Articles by Jeanie Nguyen

Harvard College Junior, Mather House

Another grand congratulations to the Class of 2017! Such an incredibly exciting accomplishment, but definitely also scary at the same time because I’m sure you all have great alternative options. In some ways, it doesn’t even seem fair that at age 18, you have to decide where you want to be receiving a diploma at age 22. How do you know where you’ll fit into the mold best – or where you can create an improved mold of yourself? The honest and worst answer is that you don’t. You don’t know, we don’t know, your parents don’t know. And all you want is someone to just tell you what to do because this way, when the going gets rough, at least you can blame someone else, right?!

I love having options, but they can also be a source of stress. One of my favorite ways to leverage this stress into fun is by sampling. I like to try a little bit of everything, and only after this do I step back to make an informed decision. For all of you who are still on a verge of deciding where to attend college, find comfort in the fact that you still have some time and even more resources to help you. I hope this blog can provide a unique insight to student life here at Harvard!

I didn’t check in last week (have been getting slayed by midterms since forever) so I wanted to give you all a little sampling of the highs and lows of these past 2 weeks instead of focusing on just one event 🙂

 

Sheryl Sandberg on leaning in

Caroline blogged about Sheryl Sandberg speaking at Harvard as a stop on her book tour. I heard about this event about a month beforehand because of some of my friends in the student organization sponsoring her talk, Women in Business (WIB). I reserved tickets about a month in advance and was excited for the event all day! I’ve only watched her talks online so it was surreal to be sitting in the live audience, especially when College President Drew Faust was right there along with me! It’s even more surreal that Sheryl Sandberg was a member of the audience at one point too during her undergraduate years. To share, or at least be able to relate to, a part of her history is really inspiring and a great reminder that Harvard generously provides both the academic and financial resources that can catapult us down phenomenal career paths! Sheryl Sandberg always makes really good points about putting yourself out there to be in a position to fearlessly lead that I think both men and women would benefit from following.

Sheryl Sandberg kicked off a great weekend because the very next day was Relay for Life, an all night walkathon hosted by the American Cancer Society. Last spring, I was involved in Relay as the incoming Vice President of Philanthropy on the Panhellenic Council, but since I was in the midst of transitioning in last year, everything ran smoother this year and I was much more involved. Our “Go Greek” team actually became the #1 team, fundraising the most money for the event – a little friendly competition doesn’t hurt!  The walkathon was a culmination of tons of planning as we had fundraising events such as bake sales, water pong tournaments, restaurant fundraisers, etc. leading up to the walkathon. It was great seeing all the sororities and fraternities taking time from their rigorous academic schedule during midterms to rally and honor cancer survivors as well as support cancer research.

The day after Relay for Life, I went on a field trip to the Boston Aquarium with my students in a volunteering program I direct through PBHA (Phillips Brooks House Association), called BRYE (Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment). It was my first time at the aquarium and I’m pretty sure I was more excited than my group of teenagers!

Mesmerizing!

It’s pretty rare for most Harvard students to get off campus to explore Boston which can be nice because it makes Boston more of a novelty, but it can also be a sad thing because we’re missing out on all the great things Boston has to offer i.e. the aquarium, Quincy market (as Rob mentioned), etc. My friend, a senior at Yale, was visiting this weekend for Harvard Law School admit/orientation weekend and was able to go to the aquarium as well. It was really interesting to hear my friend’s perspective of Harvard and Boston in general. Being so use to New Haven, my friend was delightfully surprised we could walk around Cambridge at night without getting mugged, beyond pleased by our morning run by the river since New Haven’s nature isn’t really existent, and also impressed with how close Boston is since most Yale kids have to take a train to New York City for any kind of real urban experience. Don’t take this as me hating on Yale, but rather a Yalie hating.

Yale and Harvard represent at the Pet a Stingray exhibit!!!!!!! Best. exhibit. ever.

 

It’s mid-April, which is essentially the worst time of the academic year. It’s that time when school is pretty much over, but you have all your work left. Spring Break is long and gone and students are getting slammed with midterms up until finals. If the weather was nicer, I could probably try to put a positive spin on that somewhere, but I’m a weather-spoiled California kid and this rainy-windy combo is just not cutting it. I was also planning on running the Boston Marathon this Monday (as a bandit), but I have a genetics midterm this Marathon Monday and the latest I can reschedule is 7 pm. LAME. Harvard is also basically the only school that holds classes on Marathon Monday, which makes no sense because it takes out all the fun-community-building that stems from the Boston Marathon, an event people fly in to Boston to compete in from all over the world! We shouldn’t hold classes as a simple sign of respect!!

Yet, there is a light at the end of this (loooong and dark) tunnel – it’s called Mid-May. Classes are officially over in about 2 weeks, starting Reading Period, a week where students have unorganized time to study for our final exams. When school ends, I’ll still be denying that I’m 3/4 done with college. This denial will continue abroad since I’ll be abroad for most of the summer again 🙂 This was literally the best news to me because after spending summer 2012 in Europe, Peru, and Bolivia, I’m officially obsessed with collecting passport stamps. I’m honored to be accepted into the Global Health Institute’s iSURF (international summer undergraduate research fellowship) program which is sponsoring me to pursue clinical research in the context of women and nutrition in Tanzania. I’ll be spending about 10 weeks there and then heading over to South America/Bolivia again. More updates to come once I get everything sorted out, but for now, I’m SO excited to get familiar with Africa!

Also can’t contain my excitement because today is Yardfest! There’s been some controversy over Yardfest this year, but the other bloggers and I will be sure to let you know how the event goes!

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A grandly deserved congratulations and warm welcome to the class of 2017!!!! Every time that number increases, it’s a subtle reminder of the aging process and every time the admissions rate decreases, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that I probably wouldn’t have been admitted if I applied that year. Acceptances are awesome because it’s a validation of your hard work and competence; however, please keep in mind that the converse is not true. Not getting accepted in no way validates your laziness or incompetence – it’s just a sad realization that there are too few spots for so many incredibly talented people. The weather sucks here anyways… 😉

Regardless of where you’ll be attending college, the transition to college is more often than not a difficult journey. Just keep in mind that difficult obstacles yield better memories and are often more rewarding. Think of the last time you drove yourself crazy studying for a test or training for a race and when you performed exceptionally well, you promised you’ll work just as hard, if not harder, next time.

