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Let’s live a bit in the past for this blog, yeah? I’m the worst when I start drafting a blog then never get around to finishing it! If it’s any consolation, I’m posting from Tanzania (experiences that I’ll speak to in upcoming blog posts!!).

Welcome to Final Examinations Week! (All proper pronouns to emphasize its importance and legitimacy.)

Accomplishments since my last post include, but (hopefully) aren’t limited to: writing an 11 page Spanish research paper and having a full on conversation with none other than Miss Amy Adams!

I’ve been dreading this Spanish paper since the beginning of the Spring semester so I guess it’s pretty fair to say I had adequate time to mentally prepare – this doesn’t necessarily mean I had adequate time to academically prepare…

This research paper was for my Spanish 90c class (Representations of Racial Belonging and Difference in the Hispanic Caribbean) which was essentially a history-literature course taught completely in Spanish; it was my first language class that wasn’t about grammar! I decided to write my final paper about the development of Cuba as an independent nation and its quest for a unique national identity and how this development was directly correlated with the rise of the sport of boxing as well as Nicolas Guillen’s representation of them in one of his poems. It was really interesting researching boxing in Cuba, but extremely difficult eloquently translating my ideas into Spanish…Like all-nighter difficult, running to the dropbox with freshly printed paper in hand minutes before the deadline difficult – my version of the run of shame. More appropriately, I was also in yesterday’s clothes having been in the library all night. Currently painting a picture of college’s worst moments, you’re welcome.

Truth be told, I definitely was not obsessed with the class. I thought a lot of the themes were repetitive and the discussions didn’t really help me form an opinion one way or the other, although it exposed me to many different opinions. The primary source readings were also really hard as a lot of the text included Creole and French – languages which I am not familiar with (at least for now! I am tentatively planning to enroll in French during my senior year…). Since the class wasn’t heavy on grammar, I don’t feel like I grew as a writer, but my reading and listening skills have undoubtedly improved. The coolest take away from this class was my individual section with my TF – talk about private school!

After submitting this paper, I had 4 days of nothingness before my last final exam. I had no problem filling these days with packing, “lasts” with friends, and getting off campus.

Their leftovers…maybe creepy, but creepy-awesome

I have some really good friends at MIT who are seniors so we scheduled one last meal at The Friendly Toast – a place I’ve never heard of but it’s apparently a really popular place on the MIT campus. Maybe even popular to the greater world too as Amy Adams, husband, and daughter (whose birthday they were celebrating!) were sitting at the booth next to our table!! I was initially staring because their daughter was so FREAKING CUTE as the server brought out a Mickey Mouse shaped pancake with a candle on it. My friends made a comment how it could be Amy Adams which I took as a joke until a quick Google search was full of “Amy Adams in Boston” hits. She’s filming a movie (with Bradley Cooper – what I would have given to have him at breakfast too!!!!) in Boston. My friends and I planned our approach and practiced what we were going to say. The plan was for me to say “Excuse me” as they were leaving their table and someone else would ask to verify her identity. Our plan went very smoothly! The meeting had a very “life comes full circle” feel to it since we had all watched Sunshine Cleaning when we were all stuck together during the weekend of the Nemo storm! We raved about this Sundance type movie while she said it was nice to meet us. As you can see, the fan-girling was completely mutual. I then spent the whole day on a celebrity high.

Breakfast, although off campus, was really convenient for me because I had a tour of the Broad Institute later that morning. The tour was scheduled through my LS1b (Life Sciences 1b: Genetics) professor, Pardis Sabeti, who is a baller. She went to undergrad at MIT, then to Harvard Medical School as well as grad school (doctor-squared), and now has a lab (that’s also international) at the Broad (which is pronounced like Brode by the way). The tour was about an hour as we went to multiple buildings and visited all the machines we had discussed during lectures!

The institute is relatively new and has a gorgeous lobby open to the public! This tour is a great example illustrating the greatness of unstructured time during Reading Period and Finals Week.

Everything is done by robots!!

A ton of their walls are either white boards or glass – talk about never missing an idea! You get to the point where you think you can write on just about every surface! Pretty much a dream study space.

Pardis’ lab takes an annual picture. Everyone in her lab is someone in the original painting and for those who missed photo day, they were photoshopped into the sculptures in the back! It’s like family pictures on a whole new level.

