My mother paid for a one-way ticket from Honolulu to Newark, NJ because she could get it inexpensively. You could see she wanted to walk down the jet way with me but I shooed her away before the flight ground crew could comment. I was carrying everything I would own for some time on my shoulders.
The first day on campus can be fun and scary at the same time
At Newark, I needed to buy a ticket to Boston, which was my final destination. I did just that, then walked two terminals with about 40 lbs of bags because I didn’t know any better to look for an airport shuttle. When I landed at Logan Airport, I was told to look for a sign: “MIT Student Shuttle”. I waited at the stop, jet-lagged and exhausted. Finally a car pulled up. He verified that I was a student – which was easy since I looked the part: lost, young, and tired – waited for a couple more to pick up, then took off.
That was my introduction to all the glorious experiences of Boston traffic.
I thought I was going to die right then and there. There were no lane markings, six lanes were merging into two, and some sadistic form of chicken was constantly at play. The city was old and dirty, and it looked like a scene from crime movies set in NYC Chinatown.
Then, we pulled onto a broad, calm road lined with trees and a large median. I would learn later that it was Memorial Drive. We passed the iconic front of the MIT campus, turned onto Massachusetts Ave (“mass ave”) and pulled up to the Student Center. It looked like a campus and it felt like one too. Others were also just arriving. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and immediately felt like I had arrived.
The first week was called “Rush Week” for a simple reason: I rushed from one place to the other trying to decide where I wanted to live and what organizations I wanted to join. I met a lot of prospective friends (I barely remembered them afterward), drank a lot (illegally), ate a lot, got excited, got depressed, and much more. Then it was time for the second day.
Those coming-of-age movies, where they learn so much in their Freshman year, seem to move so slowly compared to my experience. I felt like I did an entire movie in a week, complete with Greek (fraternity) related drama, making new friends, meeting your roommate for the first time (and his family), dealing with amazing people, and dealing with idiots.
To this day, my mother can’t believe she only sent me, partway, all by myself and fortunately, she never knew the half of what went on that first week.
I wouldn’t have changed one moment.