Skip to content ↓
A head-and-shoulders illustrated portrait of Ceri Riley. She is smiling with her mouth closed, has light skin, and long light pink hair.

#tbt: MIT Cribs by Ceri Riley '16

Digging up some old freshman-year blog posts

In a recent concentrated effort to create a ‘professional Tumblr’ for myself, I found the old blog that I submitted as part of my blogger application way-back-when. Turns out that getting accepted as an admissions blogger as a sophomore has its perks. These freshman-year thoughts just sat unread in a tiny corner of the internet, so I can dust off the MIT-related musings (as opposed to the completely random posts or deep and sometimes angsty thoughts about life/the universe/everything posts) and reuse them in a snazzy little #tbt series.

It’s always strange to look back upon your past self, what you thought of things, and how little you knew of what was to come. Like in this post — I was both excited and terrified to start fresh in a new dorm room, decked out with a couple personal touches from home (hence the cheesy title):

MIT Cribs (September 2, 2012)

My deepest apologies for the hiatus; now that I’m not at home (where an abundance of free time was a given) I’ve been spending less time on the computer and more actually doing things (“things” being a very broad term, it’s not like I became extremely extroverted over the course of a week).

But now that the hectic times of Orientation have subsided, I’ll introduce the interwebz to my final resting place… in other words, my dorm room. 

  1. Water bottles! The red one was given out by my high school and has an awesome phoenix design on it, while the white one has the Aperture Laboratories logo and a little spiel about dihydrogen monoxide. Portal and chem nerdiness ftw.
  2. Freshman 15, here I come? My dad left me with comfort food, namely Ring Dings or a different brand of Hostess Ding Dongs. Now it’s an ongoing battle between my resolve and my stomach.
  3. Art supplies… or some of them. I couldn’t bring my colored pencils or paints, but all my fine point illustration pens, brush pens, and gel pens made the journey in case I’m feeling creative.
  4. Pokemon headphones, which I painted.
  5. Awesome arrow magnets with profanity. Because I’d prefer not to swear online but am endlessly amused by what these say. (My favorite is, by far, “Don’t F*** This Up”).
  6. New planner! Because I’m all grown up and in college now, I selected a fancy Moleskine planner… featuring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts comic strip. Anyway, I love it and the cover reads (fittingly) “This year things are gonna be different!”
  7. A book of easy crosswords so I can stick to my resolution, and actually finish the puzzles so I don’t feel completely mentally inadequate.
  8. My Seattle Seahawks pillow. Even though I’m on the East Coast and the closest NFL team is the New England Patriots, my family has raised me to be a die-hard Seahawks fan and I’m not gonna stop supporting them.

  1. Beagles are the most adorable, droopy, (translate: slobbering, conniving but still lovable) little dogs there are and I miss Taffy (my beagle) a bunch. I get this type of calendar every year as a Christmas present.
  2. Girlfriend Application advertisement for one of my friends. He jokingly mentioned that his goal for the summer between Junior and Senior year was to nab himself a girlfriend, so we (myself and two other friends), took it upon ourselves to give him a hand. It was quite a success, he got numerous applicants (even a teacher, though most of the submitted forms were from men) and was also thoroughly embarrassed.
  3. Nametag? While volunteering at the Seattle Children’s Hospital with my school’s National Art Honor Society, the front desk scanned my ID and printed out this nametag with an unflattering picture of myself and the moniker “Dob Ileycass ka.”
  4. Wtf is a “Hello, my name is History Nerd” button doing in my possession? Even though I’ve blatantly (and perhaps a bit narrow-mindedly) proclaimed my hatred of history class and memorizing people, dates, and events… this button is from National History Day, where I’ve had some of my greatest successes in academic competition and had the privilege of researching moments in time that actually interest me in the company of great friends.
  5. I had to choose some of my very favorite books and DVDs to bring along, because I couldn’t very well pack my entire shelf. I would passionately recommend any of these titles to anyone, just ask my friends (who have heard me rave endlessly about any number of these.) Also, my copy of TFiOS is signed and hanklerfish’d, be jelly ;)
  6. Troy and Abed in the Mooooooooorning. ‘Nuff said.
  7. Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch who watches over you, make a little birdhouse in your soul. The physical manifestation of the focus of the They Might Be Giants song Birdhouse in your Soul. They’re awesome.
  8. A blank deck of playing cards which I intended for friends to draw on so I have a completely unique deck. So far I have a grand total of… one. Just a few more to go, right?

