On April 16th of this year, I moved to Boston for the summer. I was both excited and terrified to leave Ireland for 21 weeks, but the trip was one to remember.
Working at MIT was, at the same time, thrilling and exhausting. I worked in the “Network Coding and Reliable Communications Group” in the “Research Laboratory of Electronics”, implementing an atomic algorithm for large-scale distributed systems. Research, I found, is a discipline that requires a lot of self-drive. Not only did I have to teach myself different programming languages, such as Golang and C++, but there was a certain level of maths involved, way past the level I had achieved to date. The difficulty of the work was softened somewhat by the atmosphere on campus. MIT students have certainly mastered the “work hard, play hard” way of life. Their ‘hacks’ are famous across Boston, some of which included somehow putting a police car on the dome (Dunkin’ Donuts box and all) and measuring the Harvard bridge using a fraternity pledge (it’s 364.4 smoots ± 1 ear if you’re wondering). The wide-spread campus itself allowed for much-needed walks to clear my head. During my lunch hour I would stroll through the campus, along the “Infinite Corridor” (don’t get excited, its length is actually finite), on the green at Killian Court or sometimes to the gorgeous Baker library hidden underneath the famous dome.
Another reason why I loved my time away was Boston itself. While at first it was a whole new world, full of identical-looking streets and strange accents, by the time I left it had become a second home. I knew the neighbourhoods, each unique, from colonial Beacon Hill to prestigious Back Bay and across the Charles to hip Cambridge. No longer did I need a map, I lived for long walks through the city, trying to get lost in order to find the real Boston. The people, while completely multicultural, create a harmonious and accepting atmosphere I have yet to find in any other city. The 35 universities in Boston draw students from all across the globe, giving the city a sense of youth and learning, while also ensuring the large distribution of coffee shops to the delight of many.
I’m so thankful to the Computer Science department in UCC and RLE at MIT for allowing me this amazing opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to experience the life of a scientist, working on the cutting edge of technology, enhancing computer systems that will make a difference in the lives of many. As I continue my project with MIT through my final year of computer science, I dream that someday I’ll be able to return to Boston and walk through MIT campus once more.