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MIT student blogger Shuli J. '22

so i guess fall is happening by Shuli J. '22, MEng '23

kinda hard to believe, huh?

in april, i was sure that in september, i’d be on MIT’s campus again.

in may, as many things dawned upon us all, i realized i wouldn’t be. as a rising junior computer science major with the luck to have a good home situation and fast wifi, there was no way i would make it on whatever shortlist of people were invited back to a de-densified campus. i decided that was fine; i liked cooking for myself too much to risk being stuck on a meal plan anyway. i just would stay home! i like my parents, i like the food we cook together, i like when things don’t change. i waffled between taking a leave of absence to try to “get back” an extra semester of “real” mit, and taking way more classes than normal so that i could better enjoy that “real” mit when it finally came.

in an unusual role-reversal, my parents were staunchly against my staying home: they insisted that i needed to get out of the house and spend some time with people my own age (i believe “age appropriate activities” were the words they used).

in june, i came around, mostly because some of my very best friends asked me if i wanted to get an apartment with them. i agreed excitedly, then spent sleepless nights worrying that i’d made the wrong choice: why would i leave behind my parents’ home, my source of stability, during such a chaotic time? (little did i know that this would be the first of many many sleepless nights this summer…)

i also decided it wasn’t worth taking an LOA; i had too many plans for the year that couldn’t be put off, and anyway, i’d decided separately to Meng,01 aka Master's of Engineering so that was my extra year of mit right there.

by july, i’d realized that my parents were absolutely right. i love them and i love being home, but i can’t grow here like i’ve been doing the last two years at mit. i need to leave and stretch and change.

of course, by then, we were well into househunting hell. we stressed over contacting realtors, finding places, brokers’ fees, credit checks, on and on and on.

now it’s august, and we’re finally settled. we have a place we think will work great, we’ve had house meetings to work out how we want to deal with all the things that come from communal living, and from communal living during a pandemic. (i’m very happy to be living with people as cautious and careful as i am.)

so that’s my plan for the fall: a cambridge housemate bubble and a stack of online classes. i’m still infinitely stressed over every minor aspect of this process. (*if* i successfully manage to cross the border from Canada into the US and arrive in Massachusetts, i will probably write an entire blog post just about the difficulties of that.) the sheer number of permutations of problems i could run into keeps me up at night: the moving and the furniture-acquiring and the communally-living and every aspect of this year, coming down the pipe just as fast as every previous year but holding so much more newness and scariness than any of them did.

i’ve never felt quite like this before at the beginning of a school year, even the big ones. when i moved to mit freshman fall, the unknowns were my unknowns, and the changes were my changes. the world was still there for me, and although the path i walked seemed scary, i knew in my heart that it had been walked a million times before. now everyone is on the precipice of something new, feeling around on a dark forest trail and trying not to trip over stones.

there are many small good things still here, and those are what i hold onto to keep going – the exciting classes i plan to take, the kindness of my friends, the colors nature makes. but everything is harder now than it used to be, more complicated, less certain, riskier.

i think that probably this will have to be a fall of being kind to myself. of dropping some balls (just as this has been a summer of dropped balls), and being ok with it. i hope you can give this gift to yourself too.

i’ll be here, writing about my feelings like usual, chronicling my one small section of this new path we walk.

this summer has been tough; i’ve been trying to balance my full time internship, a bazillion mit fall planning meetings, and being really in my feelings all the time (like i’m sure lots of us have been for the past few months). i want to write more, and talk about my classes and how cool they are, and what online learning is like when you actually know it’s happening before it starts and have not just experienced a week of intense trauma and eviction, and my urop, and doing a urop i have pretty much no idea how to do, and living in an apartment, and and and.

coming first will be (i hope, haven’t pulled it off yet 😬) a post about how i pulled off my international move, during a pandemic, during the last week of my internship, during the first week of school.02 yes these are the same now because MIT pushed their start date earlier... (pray for me)

see you soon <3

  1. aka Master's of Engineering back to text
  2. yes these are the same now because MIT pushed their start date earlier... back to text