You are currently browsing articles tagged Freshman.

Hi blogosphere, Jake from the Admissions Office here. On my walk home from the office yesterday I meandered through Harvard Yard to check out Freshman Move-In Day.  Here’s a collage of my photos from the festivities featuring some of the new students, their families, and a variety of upperclassmen excited to greet the new class:

Tags: , , , ,

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your summers thoroughly, and that the lovely [scary hot] weather at home is giving you all great tans and instilling a bit of fear…it’s quite the opposite across the pond, where the weather for Paris is always predicted at 70 degrees with 60% chance of showers. Fortunately, the rain rarely comes and falls for about 5 minutes, the wind blows, the clouds move a tad, and suddenly there is sun, until the wind blows again and the weather changes. It seems that everywhere I live has mercurial weather, but that’s perhaps because I haven’t lived in California or Antarctica. Hélas.

Besides the weather, which I kind of like but kind of hate passionately, Paris is wonderful. The limestone buildings glow in the evening light, contrasting against the grey sky, and the language rolls into my ears like rivulets twisting over slippery rocks. My words aren’t quite as beautiful; were they rivulets, they would pool in shallow depressions and eventually gain enough momentum to run onwards, creating an almost-constant sound. But that is how language goes, n’est pas?

And now I’d like to share a few moments from Paris with you, if you don’t mind.


The Phone

“But, only Asians live on the sixth and seventh floor. Are you sure you’re in the right house?” she asked, perched in her doorway, her face a mix of confusion and worry. I wasn’t sure. I had no idea, in fact, if I was in the right building, because apartments 40-47 were all built by the same architect in 1914 and were like six peas in a pod, neatly lining the street near Pont de Versailles station. “Non, madame, je suis super desolée mais je sais pas, est-ce que je peux utiliser votre téléphone, s’il vous plaît? J’ai pas assez de crédit, et ….” The woman whose home I’d entered handed me her phone with concern, and I dialed Anneli’s number for the sixteenth time, my fingers shaking and my eyes blurring with prickling tears. I turned away from the woman for a moment, waited, and heard nothing but faint clicking. Anneli’s phone wasn’t working, and neither was Mandi’s. I called Steven again, and for some reason, it went through, again; the only problem was that his calls weren’t connecting to either of the girls, and we were both about to run out of credit. It was already 9:00, and I’d been trying to get into Anneli’s house for exactly an hour to eat dinner and plan our evening. Obviously, it wasn’t working. Distressed, I thanked the woman and left the apartment building, knowing I was in the wrong place and that there was no way Anneli could see me from her 7th story window. I walked to the métro, defeated, and was letting line 12 rock me to sleep when my Bollywood-esque ringtone jolted me upright. It was Mandi, who said that her phone wasn’t working and that she couldn’t get through to Anneli either, and that she had just failed to enter her building. I told her I was going to meet Steven instead, as I hadn’t eaten, and she said she’d probably do something else and maybe I’d see her later. Our hopes lowered, we ended the call and I sunk back into my chair, my eyes closed, counting the 15 stops until my next transfer.




Puma Social

It’s a’ one two three take my hand and come with me cause you look so fine that I really wanna make you mine. His eyes were more than halfway closed, his shirt buttoned incorrectly, but his feet grooved to the driving beat. We threw our heads up and down, tasting the humid air with our hanging tongues as if to quench our wild thirst, but only succeeding in looking absolutely insane. To put it frankly, I didn’t give a care; I was on a perfectly-crowded, perfectly-lit dance floor in Paris with two awesome girls and thirty-odd French guys just off of Rue Oberkampf at 3 in the morning.  I swung my wet hair out of my face, singing the words to Jet’s best song along with the rest of the club, the only difference being that mine were correct and not tilted sideways with the smooth French accent. The music went on. I was so glad to be wearing sneakers instead of flats. I could dance forever, and had been dancing for at least two hours among well-dressed, kind of skinny, faintly cigarette-smelling men and my ladies, stopping to refuel on cold water and ice cubes snatched from champagne buckets. Mandi and I had gone to the bathroom a few songs ago, which was a thin corridor of black-lights and white writing, contrasting slightly from the higher-lit rest of the club; I was glad that I only looked relatively insane (maybe just suffering from a personality disorder). Now, however, I could be sure of nothing about my appearance except for the fact that it felt like I’d been swimming in the tropics for the past twenty songs and that the guys here were pretty good dancers and, if they weren’t, they were at least fun to watch. Four five six come on and get your kicks now you don’t need money with a face like that do you honey? Nope. I don’t. Which is good, because I don’t have any more cash.



