Let’s flash back to a sunny weekend in April, where the grills of MIT were loaded with burgers day and night and prefrosh roamed free across campus (along with one gigantic beaver we all know). Campus Preview Weekend, or CPW as it’s often written, was a scene that had unfolded in many of my dreams, and senior-year-me couldn’t be happier to be there. I was seeing campus through rosy colored glasses, and because I had already decided that MIT was the place for me, I spent my weekend traversing the various dorms and houses to decide where I actually wanted to live for the next four years.
Now, there’s definitely no way to get the full breadth of what each community has to offer in just three days, but you can certainly get the gist of it. By the end of the first day, I was already infatuated with the grey gridded building with grey walls and ball pits and far too many windows (which I won’t name, but you can probably guess). It fulfilled every point on the mental checklist that made up my housing choices. I envisioned years going by there, sunsets passing through the tiny windows and shining on scattered notes and chalk drawings on curved, concrete walls.
When Day Two rolled along, a metaphorical wrench was thrown into my gears of Decision Making. A friend, desperate to see each and every single dorm, suggested that we cross over to the other side of campus and visit the last one on her list: Senior House. I hadn’t been to East Campus at all in my short time so far, and had no reason to. The distance and the rumors were enough to keep me away. But, with nothing better to do, I went with her on a whim to what became the source of my wrench.
We got to the building after what felt like miles of walking (it was only a little over half), and stayed for just about fifteen minutes before heading back into the safety of West Campus. We saw murals of abstract art and doors with cats painted on them (no actual cats sadly). At the time, I couldn’t exactly understand what was happening in my thoughts, but something inside me had changed after that moment, and the scenery of all my future MIT dreams was suddenly… different. There was a strange pull that kept me awake the nights before the Housing Lottery was released. From a future perspective, I know exactly what had happened: I found my home in a place I’d never even bothered to consider before.
Now flash forward to present day: I couldn’t be any happier with my choice to live in Senior Haus. I have found a community of people who are so amazing and caring and creative in so many ways that I can’t even begin to put into more complex words, and I can’t imagine being happy anywhere else. I know that whenever I’m too bogged down from the stress of incoming PSets and tests, I’ll have people (and cats!) to support me, whether they’re other students, GRTs, or even our housemaster. More than that, I know that this is the place where I can grow, in all sorts of ways (in just two weeks of living here, I’ve painted my room for the first time in my life and I’ve cooked more than once in a month!). The culture and its openness truly make this dorm unlike any other. As for specifics on that, you’ll just have to come and find out yourself (did someone say Naked Brunch?)
All in all, the word “home” can’t be defined by a set of arbitrary checklists or shiny, new facilities. It’s that feeling of calm when you suddenly step into the building and see the people you brush your teeth beside every morning sorting out packages behind the desk. It’s that feeling of warmth when you walk through the hallways covered in murals and you remember why you love this place so much. It’s feeling all of this despite what anyone thinks of it (even your own parents). We don’t come to MIT to stay in our bubbles, we come to expand them. That’s not to say that you can’t find your home in the grey sponge, just that it wasn’t in my personal definition. Checking off boxes is easy, comfortable. But actually letting yourself feel, that’s much harder to comprehend. It might seem tough at first, following the heart rather than the mind (this is a school of logical thinkers, after all), but it is so, so worth it.
And finally, a sneak peak into the life, via polaroids: