When you meet another MIT undergrad, and you’re trying to get a sense of who they are, “Where do you live?” is the first question you ask. It comes before their course, their year, or where they are from. You can learn a lot about an MIT student based on which living group they chose. Being able to find a community I love made MIT an amazing experience for me.
We’re moulded by our communities. In discussions about relationships or other personal choices, when someone asks my opinion, I often say, “Well, I grew up on Black Hole [a floor of Random Hall], so…”. Growing up on Black Hole, and on the East Side of campus more generally, ingrained in me a very strong feeling that people should be able to lead their lives in whatever way fits them so long as they’re treating others with integrity.
Random Hall was home for four years, which I sometimes left to visit my parents. Random Hall was a place where when something was wrong, I could go into a lounge and find a shoulder to cry on at three in the morning. It was the site of many cooking adventures, from making beef for 40 people on a regular basis, to pink french toast for a study break, to fried apple rings that brought together everyone who was still in the dorm a couple of days before Christmas. It’s where I met my husband. It’s where I made friends who will fly across the country just to hang out for the weekend. I was a bookworm my whole life, but pretty much stopped reading when I came to college, because at Random I could always find people to hang out with who were more fun than any book.
When I was deciding where to go for college, I had no clue what would actually end up being important. I considered none of the three most defining factors of my college experience — the student activities, the linguistics department, and (most of all) Random Hall. I feel incredibly lucky to have stumbled into the choice I made. MIT should be shouting from the rooftops (um, figuratively, I mean) about the incredible dorm culture it has allowed to flourish.