Day one, again.
Campus is different than before. The doors don’t always open. Everybody wears masks. Many of my friends are gone, off to new adventures in far-flung cities. Most who are still around are the ones who stepped away from MIT during the pandemic, like me.
I’m taking mostly computer science classes this year, but today I only have a single lecture, one on artificial intelligence, and none of my recitations are holding sessions today. In the morning, I realize this means I can sit in whatever other courses I want for the remainder of the day.
Today, in artificial intelligence, we mostly go over the syllabus. AI (6.034) is interesting. AI is required. I’m probably going to take AI.
Then I head to Abstract Algebra (18.701), even though I learned it during my time away from MIT. I didn’t think my algebra class was very rigorous, and in an ideal world, I would take it again. But it probably doesn’t fit in my schedule, and it doesn’t fulfill any requirements. I walk into the classroom and a bunch of people wave at me. Most are from the First-Year Pre-Orientation Program I was a counselor for. I find it amusing that I’m in the same math class as them.
In this class, I also bump into one of my friends I took real analysis with. Afterwards, we get lunch at Starbucks and she tells me about her gap year, which she spent managing a pottery studio on an island in Washington. It sounds extremely cool. She’s working on her writing thesis now. I wish I could do a thesis, but again, it doesn’t fit in my schedule, and besides, I’m not a writing major.
I sit in a graduate-level cryptography class that is pretty cool, but I can sense that I’d have a much better experience with another year of mathematical maturity and computer science experience. Maybe I’ll take it next year, if I stay for my master’s degree. Or maybe it’ll just remain another what-if, something that I wasn’t able to make space for.
I go to a graduate-level graph theory class that is not as interesting. I did graph theory research this past summer and I suspect my patience for this subject has waned. I leave halfway through and visit the computer science office to discuss my prospects of double-majoring. They ask me to sign up for an appointment online.
Then I find my other friend in Hayden courtyard. The sun is hot upon our heads. We talk about classes. He’s cross-registering at Harvard; I always wanted to take an art history class there, but never found time for it. He’s graduating at the end of this semester. He doesn’t yet know what he’ll do afterwards.
I walk back to my living group. It’s the end of my last first day of undergrad. There are many opportunities I will never be able to explore. There are so many people who are already gone, and so many who will be gone soon. Still, I am so full of brightness.