Blogs

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...

My Journey Home

How I Came to Love Cambridge

Jun 2020
Mechanical Engineering
I am a California girl. I love walks on the beach, wearing shorts in January, cultural acceptance of athleisure wear as commonplace dress, and every restaurant having a vegetarian option. As a result, moving to almost the furthest state possible for at least half a decade came with some concerns....

Doing a PhD is a solo trip

It’s time to buckle up and take off

Jun 2020
Chemical Engineering
As the plane bound for Switzerland took off towards my first solo trip, the feelings of fear in that 3rd-year PhD student gave way to excitement as I realized: I am alone! What was so different about it this time? I had already been living alone and regularly traveling to visit family for nearly a...

Piruksraurugut!

We have to do it!

Jun 2020
Linguistics and Philosophy
For thousands of years, Inuit women celebrated womanhood and rites of passage by giving and receiving traditional markings. Two years ago, I received my tavluġun (chin tattoo) through a traditional Inuit hand poke method, where a needle is dipped into ink and then poked into the skin. Part of the...

Two cats move to Cambridge

How—and why—to relocate with pets

JUN 2020
Biology
Every night, when I come home, I’m greeted by the hungry calls of my two cats, Kiwi and Clem. Clem, the tortie, usually weaves in between my legs as I walk in, while her sister Kiwi, the calico, leads the way to the kitchen. After dinner, the cats loaf around in their usual spots―Kiwi on the couch...

Adapting to a Pandemic World

And how to make a difference in the process

JUN 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I am the absolute worst at working from home. During college I often did my homework not only from home, but also while all nice and cozy in my bed – needless to say, those days are long behind me. When I got to grad school, I vowed to have some sense of normalcy about my workday and have done...

Making It Work

Makerspaces, corgis, and my Grad School Puzzle

JUN 2020
Mechanical Engineering
What if I told you that a grad school education could include the finer details of wooden corgi carving? If you told me that a year ago I would immediately respond with skepticism — “right, because that’s a productive use of time”. Yet, today I would argue that such education is not only possible...

The Buddy System

How checking in weekly can keep your goals on track

MAY 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Graduate school is overwhelming and lonely at times. In addition to producing good research, graduate students have to balance networking, taking classes, staying updated on advances in their field by reading papers, and managing personal life goals. Everyone has a research advisor and, usually,...

A Thermodynamic Model of Friendship

Keeping up with friendships is energy-intensive

MAY 2020
Mathematics
Disclaimer: I have not taken a physics class in years, and the unavoidable inaccuracies in the discussion that follows should in no way reflect poorly on the professors/department that bestowed a physics degree upon me back in the day. Friendships take energy to maintain. Entropically speaking,...

My Year in the Wild

Why I Chose to Go into Industry Before Pursuing Grad School

MAY 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Once I realized I wanted to be a professor, grad school felt inevitable. It was a question of when I wanted to spend at least five more years in school, not if I was going to do so. I spent my last couple years of college deliberating whether I was going to apply to graduate programs for aerospace...

Loafing Around at MIT

Why baking bread should be your next hobby

MAY 2020
Biology
I started baking not too long ago, mostly at the advice of acquaintances who were already proficient bakers. My first few attempts weren’t great; I once managed to omit an entire cup of water from a naan recipe, resulting in a hard puck-shaped mass with the texture of stale Ritz crackers. But I...

Terraforming Friendship

How friendship started to flourish after a game of Terraforming Mars

MAY 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
My friend recently flew back to visit his grad school friends. All of us used to do many things together. Since he was back, we decided to play a game we enjoyed — Terraforming Mars. The game...

Is Grad School Harder than a Headstand?

How practicing my headstand turned into a metaphor for my PhD

MAY 2020
Chemistry
Editor Note: This post was originally written before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. The first semester of graduate school is pretty hard. You’re surrounded by new people from all over the world, you’re taking challenging classes, and in many departments, you’re also required to teach...

