East Campus was home. I would talk to my friends at other colleges, and they each had tales about struggling to find a friend group, to click with their hallmates. They worried about being too insular — they became friends with the 5 random people they shared a suite with, and that was about it.
Not so was my experience at East Campus at MIT.
Immediately upon finishing EC Rush, First East was my family. They wanted to like me, for me to be involved in their community. I didn’t have to prove anything, or be anyone in particular. I was living on First East, so I was family. And because there was a rush process, we weren’t just 10 random freshmen with 30 other random people. Each of us had chosen East Campus and First East had chosen us — by and large, anyways. So we all had a feeling that we truly belonged on First East. It wasn’t purely happenstance.
I cannot express how much this supported me during the challenge that is undergrad at MIT. To know that at the end of the day — I had a home to go home to. Not some random dorm when all my friends lived elsewhere. Not a lonely apartment where I didn’t know my neighbors. Home, where people I knew and loved would be laughing in the lounge and ready to eagerly welcome me into the conversation. Even if I felt beat down by my classes, or filled with angst about my life’s direction, I always had a comfortable and friendly place to return to at the end of the day.
And despite the selective Rush process, I found real diversity on my little 40-person hall. International students, different religions, different life experiences and viewpoints all coexisted and became part of my education. Having equal representation of sophomores, juniors, and seniors on hall added to this. I didn’t have to seek out upperclassmen to get advice — they were part of my family!
Even now, 3.5 years after leaving MIT, my hallmates will still get together once a year for a “hall reunion” somewhere around the country. We live in Texas, Seattle, Boston, California… but we’re still family.