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Whilst MIT is renowned for its academic reputation, it is seldom that MIT comes to mind when listing the top 10 social colleges in the western hemisphere. Yet biology graduate students here at MIT balance the intense academic program by pursuing a myriad of interests. In fact, in a way, this defines biologists at MIT. People with lots of interests and lots of enthusiasm.

The biology program emphasizes the importance of social contacts, both in the academic and the personal sense. The fact that the first semester doesn't entail lab work and that the first year students are centered in one lounge, fosters such interaction. Indeed the Pit is the starting point for lots of group activities that we do. It is here that, sitting around the lunch table, ideas are thrown out. It is here that, glancing at the whiteboard, you'll find suggestions for things to do with people that evening. Indeed, it is common to stop by the pit if you're around in the evening to see who else is around and up for doing something.

So what is it that we do in our spare time? Well, that depends a lot on who "we" is refering to. One of the great things about a graduate program such as the one at MIT, is that one has the oppportunity to meet other students with diverse backgrounds and diverse interests which they're more than happy to share. Below is a very partial list of some of the things we like to do. The truth is that any interest you have can be done in the Boston area, and you can always find other people to do it with you. Boston is a city full of culture, diversity, and excitement. The Boston subway system ('The T') makes doing things in Boston accessible and afordable. MIT also has lots of clubs and activities representing all sorts of interests.

  • Food

    The compilers of this list happen to be very fond of eating. Therefore 'Food' has been placed at the top of this list. Many a times, a group of student swill find themselves together around the dinner hour and will spontaneously decide to take a trip to any of the many fine local dining establishments. Sometimes, we're more deliberate about our food. On weekends we, from time to time, go to China Town for Dim Sum, Brookline for Middle Eastern Food, or perhaps the North End for Italian. However, you shouldn't be left with the impression that our own culinary talents are limited to Ramen noodles. During the year we've had a number of potluck dinners which have featured foods from different cultures and traditions. This has given people a chance to share what they like to eat and to visit different people's apartments each time.

  • Movies

    An easy way to relax with friends in the evening is to rent some movies, pop some popcorn, and enjoy. Here's a list of some of the movies we've seen together recently:

    Run Lola, Run
    The Court Jester
    The Red Violin
    How To Steal a Million
    Singin in the Rain
    American Pie
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Duck Soup
    The Maltese Falcon
    A Fish Called Wanda
    Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

    Sometimes we'll watch these movies in one of the awesome movie screening rooms on campus. Often we'll watch them in someone's apartment.


  • Parties

    Whether the occasion is finishing genetics, someone's birthday, or just because, the first year class is always game for a party. With the help of some drinks and munchies, and a little music, someone's living room can easily be the site of a party. The Pit has also seen it's share of festivities. In addition to these smaller gatherings, the first year class is responsible for the department's Halloween Party.


  • Muddy Charles

    Located just down the street from the department building, the Muddy Charles is a favorite place for students to get together after a hard day of class and/or lab to enjoy some cheap drinks. And on occasional Thursday in the fall, Methods in Logic professors will join the students for a little socializing.


  • Sports

    The Boston area is host to a number of professional sporting events, with several fascinating teams. The graduate students in the biology department usually go in for season tickets to the Red Sox games. For those of you intrerest in more than just watching, the department sponsors teams that play in the competitive and just-for-fun leagues. This past fall, our soccer was the winningest team in our league. For the spring, teams have been organized for volleyball, ulitmate frisbee and ping pong.

While academics and research often dominate the spotlight when discussing top graduate programs, in truth the most defining aspect that will shape one's experience, especially during the first year, is the social environment. The biology department at MIT is fairly unique among programs across the nation (and even within MIT) in the comrodary that it fosters. The first year is designed to encourage personal interaction not only between students, but also with faculty. This is certainly one of the strengths of the program, and is one of the reasons we have enjoyed our experience thus far.
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Last Updated February, 2000. Bio99@MIT