Ever since I first visited MIT in the summer of 2007, I knew that the Institute was quite literally like no other place on Earth. All I did was listen to an admissions presentation, take a campus tour, visit a lab, and talk to some of the current students. I was on campus for a grand total of five, maybe six hours at most. But even those brief experiences were more enough to convince me that MIT really was different. Given that our current social structure places so much emphasis on adhering to norms and following the status quo, I was amazed to find that MIT was continually and unabashedly pushing boundaries, breaking down needless conventions, and defying expectations. This mindset has, in my opinion, produced some truly incredible results – not only in terms of the groundbreaking research and new discoveries continually happening here, but also in the sheer quality of education MIT provides.
Out of everything I have experienced at MIT – my first classes, turning in my first p-set, the clubs I’ve become part of, fraternity rush, several awesome hacks, finding a UROP, more classes, more p-sets, more studying, more researching, more everything – the aspect of MIT that I enjoy the most is, quite simply, my fellow students. (Although the research opportunities are a close second.) Put it this way: I can learn organic chemistry in roughly the same format, with only a few minor variations, almost anywhere on earth. But MIT is the only place where I can find four thousand students who have so many different and fascinating ways of viewing the world, who are just as comfortable talking about quantum physics as the latest Red Sox victories, who are so dedicated to using their talents and abilities to actually making a difference in the world.
Over the past few months, I’ve become even more convinced that the greater part of MIT’s uniqueness stems directly from the energy, diversity, and passions of the student body. I once heard someone refer to MIT as a “nerd reservation,” and in my opinion that’s absolutely true. To be sure, I haven’t met anyone who fits the stereotypical image of a dorky guy in glasses with a slide rule that pops into most people’s heads when they hear the word “nerd” – but, deep down, all of us are genuinely excited about science, math, and technology in general…otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. In that regard, nerdiness (or geekiness, or love of knowledge, or whatever you want to call it) is one of the great unifying factors at MIT. If you’re not yet convinced of that, let me present you with some select pieces of evidence.
Exhibit #1: 1024. (Think about it. Now go read this entry.)
Exhibit #2: I am, right now, wearing this shirt. I bought it because I have a terrible weakness for geeky t-shirts, and since I have penchant for the color red anyway (maybe gold would have been more appropriate for this shirt, but that’s besides the point) I decided there was no downside whatsoever. So far, approximately ten people have gone out of their way to tell me how ridiculously yet awesomely nerdy my shirt is.
Exhibit #3: The MIT blogs, as a whole. Counting this one, right now the blogs consist of precisely 2203 entries, with a grand total of over 40,000 comments. Have you read them all? (It’s like Pokemon, only several orders of magnitude greater.)