People often find it shocking when I say it, but if MIT was in Illinois, I wouldn’t have *matriculated.
Though the MIT campus within itself offers 57334534923 (not a hyperbole) convincing reasons to attend, to me, one of the most important aspects of being here is the world directly outside MIT. The “M,” if you will.
After graduating, I kind of felt like Frank Sinatra in New York, New York: these vagabond shoes were longing to stray. Living one hour away from Chicago, it would not have satisfied my shoes to go to school there. Not one bit. But if it was anywhere in Illinois except directly in Chicago, I’d continue to suffer from my high school case of little town blues – that’s just not worth it to me. Hey, we all have our priorities.
Luckily, it’s not in Chicago. It’s in Massachusetts, and not a day has gone by without me thinking “TGI Boston” (even though we’re actually in Cambridge) at least once. This is because Boston is an unbelievably cool city. From the music scene to the history and diversity and proximity of other schools and even New York, nothing disappoints.
Someone asked yesterday if anyone at MIT could cross-register at Harvard. The answer is yes. People usually go to Harvard for language classes, but it’s definitely not limited to that. Students can take anything less than half of their units there each semester. There are also opportunities for cross-registration at Wellesley (yes, even boys), the Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The availability of cross-registration here is definitely near the top of the List of Things I Love About MIT (or at least it would be, if such a list actually existed). I really love the idea of studying at another school because, well, I love learning about different cultures, and cultures aren’t just limited to countries or regions, but cities and schools as well. It’s also a good way to expose yourself to different teaching styles, get off campus and meet students from other schools.
Speaking of other schools, this morning as I was riding the T to that other school I take a class at, I remembered what it was like to live in a place without public transportation. I come from a place where even the most dedicated environmentalists often have no choice but to drive. I happen to hate driving for more reasons than one, so coming to a city with a Subway system like this is like heaven. And the fact is that a lot of times, you don’t even need the Subway because Boston is small and walkable (walkable cities are also runnable, which is really great. I’m still amazed at the number of runners there are in the city year-round. It’s fantastic). But it gets cold and the Harvard Bridge is pretty harsh, so the buses and trains are the way to get where you want to go. By itself, I think the T is kind of expensive, but MIT offers student discounts on Charlie Cards that make it much more worth your money.
I urge you all, when deciding where to go to school, to consider how important location is to you, and possibly how important it *should* be (I’m trying really hard not to preach, but I do think it’s good for everyone’s sanity to be able to get off campus once in awhile). When doing college visits, don’t just see the campus, but the surrounding area as well. After all, you’re more than students. You’re people, and sanity often demands something other than school :)
*This is the very first thing MIT ever taught me. A new vocabulary word.