Full Circle

Columbia University has one of the best orientation videos I’ve seen on YouTube.  While the video is geared to international students, I feel it’s applicable to anyone moving to a new area, especially to a new region.

As someone from the Midwestern United States, I’m  used to a few things.   Namely, easy driving, “pop,” and people being polite whether or not they know you.  While these are generalizations, they stem from some truths about the differences from the Midwest as compared to the East Coast.

Here, driving is a nightmare (at least for me), I’ve been corrected on my usage of the word “pop,” and I can count on one hand the times someone has said “thank you” after I held the door for them.  That being said, I’ve started to love it here and I know why.

When I arrived here, I was in full love with Boston.  Big city, bright lights, fancy school, all of the things that anyone could really want at their fingertips.  Slowly, and then very quickly, however, things waned.  Grocery shopping is different.  I don’t have a backyard to hang out in.  My car is parked more than  quarter mile from where I live and I constantly worry about its well-being.  Now, two months in, those things have normalized and I’m conscious of my attitude towards it.

Lately, it’s been very satisfying to show up to work a little early and get all of my work done.  As an intern, this gives me some extra free time.  This free time I utilize as an opportunity to meet people.  Fact of the matter is, in less than a year, I will be doing a serious job search.  And Boston is now familiar enough for me to want to live here for a little while.

The benefit of putting extra in to get to know others better has been that I get more out of it.  In a year, hopefully it lands me a job, but now, it makes me more satisfied with my work environment.  It’s nice to see that feeling come full circle.

It’s a schlep.

schlep/SHlep/ – Noun: A tedious or difficult journey.  Truth to be told, I learned this word here at MIT when picking up my first paycheck.  Apparently, the distance from my office to the paycheck office is “a bit of a schlep.”  While I found the walk a good opportunity to enjoy yasBd (yet another sunny Boston day [every single day for the past week and a half has been sunny]), it was a bit of a hike.

So what’s good in the hood?  Cambridge is a beautiful city and made of all of the necessary components for a successful urban atmosphere (diversity, density, and a desire to live here).  Boston metro has given me tons of things to do ranging from sandy beaches to facing off in trivia with graduate students at on-campus pubs.   No doubt, this city and this school have it good. 

If there are any lessons I’ve garnered since arriving here, it’s to appreciate the extremes and not to expect anything.  “Tech” (as it’s so lovingly called) admits the best students in the country and puts them through four years of academic hell.  What’s most confusing about it is that everybody, students, staff, and faculty, love it.  The work done here puts its participants on a path that is hard to reach otherwise-a high road of learning, making mistakes, and sleeping very little.

Expectations here, aside from the expectation to give 300%, are a mistake.  Student affairs at MIT are unique.  Faculty involvement, which is something that many schools strive to find, exists here through faculty housemasters.  And with that-the caveat-is that the faculty therefore make decisions of house each house (hall, dorm, or residence hall) is run.  Greek life is something nearly half of the students are involved in.  There are nearly 500 student organizations and only 10,000 students (undergraduate and graduate).  It makes for an environment that I have never experienced before, giving me an opportunity to learn and reconsider a lot.

Since my departure from Michigan three weeks ago, I still keep in touch.  I read Michigan news, listen to Michigan radio, and call people living in Michigan.  I’m hoping I can take the lessons learned here and bring them back and see if they can be translated from this atmosphere to the Midwest.   That doesn’t mean that Michigan doesn’t have a few lessons that I wish we could teach Massachusetts’ fine residents (namely: how to drive).

I’m knocking off things I want to do off my list and I’m enjoying my time.  It’ll be over before I know it… and the drive back, well, it’ll be a schlep.