A Slew of Novelty

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Seems like I made the correct decision in coming here. To my delight, MIT has hurdled over three spots in US News' nefarious rankings, earning the cozy 4th place spot it rightfully deserves (although not along with Caltech >.<). In this farce of rankings, Harvard has once again attained the number one spot (no surprise there considering how many people were upset about Princeton snagging first last year) and the three main ivy's have yet again remained in the top three. Bravo US News. Without you guys, what else could I vehemently make fun of? Getting to the gritty juice of this post, I have snapped some pictures of my room and want to share with you all how my humble temporary (maybe permanent) habitat looks. Know that everything wooden has been graciously provided by Simmons. There is also a special black "surprise" that comes along with every room. It's hidden behind the desk, but I'll leave it up to you all to discover it once you visit campus.

Snazzy right? Well, it required a great deal of work and six people. When I first opened my door, I almost burst into laughter at the absurdity of how despondent my room appeared. Truthfully, this insufficiency stemmed from the lofting of my bed, which I did not like (climbing up these ladders kills the feet). So I gathered together a group of my closest, intimate friends and we spent some time lowering the bed (keep in mind that the furniture is modular). All this was well worth it though because now it's a breeze to jump onto my bed and I won't kill myself by falling off in the morning (seriously, my friend has already accidentally fallen).

After meeting up with Paul (yes, the blogger) and talking about dipping dot machines, a group of us went around to some REX events.

This is how cool MIT is.

Naturally, I went for the ice cream at Baker devouring many scoops of chocolate chunk ice cream. Afterward I experienced one of the most not so well known traditions of MIT: chairing. It's actually a fairly self-explanatory idea. You take Athena chairs from the clusters and ride them down the long and somewhat steep inclines in the underground tunnels (ever wonder why so many of the seats are missing wheels?). After scrapes, bruises, and many wipeouts, we headed back, only to find ourselves in the grasps of East Campus, the land of all scariness for us West Campus folks. Well, let me tell you that I was freakishly surprised that I enjoyed the atmosphere of EC and the projects they do. The senior who showed us around completely modded out his room, using a water hydraulics system to open and close his door automatically through his iPhone. Not stopping at that, he even added this unlocking mechanism that allows him to use his phone to unlock his door. EC takes the lead even more with their obnoxiously large project in their courtyard. Going until about 4 am in the morning every night for the past week, these ECers have been constructing a 3-foot high roller coaster out of plywood while playing Dragon Force over and over. If that's not awesome, then I don't know what is.

Today, after the competition (more on this later), we headed over to the MIT boathouse and had some scrumptous slices of Bertucci's pizza ( still holding true to my pizza promise). After scarfing down the food, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to go sailing - for my first time. It was a blast. Words cannot even explain how exhilarating it felt to be sailing through the heart of Boston with downtown on one side and MIT on the other. The sun was setting and the breeze was just right. I even learned how to meagerly manage the boat. I'm partially convinced that I should join the boating team. Hours are flexible and it's just plain old fun. If anything, I'll attend the Sunday morning sailing class.

Boston skyline ftw!

The even better Boston skyline!

Nothing like home.

Music is in the air and campus is bustling with newcomers. This can only mean orientation is in full swing and so I must venture forth and explore campus. DME has ended after a week of some heartwarming experiences. I cannot wait for the reunions. In a week and a half, classes start. Now, it's time to enjoy myself.

Epic Night

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Tonight was grand. After a long debate with Kelsey about whether we'd end up blogging with watching 40 Year Old Virgin those never-ending psets and all, we ultimately ended up posting, staying once again faithful to our daily shaky commitments to our blogs. Call us mad for diminishing our precious sleep time even more by blogging, but we amazingly produce our best work at these wee hours in the morning. MIT students rock like that. They really do.

