On the night of Friday, September 21st, hundreds of students from Boston area colleges descended on the Museum of Science near the North End for College Night: free admission to the entire museum with a school ID. With three floors full of exhibits and hands-on activities, you quickly realize the allotted four hours is not enough to fully explore.
(your ticket into all the exhibits)
More than that, you can find yourself spending longer and longer amounts of time at any given display you encounter on your way from the entire floor of optical illusions to the laser show and the extensive space exhibit. Meandering through the halls of the Museum of Science requires an intense amount of discipline—almost as much as the discipline you need to figure out your new life as a college student.
Starting from the end of orientation, you have to make time for classes, homework, your new clubs and activities, staying in physical shape, your own self-care and mental health, perhaps even a job, and especially enjoying your time in college. However, you can’t just spend all your time in one exhibit, or you’ll have never really seen the entire museum! Even then, there are priorities ranging from the must-see 180° IMAX dome to the Instagram-worthy tri-color shadow backdrop.
(why explore when you can perfect your aesthetic?)
You might find yourself really enjoying all the cool items in the giftshop or at the activities fair. You might even just touch everything and put your name down for more than fifteen email lists, but at that point, maybe it’s time to stop and re-evaluate. Do you actually need to buy a bag of dinosaur gel or join the copy-edit team of each of the many student publications on campus?
(so cute but so useless!)
There’s no harm in trying out for a couple dance teams or getting involved in some pre-professional societies, but you need to be like the buffalo and roam! The grass will only stay so green in one area of campus and your new life here at Tufts.
(it’s the small things like one inch tall models that impress you at the Museum)
One of the most self-aware and best personal decisions you can make is deciding to let go of an activity. The marine-life exhibit might have been something you were looking forward to well before getting to the Museum, but if it doesn’t fit into your schedule or you learn that it’s not as exciting as you thought, put yourself first and move on. Whatever club or even class will still be there next semester or next year when you have newfound time and dedication after getting a taste of other parts of campus.
(the only real entertainment at the water exhibit, featuring my housemates)
Eventually, you learn how much focus and attention you need to put on different commitments in your week. A schedule starts to emerge from a volatile time of attending one too many general interest meetings and the temptations not to miss out on each and every social event. More or less, you become adept at enjoying your time in the human bodies exhibit but also knowing that the rainforest walkthrough is just down the stairs. Once you start finding your tracks, you start chugging along on schedule and with purpose, and it’s almost like high school again where you see the same people walking the opposite direction on your way to class.
(a button-controlled train that only moves while you’re paying attention to it—metaphor much?)
Despite all that, don’t get caught in an illusion! It might seem like everything is fine, but if you know you’re beginning to get sick looking at a display or before classes on a weekday, take the initiative to move on to the next exhibit or email your Dean (they email your professors for you)! Take a closer look too at your mental health: do you feel spread too thin or not truly enjoy exhibits you usually do? Take some time and make some space for yourself.
(the two lines are actually the same color; zoom in to see what’s really going on!)
But even before you fully learn how to live your new life and make it to every part of the museum you wanted to, you realize how much fun college can be. The only problem is not drowning in the endlessness of laughs and memories you can share. Memes are great to randomly airdrop to people in the library, but moderation is what the real cool kids use.
(ah, only real science in my good, local Museums)
Remember, you’re not alone here at Tufts. You have over a thousand classmates going through the same transition as you and thousands more upperclassman who have done it and are willing to lend you advice. In the end, you will find your group on the hill.
(a group of amazing peeps from the class of 2022)
You have four years of college, four free college nights, a family of friends to make, and a degree with your name on it should you learn how to find balance and fully explore what interests you in the museum of your college career. And who knows? You might just be recognized for your dedication and become the face of Tufts University.
(the face of Tufts on the Museum of Science Instagram, at least!)