Teaching a Lab Module…on Zoom

How the pandemic impacted my life as a TA this semester

MAY 2020
Chemistry
“The first thing we have to talk about is coronavirus.” That’s what the director of the undergraduate chemistry laboratory said when all the lab teaching assistants (TAs) gathered at the beginning of the semester. Back then, our only concern was helping students who were missing class due to self-...

Big Changes in the Qualifying Exam Procedure

The many responses to AeroAstro's new quals process, and how it might be linked to implicit gender bias

MAY 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Imagine standing in front of a panel of faculty members, some of the most prominent academics in the world of aerospace engineering, having prepared for a short 60 minutes to complete an oral exam and prove your competence in the field in which you hope to receive your PhD. In many departments at...

An Indian Spice Blend™ You Won’t Find at Whole Foods

Add one tablespoon of Indian to one tablespoon of American to achieve optimal confusion

MAY 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
One of the most challenging tasks every family must undertake at some point in their lives is deciding what to watch together. One evening, the compromise for our family was Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix standup special, Homecoming King. It was a win-win: my immigrant parents got to see a young brown man...

Dungeons and Biology

A tale of biologists, some dice, and keeping each other sane

MAY 2020
Biology
Every other Sunday, six biologists gather around my apartment’s dining table. The meeting starts out normally enough, each of us giving one science and one non-science update about our lives since we last met. We recap our previous meeting. What happens next is less normal. I begin narrating: “The...

Letters to a Not-So-Young-Anymore Grad School Applicant

Reflections during critical moments

MAY 2020
Urban Studies and Planning
Now that I am close to graduating with a masters degree in City Planning, I’m reflecting on how I’ve grown in the past two years. It was a year before that, in the summer of 2017, when I decided to apply to grad school. By that time I had worked for five years at several architecture firms. I felt...

The Bright Side of Isolation

A few positive aspects of social distancing

MAY 2020
Mechanical Engineering
Being a graduate student whose work mostly takes place on a PC, the changes in MIT policies related to COVID-19 have not impacted my academic work by a large amount so far. On the other hand, the social impact of it has been much more profound. From an exponential increase in the discussions (...

Great Podcasts to Accompany Quarantine

Ranked from highly-dignified to 100% guilty-pleasure

APR 2020
Biological Engineering
Allow me to remind you of a fantastic form of entertainment that you used to listen to during your commute: podcasts! For those of us who have already finished Tiger King (as well as seemingly everything else on Netflix), podcasts are a great way to pass the time between Zoom calls. I’ve...

What Business Does a Modeler Have at Sea?

Lessons learned from a research cruise

APR 2020
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
If you’re anything like me, then there is a good chance you have never even heard of a research cruise. That was about my (lack of) knowledge level until I started applying to graduate schools. Next thing I knew, I was a part of the incoming class for the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/...

What Do I Do When I Can’t Go to Lab?

Ways to move your research forward when running experiments isn’t an option

APR 2020
Chemistry
Sometimes, going to lab isn’t an option. Whether it’s due to an injury, illness, family or, as in 2020, COVID-19, life often gets in the way of planned experiments. But that doesn’t have to stop you from working on your research! There are lots of ways to push your research forward without...

COVID-26.2

Running from your problems

APR 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
I’m a big fan of running, to the point where one of my labmates described me as being known among her friends as “a running and cider fiend”. I’ve written before about my...

Dang, You Live in Tang?

My first semester living in Tang Hall while dealing with its unexpected & unfounded notoriety

APR 2020
Mechanical Engineering
Random grad student: “Do you live on campus?” Me: “Yep.” RGS: “Where?” Me: *slightly wincing in anticipation of oncoming judgment* “I live in Tang Hall.” On the surface, this seems like a straightforward conversation. However, my answer often elicits two kinds of reactions. I either get a slightly...

Networking for Introverts

How to break out of your shell

APR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted to us before the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, but we believe that the advice given here is still highly relevant in the time of quarantine  – when both group and one-on-one meetings are as important as ever. Networking. For some of us...

