Blogs

When Your Hobby Is Your YouTube Channel

Balancing research, classes, and content creation

Oct 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
It was two months before I was set to move to Boston for my PhD, and I had decided that there would never be a better time to create a science YouTube channel. While it might seem like a crazy idea to take on such a huge commitment while doing a PhD, I strongly believe that this unusual hobby has...

A Home Away from Home

The Genesis of MIT Chinese Music Ensemble

Nov 2019
Operations Research Center
Prologue   When I first came to MIT, I planned to work, but not much else. Certainly no time to play Gu-zheng – the Chinese zither. There are simply too many things to learn, to explore. But, from time to time, I was possessed by a lingering anxiety – an integral part of my voice was left silent,...

The Paradox of Choice:

Too many flavors at the ice cream store

Nov 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I am a brand-new Ph.D. student and I have already figured out my least favorite part about MIT: the overwhelming number of choices. As I am enrolled as a student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Medical Engineering Ph.D. program, the situation is even more intense. I can take...

Full Send

Running stadiums is fun, right?

Nov 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
What if I told you that the most fun thing that I do regularly since moving to Boston is running up and down a lot of tall steps (technically, seats) a lot of times, twice a week? Would you think that I’m crazy? A masochist? That Guy™ at the party who won’t shut up about how great running stadiums...

Discovering the multiverse at MIT

My journey towards a holistic grad experience

Nov 2019
Mechanical Engineering
I still remember that chill running up my spine seeing the MIT dome for the first time from the Harvard Bridge, a chill that was indicative of the bounty of emotions running through each and every nerve in my body. Awe, excitement, nervousness, and pride were but a few of them. After all,...

Creating my niche in grad school

How diversity and outreach initiatives helped me find my place in MIT

Nov 2019
Biology
Imagine being in a roller coaster that’s on fire, adrift, going full speed. That was my first year at MIT. Coming straight from an undergraduate institution in Puerto Rico, it was difficult for me to get used to the fast pace in which topics were taught in a different language and to the amount of...

Eating my way through Cambridge’s cultural heritage

This city is more Portuguese than you think

Oct 2019
by Eli P.
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
“What’s for lunch?” is one of the more universal questions of the human experience, though the presence of two large universities in Cambridge affects the range of choices available to a hungry grad student. Many of the food options near MIT and Harvard Square cater to the fast-casual appetites of...

Dynamic equilibrium through Classical dance

Constrained motions in harmony to obtain peace and inspiration

Oct 2019
Materials Science and Engineering
Stepping away from India into the US led me to a stage where I was frantically searching for some semblance of my culture to hold on to. It was at this time that Bharatnatyam — an Indian classical dance form — crept onto me subconsciously.   First and foremost, I am a major klutz; reactions that I...

Making the most of Cambridge's amazing salsa scene

Plus a story of how I went from ballet to salsa

Oct 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Thankfully, life at MIT as a grad student is not ALL about research. For me, one of the greatest breaks from lab is dancing. Growing up, classical ballet was part of my daily routine. Classical ballet requires physical resilience, a focused mind, and musicality, but above all, it requires...

B-list Superpower – Food Edition

The underrated, unrestrained power of meal prep

OCT 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
What is “meal prep”? First things first, what does “meal prep” mean? Is it the newest fad in age of fitness and health fanatics? Is it a euphemism for being lazy? Well, maybe. At its core, meal prep is exactly what is sounds like — preparing your meals. The key, however, is that it is done prior to...

The Most Important Change in My Life

Why everyone should meditate

OCT 2019
Materials Science and Engineering
I was an anxious child, an anxious teenager and an anxious young adult. So much so that the concept of anxiety didn’t make much sense. “You’re telling me it’s possible to not constantly think and worry about everything that has happened to me and that could possibly happen to me? Don’t bullshit me...

Starting Graduate School on the Right Foot

A PhD student’s guide to running in Boston

OCT 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
On the snowy February morning before my MIT graduate school interview, I rolled out of bed, bundled up and went for a run along the Charles River path. As a former Division One cross country and track athlete, I have been running almost daily for almost a decade. The picturesque scene of a light...

