So what do Harvard students actually spend their time doing? Although I can’t speak for everyone, here is what my typical day was like as a freshman, and, in the next blog entry, now, as a senior. Freshman year I relied on my Harvard planner, but since those aren’t being given out anymore :(, I am an avid user of Google Calendar. The ability to color-code my life makes running from classes to lab to meetings much more fun, although if my gmail decides to be temporarily unavailable I am in trouble.
Here is a typical week in my life, as seen from my gcal:
I’ve been told that the background makes my calendar much more confusing, but I love polka dots! Also, my Saturday looks deceivingly empty, but it is actually the day when I get most of my studying done—I try not to schedule any other meetings on Saturday so I can be as productive as possible.
My life wasn’t so exciting (or crazy) freshman fall, when I was just getting a feeling for what college in Boston was like after coming from a public high school in Tucson.
Alissa’s Day (Fall 2007)
5 a.m. My first alarm goes off. I set multiple alarms at least an hour apart so that I’m fully awake by the last one. (I also got up extremely early freshman and sophomore year.)
6 a.m. My second alarm goes off. I turn it off.
6:15 a.m. My third alarm goes off. I actually get out of bed in my double in Weld, one of the freshman dorms in Harvard Yard.
6:20-7:00 I go on a run around Harvard Square—if I’m not awake yet, the chilly air definitely does the trick.
7-7:30: I eat my yummy hot breakfast at Annenberg, the freshman dining hall that is basically a castle. Sundays are my favorite because I get to make Veritaffles! (otherwise known as waffles with the Harvard crest on them)
7:30-9:30: I catch up on reading. My productivity was at an all-time high fall of freshman year.
10:00-2:00: Lots of class! Depending on the day, I head to Life Sciences 1a, the gateway class for all the life science concentrations, First Nights, an amazing General Education class that studies five pieces of music, Math 19a, a math class about modeling for the life sciences, or Expos, the required expository writing class for freshman.
2:00-300: Time for lunch—meals are definitely one of the best parts of the day, especially when you eat with friends and get to hear everyone’s stories. In fact, one of my best friends just informed me that he might as well be a goldfish because he will “basically just eat until he dies.”
3:00-6:00: I would often head to The Crimson because I was comping the News Board and learning how to write and edit news stories. Once I started working in a lab, I would head over to my bench and do experiments. Although I haven’t made any exciting discovery yet, I have learned a lot about how the brain works and how to do basic science.
6:00-7:00: Food again, this time dinner.
7:00-9:00: Actual homework time! I would often do my problem set for Math 19a or revise yet another draft of my Expos essay while catching up with my roommates.
9:00-10:00 Hot shower and procrastinating until I go to bed (ie. checking my email, crossing off things in my planner, and checking my email again)
Today, as a senior, I’ve hopefully become a little bit wiser, and my circadian clock has shifted a few hours forward.
Alissa’s Day (Fall 2010)
7:00 a.m. First alarm. I generally ignore it and go back to sleep.
8:00 a.m. Second alarm. I wake up and turn it off.
9:00 a.m. Third alarm, and I get up! I then grab my glasses, pick up my Macbook from next to my bed, and check my email.
9:30-10:00 Shower to wake me up, check my email one more time, grab a toasted bagel with cream cheese from Mather House Dining Hall, and catch the Mather Express Shuttle to the Yard.
10:00-11:30 a.m. I head over to the Graduate School of Education for my Developmental Psychology class. I’m getting a secondary field in psychology, and I think it’s really cool to learn about how babies develop!
11:30-1:00 p.m. I make my way to the new Northwest Lab Building, where my lab moved the summer of 2008, drop off my backpack in the undergraduate room, and do some cool science at my bench—here’s my bench in a low entropy (surprisingly clean) state the week after we moved in. There are now a lot more bottles and tubes!
1:00-2:30 p.m. I head over to the Science Center to sit in on the Life Sciences 1a lecture with my bagged lunch from FlyBy (I eat a lot of PBJ sandwiches). Yes, I took the class freshman year, but I’m now a facilitator, which means I help freshman in the class with their problem sets and teach them how to draw amino acids like proline.
2:30-5:00 p.m. Back to lab. As a senior concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology, my fourth class is research for my senior thesis, so I end up being in lab 7 days a week taking care of my cells. Luckily, two of my blockmates John ’11 and Jeremy ’11 work in the same building so I always have a friend there! John ’11 is doing cool stuff with stem cells and Jeremy ’11 gets to go to Costa Rica to catch monarch butterflies.
5:00-6:00 p.m. Dinner with my friends Kevin ’11 and Eric ’11, both also board members of the UAC! We think of ideas for our spring break trip after our theses are turned in (theoretically) and try to figure out why our experiments aren’t working.
6:00-9:00 p.m. I head over to the Crimson, where I am one of the Senior Night Editors (SNEs) for the next day’s paper. I edit three different stories and then walk down Plympton St. to Quincy House
9:00-10:00 p.m. I hold the Harvard Premedical Society’s weekly board meeting as current President, and the board members update everyone on events like our surgery simulation and our volunteering and mentoring program.
10:00-11:00 p.m. Kevin ’11, Eric ’11, and I get some bubble tea from Boston Tea Stop and talk about our medical school interviews and the hardest questions we’ve gotten from interviewers. We hope we get in somewhere soon!
11:00-1:00 a.m. We head to one of our rooms and do work for a couple of hours. On any night, Kevin ’11 might be doing a literature search for his thesis introduction, I’m doing readings for my other psychology class, Developmental Psychopathology—which is awesome!—and Eric ’11 is redesigning a website.
1:00 a.m. I set my alarm for the next morning, rinse and repeat.
I actually get most of my work done on the weekends, and as you can see above, spend my weekdays between class, lab, and extracurriculars. It works for me, but everyone balances their college commitments in different ways. It’s busy, but it’s ridiculously fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way!