My iPhone charger wasn’t plugged in so there was no alarm, but it’s a good thing I am fast at getting dressed, because I’m already a half-hour late to meet Anneli for brunch and I haven’t even left my flat. Exactly twenty-seven minutes later, I’m at Bastille again, this time for the pleasures of Sunday morning, also known as brunch and less tourists in the Marais. I see Anneli (orange dress, grey sweater) before she sees me (orange shirt, blue pants). We embrace in our démi-français half-english way, hugging and cheek-kissing all at once, and decide on Fontaine Café for the morning special of croissants, coffee, and wifi. As expected, all are slow, but we have plenty of time to spare and it’s best spent together before the afternoon clouds roll in. Over buttery, feathery pastries and café allongé (luckily not the expected tiny cup of espresso) we let delicate French words roll off our ever-studious tongues, weaving stories of childhood and countrysides that bind our friendship tighter. A firetruck passes by, the siren tearing at my eardrums, the contents of the packed-vehicle eyeing us like we’d just eyed our croissants. A little boy in a red striped shirt and mussed hair reminds us of Hanna Anderson, yet another thing we had in common growing up, and more stories fill up the hours of the morning. By the time the waiter comes with the check, it’s hard to stop talking and stand up. It’ll be even harder to cease speaking French and leave Paris, but I suppose we have some time.


Les Étrangers

There’s little else cooler than seeing someone you haven’t seen in more than a year pop out of the métro via the escalator, and Tess was no exception. Our roles had changed, she no longer a foreigner in my state, me no longer the one speaking a native tongue. Tess and I had graduated high school together last June and by some twist of fate I’d ended up in Paris for summer school when she’d just completed her Baccalauréat in the same city, with high honors nonetheless. She leaves tomorrow for the south of France, to Montpellier, and I come the center of Vermont, just near the capital with the same name. But today, we were having coffee and catching up. As she smoked her skinny Vogues and talked about her upcoming years of preparatory school for Les Grandes Écoles, I couldn’t help but feel excited and bizarre; this encounter reaffirmed how intertwined our lives become as get older and meet more people. I used to be afraid of growing up, but at least for now, I’m liking it.



About class, if you want to know:

I love class but hate how people slip into English so easily. We are only in Paris for 6 more weeks, babes. Let’s stick to the nation’s tongue like taste buds. The readings for class are kind of a lot, but really interesting, so I don’t mind reading them. I haven’t been able to always get through the readings, but I find that we discuss a variety of things throughout class and so it doesn’t always matter that much. Class is kind of like this:

  • Sprint to school (fast-walk, at least). Jiyae (my roommate) forgets where to turn which always makes me laugh, but Reid Hall is across from the cool hotel with painted tree shadows on its façade.
  • Go over les actualités, from newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le New York Times/International Tribune.
  • Brief history and summary of the arrondissement we visited the day before. (Side note: I thought this was going to be a stupid order, because I like learning about things and then going out and visiting them, but this works really well because our discussions are more grounded in experience.)
  • Discussion of parts of the texts we read.
  • Launching of the broad philosophical questions of the day, also prepared by the students responsible for the arrondissement of the day before.
  • 10 minute break, where most people buy 45¢ espresso. (I finally bought some yesterday, and met these awesome girls from Barnard and Hamilton who showed me how to use the supah-high-tech machine. Coffee wasn’t strong but tasted really nice, even though there was slightly too muchsucre.)
  • Discussion of parts of the text within the context of philosophical questions.
  • Done at 13h00.
  • Lunch until 14h00
  • Afternoon excursions until 16h00 or later, frequently with theatre or movies or supplemental activities after the excursions. (I tend to go home unless it’s mandatory, as I want to rid myself of my backpack and take off my shoes.)


