Blogs

The Silent 50%

Women and Men Are NOT Equal

Feb 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Every year, I look forward to the annual Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Fall Dinner. Not for the free food, open bar or rare opportunity to dress up (although they surely don’t hurt), but almost exclusively for the company. HST is a unique program that allows PhD, MD and MD-PhD...

Be the [Climate] Change You Wish to See

Don’t underestimate the ripple effects of small changes

Feb 2021
Civil and Environmental Engineering
“What were they thinking?” That’s a common phrase we might say when we shake our heads at past generations for war, genocide, and slavery. As we eat our cheeseburgers in our air-conditioned cars while rolling past carefully manicured and fertilized lawns (otherwise called a...

There is more to MIT than lectures and labs!

How one day at Boda Borg changed my perspective of work-life balance

Feb 2021
Chemistry
I couldn't have been more excited when I joined MIT in summer 2018 and started with research straight away. I came here thinking that all I could do at MIT is complete the coursework and conduct research because that is what I had done as an undergrad. However, I knew not that something very...

Dousing First-Year Burnout

The importance of making MIT your home

Jan 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
“How was your first week, hon? Have you found any fun clubs to join? Are you making any friends?” Typical Mom, still thinking of me as a kid. I had just started a graduate program at MIT. I was joining a group of the world’s most elite scientists, and I certainly didn’t have time for the frivolous...

Mitconceptions

Unlearning what I thought I knew about PhDs and MIT

Jan 2021
Biological Engineering
“Wait up for me!” I shouted after my father as I scrambled to keep up with him. At 6 years old, I didn’t really fit in with the college students dotting the quad under the hot summer sun, but I also didn’t really care. My dad, a professor of economics, was letting me tag along as he went about his...

An Unconventional Path to MIT

From Industry, to MicroMaster’s, to Master’s

Jan 2021
Supply Chain Management
For many of us, MIT has been our dream school since childhood. My personal journey leading to MIT took four years. It was a long time, but worth the wait. Let’s start at the beginning, in the summer of 2013. I had recently obtained my bachelor's degree, and had decided to take some time off before...

A (rest)room of one's own

Experiencing MIT through all-gender bathrooms

Jan 2021
by Cal G.
Biological Engineering
In the COVID-19 research ramp-up, one return-to-work guideline was hotly contested. Community members should remain seated while flushing to limit viral transmission. For a moment, my department was as obsessed with toilets as I was, although for different reasons. As a non-binary trans person, I'm...

Lost Hobbies and How to Find Them

Finding time for hobbies during graduate school

Jan 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
“Someday I’ll have more time for _______(insert your lost hobby here).” For years, this statement has been my approach to hobbies. I’ll have more time when this project is completed, or when the semester is over, or when I graduate from college. By constantly pushing these activities into the...

Prospects of a prospective international student in a pandemic era

Hey, it’s 2020 everyone!

Dec 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The first six months of 2020 have been an emotional rollercoaster. The initial highs included receiving my acceptance letter from MIT; the lows — the COVID-19 outbreak and everything that followed from it, a canceled flight travel nightmare, the MIT campus closing, changing policies for...

Art of Comfort

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

Dec 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
What’s your deepest impression of Boston? Lobster, or the Charles River maybe? For me, it’s the rich art atmosphere. It’s not just about how good museums are, but more about how convenient it is for us students to visit them. The Harvard art museum is by far my preferred destination. It’s right...

Between Three Worlds

There are more things in science and engineering, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your departmental curricula

Dec 2020
Computational Science and Engineering
“So are you an aerospace engineer or a mathematician?” asked my interviewer. I grinned. I was applying for a job in an applied math department, and with two degrees (bachelor’s and master’s) in aerospace engineering, I was expecting some form of this question. “I’m a computational engineer,” I...

