Blogs: Staying Sane

The Yellow Zone

Five Ways to Break Out of the Department Bubble

AUG 2018
MIT Sloan MBA Program
In my very first lecture at MIT Sloan School of Management, a professor started class with a drawing of a huge three-ring target. The bullseye was colored green, the middle ring was yellow, and the outer ring was red. “This is your comfort zone,” she said, pointing to the green circle. “We want you...

Don’t Study; Imagine

Creativity is a critical ingredient to learning

JULY 2018
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
When I was quite young I asked my mother if I could take apart a VCR – a relic of the old times when movies came from video rental stores on cassettes you had to rewind. Like any good mother, she told me that I was under no circumstances allowed to disassemble what she paid for. Like any ornery son...

Finding Work-Life Balance Through Sport

Extracurricular activities can help keep you sane

JUNE 2018
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
After a long day of class or research in lab, there is no better feeling than walking across campus to soccer practice. The stress of the day melts away as I step onto the field. Finally, I am able to clear my head and to connect to the present. We pull on our cleats and start to warm-up, the...

Passing on the Fountain of Knowledge

Knowing when to say no

JUNE 2018
Media Arts and Sciences
As soon as I officially started as a grad student in the Media Arts & Sciences program, I was paired with a more experienced graduate student in the lab to learn protein engineering and molecular cloning techniques for the first time in my life, though my undergrad studies had covered some of...

A Tale of Two Responsibilities

Living sustainably while researching climate change

MAY 2018
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
“So all my office plants died from how high the heat’s turned up.” “Wait. You mean your succulents?” “Yeah. The ones I specifically got for their drought and heat resistance.” Such occurrences might seem unexpected in the MIT Green Building, where I and many others study humanity’s impact on our...

Option B

How to help a grieving friend

MARCH 2018
Technology and Policy Program
On November 1st, 2017, I lost my father. He was one of my best friends. And now, instead of my best friend, all I have left is memories and emotions.   My father died of an unexpected heart attack in my hometown of Izmir, Turkey at the age of 57. The two weeks that followed were the hardest of my...

PhD and a Baby

Debugging code and changing diapers

MARCH 2018
Media Arts and Sciences
I wasn't married when I got to MIT, but I had a boyfriend named Randy who moved up to Boston with me. Two years in, we discover that it is, in fact, possible to simultaneously plan a wedding and write a master's thesis! Two years after that? I'm sitting uncomfortably in a floppy hospital gown at Mt...

Drawing the Lines of Work-Life Balance

How my time-management skills are crucial to my productivity, and more importantly, to my happiness

MARCH 2018
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Most mornings, I don’t set an alarm. As a student in cognitive science, when I’m not working with participants, almost all of my work is done on the computer and can be done from anywhere at any time. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it translates to the fact that I am almost entirely...

Impostor Syndrome vs. the Scientific Method

My strategies for fighting the idea that I don't belong at MIT

MARCH 2018
Technology and Policy Program
I received my acceptance letter to MIT a few days after the 2017 Oscars – shortly after a human error led to the wrong film being announced as Best Picture winner live on national television.   The mix-up loomed large in my mind.   As I slowly read the email informing me that I had been admitted to...

Myths Worth Busting to Stay Sane in Grad School

March 2018
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Caricatures by Maria G. (Zoya’s sister) As we approach the middle of the second semester and inch on all-fours towards the summer, we look back at what we’ve gained and cultivated since the year began, and we inevitably start to make resolutions to do things bigger, better, and faster before the...