A Day in the Life

Friday, October 11, 2013 by Ji Su

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you’ve all been having a good two weeks since I last posted :)

Today’s post will help answer one of the most frequently asked questions on campus tours and at the Admitted Student Program. I worked as a tour guide for about three semesters here, and am working as a back up tour guide this semester due to schedule conflicts. It was always helpful to give tours and blog at the same time, because I would have a much clearer idea of what prospective students are interested in based on the questions you guys ask, the things you guys laugh at, etc.

Unfortunately I’m not as ‘in touch’ as I used to be, but I know that as a prospective student myself two years ago, I would ask, ‘Can you describe a day in the life of a Mudder?

After almost two and a half years here, I still can’t answer that question super accurately because my day-to-day schedule varies so much. but what I have done once before, two years ago after the Admitted Students Program, was to post my weekly schedule. My schedule’s changed a lot since then, so I decided to post one from this week:

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So this is not a completely normal week at Mudd, but it’s also not a completely abnormal week either. I still have the same classes every week and pretty much the same work schedules and Clinic meeting schedules (minus the site visit). But I wanted just use this schedule as an example to talk about what I do with my time here at Mudd. Some quick facts you can get from the schedule:

  • I’m taking six classes = four engineering classes, Intermediate Chinese at Pomona, and History of Landscape Photography (at Mudd! We have a photography professor!). I’m also taking Yoga at Scripps, and Engineering Seminar, which is a series of talks given by different speakers every week on timely and relevant engineering topics. Last week we had NASA astronaut Rusty Schweickart and this week we had a management lecture from business executive with 30+ years of experience in strategy and management in both technical and financial companies.
  • I’m working on servo valves for Eaton Aerospace for my Clinic project. Clinic is a capstone project that engineering majors do for a semester in their junior year, and for a full year in their senior year. Companies sponsor projects for Harvey Mudd teams to work on, and regularly use our innovations. It’s a win-win situation – companies get their problems solved and we get real world projects to work on and learn from. You can read more about Clinic here.
  • Faculty Candidate Lunch: When HMC is looking for a new faculty member, they invite students to have lunch with them so that we can talk to them about what kind of place Mudd is and we can talk to them about what kind of courses they might teach if they come here. We also provide feedback on the candidates after lunch. Professors at Mudd take teaching seriously, and they frequently ask for student input on the quality of teaching here.
  • Despite all the work I have, I make sure I get some social time in during the day. For example, I try to grab coffee with my friend Sze from Scripps every week. Although she is pursuing a computer science major here at Mudd, we don’t often run into each other. So every Tuesday we make time to see each other so we can catch up on each other’s lives and also munch on delicious brownies from Starbucks.
  • We have options for dining! We can use our meal plan at any of the dining halls in the 5C’s, and every Thursday my friend Stephanie and I head over to Pitzer for their ‘A.M. in the P.M’ meal. This means they serve hot omelets, custom made, for DINNER! Plus they have medium rare steak and grilled artichoke if I’m not full yet, plus they serve ice cream in crunchy waffle bowls for dessert. Delicious.
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Working at the new Starbucks Cafe on campus, with my iced green tea latte. Answering e-mails and thinking through E171 homework (Dynamics of Elastic Systems – one of the best classes I’ve taken!)

I’ve also not included my weekends, but what I do over my weekends vary immensely from week to week. Here’s what I’ve done so far this semester

  • Watched ‘Don Jon’ at the theater in the Claremont Village. Yes, my main reason for going was Joseph Gordon-Levitt…
  • Had brunch with other international sponsors and international freshmen at King Kong Sushi (in Claremont Village) and had some delicious nutella crepes afterwards
  • Ate some amazing Korean tofu stew in Rancho Cucamonga. Even if you don’t have your own car, you can still go out of Claremont and explore! A lot of students here have Zipcar memberships, which allow you to rent cars that are stationed at the Claremont Colleges for ~$7-8 an hour, and they provide insurance and gas. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
  • Ate ramen with Professor Tan, and my friends Michelle and Annie. Us three took Prof Tan’s Beginning Chinese class our sophomore year and loved it, and since then we’ve been eating out with Prof Tan at least once every semester. She’s super fun to hang out with and we talk to her about academics and our social lives. Huge advantage of going to a small school – you can get to know your professors really well.
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Waiting for some yummy rolls at King Kong Sushi with the international frosh

Lastly, my weekday nights are mostly filled with meetings and homework time. Here’s a GIF of some time lapse photos taken in the Platt Campus Center, where a lot of study/homework sessions take place, at all times during the day and week. The compilation below features photos taken last semester, one Thursday night when almost half of the sophomore engineers stayed up in Platt to finish homework together. It’s currently midterm season here at Mudd, so I thought this was appropriate.

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Time lapse of a Thursday night all-nigher in Platt. Mainly featuring sophomore engineers working on Engineering Mathematics. All photo credits to Rachel Roley ’15

Conclusion: The Mudd life is a good life. It involves a lot of work and lots of class time, but you don’t have to work all the time. There’s plenty of space in everyone’s schedule to relax once in a while, whether that means going out to eat, hanging out in your dorm lounge, or hanging out at the LAC. And even when you’re working, there’s always going to be a lot of people working with you, so it’s not lonely at all.

Again, my schedule is not exactly a completely average schedule for a Mudder nor is it a completely abnormal schedule. Feel free to post comments on here if you have any questions that you want me to cover in future blog posts, or if you have questions regarding this one. I can’t always get back to you immediately but I will try my best to get back to you as soon as I can!

Have a great weekend, everyone! And remember you can always email me (ji_su_lee@hmc.edu) and find us on Facebook and Twitter as well :)