The first few weeks of the college transition are tumultuous to say the least. This ambient and seemingly constant chaos tends to drive students to a quest for order and routine; a routine and schedule that they’ll essentially follow for their remaining time as an undergraduate. This is a part of what we here call “The Harvard Bubble.” This phrase more commonly refers to our collective unwillingness to leave campus despite all the luring and tantalizing the Boston skyline does. Yet this bubble imagery connotes many strong interpretations.

Not only does Harvard protect us with their amazing advising program and guidance before we enter the scary real world, but Harvard students can also easily get wrapped up in their routine and schedules. Personally, this ease of approaching the mundane makes getting off of the Harvard campus more important. It’s along the lines of “too much of a good thing” concept where I love and am grateful for spending most of my time on campus (as evidence by my fear of graduating even though I have another year!), but it’s easier to appreciate what you have once you don’t have it – even if you don’t have it for just 4 hours every week.

Visiting the top of the Science Center’s Observatory during our “field trip” to Harvard’s campus!

I spend my a few hours of every weekend afternoon off campus, volunteering in Dorchester. I direct the teenage segment of a larger program called Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment (BRYE). A handful of volunteers and I mentor, tutor, but above all become friends with teenage students who have all immigrated to the US. Each semester, the curriculum is catered to the group of students we have – if they want extra homework help, more books to read, arts and crafts projects, field trips, etc. the volunteers and I will bend over backwards to provide what they find useful. Our funding comes from the generous Presidential Public Service Fund and BRYE falls under the umbrella of the Phillip Brooks House Association (PBHA) – a student run organization that our very own blogger Meaks is running!

 I’ve been involved with BRYE Teen since my freshman fall semester and stepped into a leadership position my sophomore year. Pretty sure it’s the extracurricular activity I’ve been involved with for the longest amount of time. It also took me a long time to appreciate the program, although this may sound terrible right off the bat. However, I think I’ve taken a lot and learned thousands of lessons from BRYE which drives me to keep giving back.

The immigrated students participating in BRYE vary drastically from year to year and even semester to semester. Sometimes they’re vocal (and only vocal about all the things they hate about you), sometimes they seek humor, and often they’re shy. My freshman year, I had a group of the rowdiest, most unappreciative kids ever and thought about quitting constantly. I consistently questioned why they came back week after week if they were overtly against every activity we suggested. It took me almost the entirety of my freshman year to realize that the kids preferred coming to BRYE over spending their time chilling in a park or watching TV at home because they had to get something from BRYE the sessions even if they vehemently denied it. With the high student turnover rate that BRYE experiences, I’ve gained so much perspective about my patience and interpersonal skills in the context of diversity and this helps me actively improve myself to not only put my best foot forward, but also to make sure my other foot isn’t too far behind.

This semester of BRYE has run much more smoothly with my new co-director! It has frequently been the highlight of my week this semester and some of the shy kids are more comfortable with us and are finally opening up!

Fun examples of what we’ve done just this semester: carnival for Lunar New Year,

The sign says “Happy New Year” in Vietnamese

 learn a handful of Chinese characters and phrases, and explore the Boston Harbor/Faneuil Hall.

It’s been a blast working with people who still adore cartoons and aren’t stressed about upcoming exams/papers. Getting off campus in a productive manner has been a truly refreshing experience for me and I definitely plan on being involved with BRYE until (and maybe even post?) graduation!

Once again, congratulations to all those accepted! Definitely enjoy the rest of your senior year and summer. Hope to see you for Visitas (prefrosh visiting weekend!)

Hopefully next week, I’ll have a better idea of my summer and can update everyone 🙂 Here’s a hint: I’m definitely going abroad 😀

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I would steadfastly contend that some of the best things just happen – that’s how my Spring Break was planned.

This Spring Break would be my first outside of PBHA’s (Phillips Brooks House Association) Alternative Spring Break program. For the past two years, I’ve participated and directed the trip to New York City where a group of hand selected undergraduates volunteered with God’s Love We Deliver and wandered both medical schools and the big city!

Last semester, I initially thought I would have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) after Spring Break due to hardships registering for a January spot, but I got lucky and secured a sweet and ideal test spot! Thus, my Spring Break opened up 🙂 My luck doesn’t end here because one of my roommate’s mom had a Disney gift card reward that would not only pay for our hotel at Disney World for a few nights, but also some meals! As if things couldn’t get any better, my other roommate’s older sister works at Disney and was available to join us on our Spring Break getaway and she could get us all our park admission tickets as well! This extremely fortunate series of events created the best (and cheapest) Spring Break to Disney World ever!! As a California native, I’m quite familiar with Disneyland so I was beyond stoaked to venture into Disney World for the first time!

Third year in college, but Spring Breakin like we’re 3 years old

In the wee hours of the first day of Spring Break, my roommates and I hopped on a plane to Disney World. As with most college students, transportation to the airport is more often than not a struggle. Lucky for us, the Boston Logan International Airport (equipped with free wifi!) is relatively close – I know a lot of other schools aren’t so conveniently located near airports, let alone international airports! Harvard is also great about making the college to airport trip not only easier, but also much more cost effective. The UC (Undergraduate Council) organizes shuttles as Caroline mentioned in her latest blog. Additionally, one of the UC’s more recent initiatives is their “Split a Cab” campaign that basically fosters an environment where students can contact each other with the end goal of splitting the cab fare. Most students are economically minded and will send emails over list-servs to get in touch with people going to and back from the airport. My roommates and I actually shared a cab with someone in the early morning because neither the T (subway) or shuttles were running at 4am!

Needless to say, we had a phenomenal time at Disney World with all its thrilling rides and scrumptious food!!! The Florida sunshine was completely necessary, especially since we returned to a snowy Cambridge 🙁 Sometimes it felt like we never left Harvard – we ran into 2 incoming class of 2017 freshman at the adventure park! My roommates and I wanted to talk to them and congratulate them on getting in early, but were initially hesitant because of the blatant potential creep factor. We approached them under the context that I “work” for the Admissions Office to play it cool. In the conversation, both parties were really excited but my roommates and I definitely felt like the karate master who is all knowing of the wildly fun adventures they’ll have in college. I also promised them I would mention them in my blog, so if they’re reading, I did eat all the churros I said I would eat.

Harvard seemed to follow us around Florida, or at least our upperclassman house, Mather. The week leading up to Spring Break is Housing Week which ends with Housing Day – an epic day where all freshman get placed into their upperclassman house for the next three years with their friends. Think the human chaotic version of Harry Potter’s sorting hat.

This year, the theme for Mather was a pun off of Monster’s Inc.

My favorite part of the shirt was the back though:

Our house is infamous for its concrete architecture.