The DMEers (Discover Mechanical Engineering FPOP), being the coolest kids on campus, trekked out into Boston for a night of sheer craziness (aka ice cream and shopping). I pretty much fulfilled my "dream" of drooling over the shiny new Apple Store and fell in love with the best shop Boston has to offer: Newbury Comics. Why do I have this new love (I feel like I'm always saying that I love something new...I swear I'm not this fickle in real life)? Because of the best character known to man that was sitting all lonely on the shelf in this store:

< /jealousy>

Wipe that slobber off your keyboard. I know how ridiculously incredible Domo is, especially when he’s holding his own specialty energy drink. I’ve been showing him off to everyone and being that this is MIT, most people are thoroughly impressed. I don’t think the old couple walking by cared too much though, opting to give me weird looks instead. Go figure.

Well, apart from all the fun, DME has been an extraordinary experience. Look soon for posts about my DME days and nightly excursions (wait until you see my Apple Store pictures ^_^).

I’m liking this school more and more everyday, just like an exponential curve (did I mention this place is rubbing off on me too? ).

First Days at School Have Never Been So Great

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I've finally arrived! Yesterday afternoon I bubbly skipped around campus, picked up my orientation folder, and obtained my room key. Since I'm a little early, there are only international students on campus (internationals must be here early), and I've been meeting folks from all over the world. This is such an amazing way to begin the next four years.

Because the finest part of orientation is the folder that is our lifeline to surviving the next two weeks, I thought I’d highlight the components of what I received.

Seeing as this is the coolest school in the world, I’m sure you all would love a look into what us frosh are given on our first day. I’m ready to give you the inside look, so here we go!

After bursting into the student center second floor check-in room, I was handed the orientation bag fraught with all the goodies a frosh could wish for.

Obviously, I lugged that bag around last night proudly proclaiming to everyone that I’m an MIT frosh now. Inside, of course, was the formidable orientation folder.

This is pretty much our guide to orientation. It sports the times of my swim test (need it to graduate :/) and math diagnostic test, FPOP name, and this weird number. Mine is 44. I’ve come to believe it has something important to do once orientation actually begins next week (right now is preorientation). So let’s dissect this bag even further and get to the good stuff.

The first thing inside was the obligatory welcome letter from MIT including a list of important events to attend.

MIT, no doubt thinking us students are not fit enough to drag around hefty course catalogs, gives us a CD of the listings. Better for me, I’d rather have a search function anyway.

Since this is MIT and all with a nuclear reactor smack dab in the middle of campus and danger everywhere, there’s a nifty what-to-do-in-case-of-any-disaster sheet.

There’s even a towel in the bag with TIM the Beaver on it telling us to wash our hands and stay safe from the flu! It’s quite evident that MIT wants us to graduate and donate loads of money.

Orientation is at its heart a uber-large version of CPW with free food and events all the time. As such, it requires its own thick book of events naturally called “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” (my inner geek squeals at that).

No school can be complete without the handbook. In high school, I read my entire handbook on the first day (I’m rolling my eyes right now at my four-year ago self). Am I going to read it this time? Heck, I’d be lucky if I could find enough time to shower let alone read a book (kidding :p).

As many of you probably know, we lucky students visit all the dorms for a week, pick our dorm preferences again, and move in all over. Here is the guide to Residence Exploration (REX) events.

Because we students hate paying for software (torrents ftw), there’s a nifty little reminder about the consequences behind such “illicit” action. Also, included in the computing at MIT packet is the Athena Pocket References, a convoluted guide to using the Athena network at MIT. I cannot wait to dive into computing here.

No big packet from MIT would be complete without something about the COOP.

Unfortunately, the only mention of DME in my folder was this paragraph of information regarding arrival.

With my definite plans to eat pizza everyday (so far so good as I ate at Bertucci’s yesterday), I’ll be making good use of these athletic forms.

Without further ado, the top 3 items in the orientation bag:

3) The TechTube orientation shirt

2) The famous 101 Things to Do Before You Graduate list (I’ve already accomplished a few!)

1) The most amazing school ID ever with shiny MIT logos and all. I’m ready to do some damage seeing as I have access to all the buildings now.

So far I’ve only received one shirt, but since I’ve been here for less than 24 hours, I’m not disappointed yet. I’m hoping to collect at least 10 or so.

Keep tuned for more pictures and info involving MIT, orientation, and Simmons Hall, my humble abode for the next 13 days.

