Staying Sane

Beer in class—but peers afar
I sat in class, the professor again repeating the technique we were expected to learn but about which I was still woefully confused.  I was immediately struck with self-doubt.  I…
How I came to Cambridge before I came to Cambridge
I could finally see the finish line. If you were to ask me five months ago where I would be by Aug 10, 2020, I’d have said “in Boston” without…
Finding a Cambridge coffee home
* Writer’s Note (September 2020): Wow, how things have changed. Re-reading this piece, which as written pre-COVID, makes me feel as if I’m now in my late seventies, looking back…
Bench, bath and beyond
One of the very first lessons you learn in microbiology is that while countless things can – and will – go wrong, you can almost always count on your microbes…
Playing Avalon on Zoom
Many of us feel lonely during quarantine times, especially international students who are now outside the US, such as myself. To stay mentally healthy through this pandemic, it’s important to…
From rockets to rocking chairs
Lots of things have changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Classes have moved online, schedules have shifted for fall breaks and holidays, and in general, everyone’s life has been…
Shaking hands with death
When I entered the room, I took a few moments to look around. The room was lit by a warm, orange glimmer sneaking through the window blinds, announcing the end…
Ode to crosswords
(If you are interested in listening along to me reading the poem aloud, click here)   Eighteen across, “Ponzi scheme”: fraud. Twenty-four down, “Heap kudos on”: laud.   “Opening word”,…
Managing your finances when your spouse can’t work
“Are you ready for the change in lifestyle?” That is the question that most of our friends asked when they heard about my plan to go back to school. We…
Any tips on tipping?
Picture having dinner at a restaurant with some friends. There’s a fun conversation going on right up to the point where the bill arrives. Perhaps it’s only me, but I…
L’Autre, c’est moi
As a child, I vividly remember staring for hours out the window in the back seat of my parents’ car, scrutinizing nearby people stopped at the red light or passing…
How I passed my 1st-year classes
That’s right, I confess: I am a serial class skipper. It all started in high school, when I discovered it was possible to learn a lot more about a subject…
My response to COVID-19
Being aware of the COVID-19 crisis in China and Italy, I found myself researching it and getting involved in conversations about it here in the US. Even before MIT sent…
Navigating MIT
MIT exemplifies a uniquely analytical and quantitative intellectual approach. It’s a good thing, usually; after all, scientific revolutions like Newtonian physics began when we started putting stuff into quantitative perspective.…
The infinite rotation
Switching labs is, optimally, disruptive. On September 3, 2019, the very beginning of my second year at MIT, my PhD program director called me into his office to explain that…
Am I too busy for radio?
The way I see it, a major part of being an “entitled millennial” is our personal conviction that we all have a message to share and a voice to be…
Rethinking orientation in the COVID-19 era
Orientation is the stepping stone of the graduate student life experience at MIT. Every year, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) Orientation Committee (OC) organizes a series of orientation events for…
All-weather outings/innings in the Northeast
Moving to Boston from the Bay Area to start school at MIT, I had already mentally prepared to reduce my outdoor climbing and indoor climbing train time. Paradoxically, while being…
Times may have changed, but MIT will not
My first year at MIT was filled with opportunities, more than I was able to take advantage of. In just one walk down the Infinite corridor, I could pick out…
Best burgers and convos at BBC
The first friend I made in grad school doesn’t go to MIT. We didn’t even meet in Cambridge. Josh and I met at a chemistry grad school visit weekend at…
Making the switch
A year and a half into my master’s program, I decided to change labs. This may not sound as terrifying, but it means jumping into an ocean of uncertainty. Unlike…
Life at MIT could be stressful, but not for you!
Stress is one of the common issues that every grad student experiences. Experiments or simulations don’t work most of the time, and the relationships with advisors/lab mates/friends might have their…
Pass the class — get a tat
Of all the injustices committed by well-intentioned cartographers, the one dealt to Antarctica is one of the most common and, from the point of view of this glaciologist, the worst.…
So… you were accidentally admitted to MIT
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m a total imposter. I was admitted to MIT even though I’m not nearly as smart, driven, or successful as any…
It’s not just about the degree
The beginning of grad school coincided with a lot of life changes. Grad school was one of them. Moving from Europe to the US was certainly another. However, the biggest…
What’s your grocery strategy?
Good food has long been my main vice. Before moving to Cambridge, I lived in DC and loved taking advantage of the diverse food scene. My Sunday ritual was going…
Getting into gear
Living in the south of the US for most of my life, where the distance between locations of interest are large and biking infrastructure is almost non-existent, biking as a…
How to walk (or bike, or bus) a mile in my shoes
According to Apple Maps, my apartment is exactly one mile from the entrance of MIT’s campus. I just moved to Boston last August and was able to find a great…
In defense of the MBTA
Trash littered across the floor. Stifling, oppressive heat in a poorly lit space. Loud screeching. The smell of burning… I don’t even know. No, I’m not at a damp college…
Changing your habits one sunrise at a time
In my third year of graduate school, I decided to become a morning person. I had fallen into a group of friends who regularly got up at ungodly times of…
Get out of the lab, get on Twitter
As any millennial, I spend a lot of time on social media. Facebook is my go-to place for cute animal videos or life updates from baby boomer relatives. Instagram is…
*Actually* looking forward to my commute
Remember when iPods first became popular in the early 2000s and included an innocuous purple icon for the “Podcasts” app that hardly anyone paid attention to? Flash forward to 2019,…
Mental Health Matters: Issue #2
This week we are publishing a second issue on mental health, with our first issue released in February 2020. In these difficult times for all of us, we believe that…
Ask and you shall receive
It was my first semester of grad school, and I was curled up in a ball on my dorm room bed. I was experiencing a distinct mixture of flu-like symptoms…
Holidazed and confused
It’s December. Holiday music peals through the air, and the hallways are decked in reds, greens, golds and silvers. The anticipation for the end of the year hangs in the…
You mean, it’s not unhealthy?
TRIGGER WARNING: eating disorders The road to kale is paved with good intentions Many students select their college majors because of inspiring teachers, envisioned careers, or particular interests. I was…