Some of the offices have beautiful views of Boston!!

Necessary end-of-the-tour group photo

One of my favorite parts of LS1b this semester was sequencing our own genomes for class! There’s a lot of liability involved with this lab project so you can imagine that students who wanted to participated signed the crap out of waivers. The experiment spanned a few weeks and involved tons of PCR-ing, PCR purifications, and sequencing/analyzing with chromatograms. The best part is that we understood every step of the process! It was really cool to see the machines that sequenced our genomes. With these sequences, we tried to match our genotype to expected phenotypes (i.e. if we’re early/late risers, if we’re lactose tolerant, etc.). Ah, the sweet life of being nerdy-cool 🙂

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It’s that time of the year when I continuously vocalize that college is really hard…and receive absolutely no sympathy. That’s probably because when I say college is really hard, I actually mean having so much fun is super exhausting…

May 1st marked the last day of official classes and the beginning of Reading Period which is a whole week of unstructured studying time for students to prepare for Final Exams. A lot of final papers and projects have deadlines during Reading Period – so much so that students can even finish all their classes before the official week of exams begin! I am always actively grateful for this week because a lot of universities have classes up until exams which I think is completely ludicrous, unreasonable, and pretty much sets you up for tons of stress eating. Good thing Harvard cares about us 😉 But don’t think Reading Period is a like a week on the beach!! Depending on your schedule, you’re probably living in the library and attending review sessions like it’s your day job. The great part is that by night, there are tons of activities lined up! Whether these activities include going into Boston for movies, study breaks (read: snacks), end of the spring semester formals, or catching up on sleep, Reading Period definitely rounds up the typical semester routine very well.

Scott & I go to a sorority formal in Boston!

Not very many kids complain about classes ending for Reading Period, but this isn’t to say that we don’t appreciate class. The semester definitely reliably blends unpredictable events into everyone’s life which can make attending every single lecture and (discussion/problem solving) section difficult. Most lectures, however, are recorded so if you absolutely can’t go to class, you can always watch the video at your own leisure. There are even tools out there that allow you to watch videos 1.5x to 3x faster – talk out upping your efficiency, though it can be hard to understand someone talking that fast. These technological advances can make life easier, but there are invaluable perks about attending lectures. A lot of my classes have “clicker” questions that are along the lines of mini pop quizzes during lecture; students answer questions that are meant to check for conceptual understanding on the spot. These responses not only help professors evaluate how well they’re communicating to students, but also help them take attendance. Besides from the logisitics, there are plenty of sweet incentives to physically attend lecture. The last day of my Physical Sciences class involved professors and teaching fellows using liquid nitrogen to produce vanilla, chocolate AND strawberry ice cream! Also one of my totally boss professors, Pardis Sabeti, catapulted t-shirts from her lab at the Broad Institute into the audience! Next week, I’ll be heading over to the Broad Institute for the first time, as Dr. Sabeti is opening her lab up for a tour! It’s pretty common for professors to go above and beyond here to interact and motivate students. I’m just glad I’m available to take advantage of these opportunities, especially during Reading Period when my schedule is a bit more free.

During the semester, Pardis threw oranges to students who bravely answered questions during lecture.

For her grand finale lecture, there was a specially made t-shirt catapult! What a crowd pleaser!

It’s inevitable that the end of the semester brings a lot of stress with final exams, projects, and papers, but it’s important to realize that we have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate as well! We can celebrate with food, formals, and free t-shirts, but what we’re really celebrating is each other, with a focus on the graduating class. Many seniors dedicate over a year to their thesis. Theses can be either mandatory or optional, depending on your unique concentration/secondary field (major/minor) combination. Regardless, a thesis is undoubtedly a grand accomplishment whether it was mandated or voluntary! Thus, concentrations will hold thesis receptions and presentations to provide opportunities for seniors to rightfully boast about their hard work!

My friend presenting her thesis on babies in movie format!

I’m a neurobiology concentrator, a department with an optional thesis. Every spring, there is a neurobiology thesis presentation where seniors voluntarily present their work in a very informal manner. In fact, the goal is to present their thesis in one minute in any kind of format! Students can either go the traditional route and speak with a powerpoint guide, but students have also written poems and made movies to share as well! Each student is presented with an “award” that’s something along the lines of “best thesis with the cutest subject” (babies) or “best thesis research location” (Italy). Don’t be too quick to brush these awards off as jokes though! A lot of them come with monetary prizes, such as the prestigious Hoopes Prize!

