Blogs

The Breaking Point

And the slow path to recovery

May 2022
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
I got off the escalator and stepped onto the platform. Three minutes until the train, eighteen minutes until I get to MIT, twenty minutes until my meeting. My breath was a bit fast: I’d been walking briskly. Suddenly, my chest tightened, and no more air could get in. My first reaction wasn’t fear...

An experimental study of the Holy Cannoli

The hunt for the greatest desert in Boston

May 2022
by Ben M.
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Introduction   The Cannoli is a form of desert, which, in its most basic form, includes a pastry shell wrapped around a sweet ricotta filling. Historians have long debated the origin of the cannoli. Some say the cannoli originated during the carnival seasons in Palermo, a city on the island of...

Getting back to reading for pleasure

…or an ode to now dead literary references?

May 2022
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Harry Potter, Catch-22, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Count of Monte Cristo - there are a few references here that you may want to skip. If I were a troubled friend seeking advice, I might ask you to be the Jeeves to my Wooster, or if grad school has...

The White House is on the phone

And MIT is in my inbox

April 2022
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
President Jimmy Carter conceded the 1980 election earlier than expected. Ronald Reagan recounted, “I never dreamed it would be in the late afternoon when I was taking a shower, standing there dripping wet, that Nancy told me the White House was on the phone.” A year ago I received an email from...

Life lessons from a cookie

What the science of baking taught me about leaving home and entering a new environment

April 2022
Media Arts and Sciences
One of the most famous movie quotes is Forrest Gump’s, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” As a hobby baker with a mega sweet tooth, I feel obligated to come up with my own metaphor: Growing up is like being inside of a baking cookie. To me, it’s not just any...

How to Hang in There

For one grad student, holding onto their scientific dreams involves more literal grip strength than you might think!

April 2022
Biology
I was skimming the schedule of a conference last week when I saw the last thing any 6th year PhD student wants to see: a title that could describe my project, on someone else’s abstract. I froze with dread. Did I just get scooped? No: the other project used a different experimental approach in a...

How a tree decided where I live

The search for my off-campus home

April 2022
Mechanical Engineering
It was a hot summer day in India, and I was holding my dad’s arms and standing in front of this old tree. My young mind was fascinated by the wrinkled bark and well spread branches tearing through the sky. He hoisted me into the air to pluck a lime from the tree, but suddenly an ice cold wind blew...

Recreating the Taste of Home

Exploring beyond my (culinary) comfort zone

April 2022
by Eva C.
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
“Do you need anything from home?” say my parents whenever we chat, asking if I wanted anything to be mailed. “I’m good!” I usually reply. There was one thing I missed from home, but it certainly couldn’t be mailed—the bakeries. Every visit to an Asian bakery was reminiscent of childhood memories of...

Wait, There’s a Fun Scale?

Type II Fun - what it is, and why you should try it

April 2022
Biological Engineering
As a statistics-loving graduate student, I am prone to quantifying everything. I have a tracking app for my running mileage, a separate one for my sleeping hours, and even a custom spreadsheet to grade fried hot chicken I’ve tried in Boston. One of the only areas of my life I don’t quantify is the...

Reactivating

Mixing Metaphors with Meaning

April 2022
Biology
As a budding biologist, I am familiar with the way metaphor is employed to effectively communicate scientific concepts. For example, the molecule of the moment is messenger RNA, whose name represents the fact that mRNA is a transient molecule that transports information from the genome to the...

MIT-only Memories

Taking advantage of unique MIT experiences

April 2022
Nuclear Science and Engineering
MIT is a unique place, full of fascinating people and experiences that you won’t have anywhere else. As students, I love to take advantage of the incredible opportunities offered by MIT. For example, it feels like a steal when I get to eat an amazing buffet of food while watching a free movie on...

Tomatoes, Parmesan, Bread…Oh, My!

A No-Knead Focaccia Recipe

April 2022
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Focaccia – Your favorite (or soon to be favorite) dimpled bread that seems to have taken the world by storm recently. For those who haven’t heard of it, focaccia is a type of Italian oven-baked bread famous for its distinctive dimpled crust. It can be served in many ways, but my personal favorite...

