months at Stanford’s summer school this year.

So what’s the point of writing all this down? Not much. But here are a few suggestions/some advice: the interview will very, very rarely make or break you. It’s not the end of the world if you have a bad interview, nor should you be complacent because you had an extremely strong interview. It doesn’t hold too much weight with regards to the rest of your application. In fact, the interview will probably reflect your application fairly closely; if you’re a strong candidate, a strong interview will confirm that. If you’re leaning towards the reject pile, a subpar interview also serves as confirmation. Interviews matter most when you find yourself in the middle, i.e. admissions purgatory. And even then interviews don’t really matter. So just take a deep breath and be yourself, and don’t be afraid to let your passions show, whether that be mathematics or field hockey or video games.