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You are not alone in adjustments

Guest Column/Elliot Marx

It all started freshman year of high school when I heard about MIT being the "perfect" school for me. I've always been enthusiastic about math and science, so I figured that MIT would help stimulate my interest even more.

Later on I was attracted to MIT not just because of the academics but also because of the people. I had talked to a few MIT alumni and found them all to be friendly, easy-going people who happened to be interested in math and science. After I received that magic letter of acceptance, all I could think about was how much I was dying to go to MIT because I believed everyone here would be like the alumni I had met.

My yearning to leave high school was compounded by a lousy second semester, when I realized I really didn't fit in with the other people there. They all seemed so different from me -- different personalities, different aspirations. I experienced the same uneasy feelings this summer; I worked at a camp where I had virtually nothing in common with my co-workers. I was hoping to find people at MIT with whom I would get along.

I finally got to MIT last week. I visited several fraternities, where the people rushing me acted very friendly, only to tell me later that I wouldn't fit in. Even though I made many friends in the process, all of this rejection destroyed my ego. I had to face the truth: MIT is not a homogeneous community in which I can get along with everyone.

After this rejection process, I received even more bad news; I was put in "limbo," a euphemism for being homeless. I went back to my temporary room at 12:30, only to hear blasting music and drunken revelry. I couldn't believe what was happening; I'd always expected I wouldn't have to deal with wild partiers at MIT. I got another room that very night.

Now that I have my permanent assignment at Random Hall, I've had time to reflect on this past week. I've realized that it wasn't all that bad. I've actually made quite a few friends and gotten a feel for what goes on at MIT. It doesn't quite feel like home, but that's expected since I've only been here for a short period of time.

It's hard to break away from home, make new friends, and get adjusted to a totally different environment. I've discussed this with several upperclassmen here and at other colleges, and they've told me that they went through the same experience when they were freshmen. It takes a long time to adjust fully to college life.

Don't worry, freshmen. You're not alone.