How my journey to the Philippines brought me to MIT

…and connected me with an incredible mentor

Jan 2022
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering
During the summer of 2019, my mom and I visited the Philippines for our first-time to meet relatives and learn more about our heritage. To see as much of the country as possible and to meet as many people as possible, my family rented a van for a two-week road trip. I met a LOT of people, and...

The conflict and the privilege of MIT

I didn't think I could come here, yet here I am, and that made me question everything

Jan 2022
Technology and Policy Program
The arrival It feels very strange to be writing this. I never thought I would be writing as a student at MIT but after a rollercoaster of events I was given the opportunity of a lifetime: the opportunity to study at MIT. I applied to MIT as a high school student, and after being rejected, I never...

3 Things I did as an International Graduate Student This Summer

And three that I wish I had devoted more time to.

Jan 2022
Comparative Media Studies
When I was accepted to the Master of Science (M.S). in Comparative Media Studies last summer, I had very specific goals of how I wanted to spend the next two years of my life in Boston: conducting ethnographic research, volunteering in several organizations, networking, and learning how to sail...

Whales of quals

Prioritizing my mental health over qualifying exams

Jan 2022
Mechanical Engineering
This is my story of how I prioritized my mental health over qualifying exams. When I was studying for quals1, my phone kept autocorrecting quals to whales. I thought it was funny and poetic, because the stress of quals felt like a whale on me. Before reading this, I want to mention that what you...

Innovation and the Daily Grind

How admission into MIT Sloan Fellow MBA transformed my way of thinking about careers, entrepreneurship and innovation

Jan 2022
MIT Sloan MBA Program
A life with daily grinds Over the last ten years, I remember working long hours on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), project finance deals, and operational issues without even realizing when the sun set. And then COVID struck! Suddenly, I had nothing to work on and nowhere to go. Somewhere inside...

Escape MIT for a weekend

My favorite weekend getaways around New England

Dec 2021
Operations Research Center
What will you do if you have a weekend free? Netflix? Video games? How about getting out of your (dorm) room and travelling to another state? During my undergraduate study, I spent one seminar in a small town north of Boston doing a co-op (i.e., a 6-month internship). Away from campus, I was free...

How I realized graduate school was the right choice for me

The best ideas come in the bathroom

Dec 2021
Physics
The best realizations really do come in the bathroom. I was washing my hands in the sink when I heard the bathroom door shut as another girl entered. If you ever lived in a college dorm in the US, you can imagine what a dorm bathroom looks like. It has multiple stalls and sinks so that it can be...

A Graduate School Simulator

How playing Stardew Valley prepared me to move to MIT

Dec 2021
by Vik O.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Stardew Valley, the hit indie farm simulator, consumed much of my senior spring. While writing my thesis and finishing my coursework, I needed an opportunity to relax and focus on ANYTHING other than my mounting deadlines. The game, playable across...

You have got to have a plan, and a planner!

Putting everything on the calendar makes life at MIT so much easier.

Dec 2021
System Design and Management
  Growing up in India   Growing up in a busy middle class household in India, my parents did not once ask about my grades. They would just pick my report card and glance over it annually at the parent-teacher meetings. That was it. This was in stark contrast to some parents who spent what seemed...

Finding your why

A good reason to go to grad school

Dec 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I was about 19 years old when my friend and I made plans to bike 70 miles to a state park in our area, camp for the night, and take the train home. My parents were afraid that we would get hurt or lost, so they suggested that I shouldn’t go. I appreciated their caution, but it dawned on me that it...

Nurturing yourself by nurturing some greens

How growing an indoor vegetable garden from scratch became a life-affirming engineering project during the COVID lockdowns

Dec 2021
Chemical Engineering
Grad student life is filled with significant transitions like qualification exams, new roommates, selecting PIs and committee members, and more. But the uncertainties of grad school life suddenly became much more prominent with COVID-19. As an experimentalist who does my research in a lab, I was...