A Techless Path To MIT

How I, an aspiring philosopher, wound up choosing the world’s most famous Tech school

OCT 2019
Linguistics and Philosophy
When people hear that I’ll be spending the next half decade at MIT, many seem to think I’ll be spending my days huddled over an intelligent robot plotting for the technological apocalypse. When people hear that I’ll be spending the next half decade — and, hopefully, a lifetime — studying philosophy...

When You’re Up for an Exercise Adventure!

A rundown of bougie group exercise classes in Boston

OCT 2019
Biological Engineering
Feeling sluggish after indulging in one too many conference happy hours? Your normal gym workout not really doing it for you (or you not really doing the workout)? Try something new with a group exercise class: part workout, part experience. PILATES REFORMER CLASSES You know the torture device in...

Diving into The Deep

How I became an MIT maker

SEP 2019
Mechanical Engineering
Ever since high school, I have been a maker to my core. I spent almost all my free time in an art room and my evenings were often spent wrenching on old motorcycles. One of the biggest threats to my academic success during undergrad was spending too much time on Instructables (an online source for...

The Unofficial Guide Book for the Grad School Applicant

If you have no idea what to do, you’re well on your way!

SEP 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I made the decision to apply for graduate school in mid-September of my senior year of college. With application deadlines only weeks away and the GRE looming in the distance, I spent one month scrambling to familiarize myself with the application materials that some of my peers had been refining...

On Becoming a Professional Student

How I emerged from the chaos of undergrad to embrace professionalism in my graduate career

SEP 2019
by Sam C.
Mechanical Engineering
If you are an academic masochist who constantly enjoys being over-involved and under pressure, then your undergraduate “career” was probably something like mine. My (pre-grad) college years regularly felt like a frenzied, unorganized attempt to accomplish the umpteen items on my mental to-do list....

Iḷisavsaaqtuam aakam qaitkaa uqautchiñi kiŋuvaamiñun

A graduate school mom gifts language to the next generation

SEP 2019
Linguistics and Philosophy
Aullaqisaqtuq – It is the beginning Iḷisaguuruŋa Iñupiatun MIT-mi. I study Iñupiaq at MIT. Iñupiaq is the language of the Alaskan Inuit, whose population numbers 24,500 and whose speakers’ number 2,000. Iñupiaq is considered “moribund,” which means having few or no child speakers because the...

Ivy League Entitlement

How not to date at a high-profile school

SEP 2019
Physics
“No.” I said. “I don’t want to.” I was standing on the street in front of a man in a suit. That man (let’s call him Ryan) was frantically trying to usher me into his apartment building. He held the door wide open, incredulous that I wouldn’t do what he wanted. “It’s not that big of a deal! Let’s...

An Open Letter to My Future Self

Thoughts from my last first day of school

SEP 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Dear future Ming, The date is August 26, 2019 - today is your/my/our first day at MIT. When you next read this after/if you graduate, it may well be the year 2025. How’s life at 27 treating you? In the year 2025, your younger brothers, currently high school freshmen, will be halfway done with...

Being Strong in Strong Situations

Having agency even when your choices aren't fully your own

SEP 2019
Technology and Policy Program
At my undergraduate institution (one of the three big U.S. military academies), every cadet was required to take a class called “The Behavioral Science of Leadership”. In this class we discussed something called strong situations. Strong situations are environments in which a person's options...

Unashamed to Be a Nerd

Proclaiming my love for Harry Potter

SEP 2019
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
My friends at school weren’t really into Harry Potter. Many had watched the movies, and a few had read the books, but the magical world did not have the same appeal for them as it did for me. I was enthralled by the story of the Boy Who Lived, captivated by the psychological complexity of the...

Giving Back to Society

How I got involved in service activities at MIT

AUG 2019
Mechanical Engineering
The ultimate aim of all the jobs the world has to offer in today’s time, whether in the field of entertainment, business or research, is to ultimately serve the human civilization. While none can claim to be better than others, some have a more direct and faster impact. These include service...