My advisor left MIT during my PhD

Making difficult decisions with incomplete information

Dec 2020
Biological Engineering
It was a chilly November morning in 2014, and two months into my second year at MIT. My PhD advisor called for an all-hands group meeting with required attendance. We crammed into a tiny conference room: all 15 of us, whose lives were about to be turned upside-down. On the screen, my advisor...

Welcome to the CandE Shop

Building an Online Community for MIT Climate and Energy Enthusiasts

Dec 2020
Technology and Policy Program
I came to MIT knowing exactly what I wanted to pursue: ensuring reliable, secure, clean, and affordable energy for all. You’d think that it would be easy to find a community of similarly minded peers in MIT’s large climate and energy ecosystem. And in a way, it was. My master’s program,...

Safer Grocery Shopping Guide During the COVID-19

Grocery shopping has been even more difficult during the pandemic, but here are some tips!

Dec 2020
System Design and Management
I never thought that getting good food without a car would be difficult in my life since I lived in Taipei before moving to Cambridge. In Taipei, you’ll see convenience stores everywhere because Taiwan has the highest density per capita of convenience stores in the world. A five-minute walk in...

Ohana means family

Finding a community outside of MIT

Dec 2020
Biology
I was freaking out. My whole body was shaking from a massive adrenaline rush. No, I hadn’t just seen the data that would complete my thesis work. I had just been hit by a car. Honestly, it was more of a “love tap” and I was okay, but there was real contact by a real clueless driver, and I needed to...

To the Mom applying to Grad School:

How Motherhood led me to MIT

Dec 2020
Supply Chain Management
"Can't believe you got it done with children! Good for you!"  an old friend told me. I received similar remarks from other people as they learned that I had applied, enrolled and now attend graduate school with two young toddlers; they applaud my ability to do so DESPITE motherhood. However, as I...

MIT-isms

Crack the Code to MIT Conversation

Dec 2020
Mechanical Engineering
“Are you a first-year grad student?” “Yes, I am! What are you studying?” “Oh, I’m a Course 2, working on my SM – I’m taking my last 24 Units this semester. What Course are you?” “… ah, well, I’m taking statistics this semester?” To fresh recruits to the graduate community at MIT, this conversation...

Strange lands

On being a (foreign) grad student mom

Dec 2020
Political Science
“So how’s everything? How’s the baby?” This is the opening line at almost all of my meetings. And I really can hear the emphasis on the second part.  Growing up watching my own parents complete graduate degrees and then becoming a grad student myself for many years did not prepare me for the life...

Volunteering in a home away from home

Is it possible to volunteer while studying at MIT?

Dec 2020
History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society
When I was accepted to the Comparative Media Studies Master’s program at MIT, I had spent the previous five years working on technology for social justice nonprofits in Mexico. This work exposed me to and involved me in hundreds of projects with all sorts of collectives and organizations, and it...

A stroke of luck?

Hospitalization during a pandemic

Dec 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Back in April, I wrote about how running has remained an important form of stress relief to me during the pandemic, despite the loss of the usual social runs and goal races that motivate me to put on my shoes and get out of the house. On April 20th, I was meant to run my first Boston Marathon....

Vacation time!... What to do? What to do?

Opportunities for graduate students during pandemic and non-pandemic periods

Dec 2020
Integrated Design and Management
When packing my suitcases to do my Master’s in Engineering and Management at MIT, I was not just thinking about which classes I was going to take, but also about what I was going to do over the vacation period.      Three months of summer vacation is a lot of time to travel around the world. At...

Reasons to Cook for Yourself

An optimization problem

Dec 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
 Have you noticed how MIT seems to repel good restaurants? Go Northwest to Harvard Square, and you'll see a squadron of restaurants catering to fortunate Harvard students. Go South, across the river, and you'll see a delightful selection of restaurants catering to happy shoppers. Go further East to...

Why I Vote and Why You Should Too

Your voice matters, so make it heard

Oct 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
“Voting is our civic duty.” This sort of rationale can seem awfully abstract to a graduate student who has multiple class assignments due this week and is being hounded by their advisor about an impending paper deadline. Taking time out of your busy day to register, apply for an absentee ballot,...