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

IAP workshop application deadline December 29

NOV 2021
Hi MIT grad students! The MIT Graduate Admissions Blog is excited to announce its upcoming IAP workshop on blog writing. In brief, Attend a 2-day blogging workshop: Tuesday, January 18 and Thursday, January 20 from 12-2pm Write one blog submission...

Making kofta in an air fryer

Balancing cultural identity as a second-generation American

Nov 2021
Chemical Engineering
 “Dinner is ready!” The smells of tahini and allspice waft through my house, while plates and utensils clatter around the kitchen. My family meanders around the kitchen in hungry anticipation, like so many wolves circling their prey…  Growing up as a second-generation American, I primarily...

The lady and the grad

How a dog can help you push through the loneliness of a PhD

Nov 2021
Program in Polymers and Soft Matter
It all started in the warm month of May, with a raging pandemic and a lonely heart. My roommate Sandy had gone home and wouldn’t come back until the fall, and I was losing my mind going in circles in the apartment. I had been wanting a dog. I had always loved dogs. The things stopping me from...

I Hear You

How I learned to listen in grad school

Nov 2021
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
ME: "...I don't want to talk about plans. Working inside the lab building feels depressing." MOM: "Maybe you can talk to the department chair about finding a new advisor? That shouldn't be difficult." ME: "Mom, could you stop telling me what to do? I feel really overwhelmed right now" MOM: "I'm not...

To visit or not to visit?

Awkward COVID family decisions

Nov 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
The public health orders are clear: Stay. At. Home. Your mom’s voicemail is also clear: Visit. Me. Now. My family managed two fun and relaxing visits during the height of the pandemic. We weighed the risks, took precautions, and enjoyed some quality time. Let’s be 100% clear: it was risky every...

MIT PE to the Rescue! Yee-hah!

How a trip to Volcano Bay got me learning to swim and much more!

Nov 2021
Chemistry
Standing in awe, I gazed at the most beautiful theme park I have ever seen in my life. My friend and I had just entered the Volcano Bay at Universal Studios in Orlando after a morning...

Christmas in September?

You can’t buy happiness, but sometimes you can find it for free in your neighbor’s trash

Nov 2021
Chemical Engineering
There’s an old saying, “you can’t take it with you.” It’s mainly used to caution people against overvaluing money or material possessions because you can’t take them  with you when you die. In Boston, the saying could be “you can’t take it with you when you move.” People around here are very...

On Grieving from a Distance

Learning to speak the language of loss

Sept 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
“Can you make a short video for 爷爷? Just a few lines to cheer him up.” I received this text from my mother on the evening of October 12, 2020.  My paternal grandpa (爷爷, pronounced “...

If you want, add a jump

My rewarding journey of becoming a group kickboxing instructor at MIT

Sept 2021
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
How do you build yourself back up when life gets hard? Some of my friends find comfort in creating art, some in hiking, while some in building relationships. Since I came to MIT, I have found my charging station and creativite outlet in kickboxing. At the beginning of my PhD, I picked up the habit...

Crafting is engineering, music is math

What I learned from teaching design and engineering to elementary schoolers

Sept 2021
Mechanical Engineering
I am a serial maker: as a child, I dove deep into a new creative obsession each year. With each medium I explored, my passion for making grew, and projects flooded my house: a giant model of the Parthenon made from recyclables graced our front hallway, a crochet stuffed dragon perched in our...

Touring Colleges on Foot

A brief jog through some of Boston’s many universities

Sept 2021
Materials Science and Engineering
Coming from an undergraduate university located in a smaller city, I was used to living in an area with few nearby schools to compare to my own. In contrast, the Boston area is littered with colleges! In fact, Wikipedia cites that there are...

Trying and failing to buy a house

Why can’t grad students get a mortgage?

Sept 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
We did everything right. My husband and I had excellent credit, did not have debt, and we always paid off our credit cards. We had plenty of money in our savings account. We attended financial seminars and learned all the steps involved in buying a house. And yet, when we tried to buy a small,...

