Four inches of snow blanket the ground, my wood stove gives off a warmth only fire can bring, the Christmas tree in the corner twinkles brightly, and the Advising Portal glows gently on my screen– my grades are posted. I exhale a deep sigh of relief, happy to have passed all four courses, something I’d never had to worry about before I came here. Not to sound arrogant, but high school wasn’t that difficult for me; my first semester at Harvard, on the other hand, was a challenge. Although some things came more easily than others (French exams, for example, were a breeze compared to the Psychology multiple-choice tests), it wasn’t a walk in the park, and I’d frequently find myself swamped, wanting only to go to band practice or to cover an interesting event for The Crimson.
Contrary to this ranking, Harvard is actually difficult once you are accepted, and the gap you need to bridge is even bigger if you caught Senioritis after decisions rolled in. (I know I did; it’s hard motivating oneself when you’ve already achieved what you’ve been working for since fifth grade.) So when I went to a Solstice party last night after a week of sleep and relaxation, I wasn’t exactly prepared to talk about what I’d been doing for the past four months. I meandered over towards someone I didn’t know, and she asked me where I went to school; I replied, “Harvard,” which was about as difficult to say as my own name.* She did the normal “oh!” and asked me what I was studying. I rattled off my four courses, to which she demanded whether or not it was arduous work. I replied with a solid “yes.” I wasn’t about to lie to this woman, pretending that my last four months have been perfect; that’s just unrealistic, and yet she seemed surprised when I told her it wasn’t an easy semester.
There’s nothing easy about Harvard, except for the acquisition of unreal opportunities. I’d gone to a movie premiere, met Jonah Hill, written a full-length jazz composition, listened to incredible lectures, played at the House of Blues in front of 1300 people, and received this amazing education, all because of Harvard. Why does this matter? Because I’m really lucky to be here, as we all are. Even though it took a whole week of doing nothing to rehabilitate myself after the semester, it was worth it: the difficulties are worth it, because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing in those moments of opportunity. Looking towards the future, I have even more opportunities; hopefully I’ll be accepted into the Summer Study Abroad program in Paris, where I’ll spend my time boosting my French (potential major?) and learning about Parisian revolutions. For now, I’ll keep relaxing, preparing for another semester of difficulties– but maybe this time it’ll be just a little bit easier.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
(I can’t leave the post without including a picture, so here’s one of my cat.)
*(Difficult. I don’t know if anyone else has trouble saying their own name, but I always feel awkward saying it for some reason.)