A Week in Cambridge

As I’m writing this, I’m on the sixth floor of Simmons, the sponge-like building in MIT that’s a little farther from campus than the rest of Dorm Row.

I’ve been in Cambridge for almost a week, and I’ve had a lot of time to think things over. On one hand, it’s a relief that the college process is finally over for me, and I can relax and visit schools (and skip class every now and then ;D). On the other hand, it’s a little scary to think about how much is about to change in the coming months.

I’ve only lived in NYC for four years, but it’s become my city in that time, and giving up the amazing people and places I’ve grown to love is so difficult. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m still planning on visiting Columbia University in a few weeks even though my heart’s already set (although the Egleston Scholars program is a bit tempting, especially after they mailed me a book and other swag).

Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) actually began on Thursday, when I drove up with my parents to Cambridge to check in with my host (Kylie) in Kappa Alpha Theta, located conveniently near Kresge.

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Our first sight at MIT

I’d spent the previous night excitedly pouring over the schedule (like most Stuy kids, I tend to do things at the last minute and that includes looking over agendas for events). It was unbelievable how many events were scheduled, and I honestly tried my best to make sure I hit as many as I could.

It was pretty cool seeing all of the kids from research and STEM competitions in the same place – including international kids – and alumni from my high school. The highlights of the first day included a pretty interesting opening ceremony, LN2 ice cream (in retrospect, I should have doubled back to East Campus for seconds), mysteriously disappearing events and boba, Terrascope and cheese, oddly sticky floors on Burton Third, middle school dance parties at Baker, and lots of rain.

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Baker Horizon (there was a photographer walking around taking photos, so I’m still not sure what’s happening with those)

I didn’t take nearly enough photos – if at all – but there were just so many people to meet and so little time to do anything. By the end of the day, I’d abandoned my schedule and ended up crashing pretty early by CPW standards (around 2am).

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MIT Logarhythms (LOGS)!

The second day was still pretty cold, but at least the rain had stopped. I found it pretty funny how the weather had to be at its worst during CPW (it was the same way the previous year, and as I recall most of my friends ended up committing elsewhere from hypothermia).

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We eventually met up with the infamous 25-year old Random Hall milk (MIT ’19).

At any rate, the day was a little more random. I wanted to stop by East Campus again, but after a pretty low-key morning (featuring more mysteriously disappearing events), I met up with some friends and had breakfast in McCormick.

I tried checking out an entrepreneurship series in Sloan, but it ended up being a maker workshop with grilled cheese sandwiches. The majority of the day was filled with free food events, Course 6 and CSAIL meetups, dorm tours, Asian snacks at Simmons, and party-hopping with some Thetas.

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The infamous Simmons ball pit

By Saturday, I was feeling pretty exhausted from staying up far too late, so that might’ve been the reason why I got a bit more lost than I did the past few days. I ended up hitting New House, Senior Haus, and checking out Next before brunching with StartLabs (which was definitely one of the highlights of the day).

The Student Activities Fair and MoDONK collab workshop were also pretty fun (plus my first time doing hip hop). A few of us got pretty sniped by the trading club’s math problems, and I definitely signed up for way too many mailing lists. There were some pretty cool lawn activities too, like bubble soccer, puppy petting, and Ultimate later in the day before the Closing Ceremony. I was actually so impressed with the Bhangra and yo-yo performances, but as usual, I didn’t end up capturing any of it on camera.

The Senior Haus concert was really cool, as was the Stata fire show later that night (probably a better-kept secret, since it didn’t really get advertised as much as the Tangerine Tours were). We ended the night with some more party-hopping before more of us had to leave for home.

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Spinning Arts Performance (and I need to use a better camera)

Sunday was about a low-key as it gets. I had a nice breakfast in McCormick before walking over to Kendall Square with some prefrosh and grabbing Clover. We ended up disbanding after a bit and I moved in with my new host at Simmons for MIT INSPIRE while the rest of the crew headed back to their temps.

For the rest of Sunday, I hung around campus and did a few more dorm tours. I’ve been considering Burton-Conner, East Campus, and Senior Haus as prospective dorms, although I’m a bit biased since I have no intention on using the MIT dining plan during the year. Maseeh, Next, Simmons, and McCormick were all pretty nice and modern, and I thought Baker also seemed like a pretty comfortable place to live.

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Breakfast waffle

At any rate, after most of the prefrosh had left from CPW (except Mary and Prathik, who were also doing INSPIRE), I rushed over to MIT CopyTech to print out my poster. I didn’t think it was necessary to bring it from NYC, since it was most likely going to get crushed in between moving dorms. My host Sharlene was sweet enough to lend me her trifold for the competition, so setting up was a breeze.

The opening ceremony was pretty cool, especially listening to a more humanities-focused lens after so many science fairs. The competition itself was also interesting – after a weekend saturated with Course 6 (my first love, of course, but variety’s also cool), hearing about HASS was a refreshing relief.

I was really excited to meet Casper Hare, one of the MIT philosophy professors, as well as some of the Nobel Laureates on campus. Even the grad students were pretty interesting to talk to, though a full day of standing by my poster was definitely draining.

Around now, I’m finally finished, and it’s just awards tomorrow at Kresge before I leave for NYC. I’ve luckily been on Spring Break this week, but I’m already headed to CatHacks in Kentucky in the few days, so the grind really doesn’t stop.

CPW has really gotten me thinking about a lot of what I took for granted back in NYC and what I really want to do. I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned has been just to stick to my instincts and go with what I feel is the best choice.

Pro and cons lists can stand in the way of actually determining what’s best for you, and if anything, I think they’re useful for sorting out your thoughts at the beginning. In the end, though, any choice you make should really be a combination of how you feel and what you know. I know it’s a bit vague, but this has definitely been a new sentiment for me, and I’m excited to see where my new philosophies take me.

On the topic of choices, even though everything’s so uncertain at the moment, after staying at Theta, Greek life seems pretty interesting. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to try going 6-2 and 8 when I end up at MIT. The fact that the MIT Media Lab offers MAS and UROPs is also insanely exciting, as is the prevalence of theater/film/music/literature on campus, so I’m definitely pretty enthusiastic for what’s to come.

It hasn’t even felt like a week – maybe because it really hasn’t been – but I already feel like Cambridge could potentially be home. It’s put a bit of a dent into the finality of college decisions, but I think I at least have one more choice made in the back of my head.

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