While you are preparing for the life inside the MIT classroom, life outside the classroom is equally important. It’s very useful to get familiarized with the lifestyle in Cambridge and specifically on the MIT campus because that’s where you will be spending almost a year.
Cambridge and MIT campus – It takes a while to understand the lay of the land. Cambridge is a crowded downtown with skyscrapers. It’s a vibrant metro place bustling with commercial business entities, metro / subway stations, restaurants, bars, and of course MIT / Harvard. Barring the high cost of living, it’s a fun place to live.
Unlike some universities, the MIT campus is spread across several big and small buildings throughout Cambridge. So, it’s hard to draw a fence line around MIT campus. MIT buildings are numbered, although their locations are not necessarily in chronological order. Because of this, a smartphone was my best friend to find the buildings during the first couple of months. Some of the classes are in different buildings, so you have to walk to different buildings for lectures.
Transportation – While a car is essential in other US cities, it’s a big hassle in Cambridge because of lack of parking places. The best mode of transportation is bicycle (except in winter months), bus, or subway. If you live on-campus, you can also walk to classes, although it can take around 15 minutes.
Housing – Most of us live in on-campus apartments – Ashdown, Tang Hall, Edgerton, and Sydney Pacific. I think the popularity goes in that order as well. Ashdown is definitely the “queen” of on-campus graduate housing because of its up-scale touch, shiny new-age architecture. It’s pretty clean and attractive from inside as well. Having said this, I think the Edgerton apartments are under-rated. Because Edgerton apartments are unfurnished, people ignore them. However, I think that’s actually a plus point. You get the flexibility to bring the furniture of your choice instead of being stuck with old furniture used by so many past residents. I think many Edgerton apartments have furniture that was “generously” left behind by previous students. Edgerton is also closer to SCM / Sloan buildings, which can be a big advantage in winter.
A few of us also live in nearby off-campus apartments mainly because of better amenities, freedom to choose room partners, etc. However, it’s typically more expensive than on-campus apartments.
More to come in next blog …stay tuned
– Amit Panditrao