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MIT blogger Cami M. '23

Living in Random Hall by Cami M. '23

or: i really miss loop

Hi! Welcome to my comprehensive documentation of my time here in Random Hall. I realized that when I was browsing the blogposts, I didn’t really find a lot of recent content on Random (because Lydia was our main source of Random content) and I feel like that was partly the reason I didn’t really come to discover the quirky little dorm until the last day of CPW.

So, I’ve decided to try and take on the reigns and show my process to finding, moving in to, and living in Random Hall! It’s a mixture of the move-in process as well as just little, fun anecdotes I’ve collected over my time here in Random.

Pre Dorm Assignment

Moments after I was admitted to MIT, I rushed into a call with my boyfriend and did the first reasonable thing any excited prefrosh would do: I started researching dorms.

It’s relatively well known that, in addition to MIT’s fervent love for STEM and wacky architecture, there’s a large presence of dorm culture at MIT. In fact, it was one of the major factors of me applying and then later choosing to attend MIT.

I wanted a school with some amount of school pride, whether that be in their sports, their history, or even just their living situations.

After hours of going through i3 videos01 Videos that students create that advertise their respective dorm culture to prospective residents , I finally settled on my future home for life: East Campus.

But then I didn’t.

Because I changed my mind again in January and chose my final destination, my home of homes: MacGregor.

And then February: McCormick.

March: But what about Next??

In fact, I spiraled through all the possible dorm options for me, excluding one: Random.

In my efforts to research every single dorm possible, I ended up neglecting Random Hall, for no particular reason whatsoever. I actually think I didn’t register it was a dorm on the MIT Guide to Residence page and thought it was a hyperlink that randomized the page you landed on. Go figure.

Then came CPW, where I experienced an event that would change my living situation decision forever: The Random Hall Nekomimi Cat Cafe.

My friends and I saw the event on the CPW schedule and knew we had to go. I remember the walk down Mass Ave and thinking to myself “How far is this place?”

To people who don’t actually know what Random looks like, chances are you’ll miss it on your first initial walkthrough. I actually did. It took us a couple of minutes to realize we had missed 290 Mass Ave and we awkwardly backtracked until we stood in front of the looming, doughnut-like structure before us.

We entered, quietly and sheepishly telling the front desk we were here for the Nekomimi Cat Cafe event, to which they buzzed us in. We were greeted by upperclassmen dressed in maid costumes paired with cat ears and tails.

They told us the food was still cooking and offered us an impromptu tour of Random Hall, which we gladly accepted.

And I. Fell. In. Love.

I won’t go in to too much detail of the tour since it’s so much better to do go tour yourself, but I’ll just name a few key features that made me choose Random over every other dorm:

  • Singles, size, and cost. Aside from being the cheapest on campus dorm, there are about 12 people to each floor on Random. It’s 10 singles and 2 doubles per floor. This was Very Appealing to my introverted, privacy-needing self.
  • Three to four refrigerators per floor. Glorious, glorious food.
  • CATS CATS CATS. The second floor allows cats! here are the current loop cats:
  • Mural painting. Random Hall is full of beautiful murals and room decor.
  • Roofdeck. Random has a roofdeck that is not only beautiful, but allows for movies to be projected onto the building next to them that allows us to have fun, super cool movie nights.
  • Peapod. Random Hall utilizes a grocery delivery system, where you can order your groceries online and they’ll be delivered to the dorm once a week for free.
  • The culture. Every floor has a relatively distinct culture. Loop being the “quiet” floor, Clam loud and into gaming and anime and I’ve also overheard some kpop there too, Pecker math and experimental baking, etc.
  • The people. Cheesy, I know, but in that brief tour of Random, I met some of the kindest, nicest people. Everyone was so welcoming and so kind even though we just kind of barged into their home and asked for an unplanned tour.

After the tour, we all sat down in Foo and had some really delicious curry and I knew my mind had been made.

When the housing forms came along, I submitted Random Hall as my first choice.

Post-Dorm Assignment, Pre-Room Assignment

Around early August, our housing forms were returned to us and I, unsurprisingly, was dormed in Random. I kind of knew I would be placed in Random since it’s a relatively small, unknown dorm that many people don’t put as their first priority, unlike Maseeh or Simmons.

And then the cycle repeated itself. I called my boyfriend at the time and started researching all of the floors I could possibly live on. Should I live on the queerest, coolest, edgiest floor: Black Hole? Or should I go a bit nerdier with Pecker? But what about B O N F I R E?

But what kind of room do I want? A 1-Room? A 5-Room? What about a 3-Room?

I ultimately decided I wanted to live on Clam, the loudest, rowdiest, coolest bunch of people you’ll ever meet. And I wanted a single. I knew that for a fact.

Post-Dorm Assignment, Post-Temp-Room Assignment

But then. “Room 212.”

I was placed in a double on Loop. I remember anxiously looking up my roommate’s name, feeling incredible f e a r.