The Journey

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Now that I’ve finally found access to the internet after 12 long hours of uncertainty whether I would survive, I’ve had a chance to post this little write-up I did while on the road yesterday morning.

Sit back and enjoy the ravings of a man who has just left home for a four-month visit to the land of calculus hell.


For the first time, I truly feel like a college kid, finally being cast for the role I was destined to eventually play. I’m at last past city limits, out on the open stretch of road with nothing but 15 hours of pavement and thrilling experiences ahead. It’s a beautiful day, blue skies and no clouds (the Earth must love me or something :D ).

While I’m slightly disappointed to not be flying, my dissatisfaction is partially overcome by my excitement to see Niagara Falls tonight. So if that doesn’t give away my travel plans (or you cheated and scrolled down :P), I am crashing the night in the city of Buffalo (from what I’ve been told by well-placed sources deep within the government, Buffalo isn’t much fun). Tomorrow, we’ll hit the road again and will finally arrive at Boston in the afternoon (naturally, the first item on my repulsively long to-do list is to all out sprint to the student center attempting to contain my desperate desire for my student ID and room key).

So how am I distracting my perceptive conscience away from thinking about the adventures that await me in Boston? I’m reminiscing about how spectacular this morning was. My friends practically surprised me by all gathering at my house to send me off (sorry guys for having to wake up so early, glad you all reached my abode safely). All six of us sat on a comfy patch of concrete on my driveway and sadly conversed for half an hour about everything, our plans for four years, how we’re going to change, and how in four months I’ll have unequivocally gained at least 25 pounds (pizza everyday ftw =) ). Perhaps, the oddest part about my relationship with this amazing circle of friends is how just four years ago I was an outsider, the newcomer who knew no one. Over the course of months, even years, I became seriously close to these people, forming life-long friends and memories to last me eternity. There’s something ineffable in my bonds to these friends, something I’ll be lucky to ever find again. I love you all. Thanks for making high school unforgettably legit.

This is my last post from Michigan for quite some time. As I sit in my dangerously overcrowded van…

…this tingle is slowly spreading through my body at the prospects of the next two weeks, the frenzy that will inevitably wear me down, the buzz of surrealism that will no doubt keep me afloat. Am I ready? At the risk of sounding cliché, I was born ready.


Because 7 hours is outrageously long for anyone to stay cooped up in a car, I had to find some outlet to keep my sanity intact. While continuously devouring bags of chips seemed like the best option, I opted out for something less taxing on my delicate body (plus, what fun would it be to put on all the pounds now?). So instead I offer you a rundown of my trip.

What follows is the uncut, lewd, and never-before-seen account of my journey to reach MIT. User discretion advised.

8:04 am – I groggily force myself to wake up for I have quite some packing to do still. Naturally, my mom gives me her “disappointed face” and gives me a mini-lecture on “responsibility.” Pssh, clearly she hasn’t learned the true art of packing.

8:20 am – Convincing myself that 20 minutes of TV is perfectly reasonable, I watch a bit of the my favorite new series Flashpoint. Don’t judge me. I may be a TV junkie, but I’m a junkie who can do differential calculus and derive Schrödinger’s equations. I promise I’ll stop at MIT. Can someone hold me to that?

8:30 am – I start fiddling with my iPhone, failing at syncing it with my new laptop. Why Apple must you make the simplest tasks so complex?

9:30 am – My bags are swollen, zippers nearly about to tear apart, and the van is littered with my stuff everywhere. A job well done.

9:33 am – A doorbell sounds. It’s so early. Who could it possible be? MY FRIENDS! Kindly scroll above for the juicy details behind this surprise visit.

10:04 am – My parents cruelly rip me away from my friends screaming and dragging. It was intense.

10:20 am – Staring out at the endless span of trees loses its enticing flare and so I decide to follow a more productive line of action. I pop in the SolidWorks DVD I received for free at the engineering expo I attended a while back.

10:40 am – SolidWorks finishes installing!

11:14 am – Following the tutorial for 3D Modeling newbs like me, I end up with this odd-looking pressure plate model. Seeing how pressure plates are dull and all, I start modeling something more interesting.

