This past Columbus Day weekend, over 30 of us gathered together at the Danny Lewin retreat — named in honor of former MIT graduate student Danny Lewin (about whom a recent book was written). This was the second year it was held; you can read about the inaugural retreat from last year here.
This was an opportunity for theory students new and old to get to know each other and spend 3 days together talking about their research and taking part in various fun activities (more details to follow).
The concept is simple:
1. We find a place (hopefully) within reasonable driving distance preferably in an area very close to awesome hiking paths.
2. Rent houses able to sleep dozens of people and and vans (one per dozen) to get us there.
3. Spend 3 days full of both academic and recreational activities. Academic activities (in the morning) include talks on a particular predetermined subject by predetermined speakers and short research introductions (i.e 5 minute talks about our research) by each one of us. Recreational ones include of course hiking and anything else people feel like doing in the free time (e.g ultimate frisbee, soccer, board games, making campfire etc).
4. Return to Boston full of new experiences and having met people, faster than we might have met otherwise. I definitely recommend that for all first year students!
This year the chosen place was at Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York close to Lake George, where we went for hiking the first time and gave us some awesome views as you will see.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend: I learned a ton, played my first game of mental chess (I lost), and escaped Cambridge for the great outdoors. And the leaves were beautiful.