The end of every semester calls for a celebration honoring our hard work. This semester is a bit special because in light of recent tragic events in Boston, it also seems imperative to celebrate Boston. Other bloggers and I have mentioned before that’s it’s a tad difficult to motivate Harvard students to get off campus because there’s always so much to do on campus and because it’s like we’re constantly living in a time crunch.

However, when you have tickets to an NBA playoff game, you get off campus without hesitation! My roommate scored amazing tickets for the both of us to the 4th game between the Celtics and Knicks. It was a crucial game for the Celtics since they lost the first 3 (of 7) games in the series, so my roommate and I made sure to cheer extra loud, especially in overtime when the Celtics pulled through for their first win in the series! I have to admit I’m pretty much a fake Celtics fan (being from Southern California and all), but this didn’t stop me from constantly bragging about my attendance to an NBA playoff game. Campus is less than half an hour from TD Garden which is a great arena for not only sporting events, but also music concerts and much, much more! I can’t believe it’s taken me 3 years to make it out to TD Garden, but I’m beyond glad that I can check that off my bucket (grucket) list!

I hope this blog shows you that Reading Period is really fun and a week to absolutely look forward to – prefrosh, I’m really excited for you! – but remember that fun is exhausting too, so it’s also critical to balance with work. Kind of a lie, since my work thus far has been pretty fun. This semester, I took my favorite math class ever: Math 19a, modeling and differential equations for the life sciences. The majority of topics we covered had direct, real world implications. It’s a course that’s offered every semester and this semester had an (abnormally?) low enrollment number which catalyzed a really close pset (problem set) group aka new friendships! We had 2 exams during the semester and instead of a typical final exam, we had a final paper. I know it sounds crazy to have a math paper, but it’s probably one of the best works I’ve produced here as an undergraduate. My topic focused on modeling the periodic outbreak of whooping cough and although putting numbers and equations into written words was a new challenge for me, I’m proud with the finished project I submitted! The day after my math paper was due, I had an exam for my Genetics class (the class where they catapulted t-shirts). If you’ve been counting, that’s 2 classes down! I’m almost ready to submit my final paper for my Dopamine junior tutorial, bringing myself around for my Spanish research paper, and then I have a few days until my Physical Sciences exam on the last day of finals (May 18th). Between studying, I’m going to try to pack so I can avoid what happened at the end of sophomore year. When school finally ends (insert bittersweet feelings here), I’ll have a few days to get myself together and then I’m leaving the country for the entire summer! I don’t think I’ve posted a blog about my plans, so I’ll keep you all lingering until next time 🙂 Wish me luck with my last week of junior year!


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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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It’s not that I like pressure per se – it’s more like I’ve gotten pretty good at leveraging pressure into a source of active motivation.

I’m a little hesitant to tell this story because 1) I can see my mom shaking her head and deeply sighing; and 2) it’s not my typical lifestyle! But I feel like it’s a common part of #college.

On Sunday/Monday/Tuesday (it’s all a blur) I pulled my first academic all-nighter of junior fall. I had to specify “academic” because sometimes all nighters happen for fun i.e. tv series marathon, video games (Mario Kart, Tetris, Diner Dash!), etc. I knew this day was coming because I had my Aesthetic & Interpretive Understanding: Literature & Medicine Midterm Paper due Tuesday at 1pm and my Math 18: Multivariable Calculus for Economics Tuesday at 6pm. I was mentally prepared, but perhaps I should have prepped physically by spending the previous days sleeping.

