Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Bed and Psets

I got a new bed! When I moved to the new room, my bedroom came with this really old bed which had springs that were really uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep. That night that I came back from London, I was really tired and "slept" at 11pm and woke up on Sunday really tired and exhausted. At 11am, I went over to Mahalia's to pset and kept yawning the whole time. When Stella left for badminton, I slept on Mahalia's bed while she got lunch and went grocery shopping.

So on Monday, I promptly stopped by the Housekeeping office and asked for a new bed. On Tuesday, I got back and found a brand new one. Amazing what happens when you ask.

But back to Sunday. I basically spent the whole day at Mahalia's place. After she got back from grocery shopping and Stella from badminton, we worked on a pset a little more and then went downstairs to a really nice kitchen with actual stove tops and cooked. We made a noodle soup that had meat balls, tomato, and lettuce. It was really good. We were very happy afterwards. We tackled the pset once more and gave up eventually.

On Monday, we met with the professor who is supervising for 2 of our classes. We found out that we really need to do some catch up work. This week has been very busy and hectic for me. No more going back to my room and napping in the middle of the day anymore. =( I've been spending the past few days mainly in engineering department and Mahalia's room, working like crazy. Haven't even had time to fully unpack yet.

I can keep writing more but this has been a really random article. So uh, I'll stop here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Haven't written in a while. Mainly because I wanted to do it right and have pictures and such. But I didn't take any pictures in London (it's okay, Yalu, I'll explain) today so yeah.

So I decided to finally go to London because 1) I haven't been there and 2) there's an exhibition of Chinese books at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University College of London. So I had a valid excuse of other than sightseeing.

I got up at 7am and got on the 7:45am bus. We got there at 10am. The bus driver wasn't very nice and neither was the bus ride. I think I'm going to take the train next time. It's so much nicer. I'm willing to shell out a few extra pounds just because the train is faster, more comfortable, and once you buy a ticket, you can get on any train.

Once we got to Victoria station, I found out that I have this giant headache which really ruined the rest of the day for me. I wanted to go see the Big Ben and peek around Westminster but some of the underground lines were closed so it was a hassle to get there. I found the Chinese book exhibition place after searching for a long time and was disappointed because they were doing a whole lot of talking and not enough exhibiting.

I met up with Dian and 2 of her friends from Oxford at the Science Museum. There are a bunch of museums near by and they are all free (at least they were today). The Science Museum was pretty cool. We wandered around for a while but it mostly consisted of Dian and I chatting about England and stuff that's been happening back at MIT (this girl really needs to start reading the Tech).

After that, we went to Chinatown and had dim sum. Unfortunately, I only had a few things before I had to leave to catch the bus back. It was a shame since I really wanted to explore Chinatown. It's right next to the theater district, just like Boston's Chinatown! Oh wells, next time.

So I rushed to the bus station to find that I missed the 3:30pm bus. There was a CME formal at Downing College which was why I needed to rush back. So I ended up taking the train. It only went part of the way because there some repairs going on and we all had to get on a bus. But it was still really fast since neither the train nor the bus stopped anywhere and just kept going. The train station is actually not that far away. It's probably about the same distance as Tesco and Asda (okay, maybe a little farther but you just go along one road and you get there). So I got back with plenty of time to spare. Will blog about the formal later.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I got a bank account today! Yay! It's with HSBC. They gave me the UK Student Account because I already have an US account with them. Otherwise, they would just give me a cash account which they would charge me a monthly fee and I get no checkbook or debit card so it would really suck. But with the UK student account, I get both and it's free. Amazing! And the lady was really nice so I hope it all works out well and I get my account number and stuff soon. So if anyone's going to a country where there's HSBC and you want to get a local bank account, it might be worth it to open up a US account.

Didn't want to stay inside and do homework all day while the sky is blue so I walked to Mill Road where I got a helmet and some more ramen. I feel safer with a helmet. And food with MSG tastes so good.

England lost the Rugby World Cup. I didn't watch it but that's kinda sad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Matriculation Dinner

Since the last entry with lots of pictures was popular, here's another one with lots of pictures. I wrote about our Matriculation Dinner on the MIT blog. So go there for more description. Here's a bunch of pictures of the amazing food.

Here's the starter - salad, bread, and hummus. I really liked the hummus. And oh, there was a starter wine too.

