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COLUMN

My Life As a Prefrosh

Veena Thomas

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my prefrosh weekend. So much has happened since then that I feel like it’s another lifetime, yet at the same time it feels like yesterday. I think college affects your perception of time somehow. Maybe it has to do with staying up until 4 a.m. working on problem sets. Hmm...

Prefrosh weekend was almost a different lifetime for me. After all, I was a young high school student from a small town who thought that going to bed at 12:30 was unacceptably late. I never drank soda to keep myself awake. I had never walked by myself in a big city. I had never ridden on the T. And the thought of a coed bathroom scared me. So I arrived at MIT, a little scared, but excited. I had wanted to attend MIT since third grade, and receiving my letter of admission was one of the best feelings I have ever known. But I knew very little about the non-academic parts of MIT. On paper, it was a perfect match, but I hoped that I would find it a great place socially also. I went to prefrosh weekend hoping that I would receive some kind of epiphany that MIT was really the perfect place for me.

Things started out pretty well for me. I really liked my host and my floor. There were several other prefrosh on my floor, so we hung out and explored the campus a little bit. But in the middle of the prefrosh dinner, I realized that I wasn’t really having a good time. I met people, but very few seemed to be moving beyond the “I know your name and your major” stage into the “I’d like to be your friend” stage. I had come for the weekend expecting to meet some really great, mature college students, but I had forgotten that prefrosh were still high school students.

I had hoped to meet guys, but I hadn’t realized that last year’s Campus Preview Weekend was 75 percent female. So I should have been excited when some of my new friends decided that they were going to take a “bus” to some frat where somebody knew someone. But I was a high school student from a small town who had heard horror stories about fraternities. I was certain that I was going to be raped or killed. And what would my mom say if I told her I was going to a fraternity in the middle of the night? I refused to die as a prefrosh.

So I left to find new, sane friends. I saw very few people walking around, and those I did see already had a group of friends, and I didn’t want to interfere. I headed back to the dorm, feeling depressed and alone, where I had a really good conversation with another prefrosh feeling the same way. But that was the turning point of my weekend. Later I saw those friends who had gone to the fraternity, alive. I realized that I almost certainly wasn’t going to be killed at a frat. Maybe I could relax a little bit and have some fun away from home.

And so that’s how I found myself totally happy with those same friends walking back from WILG at 2 a.m., something of which my parents would definitely not approve. (Um, sorry, Mom and Dad... I mean I was studying at 2.) After the initial first day, when no one knew how to act, people started becoming friendlier and willing to meet others. We soon had a bunch of girls laughing all across campus. After discovering a shared interest in crew, we arranged our very own boat and formed a team for the coming year when we were sure we were all coming to MIT.

I left prefrosh weekend almost totally convinced that MIT was the place for me. This feeling was confirmed when I visited other colleges and could not find the same sense of community, friendship, and offbeat humor that I had seen at MIT. I think my friends from prefrosh weekend felt the same way, since after arriving here in the fall, I found that nearly my entire group had decided to enroll at MIT. And although our plans to do crew fell through, I still talk to those I met a year ago. I ended up living on the same floor on which I prefroshed, and now I’m living next door to my host. So much has changed since then, yet some things remain the same. I still know that MIT is the college for me. It’s where I belong.