How To Be An Oliner (Tips From ARCs!)

Based on similar articles from November 2020 and February 2021

Happy February! As we settle into spring semester, it’s the perfect time to evaluate how your academic year has been going and if there’s anything you want to change. College is hard, especially now, and we know that it can be challenging to figure out how to improve your work habits or organize your life. That’s where ARCs come in! ARCs are Academic Resource Co-designers – fellow students who’re here to help you out with any organization, time management, or general productivity skills you want to work on. You can think of us like executive function tutors, not tied to a specific class, happy to chat about anything from sending scary emails to prioritizing your to-do list for the day.

We don’t need to list all of the reasons everyone has to be stressed and anxious right now – there are a lot and everyone has their own struggles to get through. Amidst all of it, though, we are still students, with classes, homework, and projects to juggle (not to mention clubs, activities, and socializing… the list goes on). So, at the start of this semester, we ARCs would like to offer some tips and tricks we’ve collected from fellow Oliners on what has helped them navigate being an Oliner.

Task Management

  • Post-it notes
    • Write out tasks by hand on a post-it and stick it to anything you see often (next to your trackpad or on the wall near your desk are great options). You’ll have a convenient place to keep track of what you need to do and you’ll get to cross things out as you do them which is super satisfying.
  • Electronic to do lists
    • If you prefer an electronic to do list, consider creating or finding a simple version that works for you! Google Sheets can be a great starting point, with checkboxes, sorting, and date formats built in. If you’re the kind of person who remembers That Thing You Should Do while walking around away from your desk, look for options that you can access from both your phone and your laptop, such as Asana or Trello. There are even game-ified to-do lists, like Habitica!
  • Schedule it!
    • In addition to adding classes and meetings to your personal calendar, try scheduling “do not disturb” work time. You can use your main calendar so others can’t schedule meetings with you during this time, or create another calendar that only you can see.
  • Track Canvas assignments
    • Did you know you can subscribe to your Canvas in Outlook and Google Calendar? Events appear for submission due dates for all of your classes and are updated automatically.

Getting Into the Flow

  • Create a commute
    • Now that we’re back in person, we have built in commutes before and after class to walk around campus. Before sitting down to do a bunch of work, try taking a walk or just moving a bit to create your own separation between school life and personal life. Working outside of your dorm can also help – the library and MAC both have great options for working at tables, on couches, or even on funky chairs.
  • Find where work is happening
    • Working with other students around is a great way to build momentum towards getting things done while adding a little friendly accountability. You don’t have to all work on the same assignment to work together!
  • Focused work
    • Many Oliners use the Pomodoro Method to get into focused work. The base version uses 25 minute blocks of focused work, broken up by 5 minute breaks.There are tons of apps and extensions with variations, but you can also use your calendar or a simple timer for the same effect.
  • Hide your phone
    • Notifications are designed to be distracting! Moving your phone away from your work area and quitting apps that send non-work-related notifications on your laptop can help limit distractions. There are many apps that offer various rewards for staying off of your phone for a set amount of time – we recommend Flora and Tide (both free) – and Windows has a Focus Assist feature that can also come in handy here.

If you want help implementing any of these strategies, want to see more options, or just want to chat about organization and productivity, feel free to fill out the ARC request form to get connected with an ARC! Getting work done can be challenging for many reasons, but ARCs are here to help you figure out how to get through those barriers as much as possible!

We hope that your spring semester is as engaging, well-focused, organized, and restful as possible. You are not alone!

Love,

The ARCs

Riya Aggarwal, Reid Bowen, Jocelyn Jimenez, Evelyn Kessler, Vedaant Kuchhal, Manu Patil, Charlotte Ramiro de Huelbes, Laurel Rodriguez Mitton, Prisha Sadhwani, and Arwen Sadler

ARC request form: https://tinyurl.com/arc-requests

Tinyurl links to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeinsVQQs-Fd-1xq2TDmhj3wbwginXmIpLISo_6DG47ZAxoTg/viewform

The Day Everything Changed Pt. 1

It was a normal day; a day like any other. I awoke at 5 AM to the sounds of birdsongs and Harry Styles’s voice angelically singing the chorus to “What Makes You Beautiful,” which was radiating from my iPod Touch. My breath tasted awful, I probably shouldn’t have snuck to the kitchen and ate that cookie dough while my parents were asleep. As I rose out of bed, I felt another twinge of regret from my late night binge and rushed to the bathroom. Like I said, a normal day like any other. 

