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After days of sleeping in, thoughts of school have once again drifted to mind. Perhaps because the upcoming semester is my last, but I find myself eager to begin my pre-term planning for my last set of classes.


One of the courses I have to take this semester is a Philosophy Tutorial, the last class I have to take to complete my secondary (aka. minor) in philosophy. The department offers a choice of four subjects courses to complete the tutorial: Environmental Ethic, What is Life?, Rationality & Emotions, and Human Nature. Based on my previous study in political theory and moral philosophy, I’m currently leaning towards the Environmental Ethic course that includes such discussions as obligation to future generations, private property, and factory farming.


The other courses I plan to take include Government 99 (the second half of my year long thesis course), International Political Economy (as fulfillment for my Government International Relations requirement), and Accounting. The accounting course is a class I hope to cross-register for at M.I.T, a common occurrence between students of both universities and a class I hope to be useful for any future business endeavor.


One of the courses I’m most excited for though is the International Political Economy class, a subject I find quite relatable to my current thesis research on the World Trade Organization. The Harvard student-based review system, the Cue Guide, suggests the class is riveting if not quite challenging.


As with each plan we make though, surprise is inevitable and no course is set in stone. I’ll keep you updated on the process as I continue to search and start the semester-based shopping period. From the suburbs of California, I hope the winter months are treating you well!




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My Boyfriend and I in Santa Barbara for Christmas

Nothin’ says California lovin’ like a day in the sun and luckily we’ve been getting a lot of that. It almost makes me forget the potential snow I may be coming back to.


So to enjoy the days outside while I can, my boyfriend and I took a trip up to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles for a day as a Christmas gift. We visited a number of beautiful, family-run, and even one biodynamic, vineyards in the area (never have I had the pleasure to sample so many delicious wines in one location), as well as enjoyed the picturesque beaches.


One of the quaint wine estates visited on our trip to Santa Barbara

Since then I’ve just been readjusting to reality, looking at potential jobs upon graduating—I’m currently in a restaurant management internship for Tremont 646 in Boston and the experience has been truly enlightening—, as well as outlining my class shopping list for next semester (both subjects that I will explore more in depth in the coming weeks). But all of this move towards planning after a week of mainly just sleep, food, and friends has got me thinking about the ability to push work ethic and determination.

Chef Andy Husband’s Restaurant on Tremont St. in Boston

I got a great comment from a reading about procrastination and how to deal. This, of any time of the year, is probably the worst. You get a break, but it goes by so fast after all the holiday cooking, shopping, cleaning, adjusting… the last thing you may want to do it prepare for summer internship applications or—like me—getting to work on your thesis.


But like anything in life, sometimes taking a real break and committing to it is what you need. Allowing myself the time to focus these last two weeks on family, old friends, getting back to hobbies like cooking and home gardening, all have allowed me to transition most easily into a work mindset feeling refreshed.


I suppose I’ll leave you with that as the New Year approaches and, as it does, I’ll be sure to fulfill that resolution of taking a deep breath, and break, often.


Happy soon to be 2012!



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Its winter break and with Christmas only but a few days away, this should be a time for everyone to curl up by the fire and take a moment to enjoy life with your loved ones.


Goodbye cold library—at least for now. I was one of the few students left on campus Monday, having my last final then, but at least the spaced out finals schedule allowed me ample time to prepare. And now I can relax (somewhat, there is still thesis writing to be done) for the next few weeks.


Speaking of classes, this is also my last blog post featuring my fall semester classes: the class this week is my “core” history course, “Slavery, Capitalism, and Imperialism” and actually was the last final I took.  “Core” is just the older version of Harvard’s now “General Education” system, where students have to opt to take a class from a certain number of general departmental requirements (history, physical science, literature, etc). The pictures inserted for this week are a sampling from all the documents we read through-out the semester.

For my History B Core I choose this class mostly because the material was very appealing to me as a Government concentrator, but also because the format of the class was quite unique. Don’t expect any white board outlines or fancy power-point presentations—Professor Walter Johnson has only himself and his voice as he lectures twice a week to his students on the imperial expansion of the U.S. against Native Americans, or the way slavery and anti-slavery movements were often more about class than sectionalism (Northern U.S. v. Southern U.S.).


You may be surprised for me to say, though, that there was never a dull moment in lectures. Never have I been so captivated before by a raw telling of history and unique appeal to historical documents—it really highlights the multitude of ways in which history can be understood and how we can even, hopefully, learn from it.

Like many Harvard classes though, it seems we were often assigned an untenable amount of reading each week.  However, one thing you learn is how to read “efficiently”, whether that be skimming or just knowing what to read for.


All that said, the joy of the class and format considered, I am more than happy for the semester to be over. I am very much looking forward to applications for summer and careering opportunities coming up, as well as spending quality time with family and friends.


I look forward to checking in with you as winter break continues, even if I’m at now is warm and sunny rather than snowy.



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A Presentation of the Books for my Course: “97 Orchard”

Ever wonder what McDonald’s in East Asia is like, or the type of food immigrants to America in the 1850’s cooked? Interested in doing your own research projects on local ethnic restaurants or a growing food movement?


