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Rush, but Try Not to Miss the Rest of MIT

Column by A. Arif Husain
Opinion Editor

Okay freshmen, please repeat after me: confidence, self-esteem, sociability, free time, round smiling faces. Yes, that's right folks, Residence and Orientation Week has begun, and you happy people are on your way to MIT stardom, so you won't be needing any of these pesky qualities to slow you down. Nope, in this oasis of tech all you'll need is an Athena account and a #2 pencil, and you'll be well on your way to degree-city in no time.

But don't be discouraged. In return for your small sacrifice, you'll be granted ample quantities of stress, plenty of anguish, and a bill for a good hundred or so thousand bucks in tuition and expenses - all wrapped so delicately in the beautifully printed diploma that will bear the glory of your Institute days. And if you're really lucky, there's a chance that you may actually learn a few things here and there. But don't quote me on that.

Suffering, however, is obviously not the whole story. Over the next few years, you'll become very fond of the ideals of a tortured nerd. You'll cherish your lack of sleep. You'll wallow in the self-created misery of overdue papers, exam-time crunches, and lab, lab, lab. Caffeine will become your soulmate. You'll complain to your friends. You'll complain to your parents. You'll complain to your parents' friends. We've all done it. Don't be ashamed. It's one of the few common threads that keeps our campus together, so enjoy it. Just don't get carried away.

You've made a decision to attend one of the finest academic and research institutions on the planet. Your decision could potentially open up countless doors in your future, from graduate school to the job market. In the meantime, you'll have four (or so) years to take advantage of hundreds of student activities, publications, social groups, and countless offerings in varsity and intramural athletics from one of the most abundant collegiate athletic programs. All the while you'll have the unique opportunity to interact with a hand-picked crop of whiz kids from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. And for God's sake, if you live in a dorm you'll have a 10 megabit-per-second Ethernet connection, and if you're in an independent living group you won't be so bad off, either. So be stressed, be overworked, but keep in mind that resources abound, and opportunity awaits.

You worked hard to get here, you'll work hard to stay here. It's the next few weeks that will likely be the most hectic. You'll need to make living arrangements, choose your classes, make new friends, and settle into the Cantabridgian lifestyle. But don't miss out on all that Boston has to offer. There's Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, Government Center, the Common, and the North End. Catch a show at the Wang Center, bask in Beethoven at Symphony Hall, or cheer for the hometown underdogs at Fenway Park or the Fleet Center. But soon problem sets will be due, and all of that culture, art, sports, and leisure will start to seem frivolous. You might feel like you're losing touch with the outside world. Personal hygiene will undoubtedly take a hit, and the word "fashion" will never so much as light up a neuron. Well, if that's the case, give yourself a pat on the back. Welcome to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - you'll be just fine.

A. Arif Husain, a senior in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, is lobbying fiercely to make Prozac an over-the-counter drug.