Biologists Need More Angle Grinders

Biological science is aesthetically female

AUG 2019
Biological Engineering
I was very surprised one day to realize that I had developed a single callous on the pad of my right thumb. I can’t remember the last time I got a callous: I don’t rock climb, play an instrument, or do extreme sports. I don’t even take classes anymore, so I rarely write with a pen. Then it hit me:...

Fated Friends

Human interaction at MIT

AUG 2019
Physics
Walking into my MIT dorm for the first time, I itched to meet my peers. Although MIT students are known for being nerdy, I figured grad students (myself included) already went through a social awakening in undergrad. Making friends would be a piece of cake. I rounded the corner on the way to...

Dildo.io, Where Did You Go?

The MIT approach to online dating

AUG 2019
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Cambridge and the online dating landscape  When I first arrived in Boston, I was teeming with curiosity and excitement. My thirst for scientific discovery and research was paralleled only by one thing: my eagerness to explore the multitude of online dating platforms. Up until that point, I had...

How to Craft a Personal Statement

Some practical tips and perspective

AUG 2019
Biological Engineering
There’s one part of any application that can always make you freeze: the dreaded personal statement. Writing about yourself is an exercise in embarrassment, anxiety, and existential doubt. Don’t worry; I’m here to help! Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The point of a personal statement is...

Are qualifying exams a waste of time?

Often yes

AUG 2019
Nuclear Science and Engineering
How many times have you heard grad students express concern over qualifying exams or declare that they “survived” it? Qualifying exams (“quals”) can be a grueling process spanning anywhere between 1 to 2 years involving multiple examinations. The effectiveness of such exams depends on specific...

I didn’t spend any money for 1 month and this is what happened

You probably don’t need to try this yourself

JUL 2019
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I share my office with a pugnacious Australian graduate student, who delights in competition and regularly poses challenges to me. One afternoon, he provoked me with a contest to determine who could function longer without spending money. He claimed that he had grown tired of the trivial grievances...

Have something to say or share? Then blog about it!

August workshop application deadline August 16

JUL 2019
Hi MIT Grads! The MIT Graduate Admissions Blog is excited to announce its upcoming August workshop on blog writing. In brief, Attend a 2-day blogging workshop: August 26th and August 29th, 10am-12pm. Write two blog pieces Earn $200 upon completion...

MIT Time

A tradition of tardiness

JUL 2019
Civil and Environmental Engineering
I am perpetually late. No matter how much I look forward to an event, it seems physically impossible for me to arrive on time. This quality is something I have always tried to overcome, but with limited success. I’ve set aside extra time to get ready, but I somehow find other tasks that need to be...

Dance Fitness in Boston

Workout AND have fun!

JUL 2019
Biological Engineering
I entered graduate school as an awkward, uncoordinated person. I will leave it as a prima ballerina. Just kidding. But jokes aside, Boston has quite a few fun, unique dance fitness opportunities, and I have them to thank for making me a more coordinated, flexible, happy person. Dance fitness...

Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn

Embracing opportunities to teach at MIT

JUL 2019
Technology and Policy Program
I love helping people learn. I first got a taste of this at the military academy where I completed my undergraduate degree. I taught new cadets and new Airmen about marching and other aspects of being in the military. Later, I worked an obstacle course where I had to teach safety and proper...

Comedy Lab

How a research group in EECS became stand-up comedians in 10 weeks

JUL 2019
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
One year ago, my advisor, Prof. Charles Leiserson in CSAIL, arranged for our research group to take a stand-up comedy class with Dana Jay Bein, a local comedian with Improv Boston. Charles sold it to us as an...

Get out of the Lab and See the World!

Why traveling – especially solo – is perfect for PhD students

JUN 2019
Biological Engineering
Last September, I anxiously stood in front of my thesis committee, waiting for them to comment on my graduation timeline. To my surprise, not only did they say I could graduate soon, but they even suggested a date — May 2019! My initial reaction was the urge to go climb a rooftop and shout the good...

