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A head-and-shoulders illustrated portrait of Ceri Riley. She is smiling with her mouth closed, has light skin, and long light pink hair.

Going Home by Ceri Riley '16

... but where exactly is that?

I’m currently sitting in the SeaTac airport, waiting for my flight back to Boston that’s been delayed for ~2 hours. One part of me is ecstatic to get back to campus after a much needed break, to see my MIT friends again and thoroughly enjoy IAP. But another part of me is mourning my early departure from the west coast while my closest high school friends remain here for another couple of weeks. That, and my family will be going to Seahawks playoff game(s) while I’m stuck yelling at a TV about 3,051 miles away.

I think if you were to ask me point blank, “Where is home?” I would say Kirkland, Washington. It’s where I’ve spent most of my life, where my family is and I return for the holidays, where I can get behind the wheel after six months of no driving and navigate the roads by a map carved into my memory. A home base, if you will; a place where I’ll always be able to return no matter where my adventures take me.

And because of this sense of stability, this idea that I’ll always have somewhere safe in the world, I’ve never been that afraid of uprooting my life and continuing to grow elsewhere. The idea of flying 6 hours (+/- the 3 hour time zone shift) away from everywhere I’ve known was far less frightening than the idea of finding out my careful college decision was wrong–that MIT was not the right school for me, after all.

Establishing MIT as a second home hasn’t been the easiest idea to pound into my often-stubborn brain, to be honest. I didn’t immediately have the “IHTFP” (of the paradise-variety) mentality. This past semester, especially, made me question my motivation, talent, future goals, mental health, and decision to stay enrolled in an expensive school while my parents are funding my education. While the strong friendships I’ve forged over the past year and a half are a wonderful support system, I spent a lot of time introspectively thinking what I, personally, needed/wanted from a school and as a next stage in life. And I’m still not sure I have an answer.

What I did decide:

  1. my friends here are awesome and I wouldn’t trade them for anything; they’re what make me laugh and remember to adventure and miss the school (for example, in a single day post-finals there was derpy reindeer piñata-making–his name is Clarence–and spontaneous snowman construction, both pictured below)
  2. MIT’s very very flexible policy on switching majors is wonderful and I shouldn’t be afraid to experiment
  3. you don’t have to emerge from this school as an engineer… especially at the cost of your happiness (cannot stress this enough)
  4. anywhere can become a home if you’re ready to accept it as one (cheesy, yes, but also true)


Anyway, my flight is boarding in approximately 5 minutes, I think I’ve hit the deep thoughts limit for this post, and I’m ready to read a couple of books and get back to my on-campus family.

Update: My flight did not actually board in approximately 5 minutes. Because of the ruthlessness of bad luck, it was cancelled and I had to stand in a line with 300 other people until 2am trying to rebook. Not because of the weather, mind you, but because the first officer didn’t show up. Oh well… back to campus as soon as possible!