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Sophomore Looks at Dinners From the Other Side

By Jason C. Yang
Associate Night Editor

On my first day back at MIT, my roommate asked me if I wanted to go to Thursday Night Dinners. Even with a mountain of unopened boxes and suitcases, I knew I couldn't miss it. One of the reasons I came back here early was to experience Residence and Orientation Week from the other side. When I was a freshman last year, I hooked up with a random group not really interested in where they were going, but I still had a good time. I wondered what it would be like from another perspective.

I went to Thursday Night Dinners with Baker House, my dormitory. Unfortunately I wasn't at Johnson Athletic Center to see the beginning of the Dinners. We had sent representatives to Johnson to gather our freshmen, and the rest of us would meet up with them later.

When we were all together we counted four freshmen among us. To me, four freshmen out of over a thousand students was not a lot. I imagined that somewhere in Boston there was a group of a hundred freshmen being herded into a tiny restaurant.

Our reservation for La Famiglia Giorgio's in the North End was for 25 people, but we easily filled that and more by finding wandering Bakerites. One had just arrived at MIT and without even checking in or going to his room, he left his bags at the desk and went with us.

When we arrived at the Kendall T stop there was already a long line at the token booth. Overwhelmed, as more MIT students arrived, the attendant opened up the gates and let everyone through. This reminded me that I need to start carrying change and T tokens again like last year.

My first time using the T in three months was a little disorienting. I guess it was the same for many of us. Before I left for the summer I could travel through Boston on the T blindfolded. Green, blue, red, and orange were more than just colors. When we arrived at Park Street, some of us ended up on the wrong side of the station. Later, half of our group missed a stop, but eventually we all found each other and arrived at La Famiglia in one way or another.

The place was really crowded and service was extremely slow. Apparently another Dinners group happened to be in the same restaurant. We stared at our menus for about 45 minutes before the waitress took our orders. It was another hour and a half before our food came. In the meantime, we took advantage of the baskets of bread offered.

Going into Thursday Night Dinners, I thought the freshmen would be attacking us with questions about MIT and academics. After a day of MOYA and Tech Trek, I guess they were too exhausted to ask us about MIT. I also thought that I would be talking about my dorm; trying to convince them to live with us. Instead, during the two-hour wait, we reminisced over our collective R/O experiences, past and present. We remembered the rope challenges, the trust falls, and even the cookies in the cardboard box. We also griped about MOYA, which most of us had found boring and useless. I wanted to find out about Tech Trek because it was a new activity. It seemed interesting, but one of the freshmen said it was confusing. Everyone just wandered the campus trying to solve puzzles. No one really knew what was going on.

When the topic of conversation drifted toward Italian pasta and sauces, we were obviously delirious from the lack of food intake.

The rest of the night proved uneventful. Our food did finally arrive, but somehow we all lost our appetite since most of us didn't finish. The attendant at the Haymarket T stop was a little more patient than the one at Kendall, so it took a while to get everyone in the gate. Luckily they opened the gates at Kendall because I was left with only a dollar after dinner. Eventually, we found our way home without losing anybody.

After being on both sides, I've found that Thursday Night Dinners is a great experience for everybody. Freshmen are in a relaxed atmosphere with upperclassmen. Although for upperclassmen, R/O may be on the slow side, Dinners give us a chance to meet new students and look back on our freshman year.