However, it was the weekend before Halloween AKA a national holiday that needed to be celebrated by quadrupling my calorie intake via pure sugary coated dark chocolate. My sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, also had our annual blind date event called KAT in the Hat where a sister sets you up with a friend, gets their hat, you wear the hat and they find you in the hat, and BAM you find love. Maybe. Except not really. As intimidatingly awkward as a blind date is already, we dressed up in costumes in the spirit of Halloween! It was a SUPER fun event with awesome music, food, and of course people <3

Also a great excuse for red tights…

One of the most memorable events of this Halloween season was my sighting of the most awesome boy dressed as Mario scurrying in the Yard. I’m sure he was late for another class/meeting or something, but I like to think he just was incredible at being in character at all times. I’m literally chuckling to myself as I’m recalling this. The scenario almost seems like it’s too good to be true but my friend witnessed it too! And we discussed how it’s kind of sad that more college kids don’t dress up in costumes for class like how we use to in high school/middle school/elementary. Celebrating Halloween is pretty necessary because its a general celebration of youth (and candy)!

The fun Halloween spirit definitely kept my spirits uplifted even when I knew I had so much work to do for school. I trudged along in the library (multiple people were getting suspicious that I was living there) and worked calmly throughout the night. Classes were cancelled this past Monday due to Hurricane Sandy – and my thoughts and prayers definitely go out to all those affected! – and I used that day to continue working.

What kept me going was my interesting paper topic. I think the first time I was ever genuinely interested in writing a paper was junior year of high school when I realized the complexity of my thesis excited me: gathering and analyzing evidence to support my claim (something along the lines of: murder is a kind of love / love inevitably leads to murder) was a challenge that I found thrilling. It was during this paper that I promised to myself that I would never write a paper with a thesis I didn’t like.

I had met with my Literature & Medicine TF (teaching fellow) to discuss my thesis because I didn’t want her to hate my idea or find something obviously inherently fallible that I somehow missed. She gave me a hesitant green light and doubted that I could cover everything in 5-7 pages, but I reassured her that all my ideas naturally come to an end in 6 pages.

My Literature & Medicine Midterm Paper centered around challenging/extending an argument of another author we read who claimed that pain is inexpressible. I tried to make the convincing claim that pain is indeed expressible when in a single-person context because groups of people actively prohibit pain’s expressibility. Yet pain is “inevitably inexpressible” (title of my paper) because humans are naturally drawn towards group settings. Overall, I tried to articulate my opinion that pain experiences an evolution of inexpressibility rather than beginning as an inexpressible concept.

Although creating paper topics is deemed a not-so-enticing task, I dread the process of actually eloquently gluing the paper together with well thought out sentences. I vented about this at dinner tonight, saying how I don’t prioritize the importance of writing the paper over the importance of expressing ideas. I think it’s more important to logically explain your thought process rather than eloquently explaining; however, I tend to find the latter about 13 times more time consuming!

It wasn’t a great experience (but it also wasn’t a horrible experience) staying up forever to write my midterm paper and practice for my math test, but at the end of the day, I’m just glad I had a place to do it! That may sound like a strange appreciation, but I remember not knowing where to go for a quiet place to study for the finals at the end of my freshman spring semester.

It always seems like math/science people have the latest finals (since paper based classes have earlier deadlines). I usually always have a final on the last day of exams and at the end of my freshman year, one of my blockmates and I were stuck studying for the last of the last exam. We were studiously re-watching lectures in Lamont Library until around 1-2 am, we got kicked out because the library was closing even though it is notorious for being open 24 hours Sunday-Thursday. I just figured libraries would be open 24/7 during Reading Period and Exam Week and thought that would be a safe assumption. I ended up going to bed and waking up extra early to fit in more studying.

I won’t ever run into this problem again though! In a recent email, students were notified that:

Lamont Library will be open 24/7 during reading and exam periods this year.  For more information, see the announcement in the Harvard Gazette.  Our decision to make Lamont available for late night study during this time follows a successful trial run of 24-hour operations at the end of the spring semester.

We want to thank everyone who made this possible, particularly the Harvard Library Access Services staff and the Undergraduate Council.  Working together, we are pleased we could once again make this space available to you after normal business hours.



Evelynn M. Hammonds

Dean of Harvard College

It’s beyond spectacular that Harvard faculty and staff are constantly seeking ways to improve our undergraduate experiences! Perhaps that’s why not sleeping wasn’t as awful as it sounded…

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Rough  /rəf/ the most common adjective used by Harvard students lately

Midterms have the snowball effect – once they start, they don’t stop and continue growing aggressively. We’re smack dab in the middle of the semester at this point which actually means the second wave of midterms have come/are here/are lurking closer than we want them to be. For classes with only two midterms, it’s a great thing because it’s your last midterm until the final exam! Yet for classes with three midterms, it’s just another wave you have to paddle out for and hope that you catch its drift.