11:46 am – After hurdling over the considerable learning curve of this convoluted software (Adobe has got nothing on this), I end up with a Lego piece model sure to impress anyone. I was proud of myself to say the least.

11:30 am – Complaining that my stomach has been annoyingly grumbling, my dad finally pulls over at an Ohio rest stop. These aren’t the usual rundown truck stops you’d expect of highways, but instead impressive mini-malls filled with an eclectic mix of fast food restaurants. I immediately hurled myself toward the Sbarro line and bought a slice of pizza larger than my own head – and my head is humongous.

12:00 pm – Stuffed to the brim with delight (and pizza), I quickly succumb to a slumber for a couple hours. With a severe lack of sleep last night due to a wonderful last get-together with my friends, this opportunity for some shuteye was welcomed with joy.

2:02 pm – I awaken frustratingly to the noise of Arabic music blasting in the car. Thanks Dad.

2:20 pm – A terrible realization comes across my mind. Advanced standing exam are coming up and I’m not ready. With trepidation, I begin frantically reading my chemistry text book (they say barely anyone passes >.<).

4:01 pm – We hit construction and obviously traffic was backed up…for miles…and miles.

5:05 pm – Still caught up in traffic…

5:45 pm - Finally we pass through the one-lane close up and are able to resume cruising speed: 55 mph. Isn’t that sad? Highways in New York have speed limits of 55. You poor sheltered New Yorkers.

6:20 pm – Civilization at last! We survived 7 hours in a van together and made it to Buffalo.

7:30 pm – Being the master debater that I am, I persuade my dad sick from driving to go the extra mile – no pun intended ;-) – and venture out on the 30 minute drive to Niagara Falls.

8:20 pm – I walk up in wonder to the only thing in the world that can rival my power: the Falls. This is a gorgeous sight people, seriously.
An attempted side view picture that somewhat grabs the majesty of this landmark.

I discover this observation deck that essentially stretches out about halfway across the river. Gathering up the courage, we trek out onto it and saw some magnificent views. Nature rules.

So the night quickly descends upon the area, but no one leaves. I wonder to myself how exciting these Falls could possibly be in the darkness apart from listening to the rumbling sounds of water smashing down. To my astonishment though, there were lights that transform the Falls into something altogether more stunning.

Of course, what fun would the Falls be without Fireworks? As the time neared 10 pm, the crowd exponentially grew (I’d derive the function, but I’d figure you readers would enjoy doing that yourselves) and like clockwork fireworks went boom at 10.

These sure aren’t Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks, but what do you expect? They were shot from the Canadian side :p.

And so this brings me to this morning. We’re about to embark on the next 7-hour stretch of the journey that will land us at the heart of Cambridge. Scared? No. Giddy like a 7-year old school girl? Heck yes.

Oh How Time Passes

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It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

It's official. Only 24 hours remain before I hit the road. Only 24 hours to relive the best of times here, converse with old friends, and savor the tranquil atmosphere of this small Midwestern town (I hear Boston is a whole new world compared to this).

So soon everything I'm familiar with will grow distant and foreign. Friends will form new friends, places I leave behind will age and be replaced, and this city, my home, will be relegated somewhere deep in my mind to be remembered solely as the town I grew up in.

Despite any reservations, fear about the future, or uncertainty about my readiness, I'm up for the challenge. I look forward to taking nerdiness to new heights, living attempting to survive on my own, and most of all, residing in a large bustling city full of things to do. I think it's about time for change.

On a lighter note, I haven't technically packed yet and somehow I'm calm despite this. Luckily, my mom has stripped my closest of its essence, stuffing all sorts of things into our obnoxiously massive luggage bags. Finding more delight in stretching procrastination to its absolute limits, I haven't selected which clothe to accompany me for the next four months or for that matter anything that I will be taking to campus. Should I be worried?

