LaunchX gave me the chance to be independent in aspects of my life I’d not put much thought into prior—things like meal planning, transportation, and managing my own spending, to name a few. Looking back on it now, many of these responsibilities could’ve been done more efficiently if I had planned better for my stay at MIT
Packing & Preparations
When I packed for Launch, I think I did pretty good in terms of remembering the things I’d need, but not in terms of overpacking some items. Before you start packing, I recommend making a list. As you put stuff into your luggage, mark things off on that list and don’t put anything in your bags that you haven’t written on the list. This will prevent you from leaving things behind when you pack your stuff up at the end and forgetting things before you arrive.
On your list, I also recommend you mark down items that you need for Launch, but are unnecessary to pack from home because you can buy them in Boston. An example: if the dorm you stay at does not have air conditioning, make sure you write down that you'll need a fan—because you will need it. Things like pillows, hangers and other inexpensive or bulky items can be bought while at Launch, either before check-in or within the first few days. These should be disposable items or things that you wouldn’t mind donating at the end of the program—things you don’t mind leaving behind after Launch.
Getting Around Boston
With the freedom Launch gives you, it’s important to take into consideration the amount of accountability you must hold yourself to. One part of Launch I struggled with in the first few days was transportation and getting myself around Boston. After my first few Uber rides, I realized that, while extremely useful, Uber was not always a cost effective mode of transportation, especially when your destination is within walking distance (walking is, of course, free). However, I found Uber to still be a necessity for me while at Launch. Boston is a large area and many of the activities are not within a reasonable walking distance, and because of the tight schedule, Uber is sometimes the best choice, even if walking is an option.
Walk when you can, and be thoughtful about deciding when to spend the extra money to hail a ride. When downloading Uber, make sure that it is the American version, otherwise, there will be complications when Ubering with others and attempting to split the cost, which in return can make it more cost efficient.
Meal Planning, Cooking, & Eating Out
Another budgeting conflict you may run into is the lack of a meal plan. At first, I believed that I had come prepared with enough food to cook and money to spend on groceries. But I realized as my food ran out, that I didn’t have as much time as I originally thought I would—both to get groceries and to cook for myself. I found Trader Joe's to be my godsend, as they stock a lot of meals that are microwavable and quality is pretty high. Not only that, but Trader Joe’s is also relatively inexpensive compared to other options like takeout or eating at a restaurant. Cooking food from scratch is the cheapest option, but can be very time consuming, so I liked Trader Joe’s microwavable foods for a low cost and time-saving option.
If you are in need of a microwave, chances are you will be able to find one in the lobby/common area or in a dorm room, left there by a college student. Make sure you can find one before spending money on microwave food, or decide if buying a microwave is worth the cost. I bought one for $50, but returned it after finding one on another floor that I could use for free. Trader Joe's is just barely close enough to walk, but I used Uber to get there more quickly and to transport my bags.
Overall, Launch gave me a chance to take a risk and challenge myself in many ways. Not only was the course material rigorous, but I also challenged myself in terms of trusting myself to make good choices. I learned, most of all, that everything is good within reason. Spending too much money and overpacking were the downfalls I wish I could’ve prevented, as well as making sure that I got enough sleep and other minute but important lessons that made Launch unique.
Still, it’s the experience itself that makes Launch the best accumulation of days in my life. From the amazing people I met to the lessons I learned, Launch gave me exactly what I was hoping for, and that was a memorable experience that taught me about entrepreneurship, responsibility, and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to challenge myself in an effort to reach the goals I wanted.
I hope this all helps you better prepare for your time at Launch!