Beer in Class—but Peers Afar

Navigating the Freedom and Isolation of Virtual MIT

Oct 2020
Supply Chain Management
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 put my head down on the desk and started to cry. The small upside was that at least no one could see my meltdown. ...

How I came to Cambridge before I came to Cambridge

Lessons I learned as a newly accepted student during a pandemic

Oct 2020
Comparative Media Studies
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 blinking an eye. But guess what: COVID-19 spoiled my plans, and here I am, still in Mexico. To be honest, it was a bummer, mostly because I knew that I wasn...

Finding a Cambridge coffee home

An inner journey in pursuit of good coffee

Oct 2020
Biology
* 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 fondly upon the simpler times of my youth. Ironically, I write this note while drinking jasmine tea, alone in my garden,...

Bench, bath and beyond

Transform your apartment into a yeast lab, and have fun doing it!

Sept 2020
Microbiology
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 to grow. There is some strange comfort in knowing that what looks like clear liquid today will reveal countless gleaming colonies smiling up...

Playing Avalon on Zoom

How a virtual board game keeps us connected during quarantine

Sept 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
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 stay connected with friends back at MIT. So recently, we reconstructed a favorite Friday-night ritual of...

From Rockets to Rocking Chairs

Sitting in a rocking chair holding a baby wasn’t how I expected to kick off graduate school

Sept 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
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 altered. Personally, I had planned on moving to Cambridge in August to start pursuing my Ph.D. in MIT and...

Shaking hands with death

My clinical experience through MIT

Sept 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
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 of another beautiful summer afternoon. I took one step forward as the nurse pulled the bed curtain closed behind us. The patient was an old...

Ode to Crosswords

Are you down for a cross?

Sept 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
(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”, “Deli stock seed”, Two...

Managing your finances when your spouse can’t work

Being an F1 and F2 couple living on graduate stipend is challenging but manageable

Sept 2020
Technology and Policy Program
“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 had a good life back in Jakarta, and we were about to leave all that and live on a budget in one of the most expensive areas in the US. But we...

Any tips on tipping?

The plight of an international student new to the tipping culture in America

Sept 2020
Mechanical Engineering
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 feel that in the moments that follow, the conversation dies down a little as everyone enters their tipping ‘headspaces’. A few take...

L’Autre, c’est moi

Sondering away in the heart of a young boy

Aug 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
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 us on the highway. I’d see a driver singing her favorite tune, a couple absorbed in some deep conversation, or an entire family sitting...

How I passed my 1st-year classes

...by skipping them (please don’t tell anyone)

Aug 2020
Chemical Engineering
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 if I studied the material during class instead of paying attention to the teacher. Of course, I couldn’t physically skip classes back then...

My response to COVID-19

How my family came together during the pandemic

Aug 2020
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
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 out its first official announcement to shut down the campus, I was already working from home. A few days later, the official...

Am I too busy for radio?

How my time spent on-air made me a better scientist

Aug 2020
Technology and Policy Program
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 heard; its primary symptoms are the oversaturated podcast market and the unlimited supply of Instagram influencers. As a new graduate student at MIT with...

Navigating MIT

How to Survive in the Forest of Numbers

Aug 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
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. MIT, however, took it a bit too far.  Humans are, in general, pretty...

The Infinite Rotation

After six failed lab rotations, one last chance to find a home

Aug 2020
Computational and Systems Biology
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 I needed to switch labs because one of my co-advisors was a research fellow, not a tenure-track professor, and the other...

Rethinking orientation in the COVID-19 era

How the MIT graduate orientation is reforming itself this year

July 2020
Mechanical Engineering
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

Year-round climbing around New England (outings) and MIT (innings)

July 2020
Urban Studies and Planning
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 in the Bay Area, while I had access to world-class climbing destinations within a 4 hour drive, distance was a barrier...

