This Year I Learned... Part I

Today I Learned that the composer of the Hamilton soundtrack wrote the first song back in 2009, and was originally planning for a mixtape based on Hamilton's story.... and yet here we are in 2016 with a show-stopping musical and a phenomenal soundtrack that I may or may not have listened to five times in one weekend. Oops.

Anyway, I figured that since it's the end of the year, a sort-of re-cap is in order. So in the style of TIL (check out r/todayilearned if you aren't already familiar), here's my T(Y)IL from my first year of living away from home, my first year of college, and my first year in the craziness that is Olin.

TYIL that....


  • Understanding multivariable calculus is a surprisingly straightforward jump to make from single variable calculus. And, on the flipside of that coin, linear algebra is really abstract, and requires a different kind of thinking. That being said, math is really fun. Maaaaath, man.
  • There's a lot of intentional effort that has to go into having a healthy team, for any project. Team health is also crucial to project success, and what you have to actively work on will differ based on how your team was formed.
  • You can take a project that's assigned to any depth you want to, but you'll have to prioritize some projects over others when you find something that particularly interests you.
  • I should have gotten started on getting trained on the machines earlier than I did.


  • Sleep is very necessary. In high school, sleeping less didn't particularly affect my academic performance because the material we were learning was, for the most part, not particularly challenging and/or delivered in a rote manner. However, college is a totally different ball game, folks. Trying to comprehend linear algebra at 4 in the morning (or on very little sleep, the next morning) is incredibly hard. Wow.

Sleep GIF

  • Having stayed at Olin for both Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks, I've gotten slightly better at cooking. I'm still pretty rubbish though. (Side story: My brother and I had to air out our house for two days after I tried to microwave a frozen burrito, and were wearing gas masks for the first hour or so after the incident. Good times.)  Hey, I have this entire summer to improve, however!
  • Balancing friendships and self health can be hard. If you need solitude while a friend needs solace, it's okay to prioritize yourself if you need to. If someone is stressing you out, talk to them about it, or just take some time away from the situation.                                                                                                  


  • Pass/No Record is an incredible, incredible thing. I was able to do so many spontaneous things because I had nothing to lose that I would never have been able to do without Pass/No Record, which I'm incredibly thankful for. For example, I would have been really cautious about not overloading myself when joining clubs, wouldn't have gone on midnight IHOP runs with seniors 4 nights in a row, wouldn't have been as spontaneous and happy-go-lucky with as many things like hackathons and random adventures... and I'm so glad that I did all of this and more because I felt like I could try things, unapologetically mess things up, and learn a ton at no consequence.
  • Candidates' Weekend was insane last year, but participating heavily in 3 CWs on consecutive weekends while still having schoolwork is even crazier for the current students (if you choose to be as involved as I was, that is).
  • If you leave 2,000 small dixie cups in the second floor lounge of West Hall, bored engineers will play with them to their hearts' content.

Cups 1

Cups 2


  • I'm really good at procrastinating. I'm also getting better at not procrastinating, which is something you have to actually work at, as it turns out -- who knew? My schedule this semester has made it difficult during the day due to meetings and other commitments, so I'm consciously planning now to schedule in time for getting work done during the day next semester.
  • Fall is real. Trees turn colors. Snow is really fun. And seasons are fantastic to experience for the first time while in college, because you don't have to worry about scraping cars, being able to get groceries if the streets are blocked, shoveling driveways, etc. College is a serene bubble in some respects when compared to the 'real world', whatever that means.
  • I'm an unapologetically excited person. I really love everything I do, and want to do so many more things than I possibly have time for, which is both wonderful and detrimental. On the one hand, I'm a very happy and constantly smiling person, but on the other, I'm also really good at overcommitting myself if I'm not careful, because I want to join everything that sounds interesting. At the same time, I'm really happy with what I'm doing and have never felt so at home as I have at Olin, so something is obviously correct here.
  • I need to go on spontaneous adventures to stay sane. Having Parcel B (our kind of forest that we have on campus) has been invaluable, and being surrounded by people who are just as up to go wander with no destination in mind as I am is pretty great. I've also gone into Boston many times for various reasons, which has also been fantastic from the point of view of having such a cool city at our fingertips.

Blues Group

A group of mostly first-years went blues dancing in Cambridge for the heck of it over Spring Break – it was amazingly fun, and this is coming from someone who doesn't dance at all....                                   

There are probably a lot of things I'm forgetting, but that'll always be the case, so I hope you'll accept this list that's just about as unpolished as I am still. I can't wait for the coming years... and for parts II through IV! Keep your eyes peeled for the continuation of this thrilling saga, friends.

Oh, also, while I'm still here, make that Hamilton tally for the weekend six. If you haven't listened to it yet, 11/10 Laurens would recommend.

I Regret Nothing GIF

Posted in: Lauren '19