If you answered yes to these questions then you’re probably like me and would find Harvard’s Anthropology Course “Food, Culture, and Society” one of the most fascinating courses. Taught by esteemed Anthropologist Ted Bestor, an expert in the global fish trade and Tsukiji fish market in Japan, Food and Culture allows you to explore the myriad forms of culture surround foodways and consumption.

 My Professors’ Book “Tsukiji”

As you probably guessed by now, I’m a bit of a foodie, so some of the material I’ve passed by before. But this was my first anthropology class and a great experience. One of the best parts about the class was the two ethnographic studies we did individually—an opportunity to document a cultural phenomenon in food as an outsider.


My most recent ethnographic study was on the artisanal food movement: I studied one particular artisanal site, Cambridge local When Pigs Fly bakery. Being able to engage with our class’s theoretical concepts in a way truly applicable to real world settings was helpful and fascinating.


On McDonald’s Gone Global: Golden Arches East

It is also the first class to be completed this semester. With our final paper turned in last night, I’m only two classes from the end of my last fall semester. Next final up is for Science and Cooking. We recently had our final science fair and my team’s project on Coffee Emulsions won “Most Business Applicable” and received a spherification kit–can’t wait to play with that over winter break.

My Lab Group with Chef Ferran Adria

And just in time, it is beginning to feel like winter: with temperature dropping, high winds, and Christmas trees about, it’s the perfect excuse to stay in with a warm cup of tea and my textbook to study.


Enjoy the rest of the weekend!



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Widener Library: Filled with tons of original manuscripts, while it’s beautiful to look at, not my first choice for studying


Hi all, hope you had a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate or otherwise just a good weekend! I made the trek to New York again last weekend to cook & enjoy family time with my brother and his girlfriend. The weather was perfect for gallivanting around the city.


So today is the last day of Harvard’s Fall 2011 classes! Cause for celebration? Perhaps for some, but the large group of senior Thesis writers including myself, it is more of a time for a bit of stress, as today is also the day our first 7,500+ words is due to our thesis advisor.


Given that, I thought I’d talk today about my class this semester,  “Government 99: Thesis Tutorial”. Unfortunately I don’t have a cool and relevant pictures I’ve taken myself to insert, so I have instead attached some lovely photographs of all the places at Harvard I’ve been studying and doing research at. The most interesting part of this course is not the class itself, as we only meet once a week for an hour and it is only graded pass/fail. Rather, it is the prospect of writing a thesis generally. This was a decision I took on since last spring and have been preparing ever since.

Lamont Library Cafe: Common Late-Night Study Space for Undergrads featuring Coffee & Food

Most departments have a tutorial such as mine (thus, I’m taking the government tutorial, being a government concentrator) that allows students to develop the writing and research skills necessary to embark on a thesis. Most of us, including myself, have never before written a 100+ page paper, but the idea of culminating my experience at Harvard through such a thorough academic investigation is quite exciting, if not a bit daunting.


Luckily, if you decided to write a thesis or as you may know from experience, you have a thesis advisor, usually a graduate student or professor, who has expertise in your area. One thing I’ve learned from the process is to work closely with your advisor to make sure not to fall behind on the writing—7,500 words is not easy to write, but especially if you’re writing it in the last week. Keeping up on my work has been immensely helpful to this.


Another great thing about writing a thesis at Harvard is that there are so many opportunities for funding and traveling abroad if your thesis requires it. I was able to secure funding from the Saloma Fund for helping me travel to New York and D.C. to conduct interviews.


Science Center: Featuring Cabot Science Library which is always fairly less crowded than Lamont

All in all, writing a thesis is a great experience but a choice I wouldn’t suggest to take lightly. It will slightly take-over your life, but if you do well, your thesis grade can help secure graduating with Latin honors (Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude).


Of course, I wouldn’t leave you hanging for the weekend without giving some details on my own thesis. Always being philosophically inclined, I have decided to write a political theory thesis about the presence of coercion in the international realm (in particular, through trade relations set out by the World Trade Organization) and whether this presence of coercion in trade relations demands justification through more equal trading mechanics. Let me know if this sounds interesting and I can add a few more details in the comment. With the draft of my first chapter is done and sent into my advisor though, it is time to enjoy the weekend and prepare for the next few weeks of finals.




In Lab: Working with Temperature with Molten Chocolate Cake

The end semester is nearing: only two weeks until classes are done, and then finals period. I think there might be a school time warp, because the school year always flies by faster than seems physically possible—just another reason to cherish the moment!


With that in mind, as promised, each week I’ll be featuring one of my classes for the semester (four in total). Probably one the most popular class I’m taking is the general education course, Science & Cooking: From Soft Matter Science to Haute Cuisine.


This is Science & Cooking’s second year running; so many people were interested in it in its first year that there was a lottery admitting only 350 students of 670 that signed-up for it. The class has been featured in local and national news.


