Wearing our school’s black graduation gown with my ceremonial decorations, I became one of our school’s 475 seniors to walk across the stage at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. With my diploma in hand, I felt a satisfying sense of finality coupled with optimism: I was ready to take on the world. Adding some amusement to the situation was the fact that I immediately had to return to the symphonic band to provide the ceremony’s live music — I played at my own graduation.
Graduation parties and dinners form the highlights of my last days with my Class of 2011 high school friends. Fortunately, we fun-loving people made sure that they were not the usual dinner occasions by planning quirky events. For example, at one gathering we held a five-hour TV marathon watching episodes of Game of Thrones (a dark, beyond-R-rated fantasy). Part of the fun was predicting the particularly violent or lustful scenes and then racing to cover the eyes of the sensitive people watching. At a party in the house of my friend who was moving to New York, we played classic, nostalgia-invoking board games like Clue on the bare wooden floor. After three turns, everyone knew the murder occurred in the hall, but it took another hour to confirm Colonel Mustard’s innocence — it was Mrs. White who had killed with the candlestick! At my party, we assembled our own dinners using my elaborate collection of Japanese bento accessories, making cute, artistic arrangements. I ate some sandwiches shaped like mini bunnies, bears, and flowers, along with a vegetable flower garden and a cocktail-sausage fish swimming in a seasoned-rice pond. Who would want a restaurant dinner after all this?
After graduation, I began reflecting and thinking about the years to come. I keep a blog and a journal, which serve as points of comparison between different periods of my life. On typical days in high school, I would leave very early in the morning and return late in the evening. In the coming years, will I still be this occupied? I crammed homework during lunch, between classes, and even during classes — all as my load of extracurricular activities swelled to occupy a majority of my time. At MIT, will I still have time to do all the things I was interested in? On a good day, I got home at 7 or 8 p.m., did homework until 11, and then did extracurricular work until 1 a.m. Every day I felt like somebody from one of those movies about crazy high school students. I know for sure I do not intend to become an overworked, unhappy college student who never sees the light of day. Though I was busy in high school, I loved every moment of it, which is one thing I do not want to change.
Many prefrosh deadlines are coming up this month, including the housing lottery and freshman advising choices. While Maseeh Hall and its awesome resources are extremely appealing, its exclusion from the readjustment lottery worries me. The residence-based advising also seems to have far fewer freshman advising seminar choices, which cooled my interest in the new dorm. I do want to live in a more modern place with a dining hall, so Baker House is my new top choice. I also really want to room with two or three other people — while it seems logistically challenging, I have heard that it provides more social opportunities and in many cases fosters strong friendships.
In preparation for moving into an MIT dorm, I have begun digging out my old math and history notes, as well as clothes, textbooks, and other supplies. Even though I won’t be cooking much, I will definitely bring along my bento accessories. I am also going to make my life easier by ordering the “notoriously hard-to-find” extra long bed sheets online and buying a dorm refrigerator in Massachusetts.
This summer I will continue researching induced pluripotent stem cells in a molecular biology lab at the National Institutes of Health by day and reviewing math and science courses by night. I hope to pass the advanced standing exams I’m studying for so I have room for MIT’s more interesting classes, but what I want most is a particular freshman advising seminar. I’m entering the housing and advising lotteries tomorrow, so wish me luck!