And lastly, this is the view out my window, a lovely vista of the Charles River. Plus I can see the soccer fields from here, so maybe I’ll spectate during a couple games. I think I’d rather have several closer friends in my dorm than a million-dollar view, but I guess I can’t be heartbroken over this (unless I really want to be a jerk).

If anyone wants to hear a story behind any of the other things on my bulletin board (all of them do have stories of some sort), shelves, desk (which is pretty much empty right now, but will be gaining more clutter shortly), or room in general (like a picture of the other half… right now there’s only one poster, another calendar, and some cabinets), feel free to ask and I’d be more than happy to share! 

Despite how cringe-worthy some bits of the post are (what were you thinking, freshman-Ceri, using ‘be jelly’ unironically!?), it brings back memories of what I was feeling at the time. I was excited for MIT, that’s for sure. But I also had no idea what I was doing — I remember going through the whirlwind of FYRE to switch from New House, where I was temped for all of 3 days, into MacGregor, where I arrived just in time for in-house rush and knew basically nothing about the dorm. I wasn’t placed into my top choices for dorm or entry and I didn’t really have friends, since it seemed like everyone else already knew each other from FPOPs (pre-orientation programs which have been blogged about plenty of times) and I don’t do so well on the meeting-new-people front.

This particular blog resulted from channeling all this nervous energy into organizing my stuff and writing, strategies I still use today to try and quell anxiety. I think trying to make my room look more like home, however barren those pictures are compared to my current room, helped me feel a little more at home. One of my favorite bits is the fact that I highlighted my Seahawks pillow — that pillowcase has seen so many tears of happiness and sorrow (football-related and otherwise) and still acts as a reminder that Seattle will always be home to me. Sorry, Boston.

But enough with the reflections. The best way I can pay tribute to this throwback post is to recreate it with my current room! It’ll be a little harder to choose individual stories to tell because I’ve accumulated one or two (or twenty) more things… But, without further ado:

MIT Cribs II (March 5, 2015)

After I moved into my room in B-Entry, I’ve never really had a reason to move any of my stuff. I’ve stayed on campus for two consecutive summers and MacGregor has stayed open, so that’s the perfect recipe for laziness and (to some degree) hoarding. As a result, my once-barren room has accumulated a bunch of cooking supplies, wall decorations, books, and memorabilia. I guess this particular angle makes my room look a little messy, but I like covering all surfaces of my room with happy memories. I think that’s what makes it feel a little more like home.

  1. Juice is a staple of my diet now, and mango lemonade (which is what’s in this bottle) is definitely my favorite. Juice was kind of a staple at home, too, but now I think I might get most of my daily hydration through sugar water rather than normal water. Since I don’t drink coffee or soda, my average beverage healthiness might be close to that of a normal college student?
  2. Bigger planner than the one from freshman year, decorated with a bunch of stickers I had lying around! All my assignments and to-do checklists throughout the week were getting illegible on smaller pages.
  3. Various wall decorations, including the 101 Things to Do Before You Graduate list (like this one, but for the 2016s), a cardboard rhinoceros head (my friend has a matching buffalo), a picture of my pup, an art print of all the scenes from The Way Way Back (one of my favorite movies) compressed down and squished side-by-side, and some motivational notes given to me by friends and family.
  4. An alarm clock, because I have somehow gotten more nocturnal and less willing to wake up than I was in high school. Seriously, how did I ever wake up at around 6am every day to get to school by 7ish. This clock sounds like a fire alarm, which causes me to wake up in a panic but is, unsurprisingly, quite effective.
  5. My Seahawks pillow is obscured in this picture but I have plenty of 12th Man flags hanging around my room. I have one in my window which conveniently corresponds to the fact that I live on the 12th floor of MacGregor.