After the color returned to my face, and I brushed my teeth I started heading to the kitchen. The day didn’t feel like a breakfast day, so I sipped on some orange juice. While savoring the taste of citrus mixing with toothpaste in my mouth, I glanced at the clock on the microwave. It was 5:50AM, did I spend that long in the bathroom? I shot a glance at the freezer, and a shiver ran down my spine as I visualized the half eaten tub of cookie dough. Shamefully, I opened the drawer next to the fridge and grabbed a spoon. But as I started to open the freezer, my mouth salivating at the sugar waiting for me in its cold plastic packaging, I heard shuffling from upstairs.

I quickly shut the door and returned to my glass of orange juice as my father entered. 

“Good morning, Tracy.” He said, paternally. He examined my face for a moment before adding, “Got into the cookie dough again?”

I put my hand, still holding the conspicuous spoon, behind my back instinctively, trying to get out a very convincing “What makes you think that?” but only succeeding in snorting on my half-swallowed OJ. My father smiled in amusement, handing me a roll of paper towels while simultaneously texting something on his Blackberry. “Careful there!” he said with a chuckle, “You’ll need all of that orange juice to get the energy you need for today!”

I might’ve asked what he meant by that if I hadn’t been so annoyed and embarrassed. Wiping my face off, and wishing for nothing more than for my father to just get out and get to work already, I said, “Thanks, Dad,” while barely suppressing an eye roll. I probably didn’t have to hide my teenage disgruntlement though, because he was still fixated on that tiny plastic keyboard, clicking away as he walked through the kitchen. “Where are you going?” I asked before he could reach the door.

“What?” he said, not even looking up. His phone buzzed, and he said, “I’m off to work–you’d better get ready for school, honey. You never know when it’s going to be a big day!”

Whatever he meant by that I couldn’t tell, as he did not elaborate before heading into the hallway and out the front door. And while, as I said, this was a normal day like any other, my father was correct about one thing: that I needed to get ready for school. With the clock now reading 5:55 and my mousy brown hair looking positively feral, I was in no position to be headed to school.

I rushed upstairs and blasted the sweet sweet sounds of pop rock as I groggily got myself together. When I was ready, I switched over to my portable earbuds (after spending about 15 minutes untangling them, of course) and, shoving an untoasted piece of toast in my mouth (because who doesn’t have time for bread?), ventured out the front door and into the unforgivingly harsh light of morning.

The rumble of the school bus gave me the perfect ambiance for a mid-morning nap. A nap which, if I’d had it my way, could’ve been longer, but the wheels of the bus had unfortunately ceased to go round and round. I followed the line of tired students into the highschool and prepared for a long boring day of doing anything I could to avoid learning anything in my classes.

At the strike of the 8:00 AM bell, Ms. Rogers, the most dreaded Calc 1 substitute teacher, jauntily walked into class. I opened my text-book and pulled out some sheets. And with a sigh, I started folding an origami crane.

“Tracy ‘cookie dough’ Evans, there is a message for you!” I snapped out of my origami frog reverie (the latest in a dreamy, artistic 2-hour sequence) to see the teacher waiting with a piece of paper. I cringed. ‘Cookie dough’ Evans, from the freaking substitute teacher? 

I felt the eyes of the rest of the class burying their gaze into me as I walked to the front and accepted the slip. 

“Please come outside; I’m waiting in the parking lot. It’s urgent.

-Mom”

“Huh?”

Still confused, I left the classroom and made my way out to where my Mom was waiting for me in her Dodge Charger. 

“Hey Mom, is everything okay?” I asked nervously. She didn’t seem stressed, but the energy in the car was weird. 

“Yeah sweetie, everything is fine. We do have some news for you, but I think it’s best if we go home first.” Her calm tone was slightly reassuring, but did not answer any of my questions. I studied her face as she started to drive, and found no hints of stress. 

“Maybe we are going on a surprise vacation,” I thought to myself. I allowed myself to feel some excitement, as we passed the suburban houses dotting the street. It was still during the day, so there wasn’t much going on. It was weird to see the street so quiet, there’s usually some liveliness when the bus passes through at the end of the school day. 

After a few more minutes, we pulled into our driveway, and my mom released a slight sigh. My nerves returned as she looked at me solemnly and said, “Tracy, please know that no matter what, your father and I still love you.” 

