Thoughts about MIT and Boston

Waiting for 4th of July fireworks in the rain on the roof of the climbing building at MIT.
Waiting for 4th of July fireworks in the rain on the roof of the climbing building at MIT.

All the terrible news about Boston and now MIT hitting far too close to home killing a campus security guard that I took hiking on a winter school trip just a few months ago, makes me reminiscent about the good times there.

I miss Cambridge and MIT and all the friends I made in my two years there. They were my introduction to US living and one of the highest reputed Universities in the world. Cambridge is a beautiful town full of ivy covered stone masonry, winding roads that are a heartache to navigate even with GPS (but still oh so much easier than across the river in Boston!), and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Random conversations on public transit were kind and insightful (in Van, mostly only the crazies talk) and I even made a good friend through a repeat ‘hey, that jacket’s from la cordee in Montreal!’ introduction before recognizing each other.

White Mountains in the fall.cannon
White Mountains in the fall; an “easy” climb on Cannon.

I’m an outdoor fanatic and I got involved in MIT’s outdoor club, MITOC, and after I got used to the almost anal safeguarding and liability wavers (ah, the USA) compared to my old club, the VOC at UBC, I found a club with so much energy to teach and share, to spread the love of the outdoors and how to safe in them. Like a good west coasters, I mocked their so-called mountains but, honestly, the Whites are gorgeous. In the fall, the colours are astounding and the peaks, for the little that they rise above sea level, offer ruggedly rocky, exposed and weather beaten summits that’s hard to beat. And the rock climbing walls could be as epic as the best out West!

MIT was not the stuck up academia that I thought it would be. My group was composed of some famous physicists but they were down to earth and friendly. Our lunches were notorious for going on forever with joking and ridiculous tangents (that sometimes led to good ideas!). The campus was connected, physically, so one could literally walk from engineering, through physics, to chemistry, math, and architecture with a little zig zagging up and down the levels. 

Some people ask why I left physics, how I knew, what I had planned. In the back of my mind I always intended on leaving physics — I just had to get that phD first for some reason. I hadn’t intended on the postdoc but I’m so incredibly grateful I did it anyway. 

I’m sending positive thoughts and memories about MIT, Cambridge and it’s big friendly neighbour Boston to all. I hope we get through these rough times quickly.