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 =)