My mind was racing, what on Earth could be going on? As my mother led me inside, I felt the urge to run but then my dad opened the door and invited me in. 

As I stepped through the threshold of the door I heard a beautiful voice count down from three, and then an angelic “You’re insecure, don’t know what for, you’re turning heads when you walk through the door” crawls out from the living room. My heart skipped a beat, and I ran over to see Zayn, Harry, Louis, Niall, and Liam standing in front of my couch singing “What Makes You Beautiful.” My jaw dropped. 

Before I could say anything, I felt my mother’s hand on my shoulder. She knelt down and gave me a hug. “You’re going to live with One Direction now.”    

What happens next? You decide!

Link: https://forms.gle/BtdjLsBLLHd9jeMw7

I’m A Guy You Just Met, And I’m Already Mansplaining Python To You

Hey, it’s great to meet you. Did you know that Python uses whitespace instead of brackets? I’m sure you didn’t, because even though the internet exists and there are thousands of tutorials out there, I must be the only person in the world who has ever taken a Python course. 

Isn’t it so amazing that I know basic information about Python syntax that anyone would get from a W3Schools tutorial? Having opinions on the relative merits of camel case and snake case makes me feel like a fully formed human being.

What do you think about the latest Python release? You haven’t thought about it? You must not be a real engineer. I, of course, read the Python changelog on a daily basis, and I tell everyone I meet about it because I think it makes me a well-informed citizen. 

You know, I really feel like being able to use Git is a defining personality trait. Yeah, I’ve only ever used Git to write commit messages like “asdfjkasldflaksdfj i hope this works” and “changed something”, but being able to type two-word commands into a terminal shows that I am a very intelligent person.

Sometimes I feel threatened by the fact that software engineers that aren’t white males exist, but then I go to my room and read the James Damore memo and tell myself that I’m special because I once read the first few chapters of a book on object-oriented programming and then I feel all better.

What’s that? You’ve used Python before? You’ve used Git too? That can’t be right. If you’re not spending all of your time on r/programming, how can you even call yourself a coder?

Well, I just checked your Github account, and my contributions graph has more commits than yours does because I don’t understand the concept of rebase, so I must be a better developer.

Have I told you how cool Elon Musk is? Wait, where are you going? Come back so I can tell you my take on the Cybertruck!

This article was inspired by fun moments as a woman in STEM.

Olin: An “Alien” Perspective

At Olin College of Unspoken Privilege, we don’t have enough open, honest conversations about the culture that makes you feel out of place for feeling out of place. And a lot of people feel out of place at Olin, a lot of people don’t vibe with the conversations in the dining hall, a lot of people feel awkward, left-behind, lonely – far detached from the caring, close-knit community they were promised at Olin. We need to recognize this, and we need to understand why.

We need to talk. Here’s an international student perspective. 

Over a month ago, I interviewed four international students, each from a different country. Those conversations were some of the most honest and powerful I have had so far in my life, and they made me realize that there are so many powerful stories hidden unexpressed behind these inspiring people, each with rich, unique sociocultural backgrounds. 

I suppose that’s why I’m doing this. To raise awareness that at Olin, there is a small community of students legally labeled as ‘aliens’ by the US government. These students leave behind most of what is familiar to them and fly across the world, and many of them struggle. I’m writing this to help unpack those stories, and to help unpack my story.

I don’t claim to speak for all international students. The opinions in this piece are my personal perspective, with reinforcement from my four interviewees, each of whom come from diverse countries and backgrounds and have vastly different views on America and Olin.

Olin’s work culture for example – coming from the hypercompetitive, scarce work environment in India, Olin initially seemed like a dream to me. People were living their life to the fullest and creating space for hobbies, clubs, project teams – things that brought them joy! But three of my interviewees had the opposite take – they felt that compared to their countries Olin, and in their experience, America in general, has too strong of a workaholic culture. One of them called it ‘internalized capitalism’. Neither viewpoint is incorrect. However, the sharp difference in perspectives was eye-opening, and it made me question my generalizations about my international student experience.