For a bit more context: On the Myer-Briggs test, I placed as an “INFJ”, scoring about 84% introverted on the extrovert-introvert scale. The prospect of having a roommate terrified me. What if they didn’t like me? What if they didn’t respect my privacy? What if I did something they didn’t like? It became panic on top of panic on top of panic.

And then I was on Loop, one of the two all women floors in Random. Another flash of panic.02 More context: I didn't really have a lot of girl friends, as I hung out mainly with guys for most of my life for reasons unknown to me. It's not that I didn't know how to hang out with girls. I love girls and I love women empowerment, but also most of the friends I've had that are girls haven't been very longlasting friendships. Would it be like a sorority? I don’t want to live in a sorority. But MIT sororities aren’t like other sororities? But large groups of women are still scary? WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE ME? AND THEY TALK BEHIND MY BACK??

At this point, I’m basically freaking out because my whole Random Hall Clam single room plan was botched.

Move In Day

I arrived to Cambridge on August 19th, but didn’t actually move in to Random until August 20th. My mom and I had Lyfted to Random Hall with my two unbelievably heavy and overpacked 50-pound bags, which seemed fine, until I remembered that Random Hall has no elevators. Luckily, the move in committee was sitting outside Random to help me move my bags in. I entered on the 290 side, where I got my room key from the desk at Foo and was led by Mark, a graduate student tutor (GRT), to my room.

Navigating Random at first was difficult. Random Hall has two sides. 290 and 282. Only the first and third floors are connected so if you want to go from Loop (second floor on the 282 side) to Black Hole (second floor on the 290 side), you either have to go up to the third floor, around and come back down, go to the first floor and do the same process, or go to the basement and roofdeck and do the same.

Mark led me up to BMF (on the third floor) and we walked through a narrow corridor to get to Clam, from where we descended down the stairs and entered kitchen-side to Loop, where lo and behold, was my room.

I tentatively entered, unsure whether Mariia was inside or not. She arrived a couple days prior to me due to international student orientation happening on August 15th.

Luckily, the room was empty. I saw she had claimed the first bunk and a bookshelf and desk for herself. I began to unpack.

A couple hours later

I didn’t actually run into Mariia until I took my friends (the same ones from the CPW!! yes! I kept my friend group!! It’s possible!!) to the Random Hall Roofdeck Movie Marathon. The movie had already started so I had to awkwardly Naruto-run across the roofdeck to try and not impair anyone’s vision, when I heard a whispered “Cami!!”

And I turned and saw Mariia, who I recognized because of Facebook stalking but also because we exchanged a couple of friendly emails.

We unfortunately didn’t talk, but it was nice to put a voice to the face.

The first two weeks (FPOP + REX)

My roommate and floor woes were eased when upperclassmen explained the rooming process to me.

Rooms given to the frosh were only temporary rooms. A couple days before official room assignment day are given to us to explore more of the floors and figure things about. Then, we would fill out a google form and would be matched with a room.

Having never cooked for myself before or ever done laundry before, I was very, very nervous. I was living off of food from my FPOP, Discover Product Design, which provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entirety of the week-long program. (Shout out DPD, I should probably do a blogpost on FPOPs eventually.) This is also the place where I befriended Aiden, who would eventually become one of my closest friends here at MIT.

I held fun, but brief, conversations with Mariia trying to get to know her a bit because I was intimidated out of my mind by her in the first week. She was a super duper cool international student from Ukraine with an interest in energy, sustainability, and mechanical engineering.

She usually arrived back to the dorm in the wee early hours of the morning so I didn’t really see her around much.

But we then started to talk more and more and I realized that she was not scary at all. I mean, she was scarily smart and talented, but in terms of actual personality, she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of befriending.

I realized that having a roommate…wasn’t all that bad. I’ll spare you the details of friendship development and the raising of our little green friendship bar like in the Sims, but we ultimately decided that we loved our room and we loved each other and we wanted to stay in the same room.

At this point, I had already explored the other floors and didn’t really feel the need to move around. Funnily enough, Loop seemed to best fit my personality and wants in a living space perfectly.

“Loop is a party floor”

Historically, Loop is known as the quiet floor in Random Hall. Quiet hours were around 10pm, as most of the floor was asleep by 11pm. Floor culture consisted of tea drinking and crocheting and Loop rarely had any non-Loop residents on the floor aside from the typical cat tourism. It was overall a very wholesome experience.

Until five frosh moved onto the floor.

Okay, so I’m not saying I’m proud of this but I will say I’m pleased because us frosh have literally slowly, but surely, changed the culture on Loop.

Average sleep time changed from 10pm to somewhere between 12am and 3am. We (respectfully) play music on speakers from time to time. Mariia and I often brought our friends over to hang out and pset.

If I had a dollar for every time an upperclassman has told me “It was not like this last year.” Well, I could probably buy myself multiple one-dollar candy bars.

Regardless, it was somewhat gratifying to see how us frosh do have some power to alter the culture of a floor. Of course, we still abide to rules and Loop is still the neatest and cleanliest floor in all of Random, if not the entire campus.

