Saturday, September 3, 2005

greetings from MIT

Some of you are friends and family that I talk to regularly and others of you I haven't seen in a long time. Just wanted to send out a quick hello from the fair city of Cambridge Massachusetts and the MIT campus.

MIT is truly like no other place on earth. The first 48 hours or so were rather overwhelming and intimidating, but I'm past that now, making friends, and finding my way to fit into this world of endless opportunity and possibility. I was assigned to a dorm called "East Campus" temporarily for the first few days of registration, which was a great place - classic dorm style halls except that they allowed mural painting on the walls, and literally everywhere was painted - halls, rooms, and bathrooms. The bathroom nearest my room was painted black with lots of fluorescent colored paint and lit entirely by black lights. The dorm was known for it's crazy constructions... some guys on one of the floors last year built a computer controlled disco floor with over 500 squares with LED lights for nearly infinite possibility for color combinations which they then programmed to do all kinds of gorgeous moving color patterns. And they did it in about a week.

East Campus was a great place, but almost on a whim I decided to ask for a different dorm called "Random Hall" in the readjustment lottery, so here I am, in a gorgeous double coming straight off a spacious kitchen in the only dorm (at MIT and likely in the world) where you can check whether or not the bathrooms, washers, and dryers are in use or not via the internet in your room. A wonderful result of MIT's policy of enabling you to live exactly where you want to live is that there really is a unique culture and personality to each of the dorms--mine is a little towards the geeky side of the MIT spectrum (who else would decide to wire bathroom doors to the internet in their free time??), but extremely friendly, close, and does a lot of cooking.

I am amassing quite a collection of "only at MIT" sights/experiences: eating ice-cream that upperclassmen had just frozen using jets of liquid nitrogen, wandering through the 'activities fair' and seeing someone's random electrical project featuring a mess circuits and forks allowing a row of dill pickles to sizzle and sparkle on and off (it was counting to 256 in binary numbers), hearing a girl in my seminar tell about the business she started in Nigeria, and the ubiquitous number jargon that peppers daily converstion: it's not "I'm not a biology major, " but "I'm course 7", not "I'm taking multivariable calculus," but, "i'm taking 18.02," not "Meet you at the main lecture hall in Green Building," but "Meet you at 54-100."

In the past few days I have been increasingly impressed by not just the brains and quirkiness of MIT students, but how engaged and interested they are about more serious issues. I've had some great discussions about religion, race, prejudice, politics, globalization and all sorts of other topics. There are a great many international students here with fascinating perspectives on their own culture and life in America.

The plan for the fall right now is to take chemistry, genetics, physics, and a class on race/gender, plus my advising seminar "AIDS in the 21st" century. Classes start this coming wednesday, and I am very excited. I'm intending to major in biology.

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