The middle of the semester also means mid-semester evaluations. All classes and course instructors have evaluations forms either in class or online where students can anonymously and honestly describe their feelings towards the class. Anything from lecture pace, homework lengths, to course website formats are open for discussion/critique. After student input has been reviewed and considered, professors usually announce popular concerns and how the staff will go about tackling our concerns. It’s always a beautiful thing to both have a voice and be heard, especially when the listener has your best interest in mind.

I just got a new phone and number which means I have no contacts, but it’s the best way to receive creepy-awesome texts!

I feel like as an entire student body, we’ve been working really hard, really diligently, and really long hours trying to reach (and exceed?) our potential. Libraries have gotten more crowded and coffee consumption has sky rocketed.

All this talk about perpetual midterms and caffeine addictions can easily depict a gloomy backdrop here at Harvard BUT I’m beyond happy to not only tell you, but show you how beautiful it is here!

Our rough weeks are all broken up by amazing weekends.

When I think of “amazing weekends” there are a few obvious ones that come to mind: Harvard-Yale, Yardfest and Head of the Charles.

As Caroline mentioned in her blog, Head of the Charles is this huge 3 mile crew race (as opposed to its counterpart Foot of the Charles). A big portion of the race takes place on the part of the Charles River right next to a bunch of the upperclassman houses (dorms). Tons of people gather along the river to watch, cheer, and collect all the free goodies being passed out (I got a flash drive my freshman year!). It’s a really exciting event, especially when the weather is beautiful!!

That’s Harvard Business School in the background!

Rather than just spectating this year, I decided to volunteer at the Head of the Charles. Volunteers have to sign up months in advance! I also had to arrive at 7 am with my estimated leaving time at 6 pm. A lot of mental preparation for this event!

I was positioned on Weld (Harvard Women’s boathouse) balcony where I had the best view of boats passing the Business School! The team of volunteers I was with was responsible for gathering split times. We had this fancy camera connected to a computer and we would snap pictures of boats passing by and mark their split times on the computer and send this information to the central manager – some pretty official business I’d say!

Me, spotting with my fancy binoculars!

Spotters were also present to tell us when boats were coming so we could snap accurate pictures. The spotters would also describe the boats passing and there was a scribe who wrote down boat numbers with their respective descriptions (i.e. black boat, white hats). I think this served as back up information just in case of future disputes about split times, people can look back at both the picture and the description.

I was the Men’s Heavyweight Coxswain my freshman year so being in a boathouse and watching good old feathering was all around a great day.

It may look like I’m hardly working, but I came up with my midterm paper thesis right then!


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Wow! It’s been such a whirlwind of a week!! That’s literally (due to this nasty, rainy weather lately) and mentally (midterm season!)


Happy October everyone! This month marks our one month of school. If you ask any non-freshman student, we’ll tell you that it simultaneously feels like we JUST started school and that we’ve been here forever. Many things are still relatively new – we’re still getting the hang of balancing our new combination of assignments as well as establishing an organization and studying method curtailed to this semester’s classes – however, academia has been a critical part of our lives for so long that these activities seem second nature to us.

I had my first midterm of the semester this past Wednesday night so I’ve spent the majority of my free time preparing for my first of three exams for Math 18 (i.e. going over class notes, class worksheets, homework, and additional practice problems). Normally, midterm tests are held during scheduled class times, but math exams, for whatever reason, are typically held during the evening. My midterm was scheduled for 6-7:30pm but I had my Aesthetic & Interpretive Understanding 50: Literature and Medicine section from 5-6pm. There are strict attendance policies for my Lit & Med class (they’ll deduct from your grade if your absent!), but know that flexibility indeed exists within the rigid structure of Harvard. I emailed my TF (graduate student Teaching Fellow – essentially the same as a TA at most other schools) a few weeks before my math midterm asking for permission to either leave early or to attend a different section for the week of my math exam. She allowed me to leave a few minutes early which was probably the best part of having a math exam!

Despite all my extensive review for the math exam, I didn’t really know what to expect and was somewhat nervous going into the test. It’s a new class this semester, so there are no reputations like “exams are tricky” or “exams are essentially the practice tests” to help build your expectations. I felt pretty good during the test though and felt even better after it – because it was over!

