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MIT blogger Alex M. '21

Starting Over by Alex M. '21

it feels like this every time but this time it's different

Every fall at MIT has felt like a new beginning. My freshman fall, everything was new, from the campus to the classes to the experience of living away from my family for the first time. The next fall, during my sophomore year, I switched from taking mostly large introductory general requirements to mostly in-major classes,01 these were course 6 classes at the time which was a big adjustment for me, and I moved entries within Macgregor, so my academic life and my social life felt new and different. Junior fall, I became a blogger, and had just changed my major, so I began the semester with blogger orientation and course 16 sophomore orientation, and I felt old,02 I <em>was </em>older than most of the other “new” people at either meeting but everything felt new.

After three very different falls at MIT, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing, and felt okay with what I was doing, and felt like I could be done with fresh starts. When I first came to MIT, I thought I wanted college to be an extended coding bootcamp with interesting peers and extracurricular opportunities, a brief four-year respite on my journey to become a software engineer and return home to Seattle. 03 For some people who seek out software-related pre-professional opportunities at every turn, I think MIT <em>is</em> like this, so rest assured this is possible for those who want it But I kept changing my mind, again and again, and MIT let me try new things over and over until I knew what I wanted. Every fall before this one, I wanted a fresh start, and I kept getting them. I moved to B entry sophomore fall because I realized that I needed a more actively social living group to thrive at MIT, and I chose to move. I sat through course 16 sophomore orientation junior fall because I decided that I wanted to study astronautical engineering, and I chose to change majors. I started blogging junior fall because I wanted to write, and I chose to apply to my position as an admissions blogger.

But this fall is different, because for once, I don’t want a fresh start. 04 but I’m getting one anyway I want to be on the rowing team for one more year; I want one more year of Baker breakfasts with the boys and I want to start first at Head of the Charles and I want one more shot at the national championships. I want another year with B entry. I want to make Post-it art on our lounge windows and play Smash and eat truly disgusting amounts of sushi at Yamato’s. I want a full, productive year working on my UROP. I want to see people’s faces and eat snacks together at lab meetings and I want to be able to do physical tests on our satellite. I want another year of spending too much money on lunch with my friends and visiting my girlfriend all weekend and getting lost in the tunnels trying to get to a far-flung meeting in the rain. I want February 2020 frozen in amber. I want everything I’ve loved about MIT to stay exactly the same.

I’ll miss a lot of things this fall. I’ll be living on campus in Simmons with a handful of my friends, many of them from B entry, but I won’t necessarily be living “with” them in any meaningful way. I will be experiencing the rowing team almost exclusively through Zoom and our group chat. My UROP is mostly math and coding, so I can still do my work remotely, as I’ve been doing this summer, but I miss having in-person meetings. I can’t just wander through the tunnels anymore, and it’s much harder now to make spontaneous lunch plans or weekend plans like I did before.

Still, I feel like I shouldn’t feel sad. I don’t think my MIT experience is dead. Moreover, I don’t think I deserve to grieve. In the grand scheme of COVID-19 impacts, missing a year of in-person college is absolutely nothing, and I should be so grateful. I know my senior year has to be like this, and I know why it has to be like this. And so I’ll put on a brave face, and I’ll put on a mask, and I’ll let somebody nice from MIT Medical swab my nostrils for coronavirus twice a week, and I’ll go forth into my senior fall, feeling brand-new for the fourth and final time.

  1. these were course 6 classes at the time back to text
  2. I was older than most of the other “new” people at either meeting back to text
  3. For some people who seek out software-related pre-professional opportunities at every turn, I think MIT is like this, so rest assured this is possible for those who want it back to text
  4. but I’m getting one anyway back to text