My laptop finally arrived a couple days ago, seductively waiting at my doorstep just begging to be ripped open and played with (I'm blogging this on it if you were wondering). Originating from Shanghai, China (seriously, what is up with that? My laptop has traveled more around the world than I have >.<), the laptop weighs in at 6.8 pounds and is essentially the god of all computers considering it can run OS X, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Linux (did I mention it also boasts 4 GB of memory O.O!?). Needless to say, I've loaded it with tons of software, including the all famous Adobe Suite CS 3 and Flux (the most amazing web design program I have ever laid my eyes upon). Today I'll finish empowering this beast by installing Solidworks and Matlab, two pieces of code no MIT student could be cool enough without. If we ever meet in real life - and you aren't stalkerish - I'll more than likely end up judging you by the software on your computer (I'm shallow like that, sue me ^_^).

I have to admit that ever since I ripped open my laptop box and heard the characteristic Mac tone as it gracefully powered up, I've been addicted to taking odd photographs of myself in Photo Booth. The picture effects allow for unlimited possibilities! Good times, good times.

Naturally, no self-respecting post about a laptop would be complete without the necessary unboxing photos.






The screen boggles my mind every time I look at its high-res beauty and grandiose nature. It's hard to peel my eyes away from it (sort of like with bugs and light). I'm definitely in g33k heaven somewhere on cloud 1001.

Lying nonchalantly on my laptop are my fourth limb, the smallest portable hard drive ever (can you guess what my third limb is? Hint: it's a phone), and my free iPod Nano. Taking further advantage of whatever is free, I engraved the Nano with none other than "Omar Abudayyeh - MIT 2012." The gorgeous blue thingamabob is my "thumbdrive." Seriously folks, ditch your current flash drives and upgrade to these buggers. This slim device holds 250 GB and is self powered through USB. The kicker? It's less than 100 bucks! Go buy one now, you'll thank me later :)

Funny how the Apple product ships in a box that conforms exactly to the enclosed iPod case while the Microsoft product comes in a unnecessarily large box that's nearly 8 times its size (way to be wasteful :p).

Now I must figure out how to transfer all my music and files to my new lappy. I honestly did postpone everything to the last minute.

Cheers to the future.

Never Forget

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It's a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

Today was a beautiful and yet terribly sad day.

The time ultimately arrived to part ways with me beloved research lab, the most difficult part saying goodbye to my mentor who I've come to admire and adore over the past two years. I saw him get married, watched his eldest son graduate, stood by his side as he rose through the faculty ranks, listened to him when he needed it the most, and formed this everlasting bond with him - something no one else in the lab can rival. He is more than my mentor. He is a friend, someone who I deeply respect and can approach about anything. He is a fountain of wisdom and a beacon of light in my life. I'll never forget him.

Out of all the lessons I've learned from him, one truly struck a chord with me. It was when I practically burst into his office screaming that MIT accepted me. He obviously rejoiced, perhaps exhibiting more emotion than myself. After all I became like a "son" to him. But after we settled, letting our highs subside, he sat me down and told me one of the most profound statements I've ever heard. Getting caught in all the hub bub of getting into a "US News-acclaimed" school, it's easy to forget about the real essence of college. He opened me eyes, however, allowing me to finally advance past the superficiality of brand-name schools. Sure, I got into a great school. What does that even mean though? Nothing, if you don't work for it. He told me, "College is a tree of opportunities, ripe for the taking. You must take advantage of every possible one you can. You've got in, but that's only the beginning." It's easy to live in the fantasy that the "college name" will mystically guide you in life toward success and endless treasures, but because of my mentor, my friend, I'll never forget that every accomplishment is only another chance for opportunity, another means to achieve.

Being the gracious and kindhearted man that he is, he treated the entire lab to a wonderful lunch at our city's premier Chinese restaurant. We all chatted for hours, discussing the memories, the good times we all had together, and of course they gave me the obligatory reprimand that they'd hunt me down if I did not visit.

We were all a close-knit bunch - my second "family" if you will. Today I bade farewell to all that.

Things are changing. I know that. I even understand that. I may be grasping, practically dangling, onto the last threads of the life I've grown to love, but regardless, in three days I'll be in Cambridge at the start of a new epoch.