I immediately felt the post-midterm laziness (that I’m still suffering from)! I spent the rest of the night talking to friends, catching up on my comedy television shows and getting excited for my sorority’s fall formal.

It feels like I haven’t been academically productive in a while, but I can tell you about the productivity in other aspects of my life!

In preparation for the Boston Half Marathon 2012, I’ve been trying to run longer and longer runs. Thank goodness I have the Charles River and the Esplanade to run along, but on certain days, ~10 miles can feel like much more even with my pumping iTunes beats. One of my best friends (who I traveled Europe with this past summer!) is currently training and fundraising for the Boston Marathon 2013 by making an extra effort to run all throughout Boston. I took advantage of her creative routes by running with her into Chinatown where an elementary was holding a fair with cotton candy, photobooths and carmelized popcorn!

We even met (and danced with) Pooh Bear!

This long run throughout downtown Boston and eventually ending up in Chinatown made the time pass by very quickly. I love when (physical) productivity effortlessly blends in with new, fun experiences! I’m definitely looking forward to being more adventurous on my runs by being more willing to deviate from the riverbanks. Next weekend, I’ll be running the Boston Half Marathon for my second time. I’m feeling pressure to beat my time last year but I think this is only possible if the rain gods have some mercy and cancel the predicted rainy forecast!

Another long term project I’ve been involved with since my freshman fall semester is called BRYE (Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment) Teen. This is a program I direct through PBHA (Phillips Brooks House Association), essentially the central hub of public service work on campus. The teen program runs once a week, on Saturdays, at a Vietnamese Community Center located in Dorchester, where (recently) immigrated students gather to work on homework, supplementary lessons we’ve created, arts & crafts, and we often strive for field trips to museums/Harvard’s campus. This is my second year directing the program and I feel like this year will be easier than last, not only because my previous experiences will help me solve future problems with much more skill, but we’ve received a lot of generous financial assistance to run the program this year.

At the end of the 2012 spring semester, I applied to the Presidential Public Service Fund (PPSF) grant to alleviate some of BRYE Teen’s accumulated deficit – a heavy burden that started before I became a director. Luckily, BRYE Teen received this generous grant as with a handful of several other programs (see the university’s generosity here!). PBHA partnered with Dean Evelynn Hammonds for a reward reception where program directors gave a short summary of their programs’ goals in exchange for a hefty and generous check.

Presidential Public Service Fund grant reception with Dean Evelynn Hammonds

It’s so rare (and difficult!) to unite 20+ PBHA program directors and hear about their passionate work so it was really a beautiful event to attend. I know that my program, BRYE Teen, would have great difficulties running without these funds so all my volunteers and participants are eternally grateful for this financial support and encouragement!

Needless to say, it’s been a phenomenal week! There are no classes held on Columbus Day, so the long weekend is looking extra marvelous. I don’t have any midterms this coming week, so I’m looking forward to doing some learning without intensive pressure!


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This week’s post is going to be a sampling of a little bit of everything which is representative of my scattered brain as the semester nears to a frightening end and I’m trying to gather up all my loose ends now so that I’ll be able to look back at a skillfully tied bow when I board my plane home back to San Diego in a few weeks (this run on sentence probably represents my zipping mind as well!).

Reading Period (a week without classes right before Final Exam week) officially ends Thursday night (May 3), which means the first official day of Final Exams is May 4, AHHHH! Now this definition of Reading Period, which you’ve probably seen all over this blog, is kind of a misnomer because there are still tons of classes and responsibilities in the form of review sessions, optional (but not really) sections, and the like. For many students (non science kids usually), Reading Period is a time to crank out tons of Final Papers and many classes have Final Presentations and Projects due as well. Language classes also tend to take place during Reading Period but also typically end before the start of Final Exam week.