Soup came next. It was the best soup I've had at this dining hall. Looked just like all the other soup that we've had but the taste was just amaz
Main course. Everyone item was really delicious. Chicken wasn't dry, potatoes weren't overcooked, beans weren't mushy... I think somewhere between the soup and the main course, they pour the second (red) wine.

I forgot to take a picture of the next 2 courses. The 4th course was a ice cream thing that had real cream on top. I think there was alcohol in that as well, just a little. And that wasn't the dessert. After that, they passed around fruit platters that had all sorts of fruit on it including figs, dates, and other fruits. After this, the dessert wines were also passed around.

See the small glass with red wine in it? That was really, really good wine. I mean, I hardly drink any alcohol usually (see the other glass? I didn't finish them) but even I can tell it's something special. It's called Taylors Quinta de Terra Feita 1986. We also got coffee, in a vain effort to sober up some of the people, I think.

The Master of Gonville and Caius made a speech after this.
There was also pre-dinner drinks which started at 7:15pm. I got there a little later than that. Dinner started at 7:45pm. I'm not sure when it ended because we milled around for a while afterwards and then walked back in the rain. I got back at 11:30pm.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Not much has been going on so here's a bunch of pictures, mostly from yesterday.

This is K Block, the house in which I live with 19 other people. Apparently 15 of last year's residents were international students but there's only 2 this year.
A view of the Cam from Clare College's bridge.

Market Square is an open air market where they sell everything from bread to shirts. It's really nice to walk through. There is a small fountain in the middle.

Part of the Caius library. The library is actually really big. This is just a small part of it.

Here I am on Matriculation Day. Tomorrow we're having our matriculation dinner. It's supposed to be one of the best dinners of the year. So I guess I can't miss that one! Will take pictures of the food.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chinese and other classes

These past few days have been going by really slowly. The pace of life here is definitely slower than MIT. There's not much assigned work, just a lot of things that you know you should be doing. I've been meaning to read textbooks, go over notes, etc.

I saw Ross today. This guy is going to Amsterdam for the weekend. He said that some of his classes is stuff he's seen in 14.01 and 14.02. But he said that there's a lot of reading for one of his classes and he just spent the whole day reading. Still, I'm envious since I feel so behind. Even in my Chinese classes.

The other students are so good! I went to Oral Chinese today. There's only 6 other people in the class so it was pretty informal. But I feel like I'm intruding since they all know each other so well. Anyhow, some of them did a presentation on their trips to Taiwan and China. Most of them went to Taiwan for 2 months this summer. One girl talked about how she traveled around with her friends. Another girl talked about her visit to Yennan after her Taiwan trip. She had done a gap year there after high school (to teach English) and went back to visit friends. This gap year stuff sound really cool although I have doubts about whether I was mature enough... Back to the other students. One guy talked about his stay in Beijing with a host family and how they made him go to bed early, get up early, and would not let him travel around because it's unsafe. After his presentation, the teacher and the other students remarked on how much his Chinese improved.

All these presentations were nearly 15 minutes (that's 4 pages of writing!). Very impressive. They occasionally use wrong adjectives and their pronunciation isn't very good. But they know more vocabulary than I do. They can make a lot more sophisticated sentences. All I know is stuff that you use everyday which really isn't much.

My supervisor for Chinese asked us to listen to BBC Chinese. There's one other person in my supervision. He's also supposed to be a 2nd year student in Chinese but he switched to another department but still wants to continue with as much Chinese as he can. He also did a gap year in China and his vocabulary is really amazing. I'm not sure how he's faring with BBC China but it's really hard for me. I can hardly understand. It's mostly political stuff though so hopefully that's the reason. And they talk so fast! Once in a while I'd come across a Cantonese program and I don't have any problems understanding that.

My other classes are going okay. I really don't know about this "Geotechnical Engineering" class. I mean, we talk about soils. At least I don't have to do any review for that class since it's new stuff for everyone.

Haven't been getting 9 hours of sleep though. It's really sad. I was really looking forward to having a sink in my room and getting 9 hours of sleep every night. Sigh.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Since it's relatively cheap to fly around Europe on discount airlines like Ryanair, a bunch of us (CME people) decided to go to Brussels the weekend before Thanksgiving. So while Yalu and other ESP people are NOT panicking over Splash, I'll be sightseeing and eating chocolate in Belgium.

