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We are excited that you're joining the Sidney-Pacific Graduate Community!

Seven hundred graduate students from more than 50 nations found around the globe reside here at Sidney-Pacific, known as SP for short. It's SP's talented residents—experts in fields from mathematics and engineering to economics and architecture—that make this community so unique and special. Be sure to take advantage of your time here at Sidney-Pacific to meet your fellow residents. After all, some of your SP neighbors will become life-long friends!

We have prepared this guide to introduce you to the SP community and to let you know about the many resources that are available to you as an SP resident. We hope that you will find this guide to be useful as you settle into your SP apartment.

Also, make sure to check out the calendar of SP Orientation activities on page 26 of your orientation guide! We have planed a variety of exciting events that will be held during the next few weeks. These events have been designed to introduce you to your fellow SP residents as well as to graduate students across MIT's campus. We hope you enjoy yourself at these events.

Have a great time during Orientation and throughout your time at SP!


View Orientation Map in a larger map

This is a very basic check-list. Some items may not apply to you, or there may be items that apply to you, but are not listed here. Use your judgement and don’t hesitate to ask any of the SP Officers for assistance.

  • Check-in at the Front Desk (70 Pacific Street, Cambridge MA 02139)
  • Call your loved ones to let them know that you arrived safely.
  • International students: proceed immediately to International Students’ Office, Building 5, room 133 (5-133), and sign up for an ISO orientation session (you will not be able to do anything else before completing this session)
  • Get an MIT ID Card: Student Center (W20), basement level
  • Obtain a parking sticker for your car, also W20 basement level
  • Obtain an Athena account (if you don’t have one already). Athena is the MIT computer system (http://ist.mit.edu/support/accounts).
  • You should have received a letter with instructions on how to open an Athena account. If not, go to the MIT Student Services Center (11-120) to get your initial password for your Athena account (allows you to use the computing facilities, get an e-mail address, and get your file-storage space).
  • After your account is active, get an MIT Personal Certificate (http://ist.mit.edu)
  • Set-up your SP “My Account” (http://sidpac.mit.edu)
  • Upload a photo of yourself for your safety and so you may borrow items
  • Open a bank account (if you don’t already have one at a local bank)
  • Get a phone card or phone plan (see Phone section of this guide)
  • Get a computer or get to know the SP computer lab
  • Activate your MIT ID card for use at campus sports and fitness facilities
  • Cancel MIT Health Plan enrollment if you already have suitable health insurance
  • Get a “COOP” card at the MIT Coop (for extra savings and rebates) Decide what courses you want to take (http://student.mit.edu)

Other Useful Information

The closest supermarket for grocery shopping is Star Market (on the 2nd floor on Green St, between Sidney and Landsdowne St). The closest mall is Cambridgeside Galleria.

Handy hints before arriving

Furniture in S-P

Rooms in Sidney-Pacific come with standard furniture (twin extra-long bed, desk & chair, dresser, wardrobe, bookshelf, side chair). You can see pictures of the standard furniture at http://sidpac.mit.edu/about/furniture . Please be aware however, that there is NO storage space in S-P, so all the furniture provided with the apartments will have to stay within the apartment.

Bed sheets (linens): American size twin extra long (“Twin extra long” is also known as “extra long single.” It is 3 feet 3 inches wide and 6 ft 8 in long (39 in x 80 in) or 100 cm wide and 203 cm long.)

Be sure to look out for information on our SP-REUSE program when you arrive. Residents have donated furniture and household items that will be available to new residents free of charge! [Note: SP-REUSE is only for fall orientation]

Handy hints on banking for international students

The most interesting part of the MIT FCU is their credit service: You can get uncomplicated and reasonable small loans to buy a computer or a car.

For international students, you may have a hard time getting a credit card since essentially all banks require some “credit history” in the USA before they can give you credit.

The Visa card office of the MIT FCU offers 2 possibilities to work around this problem:

  1. You can ask your bank back home to give you a credit history or
  2. You deposit a certain amount on your savings account at the MIT FCU. This amount is equal to your credit card coverage. It serves as your security and you cannot touch it for a few months (while it is earning some small interest though). Once you have paid your credit card bills regularly for a while, you can ask MIT FCU to give your money free again.

    Admittedly during the first month it is not really a “credit” that you get with your credit card, but after this you have built a “credit history” and better chances to get higher coverage or successfully apply for other credit cards.

Mailing Address

70 Pacific Street, Apt # (Your apt number)
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
(Do not include MIT in your address -- it may slow down your mail)

Campus locations

To find any campus location go to: whereis.mit.edu.

Emergency phone numbers

100 Emergency (from within S-P or any on-campus phone)
617-253-1212 MIT Campus Police (from a non-campus phone)
617-253-1311 MIT Medical: 24-Hour Urgent Medical & Mental Health Care

Program an in-case-of-emergency number into your cell phone right now.

Front desk hours

The front desk is staffed 24 hours.

From 8 am to midnight, the desk worker can help you with borrowing checkout items, packages received, mail, etc.

From midnight to 8 am, a security guard operates the desk. Items cannot be checked out between midnight and 8 am.

Maintenance problems

For non-urgent repair requests, fill out request form online at: https://adminapps.mit.edu/facilities/SelectRepairLocation.action

617-253-4948 F-I-X-I-T (24 hour service for urgent repair requests)
617-253-0553 House Manager (Weekdays 7:30 am–4 pm)
617-253-1500 MIT Housing Repair Facilities

For more information about Sidney-Pacific check out the orientation guide [PDF]. It is a quick reference for house policies, tips on where to buy things, places to eat on and off campus, and other important information.