Away, with a slice of MIT

My experience with MISTI GSL

APR 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
It's no secret that MIT celebrates differences and diversity. Different interests, backgrounds, working styles, expertise, ambitions, perspectives, voices … the list is endless. As an outsider, before I joined MIT, I was amazed and attracted to this deeply interwoven fabric of differences. But MIT...

Fitting into MIT

How imposter syndrome gave me a sense of belonging

APR 2020
Mechanical Engineering
When I got my acceptance email from MIT, I actually cried. My childhood dream was coming true, and my emotions were a whirlwind of excitement and disbelief. In a fit of excitement, I called my mom and somehow managed to string together words to convey the good news to her. At the end of the phone...

Continued Community in the Era of Social Distancing

Rainbows among the storm clouds

APR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Coronavirus has drastically changed our daily lives as MIT students. In the span of a week, we have gone from attending regularly scheduled classes and happily discussing spring break plans to an almost vacant campus. My heart goes out in sadness to the senior undergraduate students who never got...

A Different Kind of Long-Distance Relationship

Tips on how to make remote advising work for you

APR 2020
Now that we're working from home and many of us have relocated from campus, maintaining effective communication with our advisors remotely presents an additional stressor (on top of trying not to catch coronavirus). But some of us are already well-acquainted with the joys of skyping in sweatpants...

Wait? It Snows Here?

How I survived my first New England winter

APR 2020
Architecture
It was 7:00 AM. Okay, 7:08 AM because I always hit my snooze button at least once. Since Thanksgiving break had just concluded, I was feeling well rested for the first time this semester. I appreciated the break from thinking about the final projects that were threatening my next few weeks. As part...

To Build a Home

The importance of setting a foundation for open communication

APR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
When you introduce two people to one another, you often contextualize who that person is to you. The words we use to categorize these people are sometimes simple, but sometimes people fill more than one role in your life. For example, your mother may also be your dental hygienist but you’re...

Forced to Leave Home

MIT Grad Housing’s Disorganized Response to COVID-19

APR 2020
Biology
A message to MIT grad housing: if your tenant’s best housing option is to haphazardly make a 13-hour interstate drive in the middle of a literal plague after being given only two days’ notice, you are doing something horribly wrong. I live in one of the graduate dorms —...

COVID-19 Prequel

The outbreak of COVID-19

APR 2020
Chemical Engineering
Unlike a lot of MIT community members, who were only affected by the coronavirus outbreak starting in March 2020, I was paying attention to the outbreak since the very beginning on 12/31/2019. This was because one of my high school classmates - also my best friend - worked in Wuhan, the epicenter...

Reset (or Set) Your Morning Routine

Tips for jumpstarting your days when working from home

MAR 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Coronavirus has caused a work from home (WFH) phenomenon unlike anything seen before. It’s an experimental time for many and, given the circumstances, it can be stressful and isolating. Setting up a good routine can be a great way to create order in chaos. A while ago, I read a book called “...

Work From Home 101

How to be productive when working in the lab isn’t an option

MAR 2020
Chemistry
Being a grad student is hard. Being a grad student during the coronavirus pandemic is even harder. We’re used to running between classes, meetings, and labwork; suddenly, we’re barricaded in our apartments with no access to our labs, coffee shops or libraries, and we’re somehow expected to still be...

To Separate or To Engage?

Reflections during my country’s great war against the coronavirus epidemic

MAR 2020
Operations Research Center
In China, each year begins twice. First on January 1 and once again on the traditional Lunar New Year (this year’s date: January 25, 2020). The days in between the two New Years are a somewhat peculiar time – though New Year has dawned in other places of the world, in China, students are taking...

A Matcha Latte a Day...

This student’s secret weapon

MAR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
It’s no secret that students everywhere love their coffee, so when I tell people that I almost never consume the magical beverage, I usually receive an incredulous response. Something along the lines of: “So, you just... wake up in the morning and live?” Most of the time, that’s exactly right. I...

Schrödinger’s Graduate Student

The paths to success in graduate school are as arbitrary as the goal itself

MAR 2020
Biology
Four years into graduate school, I still struggle with a simple question: what makes a successful graduate student? I don’t mean the end product of a student with a flashy C.V., a long list of publications, or a dream job. Instead, I wonder: what does a successful graduate student look like in...

