Monday, March 28, 2016

When Spring Break Ends, Reality Hits

I have a confession to make. 

I didn't do one piece of homework during spring break.

I know! The horror! I didn't even take any of my notebooks out of my backpack. They just sat there in same spot at the end of my bed for a grand total of eight days. 

I know this sounds blasphemous. I, a MIT student, didn't work on any academic work over the course of spring break even though I fully knew it would be due shortly after the break had ended. However, I'm very good at persuading to myself that there is always more time.

"Liz, don't worry about your 20.109 protein research summary revision. You'll be able to work on that when you get back to MIT. It won't take very long."

And at the beginning of spring break, this is all I thought I was responsible for. All I had to complete was my revision for 20.109 and some homework for my HASS class. That wouldn't be so bad to put off until last minute, right? This was how I decided that while I was back home, I could pretend MIT didn't exist. 

 In some ways, I don't regret my decision. I spent a lot of time with family and friends, going to the beach and having late night get-togethers. All these experiences I had with them were necessary for my mind to decompress and to get away from the MIT stress. However, I had greatly underestimated that amount of work I put off along the way. 

What I had neglected to mention was that I had a lot more homework than just a revision and some HASS assignment. If I had checked the syllabus before spring break, I would have known that in addition to the protein research summary revision for 20.109 I had to complete a caption and results section for my western blot, write a methods section for module 2, days 1-3, finish a blog post, and study for a lab quiz. All of this has to be done by tomorrow, the Tuesday after spring break. (Also, for those who know I've been waiting to hear about a make-up test for 7.05, I received an email over spring break informing me that the make-up exam will be also on Tuesday, over a month after the original test date.)

And so, to add to my crimes against the MIT student culture, I did not attend my classes this morning. Instead I had woken up and began writing my methods homework for lab on Tuesday. Currently I am sitting in the student center and not in my two recitations so I can complete the methods homework and to finish this blog post. There are two lessons that I learned from this experience.


There are always assignments listed on the wiki (check the wiki!) next to the lab day they are do. Trust me, there are always there. There is absolutely no excuse (not even my excuses) not to check what you should be working on next. Keep an eye out for the next assignment. 


Yes, you are going to write in 20.109. Yes, you are going to spend a lot more than the 15 credit hours this class is listed for. Is it all worth it? Yes. All of the assignments in 20.109, however tiresome they may become, contribute marginally to my understanding of the laboratory techniques and procedures we perform. Also, all of the writing and copious amounts of feedback improve my scientific communication skills so that one day I will be able to convey my research in a concise and useful way. 

There you have it. The key is to balance your workload and your personal life, a balance I was unwilling to achieve during spring break. I am relieved to announce that with the conclusion of this blog post, I am finished with all of the 20.109 assignments due next Tuesday. Challenge completed. 

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