Monday, August 27, 2012


I write this post physically exhausted, though not emotionally...yet. Classes have been good; homework alright. Other stuff crazy and mostly good. But it leaves me with no time to get ahead on homework and a desire to go to bed before midnight (which I mostly have). I know, crazy, right?

It's crazy being a sophomore. First, I have to make my own food. I miss having munch money to get Starbucks and get Naked, and I don't feel like spending money to continue that habit. I miss coming back to Maple and seeing the floor in the study room, like clockwork. I'm sad that I can't meet new people in Slate. I miss midnight conversations with my roommate, as I am currently in a single room.

But it's good being a sophomore. I can make fun of freshman and their happiness yet insecurity and freshness, while the juniors still  make fun of us. I don't have to carry my keys everywhere. Most of my classes are interesting and relevant. Living at the Enchanted Palace, my practically on-campus house, is pretty sweet too. And I don't know- I just feel cooler, yet jaded now.

But so far, everything's fine, we're all fine here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear Younger Self: Things to Know Before Freshman Year

Why hello there, freshman me (and new freshman eavesdropping). You have just completed the M-Climb and Orientation blather, but school starts and stuff gets real. Get ready to lose your time, sleep, mental health, hygiene, and anything "normal" about you (except normal forces! Gotta love those). Below is a non-exhaustive list of things that would be pretty nifty to know going in, although some will have to be learned the hard way. Some things are things that just work for me, some things are past advice given by older students, some things are facts of life at Mines. It's gonna be difficult, but it's gonna be a blast!!

Getting ahead isn't the most important thing anymore.

People who think they know it all will try to tell you stuff. Wise people will try to give you great advice.You have to figure out who's full of good advice and who's just full of it.

Don't get behind. It takes one week to go to living homework assignment to assignment. And it's impossible to get ahead once you're behind, so take each semester and stay on top of it.

Choose Geophysics as a major because it's awesome and you are awesome, not because you don't want to take Chem II. Although that tidbit certainly makes it more attractive...

Have a test routine. Maybe you don't take tests well, or maybe there's one subject with an exam coming up that will make you shake. But find out ways to focus and relax. My routine is: study until two hours before the exam, pray for focus and help, maybe play the piano, eat a good meal, maybe listen to my iPod as I'm walking to the room, chew gum throughout the exam, and switch pencils if I'm on a problem.

Don't wait 'til midnight to start homework or studying. Just please, don't.

Wearing a suit to Career Day as a freshman = winning. They'll probably think you're a junior or grad student.

It's okay to cry. Just pull yourself together and focus on what you have to do next.

You're gonna hate EPICS as a class; you'll think it's stupid and useless. Hope to get a good team- although many people will complain about their teammates after they reviewed them and before the final report is due.

You'll probably either hate Chemistry or Physics. Or both.

Attitude is everything. If you think a class sucks, it will. If you think writing papers is dumb, your grades will reflect it. And if you keep muttering that you hate physics to your studio're gonna have a bad time.

Units! Remember to put them. Small things like these add up on exams.

Try everything, meet everyone, do everything, get involved, and put yourself out there first semester! This will be the perfect time to have fun and make friends before you can buckle down with harder classes second semester.

If you're on the 14 meals a week plan, you should take your books to breakfast, eat, study for a few hours, then eat lunch. Two-for-one meal swipes!

There are good and bad things about being on a small campus. Mostly good. But try to remember people's names who apparently know you. And try to be reasonable when something is suddenly changed, and don't do or say anything impulsive because you think it isn't fair, because it is a small campus.

Living in the dorms is awesome. Take advantage of the opportunity this year and become friends with a bunch of different people.

The food's okay. But after a few months (weeks?) you'll find that "stale" is an anagram for "Slate", which also will count for their music playlist.

It's impossible to watch an action movie without it being dissected from now on. Embrace it, or never watch movies with engineering students.

Don't be afraid to change, but remember who you are.

Don't go to EPICS on Fridays. Well, most Fridays.

If you bring a stapler to class the day the worksheet's due, everyone will love you.

There is no such thing as an easy A here.  If you want a grade, you'll have to do the work for it- and more. And you might not end up with the grade you want even if you work hard.

Work hard, have fun, relax.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Summer has a song.
It's a song with no particular melody, but somehow it reminds me of my childhood.
There's crickets and junebugs, cars driving on the freeway, the wind rattling wind chimes.
Sometimes there's a radio on and the crack of a bat is heard.
Maybe a mosquito is zapped as someone pours another glass of iced tea.
Somewhere, kids are yelling.

And at one time, I was the kids yelling.
But now, it's different.

The days of mud pies and bike rides are waning.
Summer changes time signatures and tunes.
And it's not necessarily a bad thing.
I guess I'm just growing up.

So it became that in the summer between freshman and sophomore year:
I end up in a tower, with a job, making sure kids don't yell, along with more important things.

I realize I like talking about school.
I realize I keep my room much neater when I have a roommate.
I realize Weaver is filled with haunting noises (kidding).

But this isn't mostly about me.
I'm just a note on a sheet part of a book.
And Challenge is the prelude for 39 Class of 2016'ers.

They're mostly awesome kids.

They complete pre-calculus and chemistry homework.
Sometimes complain about how late they're up.
I smirk.
But they're hard workers.

They ask me to tell them a story.
I tell of my trippy EPICS teacher, all the D's I've received on exams including the most fateful one on my Earth final.
Why you should probably sleep the night before your Chem final.
Nights exploring the roof of Brown Building and creepy elevators in Maple Hall.

I listen to their story.
How Challenge is their gateway into Mines.
For some, a dream that looked bleak, but now has a chance.

Okay, they're pretty awesome kids.

They know how to have fun already, and are now acquainted with dorm pranks.
In four weeks, they form many inside jokes, sayings, and sounds, a quartet, and friendships.
They know how to decorate a suite window pretty well.
And do the Harvard Baseball dance to Call Me Maybe.
Within a couple weeks, I could tell they are all nerds at heart and belong here.

They learn a lot in four weeks, and more than academics.
And they got a bunch of pretty cool people to teach them all that stuff, if I do say so myself.

Scary to think it's already been a year since I was about to start Mines.
I kind of miss the feeling, the uncertainty.
The 'freshness'; the first-ness of everything.

I talk to them like I might have it figured out.
But I only have freshman year figured out.
Sophomore year will have it's own rises and falls.
And though last year I was scared and uncertain, and anxiously excited,
I'm now scared but respectful, and patiently excited.

Some summers are for ice cream, but maybe this one was for growing up a little bit.
And again, not just me, but everyone who needed a prelude.
A short taste to the event to come.
A way to turn high-schoolers into college freshman.
To turn me from a freshman to a sophomore.

Sophomore....It doesn't sound so weird saying that now.