I’ve been blogblocked a lot and I’ve been really trying to find something to write about, but every time I start, it feels like I’m not being eloquent or interesting enough and I end up erasing it entirely.
But I think it’s about time I tackle some of the more difficult things for me to talk about. These are pretty hard for me to talk about, mainly because I wince or cringe every time I think about it since they are, well, large regrets of mine I try not to think about. But I hope I can put that all to rest by finally writing about it.
For those of you who don’t know, glassblowing is a notoriously difficult class to get into. You have to go to semesterly lotteries and enter your name in and only about 10-12 people are drawn, with a pool of a lifespan of 4+ years, meaning that there are people who have already graduated still in this pool.
There is, however, a freshman only lottery over IAP. I was one of the lucky ones to get drawn for this lottery.
I did not accept the position because I was taking 6.145 at the time and I wasn’t sure I could handle the commitment of glassblowing alongside my Intro to Python class.
It is one of my biggest regrets at MIT and every time someone mentions glassblowing I wince a little bit. I’m hoping luck will be on my side and I’ll be able to pursue the glassblowing class in the future sometime. But, it’s pretty unlikely.
Greek Life & Dorm Life
This is….a touchy subject. For a lot of reasons! And I’ve tried writing a blog about this topic on three separate occasions, but always backed out last minute because I felt I couldn’t write about it with the appropriate level of nuance needed to handle such a topic. But now I’m kind of throwing nuance out the window and just going for it because I’m tired of skirting around this.
One of my biggest regrets at MIT is not joining Greek Life.
Frankly, I don’t want to have to explain everything because I don’t think I could really do it justice since I’m so removed from it, so here’s this FAQ about what I’m talking about.
I didn’t do recruitment in the fall for freshman and sophomore year because frankly it’s tiring and just didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy. I didn’t want to sit for 5 hours, whether that be on Zoom or in person, being thrown around from table to table meeting new people. As lovely as the people are, I just didn’t have the mental stamina nor capacity to handle that much interaction.
I think, for me, one of the hardest things about MIT that doesn’t really get touched on the blogs are the stereotypes that surround your living group, whether that be your dorm, frat, srat, or independent living group. One of the great things about MIT is how varied our living situations are, how each group has such a strong and rich culture to it. Simultaneously, though, this breeds stereotypes and expectations and misconceptions.
Living in Random Hall, known to be a small, quirky, counter-culture dorm on par with that of EC, I experienced a lot of strange things I didn’t expect.
People would often immediately think I was weird off the bat, just for where I lived. They’d assume that I’d be a little quirky or off or awkward, or they’d kind of just give me a onceover, hear I’m from Random, and move on to someone else they could relate more with.
Granted, this was most prevalent in the beginning of my freshmen year, when freshmen are tainted only by stereotypes rather than experiences.
This was pretty harmful to my experience and I felt this desperate need to be popular at MIT, to prove that living in Random Hall did not define me as a person.
As much as I loved Random, I started to feel as if living there placed me in a box. Quite literally as much as figuratively. Being a dorm so far removed from campus, isolated in our little island in Central, you often only interact with Random people unless you really, really make the effort to branch out.
I remember having this conversation with one of my floormates at the time, who often said she felt locked in by Random. That the dorm spoke first for her rather than her speaking first. She hated the misconceptions and she often felt that Random held her back from being social on campus.
I started to realize I felt the same way.
I think, as I type this, I still don’t regret my choice to live in Random. Not one bit. I love Random with every fiber of my being. I loved having cats to cry with after a bad midterm. I loved having a roofdeck to escape to on chilly winter nights with friends. I loved the quick walk to Central every time we wanted to go out and explore the city. I loved sitting around our far-too-tiny kitchen table psetting/eating/joking around/hotseating our friends. Living in Random only meant that I had to work a bit harder to socialize with people outside of it.
And so I did.
And that’s what really brings us to this topic: Greek life.
I decided to do informal recruitment (now deemed continuous open recruitment/bidding (COR/COB), since I think they don’t like the term informal) with Pi Beta Phi and Delta Phi Epsilon, two of three sororities that participate in COR, in my freshman spring. Rather than having the traditional recruitment experience of having a recruitment counselor and introducing yourself to all the sororities and ranking them and all that, this was more like fraternity rushing style.
The sororities held events. You went to said events. You had a good time. If they liked you, they’d invite you to some private events. If they really, really liked you, they give you a bid.
I was fortunate enough to receive bids from both sororities.
And this was an…extremely difficult decision. Here I was, standing with two bids from two sororities that I really loved, but deep down I knew which one best fit me versus the one that I ended up choosing.
Unfortunately, I had been tainted by stereotypes of sororities. Delta Phi Epsilon, from what I had heard, was one of the quirkier sororities. It didn’t run like the rest of the sororities at MIT and from the moment I heard that it was just the slightest bit different, I panicked. I had already felt different from living in Random, I was already othered. I didn’t want to further box myself in by joining DPhiE. And so, despite knowing I vibed with the people much better in DPhiE, I accepted the bid from PiPhi. This, of course, isn’t to say I didn’t like PiPhi. I liked PiPhi a lot. They were a fun group and I loved every sister date I went on and it was really easy to talk to all of them and the house was so pretty and tightknit. It just wasn’t for me as much as I thought it was.
I ended up dropping PiPhi at the beginning of my sophomore year. For various reasons. One of them being I knew I messed up by choosing sororities off of stereotypes. The second that I hated the restrictions and rules of being in a sorority. I don’t know how much I can talk about this without getting in trouble, but frankly I’m tired of being afraid to write about things and I don’t really care if I get shit for it.