But we, international students, do have many shared experiences. One of the biggest challenges I faced when transitioning into Olin was simply being able to hold conversations. I was not at all prepared for how difficult it would be to engage with people. One of my interviewees spoke about not understanding the references from movies, the conversational contexts, baseball – it all fed into the imposter syndrome, the lingering feeling that they didn’t belong here. It’s often difficult to realize that American insularity exists, especially because of the tiny size of Olin’s international student community. While 28% of Babson’s undergraduate student body is international students, Olin is at around 8%. International students at Olin lack the cultural support communities traditionally available at other, larger colleges, and that can make settling into Olin’s environment significantly more challenging. An interviewee even suggested making an America ‘cheat sheet’ – a list of cultural elements international students need to be aware of before interacting in social settings at Olin. It’s important to recognize that the process of adapting to Olin’s cultural space was, for me and a lot of my interviewees, slow, embarrassing, and occasionally even hurtful. An interviewee shared how hurt they had felt when they got attacked for not knowing what Indigenous Peoples’ Day was – all they wanted to do was understand and clarify. They said, “Give us more slack – assume positive intent. We’re trying to adapt to a new way of life, it’s not always easy.” 

Due to the cultural force of the USA in global media, there’s an assumption in the USA that everyone must be informed of US history, geography, and liberal political contexts. That assumption is simply not fair on international students, who, for example, never learned US history or learned an inaccurate version of it. Moreover, that lack of context can make it difficult to understand prevailing attitudes at Olin.

For example, when I first got to Olin, I was struck by the sheer amount of US-bashing by Americans. “Yeah, America sucks,” was assumed to be the default attitude. Why would anyone like this country, with all of its flaws and inequities? Yet my first reaction was, why would anyone not like this country? There’s so much here – money, resources, jobs, dialogue, freedom of speech.

There’s a very American-centered conversation in the US around empowerment. It recognizes that despite the country’s championing of democracy, a significant number of Americans don’t have access to the aforementioned privileges that dominant groups in the country do. Olin has made some progress in creating a space for this conversation, and I also believe that we have much, much further to go. However, significantly more unrecognized is the fact that many international students come from countries that systemically lack the opportunities available in the US. All that US-bashing can get hurtful – yes, the USA has massive, entrenched problems, but there is so much privilege in being able to complain. And yes, while the criticism should not stop at all costs, it is important to recognize this privilege especially in front of students who have left behind so much – family, familiarity, and a sense of belonging –  to attend college in the USA. There’s so much privilege to be fearless; the last time I expressed significant dissent against India in my high school, I was physically dragged aside and yelled at by two high school teachers in front of my entire school for nearly an hour – an experience that left me disgusted, emotionally exhausted, and terrified. It’s still unbelievable for me to hear people at Olin effortlessly and casually criticize the USA.

Olin, by design, is a privileged space. I recognize that my entire ‘American’ experience has been an Olin experience, and Olin, by any stretch of the imagination, is not representative of the USA. And so I spend a lot of time thinking about privilege at Olin, often through many of the traditional American lenses such as race and gender but also about the privilege of simply being American. All of my interviewees expressed frustration at the lack of recognition of that privilege at Olin – the privilege of being able to return home for Thanksgiving, the privilege of being familiar with Thanksgiving in the first place, the privilege of not being branded as an ‘alien’, the privilege of understanding cultural references, the privilege of not being anxious about your limited time in the USA, the privilege of belonging. And yet I recognize that some American Oliners don’t have these privileges either.

When I first thought of writing this piece, I had initially set out to rant all about how international students feel like they’re left out, in a place of privilege where their time is ticking, unsupported in an unfamiliar culture at Olin by virtue of their background. But a lot of American Oliners feel this way too! People of color, people from low-income families, and many others – and we don’t talk about this enough.

There’s value in making connections, so that diversity and inclusion efforts on campus have another voice. Yet there’s also value in differentiating – international students come from a unique, different place compared to other minority groups at Olin. Supporting the experience of being an international student should be both merged with and distinguished from diversity efforts at Olin. The first step is recognizing that international students should be getting more support.

Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and students – both international and American – who helped me with this piece. You know who you are :)

It’s (Still) Time to Talk About Divestment

The following article2 was published in the May 2016 edition of Frankly Speaking by two Oliners (and now alumni), Aaron Greiner and Izzy Harrison. They were part of a group of students who ultimately presented a proposal for fossil fuel divestment to the Board of Trustees in the spring of 2018. The conversation about divestment, mediated by Patty Gallagher (formerly the CFO), ended with students being told to wait until a new president settled into Olin.

Divesting Olin

By Aaron Greiner and Izzy Harrison on behalf of GROW

So, What is Divestment?