Although most look forward to Reading Period, it’s still a crazy busy time – but can definitely be well balanced as the weather tends to get better and there are tons of social events like House Spring Formals, and last Sunday DAPA (Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisers) and CEB (College Events Board) held a joint Garden Party where there was free cotton candy, snow cones, and a MOONBOUNCE! One of my absolute favorite facets of Harvard is definitely this beautiful and delicate balance of work and play! The tremendous support also keeps me sane during these potentially stressful times. For example, the Resident Dean of Mather (my upperclassman House/dorm) sent out an email that offered her adorable dogs for stress therapy petting sessions!! If someone had told the high school me that Harvard College would offer such a 360 degree service, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you for a second. In fact, I’m still taking in the fact that there are so many opportunities here for me; most of the time, it just feels unreal that my life has been so blessed and has come to such a good place.

Tangent: After I was accepted into Harvard College and basically committed the next day, I was obsessed with the idea of not dying before college. I remember consciously taking less risks – such as driving safer and not eating unidentified food – because I didn’t feel like it would be a good time to die since I hadn’t experienced my Harvard dream yet. After a few days of screaming “I can’t die before college!” it was bluntly pointed out to me that I shouldn’t want to die…ever. It didn’t seem obvious to me at the time, but I’m glad I had loving company to help me realize I shouldn’t let Harvard wholly define me. Sure, I worked my butt off to get accepted and continue working other body parts off in my endeavors to exploit my undergraduate opportunities, but it really is important to me that I let Harvard verify my diligence and supplement my identity rather than completely define it.

Anyways, you can probably tell that in the midst of Final Exam shenanigans, I’m so freaking happy. This enthusiastic euphoria stems from my summer plans. It’s literally going to be the best summer of my life and I’m still questioning whether I deserve it. Half of my plans are set in stone – I just need to book the other half of my flights! I’ll be going home for 2 weeks, traveling Europe (Paris, Venice, and Barcelona) with two of my sorority sisters for 2 weeks, interning in a clinic in Peru through DRCLAS (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies) for 8-9 weeks, working with Refresh Bolivia for 3 weeks, and then flying right back to a (hopefully) welcoming Cambridge to move into my new room with my best friends and kick off JUNIOR YEAR.

NOOOOOOOO!!! I’m (just about) half way done with college. Don’t ever tell me or let me realize this again. Although I only look forward to what comes my way in the future, I really hate moments where I can no longer deny the passage of time!

I’ll check back in again next Wednesday (when I’ll be done with 3/4 of my classes!) Wish me luck because oh boy, am I going to need that partnered with caffeine.

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Hey, everyone! In the past couple of weeks, I attended some of the most interesting and rewarding events of my semester.

The first event I attended was the Thud Concert. Thud is a musical group on campus that creates music by banging objects together. This may be a very vague description, but this concert was unlike any other concert I have ever attended. The group first welcomed the new members of the group by playing the Simpsons theme song, as the new freshmen came out acting as the Simpsons characters. After the introduction, the group performed five different songs, using drums, chairs, basketballs, and many other unusual objects.

It is a little hard to describe this concert, so I created a VIDEO!!!, which highlights most of the performances.  Hope you enjoy it!


My friends and me at the Fall Thud Concert


This past weekend, Mike Mercier, a staff member of the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team(HMT), hosted a wheelchair tennis event. A couple of HMT members were there to help out. At the beginning of the event, Mike conducted drills and gave instruction to the wheelchair tennis players. After an hour, Mike split all the participants into two teams, the North and the South. I was part of the South team, while my HMT teammate was on the North team.  To determine the winner of the Lobster Cup, each team played 3 doubles matches and one singles match. The match format was a regular set (first team to six games, win by two). Both teams competed hard, and the score was 2-2 after this first round of matches. To determine a winner, two more doubles matches were played as a tiebreaker. The South Team won both the doubles matches and claimed the title 4-2.  It was a great event! Having played for eleven years, I thoroughly enjoy tennis, so I was happy that I could give back to a sport that has given me so much.


Playing doubles for the South Team during the Wheelchair Lobster Cup


Lobster Cup- Wheelchair Tennis hits at Harvard


Beyond attending these events, my main focus has been studying for my exams.  Of my four classes,  I had two final exams for Math 1B and Economics 10 and a final paper in Expository Writing 20. In my4th class, Science of Living Systems 20, there was no final exam. In addition to final exams, I played a lot of chess, hung out with various friends, and played tennis.

