Has anyone ever noticed the "MIT Syndrome"?

M·I·T Syn·drome - n. The serious, but temporary, infection that causes one to feel the sudden urge to blurt out something MIT related just because someone going to MIT is nearby.

In serious cases of the syndrome, the afflicted will make quips about you becoming a card counter and earning unhealthy sums of cash or will inquire if you've seen Good Will Hunting. You may be asked if you've read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, if you've met Noam Chomsky, or if you even knew this one fellow who graduated 10 years ago from you high school because he went to MIT (I still don't get this last one). Even though this quickly becomes irritating (like after the first time), I've actually become quite cultured in all that is MIT, and truthfully, it's downright amusing to watch people pause in mid-conversation just to think of something MIT-relevant to say.

True stories, fake disease. Welcome to my life =)

Well, this post has gone awry far too quickly. Let me stray toward something more interesting. As I was doing my daily run through the interweb yesterday, I stumbled across this news article on The Wall Street Journal that discusses how in regards to salary that it's not one's career choice that matters as much as where one graduates from. As you would think, MIT cleans up well, snagging second place for having a starting median salary amongst alumni of $72,200.00. Unfortunately, we're beat out by the physics nerds of the West Coast as Caltech graduates have a starting median salary of $75,500.00. As time progresses, however, it seems that MIT alumni start to not fair so well, MIT moving to fourth on the list with a mid-Career median salary of $126,000.00. To say the least, I'm still impressed with MIT's showing no matter how low my career salary would be down the road - well, unless it's 1 dollar a year in which case I'd put my angry face on.

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll worry about my finances later in life (although I can use this data for bragging rights ^_^ ). With all this chitchatter about MIT during the past six months or so, it's hard to realize that in less than two weeks I'll be in Cambridge building soccer robots at my dream school. It's been so long since I last visited campus that MIT has become this online entity, not something tangible. Although I keep saying that I'll be living at MIT for a good chunk of the next four years, I don't understand how real that actually is. I feel like I'm just walking in someone else's shoes, trying to fulfill this role I don't quite comprehend. It's tough to accept that the place where I'm sitting right now typing this entry will become this distant memory, a vacation spot for my future breaks. This is it. My life's about to drastically change and I just don't have any clue about what to expect. I say all this somewhat calmly, but do I really fathom what I'm saying? I have no idea.

Probably the hardest concept to come to terms with is the permanence of all this. My days are numbered and once the clock winds down, I'll never be at home again for more than two weeks at a time. From now on, visits with my family will be just that. Visits. I'll never see my parents on a daily basis again - apart from video chat - and in a way will become torn between two worlds that are separated by hundreds of miles. Will home still even be home? Perhaps that's the biggest question all of us must answer. When does one home end and another start? Maybe this is it. Maybe as we mature and become adults, our home starts to change and keeps changing and moving, until we're lucky enough to find that special someone and settle down. Maybe from now on, we really are on our own. We must scramble to form our own communities far from our comforts zones. Maybe this is how we finally discover who we are and ultimately gain some insight into the world. Maybe this really is it.

In the end, maybe home is not a place after all, but rather a construct, an intangible placeholder for your memories - the good times and bad. I'm certain by the time I'm finished with MIT come this winter break, after I've suffered through killer psets, nightlong freak-out sessions, and nosebleed-inducing tests, I'll be calling Cambridge my home because of all the memories I would have made.

It's hard to wrap my head around that in just a short while my life will cease to exist the way I know it, the way I'm used to it.

While it'll be a long 9 days until I jump into the rabbit hole, I've already begun packing for this journey. Just yesterday I lugged up the suitcases from the basement and suddenly all of this began to feel real. Although I've been staring for weeks now at the pile of stuff my mom has amassed through her ritualistic trips to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, the imminence of college hadn't felt any surrealer until I peered into the dark, expansive emptiness of my luggage bags and realized that every item I stuff in there will be the only remaining threads of the life I know and love.

Some may cower in the face of such impending change. I look forward to it.

Self: Buckle up for one of the bumpiest adventures of your life.