Two days - all it took to take us all from complete strangers to familiar friends. Before meeting at Singapore Changi Airport, we had only met one another through a single short briefing a week ago. Perhaps you could count in the little correspondence some of us had through email to discuss about the item the SUTD contingent has to put up on the day of the IDC Robocon. But we still didn't really knew one another.
I bid farewell to my parents at Singapore Changi Airport. They were absolutely ecstatic about sending me off for IDC Rocobon 2011.
Just after we entered through the departure gate, in response to our 2nd time meeting one another, Sharolyn said, "You guys will have 20 hours to stare at each other in the plane." But we didn't stare at one another during the first flight to London; we stared at our screens!
As we had a 5-hour stopover in London, we could break the ice between all of us and comfortably settle down. We played bridge, visited British gift shops and drank Starbucks coffee to kill time, and of course, bond as a big group.
After arriving in Boston Logan International Airport, we met up with Dan and Shane who arranged for 2 taxis to bring us to the beautiful Baker House in MIT.
Looking out of the window of my room in Baker House, I was amazed by the incredible view of Charles River.
The first thing we did as a group after placing our luggage down in our rooms was to check out the magnificent MIT campus.
We walked over to the bank of Charles River to see the Boston skyline across the river. Sailboats drift dreamily on the river. It was then that we decided we walk over to Harvard. The walk was unexpectedly long. But we witnessed some interesting sights along the way.
We took the "T" from Harvard station to Kendall/MIT station. Apparently, the T's "ez-link cards" do not need us to pay a deposit to obtain them. The opposite-bound trains make eerie, ghastly noises when they make their entrance into the station; that startled us!
To head to our dinner spot in Stratton Student Center, we walked past the funky-looking Ray and Maria Stata Center.
Dinner for us was burritos and Mexican plates. It was already 8pm but the sun had yet to set.
Wow, it has really been a long 20 hours flight time for us (plus 5 hours+ of transit time in London -> 25 hours of time travelling). All of us are feeling the effects of jet lag and are sleepy in our new rooms in Baker House.
To recap what happened for the past 1 and a half day:
From Changi Airport, our families and friends sent us off before we left for Boston. I was really happy that our friends could come and support us before we left for 2 weeks. Edward and I would be leaving for China for a design workshop immediately after coming back after IDC Robocon, so we are considered leaving for 5 weeks… It’s going to be tough!
Me and my parents taking a photo shot together..
Hei Kern buying a Singapore T-shirt for his friend from MIT
Waiting at the gates before boarding the plane to London
The total flight time to London was about 13 hours or so. I was lucky to have Guan Xun, Ian, Kelly and Hei Kern to sit around me so we had quite a lot to chat about in the airplane. As we took off, we put on our headphones to enjoy the entertainment available on the British Airways plane. Unknowingly, I drifted to sleep for around 7 hours after watching 2 movies… An hour and a half later after I awoke, we landed safely on London at Heathrow Airport.
As we got off on Heathrow, we had to wait for the next transit flight to Boston so we went around looking for things to buy while trying to find available wireless connection to surf the net to kill time.. I was considering whether to purchase the Liverpool FC Jersey from a shop in the transit shopping area. In the end, I decided not to because it was too expensive and I can still buy it when I am come back to Heathrow on the way back..
Sharolyn giving us instructions on where to meet up before the gate closes.
A few of us walking wandering around the area with our heavy hand carry bags..
The Olympic Flame statue at the Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 - The 2012 Olympics is going to be held in London next year.
After another 8 hours, we finally reached our destination – Boston! Shane and Prof Dan Frey from IDC came to welcome us at the airport and brought us to MIT Baker House where we will be staying for the next 2 weeks. The weather at this time was pretty good; it was around 28 degrees Celsius, though Shane told us that the last 3 days were scorching, reaching to around 40 degrees. Looks like we are in good luck since Boston has greeted us with such fine weather.
A picture I took of the Boston Logan International Airport
After putting down our bags and luggages, we proceeded to scout the area around MIT and also visit MIT’s rival – Harvard. It was pretty crazy because we walked around 40 minutes from MIT to Harvard. We want to thank Lu Yang, Penghui’s friend, for guiding us the whole time.
Lu Yang, Peng Hui’s friend..
MIT Baker House
All of us taking a group photo in front of the MIT Dome
MIT’s Logo – Mens Et Manus (Mind and Hand)
All of us waiting at a junction to cross to the other side – Harvard St
Even though it was in the afternoon, the footpaths were filled with joggers and cyclists. We had to keep giving way to them as they zoomed past us.
Many were chilling out in the sun. I don’t think many will want to lie on the grass in Singapore. Though the city atmosphere feels somewhat similar to that of Singapore, the people are distinctly different.
An undergraduate dormitory in Harvard.
Following that, we returned to MIT via the train station to meet Sharolyn for dinner.
The MIT Stata Center – A weird looking architectural building that houses several research laboratories.
After dinner at the MIT Stratton Student Center, we went to buy a simple cake to celebrate Jin Kai’s birthday.
It has been a really tiring day for all of us since we didn’t have enough sleep on a proper surface for more than a day now. However, this is just the beginning and we will only know how the format of the IDC Robocon Competition is going to be like.
I hope that tomorrow will go well!
Today, well, I have no idea how the day went. I was never sure what the exact time was as we were constantly in different time zones. I ended up just counting the hours. By the end of the day where I am writing this post, I am dead beat. I guess this is good as it would mean we will sleep at night in Boston, effectively solving the jet lag problem.
Saw this interesting wall of pictures of bicycles in one of the shops in Heathrow airport. Many of us took pictures as we thought it reminded us of the competition that brought us here : )
When we reached Boston, the first thought that crossed my mind is the glorious weather. Never in my life had I experienced such nice summer! Although the sun was shining hard, there was a light breeze to keep all the sweat and heat away. Pure joy!! Oh! And I can’t help but compare how different MIT’s main dome area looks during different seasons. Even the colour of the building looks slightly different. Cant wait for tomorrow!
Arriving in Boston was exciting – the process of getting there wasn't. After a combined traveling time of 26 hours, we finally got to Boston from Singapore.
Once we got here, there was one thing about the place that stood out, well at least to me. This place is old. Along the streets mostly stood buildings of no taller than 5 or 6 stories that bore the architectural appearances of an earlier time, similar to Baker House - our accommodation for the duration of Robocon. The banners plastered all over the MIT grounds indicating that MIT is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year seems to really drive home how old and full of culture this place is.
It also must be mentioned that the weather here is simply glorious, which enabled our lot to thoroughly enjoy an alfresco dinner at an open air picnic table.
It's an early day tomorrow morning – the proper start of Robocon. I eagerly anticipate meeting the other students from different countries who will be taking part in the competition with us. Besides that, wonder a little about what might the theme of the competition be and how may I contribute to my group since I would have relatively little technical know-how compared to them. I guess I'll find out over the next few days.
Finally! After a tormenting (20 over hours) flight...
Baker House mailboxes: uses letters instead of numbers
On the left: Discussion area in Baker House.
On the right: Chairs in the dorms - Designed so that it’s safe to rock your chair?
(Interesting fact: Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, designed the building and furniture. He furthered that all students like to rock their chairs. So decided to design the chairs as such so that it is safe and also more durable. A lot of the furniture at Bakers are still the original from many years ago.)
View of Charles River from dorm
View of Baker House from Charles River
Solar compactor recycling bin:
User can just dump plastic, aluminum, glass and etc. inside without sorting out the materials of the containers (food must be emptied out though).
The MIT dome. Notice how the u's are written as v’s
Sundial clock face. Will parallax error affect the reading?