How leaving MIT convinced me to stay

Navigating academia and industry as a grad student

Aug 2021
Architecture
Industry or academia? It’s a question at the forefront of many MIT grad students’ minds. I first found myself at this crossroads at the end of my undergraduate career, unsure whether I wanted to follow the path of a practicing engineer or that of an academic researcher. Being indecisive, I reached...

small silver slivers

finding the bright spots in a dark time

Aug 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
It was dark. Like the smallest sliver of a crescent moon, my roommate’s face was barely illuminated by the flickering glow of the twenty-six candles before her. It was just enough to see her manage a smile, lean forward, and, in a plume of smoke, send us into darkness again. It wasn’t the birthday...

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

August workshop application deadline August 1

JUL 2021
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 23rd and August 26th, 1pm-3pm. Write one blog submission Earn $100 upon completion...

From Procrastination to Productivity

How I Found Motivation in a Remote Semester

July 2021
Linguistics and Philosophy
A few months after receiving the exciting news that I’d been admitted to MIT, I was informed that my semester of grad school would be fully online. Little did I know that it would turn out much worse than I could’ve ever anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, remote learning has many advantages. There is...

The Perfect Recipe Doesn’t Exist

Making connections between baking and experimental materials science

July 2021
Materials Science and Engineering
In March 2020, a breadmaking epidemic struck the world. Legions of Youtube gurus, bloggers, and social media users began posting their recipes and adventures in breadmaking, especially sourdough, the type of bread which uses a live starter culture....

What A Poet Taught Me About Sitting Still

Building a mindfulness practice into a busy grad student schedule

July 2021
MIT Sloan MBA Program
One year ago or so, many of us found ourselves suddenly with more time that we ever knew we had. With no commute, no social engagements, and little to do outside the house, we were left alone with ourselves. Perhaps for the first time, or at least, for me, for the first time in a long time. ...

Miss to Mrs. to Dr.

How to plan a wedding in grad school

July 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Congratulations! You’re engaged! Unfortunately, you’re a graduate student. People get married in all kinds of circumstances, but the graduate experience is unique, and you probably find yourself strapped for cash, time, and energy. I’m here to show you that it is possible to have a beautiful...

All the good ideas are gone!

But all the good work is left to do.

June 2021
Biological Engineering
The MIT Biological Engineering (BE) interview weekend began with an introduction by the department's chair. She gave a very motivating speech that ended with “this is the best time to become a bioengineer: find a problem and run with it.” I felt very motivated by the department chair’s speech and...

Second time’s the charm

Finally at MIT after an undergraduate rejection

June 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I remember driving down Massachusetts Avenue with my mom when I was 16. We were in New England on a family vacation, so she arranged a campus visit at MIT for me since I was trying to decide which colleges I should apply to. It was a beautiful July day. We had a meeting with an undergraduate...

Born in the USA!

A foreign American’s journey back to the US

June 2021
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering
Well, the truth is, that’s all I was: just born in the USA. I’d never set foot on US soil since moving away at the young age of 3 months, when my family’s work relocation period ended and they moved back to France. Later, I would find myself growing up in Israel for the greater part of my youth....

The Right Roomie For You

How asking the right questions can help you find your people

June 2021
MIT Sloan MBA Program
My freshman year of college, I lived in a dorm with five other girls and one bathroom. It could have been a disaster, but by a stroke of luck we lived together incredibly well. Not everyone had such a fortunate random draw—one friend from down the hall still talks about the “mold farm” her roommate...

Routine in Chaos

Discovering opportunity to hack your own personal productivity habits

April 2021
Mechanical Engineering
About a month into my first semester at MIT, I found myself sitting on my couch at 4pm, still in my pajamas I’d been wearing all day, working on a math Problem Set (PSET), with a bag of pretzels as my only meal of the day beside me when I thought:  What the heck am I doing? Who have I become?? For...

PhD Parenting in a Pandemic

Challenges and lessons learned from a tumultuous time in my life

April 2021
Civil and Environmental Engineering
When I first heard about SARS-CoV-2, my wife and I had just flown back to the U.S. from visiting her family in China. She was already in her second trimester of pregnancy and was concerned that the virus might spread to North America. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it. Evidently, her “...

