Archive for September, 2003

Depression = Weariness =/= Me

Sunday, September 28th, 2003

Doesn’t time just fly by when you’re busy with stuff and don’t have access to a keyboard to type a blog entry?  :p  I’ve really wanted to update so many times in the past ten days…  but oh well.

I’ve written two articles for Fifteen Minutes – the Crimson’s weekend lifestyle magazine (sort of like ST Life!), though neither of them has been printed yet.  One was about the Freshman Register (which was pretty funny to write), and the other was a review of this great Thai restaurant (yum yum) Xinwei and I discovered in Boston the night we saw The Blue Man Show.

I’ve also been going for crew practice just about every weekday afternoon.  It’s unlikely I’ll be on the rowing squad – more likely I’ll be the coxswain, if anything.  But in the meantime, I’ve gotten to row out on the Charles, which is lovely, I’m paticipating in all the training (2-mile runs, 4-mile runs, 10 & 20 min ergs, 4 & 6 km ergs), and next week we start doing the dreaded stadiums.  During the sports physical a fortnight back I was 114lbs.  The scale in Newell Boathouse (a 10 min sprint away from my dorm) now says I’m 116.5lbs – freshman fifteen, here we come…

Which makes Tobey Maguire in Seabiscuit supposedly lighter than I am (jockeys are supposed to be under 115lbs including their saddles).  I saw that movie last night with Ryan, my roommate and Xinwei.  It’s one of the few bits of entertainment I’ve participated in since I got here – I haven’t even seen (not to mention gone to) a single party either, though most people have gone to the Quad parties, Latin Fire (the ballroom dance) the First Chance Dance, the Fall Ball, Utopia (the AAA river cruise party), Frat parties at MIT etc. etc.  Even my supposedly “quiet and orderly” roommates have been to parties.  And me?  I’m just anti-social 😉  Right.

Classes are beginning to settle down into a steady stream of challenging work (“So the first paper is due on Monday and then the second one on Wednesday”) and really cool discussions (you cannot believe how accomplished and interesting some of my professors are).  I’ve dropped SA10 (Economics) due to a lack of space on my study card (freshman are *strictly* permitted to take a maximum of only four half-courses their first semester at the College).  Which means I’ll have to take it next year since it’s a concentration requirement.  In it’s place, I’m taking Expository Writing 20: Censorship and Freedom of Expression and Freshman Seminar 46p: Human Rights.  These are both indubitably the highlight of my semester (especially since the competition is Chem 15: Inorganic Chemistry and Applied Math 21a:  Mathematical Methods in the Sciences).  Just because it’s a grerat class, I’m still auditing Chinese Literature 130: Screening Modern China, though I won’t attend sections, do homework or take exams.  It’s also gives me a reason to be awake on Tuesday and Thursday mornings when I have no classes whatsoever.

Filbert, Yining and Fengyuan are in Boston this week (at least one of them will be staying with me, I believe), so I will shortly be even more surrounded by Singaporeans than I already am, an undesirable thing from a study-abroad-experience-new-cultures-make-new-friends point of view.  Case-in-point: last night I had dinner with Lam Yishan, Clarence Cai and Darryl Wee, then saw a movie with Xinwei.  This morning I attended church with Adrian Foo and Joanna Yeo.  It’s like I never left the island!  But not to sound ungrateful – I love seeing familiar faces and old friends again, and you’re all welcome to sleep on my futon if you want to visit (just check with me first!).

Ok, I gotta go eat and/or write an expos paper due tomorrow…

The heat is on.

Friday, September 19th, 2003

When classes first started, I thought: hey, this isn’t so bad…  my math class is covering complex numbers and has a English professor, which is nice, the first chapter in the textbook for Chem 15 looks ok, and the lectures are only one hour long (versus the 1hr 40min lectures in Rj).

