Tuesday, September 13, 2005

sailboats and problem sets

Hey everyone,

An update on life at MIT: term has started, ushering with it a new
set of lingo.... "tooling" is doing school work "problem sets" are
the only kind of homework we get here-they consist of some amount of
challenging problems and take a few hours to complete. Even my
sailing class called our assignment to learn to tie a few knots a
"problem set". "Punting" is when you blow off your work to do
something fun... like my newfound diversion of watching episodes of
Firefly on DVD :) There isn't much in the way of free time around
here, and I've got an interview tomorrow for a research position that
I hope will be my paying job for this semester.

I continue to really like my door, my room, my roommate, etc. I also
like the way things just seem to *work* around here. It's the little
things, like having a swimsuit dryer in the locker room at the pool
so you don't have to carry around a wet suit all day, that make all
the difference. MIT seems to have thought of (and paid for)
everything and more. I just started my sailing class (it is my gym
class for this term) and I'm so excited to learn to sail on the
Charles River. It is so beautiful. Boston is great, but the tall
buildings and complete concrete coverage makes me miss the open
greenspace back home - cows, cornfeilds, rolling farmland - it's all
so beautiful and freeing.

The hardest thing for me to get used to is the overwhelming political
apathy around campus. I'm used to life in Madison, and especially
with my circles of friends, where people talk about politics, social
problems, world events, questions, and solutions all the time. I
never realized how much until I got here and the silence is stifling.
There is a sense that "We're at MIT. The real world doesn't apply
here. It doesn't affect me." A lot of people wished they were more
involved, but are convinced they are too busy. This saddens me most
of all because these are the people who have an incredible capacity
to make the future of the world, and yet there seems to be little
concern about what the best way to go about it is. There are some
very wonderful, inspiring exceptions to all this (Noam Chomsky is a
professor here, for example) and some awesome student groups that do
great work. I'm working on finding my place amongst them all and
surrounding myself with people who will continue to reinforce and
challenge my beliefs about the world and the future.

Yikes that was a bit of a tirade. Sorry about that :) Life is good,
the weather's gorgeous, and there is a very pleasant chocolate smell
wafting in my window...

To all you ysp-ers on this list---I've got my wallpaper on my
computer set to cycle through the Henry IV pictures, so I think of
you all the time :) . I hear Othello has 60+ kids in it! That is
amazing. Othello is one of my favorite plays, I'm so excited for
everyone who is in it.

Love to you all,

P.S. I'd love to hear from you all about what you are up to or a
simple tale from good old life in Madison.

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