According to Wikipedia, “Divesting is the act of removing stocks from a portfolio based on mainly ethical, non-financial objections to certain business activities of a corporation.” One of the first times that divestment was used as a means to promote a social change was during apartheid, the extreme system of racial segregation, in South Africa. Companies, universities, organizations, local governments,  and individuals took their money out of apartheid-affiliated businesses and are partially credited with helping to dismantle the system.

Today, there is a new divestment movement. Five hundred and seven institutions and 3.4 trillion dollars have been divested from the oil and gas industries. The goal of this movement is to put financial pressure on the largest contributors to climate change and other environmental disasters in an effort to get them to behave in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner.  Sixty-one colleges have already divested in some meaningful way, and we hope Olin will join the movement.

Why Should Olin Divest?

Olin was founded on the principle of making the world a better place. Fossil fuels are unsustainable (they will run out), and are the single greatest contributors to climate change, so we believe it is against Olin’s founding principles to support fossil fuel companies  We believe that continuing to profit from the destruction of the environment through knowingly investing our money in companies that are accelerating the pace of climate change is fundamentally against Olin’s core values.

The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet with disastrous effects1. Furthermore, as the market inevitably shifts towards more renewable energy sources, we believe an innovative institution such as Olin should be on the forefront of this change. 

We believe progressive action towards divestment will be a sound decision for the wellbeing of Olin’s alumni and current and future students. We deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future unimpaired by climate chaos.

What Have We Done so Far?

A little over a year ago, we started meeting with our CFO Patty Gallagher and Chair of the Investment Committee Doug Kahn to explore what it might look like if Olin were to divest. They were incredibly receptive, and we formed a close partnership. Over the past year, we have had many meetings and are making positive progress towards a solution that we can all get behind. In addition, we had a meeting with the investment firm that manages Olin’s money to get a sense from them about what divestment could look like while, of course, keeping the best financial interests of the school in mind. 

We are very fortunate that we are at a place like Olin where we can have meetings like this, and our collaborative approach has had positive results. The Investment Committee has begun to have discussions about the topic of divestment. We will continue to work with Doug and Patty to advance the conversation towards a mutually acceptable resolution.

Before we move forward, we want to be confident that this is something that Faculty, Staff, Board Members, and Students, can all get behind.  We are looking forward to continuing the progress in the fall and hope to keep the community updated.


It has been over four years since the article above was published. Since then, divestment from the 2003 holders of the most carbon reserves has been soundly rejected. Now, the Board is considering incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in our investment strategy. While a step in the right direction, this is essentially the bare minimum and is becoming, or has already become, standard practice4,5. This minimal acknowledgement of social and environmental realities casts them as mere externalities impacting our financial viability. Treating social and environmental issues as distinct and separable from economic issues in this way neglects the interconnectedness of the three. Olin, by continuing to profit on the climate crisis, is abjectly failing in its purported mission “to do good for humankind.” Olin is certainly not a leader among academic institutions in operational sustainability, nor in a holistic view of engineering. It’s time for Olin to recognize the contradiction of espousing leadership in integrating ethics into engineering while failing to take the action that so many of our peers (including Wellesley) already have.

Since the original article was published in 2016, the following U.S. schools have made commitments to divestment:

Interested in continuing Olin’s divestment movement? Questions, comments, or concerns?

Reach out!

gtighe@olin.edu

Reply to Swing and a Miss: What are you Swinging at?

As I read your article this morning, I looked up and took a glance at several eager interviewees at the career fair this morning. I considered your plight: many of us aspiring engineers were drawn to the field in hopes of mastering powerful tools that will someday allow us to make enormous, tangible positive impacts on the world. Excited and a little disoriented, we took our swing—a first internship—and saw a terrible twist to our original vision. A lot of fellow engineers are working hard and building powerful tools, but many of those tools are ambiguous in impact to the world or perhaps seem detrimental long-term. A swing and a miss!

As engineers, we live to make an impact. This is our heart. Ethics often comes second. Even Leonardo da Vinci made his money by advertising and selling plans for his easy-build bridges to warlords. The distinction for da Vinci was that his bridges weren’t his biggest contributions to the world. After he had secured some money, he trusted his wits and transitioned to designing aspirational flying machines, studying biology, and making art. At the end of the day, many people will make decisions, even pivotal and life-changing ones, depending on how easy that option is to choose for them at the time. Right now, it seems that most engineers are finding it harder to build their future while holding on to their ethics, or perhaps easier to get straight into building their future if they let their ethics go. But that decision isn’t permanent for any of us. It just may be easier. Paradigm shifts happen as a whole society works to make ethical decisions easier for everyone. It is during those times that ethically conscious builders have it easy. They have a wide variety of opportunities to build a change they can be satisfied with in the world. Right now does not feel like a paradigm shift is happening. Nonetheless, we can sacrifice some amount of ease (or perhaps some amount of salary) in the name of good. Today, I also noticed stickers advocating a broader movement for engineers to refuse to build systems that they consider unethical. Refuse to Build may also become a tool for us to stabilize our direction and work towards good as engineers. 