Experimenting with love

Attempting to date as a PhD student in Biology

April 2021
Biology
As far as bad dates went, this one was catastrophic. My date (we’ll call him “Brad”) was drunk, not just on his own ego, but also quite literally drunk. Though really, this was not my fault, as he had decided to come that way. As the waitress cleared our table, he swiveled around to look at me,...

Pandemic pupils

How Covid-19 has transformed my perspective on outreach and education

April 2021
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering
Going to graduate school anywhere can be a form of culture shock. Often, the transition is from cosmopolitan to erudite and razor-focused, or team-based and casual to more isolated. But moving to do graduate school in a northeastern city in the U.S. from somewhere more rural, such as southwestern...

When is the best time to start graduate school?

Pros and cons of fresh-out-of-undergraduate and post-young professional paths

April 2021
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
I’ve technically had two “first days” of graduate school. The first one was in September 2012. Fresh out of undergraduate, I arrived that fall semester at MIT - completely burned out. After graduate school applications and a grueling final senior semester, I was running on fumes. I joined a lab...

Hunting for What We Lost

How the MIT Mystery Hunt Reminded Me Of How Bleak Pandemic Life Is

April 2021
Aeronautics and Astronautics
It is a unique feeling to be having such a fantastic time that you make yourself hopelessly, achingly sad.  During the Independent Activities Period (IAP) this past January, the annual MIT Mystery Hunt took place, and I competed with my undergraduate team, NES*. For those that don’t know, the MIT...

Mayan, what else?

Take the time to breathe and do what you like

April 2021
Technology and Policy Program
I was tired. My first semester at MIT was tougher than I had expected. I still have vivid memories of that defining evening of November. I was making my way back home with research ideas spinning in my head and started to feel anxious about the three p-sets I had to finish by week’s end. In short,...

Launching Into The New Year

Experiencing my first rocket launch

April 2021
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Though I’ve been called a space nerd and a rocket scientist before, I’ve never felt that I never really earned that title. After all, I’ve never witnessed a live rocket launch before—that is until this past MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January 2020.  After finishing my first term as...

Getting closer to my “luck”

The story of my journey to MIT

March 2021
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
This is a story about an imperfect person finding her way towards incredible mentors and places. One day, I wish to hear your version of this story. 4 years ago, I was a sophomore in Singapore, studying signal processing and software development. I wasn’t the person I aspired to be - I wanted to be...

Fostering Success

Sometimes the youngest kids can teach the biggest lessons

March 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Over the course of the fall semester, places in the US underwent varying stages of lockdown in hopes of slowing the spread of coronavirus. My hometown had some of the most severe lockdown rules, with all nonessential businesses halted for an extended period of time. But for all the personal...

A Food Scientist’s Views on Instant Foods

How to consciously generate instant happiness!

March 2021
System Design and Management
What comes to your mind when you hear the word "instant"?  How about "instant foods"?  When it comes to food, people tend to relate instantaneity with unhealthy, "bad for you", or processed. All those associations were also on my mind as a consumer. However, other questions were: Why do people...

Join today, plan for tomorrow

Why you should join your professional society

March 2021
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Whether it’s IEEE, ASME, AIChE, APS, or a different acronym, you are probably familiar with your field’s specific professional society. I became a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) as a college freshman in 2013. Eight years later, serving on the ANS board of directors and working toward...

Does This Make Epstein My Boss?

How MIT handled the Epstein scandal, dirty money, and why I’m still here.

March 2021
Microbiology
MIT’s Money Mistakes Just as I was starting graduate school at MIT, my pride in coming here was tainted by a national scandal that made me think twice about sporting that MIT hoodie. The arrest of Jeffrey Epstein in July of 2019 may seem like a lifetime ago, considering all the issues we grappled...

My musical journey in Boston

How a fortuitous encounter started my musical career

March 2021
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
An Instrumental Encounter “I am a musician.” I did not expect to hear those words during my lab rotation for the Health Science Technology program. I clearly remember the day. It was a chilly winter afternoon of 2018 at Lansdowne Street in Cambridge when I was introduced to a lab administrator, who...