Now I am on my way back to California. While I have had such a great semester at Harvard, I am looking forward to heading back home. I miss my family a lot, and I am looking to have a restful break! Thanks for reading everyone! In my next blog, I am going to write a reflection on my impressions and thoughts about my first semester at Harvard. Stay tuned, it should be up in a week! Happy Holidays everyone!


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Sorry that I’ve been missing in action the past few weeks!  I’ve been all over the place mentally (Physically I’ve pretty much just been here in Cambridge…).  Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

Time flies when you're having fun

Time flies! Get it?!

Here’s a brief overview off what’s been going on in my life since my last post.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19th: Harvard-Yale

As always, Harvard-Yale (H-Y) was an unforgettable experience.  Just to be clear, H-Y is the annual football game against Yale.  It’s cryptically referred to as “The Game” here on campus.  This year, H-Y was at Yale so there was a huge exodus from Cambridge.  Most people made their way down to New Haven to take part in the festivities.

I look forward to H-Y without fail because it is one day a year when school spirit reigns supreme.  H-Y is evidence of the thriving Harvard community.  Students, Alumni, friends, family, and football enthusiasts all come together to share in the experience.  This year was no different.

I’m not much of a sports fan, so I prefer to shift my attention to the student tailgates.  I dressed up in my best Harvard apparel, ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and kicked back with some of my closest friends and fellow classmates.

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Oh, and Harvard won the game 45-7. Go Crimson!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd: Home Sweet Home!

After Harvard-Yale, I went back to campus and powered through the last few days of class before Thanksgiving break.  By Tuesday evening I was sitting at the Starbucks in Logan Airport, waiting to board my flight home.

I love traveling to and from school.  As I mentioned in my Blogger Bio, I’m from Virginia, so I usually fly into one of the Washington, D.C. airports.  Travel from Boston to D.C. is a breeze!  Tickets are almost always available, and the flight only lasts about one hour.  Plus I can take the T (Boston public transportation) to the airport, instead of spending a ton of money on a cab.

The best part about coming home for breaks is the warm welcome!  My mom treats me like a soldier returning from war.


Thanksgiving is one of my top three favorite holidays (the other two are Halloween and the Fourth of July).  I look forward to it each and every year, and this year did not disappoint!  The spread at my house included everything from honey baked ham to corn soufflé.  I especially love Thanksgiving now that I’m in college, because I don’t have to ration the leftovers.  I’m only around to enjoy the food for a few days, so I don’t worry about saving anything for the next week, so I just enjoy the food recklessly.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27th: Back to School

I flew back to school on Sunday morning.  I decided to get to Cambridge early in the day so that I could get ready for the LAST WEEK OF CLASS of the semester.  The light at the end of the tunnel had never been brighter.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2nd: School’s Out! (But not really…) 

Last day of class!  Actually, I don’t even have class on Friday, so Thursday was technically my last day but we won’t worry about that silly little detail.  Regardless, I decided to reward my hard work this semester with an evening of appreciating the arts.

First, I stopped by Memorial Church (Mem Church or MemChu) in the Yard to see the Kuumba Christmas Concert.  The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College are just one of the many amazing choirs here on campus.  I went to support a few friends and hear some great music.  The energy at the concert was fantastic.  People were on their feet, clapping to the beat, and swaying back on forth.  One highlight of the concert, at least for me, was when the group sang the Boyz II Men arrangement of “Silent Night”.

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

After Kuumba, I made the short walk of to Sanders Theatre to catch the second half of “Twas the Jam Before Christmas”, which was a joint-effort a capella concert featuring the Harvard Krokodiloes (Kroks) and the Harvard Opportunes (Opps).  Unfortunately, I missed the Opps because I was at the Kuumba concert, but the Kroks were out of this world.  They must practice in their sleep, because they seemed so comfortable on stage.  The jokes between songs genuinely made me laugh, and the soloists were incredible.  There was even tap-dancing involved in the show!  I think the best word to describe the performance is “cheeky”.  They do a great job of making sure their bits are fun and carefree, with just the right amount of sass.

My ticket from the Kroks and Opps performance

Okay, I think that just about catches us up.  You’ll have to excuse me now, as a hide away in my “Reading Period Cave”.*  Also known as the Harvard Library System (especially Widener, Lamont, and Houghton).









*Reading Period is the week or so before final exams.  Most students spend the time writing final papers and studying for exams.

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