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MIT Better World

The Scenic Views

Killian Court

Meilin Zhan, graduate student, Course 9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences)
I like that spot because it’s very beautiful and peaceful, and it’s near the Charles River too. I remember seeing people flying unmanned aerial vehicles there. It was so MIT!

Bench outside Walker Memorial

Paritosh Gangaramani, graduate student, Course 7 (Biology)
The stone bench on the southwest side of Building 50, aka Walker Memorial, is a well-shaded spot with a great view of the Charles and the Boston skyline, and always yields valuable perspective.

Warehouse Roof

Marika Alexandra Psyhojos, graduate student, Engineering Systems Division
There is a lovely roof garden; residents of the grad dorm are free to pick as many herbs/veggies/fruit as we want. In the summer, I wake up early to work out and do Pilates on the roof. Hands down, it’s the best place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks.

Rooftop, Green Building

Charles Gertler, graduate student, Course 12 (Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences)
With the right reason, special swipe access, a call to the MIT Police, and a ride in a rickety old elevator, grad students in EAPS can get on the roof of the Green Building (Building 54): 18.5 floors (that’s another story) of brutalist architectural theory come to life right on the Charles River. The views of Boston are unparalleled, since it’s the tallest building in Cambridge, and it is hands-down my favorite destination at MIT and probably in the whole Boston area.

Reading Room, 6th Floor, Building 46

David Rolnick ’12, graduate student, Course 18 (Mathematics)
It’s filled with tropical plants and the glass walls make me feel like I’m perched in the sky. During the winter, I can sit in the shade of a palm tree and watch snow swirl over the rest of MIT.


The Byways

Memorial Drive Sidewalk

Crystal Lee, graduate student, HASTS (History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society)
The sidewalk along the Charles River is the main way I walk from my department to the Hayden Humanities Library. But most of all, I like walking along the river as a more active way of thinking about my writing and research, and it’s the perfect break when the sun is out (or even if it’s cold—there’s something calming to the Californian in me about being close to water). I even schedule meetings there, walking along the river or standing at the MIT Sailing Pavilion, instead of meeting in my office.

The Tunnels

Micah Gale ’18, Course 22 (Nuclear Science and Engineering)
The tunnels are so extremely convenient for getting to almost anywhere on campus. There are no tourists down there and few students, so it is quiet and peaceful. Also, MIT is unabashed about its infrastructure and doesn’t hide it with useless sub-ceilings. They make it so you can see this beautiful network of pipes and conduits that keeps MIT alive.

Athena Cluster, Fifth Floor, Stratton Student Center

Abel Tadesse ’17, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
The student center is very close to the exact geometric center of the polygon that can be made by connecting all my classes and my residence, Next House. It’s far enough from my dorm that I’m not tempted to go there to play pool or take a nap, and far enough from my classrooms and Walker Memorial, where I had most of my exams, to feel any of the stress. It fulfills the Goldilocks conditions to qualify as the ideal study environment.


The Quiet Zones

Hayden Library

Colin Gray, graduate student, Course 14 (Economics)
The chairs facing the windows, overlooking the river, are the best chairs on campus. I used to go here almost every day when I was taking classes, usually in midafternoon. The bright atmosphere keeps me awake in the sleepy part of the afternoon, but the environment is calm enough to enjoy a good study session. It’s crowded enough that you don’t ever feel alone, but it’s still a quiet place that lets you focus.

Barker Engineering Library

Tony Elian ’18, Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
This is by far my favorite place on campus for its design, feel, and atmosphere. Its spaciousness and grandness make it very appealing and the seating is extremely comfortable. In my experience, it is the one place on campus that is always actually quiet. Seeing everyone working hard makes you want to zone in on your work and get everything done.

