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MIT student blogger Afeefah K. '21

Packing by Afeefah K. '21

incoherent thoughts from move-out week

It’s Wednesday night. I have about 84 hours left at MIT. 84 hours left living right next door to some of my closest friends. 84 hours left to stare out at a skyline that looks back at me. 84 hours left of what kinda feels like the end of senior year, the end of life as a college student. 

I’m sitting on the floor of my dorm room, surrounded by boxes that are half-packed. By this point, packing up rooms should be easy. It’s become an annual tradition over the past three years. There was the end of freshman year when I stuffed every single thing in my room into cardboard boxes bought from La Verdes. An hour before my flight was supposed to take off, my friends and I were squished together in the front of a U-Haul truck headed towards a sketchy storage facility somewhere in the middle of Boston. It was a miracle that I ever made it to the airport in time. Then there was sophomore year. Having learned our lesson the hard way, my friends and I realized that the few extra dollars spent on getting a PODS storage unit delivered to the dorm easily beat a stressful, last-minute rush to a storage facility. And then there was last semester. A pandemic was brewing and we had a week to get off campus. It took a late night packing party, fueled with fruit roll ups and Costco brownies, to get through that one. All of these experiences should be making this easier. And yet, all of a sudden all of my belongings feel heavy. Picking them up from their place is taking a new kind of energy. How is it time already? 

In Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield stands on a hill looking down at the school he is about to leave, trying to feel some kind of good-bye:

“I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.” 

I’ve been thinking about this scene a lot lately. Without a guaranteed graduation or even just the ability to gather with friends, the sense of good-bye just isn’t there. Or maybe it is and I’m just having trouble finding it. This morning, I woke up really early to a bright New England sun beaming down on my face. So in the quiet solitude of the morning, I set out on a long walk across campus and along the Charles River hoping that the good-bye would finally hit me. I’m leaving a whole world behind. Subconsciously every ounce of my body knows it, but it still hasn’t registered in my mind. Just as I was finally getting comfortable with the nooks of campus and the familiar faces that carried me through it, it is time to uproot myself all over again. I don’t have anything profound to say right now. I’m simultaneously feeling both a whole lot and very little. I’m afraid that I’ll begin to forget all the great memories I’ve built and all the amazing people I’ve met. Will it all just become a memory on my photo gallery?I don’t want to forget the way I’m feeling right now. Grateful. Blessed. Fulfilled. Sad to be leaving it all behind. Confused about what I should be feeling. I guess some things are easier to sort through than others. 

Surrounded by packing boxes