I’ll embarrassingly admit that I thought the theme was just a random throwback to the movie a few years ago. Until we realized there was a sequel coming out and then really appreciated the sweet pun…

Solid examples of the strong community Harvard fosters. My roommates and I also discussed Harvard and its name. Dropping the name is commonly termed the H bomb. I definitely dance around dropping this bomb and would much rather drop little grenades like “I attend college in Massachusetts” or “It’s a school in Boston” commonly followed by “Well, it’s not really in Boston, but an area just outside of Boston” and if the inquirer is really pushy, they’ll get it out of me…maybe. My roommates think it’s weird that I still avoid it that much as a junior in college, but I’ve always noticed a change in dynamics post H bomb and it’s a change I don’t really like. I’m not embarrassed nor ashamed of my school, I just rather not openly discuss it? Not sure, I’m weird about it.

Spring Break is now on its final weekend 🙁 It’s back to reality…but not too fast. I’ve definitely spent the last two days eating like it’s my last meal and rolling around my bed laughing so hard from TV shows like Psych and The Big Bang Theory. The dining hall won’t be open until Sunday dinner, but my roommate and I trekked to the market thanks to Harvard’s evening van service, something I definitely heard of a lot freshman year that hasn’t come up until some of my friends reminded me of it. The evening van service is, from my understanding, like a supplement to the normal shuttle. My roommate and I used the evening van service to shop at a nearby store a mile away to stock up on snacks and semi-real food to hold us over for a few days until the dining hall opens. It’s a great service that I’m kind of kicking myself for due to my lack of use these last 2.5 years!

My procrastination is somewhat admirable..? I hate (haaaateeee!) skipping classes, but I did a lot of that these past few weeks in order to maximize my midterm preparations. Ending this blog now to get back to the swing of things! Hopefully next weekend, I’ll be able to give an update on my summer plans!

 

**updated April 12, 2013 at 4pm

In response to some of the comments… (sorry the comments section closed so I can’t directly reply!)

Students definitely get nervous leading up to and on Housing Day! It’s more of a nervous excitement though. I think the closest feeling to it is coming to watch a sports game. There’s this intense, exciting energy all around you and you know you’re going to have a great time regardless. There are people in the vicinity that want what you want and those who want what you don’t want, but you’re all super excited to have your future determined (phrasing it in the most dramatic way). Every house warmly welcomes freshman as the future personality and spirit relies on the shoulders of the freshmeat .. erhm, freshmen!

When I was a freshman, there wasn’t a particular house I wanted to be in because there are soo many pros and cons to each house. I honestly did not want to be put in the quad though and am still glad I don’t live in the quad :p but I do appreciate the quad and go there like once a week which is much more than the overwhelming majority of river people can say!

Side note: Upperclassman dorms are divided into two regions: the river and the quad.

Pretty decent references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_College#House_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrangle_(Harvard)

Keep in mind, there are opportunities to transfer houses so it’s not the end all, be all kind of situation. I love Mather House and my sweet suites, but I’m in other houses all of the time! Some people aren’t even sure of where I actually live.

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Losing an hour may not seem much, but 60 minutes is huge when I think about all the sleep I didn’t get this week 🙁

Between midterms, papers, and that activity called eating on top of attending classes and lab, I’ve been beyond swamped – not only this week but the 2 previous weeks before too! Spring Break couldn’t have come at a better time! SUNSHINE HERE I COME

I’m currently posting from the Boston Logan airport and will update as soon as I can 🙂

Happy Mid-March yall!

 

**updated March 22, 2013

 

I’m back on campus now from a delightful Spring Break and am no longer in travel mode – still working on getting off of vacation mode though! I am blogging from a much better mental mindset now compared to where I was a week ago. Spring semester definitely gives Fall semester a run for its money in terms of fun festivities and enjoyment.

I’m definitely enjoying all my classes again and that includes both required and non-required/elective classes. Having the freedom for elective classes is a perk of being an upperclassman; but I’m taking 3 required premed/Neurobiology concentration requirements that people normally take their freshman and maybe sophomore year that I’m really enjoying too! When I tell this to people, they’re always surprised as to why I put off these classes, but that’s just how my schedule worked out because I front-loaded my organic chemistry (aka orgo) and physics series. Since the majority of my classmates are freshman, it’s funny to watch them Facebook or nod off during lecture because as an upperclassman (I’m guilty of all above too), I am much more cognizant of my ticking time as an undergraduate and really appreciate the great lecturers that are available to me. I literally sit in class, really excited about having the opportunity to sit there … and may or may not be fighting the urge to high five freshman among me. I’m just happy to be taught by professors who are excited about the material they’re teaching because back at my public high school, this was not the case.

Although I love my classes, the hardest aspect about them is that all of their first midterms were spread out. You typically hear of students complaining (whining) about how they have all their midterms in the span of a few hours, but midterms are a struggle regardless of when they’re scheduled. Due to my 1 midterm a week schedule, I lived a very extreme month. I would study haaard leading up to the test and then treat myself to probably more relaxation time than I actually deserved afterwards, and then I repeated this vicious cycle. On top of this, I was trying to manage summer applications: finishing personal statements up, collecting recommendation letters, interviewing, pondering about medical school, and all that mentally taxing business. All in all, I think I would pick spread out midterms over condensed midterms if I was forced to choose the better of two evils.

One of my goals for this blog is to show prospective students (and their families) that Harvard College students are of course academically focused, but that this studious rigor also applies to outside of the classroom as well. I’d be comfortable saying that all students have at least one activity they are 200% committed to outside of class – check out Meaks‘ altruistic arm and Scott’s passport stamp collection!

There are two highlights of my week beyond the classroom.

1. Faculty Dinner – a few bloggers have written about our experiences with faculty dinner. Basically, both freshman and upperclassman dining halls host these faculty dinners at least once a semester. It’s a casual setting over delicious food where students can invite a professor or teaching fellow (aka TF, usually a graduate student) so both parties can get to know each other better. Although nerve wracking, it’s a great opportunity that most university students don’t get, so I try to take advantage of it every chance I get. This spring faculty dinner in my upperclassman house, Mather, I invited my preceptor from two years ago! All freshman are required to take an expository writing class (colloquially called Expos 20) that revolves around different focuses. My class was called Tales of Muder and I absolutely attribute my affinity towards writing to this class. I loved this class because of the structure (or lack thereof!) and I still refer back to my notes when I hit a wall outlining papers to this day. My professor and I caught up over these last (and fast!) 2 years. I had such a great time and definitely walked away from dinner knowing I will always find a friend in my Expos professor!!

