Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Abby H. '20

I Survived Week 1 and All I Got Was 10 Lousy T-Shirts by Abby H. '20

a pack rat’s post-orientation reflections on miscellany

You know, it’s not every day that a person chooses to move to a completely new place full of strangers and challenges and legends and horror stories. “Not every day” for me was a few weeks ago when I landed in this little New England town that you probably haven’t heard of.

Enter freshman year at MIT. But wait, don’t enter yet; you still have about a week’s worth of orientation events that you really should go to. Why? To enhance your understanding of the resources available to you as a new member of the MIT community. No really, why? Because of the free stuff, obviously.

Here’s a brief inventory of some of the notable mementos I’ve acquired so far.

A statement button: For those into feminist think pieces as well as for those who may have never given a second thought to issues of gender imbalance in STEM fields, Women’s and Gender Studies offered up a whole bowl of pins such as this one at the Academic Expo.

T-shirts, glorious T-shirts: I may have exaggerated a bit in the title. In reality, I’ve only accumulated five shirts so far. That’s still five extra days of outfits that weren’t in my suitcase when I got here.

A chunk of a car: What better cathartic release of your pre-college frustrations than a good ol’ fashioned car bash? At this rush event, people from all walks of life (e.g., walking from main campus to this parking lot, just walking by, quickly walking away from the destruction) were given the opportunity to attack an innocent car with crowbars and sledgehammers. I was hit in the ankle by a piece of plastic shrapnel. 10/10 would recommend.

Art (?): If you haven’t heard about it yet, there’s this really cool thing that happened at the MIT List Visual Arts Center called the Student Loan Art Program. Through this program, over 500 individual pieces of art were available to be hung in MIT students’ living spaces or offices. Students view and rank the pieces, and a lottery determines with whom each piece will spend the 2016-2017 academic year.

Tennis ball*: This fuzzy yellow spherical thing was abandoned in the bushes near the tennis courts, and I took it because I needed shelf decoration. You know who plays a lot of sports? The answer is MIT students. In fact, I have yet to see an empty tennis court on any of my walks to or from MacGregor. So kudos to having a sound body and sound mind. Mens et manus, guys.

*Alpaca not included.

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, second dessert…: I bought a box of granola bars the first day I was here because I thought I would need something to hold me over until I could buy regular food. That box of granola bars is still sitting on my shelf. Why? This place doesn’t let you starve. Between REX events and orientation meals and generous upperclassmen, your options are far from limited.

STICKERS!: Are you really a college student if your laptop isn’t covered in these? These are just a few that I was able to find in my desk drawer. If stickers aren’t your thing, there were also plenty of buttons (see above), magnets, and little pockets for your ID that stick to your phone. But let’s be honest—stickers are everyone’s thing.

An enthusiastic view of the next four years: Yes, this post has a point. I’m not just showing off all the cool stuff I got from orientation. People have this weird habit of dehumanizing places like MIT. In fact, it’s the humans that make this place so great. All the 2020s starting this year are regular people. In four years, most of us will still be regular people, just with snazzy degrees and bulky metal rings. Orientation is more of a process than an event; sure, the main goal is to get the frosh acclimated to what they need to do and how they can go about doing it, but the more abstract purpose relates to getting us in the appropriate mental state to start our respective journeys. At least that’s what I, a fellow freshman, think this was all about.

So am I ready to dive in? Probably not, but I think so.