And I just got in touch with Dian. She's coming to visit me or I'm going to go visit her. We haven't really figured it out yet but we're probably going to do both of these and somehow also make it to London in the next 2 weeks.

There are these bus companies where I can get a to Oxford in 2 hours for 1 pound! Amazing. Britain doesn't have a national rail company although they do have one central website where you can check schedules and fares (whew!). Still, it's not like Germany where all you have to do is to go to and magic happens.

"Reviewing" Probability

I'm currently trying to teach myself probability - the stuff that my 3E3 professor went over in 2 hours that was supposed to be review. There's an example on coins and it explains the case where there are two coins to be: HH, HT, TH, TT. Simple stuff. It ends the paragraph though, with:

"This experiment is performed even more often in probability textbooks than it is in real life."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

In Search of Cheaper Food

Unlike MIT, there is a grocery store less than half a mile from where I live. Sainsburys is right in the city center and has foods for reasonable prices. But still not very cheap. So this morning, I decided to ride my bike and search for Tesco, a big Kmart-like supermarket that is supposed to have cheaper prices.

I wanted to get up early so I can avoid traffic. But that didn't happen and I got out of my dorm at around 10am. After dusting the spiderwebs off my bike, I started the trip. The trip took a lot longer than it was supposed to. Partly because I didn't know exactly where Tesco is (somewhere on Newmarket Rd, a mile and a half away) but mostly because I was too scared to actually ride the bike. So many cars everywhere! I rode the bike whenever I managed to find a quiet street. Sometimes there are bike lanes. By sometimes I mean it would exist for half a block, end and then start again 2 blocks later. I don't understand these English people. In Germany, bike lanes are everywhere and continuous. Did I mention I had to ride on the left side of the road? Weird.

Anyway, I found the place. It is indeed a huge supermarket. I think the prices are actually cheaper although I need to check. I spent a long time inside the store trying to dodge other people and finding the cheapest form of things that I needed.

I was worried that I won't be able to ride the bike since it's looks a little taller than I would like. But it's actually pretty comfortable and I have no trouble getting on and off although it would be nice it the seat was a little lower.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

First Day of Classes

We were woken up at 8am by the fire alarm. They test out the fire alarm every Thursday in our house and they decided to wake us all up nice and early. Well, some people have 9am classes so it wasn't bad for them. But my classes didn't start until 11am!! The alarm kept going off after that so more sleep was impossible. I went to the bathroom and Joe, my neighbor was about to brush his teeth.
Joe: A bit scary, wasn't it?
Lucy: (mumbles agreement)
Joe: It's the sort of thing they do in this country.
Lucy: Hm? Really? Man, I just want to go back to sleep.

Anyhow, the first day of classes was uneventful. I found all my classes without getting lost. That in itself is an amazing achievement. I sat with Stella and Mahalia (the other 2 course 1 people) for my first two classes. They both already had an earlier class. The first one is an extension of mechanics which was okay. The second class was Geotechnical Engineering and the professor droned on about soils. It took a lot of effort to concentrate.

After that, we all went to Queen's College for lunch. The food and price weren't too bad. Queen's has a nice dining hall. It's nearly twice the size of Caius' dining hall. I was too busy eating to remember to take pictures. I will next time. We're planning on visiting Downing and Caius for lunch in the near future. We (all the CME people) have plans to visit each other's formal halls. Formal halls are usually special dinners where you have to wear your gown and they serve nicer foods. Well, except for Caius where there's a formal hall everyday and the only difference is that you have to wear a gown to the 2nd one. The food's exactly the same. I think it's this way because the dining hall is way too small to fit everyone.

After lunch, Stella and I wandered around a bit. I went to another class at 4pm and met up with Cindy there. This is my only 2 hour class and it's on probability and statistics. Well, it's called Modeling Risk and the professor said that we're eventually going to go into analyzing profolios and such. We're going to use a lot of Excel. But today was a review of probability, none of which I have formally learned before. The Cambridge students took Probability in their 2nd year. I think I will keep this class though because I've heard that 1.010 (the MIT class that I'm replacing Modeling Risk with) is not very good. So I think I'm going to spend this weekend going over probability and mechanics. That is, after I learn to bike again and find Tesco (a grocery store that sells things for cheaper than Sainsburys).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

MIT Admissions Blog

I'm blogging about CME for MIT admissions as a guest blogger. I'm continuing the blog that was started by a CME student last year. Check it out at:

I start classes tomorrow!!