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How to Survive Orientation

Wesley T. Chan

In the next two weeks, you will have uttered your name, potential major, and what you did last summer to more upperclassmen then you can possibly fathom.

They all want to meet you, and some will even try to coax you into living with them for the next four years.

But those upperclassmen are also seasoned veterans waiting to tell you their stories of painful all-nighters, dispensing advice while they're at it.

But not all advice is worth its weight in gold.

Mine is, however, and unlike most things at MIT, it's actually free.

So I will now offer to you my little nuggets of wisdom, which have guided me and other MIT old-timers through our own Orientations.

Class of 2002: Just be yourself.

If you walk away having learned only one thing from this column, this is it.

Many upperclassmen will be evaluating you on what you claim to be for various reasons, like whether they want you living with them. Misleading others will screw you big time in the end.

Recognize that your temporary phone number during Orientation is as important as your Social Security Number. Be careful to whom you give it out, as you wouldn't want the wrong people using it against you.

Know that picking a place to live is not a life-or-death decision. Most students are happy with where they wind up, but if you aren't, you can always switch later on.

Keep an open mind and discard all your preconceived notions about the Institute. If you don't, you're as bad as those who think you're going to the "Michigan Institute of Trucking" and label you as a redneck for the rest of your life.

Call your parents. Let them know you're still alive.

Understand that "mandatory" has many shades of meaning just as "sexual relations" may mean different things to President Clinton. When it applies to Orientation events, it means that you can ditch them at will. When it applies to showering regularly and doing laundry, mandatory really does mean just that.

Play a prank on somebody. Laugh when somebody plays a prank on you.

Unlike its ancient Greek counterpart, Athena, MIT's computing environment, is not something you should worship. Think of Athena as one of the "sirens" in Greek mythology. If you fall in love with it, you will be its prisoner forever.

Food here leaves much to be desired. Report any "worm-like objects" you find in your food to The Tech.

Remember that you are no longer the smartest kid on the block. Like all your dirty little secrets, keep your SAT score and your GPA to yourself. If you reveal them, you're going to embarrass yourself. This applies especially to those who have 4.0s and 1600s.

But perhaps a member of the MIT Cross Country Team put it best when he simply said to go out during Orientation and "get some!"

He was probably referring to the plenty of free lobster and steak available at all the fraternities during rush. Or perhaps he was talking about the advice you can get from your associate advisors about cool classes to take first term.

Either way, I got plenty during my Orientation. And I loved every minute of it.

I hope you enjoy every minute of your Orientation too. Welcome to MIT.