Learn to Swim

One of the many free PE classes offered at MIT

JUN 2019
Mechanical Engineering
I was brought up in places far from lakes and rivers. The non-availability of swimming facilities in my high school and college led to my inability to learn to swim until I joined MIT as a graduate student. Here at MIT, however, the presence of Charles River right next to the campus inspired me to...

Girly

What a scientist should look like

JUN 2019
Physics
"Let us choose for ourselves our path in life, and let us try to strew that path with flowers." – Emilie du Chatelet, Physicist I love dresses and bows, face masks and makeup. When I get ready for a day in lab, I avoid it all...

Going Through a Breakup

How work and friends helped me (somewhat) regain my inner balance

JUN 2019
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
I came back to Boston after a month of traveling to find out that my boyfriend and I had fallen out of love. After an ever-difficult conversation during a rainy September night, I was faced with the necessity to adjust to my “single” relationship status while staying on top of my responsibilities...

Explain the MIT Undergrads to Me

There’s a totally rational reason for the madness, I promise

JUN 2019
Biological Engineering
As a newly arrived graduate student at MIT, you may have noticed that the undergrads are a bit… crazy. Don’t worry, I’m your local neighborhood undergrad-whisperer, and I’m here to help. As a current Graduate Resident...

Carving Nature at Its Joints

A brief timeline of an obsession

JUN 2019
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Last January. A friend recommends a scientific paper. At this time I am a computer science student thinking of quitting computer science, because I live in California, and love computers but have grown exhausted by Silicon Valley. The paper is called ‘Building Machines That Learn and Think Like...

Sailing Outside My Comfort Zone

The story of a numerical modeler wandering into the Arctic

JUN 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
It all started with an email: ‘Urgent: Help needed for a research cruise in the Arctic ocean. No prior experience required’. The message had been sent to my department’s mailing list and described a month-long research opportunity to conduct oceanographic field work along the coast of Alaska. I...

A Structured Approach to Course Planning

Strategies for graduate students in a FOMO world

MAY 2019
Integrated Design and Management
Whether you attend MIT or another school, one of the things you may find challenging is planning the courses you will take over the entirety of your graduate career. As an incoming student of a cross-disciplinary program in Integrated Design & Management, I had the opportunity to select courses...

Practicing Good Hygge-ne

Self-care is so much more than making sure you’ve showered

MAY 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
It is hard to make time for all the things you want to do at MIT. There was one week my Google calendar had so many overlapping events, meetings and deadlines that it looked like a colorful mosaic worthy of the contemporary art section at the MFA. From 9AM to 11AM...

On Rooftops in Cambridge and That Elusive Feeling of Hereness

When they go low, you go high

MAY 2019
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
A long time ago, I climbed a roof here. Though I should clarify and revise; this is, after all, an institute built on precision. Recently, a professor returned a response paper I had written with a comment that read, this is all very interesting,...

An Ode to My Slow Cooker

How a special appliance has saved me both time and sanity

MAY 2019
Media Arts and Sciences
 The special appliance: my slow cooker   I want to thank one special appliance Whose dedication and trusty alliance Have been a time saver for a busy grad mom. You snuck into my kitchen with quiet aplomb, Arriving, in a box, some years ago-- Black and sleek. How was I to know That you would save...

Trains, Buses, and Feet

Seeing all of Boston on the way to class

MAY 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
On Tuesday mornings, I catch a 7:30 bus to get to an 8:30 class. This class is roughly 2.5 miles from my apartment.  Why so far? Well, I’m a PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, which focuses on integrating clinical experience into an engineering PhD. This involves...

Finding My Grad School Home

An experiment in communal living

MAY 2019
Chemical Engineering
When I arrived in the foreboding metropolis of Boston, I sought a group of friends that brings soup when someone is sick, welcomes each other into our homes even at the lowest of times, asks deep questions, and challenges each other to be the best we can be. I struggled adapting to this new place...

Educating Myself Out of Education

I’m a fast climber, but why should it matter?

