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MIT student blogger Michelle G. '18

Great Expectations by Michelle G. '18

i've never read the book, but the title seemed to fit

Expectation: There is no way I’m getting into MIT, let alone becoming a blogger.

But sometimes reality takes unexpected turns for the better.

Hi, I’m Michelle, and it’s super nice to meet you! If you didn’t notice, I’m a newborn in the blogging world, with this being my very first post. And while I think that I’m pretty much living proof that miracles can happen, I’ve learned that sometimes they don’t, and that’s totally 100% okay. Since I’ve gotten to this crazy Institvte, I’ve learned to live with the fact that most things aren’t going to turn out how you expected them to. Have a few anecdotes!!

Expectation: I start using my dorm’s facilities to exercise regularly, and start to use its cooking facilities to maintain a healthy diet with vegetables such as broccoli.

Reality: I gain the orientation 15.

The exercising thing just straight up has not happened. I have not made the effort to lift my precious little legs off my comfy little bed and move them like my biology intended for me to do. I don’t know how long my body can sustain this level of non-activity. I do not know how much longer I have. Tell my family I love them.

But really – it’s a difficult adjustment to the college lifestyle, with the food thing being a big part of the change. There are amazing places to eat all around me, and I just have all of this freedom and nobody telling me that I can’t go eat at Flour Bakery literally every day. I want to eat something? Nothing is stopping me. I want to do something? Nothing is stopping me. College, man!

Expectation: MIT doesn’t get hard until classes start.

Reality: The square dancing life is not for me :’o

Before orientation, each MIT freshman has the option to take part in a freshman pre-orientation program. So back in June, I signed up for the Freshman Arts Program (FAP), vaguely expecting something easy and relaxing to start out my MIT adventure. I met the FAP counselors outside the student center, had a few brief “so what’s your name?” interactions with other freshmen, and then journeyed over to the Walker Memorial building where we had our first official activity. An MIT alum stood up in front of everyone and started telling us that he was really into square dancing and that he was going to teach us a few moves. Okay, I think I can handle that.

But no. No, no, no, no, no – it was so hard! I don’t know if it was just me or what, but I kept fumbling around and messing up the dance moves so badly that I just decided to give up. I think that a lot of people assumed I was intentionally doing the wrong steps, and honestly, I’m 100% okay with them thinking that. After like two hours of intense square dancing, we went for an FPOP barbecue dinner. The instructor approached me and asked how I like the dancing, and I told him that I liked it, but I wasn’t very good at it. He looked at me and laughed. “I noticed.”

(But really, FAP was fun. Do FAP!)

Expectation: I get placed into Senior House.

Reality: I get placed into Senior House, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

At most schools, I think it’s pretty simple. You get assigned your dorm and room sometime during the summer. They might be based on your preferences, and they might not, but the point is that you actually know where you’re going to be living before you get to campus. Personally, I had taken a special liking to Senior House during some of their CPW events. I thought that the residents were all really cool people, and that I would have the most fun living at this dorm. I filled out my housing request form with Senior House in the #1 spot (East Campus 2nd, Burton-Conner 3rd…) and was notified a month or two later that I had secured a spot in my first choice dorm. Room 414A. Cool!

About a week after moving in, the dorm hosted an in-house Rush event. This basically means that new residents walk around to different floors of the dorm and talk to upperclassmen about living in that area or floor. Of course, I made the mistake of neglecting this opportunity and not really knowing how the system worked, so I ended up getting moved from my room on the 4th floor to an area I like a little bit less on the 3rd floor. But, oh well, it’s fine, because all of my friends in the building are still a maximum of 2 minutes away from me. It’s a matter of “great” and “still pretty good”.

Expectation: I’ll totally get a head start at MIT with the things I learned in my AP classes.

Reality: I get to teach you all a very valuable lesson about studying for ASEs…

MIT does physics AP credit kind of strangely. You can get credit for 8.01 (Classical Mechanics) with 5s on both AP Physics C tests, but you can’t get credit for Electricity and Magnetism with those same hard-earned 5s. Instead, if you want to skip out of E&M physics, you have to pass an Advanced Standing Exam during orientation. When I learned this information, I thought to myself: easy! If I was able to get 5s on my APs and As in my classes, then I should have no problem simply passing the E&M exam. I’m not even going to bother reviewing anything that I didn’t learn in high school. Psh. Not necessary…like… at all.

Upon taking the test, I encountered a slightly different set of thoughts, including “What??? What does this mean? And why does it feel so pathetic to leave an entire question blank?” There was so much stuff on that test that I had never seen in my AP Physics class, so if you’re planning to take that ASE one day, you should make sure to prepare thoroughly during the summer using MIT material. I’m taking 8.02 (Physics E&M) this semester, and I’m excited to learn some cool new stuff, but it probably would have been cooler to be able to pass that requirement from the start. Oh well.

Expectation: I’m a big shy baby and it’ll probably take me a few months to make any new friends.

Reality: I mean I’m still a big shy baby, but that’s kind of ok

I just wanted to mention this because I’m assuming that some of you can relate to a fear of large, unfamiliar groups of people. You’ll always know those social geniuses who know just what to say in any multi-human setting, but for the rest of us, entering a new environment can be kind of a scary thing. I personally spent way too much time worrying about what kinds of impressions I would make on people, and whether they would hate me or not. Seriously, don’t worry. People are nice. People will talk to you, and you’ll laugh about something dumb together, and you’ll start to feel at home. A large group of strangers might wander into your suite and stay until dawn breaks, and you’ll have fun just by being together as you situate yourself into your home away from home. Your non-freshmen friends will offer advice on how to succeed, unless you’re me, in which case they’ll tease you about not having made a blog post yet.

But now I have. So there you go.