2. Research Presentation – I’m a research assistant at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Decision Science Lab which is part of a great program of “social science scholars” who are undergraduates working on a variety of projects at many different labs around campus. About once a month or so, the institute organizes a luncheon where one or a handful of students will present the research they have been working on. It’s always nice to attend these luncheons because a constant reminder that I’m a part of something bigger continues to motivate me. This month, a student presented his work on audio files from the Supreme Court and how he tackles this enormous data set to determine (vocal) emotions and how (or if) this affects their decisions/decision-making processes. I’m always amazed whenever someone is answering a question I have yet to think of!

 

Hope you all enjoy reading about everyone’s different Spring Breaks!

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A few weeks ago, while a few of the bloggers were walking home from the blogging dinner reunion/meeting, I asked one of our new teammates Rob about his freshman year, specifically about the contrast between his fall and spring semesters. It’s insanely beautiful how most college students adapt to new campus environments. You start off in the fall with little hope of losing that deer in headlights, wide-eyed freshman glow. Yet you come in hot at the beginning of the spring semester shopping classes like you have a closet of awesome, high end swag already. I was mostly surprised by the idea someone threw out there that the spring semester is always better than the fall. I cannot wholeheartedly agree. On a scale of 1 to 10, both semesters are AWESOME with its own perks and defaults. However, I do think spring is more conducive to social activities.

You may or may not have gasped at the fact that I’m talking about social activities on the Harvard College blog. It’s only human nature that after feeling trapped in an igloo prison during seemingly perpetual winters that we want to bust out, or rather bust a move. That’s why I made sure fellow blogger Scott was at my sorority’s spring social event called Crush. It sounds semi-violent when all the girls start talking about who we “crushed,” but it’s the most elementary school-innocent conversations because each girl gets the opportunity to anonymously crush two boys. The social committee hand makes invitations and delivers them slyly to each door. It is then in fate’s hands whatever happens after. Love at first sight? Maybe. What I do know definitively is that Scott and I won the dance battle.

Although Harvard does not recognize fraternities and sororities (meaning we’re not like a student recognized organization that can, for example, reserve rooms on campus), I’ve really enjoyed how my sorority connects me with not only other students on campus, but also in the greater Boston area. Nearby Tufts University which also has a sizable active Greek life is inviting one more sorority to campus which led me to explore their campus this past Monday when I was representing my chapter during Kappa Alpha Theta’s extension presentation. At this event, there were Thetas from Harvard, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and BU (Boston University), as well as the national fraternity president! It was a pleasure mingling with Thetas at other campuses to see what their experiences have been like because all of our campus specific involvement differs, but there’s an unparalleled similar foundation upon which the first female fraternity was built upon.

Don’t get me wrong, spring semester has its academic rigors as well! I had my second midterm of the semester this past Tuesday in my Math 19a class. I was honestly, initially dreading this math class because my math course last semester met 3 times a week and had a pset (problem set) due EVERY TIME we met. Not okay. However, I’ve grown to love Math 19a. The class is really small and I feel like we’re already a community! Might even go ahead and say that it’s my favorite class this semester! This math class focuses on applying differentials to the life sciences, modeling predator-prey systems to epidemics and human heart positions within the body. The material totally makes all the premed sides of me tingle with warmth. By all means, I’m not saying I was excited for the midterm, but it helps that I adore the professor.

Math 19a is taught every semester, which in my opinion, is pretty rare since most classes are usually just taught in either the fall or the spring. It’s taught incredibly well, but most notably for the freshness of the class. There are advantages of it the class being help every semester such as the professor is consistent, extremely knowledgeable, and familiar with how students will grasp certain concepts. However, there comes a point when some professors who have been teaching the same course for so long that it becomes mundane and seems too rehearsed. Math 19a, however, sort of “refreshes” every semester. The professor changes the scientific articles that each set of students read and analyze as well as the psets, warm up problems, and lecture notes. These seemingly small changes make grand differences because it keeps everyone involved on their tippy toes rather than complacent and comfortable. I’m a big fan of the class and I’m nerdily looking forward to integrating math into my biology knowledge!

My midterms are spaced out pretty well this semester; I really have nothing to complain about. My next exam is Monday night in LS1b (genetics). I have to be honest that it’s been a little hard to study with Spring Break on my mind. I do have exciting plans for my vacation, but on campus, the few days leading up to Spring Break is Housing Day  http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3…) where all the freshmen (self-grouped into ~8 friends) get assigned an upperclassman house to live in for the rest of their undergraduate years!

For the freshmen, this waiting period is full of unknown and maybe some excitement. The upperclassmen have the most fun job of advertising their own respective houses though. Students (more often than not) always have pride for their respective houses as you can hear in everyday sly comments in casual conversations. This house spirit magnifies with great intensity the weeks leading up to Housing Day though because there is so much glory to be had when freshmen rightfully desire the house in which you reside.

This time of year is very exciting because everyone’s (hidden) talents come out. In order to publicize the greatness of an upperclassman house, there are Facebook fan pages and pep-rally-like events/study breaks. Yet my absolute favorite form of spirit is Housing Day videos which are typically parodies on culturally relevant/hilarious matters in the media. I’ll leave you with a few videos:

My house/best house, MATHER HOUSE last year jumped on the Call Me Maybe coattails and created this gem:

This year, we wanted to double up and went with a James Bond twist with the help of the House Masters and Administration!!

Last year, Quincy House came in a close second to Mather’s Call Me Maybe by adding their Quincy flare to the movie Inception:

As you can see, not all the parodies are current. We appreciate throwbacks too!

Adams House (notorious for the gaudy gold decor) came out with a real gem – or should I say they struck gold?

I have to say that the best throwback this year was Lowell House, known for their loud bells:

 

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Bleh! I partially drafted this blog weeks ago and never got around to actually finishing it! Super bad on my part with my time organization and discipline. We’ve all been cranking out job/summer applications and now midterms are coming in hot too. All the bloggers promise to be more on point from now on out though! Follow us on Twitter! And ask us questions 🙂

One of the most common and frequent conversations you’ll hear around campus is about how fast the time flies. However, this realization is typically made in retrospect, near the end of the semester when we’re all reminiscing. The crazy-unique aspect of this semester is that me and most of the people I talk to all agree that we’re living in a fast-forward type of life; we can feel time zooming by and there’s nothing we can do about it except enjoy.