There’s a lot of antiquated rules that come with being in a sorority. There’s a lot of things that irk me, like how sororities can’t have parties but fraternities can. Or that sorority members can’t be seen at frat events or can’t wear their letters at frats or just…I don’t know. I know these are all very regular rules, but it’s just annoying to have so many restrictions placed on me, especially when the double standards are so high.
At MIT and I’m sure other places, frats have much laxer rules. Or it feels like it, at least. It felt like every time I wanted to do something relating to Greek Life, I had to ask for permission or double check if it was okay. I hated tiptoeing around everything and frankly I still hate it.
Which brings us now to the present. Continuous open recruitment for DPhiE officially commences on the 22nd. Frat rush is happening as I type this and I’m rushing one of our co-ed frats. I am torn between my dislike for strict sorority rules and my love for the qorls01 My friends and I's gender neutral term we coined for non-men. of DPhiE. Frankly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I crave another community and, frankly, there’s a lot that Greek life has to offer. But I don’t know if I’m ready to relinquish some of the little freedoms I have.
I talked a lot about this with my friend, who shares a lot of the same thoughts about Greek life as I do, but they are actually in a sorority. They brought up really good points, where simply being friends with a sorority means you don’t get the mentorship or family lines or the rest of the perks that come with Greek life, and frankly I really don’t know what to make of the situation. So I’ll sit here and ponder for a bit.
I think it’s also important to say that this is by no means a criticism of anyone who participates in Greek life or any of the sororities I mentioned here. I love the PiPhi girls to death and they were such a sweet community and I’m grateful they even extended me an offer to be part of their family.
I also think it’s really telling that a lot of the ‘unpopular’ dorms and FSILGs got a lot more love with the virtual year. The 2024s didn’t have as much time to hear all the stereotypes surrounding certain cultures at MIT and they were able to just explore as they wished, and I honestly wish this would happen more. There’s so much that stereotypes hold you back from and it can really damage your experience here, for both parties, if you feed into them.
I don’t really know if I view this as a regret, but I think it’s definitely something that’s been weighing on me all year and has impacted my ability to write and blog about MIT.
I feel like I’ve wasted this past year. I’m paying $20k a semester to grovel at my desk and stare at a screen with dead eyes and live in an apartment that I love but has become too claustrophobic for my liking.
I miss spontaneous Boston nights. I miss dorm hopping from BC to Simmons to Random. I miss getting lunch at Sate right before 8.02.
But simultaneously, a lot of great things have come from this year. I’ve got an LA position for 6.08. I’m doing a Microsoft internship this summer. I got into three different fintech programs and have been making great income with my 4 different jobs. I got to take 8.021 with Joe Checkelsky.
I think the main ‘regret’ part of this is realizing that by the end of this semester, I’ll be halfway done with college. Or at least I’m supposed to be.
Every day, I fiddle with the idea of doing 5 years at MIT, rather than the typical 4 year. I could honestly graduate on time with the pace I’m at, but there’s such a strong part of me that is so adamantly fighting for this five because my sophomore year wasn’t in person. I never got to experience the events that so many of the upperclassmen have talked about.
Really, I don’t think there’s a right answer here. And I think I’m just going to take it a year at a time and see how I feel by my senior year.
This isn’t a regret yet but it very much well could be. I’ve been debating for a while now whether or not to apply to Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 abroad at Imperial College London. Prior to coming to MIT, ever since the eighth grade, I’ve gone to London every year for winter break because it is simply my favorite city in the world.
I’ve been planning to go back, but with the pandemic and internships and whatnot, it’s a bit hard to do.
I was originally planning to spend 2021 IAP doing Literary London, a class where you go to London and take a walking tours of sites associated with notable literary figures and works. But, obviously, that didn’t work out. The class is also extremely competitive to get into and you typically have to have a good relationship with the Literature department to be considered for it, but I…have not taken a single literature class so it’s not looking too great for me. Worse comes to worst, I go there on my own dime with a friend.
I’m also hoping that some future IAP I can do Spanish Incubator, where you go to Madrid and learn about the history of Spanish democracy.
I have a pretty large fear I won’t be able to get into any of these programs, and another part of me really wants to experience the UK education system. The thing holding me back from applying to the ICL exchange program is the sheer length of the study abroad. I really don’t want to leave my MIT friends behind and miss a whole semester of shenanigans and fun with them, so honestly that’s why I’m teetering so heavily on this.
Classes? More HASS Classes??? Biology??
As shown in my previous blogs, I have a lot of different interests, from organic chemistry to music to literature to media studies to computer science. This ties in a bit to the whole “wasted time at MIT” bit, but I feel like there’s simply not enough time at MIT to take all the classes I want to. I’ve thought about learning more about music theory or taking more creative writing classes or reading and analyzing more books or learning ASL at Harvard or learning Korean instead and…
There’s just so much.
And there’s not enough time.
And I’m really scared that, in the future, I will feel as if I didn’t spend my time here at MIT well enough.
Honestly, this was…extremely therapeutic to write. So while it’s not the most happy or cheery blogpost, I honestly feel a lot better after just vomiting everything I have to say. I hope that this will finally rid me of my blogblock.
I’d like to also say that I don’t fault MIT at all for any of these things and I’m honestly so, so grateful I get to go to an institution like MIT. I’ve gotten so many different opportunities I didn’t even know I was capable of getting, but through MIT, I was able to grow and take on those opportunities.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for putting up with my absence and low quality content.
- My friends and I's gender neutral term we coined for non-men. back to text ↑