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Resource center's 'spa' helps students relax

For years, at the end of each semester, tired and stressed-out students have had a place to decompress right in Building 7.

On the last two days of classes, just before finals, the Academic Resource Center transforms into a space for students to nosh, chat and mingle before finals begin. Last week, the event was offered on Dec. 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Known as MIT Spa in the fall semester and Infinite Oasis in the spring, the end-of-the-semester celebration has varied offerings depending on the season. MIT Spa features hot teas, hot chocolate and other warm drinks, while the Infinite Oasis offers summer drinks: lemonade, iced tea and various juices. Regardless of the season, MIT students flock to the event each time, said Elizabeth Young, assistant dean of new student programming.

"It is just something different," said Young. "The place is always packed."

In addition to offering various "kiddy" snacks like fruit chews, granola bars, Goldfish crackers and juice boxes, Academic Resources also has educators from the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness on hand to discuss stress management. Chief among the recommendations for stressed students is sleep, followed by healthy eating. The educators also encourage list-making to tackle mounting to-do lists.

Starting last spring, the event also features a massage therapist who gives 10-minute chair massages for two hours each day. "She fills up immediately," said Young, laughing. Since most people carry their tension in the neck and shoulders, the therapist focuses her work there.

Although the MIT Spa is open just a few days a year, the Academic Resource Center is open to students year-round. "We are always a very loud, stop-in kind of place," said Young about her office. "It is a nice place to be."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 21, 2005 (download PDF).

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