So here we are. I’m sitting in the AeroAstro Gelb Lab, procrastinating on pre-summer Design/Build/Fly lab cleanup by writing this blog post. In about a week, I’ll be home in California again–in three, I’ll be working an internship in Seattle. It hasn’t exactly settled in yet that I just walked out of my last freshman year class and that a full quarter of my total time in college is coming to an end.
I suppose this is supposed to be one of those posts where I talk about how much I’ve grown over the past year, share all the lessons I learned the hard way, celebrate the new friends I made, and end with some sage advice that I would give myself as a prefrosh, wishing all you younger-uns best of luck for what’s to come.
I don’t think this is going to be one of those posts. I don’t know that I’ve grown so much this year, although I have changed. I’ve sure learned a lot of lessons and made a lot of friends, but I’ve made mistakes and grown away from old friends as well. And I’m not really sure what I’d tell younger prefrosh-me if I had the chance to. Maybe that the bathrooms in Building 35 are the cleanest, and that the omelette line at breakfast is always longer than you think it is. Far and above it all it’s become very clear that there are many things I don’t know or understand–things about airplanes and computers, things about the world, things about people and relationships, things about myself even.
Here’s something that Ian Condry, my CMS.100 media studies professor, said often: “Social science isn’t rocket science–it’s harder.” And in many respects that sentiment embodies my feelings toward college. As many resources as MIT has, as many world-class laboratories and research opportunities there are here, it’s the people that make the experiences, out of which comes the growth and learning and maturation. You only need to sit in a poetry class, people-watch at a few parties, or heck, stay up a few late nights talking in the dark with new friends, to realize that people are, well, complicated. We’re a pretty different lot with whole libraries of crazy stories, we all tend to see the world from different perspectives, and a lot of times the words we use don’t mean quite the same things to us as they do to our friends. And here we are, wading our way through the universe together, bouncing off one another, sometimes with open arms and sometimes with fists. We sing. We study. We fill whiteboards. We cry. We dance.
me and my roommate’s whiteboard
And we do it damn well, too. Turns out when you put a lot of different people from different places together, beautiful and amazing things come out of it. I spent all semester with the Design/Build/Fly team making a gorgeous flying Corn Dog, and concurrently spent that time with my team in 16.00 (Introduction to Aerospace Engineering) building a blimp named War Horse. Last weekend, my a cappella group went to see the Dance Troupe spring showcase. Afterwards, I went with a subset of that group to see Playwrights in Performance, a showcase of four student-written, student-produced one-act plays about everything from love and maturity in the millenial generation to social Darwinism and international politics. On Monday, I picked up a copy of the Rune, MIT’s art and literary journal, and tomorrow night I’ll be taking photographs for Technique at the Logarhythms‘ spring concert.
From the Dance Troupe showcase, “Snapchats and Tattoos”
Along the way, we make friends. But part of that also means saying goodbyes. My a cappella group, the MIT-Wellesley Toons, just bid a very sentimental farewell to our five graduating seniors (this is in a 17-person a cappella group, mind you) at our last concert. It’s tough, making new friends and only having the fortune to know them for a year–or two years, or three–before they dive into a bigger ocean. And it forcibly reminds us that we’re all eventually headed to that strange and scary fantasyland called Real Life.
Perhaps that’s how life will always seem–strange and scary, full of uncertainties. Entering college sure felt like that. But if this year is any indicator, the strange and scary isn’t usually so scary after all, and it’s not such a lonely place either.
Here’s to three more years.