MAY 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t always tell the truth.  When people ask me about MIT, I tend to oversell it. After all, it is one of the best, if not the best, university on the planet, nestled at the top of all international rankings. Once up here, everyone simply expects you to be proud of...

Advising Advice

What should you look for when choosing an advisor?

MAY 2019
Aeronautics and Astronautics
At the end of my second year at MIT, I chose to switch to a different advisor, based on our overlapping interests in a specific research area. This turned out to be a great decision, but for many reasons that I hadn’t even remotely thought about when I made the choice. I’m very conscious now that I...

A Primer for Understanding ‘Merica

My first few weeks in the USA

may 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
This blog is the continuation of my first blog where I wrote about my first few days in the USA. When I came to the USA from India to attend grad school, I had to learn many cultural norms that were very different from those at home on the other side of the planet. It was a steep learning curve,...

A Minor Change for A Major Reward

How playing guitar made my grad school life more enjoyable

MAY 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I should start a new hobby. I came to this conclusion when my answer to the question, “research + sleep = 24 hours?” was “yes, but not always”. Although finding downtime can be difficult, especially when you are taking courses, it is a necessary part of staying sane and healthy in graduate school....

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

When a PhD gets personal

MAY 2019
Mechanical Engineering
Some people choose their PhD projects based on raw scientific curiosity. Some seek buzz words, industry partners, or flashy technology to jumpstart profitable future careers. Some find their projects based on available funding. Me? I chose my project because it had almost killed me. Sepsis. Global...

What the Puck?

How a new sport helped me find clarity in grad school

MAY 2019
Chemistry
In my first year of graduate school, I fell on my butt a lot. It’s as if I would forget about my feet. I would be gliding along smoothly, comfortably shifting from one skate to the other, but if a puck slid in my direction — and I had to get it! — my skates would be gone from under me, my heavily...

BYOB or… Bring Your Own Bowl

How we could all make our lunchtimes at MIT zero-waste

APR 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
I don’t know about you, but I like to take a break at lunchtime. When, two years ago, I started my PhD, I used to walk everyday out of building 54 to go to the Stata Center cafe, ...

How to Pass a Harvard Class

What it’s like to be a cross-registered student

APR 2019
Technology and Policy Program
Shopping Day is like speed dating for courses at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Herds of students filter in and out of classrooms. Nervous chatter splinters out across the students until the professor sweeps in and quiets the crowd. There I sat...

MIT in a Year

How to make the most of a brief MIT experience

APR 2019
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Nine months. The length of a human pregnancy. Also the length of my time at MIT. To clarify, this is not a story about pregnancy. Ask most MIT graduate students how long they plan to be here, and two years is the minimum. Many will be here well beyond four as they pursue a PhD. But for...

Back to Square One

Learning to appreciate family

APR 2019
Operations Research Center
I just came back from Shanghai a week ago. It was my first trip home since I came to MIT in the summer of 2017. It’s been over a year and a half. I saw a lot of friends and family on this trip, including my high school math teacher. He told me the story of his wife giving birth to their twin...

Grief

Feeling at MIT

APR 2019
Physics
My dead dad emailed me today. I was sitting in a shared office along with a postdoc when I saw my dad’s name pop into my inbox. My breath caught in my throat. Is this a message from beyond? A beat passed. I clicked. I was sure the note was written by my dad. Alyssa, You have written this almost...

The Simple Pleasures of Gardening

Reaping actual fruits and vegetables while at MIT

APR 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
There are few things in life as satisfying as eating home-grown food. Whether it is flavorful herbs, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers or other delicious produce, it is simply delightful to consume freshly picked fruits and vegetables. This is especially true after the endless supply of greasy pizzas...

First Impressions of the USA

Did he just call me Mrs. Lincoln?

APR 2019
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
I arrived in New Jersey to attend graduate school two years ago. I was mostly nervous and a little bit excited. This was the first time I had flown internationally and also the first time I had flown in an airplane! Upon arrival I was greeted by the air hostess who apologetically told us that all...