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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

13/101 Things To Do Before You Graduate by Anna H. '14

2 of my favorite days at MIT, to date.

Bloggers of old have written about the “101 Things To Do Before You Graduate” list. See here, here, and here, for example. To summarize: during orientation, every freshman receives a list of 101 things to do before they graduate, which they can

(a) keep with them as they go through their four years at MIT,
(b) leave in the closet for all four years, then pull it out when they graduate to use as a reminiscing tool, or
(c) lose immediately, if they’re me.

My friend Daniel ’12, on the other hand, used his list as a placemat for his jade plants. He pulled it out after finals, and realized that he still had 26 items left. In case you think this would be an easy thing to do in the two weeks between finals and graduation, take a look at what he had left:

Run a bridge loop
Take a class at Harvard or Wellesley
Go clubbing on Landsdowne Street
Buy clothes at the Garment district
Ride a swan boat in Boston Common
Take a Duck or Trolley Tour
Try some New England clam chowder
Walk the Freedom Trail
Go on a Boston Harbor Cruise
Check out the New England Aquarium
Visit the top of the Prudential Center
See a show at the Museum of Science
Ice skate on Frog Pond
Go shopping on Newbury Street
See a Red Sox game in Fenway
Go to Faneuil Hall
Get funnel cake in Downtown Crossing
Go on an MIT snowriders ski trip
Get a discount on Bose products
Visit Singing Beach at Manchester-by-the-Sea
Play DDR in the Game Room
Go rock climbing in Dupont
Check out the MIT Museum
Enjoy some Despina’s pizza after 1 am
Take free sailing lessons at the Sailing Pavilion
Earn your degree.
Um.
The first thing you should notice is that “the two weeks before finals and graduation” is officially too late to do some of these things. Take a class at Harvard or Wellesley, for example. Ice skate on Frog Pond.
The next thing you should realize is that some of these things are outdated. There is no longer a rock climbing wall in Dupont. Despina’s pizza is now called Cafe 47. “The Game Room” by La Verde’s (an on-campus grocery store) is now just has a bunch of tables and chairs.
…challenge accepted. Daniel and I put our heads together and did 13 of them in 2 days (MIT students are experts at getting a lot of stuff done at the very last minute):
Run a bridge loop
Ride a swan boat in Boston Common
Try some New England clam chowder
Walk the Freedom Trail
Go on a Boston Harbor Cruise
Check out the New England Aquarium
Visit the top of the Prudential Center
See a show at the Museum of Science
Ice skate on Frog Pond
Go shopping on Newbury Street
Go to Faneuil Hall
Get funnel cake in Downtown Crossing
Go rock climbing in Dupont
What’s that? You’re dying to find out how we managed to ice skate on Frog Pond? Great!
Day 1
We drove to Boston Common (a big beautiful park right smack in the middle of the city), got lunch, then walked to Chinatown. First stop: buy some fish. I walked up to a very nice hairdresser, who spoke next to no English, to ask for directions.
Me: Hello! Would you happen to know where we can buy some fish?
Lady: ?
Me: Um…buy some fish?
Lady: ?
Me: Fish?
Lady: ?
Me: Fish.
Lady: OHHH!
She smiled and pointed to a blue awning further down the street. We walked into the store, went up to the counter, and spoke with the very nice fishmonger who spoke next to no English.
Me: Hello! Would you happen to sell any skate?
Man: ?
Me: Um…skate?
Man: ?
Daniel pulled out his iPhone and looked up the Chinese character for “skate.” He showed it to the fishmonger.
Man: OHHH!
He pointed to a piece of meat that apparently came from something like this:
Something worth mentioning: my only real phobia in the whole world is of dying fish. Not dead fish, not live fish: dying fish. Flopping fish. So, when the guy behind the counter slapped a LIVE FISH (not the skate; this was for some other customer) onto the scale and let it flop around, I booked it away to the store’s candy section and hid, shivering. Daniel came to fetch me after buying the skate.
Armed with a piece of skate, we walked to Boston Common, and found a lemonade stand. Daniel bought a Coke, and I asked for ice.
Armed with the skate, and the ice, we walked to Frog Pond…and iced the skate.
Yeah. That happened. And I’d like to point out that this is a totally legitimate reading of “Ice skate on Frog Pond.” They should have written it “Go ice skating on Frog Pond.”
After the ice skating icing skate adventure, we took a Swan Boat ride.
We wrapped up the day by walking the Freedom trail and eating funnel cake at Downtown Crossing, before driving back to campus in time for a trip to Cape Cod with a bunch of other French House friends.
When we got back to MIT, we had one day to:
Run a bridge loop
Try some New England clam chowder
Go on a Boston Harbor Cruise
Check out the New England Aquarium
Visit the top of the Prudential Center
See a show at the Museum of Science
Go shopping on Newbury Street
Go to Faneuil Hall
Go rock climbing in Dupont
Day 2
The bridge loop we decided to run starts along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. We broke it into four chunks:
(1) Along Memorial Drive (the Cambridge side of the Charles River), from the Harvard Bridge to the Longfellow Bridge.
(2) Across the Longfellow Bridge.
(3) Along the Promenade (the Boston side of the Charles River), from the Longfellow Bridge to the Harvard Bridge.
(4) Across the Harvard Bridge.
We started the day by running (1) and (2). (2) brought us to the Museum of Science, where we sprinted into the building one minute before the show started. After the show, we ran (3), then ate lunch and walked to Newbury Street, where I bought a pair of earrings. After that, we noticed that we were near the Prudential Center, so we went inside, ate some clam chowder, then took the elevator to the top and immediately returned to the ground floor when we realized that one has to pay a ridiculous entrance fee up there. Whatever. We still got to the top!
After visiting the Pru, we got on the T (the Boston subway system) to go to the aquarium. After spending about an hour in the aquarium, we took a Harbor Cruise, before walking through Faneuil Hall and returning to the T stop on the other side of the river. We ran (4), completing the bridge loop.
We then walked to Dupont (the MIT gym) – Daniel brought a rock with him, and climbed it.
And that was that. The next day, I said goodbye to all my senior friends and left Boston for the summer. I hear that Daniel borrowed a friend’s DDR equipment and set it up in what used to be the “game room.” He and our friend Davie went to Landsdowne Street and hit each other with clubs (the playing card) since they didn’t feel like actually going clubbing. Our friends Adrienne and Ben went to Harvard with him, and taught him to play Munchkin: a card game in which “taking a class” means becoming a wizard or a thief or something like that. Ben stacked the deck so that Daniel would start by taking a class, because he didn’t want the game to last too long. Adrienne gave Daniel a sailing lesson.
Yeah, some of this was cute and creative – but I’d measure the success by how fun it was. Embarrassing ourselves at Frog Pond (we got all kinds of weird looks from people, as you can probably imagine), running around the Museum of Science, going on a boat ride, seeing the aquarium – all of those seem like perfect ways to spend one’s last few days in Boston and at MIT.
I still have two more years to finish that list. I’ve decided to make it a personal goal for that list to be no different from “101 times that my friends and I did something awesome”: each of those items is basically an excuse to go and have a good day.
About two weeks ago, all of my “senior” friends did #101: they earned their degrees and graduated. Congratulations, you guys! I’m torn between missing you dearly and being excited for the world, now that you’re out in it. And thank you, Daniel, for the adventure.