  1. I’ve acquired a lot of art books since coming here. These two in particular are from Tangled and Frozen, but I love looking at the art styles of everything from cartoons to comics to video games. Even though I can’t really take storyboarding or animation classes here, art books like these fuel my desire to become a storyboard artist or work on animated movies.
  2. My dad sent me this Washington sticker in a recent care package. I miss the West Coast.
  3. The button from that one time my friend and I won the Wicked lottery and got cheap tickets to see it in Boston. Since then, I’ve seen lots of theater in Boston and New York (mostly thanks to student rush) and it’s been wonderful.
  4. One of Lydia’s Valentines that she sent out to a bunch of friends. It was so sweet and surprising to find one in my mailbox, and definitely made my day. She’s the best Princess of the Internet ♥
  5. These are two message-in-a-bottle type notes that two of my best friends gave me (one from high school and one from MIT). They both came with a similar instruction — something along the lines of “read me when you really need it,” and I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I don’t know when I’ll need them, or if even if I’ll ever need them. But these are some of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever recieved.
  6. Partially obscured behind Baby Luigi, this is a vectorized picture of two of my best friends from high school and me when we visited the Crayola factory. I never colored it in with crayons, but it’s still a really great memory from freshman year Thanksgiving.
  7. Badges from the Penny Arcade Expo (aka. PAX East) from the past couple years. It’s a huge video game conference where you can revel in nerdiness and play a bunch of games, and this year it starts tomorrow!

  1. I still have the Troy and Abed in the Morning mug, and acquired 13 more mugs through random gifts (MedLinks, the Edward Gorey mug, etc.) or impulse buys (the TARDIS, Elsa and Anna concept art mugs, etc.) Even though I never have a need for more than 1 or 2 dirty mugs at any one time, my friends and I can now mass-produce mug cakes which I guess is a plus.
  2. Before college, I never really liked tea… I just thought of it as glorified flavored water. But now I have several kinds of peppermint and floral loose-leaf tea to help calm me down or keep me going during a long night of work.
  3. At the end of last year, I saw Big Hero 6, loved it, and learned that they had limited edition Baymax cups at Disney theme parks. I mentioned this random tidbit in the middle of a phone call home, and my dad remembered it and surprised me at Christmas with one that he bought on eBay. My family is pretty excellent at giving surprising and meaningful gifts.
  4. Again with the PAX, but during freshman year I met one of the artists/designers who worked on Castle Crashers, an arcade-style action adventure game that has a wonderful visual style. I bought the blue knight figurine from the booth and he signed it on the side of the display case with a little doodle. I, of course, blubbered and thanked him for his work and told him I admired his art (or something along those lines… I don’t exactly remember the interaction very well.)
  5. Playbills from some of the theater performances that I’ve been to in New York. Specifically, these are from when I stage-doored If/Then and fangirled over Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp and the rest of the stellar cast, and when I stage-doored Waiting for Godot and fangirled over Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart. Such good theater and it’s so close by.
  6. Time turner necklace, because if I could have a superpower it would definitely be to manipulate time.
  7. A figurine of Vitruvius from the LEGO movie!
  8. Dr. Horrible goggles, which I recieved from a friend my freshman year of high school after we discovered Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog together. Which everyone should watch.

And here’s the current view from my window, facing down dorm row instead of the other way down Memorial Drive. It’s significantly snowier right now than it was in September, so the Charles is pretty much just a blanket of snow and ice. Sometimes I just stare out the window for a while as the sun sets, since I have a really beautiful view of the lights punctuating the Boston skyline and cars lined up across the Harvard bridge.

This is by no means a comprehensive view of everything in my room, but it’s cool to see how some things have changed so much since freshman year (even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’ve done all that much since coming here).