How does this relate to Harvard? Well, Harvard made it possible for me to go, from offering the program in the first place to graciously giving me funds once I’d applied for them. If you have any questions about Study Abroad, especially summer, let me know!

À bientôt!


Just doing some learnin’ near the Pantheon, sporting my future University’s hat — La Sorbonne


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve had the honor of speaking with a handful of prospective/admitted students curious about life at Harvard College. I really enjoy speaking to these students because I was definitely in their position – where I was just dying to know what Harvard life was like – and their intriguing questions allow me to adequately reflect on my time as an undergraduate – an activity I wish I did more of! #runonsentence

There’s a few questions – some that I didn’t anticipate – that seem to come up frequently so I wanted to dedicate a blog to share and perhaps even plant new seeds of thought! #ambitious

But before acting on this endeavor of answering popular questions, I wanted to preface with a mini autobiography to make all the bias that I weave into my answers really obvious.

My name is Jeanie Nguyen. I’m currently a rising Harvard undergraduate junior, 20 years old and I spent the first 18 years of my life mostly in Southern California. So yes, I love Avocado (like it’s a real person, hence the capitalization/personification) and I can be quite snobby about my Mexican food (but Taco Bell is totally legitimate and if you don’t think so, you obviously haven’t had a chalupa). Essentially, I talk about being from Southern California like it’s something to brag about. I’m that premedical student who carries band-aids, burn ointment, and eye drops wherever I travel; and I’m concentrating in Neurobiology (major), secondarying in Global Health and Health Policy (minor), and pursuing a Spanish Language citation. I’m pretty adventurous/spontaneous: I love trying new things whether that’s food or activities!

In addition to warning everyone of my incredible bias, I also need to have a length disclaimer. My answers are really long, ramble for an eternity, and are probably only partially applicable at best. I throw out tons of information that I would have appreciated someone else telling me, but I’m really random and minor-detail oriented. If you don’t hate it, keep the questions coming! 🙂


Question 1: What would you say is the “best” dorm around?

At Harvard College, the freshman live in the center of campus – called The Yard – and these buildings are colloquially termed “dorms.” Most people know about Harvard Yard because it’s the heart of campus and where the oh so popular John Harvard statue is. The Yard is always beautifully manicured – even after such wildly muddy events like Yardfest and Harvard’s 375thBirthday Party – so living here your first year is such a marvelous privilege!!

Harvard’s 375th Birthday Celebration = Tons of people in the Yard + Rain = Mud for days!

Since the university follows a residential college way of housing, after your freshman year, you move out of the yard (reluctantly?) and into upperclassman houses – or “Houses” for short. You stay in the same House for your remaining time as a student although you move in and out of different rooms within the same House. Dorm locations are definitely ideal, but the love and community concomitant to House life is worth the 15 minute walk in the morning!!

I lived in Wigglesworth as a freshman. A lot of my non-Harvard friends were genuinely upset with me that I didn’t immediately tell them that I lived in a building called Wigglesworth. The name is actually somewhat fitting as it lies above the subway (colloquially called the T) so when the subway trains pass, you can feel the floors of Wigglesworth (Wigg) tremble – not annoying as it sounds! But then again, I lived on the third floor so I felt less of the impact. My really good friends were on the first floor though and I was never bothered by it. I also studied a lot on the second floor so I feel like my opinion takes a lot of perspectives into account!

There’s this period of time during the summer – I think it begins after the day you commit to your college of choice – where your future fellow college peers start friending you on Facebook. Although I normally hate adding people I don’t know, I felt really obligated to accept because I just wanted to be accepted!! Haha you really don’t have to accept – and you really shouldn’t accept unless you’re comfortable with casually exclaiming “Oh yeah! I know you because we’re friends on Facebook!” in a lot of conversations. This Facebook thing is applicable to the questions because I remember a great deal of people posting about how they were hoping to get Wigglesworth so when my housing letter came in the mail, I was excited about the result!

