I started writing about my feelings for East Campus and my hall more than a week ago. I have a huge amount that I want to say and more emotions to share than I have words to cover. But I’ve been reminded that my post isn’t useful to others if I never finish it, so for now, I’m making myself write. The product might be imperfect and incomplete, but there is no way I can roll some of the most complex and wonderful years of my life into a neat package of essay, so I accept that.
My current task: write as much as I can before my laptop battery dies. (I could, of course, plug in my computer, but where then lies the challenge?)
The problem with that task: how?
How do I build a wide enough web of words to express the degree to which I love this place? It was here that I learned what it means to fall in love. What I’m referring to here is not romantic love; I mean the extent to which I have found a second family here. I grew up happily in a family I love dearly, but to find another and be old enough to feel and watch it happening has been incredible. There are multiple people on my hall I have told that I would be happy spending my life living within 100 ft of, and I’m not kidding. Though my years of school before college were a mixed bag socially, there were definitely good times. Deciding to come to MIT was an incredibly difficult decision for me partly because I was leaving everyone I knew behind. There were people in high school who were my friends and with whom I liked spending time. (Now there are people in my life who are my friends, whom I live with, whom I spend time with and study with and joke and around with and punch out of affection; in short, whom I love.)
One of the things that I realized before coming to MIT was that as great as my friends were, they got royally bored in hardware stores. This isn’t a big deal; I didn’t usually hang out with my friends in hardware stores. But hardware stores are awesome, and the people I live with now also think that they are awesome. This sounds like a silly example, but in the May after my senior year of high school, shortly after I’d accepted my spot at MIT, I went to a hardware store with my friends, and that is when I convinced myself that moving was going to give me a chance to meet people even more awesome than I knew then—people who thought that hardware stores were cool. And so when halfway through my freshman year I found myself walking around in a hardware store with others from my hall and they were as enthralled as I, I knew that I had made the correct choices in life. I knew that I was coming to MIT because the people here are amazing, but I really didn’t know how much so. I don’t think my imagination had space to handle it.
The summer before I moved to MIT I put in my dorm preferences. I was pretty unsure of where I wanted to live; the number of options seemed a little overwhelming. I had been temped in Random Hall for CPW and gotten along very well with my host; she had a non-trivial role in convincing me that MIT was where I wanted to go to college. One of the pieces of advice that she gave me was that I didn’t want to go to a school that had freshman-only housing, because I wanted the kind of community that mixing of years provides. At the time, this didn’t seem like a huge issue, but now I cannot imagine my life if I had lived in such a system, and it entertains me that this advice came from an upperclassman—someone I would not have gotten to know in freshmen-only housing.
Anyway, in terms of dorms within MIT, I was fairly sure I wanted to live somewhere where the residents had the chance to customize their environments—I didn’t want to feel like I was living in a hotel. I asked my parents for advice, and they suggested that I live somewhere relatively quiet, because it is easier to seek out activity than to hide from it if it is annoying. I thought about this, and then basically ignored it and decided I wanted to live in EC. I figured that I could always choose one of the quieter halls and everything would be fine. Then came fall, and the time to select halls. I debated long and hard, and then put Tetazoo as my first choice. When I saw the housing assignments and my name next to a room on Tetazoo, I wondered if I had made a mistake. Tetazoo does not exactly have the reputation of being a quiet hall, and I was a shy freshman, and….. I don’t think I’ve wondered that since that morning. This is where I want to live, and I can’t imagine a place I’d be happier.
Thus far I have focused on the wonderful parts of my MIT life, and it would be dishonest to pretend that it is always like that. MIT can be brutal. I came in as someone who had never really struggled with academics. I had never had the chance to test my limits, and I didn’t know what it meant to hit them. And now I do—there are only so many hours in a day, and there are an incredible number of awesome things to do. From my projects to my friends’ projects to my hall’s projects, from rock climbing to hiking to canoing to canyoneering, from doing research to being a hall chair, there are always awesome things to occupy my time. I’m also not good at limiting my interests when it comes to classes—
I am double majoring in materials science and physics, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to take classes from other courses. So in short, I’m really good at over-committing. And being overcommited can feel good for a while, before you start drowning in things to do. And just in general, sometimes life is hard. And when life is hard when you’re over-committed, it’s… hard. I’ve learned that at MIT. MIT has seen me at my worst and my best. EC has seen me at my worst and my best. My hall and my friends have seen me at my worst and my best. And honestly, looking back, I don’t think I want it any other way. There are some lessons that MIT has taught me that it might have been nice to learn a little more gently, of course, but such is life. And the thing that has kept me going through all of it is my hall. There are upperclassman when I need advice and friends of all ages when I need someone to talk to or sit with or go for a walk with. There are people who love me unconditionally whom I can talk to about any of my problems, no matter how dumb I was to cause them. If I have to deal with difficult issues, this is the place where I want to and these are the people among whom I want to. They will accept me and support me and help me learn and grow. I could go on for pages and not have finished talking about why I appreciate the people I live with, but I guess this will have to do.
My friends have helped me with my psets, given me life advice, and taught me to melt my gummy bears before I eat them (they’re better that way, I promise). I’ve learned more in my two years so far at MIT than I would have ever thought possible, about more things than I would have ever expected to learn. I’ve woken up and walked out of my room and been stopped by questions about everything from the rigging of climbing ropes to finer points of quantum physics. I’ve learned to associate the noise of incoherent yelling with home and happiness, safety and comfort. If I come back from a trip and don’t get tackled in greeting I’m disappointed. There’s a set of songs I will never hear without thinking of East Campus, my hall, and my family here. And I couldn’t ask for better.
So I guess that that counts as writing about my feelings. It may be rambly or patchy and it is certainly incomplete, but it’s true and that’s the part that I care about most. (For the record, my laptop died before the last paragraph and this statement, but I thought concluding was worth it.)