There are probably many factors contributing to the speedy sensation of my life. I felt a little jipped of my J-term (January term, winter break) because I had to study for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). This isn’t to say I didn’t have an amazing break because I turned 21 and had the chance to catch up with my favorite old friends and family. Also after my MCAT test, some of my closest Harvard friends and I took a road trip to New Hampshire to relax and snowboard/ski. It was my first time in an East Coast state outside of Massachusetts and New York. It was awesome to snowboard for the first time on the east coast and I would definitely never have had this opportunity if I didn’t attend college on this coast (so for all those who are experiencing a little cold feet anxiety from moving to the frigid cold, if I can survive happily, you definitely can too!).

After one of the most relaxing weekends snowboarding in New Hampshire, my friends and I returned to school to shop (classes) until we dropped. Actually, I wasn’t planning on shopping too many classes because there are a ton of freshman premed requirements I have yet to take (oops?); yet my nonresident tutor and the OCS (Office of Career Services) premedical adviser managed to offer me contradictory advice about my class options. One adviser suggested finishing the premed requirements so I could have them on my transcript when I apply to medical school this summer, but the other adviser suggested I explore more global health classes. This led to a frenzy of class shopping and I entered into random lotteries for classes I was initially planning on enrolling in my senior year.  In the end, I chose to take 4.5 classes – the same amount I took on last semester.

The half class can be explained  by my dopamine neurobiology tutorial. My concentration is Neurobiology, which is a department which offers year-long tutorials, but credits you for a one semester class. This may sound like the worst trade off ever, but the class only meets once a week for 1.5 hours total, whereas normal classes will meet for at least 3 lecture hours a week (this excludes section and lab hours which all in all can sum up to like 9+ hours/week!!). My tutorial is about Dopamine and the concomitant disorders that come with the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. It’s a super interesting class – we have 2 lecturers, but only one has spoken in class so far. The cool part is that our speaker will send our written assignments to the lecturer who we haven’t met yet so it’s graded with minimal bias. We had a written assignment about drugs and their effectiveness over J-term, and just to prove that Harvard isn’t ridiculously strict, my professors gave me a few days grace period because the written assignment was due the day before my MCAT. The class is awesome because the setting is a big round table discussion and the professor is one of the most knowledgeable person ever – we try stumping him about neurology/disorders every week, but still have not been successful!

This semester, most of my classes are heavily populated by freshman and my only reasoning behind that is my older friends have/will soon be graduating so I need need to be replenishing my friend pool. It was a pretty smart choice looking back 😉

LS1b – Life Sciences 1b – Genetics, Genomics, and Evolution

Word on the street is this class was terrible a few years ago. We’re talking a Q score of 1 (out of 5). Q scores refer to the Q guide which is Harvard’s version of ratemyprofessor.com. In attempts to improve, this class has been totally revamped. Last year, it was taught by the amazingly charismatic Andrew Berry and this year, as I’m taking it, there’s a great group of faculty. There’s been 2 main lecturers so far and more to come as the class progresses. Kevin Eggan kicked off the class well with his undying energy (and well-dressed behavior – he’s known in the department as best dressed!). Our second lecturer, Hopi Hoekstra, along with People like to refer to Kevin as Sexiest Genius. I’m obsessed with Hopi though. She is SUPER entertaining and puts the hard facts into a creative historical context which really motivates what you learn, making it easier to learn. I was talking to a friend the other day about one of Hopi’s lectures – I literally just felt so glad to be in that lecture hall at Harvard. My friend then teased me about high 5-ing all the freshman among me, but that’s what I wanted to do!! Her lectures are so entertaining. I can’t wait for the full rotation of faculty for this class!

This is a science course with a 3 hour section/lab component; it combines discussion section with lab, something not very common at Harvard. My favorite lab yet has to be when we swabbed our cheek cells for DNA and then analyzed it via PCR (polymerase chain reaction). My genotype says I should be a very early morning person, someone who can taste bitter, and an athletic sprinter. Some of my phenotypes would suggest otherwise…

PS 1 – Physical Sciences 1 – Chemical Bonding, Energy & Reactivity

This is the class at Harvard that mirrors Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry from high school the most – a class which I absolutely L-O-V-E-D.  The professor is really enthusiastic and passionate about the material, but he’s also more of a theorist than a researcher – doesn’t influence the class dynamic too much, but it makes the demonstrations Hilarious (with a capital H) because he’ll forget some of the safety rules that other faculty try to grind into us. There has been fiery explosions and liquid nitrogen. Need to say, a lot of concomitant Oooo’s and Ahhh’s.

This class comes with a 1 hour discussion/problem solving section along with a 3 hour lab. Problem solving sections are weekly, but lab is kind of once every 2 weeks. Last time in lab, we set Cheetos on fire and measured the surrounding temperature change to calculate the caloric energy content of our snack sample. I’m not hating on the lab, but it would have been better if there were Cheetos to actually eat. Maybe we could have measured the energetic content by seeing how many push ups we could do after eating Cheetos? I’ll suggest it in the Q guide feedback I give at the end of the semester 😉

Both LS1b and PS 1 have “clicker questions” during lecture. Clickers look exactly like this. During lecture, a slide with a clicker question will come up and the professors will give you some time to respond with one of the multiple choice answers. Then the next slide will illustrate bar graphs of the percentage of students that answered to each corresponding multiple choice answers. Clicker questions are like mini pop quizzes during lecture; sometimes credit is awarded for accuracy and other times credit is awarded for participation (like a way of taking attendance). Whatever the point system is, it’s more of a conceptual checkpoint to make sure students are not only paying attention, but also understanding the way information is being presented. I’ve grown to really like clicker questions and they help wake me up sometimes too 😉

Spanish 90c – Representations of Racial Belonging and Difference in the Hispanic Caribbean

This class is taught by a visiting professor and it’s taken some time for me to appreciate and enjoy the class, but I can now honestly say that I like the class! The topic is super interesting and the class doesn’t emphasize memorization of history. There’s a lot of psychology and sociology involved because we’re examining racial tensions and various controversial issues so this would be my favorite aspect of the class. It’s essentially a history course taught in Spanish. My positive feelings towards this class were hesitant because there’s so much reading to be done every week! However, the silver lining is that some of the readings are in English. The flip side though is that a lot of the Spanish primary sources we read are in ancient dialects and there’s really no hope of me understanding that.

