My Life: An Update

It has been a while since I wrote my last essay and my readers have started to worry. Sorry for being out of touch, but let me tell you what is going on in my life.

In September I received an offer from MIT that changes my status there. In exchange for a slight increase in pay, I am now conducting recitations (supplemental seminars) in linear algebra In addition to my previous responsibilities.

My readers will know that just a slight increase in money in exchange for significant demands on my time would not appeal to me. But this offer comes with perks. First, my position at MIT changes from an affiliate to a lecturer, which looks so much better on my CV. Second, it includes benefits, the most important of which is medical insurance.

I lived without insurance for three years. On the bright side, lack of insurance made me conscious of my health. I developed many healthy habits. I read a lot about the treatments for colds and other minor problems that I had. On the other hand, it is a bit scary to be without insurance.

Many people are surprised to hear that I didn’t have any insurance: Doesn’t Massachusetts require medical insurance for everyone?

The Commonwealth levies a fine on those who do not have insurance. But I was in this middle bracket in which my income was too high for a subsidized plan, and too low to be fined. You see, the fine is dependent on one’s income and is pro-rated. So I didn’t have to pay it at all.

I got my insurance from MIT in October, but ironically my doctor’s waiting list is so long, that my first check-up will not be until January.

Anyway, I sort of have four jobs now. I am coaching students for math competitions at the AMSA charter school six hours a week. I am the head mentor at the RSI summer program where I supervise the math research projects of a dozen high school students. I do the same thing for the PRIMES program, in which I have the additional responsibility of mentoring my own students. And as I mentioned, I am also teaching two recitation groups in linear algebra at MIT.

Teaching linear algebra turned out to be more difficult than I expected. I love linear algebra, but I had to learn the parts of it that are related to applications and engineering. Plus, I didn’t know linear algebra in English. And my personality as a perfectionist didn’t help because to teach linear algebra up to my standards would have taken more time than I really had.

This semester I barely had time to breathe, and I certainly couldn’t concentrate on essay pieces. Now that this semester is almost over, my as yet unwritten essays are popping up in my head. It’s nice to be back.



  1. Gregory Marton:

    Welcome back, and glad to hear of all the good developments! Congratulations!

  2. Tanya Khovanova:

    Thanks, Grem.

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