Now I’ve changed my mind.  The second math lecture was much less interesting than the first one, mainly because the professor wasn’t trying, I felt.  He mumbled, he spoke to the board, he ran through the math so quickly, and they refuse to give notes (which means students sacrifice comprehension for comprehensive handwritten notes).  The only reason why I got it at all was because we’d covered all the material in Math C, AND I had my Rj notes for complex numbers with me during the lecture for reference.  I almost felt sorry for the other students in the room.  But then again it could just be me.

But Chem 15!  The Wednesday lecture was just one big impenetrable morass of nuclear orbitals, angular momentum and stationary nodes, and the material’s not covered in the textbook, so I can’t even read up on it there.  I’m just glad they posted the slides as well as the video of the entire lecture online, which allows me to run over the material multiple times in an attempt to decipher the stuttering, rambling, slightly disorganised professor.

I’ve decided that an hour is a long time for a lecture.  In fact, already it’s almost time to attend the next lecture.  I must get up early to read through chapter 2 of the chem textbook, after which I shall read chapter two of the econs textbook.

On a cheerier note, I was admitted into my second-choice seminar (FS46p: Human Rights), which is reportedly taught by two very highly-esteemed faculty members (one from the Kennedy School of Government, the other from the School of Public Health).  I’m also auditing (ie attending lectures and screenings but not section – I don’t have to do homework or take exams) a cool class called Screening Modern China, a cultural anthropolgy class offered by the Chinese department on Chinese film.  It’s in English, which is a bit of a letdown, but the professor is excellent, and the material is fascinating.  I figure it’ll be a good break from the other science-y classes I’m taking (Tu, Th 11), plus Xin Wei is taking this course for credit, so I have company (and I can ask her econs questions too 🙂

In other news, I’m trying out for crew (for which I’ll most likely be the cox’n), I’m gone for Common Casting (the big combined all-at-one-venue theatre audition), and I’m probably going to comp for FM, the weekend magazine of the Crimson.

Busy, busy, busy.  Goodnight.

Classes start in nine hours!

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

In about nine hours classes will begin for the year.  Since I have one of the most requirement-heavy concentrations (Environmental Science & Public Policy), I *won’t* be “shopping” for any classes like Government 1045. Political Theory and the Challenge of Cultural Diversity or History of Art and Architecture 11. Landmarks of World Architecture…  a pity.

So this is what I’ll be taking this semester:
9 am – Chemistry 15. Inorganic Chemistry
11 am – Applied Mathematics 21a. Mathematical Methods in the Sciences
12 pm – Social Analysis 10. Principles of Economics

Plus I’ll have one more class, either a freshman seminar (limited enrollment – I applied to three and I’ll know the results tomorrow), Expos 20 or some other core curriculum class.

It sounds pretty much like my JC schedule (although I’ve never taken Economics) which is a tad dissappointing – after all, isn’t the liberal arts system supposed to allow students to take all sorts of cool classes?  On the upside, since all my classes are on MWF, I have Tuesdays and Thursdays wide open for the moment.  Until I schedule in the four hours of lab and four hours of discussion sessions, that is.


Oh, what a night!

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

On Friday night I went to see the Blue Man Group show, which was a blast, and with student tickets at $25, pretty cheap too.  Can you imagine a show which includes live gastrointestinal endoscopy on an unsuspecting audience member?  Talk about experimental theatre!  Hilarious, unexpected, and entertaining – everyone should go see it if they can, but leave your expectations at the door.

And earlier tonight I attented the President’s Barbeque, which had good food.  President Summers greeted everyone, shook hands, signed dollar bills and fielded questions which invariably started with “So what are your views on… ”  (fill in any of the following or an option of your own devising: affirmative rights, gay marraiges, the morality of sweatshops, the Yale labor strikes etc.)  I can tell that my thoughts on capitalism, globalization and fair trade are quite at odds with those espoused by Larry (“Call me Larry…”).

I am now the proud owner of two double-signed dollar bills and I have a picture taken with President Summers. 