I think my turning point with regards to this course came when I was assigned an individual section – I’m talking one on one, me and my TF (teaching fellow) chilling in a lounge. There’s about 15 students taking the class and everyone can meet during this one time the professor suggested except for me because I have math lecture. Instead of finding another accommodating time for everyone, the TF just decided to personally reschedule with me! Thus, I individually meet with my TF every week for 35-45 minutes discussing the readings. Advantages: it’s less than the one hour section, I get to know my TF really well and she gets to see how well (or awful) I speak Spanish. Disadvantages: I have to do every single reading to be prepared for any of the questions she asks me (but by doing all the readings, I’m definitely getting more out of the class…and my tuition), I miss out on the comments and analysis by my peers. Considering all, I’m definitely glad these individual sections are happening because as intimidating as it may be, I don’t think I’ll ever get an experience/opportunity like it. Unless I get like a Spanish tutor later in life.

Math 19a – Modeling and Differential Equations for the Life Sciences

I really like math guys. So I’m not the best at it, but it is pretty easy for my to find myself enjoying matrices, phase planes, and the like. Mmm, I just took a moment and considered whether admitting that paralleled social suicide. Whatever, I do hate the Friday psets (problem sets) though. Definitely takes over my Thursdays, but the class is awesome. It’s a super well structured class! The professor has been teaching this class both fall and spring for a few years now and has it down to a T. However, he definitely does not do the exact things verbatim – i.e. he does different warm up problems, example problems, assigns different article readings and psets. More teachers need to follow his footsteps because it’s what keeps the class fresh and exciting for each group of students. He makes every math problem seem like magic because everything just feels so logical and reasonable, so much so that it simply cannot be real life. The class reads scientific journal articles and either analyzes the proposed mathematical model or creates one to explain natural phenomenons such as population growth, predator vs. prey, etc. Overall, an amazingly taught and supported class. It’ll be more amazing after the first midterm this Tuesday though…so much studying to do!!

The House Masters of my upperclassman house, Mather, had a deliciously welcoming spread of desserts for Junior Parents Weekend!

Can’t study too hard this weekend though because it’s Junior Parents Weekend! Parents are welcome whenever, but on one special weekend during the Spring semester, parents of third year college students are invited onto campus and a lot of events take place for them to experience what Harvard life for their child/children has been like for the past ~3 years and it’s a nice way for them to familiarize themselves with the landscape before Graduation! My parents didn’t come out from California, but my best friend and roommate is from Connecticut and her parents have basically become my East Coast parents. They definitely have taken me out to dinner on consecutive nights this weekend and always make me feel beyond welcome into their family. When I was making friends here at Harvard, I wasn’t expecting to make new families too, but I’m overly grateful that the unexpected has transpired.

 

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I made a joke over the weekend about how I couldn’t make my bed because I’m really busy as a full time student. My snide elicited pity laughter at the very least, but it got me thinking about how being a student has been my job day in and day out for the last 15 years of my life…and I’m not at all sick of it! Wouldn’t it be the best if students got pensions??

My peers and I are truly full time students – even on weekends and during vacations. When we’re not in class, we may be working to save money to invest in our education, or we may be in labs building both fundamental and advanced skills to directly apply to classes, or we may be eagerly awaiting highly intellectual conversations so we can casually bring up the coolest concept from our recent lecture. Regardless of our extra-curriculars,  we’re full time students. Personally, one of the most thrilling yet high-pressure aspects of attending Harvard is that I represent Harvard when I meet people. I feel like if people aren’t familiar with the institution, their impressions of me will either positively or negatively influence their perceptions of Harvard…scary!

Fellow blogger, Jesse, was at the event too!

My last post ended with how excited I was to attend the Harvard Club of San Diego’s Early Admit celebration. The undergraduate college has recently reinstated Early Action and a bunch of high school students are taking advantage of it! I sure wish there was Early Action when I was applying! Anyway, I was rightfully excited about the event as it was cool to finally meet people behind all the local club’s emails and also see how eager-nervous the newly admitted students are. It was a great event where newbies could ask questions to both current students and alumni, as well as have current students share with each other about their current experiences. I met and caught up with a lot of great people and had so much fun that I went to another event later that week! It was a Happy Hour get together for alum in the area and the turnout was super diverse! There were people who were in school while I was in school, but we had just never met. There were people who were the high school teacher of my current friends in college. I was essentially drooling over everyone’s cool stories. Since I was the only current student present at the event, there was a lot of interest in discussing how the university is in its current day – there wasn’t always OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, explained further below) or finals before winter break!

This past winter break, I dedicated a fair amount of my time studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – basically a standardized test that all students who want to pursue medical school must take. When I originally tried registering for the test, there were no open spots in Boston or California for the January dates, so I figured I’d have to take the test after Spring Break, which definitely wouldn’t have been an ideal situation. Yet, the MCAT decided to give me an early birthday present this past December, meaning when I checked the MCAT registration site again, there were open testing spots at a test site just 3 miles away from my dorm room! Winter break was the only time I spent preparing for the test, although I’ve technically been preparing my whole life while taking all these classes and whatnot. I’m not an advocate of spending tons of money to prepare for standardized tests – this includes SATs, ACTs, AP tests, etc. as well. My plan of attack included reading some review books and practicing questions. Yet there’s something about being home that makes me extremely lazy and unproductive. The comforts of home is definitely not conducive to productivity, but it was especially nice for my parents to see me study hard so they know I’m actually working hard at school across the country.

Harvard has this week called OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, pronounced “Oh, wow!”) which is the week right before the spring semester starts. Students are allowed to return to campus early with most meals provided. Although I didn’t participate in any of the planned activities, I was able to utilize my quiet room and the Harvard libraries to catalyze my MCAT studies. T-day (test day) finally came and my nerves were way worse than the test!! I’ve never been so freaking nervous. Hopefully, when the scores come out in a month, I’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂

Being a premedical student at Harvard is … interesting to say the least. I feel like there are pros and cons with this decision at every university, but the extremes of these factors are dramatically emphasized alongside the brand of Harvard. I think I feel a lot more pressure to attend a top medical school and be successful due to the fact that my bachelors degree comes from Harvard; yet I sometimes rationalize this concomitant, heightened pressure with the fact that I am so lucky to have tons of resources at my fingertips – this goes from amazing faculty and graduate students, as well as friendly and knowledgeable advisers! There’s also this (mis?)conception that Harvard students are more intense – we stab each other in the back and are just obnoxiously competitive. I can’t say that all of the above isn’t true, but I really, truly, deeply don’t think that we’re evil. Whenever I seek advice about a class or need help understanding a concept, my friends are always willing to sit down with me, even when I’m impatient, rude, and using a mean voice! We’re a community, and a community that I’m proud and happy to be a part of!