Sol LeWitt’s Bars of Color Within Squares, Building 6C Courtyard

Selam Gano ’18, Course 2 (Mechanical Engineering)
This is a peaceful place I have often gone to when I feel confused, or exhausted, or any other time I need simply to be away from others and think. The high, echoing ceiling and walls swallow any urges to produce noise, and few people hang about there—most of them just walk through. I have sat there, and thought, staring at the bars of color, or up at the glass ceiling framing the sky. It reminds me of what humans are capable of, and it also lets me ponder whatever I need to ponder, in perfect silence, letting my mind drift blankly.

Rotch Library for Architecture and Planning

Luzdary Ruelas ’17, Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
MIT is a very fast-paced school that is constantly in motion, and when I go to the architecture library everything seems to stand still. It gives me time to take in the opportunities given to me by the school I attend, and it allows me to reflect on how I have changed over the years. Libraries have always been a sort of sanctuary for me and being able to enjoy the still and quiet brings me peace of mind.

Stata Amphitheater

Anna Sinelnikova ’18, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
This is always a quiet place I can come to for a quick afternoon nap or to de-stress after a long day. Something about the atmosphere there is relaxing and calming and allows me to collect my thoughts.

ZESIGER CENTER AND DUPONT ATHLETIC CENTER: Jeffrey Zhang ’19, Course 18 (Mathematics) with Computer Science
SITEMAN DINING ROOM AND ROBERTS FAMILY FORUM: Jayesh Kannan, graduate student, Course 15 (Management)
GELB LAB: Rachel Harris ’17, Course 16 (AeroAstro)
W20 CERAMICS STUDIO: Simona Dalin, graduate student, Course 7 (Biology)
SIMMONS DINING HALL: Molly Brennan ’18, Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
HAYDEN LIBRARY: Colin Gray, graduate student, Course 14 (Economics)
SIDNEY PACIFIC MULTIPURPOSE ROOM: Sungil Kim, graduate student, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)

The Extracurriculars

W20 Ceramics Studio

Simona Dalin, graduate student, Course 7 (Biology)
The studio is a peaceful place filled with friendly people. Usually there’s music on in the background, mixed with the sound of the wheels turning and the teacher giving tips. There’s an almost meditative focus on creating. I can get messy with clay and make real things with my hands, which is a great break from my lab work. I study vulnerabilities that tumors develop when they become resistant to chemotherapy, and I enjoy research and analyzing data, but sometimes I need to get out of the lab and actually see the product of my work.

Gelb Lab

Rachel Harris ’17, Course 16 (AeroAstro)
While I was part of the Design/Build/Fly group, I spent a lot of my time in the Gelb Lab. Working on planes down here with the club, with music blasting, is one of my favorite things I’ve done as an MIT student. The first time I walked into the space, I remember feeling a little intimidated because everyone else seemed to know so much about building planes already. I never would have thought that two years later I would have absorbed so much information, or that it would be me leading the club.

Zesiger Center and duPont Athletic Center

Jeffrey Zhang ’19, Course 18 (Mathematics with Computer Science)
During water polo season, when I’m investing around two hours per day for practice and strength conditioning, the pool and locker room at the Z Center are like a second home. Off-season, my friends and I started an informal basketball league and we’ve played countless games at duPont. Athletics has definitely shaped my experience at MIT for the better. It is a great stress reliever in the face of so much coursework, and it has introduced me to some of my closest friends whom I might not have met otherwise.


The Social Centers

Latino Cultural Club Lounge

Stephanie Nuñez Dominguez ’19, Course 11 (Urban Studies and Planning)
I love coming here to nap, work, or find my friends, including fellow residents of La Casa (Spanish House). When I first visited the lounge and saw the walls—covered in the most beautiful mural, along with pictures of LCC members and flags of Latin American countries—I immediately felt a connection to my life back home in California. Having this space in addition to La Casa has made dealing with homesickness a lot easier. I’m able to maintain a connection with my Latina identity while forming strong connections with others in the Latino community.