Wigg is known for its hard wood floors (so much better than nasty carpet that can stain easily!) and fireplaces (although you can’t use them). I’m pretty sure all rooms in Wigg have a common room in addition to bedrooms although students always have the option of making their common room into a bedroom to maximize the number of available singles. Wigg also has the luxury of in-suite bathrooms so no yucky, typical college bathroom woes. We also have our own laundry room and trash room in the basement so we don’t need to go far to take care of these chores (unlike student in Grays dorm for example). There’s also a bigger common room in the basement with study tables, comfy couches and a big flat screen TV with cable for those dedicated to Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl.

My room was the only room on the third floor and was super spacious. I loved it! And so did my three roommates! Every time I walk pass my old room, I definitely look at it fondly. Between the four of us, we had one double bedroom and two singles. To be fair, we switched rooming situations half way through the year.

Our common room at its messiest while switching rooms!

Don’t judge us!

Also, I lived in the smallest subsection of Wigglesworth (there are three subsections), fondly termed the Wigglet and since only about ~30 students are lucky enough to live here each year, the community can get pretty close and just as cute as its name!

Wigglet (2010-2011) – Convocation Day in the Fall … 10 points to whoever can spot the baseball player in the popular Call Me, Maybe parody

Since Wigg lies on the perimeter of the Yard, along Massachusetts Avenue AKA Mass Ave, it can be a trek to Annenberg/the Science Center which basically is on the opposite side of the Yard. However, there are many perks to being along a main road such as being < 3 minutes away from CVS (convenience store), JP Licks (dangerously delicious ice cream shop), and the T stop!

I can’t even really think of any common ways people bashed Wigg. When you tell people you’re from Wigg you generally get an excited response (since Wigg is a really large dorm and it’s likely that you’ll run into other Wigglers) or at least a nod of respectful approval. “Go Wigg or Go Home!” is a common phrase that should be chanted not only proudly, but frequently.

If you’re already tired of my bias, I can’t blame you. Here’s my apology, please accept:

A more comprehensive overview (applicable to the unlucky ones 😉 )

Question 2: Any advice on packing stuff up/shipping stuff out east?

At the airport before my freshman year began, en route to moving in – I couldn’t pack light if my life depended on it 🙁

If you know my middle name, you would never ask me this question. A lot of people would consider me a bad packer. I can’t say that I completely disagree, especially after my catastrophe at the end of my sophomore year. However, my reputation is sort of like a misnomer! I tend to never schedule sufficient time to pack adequately, but I do pack smart!

My friends are most impressed by how meticulously I pack. I weave dryer sheets in between my clothes when I pack them, especially if the clothes will be packed for a long time, so they always come out smelling like I just washed them! Additionally, Instead of putting things straight into a cardboard box/suitcase, I generally like to put it in a trash bag first. This trash bag method is awesome because it serves as another bad odor prevention mechanism. I also found this method helpful while traveling Europe this summer because I stayed in dorm-like hostels where I shared bedrooms with strangers so I would be uneasy about the security of my belongings; but since any potential thief would have to go through my trash bag first, it would probably wake me up too!

I make tons of paper copies of my name and phone number that I put not only on the exterior of the box, but the interior too. This is an idiot proof method when storing boxes in a common area which is the kind of storage Harvard provides (to students outside a certain radius). If anyone accidentally/not-so-accidentally takes your box, there’s really no way to justify them playing dumb since my information is everywhere!

When storing my boxes in a common area, I also like to tape newspaper to the outer sides of my boxes for easy identification. Some people like to use wild duck tape, but these types of tape are commonly sold in stores so multiple people may have the same tape. No one really tapes newspaper and since the surface area of newspapers is larger than duck tape, it’s also easier to spot in a room that’s literally filled from floor to ceiling with boxes! Newspaper is also free!! Woo!

