About a week and a half ago, I arrived at Logan airport to start this college thing! With two bags in hand (well, ok, one was a backpack), and my level of anxiousness climbing, I stepped into a taxi with a fellow ‘15er and just took in the imagery of the Charles River. The cab driver commented, “Oh, MIT. My siblings went there,” and proceeded to talk to us about an old radio that he and his friends found back in the day, turned into a metal detector, and used on an overturned beach to find coins with which they got rich, of course.
You hear all kinds of stories about MIT even before getting here that emphasize how well-known it is. There are the stereotypes about its prestige, hacks, and even teary stories about how sometimes people don’t have any clue about where MIT is. My simple-enough, three-lettered name was occasionally replaced with a variation of “Hey, MIT!” soon after I was accepted, and classic are the “surprising” tales of friends asking about the Michigan or Missouri Institute of Technology.
I mean, a place that allows me to take reasonably good pictures 1) without a flash 2) late at night and 3) with my low-spec camera surely deserves some credit.
Yes, this place is awesome. It’s MIT, oh my goodness. We got in, whoop-dee-doo. But at the core, it’s so much more than that.
I find myself observing (and totally appreciating) a certain kind of humility here—a concentration on action rather than on titles. Here, people aren’t at each others’ throats about rankings because rankings don’t exist *gasp*. The main thing isn’t “getting an A” (which you can’t technically acheive anyway because the first semester is pass/no record), it’s all about feeding your curiosity and fundamentally learning to learn. As one of my fellow classmates told me with a smile, “I’ll never get tired of the extent to which people here are open to learning for the sake of learning.” Plus, the opportunities are the same for all students, as Anna ’14 eloquently described: both the student that has never done research in their entire life and the student that started their first company while in the womb can get an opportunity to do research.
Here, passion replaces pomp, and diversity breeds innovation. It’s one of the things I love most about MIT—the genuine sense of collaboration, understanding, kindness. Speeches I’ve listened to here have impressed me more because of the enthusiasm with which they were delivered, rather than because of the speakers’ long list of recognitions, and that’s saying a lot.
Indeed, here I am as a freshman, a wide-eyed baby chick, newly hatched into this place, saying “hi, my name is…” more times than I ever have at any point in my entire life. I admit that I may not be able to remember all of the names of the many amazing people I’ve met so far, but I’ve promised myself that I’ll remember their faces, spirit, advice, and aknowledgement. In the end, that’s all that matters anyway.