Undergraduate Association Office

Alexa Martin ’19, Course 18 (Mathematics with Computer Science)
The UA Office is located on the fourth floor of the student center. As class treasurer and UA secretary, I spend way more time there than I’d like to admit. My favorite part about the office is the people who come in and out of it each day, dedicating their own time for no compensation, solely to benefit the students and community around them. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have happened while sitting in that office, lasting for one too many hours, but leaving an impact on me that will last way longer than the lecture I had earlier that day on Gaussian surfaces (sorry 8.02).

Siteman Dining Room and Roberts Family Forum

Jayesh Kannan, graduate student, Course 15 (Management)
This cafeteria means much more to me than just a spot to grab a bite. Spending time here gives me a sense of belonging to the Sloan community. I stop by at least twice a day. It’s a place where I meet classmates for team project discussions, grab coffee with visiting prospective students, or sometimes even make new friends. The space also plays host to poster presentations, or to tables that market new courses. In fact, we just had a flash mob here to promote a Sloan community event.

The Muddy Charles Pub

Alex Genshaft, graduate student, Course 5 (Chemistry)
The Muddy (full disclosure: I’m chair of its board of governors) provides a unique atmosphere where all members of the MIT community, from professors emeriti to students to staff, can come together and enjoy an affordable, cold beverage. While it certainly is my favorite place to socialize on campus, I especially enjoy it during the day when it’s not as crowded and functions as a productive work space outside of lab.


The Residences

Next House

Jimmy Zeng ’18, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
The dorms at MIT embody great variety, and each dorm has its own unique culture. I like Next House because of all the different activities it has (there are nine Next House clubs alone!), from baking cookies to making laser harps to building a giant slide or zip line. I also feel welcomed by other Next House students and a part of the community. I feel right at home in Next House, despite having grown up on the other side of the country.

First East, East Campus

Francesca Majluf ’17, Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
At East Campus, I found something that I did not expect to find. Not only a family—people who would come and hug me every time I needed a hug or feed me cookies—but people who are completely different than me, who still feel like my brothers and sisters. When I’m in class, I can’t wait to get back to First East; I can’t wait to see my friends and hear what crazy adventures they went on.

Ashdown Hulsizer Room

Malvika Verma, graduate student, Course 20 (Biological Engineering)
This is where I spend a lot of time at grad student events, eating great free food and meeting people outside my lab. It’s really easy to spend all your time in lab, but it’s always great to come back to Ashdown, which is really a microcosm of MIT grad life.

Tang Hall

Inderraj Singh Grewal, graduate student,Course 16 (AeroAstro)
The bean bag chair in my living room at Tang residence hall is where I tend to settle in for phone conversations and video games with friends and family back in Toronto. Plus, it has an unobstructed east-west view of campus, and a slightly obstructed (but still beautiful) view across the Charles.

Simmons Dining Hall

Molly Brennan ’18, Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
I eat dinner here almost every day. It’s nice having a dining hall right in my dorm, to come home and be able to check in with friends and laugh after a stressful day. It’s also been great to get to know the people who work here; I’ve become friends with the guy who does stir-fry most nights. The dining hall is usually more relaxed than the rest of MIT, and Simmons itself is a really welcoming place. You can always find a group of people you fit in with.

Industrial Kitchen, Sidney-Pacific

Greg Izatt, graduate student, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
Our dorm runs numerous events out of that shared kitchen—I’ve made many friends, learned unexpected skills, and hopefully brightened the day of hundreds of people from there. It’s proven both a personal retreat during hard weeks, and a critical tool enabling my friends and me to do good for other MIT students.

Sidney-Pacific Multipurpose Room

Sungil Kim, graduate student, Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
When I stop by the SidPac multipurpose room, I always find familiar faces. As a resident and outreach chair here, I’ve made tremendous friends through the community’s activities: weekly coffee hours, monthly brunches, outings to the movies, volunteering at a shelter, and scholarly seminars. We cook together in the common kitchen and talk about our lives and the uncertain future. The most important thing we have in common is that we embrace diversity, and we support each other. That makes SidPac feel like home.