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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

Finding My Way Around MIT (Guest Entry) by Paul B. '11

CPW was so hugely difficult to take in all at once that it's hard to sum it all up in one blog post.

by Rena Katz

CPW was so hugely difficult to take in all at once that it’s hard to sum it all up in one blog post, much like it’s hard to condense your life into 500 words for the admissions office. But I shall try.

I arrived at CPW on Friday morning and went to the opening lecture. Amy Smith gave an excellent presentation about some of the challenges of living in developing countries and how people could help. She talked about tools and devices that were redesigned to be inexpensive enough for people to afford. A major challenge for many people is finding fuel, usually wood, which smokes and leads to disease. Ms. Smith and her team developed a method of producing charcoal bricks out of natural waste materials in the communities that needed fuel. She works with students on projects that really do help people, which I think is a fantastic thing to be involved in.

For lunch on Friday, I met my awesome friend Daniel and a new friend named Rebecca. We sat in on a geology class which had videos of lava flowing, exploding, and making “pillows” and streams. After getting some free food, we sat in on a 8.02 class (Electricity and Magnetism physics). It had PowerPoint slides on screens all over the room, and the professor could ask questions for the students to answer with clicker remotes, which is what makes it a TEAL (Technology-Enabled Active Learning) class. I’m not sure if the TEAL would help me learn better, but it’s an interesting idea. We got to see sparks. Lots of them. Big ones. The best demonstration was a giant switch connected to a giant inductor. A volunteer closed the switch, but nothing happened. You could practically see that inductor snickering to itself, just waiting. When the student opened the switch, there was a HUGE green spark. The student just sat there like he sees huge random green sparks every day – who knows? Maybe he does. The inductor was a little disappointed that no one ran screaming out of the room. I also saw Snively, but he disappeared before I could say hi.

Bouncy balls. Falling from the sky. What more can be said?

I guess we showed up too late for Meet the Bloggers, since there weren’t many people left. I got to talk to Ben Jones, who is more awesome in person, if that’s possible. I thanked him for setting up such a great admissions process/website/blogs. I really feel that MIT cares about its prefrosh and wants to help as much as possible, and I appreciate that very much. Thanks to all the admissions officers!

I stayed in a suite in Burton 5. My host Sara and her suitemates were very nice. I even got to sleep in a bed instead of the floor I was expecting.

My absolute favorite view near Boston is the multicolored lights of Boston reflected in the Charles River at night, especially if you are high enough so the buildings don’t get in the way. We were going to go see Baker House, but we ended up at East Campus, where they were telling stories of some of the hacks that MIT has done over the years. Luckily, we saw no zombies, but we would have been well prepared thanks to the chainsaw hack that Snively and prefrosh already blogged.

Random Hall had pancakes at 2:17 in the morning. In fact, they had lots of, well, random activities at :17 past the hour. Seventeen is supposed to be the most random number because people will pick 17 most often when they choose a random number between 1 and 20. Random Hall’s funniest activity was a nerf gun war. They set up the couches to make forts so ten people could fire foam darts at each other, which we did with much drama and laughter. The practical people would crouch behind the couches and wait, and the more daring would leap over to the other side and try to shoot people before they could reload their guns. It was even more funny when the guns didn’t work. Best quote of the night: “You shouldn’t remember from this that MIT is awesome, but that I am awesome.”

When I got to MIT, I felt like a prefrosh, probably because I am one. I had a sleeping bag, very little idea where to go, and I didn’t know anyone. On the morning that I left MIT, I had a geeky sweatshirt, I knew my way around campus, and I could hardly tell who was a prefrosh and who was a student. CPW assimilates prefrosh into MIT culture. On the first day, I was an “it”, a prefrosh, a visitor. When I left, people knew my name. I had random conversations all weekend. Everywhere, every time, there was always someone who would say hello, whether it was 8:30 AM in the student center or 8 PM at Battle of the Bands or 2 AM at Random Hall. I don’t like everything about MIT, but that’s because there is so much diversity in the people, the living groups, and the activities. I’m confident that I can find a niche where I fit in. It was a great feeling to eat breakfast before leaving on Sunday and realize that I’ll be back in Cambridge in the fall.

4 responses to “Finding My Way Around MIT (Guest Entry)”

  1. Davorama says:


    When we passed the chainsaw during a campus tour, our guide just nonchalantly said – hack, in case of zombie attack.

  2. penguinator says:

    Whooo! go Rena… you make me jealous =P

  3. Judy '12 says:

    I could use that chainsaw for a nice Halloween decoration on my front porch ^__~ Clever

  4. MIT mom says:

    Can we see a picture of you in your geeky sweatshirt?
    Your friend Daniel sounds awesome.
    I am very happy you chose MIT.
    Good luck to you and the rest of the class of 2012!