This summer, I skipped my opportunity to work an internship and instead worked with a crew of 10 dedicated, smart people at a backcountry outpost at Philmont, a Scouts BSA camp. The work wasn’t easy and it didn’t pay well, but all of the people I met shared an eagerness to act straight from the heart. Our camp director, Ben, left his job as an engineer at Intel to work at Philmont one more time. He explained that he left because he didn’t feel like managing the 2000-step production process for Intel’s largest FPGA would get him anywhere in life. From 18 months of work, was able to pay off his student loans. He now works as a math and finance teacher. He lives in a souped-up mobile home with ‘bold and brash’ hung over the fireplace. He is a better rock climber than I will ever be, but in a way, he has put down the powerful ‘bat’ that we pick up when we become engineers. He is not the professional builder that can make an enormous impact on the world with his work. As an engineer, you’re still holding the bat. Now what are you going to do with it?

Why You Should do NOTHING, Like Me

Picture this: you’re alone in your room, which is a mess, with a semester-long to-do list in which nothing has been checked off. Your finals are next week. You have one night to finish a semester’s worth of homework for one class. It sounds impossible, but that’s what my life was like for my first two years at Olin.

“How did the professors even let that happen?! That’s not even possible!” you say.  Which—fair. You have a point. But the reason it got to that point is that I was depressed and anxious. And people at Olin are understanding. They give you the space you need to do the growing you need to do.

As many of you know, the people at Olin are just incredible. Each person you meet seems smarter and more talented than the last. They are talented, skilled and knowledgeable. They’ve done the coolest internship, the most complex projects, and have the best job lined up after graduation. It’s easy to feel like an imposter. It’s a lot, and it hit me hard. I felt completely out of place. I was just some not-American girl, who didn’t know how to code, who hadn’t done big engineering projects in high school. I pushed myself so hard after getting here thinking that I had to catch up. Two project teams, Robolab, and 20 credited on top of it. I thought if I became some kind of machine who was working all the time I could a) catch up with everybody else and finally get that internship, and b) not lose sleep agonizing over “what did I do to make everybody hate me today”.

Obviously, that crashed and burned real fast. I was barely able to keep up with that schedule for a week before I started falling behind, and I’d avoid people in shame, and then agonize over being ignored, and consequently not get anything done in the process of agonizing. I was burned out within the semester. I spent two years subjecting myself to this cycle, just so I could be good enough.

And then, COVID-19. We got sent home in March 2020. I was actually doing a little better that semester, adequately busy (but not too much), with some healthy social dynamics. I learned very quickly that online learning wasn’t for me. I decided to take the year off. At first, I was pushing myself hard to find an internship or some way of being productive. The internship didn’t work out, but I thought, “If I learn some theoretical content now, I won’t struggle when I’m at school, and I won’t be depressed!”

This turned out to be completely false. I was at home, learning at my own pace. No homework, no deadlines, no stress, but I was still lost. I felt hopeless all the time. I was living because of some invisible, inevitable, and incessant force pushing me forward, not because I had a dream of my own. And then one day, exactly five months ago, I put my foot down. I told myself, “For the rest of my break, I am going to do nothing.”

And that’s what I did. I would wake up whenever I felt like it and spend all day in bed binge-watching Modern Family and a random assortment of equally good, but equally trashy, K-Dramas and C-Dramas. I learned languages, sang terribly, ate the worst food, and did whatever I wanted to do, solely because I wanted to and it was good. So good that I don’t have any more eloquent words to describe it. I felt myself growing dreams and aspirations that I had given up on ever having again. I finally developed a passion for engineering beyond the point of it merely being a fleeting interest. For the first time ever, I want to be where I am, doing what I’m doing, with the people I’m with. And that’s all that really matters.