I jokingly refer to Loop culture as “holesome”, where we still maintain some semblance of good wholesome activities but when those late night hour hits it’s all over for Loop and us five frosh (mainly me, Aiden, Caroline, and Mariia. Melissa and Thao are the good frosh. And I know you might be saying: But wait Cami! That’s six frosh you just named? And one of them is a guy? Isn’t Loop an all girls floor? Just wait til the next section, buddy.)

My double becomes a triple

My friend group is heavily scattered across campus. Aiden lived in Next, Aidan lives in Simmons, Emma lives in BC, and well, Raymond’s just in Destiny (the first floor in Random on the 282 side.)

They would all often visit Random at least 3-4 times a week, with us switching off to spend time in either Simmons or BC accordingly.

But it got to the point where Aiden, who lives the farthest away, would stay the latest at Random. At first, we just told him to crash here and sleep on the lounge sofas or kitchen sofas. Sure, that’s fine.

After repeating this two more times, one of the upperclassmen came to me and told me that he should probably sleep in a room, as to not scare the floor residents when they seem a random man repeatedly sleeping on their sofas.

So, Mariia and I inflated one of the two air mattresses we received (for free from hosting two people at HackMIT!!!) and told Aiden, “This is your Home.”

At that point, Aiden practically lived here. He had spent more time on Random than he had ever spent in Next. He repeatedly cooked meals for the floor, jokingly deeming himself “The Loop Meal Plan.” Floor residents tended to him and Loved him and appreciated him. He was even added to the Snoop 2019-2020 group chat, after being given cabinet and fridge space. He soon gained the title of Resident Male on Loop, a title previously held by Mike (someone before us froshes time.)

“Snoop” became a thing because Emily decided to start putting “Sn” at the beginning of every word ever which is why we are now Snoop. There is also a snoop snailing snist and if you are ever on Snoop, you will find instances of this “Sn” language everywhere. Snit’s snuirky. (It’s quirky.)

Eventually, there became an opportunity for Snaiden to switch into Random permanently, and so Snaiden now happily sleeps on Black Hole, but he still Lives in Snoop, cooking, cleaning, and studying here. In fact, Snariia and I still have his air mattress inflated not only because we miss our son, but because he sometimes just crashes here in general.

Our room has been a triple, quad, and even quint throughout the semester, and honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Present

This blogpost has been in my drafts for a little under two months. Words cannot describe how much I love and appreciate Loop, but I’ll really try my best.

I’m sitting at my first home in California for Thanksgiving break and all I’ve been able to think about is how much I miss Random Hall. I miss walking out of my double to be greeted by Tafsia and Nadia sitting at the kitchen table, bantering and laughing and teasing. I miss the smell of Thao’s heavenly cooking that wafts through kitchen side every morning and evening. I miss being greeted by Miss Devil Cat Zella and having her wildly run around kitchen to get rid of her zoomies. I miss Michaye leading her cult of Crocheters, as they sit in lounge furiously crocheting with The Mandalorian playing in the background.

I did not expect to end up here at all. I did not expect Loop to literally house all of my friends. I did not expect to grow so attached to a place so quickly.

Even now, surrounded by my family by blood and the TV blaring this Ohio State Michigan game, I can’t help but think of my family back at MIT, who are probably either at the Z or sitting in kitchen crocheting Secret Santa gifts for each other.

I don’t know when this turned into a love letter to literally all of Loop but if one of you all happen to read this:

Living on Loop has changed my life. And I know I say that about a lot of things here, but the MIT experience is very lifechanging! I arrived as a scared, nervous frosh that was accepted and adopted by this great community of strong and intelligent women. They’ve all helped me in one way or another, whether it’s helping me choose what classes to take, giving me some Big Hard Live Advice at 2 in the morning, or even just showing me how to use the dishwasher.

I think overall it’s clear to say that our expectations are much different than the reality. When I was first accepted to MIT, I thought I’d live in a pretty single in EC. Then I thought I’d live in a cramped triple in Next.

Even after I got into Random, I was determined to live on a single in Clam.

And now I’m here, on Loop, a floor that I love.

The best part of Random Hall is not our roofdeck, or our numerous amount of fridges, or our plethora of signs and murals. The best part, for me at least, is knowing that at the end of the day I get to walk down Mass Ave, past Saloniki, past Beantown, past MIT Museum, and turn to an unassuming stack of doughnuts, enter those doors, and walk into a home.

If you’ve never considered or even looked at Random before, I suggest you do. It could end up being the perfect place for you. I know it is for me.

Please enjoy these pictures of Loop from my friend group:

  1. Videos that students create that advertise their respective dorm culture to prospective residents back to text
  2. More context: I didn't really have a lot of girl friends, as I hung out mainly with guys for most of my life for reasons unknown to me. It's not that I didn't know how to hang out with girls. I love girls and I love women empowerment, but also most of the friends I've had that are girls haven't been very longlasting friendships. back to text