Practice Imagination in MIT Hogwarts

Where empathy and compassion are the real magic

MAR 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
In J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard, she talked about the importance of imagination. I was really struck by her definition of imagination - how she described it as people “thinking themselves into...

I Want to Be a Ballerina When I Grow Up

Don’t let your dreams die in grad school

MAR 2020
Physics
It was an average Wednesday. I rolled out of bed at 7:30AM, turned on Spotify’s “Monday Motivation” playlist and tried to let the cheerful pop seep into my bones.  Everything’s looking up now! How could you not believe him when he sings so convincingly? I swayed to the music as my routine swung me...

Guidance Beyond Your Advisor

The different types of mentorship and how to seek them out

MAR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Before starting grad school, whenever I considered the concept of “mentorship,” the first person I envisioned was my future advisor. However, as a PhD student in the middle of my second year, I have come to realize that there are many facets of mentorship throughout the graduate school experience....

The Unlikely Friends You’ll Find

How disparate interests bring the graduate community together

MAR 2020
Mechanical Engineering
I still remember the feeling of disappointment. This was right in the first week as a grad student and I was still in the social-butterfly phase, meeting the people I would be spending the upcoming years with. The thought flew through my head: “what a shame, he seemed like such a nice guy”. This...

A Week in the Life: Food Edition

Building community by breaking bread

MAR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
I love to cook. I picked up most of my culinary know-how during my junior year of college, through a combination of YouTube videos and scrappily assembled family recipes. That year, my housemates and I would go shopping together every weekend and designate one day a week for each of us to cook a...

How to Cordially Interrogate Graduate Students

The art of finding a lab

MAR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
This semester, I have had a ton of practice interrogating graduate students. During orientation, I was immediately given the task of rotating in various labs to find my lab home. Our advisors instructed us to reach out to professors who caught our interest, find out if they are looking for PhD...

A Furry Solution to the Grad School Blues

Adopting a dog during grad school

MAR 2020
Computational Science and Engineering
The summer after finishing undergrad, I thought nervously about spending most of my 20’s as a student. I was starting grad school in a few weeks and wasn’t sure when ‘real adult life’ would start for me. I knew going to grad school would be productive for my career, but what about my personal goals...

“Deity’s Book Collection” Twenty Minutes Away

Rediscovering my cultural identity at Harvard-Yenching Library

FEB 2020
Operations Research Center
Deity’s Book Collection Overseas 「海外嫏嬛」 Façade of the Harvard-Yenching Institute On a bright and crisp morning in late April 2019, when I first set foot into the warm Harvard-Yenching (哈佛燕京) library, it was as if I finally returned home...

Finding UberGirl

An emotional lyft

FEB 2020
Materials Science and Engineering
I hate Uber. I hate that people love it because it’s convenient. I hate that people think it’s better for the environment than owning a car. I hate that people think it’s a good way for people to earn a living. I hate cars and I hate making excuses to keep them around. I grew up in Texas. All we...

Controlling Chaos

Learning to love my calendar

FEB 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
“Hey, you ready for the call in five?” The what? With who? Did I have to prep for this? When did we decide to schedule a call? What are we even talking about? Maybe I’ve just been getting old, but I never had a problem remembering all my commitments before graduate school. Or maybe I never had to...

Taking Engineering Too Far

Food, weight, and body image in grad school

FEB 2020
Materials Science and Engineering
This post is part of a special issue: "Mental Health Matters: Asking for Help & Reaching Out". I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't trying to lose weight. When I'm sitting in my office and can't focus on my work...

Overcoming Anxiety

How my first year of graduate school pushed me to reach out for help

FEB 2020
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering
This post is part of a special issue: "Mental Health Matters: Asking for Help & Reaching Out". Hey there! I’m Jessica, a current 3rd year graduate student and PhD candidate, and I have anxiety. I choose to say this in the...