Maybe in all the craziness of these last days, it's hard to remember how life without change is boring, dare I say, even pointless. I can't help but smile that the end of this chapter ushers in a new phase of my life full of bountiful opportunities and friends just waiting to be made.

Today was a beautiful day and I loved every moment of it.

Top 10 Reasons I Chose MIT - # 10

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I've decided to begin a series of posts that detail why I elected MIT to be my four-year death sentence. It's been such a long, arduous journey since last summer full of surprises and mind-opening events that I've been taken aback and left almost speechless. I scraped through senior year, traveled the East Coast, and watched this love blossom for a school I never wished to attend. Over days, weeks, maybe even months, this magic spell took over every fiber of my being and sucked me into a whirlpool whose only end was MIT. The blogs no doubt played a major role in my entrancement, serving as this gushing fountain of stories about the lives behind the school. I laughed and cried along with bloggers and even felt their pain during the treacherous finals week. A lifeline between MIT and me was formed and luckily still remains alive today, drawing me closer to the zany campus every day until this sudden moment in time when I'll actually step into my dorm room and realize my life is all genuinely unfolding as I imagined it not too long ago.

That's easy enough to say, but what is it that mysteriously attracts me to this strip of land in Cambridge. To me it seems impossibly difficult to pinpoint, but I'll attempt to illustrate my love for this school through 10 reasons why I committed myself to the "Institute."

*figurative drum roll please*

Reason 10: Independent Activities Period (IAP for short)

IAP is a four-week term in January that exemplifies what MIT students are all about. While MIT students could escape away to the Bahamas or watch cartoons all day for a bona fide break, IAP tempestuously invites students to rebel against the "man" and revel in any pleasures that please their hypothalami. This limbo state in between the fall and spring terms is where MIT students show their true masochistic colors, immersing themselves in anything from fast-paced courses to impossible competitions, from research 24/7 to even a Charm School (I kid you not).

Those particularly keen in all that is MIT know that the most prominent and seductive part of IAP is the Mystery Hunt, a puzzle-fraught chase for a hidden coin on campus. Sounds simple, right? Far from it. To come out victorious in the hunt, one's team must solve over 40 ridiculously tortuous, byzantine puzzles to be finally lead to this eluding coin. One must possess arcane knowledge, think ingeniously, and be willing to sprint across campus frantically searching for clues to even come remotely close to winning. Some of the most esoteric puzzles require live ducks to solve them and will thrust your sanity to the brink of lunacy.

After all the hassle, stress, and inevitable swearing, the winner's only compensation is the right to design the next year's Hunt. Practically, this may seem quite unsatisfactory and frankly lame, but in the end, the Hunt's not just about winning - it's more. It's this tradition, a sense of camaraderie between students, in which everyone's intelligence is pushed to the limit. While to the everyday person this prize may seem paltry and impractical, to the passionately dedicated player there's no greater honor than to be handed down the torch and allowed to carry on this venerated MIT custom.

To me, the Hunt transcends just mere winning, being rather about the journey. It's about every team forming strong bonds, experiencing the high of pushing their bodies to the physical limits of exhaustion, laughing hysterically into the late night about the randomness of every challenge, and collapsing after days of no sleep. The real reward is simply being apart of this wit-testing, nerd-encrusted MIT legacy.

In some respects, the Mystery Hunt symbolizes what is veritably at MIT's heart - this philosophy that students must sweat through enormous pain to triumph, recognizing that education is not a state function, that the odyssey endured to obtain a grade is more meaningful than the grade itself.

But I diverge. It's just that IAP means so much to me. This special term unrivaled by any other school is a major component of why I'm willing to spend four years sleep deprived attempting to overcome insurmountable challenges. Any school that encourages their students to pursue scholarly interests as much on their own as they do in the classroom is a place I can certainly cherish as home.

This may all sound silly, but to me it's a world of possibilities just waiting to be explored =)

About This Blog

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Hello World! (ahh I love the reference to programming). My name is Omar. I'm a senior in high school and will be a freshman at MIT starting next Fall. My interests are science and math and I hope to eventually become a doctor. This is a blog about my journey. Please enjoy it along with me.

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