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Freshman Diaries You think you know, but you have no idea

By Veena Ramaswamy

This is the second installment of a column written by an MIT freshman.

As I enter my sixth week at MIT, so much has changed since my first few days here. Classes are in full swing, I’ve had my first wave of tests, and I’ve made the notorious first trip home. And although I really like it here, these past few weeks have been pretty tough academically. I have finally come to understand why people here use the phrase “IHTFP,” yet at the same time I have also come to see why so many say they love it here.

Don’t get me wrong; the people here are awesome -- very humble and down-to-earth, qualities that convinced me to come here in the first place. They know how to “work hard, play hard,” as evidenced by many of MIT’s social events, including Rush. Rush was a great experience -- getting free food, and going to free events, in the company of friends and frat brothers... how can you go wrong?

But what I’ve come to realize, (which I was also warned about during CPW) is that academically, MIT is really tough. It’s not tough as in studying a bit more than usual to acing a test. It’s tough as in studying for hours on a calculus test, only to learn that you passed by three points, or spending an entire evening trying to figure out one chemistry problem and not even solving it by the end of the day.

One thing that I like, though, is that people are willing to help each other out, because let’s face it -- it’s nearly impossible to get through all of your work alone. And the tutoring services and office hours offered by the departments have been also been very helpful -- if you haven’t been taking advantage of these services, you’ve really been missing out.

After my first wave of tests, when things had finally gotten into a normal schedule, (I don’t know if normal is a good word to use in any context for MIT... but I digress,) I took my first trip back home, during Columbus Weekend. I was really looking forward to my trip home not because I was homesick, but rather, I just missed home: the home-cooked meals, a nice clean shower, and most importantly, my bed. It was so nice to see my family and meet up with some friends from high school (who were also home that weekend) and catch up on the past few months.

As the weekend came to an end, and I began my trip back to campus, I kept wishing I were back at home. I was not looking forward to the work that lay ahead for me back at MIT.

But after coming back to campus and seeing familiar faces, I realized that despite the stress associated with problem sets, or an upsetting quiz, MIT is not a bad replacement for home during the academic year. So while I understand the usage of the phrase “IHTFP,” I also see how people can learn to really love this place -- it really grows on you.