It’s really easy at Olin to fall victim to imposter syndrome and FOMO. For some, it’s worse than others. I only hope that you don’t get it as bad as I did. Because, honestly, it’s not worth it. Finding joy in what you’re doing, and being the best you that you can be, will bring a lot more value to your life than some stupid internship.

Editor’s Note: Please, please, please reach out to an ARC before it gets as bad as it did for me.

21

21 years of natural disaster after natural disaster

21 years of climate change denial

21 years of widespread poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to basic needs

21 years of billionaires in the richest country in the world

21 years of mass shootings

21 years of “now is not the time”

21 years of endless death and torture caused by our country in the middle east

21 years of “protecting national security”

21 years of being told terrorists are coming to bomb us

21 years of bombing other countries

21 years of gay and trans people being seen as less

21 years of “you’re being too dramatic”

21 years of pervasive racism in every part of our society

21 years of already having the Civil Rights Act, what more do you want?

21 years of pervasive sexism in every part of our society

21 years of not needing the Equal Rights Amendment because women are already equal

21 years of controlling women’s bodies

21 years of “protecting lives” in a country with almost no safety net

21 years of not having the right to healthcare

21 years of “uninsured people are lazy”

21 years of being asked why I’m so jaded

21 years of America.

Professors Aren’t Your High School Teachers

You’ve already noticed that most professors at Olin go by their first names, while your teachers in high school went by their last. You might not know that you shouldn’t call them “Mr. or Mrs. Lastname”. Professor is always a safe option if you need to address someone with a title, but most Olin professors prefer you refer to them by just their first name in class and in emails.

Just like these are different ways you treat your professors with respect, they have different ways to show you respect than what you might be used to. You don’t have to ask to use the bathroom, or to leave the room at all. As a principle, you’re an adult and they treat you as such; you’re allowed to go where you want when you want, and you’re responsible for your education. If you’re doing independent work and don’t want to be in your seat, go sit somewhere else, like the hallway. Just know when to be back or make sure someone knows how to find you.

You suddenly have a lot of autonomy. Sometimes it feels like too much. I don’t always know what I’m supposed to be doing. You don’t have to go through a class completely on your own though. The professors and CAs are there to support you, and are happy to help when you need it. Asking for help at Olin feels different than asking for help in high school did. I felt like if I didn’t justify my confusion to my high school teachers, they would think I wasn’t trying, or that I was stupid. It feels different at Olin. Asking for help is proof enough that you’re trying. Professors expect you to try on your own, but will give support when you ask. Almost all the wondering if you belong at Olin comes from inside your own brain.

The professors I’ve talked to are careful not to force their point of view onto students. If you disagree with one, it’s probably safer than you think to speak up. They’ll explain their reasoning if you ask and leave room for other opinions. Feel free to ask why you’re doing a specific activity or why they said something.

Similarly, if they give you feedback, you don’t have to accept it without question. Feedback is not always a correction that needs fixing, sometimes it’s just a recommendation. In my English classes in high school, every red mark on the paper needed to be fixed or I would lose points in my next draft. When I got feedback on my writing in college at first, I was frustrated making changes that I disagreed with. Sometimes, I’d even  get conflicting feedback on my next draft. Eventually, I learned I didn’t have to make every change . I can interpret the intent behind feedback and decide how to use it on my own.

In all of these situations, I felt like my high school teachers were trying to catch me doing wrong. I had to fight against them for help, for extensions, or even to use the bathrooms. My professors treat me more like I want to be treated as a student: with respect, and like a capable adult who is sometimes in need of guidance.

It took me a while to realize this and treat them with respect in kind: as a resource, a more experienced adult, an expert, and never an opponent.

Everything You Need To Know About Lint

Everything You Need To Know About Lint

Many people have been talking about lint recently. You may have heard about lint on the news or from your friends. But you may have questions about lint. Well, today we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about lint.

What is lint?

Lint is a collection of soft fibers you can find in human crevices. You may be aware of lint from your bellybutton, but it’s actually a myth that bellybuttons are the only place where lint occurs. Recent studies show that lint appears all over the body, in all known crevices and orifices. Some Dentists have even found lint in patients’ cavities!

Where does lint come from?

Lint was previously thought to come from our clothes. However, this “lint” is not the same lint as we know today. The definition of lint has evolved over time. Did you know that in the 19th century, “lint” referred to shaved linen? That lint was used to patch wounds during the American Civil War. Many ladies at home would join Lint Societies to collect lint. Read more about the history of lint here!

Why does lint matter?

