On the hallowed grounds of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along the Charles River in a place called Cambridge, a bright-eyed, eighteen-year-old baby boy was born. In his future lies a childhood, with all its requisite promises and challenges; in his past lies a strong, resilient foundation for the educational, personal, and professional developments that await him. His height at birth was six feet, three inches, and the weight he carried from the womb was tremendous. Indeed, he was the heaviest newborn the attending physicians had ever seen.
He arrived already with a name: “Anthony.” Astounding the hospital staff with a driver’s license, passport, and cellular telephone, he put bedding and a pillow atop an extra-long twin mattress, tilted his head, and smiled. His life was just beginning and he couldn’t wait to see it all unfold. Here, he would forge enduring relationships and learn to acquire the tools of both his mind and his trade.
But something unsettled him as he scanned the nursery room for other newborns. He saw twenty or thirty other boys and girls, and at first found kinship in the physical similarities of age. “Strange,” he thought. They were laughing, chatting, giggling, shooting the breeze, and extending arms around peers of opposite genders like seasoned veterans. It all looked so natural and so easy, and he wondered where the hell they acquired the finesse and training. Their loose, carefree attitude, seemingly free of burden and responsibility, held a longing appeal. They talked of dating, of concerts, of parties. He talked of travel, bureaucracy, and litigation.
A trip to the department of medical records proved fruitless. These boys and girls shared his birth year. Like him, they had attended elementary school, junior high school, and senior high school; and together, they had all witnessed the arrival of their permanent teeth, deeper voices, and college admission letters. The difference was that they were used to dealing with kids their own age, and he wasn’t.
Anthony put forth some serious thought, and decided to give it a genuine try.
The rest is history.
I arrived late last Saturday night at East Campus, my first-choice dorm in the summer housing lottery, and checked into my room on Third East. In the lottery, you are assigned a room in which you’ll live until REX (Residence Exploration) — if you confirm that you wish to live in the dorm assigned to you, a permanent room will be assigned once REX is over and you’ve visited all the floors and ranked them according to your preferences. Many of the folks I met during Campus Preview Weekend and in the online MIT09 chat were also housed in East Campus, and I caught up with them at various events during the course of the week.
One of them devised a unique way to celebrate my arrival, near Lobby 10 along the floor of the Infinite Corridor. (Thanks, Kelly.) She had claimed a space on East Campus’ strip of paper spanning the entire length of the Corridor, as part of their REX festivities.
(As you may have assumed, “EC” is short for East Campus.)
REX is a period during which new freshmen can evaluate each dorm and see if they’d like to live somewhere else instead. In true EC fashion, we had a water slide, a swing, a wave moat thing, and numerous other attractions built out of lumber in our courtyard.
Katie, flanked by Mike and Noah, shows off part of a free burger from one of EC’s grills.
Jeremy, a freshman from Burton-Conner, had just tried out (and enjoyed) the water slide.
Armed with a megaphone, Harvey (an upperclassman) kicks off the Watermelon Toss event.
fun stuff :-)
You may have read elsewhere and on other blogs that there is a stereotypical culture difference between the west and east sides of campus. During orientation, the two sides have a bit of a duel, complete with water balloons and slingshots. This year, it was an officially sanctioned event held in front of Kresge Auditorium.
Here, a devious resident shows off her water balloon-filling prowess at an East Campus sink.
Various EC residents transport a slingshot apparatus to the Kresge massacre site.
Predictably, the west campus folks were grossly underprepared.
A dinner event was held in Walker Memorial (Building 50) for new freshmen and their families. I shared a chicken and pasta meal with David, Greg, Ben, Lulu, Kelly’s mom, Kelly, and James ’06, the EC room assignment chair. In case you were wondering, the words inscribed on the face of Greg’s shirt, “Love Your Beaver,” are a tribute to MIT’s mascot.
Liquid nitrogen ice cream, in various flavors, was freely available from EC’s Talbot Lounge for dessert. Here, Linda is serving me a handsome helping of the Vanilla flavor.
After deciding to confirm my choice to live in East Campus, I visited each of EC’s ten floors to get a better idea of which living group would fit me best. During the evening of “hall rush,” free food and activities were made available by each hall to aid in that purpose.
A few unfortunate jokers decided it would be a good idea to deface the remainder of the well-executed Hockfield hack from the Cashier’s office. :-(
The fluorescent paint was from a wall-painting event on Fourth West, where a blacklight lounge (with black walls) is located.
Oh, Heavens to Murgatroid! My dear friend David seems to have hurt himself while smashing computer monitors with a baseball bat.
First East is home to the famous Disco Dance Floor. During my visit, a helpful disc jockey was demoing the capabilities of the Floor with a sampling of A Taste of Honey’s disco classic “Boogie Oogie Oogie.”
I sadly don’t recall which floor this Dilbert mural is from, but I obviously felt it was worth the photo.
Like many halls, Fourth East has Athena terminals in their lounges. Fourth East is known for its high concentration of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science majors :-)
I was temporarily assigned to Third East, better known as the hall of James E. Tetazoo. Tetazoo is known for its handy, innovative residents, and for its storied hacking history. After touring all of East Campus, I felt that Tetazoo was the best fit for me, and selected it as my first choice in the hall rush process. The good news came early the next morning: I was officially a resident! I moved my stuff from one end of the hall to another, and into my permanent room assignment, a single in the Bemis section. (The two buildings of East Campus are divided into three sections each, named after various alumni: Hayden, Munroe, and Wood in the west building; Walcott, Bemis, and Goodale in the east building.)
It’s quite common for freshmen to receive single rooms (i.e., no roommate) in East Campus, unlike in most other dorms. East Campus has only singles and doubles, and often, the double rooms are taken by people who actually choose to room with each other. Indeed, the beauty of MIT’s housing system lies in the incredible amount of choice afforded to each resident.
Many halls welcome their new freshmen with a hosted dinner somewhere in Cambridge. The upperclassmen of Tetazoo took us to Mary Chung’s, a Chinese restaurant in Central Square. That’s Noah again — he was assigned to my floor after being temped on Fourth East, and was given my temporary room as a permanent assignment.
The week came to a fitting close with Christina’s arrival in Boston. Christina, the girlfriend of a Fifth East resident, is a new freshman at a …certain liberal arts school on the other end of Massachusetts Avenue, and happens to be one of the coolest people I know. ;-) I took the T (Boston’s subway) to Logan Airport with said Fifth East resident to greet her. East Campus is conveniently located next to Kendall Square in Cambridge on the Red Line; you can get to the airport by subway for $1.25 in about half an hour.
Yeah, they were ridiculously happy.
Greg and I took her to that liberal arts school to register and drop off her bags, and had some fun confusing the unsuspecting student workers at the registration desk. Isn’t it obvious we go to MIT?
This week marks the start of fraternity rush, and there’s going to be a lot of free food in each fraternity’s effort to convince freshmen to join. I’m not much of a frat boy, but I may go to a few events for the free food. :-) Classes start Wednesday, and I’ll update you as I embark on the academic adventures the new week has in store.