As junior spring begins (snowy!), I have the majority of my requirements finished. The weird thing is I haven’t taken a lot of intro classes like genetics and physical science, so I’m creepily excited to make a lot of freshman friends this semester. Let’s just hope that I’m not being presumptuous by assuming that freshmen want to be my friend in the first place…

My next post will be a list of the classes I’ll be taking this spring. I’m currently driving myself crazy because enrolling in 6 classes currently seems both a possible and desirable option…

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Junior year of college has been all about future planning. It’s been pretty hard for me to live junior year in the present.

 

Freshman year, you have the total right and responsibility to be a wide-eyed, deer-in-headlights type of student who explores classes, student organizations, perhaps even jobs and (dorm) entryways, and maybe even persuade some initially unwilling strangers to be your new best friend.

Sophomore year, you have a better handle on campus life as you really begin leaving your mark – you’ve narrowed your potential concentrations (majors), acclimated to the hectic schedule, reached an ideal (burping) comfort level among your friends, and not only have grown accustom to but also miss your school routine and campus duties while you’re away. You’re no longer lost around campus – or at least have the online and peer resources to reach out to when in need. You have your head on a little straighter and the whole small fish in a big pond feeling is (hopefully!) fading away.

I don’t really have a generic (cheesy? overly expected?) summary of junior year (yet!), but I do feel like I’ve definitely spent a larger amount of my time thinking about senior year and beyond. Maybe it’s because half of my (older) friends have graduated, entering graduate school or the real (scary) world of jobs, and by keeping in touch with them and listening to their current priorities, there’s a strong influence for me to put myself in their shoes and project what my concerns will be like in a few years. Or maybe my futuristic mindset stems from how the summer of 2012 (shadowing at a clinic in Peru through DRCLAS – David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies) has catalyzed both my desire and certainty to pursue medical school.

Thinking about medical school, for me, is super intimidating. As I follow the steps to try and set myself up for a bright future in medical school and beyond, I feel like I’m walking through the darkest haunted hallway where I’m scared of everything whether I should be or not.

I was pretty hesitant to prance along and identify myself as a premed student. And if I were being completely honest, I’d have to admit that I sometimes revert back to that annoying hesitation. Especially right now during winter break (J-term, January term) as I study for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). I sit here staring at the mitosis chapter wondering what other careers that could possibly interest me even the slightest. Brainstorming to no avail, I continue on with my cell division review.

Thankfully, tons of my worries and questions regarding medical school and its application process has been addressed by multiple premed tutors (advisers) – some of them even live like 21 stair steps from me! After freshman year, students are assigned to an upperclassman house for their remaining time as an undergraduate. Each upperclassman house has both resident and non-resident tutors specializing in popular career areas (i.e. medicine, business, law, etc.). The best part is that these tutors advise from not books and movies, but rather from their personal experiences. For example, pretty much all the premed tutors are students at Harvard Medical School so I often feel like I’m in the best hands. Yet this doesn’t mean that it completely prevents my hands from trembling when I think about the future!

Perhaps my world has a little blast-to-the-future flavor because I fast-forwarded my life a year or two. Initially, I planned on taking at least one gap year between undergrad and med school so I could live out the whole young-adult-seeks-identity chapter of my life. However, as any great outline thrives on a little flexibility, I found myself editing that chapter out after this past summer. Thus, I began my junior year moving forward with plans to apply to medical school straight through which means thinking about serious things like the MCAT! Eeeek! T minus 11 days. Oh man, I definitely should not have just counted the days. The looming of this test has been such a heavy weight on my shoulders, but with my studying and practice, I hope to train so that it’ll soon dissolve!!! Just think in 11 and a half days, I can breathe effortlessly again, that is if I’m not crying from the cruelties of the test.

So as I sit at home with my nose in a review book, my friends are traveling the world, tanning, and catching up on some quality television. Just kidding…well kind of kidding; I’ve made some time to live a little too:

Today, the Harvard Club on San Diego is hosting a celebratory dim sum brunch for the early admits in the area. I’m crazy excited…and not just for the free food. Ever since the spring of 2010, I swear the Club has only held events when I’m out of town!! So this will be my first time meeting some locals. More about this brunch soon! I’ll check back in once the spring semester starts 🙂

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It’s officially been seven days into winter break (aka J-term) and it’s been a beautiful string of seven days! After surviving/conquering another semester of college, everyone truly deserves a relaxing break – the sad part is I’m already kind of itching to get back … SLIGHTLY.

Last Friday (Dec. 21st) was the last day of final exams. I had a final in the morning despite it being my 21st birthday. Although this has been my #1 complaint since the Final Exam schedule was published from the registrar, the brightest side is that it forced me to stay on campus until my birthday which granted me the pleasure of celebrating with my college friends!

The way finals work at Harvard is that the majority of classes will hold exams in the span of one week and on any given day, there are 2 exam slots (1 exam at 9 am and another exam at 2 pm). Therefore you can have a maximum of 2 finals per day. Exams are not proctored on Sundays and some classes may not have final exams but rather a final paper/project instead (these final-alternatives tend to be due during Reading Period, the week before official Final Exams, also known as Dead Week at other universities). Some classes also may proctor a final test earlier than the university’s official exam week (this most commonly happens for language classes…I think). One of my ultimate goals is to never have 2 finals on one day. I’ve been successful so far, but some of my friends have had 4 finals (one for every class) on the last 2 Final Exam days – pretty much as cruel as academic torture gets.

Home is not just where the heart is, but it’s also where I can take a postcard picture with my phone. SUP SAN DIEGO

My birthday final went pretty well and my friends super skillfully utilized the 4 hours between the end of my final and my flight home to celebrate my birthday. I flew to back home to California, regaining the 3 hours of my birthday I had lost from the final. My family received me better than I could ever ask for and I definitely milked my birthday for every free item I could 🙂 I literally kept this 21st birthday celebration so strong that I think my birthday was a bigger deal than Christmas. I have tons of family in Vegas so I’m spending the holidays here.

HEY VEGAS, you look better with the lights off

At school, I definitely feel like my circle of friends has easily become like a new family to me. Some people say you’ll never make friends like your college friends, while others simply say you’ll never make friends after college. Although I can not personally definitively confirm any statements, I can contest to the intensity of my college friendships in terms of their strength and pace! I’m lucky to say that my friends at school have definitely hindered me from feeling homesick often. As terrible as this sounds, it makes it hard to remember what being around family feels like – especially since I was only with my family for less than 2 weeks this past summer! Being home now, for the entirety of J-term feels so, SO great! There’s nothing like family and the instant connection I feel with them. I’m cherishing the time I’m spending with my 18 month old niece and the hours of algebra and Spanish tutoring with my cousin who’s a freshman in high school. I’ll be spending the rest of break studying for the MCAT and running like a wannabe beast in preparation for the Boston Marathon.