Taken during the President’s barbeque… President Summers and I (14 Sep 2003)“>

Then there was the Acapella Jam, great as usual.  I left earlier however, and took a bus over to MIT (for the first time!) where Contact Singapore held a Mid-Autumn festival mooncake/lantern event.  Naturally I took part in the great MIT tradition of hurtling down the steep underground corridors on wheeled office chairs.  Quite a few people got hurt, unsurprisingly, considering that the only way to stop is to collide forcefully into walls, doors and steel piping.  Joanna scraped her arm quite badly, and Wei Qing will have large bruises on her knee and right foot tomorrow.  To think Ruimin, Clarence and Shi Ming were encouraging this.  I even have a video of me doing this which you can download here (right click and select “Save Target As…”. Warning-12Mb file!) or if you’d rather watch Shi Ming, download this (also 12Mb)…

On an unrelated note, today I met Janice Koh, the actress who played the lead in the Singaporean production of Proof (which I saw with Charles at Jubilee Hall).  We met at the Harvard Square Urban Outfitters store – apparently she’s staying in Boston for a year while her husband does something at MIT.  And on an even more unrelated note, I spent a good $250 today on lamps, desk organisers, rugs and so on.

More pictures of campus

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003

And then there’s the Science Center…  Wasn’t it a glorious day?  Science Center (9 Sep 2003)“>

Today, after taking the French placement test, I wandered about a couple of square yards outside my room (literally) and took a couple of pictures.  So here’s the view from my window, sort of.  And boy do I have a room with a view 🙂

Thayer 101 – Through the Gate
Thayer – North exit
Thayer 101 Exterior
Science Center 

Science Center Entrance

Annenberg Tower
Memorial Church at Sunset
Memorial Church Spire

And also…

Activities Fair I (8 Sep 2003) 
Activities Fair II (8 Sep 2003)

The start of the school year

Sunday, September 7th, 2003

We’ve had Opening Exercises, with humorous but thoughtful speeches by Benedict H. Gross, Dean of the College, Elizabeth Studley Nathans, Dean of Freshmen, William C. Kirby, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and of course, Lawrence H. Summers, President of the University.  Here is a blurry picture of President Summers speaking.

Anyway, this basically means the school year has officially started (I think it’s the 368th for the school?).  Yay.

Which also means that Opening Days (freshman orientation) starts tomorrow, with placement tests and all.  Double yay.  I’ve read about 7/11 pages of my Differentiation I notes.  Which isn’t enough.

Don’t worry though, I’m having a great time settling in and meeting people.  Too busy to even do things like reply to that wonderfully sweet email from my sister or the thoughtful package sent by my uncle…

Pictures of campus here:
Memorial Church (in Harvard Yard)
Cabot House (in the Quad – I cleaned this for Fall Clean-Up)
Cabot House (again, but in close-up)

Pictures of my dorm/hall will come eventually.

PS: We’re already being called the Class of oh-oh-seven 🙂

And we’re cleaning toilets….

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2003

I desperately want to write to everyone, and to send out messages to everyone on my icq contact list, firstly to tell them I’ve left already (which is ridiculous because I ought to have done so ages ago) and also to direct them to this blog.

So far it’s been amazing, everything you could hope for in a first couple of days on one of the most expectation-filled campuses in the world. There are too many people to befriend, to work with, to talk to, and there’re from all over the world, all over the country, and of all interests, talents and persuasions. The surroundings are gorgeous, and I will take/post some pictures eventually (it’s outrageous that I have yet to take a single photograph of the campus with the digicam I bought specifically for college).

The food’s really great too, though I’m doing my utmost to not consume too much of it (though right now I’m still totally stuffed from this great, but overly-sumptuous, Indian dinner we had about four hours ago). Wish me luck in combating the freshman 15!

And I am cleaning toilets. While Shiming and Xinwei are strolling around Cambridge with Vernie having leisurely lunches, I’m scrubbing grout and dealing with soapscum. At least it’s a great way to meet people, I’m assuming it’s pretty good exercise (since everyone’s exhausted at the end of the day), and we’re getting paid 🙂