Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spring is here!

And so is the end of the term. Right now, it's 50 degrees out, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the flowers are coming out, and what am I doing? Procrastinating. I mean, working. Hacking away at examples papers, lab reports, and trying to get some reviewing of last term's classes in between working on the current term subjects. Such a waste of... daylight. I think I usually work the best after dinner, after the sun goes away. Then I don't feel like I'm wasting the chance to enjoy the day. This is why the days where I don't have classes have been so unproductive. Not that I have anything better to do, of course.

Okay, this is turning into a really lame entry. Haven't blogged in a while and just felt like I should write something. I really need to work on an entry for the MIT blog. The problem is, not much new is happening. I can't keep writing entries about CME study breaks or formals that I've been attending. There are still plenty of things for me to write about. I don't think that will run out. But since they're not "what I did Friday night", they're harder to write. I actually have to think a little to write entries like "British vs. American: language, food, outlook on life, culture, etc." Something to look forward to.

Monday, February 18, 2008

粤语 and Mascots

Did you know that they don't say "x 个钟" in Mandarin? They just say "x 个小时" My Chinese supervision partner was soo confused when I was trying to say that I worked for 6 hours at the Churchill ball on Friday. He was like, "so how long did you work?" right after I said how many hours. I mean, my supervisor understood but yeah. The more I think I know... sigh. The sad thing was, I kept saying "x个钟" 因为粤语是这样说的。 有时候我觉得粤语根国语太不同了。讲普通话的侍候, 我常常要用英文想,根本就是在翻译, 不是在说中文。以为用广东话会好一点,原来不是,更多问题。真麻烦!

Anyhow after that I talked a bit about how we say the time in Cantonese and how we don't really use the "分钟" and just use the big numbers. Both my supervisor and supervision partner were really surprised and interested. Glad I can contribute to at least one of my supervisions... Sigh. I also told them about mascots in the US. They don't do mascots here either. So sad. I wore my O-high 2005 sweatshirt which has Willie the Wildcat on it and my supervisor was like, "Is that your high school? And is that a cat?" So I told them about Tim the Beaver as well. May more days be filled with more cultural exchanges such as these...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Churchill Springball

Yesterday I went to a ball. Here in Cambridge, there are many occasions to dress up and/or party. During the last week of the school year in June, many colleges hold May Balls where you basically go to this big party and there is food, drinks, games, and other entertainment all night long. There are a couple of colleges that hold balls in the spring or winter, probably so that they don't have to compete with the rest of the colleges. Churchill college is one of them. I, along with many other MIT people, worked at the ball.

These balls costs around between $200 to $400 (USD) each so many of them provide opportunities for you to work and get a "half-on, half-off" deal (work half the ball and get to enjoy the rest) or work for a small amount of money and get a shorter break. I worked as a fire steward and basically sat around, making sure there weren't too many people in a room to keep with fire safety regulations for 6 hours, and then got about 2.5 hours off to enjoy the ball.

But more about the ball itself. These things usually have a theme and this one was American in the 1950s. Which really doesn't mean a whole lot other than they served hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy (they call them cotton floss), and had bumper cars (dodgems), among other things. There were also curly fries and chicken nuggets (which they called southern fried chicken). I was really impressed by the freshly made doughnuts though. They fried them right there and were really good. Entertainment wise I think there were performances, a disco room, a casino room, some arcade games, bumper cars, and messages. There were also plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks along with energy drinks to keep you going. The whole thing lasted until 3am. May Balls, I hear, last until 6 or 7am. Some pictures available on facebook if anyone's interested.

It was a fun experience. Although it would've been more fun if it hadn't been freezing that night. Hopefully there will be better weather during the May Balls. But now I'm not so sure about going go a May Ball. Doesn't seem like I will be able to entertain myself for so long. Maybe I'll just opt to work at one again. At first I didn't think these half-on, half-off deals were so great since you don't get paid. But now I think they're pretty good deals since I don't think these balls are actually worth the price and I really think half the ball is enough time to do everything I want.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Some people here actually celebrated or considered Chinese New Year in terms of (I think) China time. I think it's a bigger deal in the Bay Area because every year, there would be fireworks on the day of the new years. People would put up decorations and such. Here, it's pretty quiet. A lot of Chinese student groups put on celebrations, performances, and other things. But I think since most people who celebrate it are international students, they just meet up with friends and make dinner together. I don't know how it's like for Chinese immigrants but I am going to London this weekend with some friends on Sunday. There is a Chinese New Year parade. I bet it's not as big as the one in San Francisco though.

Anyway, Wednesday night, we held a Chinese New Year study break among the CME students. We made dumplings. Cindy '09, Mech E, also from the Bay Area, went and got the veggies, meat, and skin, prep the filling, and we all helped wrap the dumplings. They were really good. I think we all had fun. Cindy's amazing. Definitely the best study break ever. It was really cool to chat with MIT people too. I actually don't really have the chance to see or talk to a whole lot of them on a daily basis.

Lately I've also taken to listening to Chinese songs. Yes, another vain effort to increase my Mandarin abilities. Good intentions I guess but the search for songs always turn into a search for Cantopop instead of Mardarin songs. Uh, yeah. Anyway, this entry's a little choppy. To make up for it, check out my latest entry on the MIT site: http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/learning/experiences_abroad_study_research_employment/tour_of_town.shtml