Even though I just finished my first year at MIT, this is actually my second summer in Cambridge. Two years ago, when I was a rising high-school senior, I enrolled in Harvard’s Secondary School Program for four weeks during the summer. Unfortunately, the science options for the summer were sort of lacking…so, instead, I signed up for an art history class. Specifically, a class on medieval prayer books.
Why? Well, for one thing, I’d already spent the previous two summers taking an immunology course at Northwestern and an engineering course at Notre Dame, so I was ready to try something a little more humanities-oriented. And perhaps even more importantly, I’ve always had a fascination with books – especially really old ones.
So if I wasn’t in my dorm room, exploring Harvard Square, or secretly visiting MIT (more on that in a sec), you’d probably find me poring over some musty old tome in the Harvard library. Pretty sweet deal. As it happened, because my dorm room was on the first floor, I had a great view of the tourists and visitors that constantly streamed through Harvard Yard…some of whom, amusingly enough, insisted on peering into my room. I guess they thought I was a real Harvard student or something. :)
The interesting thing about all this is, when I look back, I credit that four-week stint at Harvard as the primary reason I started thinking seriously about going to MIT. It’s sort of contradictory – how many people go to summer school at Harvard and come back in love with MIT? – but I couldn’t help it. The reason I visited MIT is another story in and of itself – but basically, a few weeks before I shipped out to Harvard, I was participating in the National Science and Humanities Symposium. Although the Symposium was a great experience for many reasons, the truly memorable event (for me, anyway) was the keynote speech after the awards ceremony – which was given by none other than MIT Professor Mary Cummings. After her speech, I went up to Prof. Cummings and, after explaining that I was going to be be in Cambridge during the summer, asked if she would be willing to let me visit her lab.
To my eternal gratitude, she said yes. So one weekend, I snuck out of Harvard Yard to take the No. 1 bus up to MIT, where I was given a personal tour of the Humans and Automation Lab (HAL). Even though I wasn’t really interested in majoring in Course 16, I still loved every minute of it. In particular, I really enjoyed being able to talk to the undergraduate students in the lab, whose passion for their research was blatantly obvious, even to me. I will never forget that they were all extremely wiling and eager to share their experiences and excitement with me, even though I wasn’t even an MIT student.
(I also can’t forget getting lost on the way to Stata so I could listen to the official information session – which I think was given by the inestimable Matt McGann, but I’m not really sure because I [gasp!] didn’t know who he was then. So let’s not talk about that. I would like to point out, however, that I was the only one at the information session who didn’t have a parent or other guardian with them, which made me feel very adult.)
But I’ve wandered – oratorically speaking – all the way from the Fourth of July to HAL to “Daisy“…woops, wrong HAL. Anyway, let’s get back to the Fourth.
Two years ago, my Harvard friends and I spent the Fourth of July on the Esplanade, a beautiful park along the Charles River (which forms the southern border of MIT, separating it from Boston). We got there early enough to have a great view of the fireworks, and thanks to the great sound system we had no trouble hearing the Boston Pops’ annual concert (including their extraordinary rendition of the 1812 Overture). I even managed to find an old picture we had someone take of us.
The Hollis North crew: James (Haverford ’11), Gary (Harvard ’11), Me! (MIT ’11), Lindsay (USC ’11), Abbey (UPenn ’11), Emily (New Hampshire ’11), Jon (Columbia ’11) Eric (Brown ’11), Gabriella (Yale ’11), Andy, Liz (USC ’11)
Now, two years later, I’m back in Boston for the Fourth, as an MIT student, and I couldn’t be any happier. I’m working on a great UROP, I have plenty of fun projects to spend my spare time on (learning LaTeX, teaching myself Python, working on the next edition of HowToGAMIT, and more), and a lot of my closest friends are still in town as well. And now that I’m not a freshman anymore, I can live with my fraternity brothers at Skullhouse… and enjoy the fireworks from an entirely new perspective: our roof!
And of course, what would fireworks be without friends and brothers to watch them with?
My former dorm-mate Chris Moses ’09 and I pose with some of Chris’ friends.
Skullhouse summer residents Rebecca ’10 and Mindy ’10 brought some “liquid refreshment.”
Brent ’10 and Kathleen ’10 baked an apple pie, which – needless to say – was soon devoured by my ravenous brothers and our equally ravenous guests.
The triumphant chefs pose.
They saved some for me! (I polished it off quickly.)
Scott ’08 looks longingly into the distance.
Tamma (Wellesley ’08) and Dan ’09 share a smile.
Trip ’09 and Jackie ’09 (of Alpha Chi Omega) are happy to be “famous” on the MITblogs.
Amusingly, when I texted my parents that I was on my fraternity’s roof, my mom’s immediate response was: “Step away from the railing and call me when you’re inside!” :)
I love fireworks. :)