The reason for all the hype? The course is essentially taught by guest chef lectures ranging from Ferran Adrià (of El Bulli fame), Wylie Dufrense (who you may have seen on Top Chef) and, of course, the repeated visitor Harold McGee (writer of the book, On Food and Cooking). We get to hear from everyone including local restaurant entrepreneurs (such as Barbara Lynch and Ana Sortun) to high-tech chef Dave Arnold (who is actually both hilarious, and a genius, at once! See: Chocolate N’Lemon Cocktail).


Don’t let all the famous names and fancy restaurants fool you though, this course asks you to engage with real science on a molecular level. Learning about aioli? Prepare to know the way to determine optimal volume ratios for the bubbles in the emulsion. Interested in classical French sauces? Make sure you can name the function of and types of polymers.  We have lab every week where we put to practice what we learn, and my lab group is now working on our final project that will be presented in a December on-campus food-science fair.

Working on our Final Project with a Moka Coffee Maker

Our final project is testing different coffee brewing methods (Moka, Drip, Pour-Over, and French Press) for their acidity (pH) and oil-content using a centrifuge. Needless to say, I now have a well of energy after sampling our finished products in labs.


So even though the class is heavily science focused, it’s extremely interesting and applicable. Not to mention the delicious array of samples handed out in a class: a definite plus, but all for the purpose of science, of course.

Barbara Lynch: Coconut-Cream & Chocolate Ganache “Banana Split”

Hope everyone has a great weekend and, if you’re celebrating, a good Thanksgiving next Thursday!



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The day I left for New York, the Harvard Culinary Society held its big event for the first semester: an evening expo where Harvard students met local restaurant vendors. I’ve been with the Culinary Society for three years now but this is my first as Vice President and our first with this new event—but it was a hit! The picture above is of the representative from Clover, a vegetarian fast-food joint that focuses on local and fresh food, making their signature pour-over coffee

A representative from Wagamama, a fast-paced modern Japanese restaurant, sampling delicious mushroom broth with noodles.

Vendors loved it because they got to interact with the Harvard Community, many members of whom don’t know the locations to eat around the square; since nearly everyone has the mandatory meal-plan, eating out is not as critical as other school. Students loved it because they were able to try samples and receive coupons from new places or old favorites.

A vendor from Qdoba, a mexican fast-food burrito spot, putting together a wonderful beans-rice-salsa sampling.

As mentioned before, this was my first time planning a complete event from scratch. Luckily Harvard helps make the process easy—there are so many options for funding student ideas and locations available to rent for events. If you decided to take a similar leadership role on at school, just make sure you have a great team behind you. We did and so the set-up and event went smooth, even though over 200 or so students were waiting to walk-through the sampling line.

 A sampling from Finale, a small upscale restaurant focusing on decadent cakes and drinks, of their Boston Cream Pie.

Speaking of funding, one of the new projects the Culinary Society is working on (which we just got funded) is a semester-based Culinary Magazine! More than ever students on campus seem to care about food issues and justice—one of the more popular classes (one I’m in and will talk more about soon) is a new Science and Cooking course; a sophomore recently lead and won a campaign to get Harvard to source only Cage-Free Eggs; and the career office has been putting together more workshops on how to get careers in hospitality, travel, and wine.

I’ll keep you updated as work on the Magazine progresses. Though, you can bet that “food porn” pictures (as they’re called)–such as the one above–will be a glossy highlight! By the way, the picture above is from this cute, all-vegan soda-fountain type ice cream shop in New York—who knew vegan cake batter soft servecould be so delicious?!


All this reminiscing over food has made me hungry! My friend from California just arrived last night to visit and with today off classes for Veteran’s Day, I think we’ll be going into Boston for a nice lunch while the weather is still warm (or, at least, not snowing yet!).


Until next time,


As fall begins to approach Boston and the leaves start to change into magnificent shades of orange and red, farms and gardens across New England also slow down.  Our Harvard Community Garden is no exception—and what better way to do so then with a great celebration?

So for the second year in a row—our garden being just two years old—we had Harvest Festival. I’ve worked on the Harvard Garden since last year and its amazing how its grown. And students have been at the forefront of this growth, planning, planting, and establishing everything from compost to a set-watering schedule.  There’s nothing more fun to me than getting your hands in the dirt to start the weekend.

So this last Saturday we put together Harvest Fest to celebrate community and sustainable food. Kids from the community helped us carve pumpkins and set-up scarecrows. Student bands performed everything from folk music to motown. We had two local food trucks including Lefty’s Silver Cart and Katalyst Kombucha. Additional food included freshly pressed cider and samples from food demos by the Harvard Food Literacy Project (FLP).

One of my jobs on campus is working for the FLP as the Lowell House Representative. In addition to educating students on food literacy, we also get to take part in fun events like this. At Harvest Fest I cooked up a sautéed apple cider kale with rosemary, garlic, and onions. My favorite though was the freshly popped popcorn made with heirloom corn.

As the day winded down, I was struck by the beauty of the fall season, something we in Southern California rarely experience. But most of all I was grateful that even in the stress of midterm season, there are great opportunities to relax with friends. A much-needed break is just as essential to Harvard life as the academic rigor. As such, this weekend, right after classes today, I’ll be taking a trip up to New York City where my brother lives–a great local trip that can cost as low a $10! Hope you have a great weekend too!


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