Freshman Orientation and Rush comprise two of the most fun weeks in all of the MIT academic calendar (oops, I don’t think I was supposed to reveal that to the freshmen just yet; ah well, they were bound to learn it sooner or later). Free goodies, free food -- and it’s better than the usual fare -- who can disagree?
But like all good things, R/O must come to an end. Once classes kick in, we’ll have our heads buried in our books until all hours of the night. There is a way, though, to keep the fun alive. Just keep these few things in mind, and you can turn your years here into some of the best you’ll ever have.
Get out of MIT at least once a week. It’s important to give yourself a break once in a while, and a weekly basis is just the right frequency. After five days of classes, problem sets, and exams, you’re going to want to forget about it all, and those two days each week are an opportunity to do just that. Explore Boston. It’s right in your backyard, and the Harvard Bridge is only a 10-minute walk. If it’s late, there’s also SafeRide to get you around campus or between FSILGs on the other side of the river. And if there’s somewhere else you want to go that’s on the way, or even one that’s a little off the route, talk to the SafeRide drivers; they’re nice people. And then there’s always the T. It’s a little bit smaller than some other cities’ metropolitan railways, but there’s a good chance that your destination is within a reasonable distance from a train station.
Take the time to get to know people. This is one of the most important things to do here, and it applies to everyone. MIT is filled to the brim with interesting people. Freshmen, upperclassmen, graduate students, staff, faculty; everyone has something to offer. Don’t get me wrong; academics are top priority. But in ten years, you’re going to remember the friends you’ve made more than anything you’ve learned in class.
Shower daily. I know what you’re thinking, but let me explain myself. I’m not going to lie to you. You may find yourself pulling many an all-nighter (to date, I haven’t, but I have friends who have). But even if you’re not sleeping every night, make a point of showering. Aside from the obvious benefits, it will give you a sense of pause in between the days. Also, take your clothes with you when you go to shower. You don’t want to get locked out of your room wearing a bathrobe or just a towel, especially if you’re in a co-ed dorm. Oh, and McCormick residents, we’re not immune either. You’ll come to learn how many males populate the McCormick lobby on a given day. Better to learn under more positive circumstances. Or, if you insist on only bringing a towel or robe, make sure you have your keys with you, especially if you live in East Campus.
Be careful when crossing Mass. Ave. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but any number of things can happen. First of all, don’t cross in front of 77 when there are fast cars coming. If you start as soon as the signal turns to Walk, there should be no reason to run, but try to move faster than a snail. If you come out of 77 and the Walk sign is already there, and you’re not sure how many chirps have passed, play it safe and wait for the next signal.
Own at least one pot or pan. Signing up for a meal plan is one thing that will definitely force you to learn how to cook. I don’t care how bad a cook you think you are; there’s no way I wasn’t at least ten times worse than you a year ago. Aramark food is convenient around lunchtime -- breakfast, too, if you’re into that sort of thing -- but you’re going to want something different for dinner. Trust me. And Ramen Noodles are one of the basic food groups of college students. So make sure you have at least one pot or pan to cook them in.
I came to MIT last year with the same expectations and notions as many of you. But let me tell you that I had a blast. And I continue to do so as long as I keep certain suggestions in mind. I realize that I haven’t given you any academic advice, but you’ll get plenty of useful help on that from just about everyone else here.
Welcome to MIT. Good luck!