More on my MCAT preparation and premed lifestyle in my next post!

I’ve been vacationing so hard this past week that I’m itching to get into a routine. Sleeping cycle-lessly and eating nonstop may or may not be taking its toll on me :p I guess moral of the story is that you’ll make great friends in college but the relationships you’ll leave behind will be met again! So to all you high school seniors nervous about moving away for college, try to leverage your anxiety and use this time to enjoy the holidays!! Yes, this is easier said than done. I know my senior year of high school was probably the most emotional year of my life with my future so close yet profoundly unknown – but once all your applications are in, then it’s out of your hands so there’s no use in worrying. Good luck to all you still working on those applications too! The process sucks, but it’s an investment worth making for your near future! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of you!

Cheers from Vegas!

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Today marks Day 5 (of 8) of Exam Week. Eeek! I wish everyone the best of luck with exams regardless of where you are in your education! It can definitely be more of a high-stress time, but find comfort in the fact that you’ve technically been preparing for these exams for months on months!!

With one more academic semester coming to a close, nothing on campus is normal this time of year. For example, despite my life science concentration (major), I’ve been cranking out almost as many papers as my English counterparts! (Key word: almost) I’m blogging right now in a the most peaceful mindset that I’ve had in almost a week. My two most important papers, culminating everything I’ve learned in half a year (!), were due this past Tuesday/Wednesday. As Reid mentioned in her last blog, a lot of papers/final projects are due during Reading Period – a week when no classes are held so we have unstructured time to prep for examinations! Yet keep in mind that a lot of language classes will still meet. My Spanish class served as a paper-writing break for me!

Here’s how I’ve spent some of my unstructured time:

MCB 145: Neuroperception & Decision Making

Hands down favorite class of the semester. The material is so riveting, the teaching staff is super approachable and admirably knowledgeable! (swoon here) I’ve just really loved this class because like MCB 115 (Cellular Basis of Neuronal Function), it’s done a phenomenal job at fostering our creative thinking juices within a scientific environment. In addition to the standard lectures, all our readings are scientific articles on currently accepted/widely accepted theories. Even I am cognizant of my progress as a scientific thinker: I use to just passively read and accept information and analysis, but now, I’m actively engaged in their methods and interpretations as well as constantly demanding the authors to genuinely win me over with their hypotheses. Ah, my nerd juices are happily fizzling.

Our last class was a miracle berry party! This was my 2nd time going on a “taste-trip” because Annenberg (the freshman dining hall) offered it as a study break when I was a freshman. You ingest this fruit or tablet and it makes everything – from pickles to grapefruit – taste sweeter! There are some videos on YouTube if you’re interested in living vicariously. Not completely suggesting it, but I’m pretty sure my professor bought tablets exactly like this on Amazon. I love food and I love parties, so it was a great way to end my favorite class!

Our final project mirrored a research proposal that would be submitted to the NIH (National Institute of Health). This paper made me a little paranoid for all my other assignments because the suggested page length was 4-5 pages … little did I know they meant singled-spaced! Was hardly aware people still counted that way! But I think my affections for this class stem from the growth of a potential senior thesis idea.

Slight explanatory tangent: I believe every concentration (aka major) either requires a senior thesis or has it as an option. I’m at the very beginning of thinking about pursuing a senior thesis so I’m not super knowledgeable, but from what I imagine, a thesis is essentially your first ever 80 page baby. You hate it because it keeps you up at night and makes you cry. Yet you love it because you’ve invested your mind, heart, and time into the thing! For my neurobiology concentration, it’s not required. However for my Global Health & Health Policy secondary (minor), either a separate mini thesis is required or a chapter in the thesis.

Anyways, during MCB 145, I developed a personal interest in preferences and am sort of on a quest to explain how and why people (or animals like mice) play favorites using neuronal activity. Depending on the feedback I receive, I may want to pursue this topic for my senior thesis. That means, I’ll be looking for a wet lab to start in the spring and most likely dedicate my summer there too! All this future planning, GAH

24 hours after my MCB paper was due, my final paper for Aesthetic & Interpretive Understanding 50: Literature & Medicine was due. I used 2 books we’ve read in the 2nd half of the semester to show how one’s understanding of the temporality of death results in his/her understanding of one’s self identity. Some pretty deep and depressing material, so I was beyond elated to submit the paper! This class, fulfilling a general education requirement as well as a requirement for my Global Health & Health Policy secondary) was a lot better than I expected! With one 2-hour lecture a week (in addition to a weekly 1-hr discussion section), it wasn’t super time consuming and the synergistic perspective of literature and medicine was a refreshing way to be introduced to a patient’s (and not only a doctor’s) point of view.

As classes end, students are typically bombarded with reminder emails for review sessions from their current TFs (Teaching Fellow, typically graduate student course assistants). However, one of the best surprises from the semester happened when I got an email from my LS1a (Life Sciences 1a, a huge introductory science class) TF. I was enrolled in this course my freshman fall (omg, 2 years ago!) and LS1a still remains one of my favorite classes! Probably because I had the coolest TF! This past semester marks his fourth year TF-ing LS1a and he emailed all his past students for a reunion. He reserved a classroom in the Science Center and brought us snacks! I was so impressed by his memory because he remembered where our section was held and pretty much seems to be aware of everything going on in my life. There’s definitely not only a high correlation, but a causation between how much I like my TFs and how much I like the class overall.

 

Like Scott & Reid who took some time to enjoy RENT, I too wanted to soak up some performing arts and watched Next to Normal. Some of the characters were familiar from last spring’s Legally Blonde student production, but the tone of the musical was completely different. I was basically sobbing which doesn’t really say too much but sniffles were heard throughout the theater!! I applaud and applaud for these kids who are going through pretty stressful finals and a week of performances on top of that! I don’t like giving away too much of the plot, but Next to Normal did get good reviews!

Lastly, before I enter finals mode perpetually, another Congratulations to the Class of 2017 is in order!! You all are major rockstars. Soak in and enjoy these well-deserved, precious times. I’ll certainly remember my moment of acceptance for eternity, but I also remember the wild wave of questions that came soon after. The Admissions Office and us bloggers are all rooting for you! Don’t be too shy and join your class group on Facebook!

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