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MIT student blogger Joe B. '18

wow. by Joe B. '18

my first three weeks being an actual student actually at mit


I’m Joe, and I don’t really know where to start this post. I guess I’m a blogger now. Also apparently I’m a real life MIT student now too. Neither of these are things I ever thought would happen, so that’s pretty cool. That’s probably an understatement, actually. It’s insanely cool – the process that brought me from my hometown, to getting accepted into this crazy place, to now being a blogger, happened so quickly, I’m still in a state of shock (so try to forgive me if this post is all over the place). The idea of MIT never became a reality to me until I actually moved here. Throughout all of high school, the idea of college as a whole seemed so abstract and so distant that I basically thought it would never happen, but as I’ve just very recently learned, it does indeed happen, and it happens very quickly.

So I’m here at MIT, taking actual classes and doing actual problem sets and making actual friends (really!). It’s crazy. I moved up here on the 19th of August, for my pre-orientation program I was accepted to, Discover Product Design (DPD), which was so rad. I didn’t know what to expect going in to it, knowing literally not one thing about the topic, but I think it’s safe to say that I learned a lot. We split in to groups and designed objects meant to fix a problem in our dorm rooms, and then proceeded to build them out of acrylic. My group came up with this (exceptionally impractical) bed whose mattress flips over to fold into a desk that would be way too big for any actual dorm room. Oh well. Speaking of dorm rooms, that leads me to my next point.


For my FPOP and most of REX, I was living in East Campus, Second East. During CPW earlier in the year, I was temped in MacGregor, but ended up spending a lot of my time over on the east side of campus, which included EC, but most of my time was spent in the courtyard of Senior House, trying again and again to master the tire swing (which, mind you, is no ordinary tire swing). Anyways, CPW came to an end, and when the time came for me to apply for housing, I put East Campus first – I wasn’t sure that Senior House would be right for me, and when results were posted, I got my first choice – East Campus. When I arrived in Cambridge to move in, the summer resident hadn’t moved out of room yet, so I was placed in a room down the hall, in a double alone (a “dingle”, as I’ve heard people call it). But as orientation moved along, I realized I wasn’t spending very much time at all at EC – I found myself again and again at Senior House. Here at MIT though, you have a chance to move out of your dorm during orientation to another residence (called REX, or residence exploration). So when the opportunity presented itself, I requested to move into Senior House, and somehow, I got in, and I couldn’t be happier here. It’s such an amazing and diverse place – all of MIT is, for that matter – and there’s such a wonderful community. What really drew me was the culture of music and art that exists here – two things that I am very into. Those are things that I really want to pursue while I’m at MIT, if I can find time, which, as I have come to learn, is a valuable commodity.

Once classes began, life turned very crazy very quickly. People always told me that MIT was hard, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I think I have a handle on what that means now. I haven’t pulled an all-nighter yet to do psets, but I’ve come close, staying up alone in the Hayden Library until 4 AM to do my 5.111 pset the night before it was due. If I had to impart one piece of wisdom I’ve gleaned, it would be that college is nothing like high school. People told me that all the time before I got here, but now that I’m here, I can verify. They are, in fact, different. I could whine and complain about all the work I’ve already had to do, but that wouldn’t be representative of my experience. You get what you put in. Already, I feel like I’m so much more knowledgeable about the topics we’re covering than I was just a few weeks ago. I spent over 12 hours working on my most recent 18.01A problem set with a group, and it was definitely difficult, but if you had given me the same problems a week ago, I would have had literally no idea where to begin. As I’m writing this, the results to my first MIT test ever were posted, 8.01, which I took last night. (and I got a 93 yesssssssssssss)

With all the time I spend on classes and actual real work, time for other things has become increasingly scarce, and thus I’ve been slowly learning to use my time more efficiently. I haven’t been able to do as much of the stuff as I’ve wanted to do yet, but that will come. I’m making sure to set aside time to write music and build stuff – they’re still my passions, and I’m pretty sure they’re what helped get me into MIT, so it makes sense that I should continue with them. I have this four bar loop I wrote the other day playing right now and I’m trying to figure out what to do next with it. In general, I really want to explore music at MIT and Boston/Cambridge. To celebrate the end of the first week of school, I went to Boston Calling on Friday with a friend, to see Neutral Milk Hotel and The National, which was so awesome. This whole place is so incredibly creative and inspiring, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to build off of that. (Speaking of building, note to self: join the MIT Hobby Shop, it’s soo rad.) I’m in a freshman advising seminar called “Digital and Darkroom Imaging”, and last Sunday I developed real life film by hand in a darkroom, which was such an experience (also, not easy). I also (apparently) have 24/7 access to the darkroom in the Student Center, which is so cool. My HASS course for the semester is one on Jazz History, and the professor is a musician and is giving his students free tickets to a show he’s playing. How rad is that? (very. it’s very rad.)

I could write so many other things about my time here so far, and I’m sure I will in future posts. I’m still trying to process everything that’s happened so far, life moves so quickly here. I understand why Pass/No Record exists for first semester. Transitioning is hard. Anyways. I think me and some friends are going to IHOP to eat pancakes and work on our next 18.01A pset, so that’s what I’m doing next. Thanks for getting through this wall of text, however disorganized it was. (Also, as you may have already noticed, I have a penchant for long, winding sentences with lots of commas. Sorry about that, I’m working on it.)

So, all in all, I like it here. (a lot)