Okay, so that might be a tad bit of an exaggeration, but the Yard is pretty empty this week as Spring Break has finally arrived! However, as many of my friends have sought warmer climates from what is a colder than normal March in Cambridge, the temperature didn’t get above freezing until about 3pm this afternoon, I myself find myself typing this not from a beach in Mexico, but from my normal spot in my dorm room. We take advantage of having a week off school to get some solid training in before race season (we race Cornell in less than 3 weeks!), so I will be spending much of this week rowing. Or so I thought. The weather seems not to have got the message. Due to being so cold we didn’t make it out onto the water on Saturday morning and with a Noreaster, a type of winter storm specific to the ‘North-Eastern’ region of the USA, set to bring 7-9 inches of snow overnight, tomorrow looks set to be indoors as well; frustrating to say the least!
It is however nice to have a break from school for a week, and it is a good time to both relax after a stressful mid-term period and also review and get ahead of the material for my courses. I must here apologise for my first post last week, in which I said that my courses have come to an end: they haven’t. As the name ‘mid-term’ suggest, we are merely half way through courses and the term. In the UK our school year was split into 6 terms with breaks in between, so the saying of old habits die hard is certainly true here, as it feels to me like we have reached the end of one term.
Being here over spring-break has presented us with one challenge however and that is the fact that all the dining halls are shut, so we are therefore forced to source our own sustenance. A good friend of mine on the crew team, a member of my blocking group for next year, and fellow brit James Green and I fancy ourselves as being pretty handy in the kitchen, so we raided the supermarket on Saturday afternoon, planning out our great cooking experiment. Harvard rowing has very graciously provided us with a stipend for food, so our costs are covered, and having a kitchen in every dorm means that we have the equipment available. So far this week we have cooked, to great success I might add: Spagetti Bolognese; sausages with baked potatoes and assorted vegetables; and chicken tikka massala, a firm UK favourite. I will be sure to update you with how the rest of the cooking goes as the week progresses.
Having some time off this week has also provided me with some time to sort out a few extra bits and bobs which seem so time consuming during term-time. I have been getting my tax forms ready for filing today, an experience which makes me feel extremely American. It’s also been a great chance to catch up with family and friends over skype, something I haven’t had much time for recently: I really do not know what I would do without Skype, as anyone else who has ever had family or friends go abroad will attest it really does help to break down the distance. As well as this, I have been preparing for the second part of the comp for the Crimson Key Society. There are two pieces of Harvard dialect I must translate for you here. The first is ‘comp’. For every society on campus, the process of joining is known as ‘comping’. Some comps are more intense than others, for the student paper The Crimson I believe the comp consists purely of submitting a number of pieces to be published over the term, and if this is completed you are invited to join. The second phrase is The Crimson Key Society, which is a student body on campus which primarily organises a historical tour of Harvard’s campus, but also runs events throughout the year such as the freshman ‘opening days’, a week of different events specifically for freshman when they arrive on campus in the fall. Having given tours of my old school, itself founded some 87 years before Harvard in 1549, and enjoyed it immensely, I really would love to be a party of The Crimson Key, or ‘Key’ for short, as they seem like a great bunch of people. I’ve successfully made my way through the first part of the comp process, which involved and interview and the presentation of one tour stop, but the second part is considerably harder, having to put together and present a full tour of the campus. I have therefore been reading through various guide books, swatting up on my Harvard knowledge in preparation, and fingers crossed I will be successful. If you ever find yourself in Cambridge and need a tour though, after this week I should be able to help!
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