Travelling to the US Edit
Try to arrange your visa appointment at the embassy nice and early since the lead time can be quite long. You don’t need to have received your DS-2019 when making the appointment, but you will need to have it with you when you go to the embassy. If possible, arrange for an appointment at the earliest possible time in the day, since the waiting room will be packed and soul destroying. They’ll probably be running behind schedule even though everyone has arranged times.
Travelling within Cambridge/Boston Edit
Like in Cambridge UK, most places are actually perfectly within walking distance but lots of people feel inclined to cycle everywhere anyway. Bikes can be bought from friends, Craigslist, or in the auction for the police’s stolen bike collection. Most CMEs buy one at the start of the year and then sell it just before they leave, although some have been known to bring their own bikes from the UK. Cycle lanes do exist, but you still need to be careful around Bostonian drivers. It’s okay to cycle on sidewalks as long as you’re considerate of pedestrians.
There exists a version of the Boris Bikes called the Hubway (http://www.thehubway.com/) which might be worth looking at if you don’t want to buy and maintain your own bike. It costs $25 a year for MIT students, and there is a station right outside 77 Mass Ave. It can be inconvenient if the station locations are far away, the bike racks are full/empty, and during the winter most of the stations in Boston are removed from use.
There are many public busses that go in and around Cambridge and Boston; the most significant one is probably the number 1 bus which goes all the way to Harvard, convenient if you’re taking a class there. You can pay for your trip using your MIT ID in the same way as for a subway trip.
MIT also has its own Tech Shuttle during the day, which is free of charge. It loops around the major locations on campus. During the evening and night, this service turns into the Saferide, which offers transportation to places just outside campus so people don’t have to go home by themselves in the dark.
The subway in the greater Boston area is known as the “T”. You can put money on your MIT ID at the station and then use that to pay, similar to an Oyster card. A single journey costs $2.65.
A lot of people here use Uber or its competitor, Lyft, for some journeys. The coverage is great and they’ll normally be a car to pick you up within 5 minutes. Much cheaper than a taxi.