A Tetanus Shot and The Infinite Corridor

She pulls the needle out of my arm as I try to think of any pertinent questions. She has already explained the entire TDAP abbreviation to me, which I have forgotten almost immediately.

“All of your MIT pre-matriculation medical requirements have now been satisfied!”

“Wonderful! Only one question: do you happen to know where the ID office is located?” I ask, pointing at her badge.

I nod almost instinctively to a series of waypoints I most certainly do not know. It is clear, however, that I need to end up in the basement of the student center. As I leave MIT Medical and walk down Main Street towards Vassar, the heat and humidity slowly become less bearable. I wipe my brow with a t-shirt that is already nearing its saturation point.

The Stratton Student Center is not what I had envisioned – a fortress of cast concrete – it is a monument of 1960s institutional architecture. I navigate around a tour group and into the underbelly of the beast, following signs for the MIT Card Office. After handing over my driver’s license, the gentleman behind the desk taps on his keyboard, TIPPITY TAP TAP TAP.

“I cannot print your MIT Student ID.” An unusually long pause ensues until I realize that is the end of his thought. “Why is that?” I ask. “Your middle name is incorrectly listed in my system.” I ask a flurry of pointed questions, which yield only poor results. “You must visit the registrar’s office in order to first correct your name.” Another seemingly long pause follows. “Are you able to tell me where that is?” I ask. On a map of campus he draws circles around the registrar’s office, which sits directly across from MIT Medical. “You can either take Vassar to Main, or walk through MIT’s infinite corridor.” Now although I am admittedly frustrated, I am also hugely intrigued by a magical hallway that may very well have been the inspiration for a certain passageway through Hogwarts.

I step back into the afternoon inferno and walk towards the Rogers Building, which stares out over Mass Ave. The infinite corridor, as far as I can tell, begins here and connects a series of buildings spanning MIT’s main campus. Conveniently for me, air conditioned corridors take me nearly directly to my destination.

Infinite CorridorI have not meandered the halls of a university campus since I graduated from college nearly seven years ago. As I enter the expansive atrium of the Rogers Building, a tour group engulfs me like a school of minnows, as if totally unaware of my presence. Although I project confidence in my walk, in truth, I feel like a small child wandering through a mythical land, limited only by the cavernous halls of my own imagination. The energy is palpable, and the possibilities begin to feel almost alive. I saunter past the nanotechnology and chemical engineering labs in particular child-like fashion, my eyes as wide as those of the prospective students that surround me.

After taking momentary respite in the registrar’s office, I have only fifteen minutes to navigate my way back through the infinite corridor. Whereas before I was merely intrigued, I am now excited at the prospect of returning. I walk briskly through the medical building with a clear sense of direction, as if this hall and I are now old friends, familiar with each other’s twists and turns. Moments later I am not only terribly lost in the hollow basement beneath the hospital, but also fear I have turned accidentally down a hall in which I do not belong; and worse, I don’t yet have my MIT Student ID! I begin to backtrack and then sidetrack, peering through doors and around bends. I hurry up a stairwell and into an office of cubicles as the minutes slip away, drenched once again in my own sweat. Just smile and wave I tell myself; smile, nod and wave.

The card office closes as I return, although the woman behind the desk happily assists me. She tells me to turn towards the camera, and I smile as sweat drips squarely into my eyes. As she hands me my student ID I can’t help but reflect on this moment – albeit seemingly mundane, I am wonderfully excited.

“Welcome to MIT,” she says.

Nick Del Vecchio

Licensed mechanical engineer and entrepreneur-in-training, Nick is pursuing an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Having recently relocated from Denver back home to Boston, he looks forward to vaulting himself firmly into the unfamiliar, both at Sloan and within the larger MIT community.



  1. Craig Warden-Rothman

    Just FYI and as another aspect of MIT culture, no one refers to the buildings by name unless they’re a dorm, so what you referred to as the Rogers building is building 7 or lobby 7.

  2. Its good to here your story hopefully you will write lots more in the future.

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