When I first came to MIT as a bright-eyed young frosh, I was placed in my first-choice dorm, Next House. (I think my top four were Next, Simmons, Maseeh, and then Random.) I’d been to some good dinners at Next over CPW, and it seemed like a friendly, peaceful place with nice people. Random had some pretty awesome events, but it looked too wild and crazy for me to live there; it seemed like more of a place to visit every now and then. Frosh!dukhovni was kind of overwhelmed by this whole “college” thing, and just wanted some peace and quiet.

There was plenty of peace and quiet to be had at Next. Through a miraculous coincidence, at the last minute I was able to get a single room instead of the triple I would have been living in; I’m still not sure how I pulled that off. So I had a space all to myself, on one of the quieter floors of Next. It wasn’t a ghost town or anything like that; there were plenty of friendly neighbors and the occasional fun food-related study break, and I had people to chat, pset, and watch anime with. It was just a very calm, mellow, *normal* sort of place.

As freshman year went on, the Random virus began to set in. One of the root causes was the Assassins’ Guild, MIT’s live-action role-playing club. I’d read about the various clubs before coming to MIT, and the Assassins’ Guild sounded like lots of fun. It just so happens that a disproportionate fraction of Guild members are Random-affiliated in some way or another, so I made a lot of Random acquaintances. I played in a few Guild LARPs, and a Randomite classmate encouraged me to play more and to come to some of the fun events happening at Random. Thanks in large part to her evangelical efforts, I soon found myself on Random Hall’s mailing list, and I was visiting Random for math lectures, rope bondage classes, and German sparkle parties.

The dorms of MIT fall into two main cultural groups: East Campus, and West Campus. East Campus consists of Random Hall, Senior House, the confusingly-named East Campus, and formerly Bexley Hall; the other dorms are West Campus. To vastly oversimplify, West Campus considers itself normal and thinks East Campus is weird; East Campus considers itself weird and thinks West Campus is normal. I came into MIT very much a West Campus person (although one faculty member, with remarkable prescience, pegged me as an East Campus type during one of my early visits to MIT). But over the course of my visits to Random, and a stay in the dorm East Campus the summer after my freshman year, I discovered a lot to like about East Campus. I found a fiery camaraderie, a strong sense of culture complete with traditions and lore, and a refreshing frankness and openness unfettered by the social dictates of the outside world. I decided that Random might be a cool place to live someday, not least because of all the Randomites who were so eager to bring me into the fold.

As it happened, I ended up moving to Random rather sooner than I’d expected. Just after the start of sophomore year, I ran into some personal issues that left me kind of uncomfortable hanging around Next House. I figured I’d lay low for a bit until things tided over, spend the rest of the semester at Next, and move to Random for sophomore spring. Right in the middle of all this, I was visiting Random for a math lecture, and mentioned that I’d decided to move there. My Randomite friends told me that there was actually a room open right then, and if I acted quickly I could probably grab it. One week later, I was packing up my things and heading Random-ward. A Randomesque grad student offered his car, and a Randomite drove me and my boxes up Memorial Drive and down Mass Ave; an email to the dorm mailing list summoned a posse of Randomites to help carry things up the stairs or hoist them up the pulley that once lived in the 282 stairwell. Just like that, I was in Random; by way of celebration, I joined a hair-dying party that had been going on just as I arrived.

Some of us are West Campus people, and some of us are East Campus people. You might not know which you are when you get here; you might decide and then change your mind later. But there’s a place here for everyone, you’ve got lots of chances to find it, and you’ll find goodwill and friendship no matter where you end up. So good luck, whether you’re headed for Random, Next, or anywhere in between.