Lint is an important part of the human body’s natural functioning. It’s proof that you’re alive. It’s perfectly normal to have a little lint here and there. You may want to clean yourself of lint before getting in the shower, to collect it for other things. You can easily do so with just your fingers. If you’re worried you have too much lint you should see an Ethical Lint Committee licensed doctor for assistance.

Lint has many health benefits! You can keep an eye on your health by taking a close look at your lint with your eyes, a magnifying glass, or a microscope. You might be surprised by what you find! Most lint is gray, which tells you you’re in good health. Reddish lint can indicate issues in circulation. A greenish lint is often a precursor to the development of neurological conditions: the brightness of the lint will help you know how severe you can expect it to be. Crumbly black lint indicates an excess of black bile. Check out our list of the 16 most common types of lint and what they mean for you!

BE CAREFUL! Do not attempt to remove all your lint! Recently scam artists posing as doctors have offered patients a “Full Lint Cleanse”. This is not possible and it would be a bad thing if it were anyways. If anyone offers to “Remove all the bad lint from your body” or anything like that, please report them to be added to the Ethical Lint Committee’s Practitioner Blacklist. In addition, there is no such thing as bad lint, though sometimes you can have too much lint. Do not trust anyone who tells you to remove your lint for no reason.

What can you use lint for?

If you choose to collect your lint, you can make use of it in a great number of ways. Lint is a wonderful material that is sure to become a staple in your home and body.

Composting

Did you know you can use lint for composting? Lint is full of hungry microbes that help break down compost into fertilizer for your plants. You can also really feel like a part of you is in your garden. Take a look at our complete guide to composting with lint!

Lint Dolls

Everyone loves dolls, and lint dolls are no exception. You can start by collecting your lint in a jar and waiting until you have enough for your doll. Just by rolling it between your fingers, you should be able to make it into a nice ball. Then you can squeeze it gently to shape it. The lint should feel good in your hands; Soft and supple. You can touch it for as long as you like. Once you’ve got the shape of the doll, you can accessorize with more lint, or dress it up with rhinestones, yarn, or other doll-appropriate fashion. See how local artist Pamela Knic makes amazing life-size dolls with just lint!

Lint-stening

Lint can help you improve your concentration and mental acuity. All you have to do is put some lint in your ears. It’s important to get it as close to your eardrum as possible, so you’ll want to use a pointed tool, like a cotton swab or tweezers. Pack the lint into your ear until it reaches the outside.

Once your ears are filled with lint, you’ll have a much easier time focusing. For one thing, you won’t be distracted by pesky sounds around you. Lint filters out bad sounds like people talking and brings forward good sounds like the buzzing of fluorescent lights. An added benefit to lint-stening is that you will be able to identify patterns much better than before. This phenomenon is known as pareidolia. The ability for lint to enhance pareidolia was first discovered in patients with naturally excessive lint. Since then, people have voluntarily used lint earplugs to be better in tune with the Hidden Universe Of Forms. Check out our shop for ear-ready packs of lint!

Lint Divination

Drawing from various traditions, experts in the psychic arts have identified a system of divination using lint. This complex means of future-telling is fully discussed in Schwarz Cemtyl’s Looking To The Lint: A Complete Guide To Lintic Arts, but the basics are available in our Intro To Lint Divination article.

Many professionals indicate that Inner Lint provides the best readings. Our fans have often asked us if there are any ways to get Inner Lint readings for cheap. While we recommend supporting the professional business of lint divination, we are proud to offer Lynt’s At-Home Endoscopy Kit at our online shop for wholesale prices.

Lint In The Bedroom

Are you ready to get lintimate? Lint in the bedroom isn’t something to be ashamed of any more! Bring lint into your sexytimes for a host of surprising and exciting new opportunities. Read our exclusive interview with avid sex fan-turned-entrepreneur Samantha Mayfair about her business culturing lint for couples!

Investment

You’re likely not surprised to know there’s a growing market for lint. Internationally, lint’s value has been increasing exponentially. You could be sitting on rare lint without even knowing it. Consider getting your lint appraised by a nearby lint expert, or checking the LintMarket forums for tips and community to get you started on lint speculation. We also have a complete guide to basic lint investment for 2021!

That’s all!

We hope you enjoyed this peek into the wonderful world of lint. Everyone deserves to know more about lint. Please take a moment to check out some of our other articles and consider donating if you enjoy our cause. Happy linting!