Times May Have Changed, but MIT will Not

Looking Back at International IAP Adventures

July 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
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 a dozen flyers that piqued my interest. I deliberately slowed down, knowing that I had four to five more years to explore all that MIT had to...

Best Burgers and Convos at BBC

A quirky tradition unfolds the journey of grad school

July 2020
Chemistry
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 Princeton. We instantly clicked not only over our obvious shared interest in chemistry, but also a strong passion for teaching. I spent a good chunk...

Making the switch

My journey of changing labs

July 2020
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 many PhD programs at MIT, my master’s program doesn’t have the luxury of lab rotations with secure funding from the department. This...

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

Apply for August 10 & 13 online workshop

JUL 2020
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 10th and August 13th, 10am-12pm. Write one blog submission Earn $100 upon...

Life at MIT could be stressful, but not for you!

Simple ways to manage stress as a grad student

July 2020
Mechanical Engineering
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 ups and downs. We all know the feeling of getting closer to a deadline and not having enough data to...

Pass the class — get a tat

The process of making permanent decisions

July 2020
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
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. Picture Antarctica: do you see a wide, skinny strip at the...

So… you were accidentally admitted to MIT

Here’s how to fool everyone for five years

July 2020
Biological Engineering
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 of my peers. I can only tell you this now because I’ve passed my qualifying exams, so they can’t kick me out now. Although I can’t be sure, I believe...

It’s not just about the degree

Grad school is also about becoming the person you want to

July 2020
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
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 life change operated silently, gradually and almost took me by surprise: I became an adult. But importantly, I learned, not...

What’s Your Grocery Strategy?

Feeding yourself in Cambridge without a car

July 2020
MIT Sloan MBA Program
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 to the farmers market, heading to Whole Foods, and then coming home to cook for the afternoon. I knew once I was on a graduate student...

Getting into gear

The grad student’s survival guide to biking in the Boston area

July 2020
Biological Engineering
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 primary form of transportation never seemed like a serious option. Moving to Boston, I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my car...

How to Walk (or Bike, or Bus) a Mile in My Shoes

The Joys of My Daily Commute

July 2020
Architecture
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 place in the neighborhood known as “Cambridgeport.” I love this area. It’s quiet, close to a Trader Joe’s, and there is a freedom to how I can...

In Defense of the MBTA

You don’t know how good you have it.

July 2020
Technology and Policy Program
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 party. I’m in a T station. Man, I love the T. And I mean it. Let me explain why. One, my research revolves around combating...

Changing Your Habits One Sunrise at a Time

How to become a morning person through photography

Jun 2020
Biological Engineering
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 the day to go on various wilderness adventures, like climbing and skiing. Since I wasn’t getting up early on weekdays, my morning wakeup times...

Get out of the lab, get on Twitter

Why science Twitter is one of the greatest tools you have never heard of

Jun 2020
Chemistry
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 how I stay posted on what my friends, favorite celebrities, and social media influencers are up to. Every once in a while, you might...

*Actually* Looking Forward to my Commute

Or, my newfound love of podcasts

Jun 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
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, when podcasts experienced a...

Mental Health Matters: Issue #2

Prioritizing your mental well being in difficult times

Jun 2020
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 it's especially important to know that it is okay to reach out...

Ask and you shall receive

How grad school put me on a healthier path

Jun 2020
Biological Engineering
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 and crushing dread. It felt like the world was ending, even though from a rational place I knew that it definitely wasn’t. From my bed, I could see...

Holidazed and Confused

A guide to MIT’s institutional resources

Jun 2020
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 air, breathing down the napes of necks and nipping at the ankles of passersby. For many adults, December means the holidays and...

You mean, it’s not unhealthy?

Recovering from an eating disorder at MIT, and how we can make our Institute a healthier place

Jun 2020
Computational and Systems Biology
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 motivated to study Biochemistry for another, somewhat unusual reason: an eating disorder I’d...