I also enjoy performing activities in an economic fashion. This is really just a fancy way of saying that I’m cheap. However, I’ll never be cheap with packing tape. You need to buy the good stuff and use tons of it because it’s not worth it ever if a box rips and your belongings become separated/lost! Friends also become eternally grateful for your extra tape.

Being cheap also means that I hate buying boxes too! I would much rather put money towards my churro funds rather than cardboard. Definitely ask stores for their cardboard boxes since most recycle them anyway. I tend to rely on my parents’ company for boxes when I’m at home.

As for physically relocating things to campus, make sure to triple check your baggage allowances on your mode of transportation and don’t be shy about asking for student discounts. It never hurts to try. Domestically, I usually fly with Southwest airlines because they allow 2 free checked bags and a carry on which is the most “free” I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately, my parents flew out to help me move in so I called dibs on their check ins!

I literally imagined myself dying in the cold from my first East Coast winter and thought I had to buy tons of coats before leaving, but this is definitely not something you have to do. It’s hard to find appropriate coats in Southern California anyways. I’ve conformed and have become a big fan of the Northface brand though. You may not want to admit this to your parents, but you really don’t need a new wardrobe!

Embracing the cold before Freshman Formal #YOLO

I still wear my SoCal tanks and tees under a big coat in the winter. Your coat just needs to be good enough to withstand the wind + rain + snow for your <15 minute walk to class because your classrooms will be waiting for you all warm and toasty! Note that umbrellas don’t help!! Buy a wonderfully comfortable coat with a hood to strut in because it’s typically too windy for umbrellas and you wouldn’t want to hold an umbrella anyways! All you want to do in the winter outside is to bury your hands in your pockets.

Rainboots are a separate case from coats though. It rained within the first three or four days of my arrival on campus and I’ve never regretted investing in some rainboots as a preemptive strike. Every time I walk in/through a puddle in rainboots, I’m still incredulous that my socks aren’t soaked!!

If you were spoiled with amazing weather all the time like me, don’t let the threat of East Coast winters scare you!! I love experiencing four seasons. In fact, it’s best to experience leafy autumns and snowy winters in college where you don’t have to rake or shovel anything yourself!!!

Definitely not raking anything…

                                                                                                                               Question 3: What are some of the must-sees/must-dos at Harvard?

This is one of the more difficult questions to answer because interests vary so widely. But I hate it when people use that as an answer to a question. I’m already incredibly biased and don’t want to be hypocritical too!

When I think back through my time as a Harvard College student, there are definitely some defining moments. I LOVED embracing the East Coast culture and being a coxswain for the Men’s Heavyweight Crew team! Definitely one of the best, once in a lifetime experiences!!

I’ve said it before and I won’t ever stop saying that one of my ultimate, favorite aspects of Harvard is the people! I’m obsessed with sitting around and doing absolutely nothing but getting to know my peers. Everyone is so freaking interesting and hilarious! We’ve also collectively racked up enough good stories for a lifetime. It’s come to that point where I’d say our lives are more interesting than TV – interesting, not dramatic!

Most of my greatest memories are on campus/campus events – like meeting celebrities!!! You’ll be on tons of email listservs as a student where the spam can be annoying but a lot of the pubbed events are super interesting/exciting opportunities!!

I believe in Harvey Dent!



Representing the Wigglet around Shaq!!! Casual run in…

                                                                                                                     I do really want to start taking even more advantage of my environment by completing everything on Natalie’s list though!

                                                                                                                     Question 4: Is there any advice you would offer your freshman self (or a lost freshman), knowing everything you know now?

Two prominent mistakes (one personal and one academic) come to mind when I think of my personal freshman year – although we all know there were several committed.

Most of my friends are surprised that I identify myself as an antisocial person. The beginning of freshman year is just super overwhelming because not only have you left all your family and friends, but you’re now in a whole new environment with thousands of strangers! Albeit the strangers are friendly, I had a hard time continuously meeting tons of people during the beginning days of freshman year because I always doubted whether we’d become actual friends or not. This negative mindset pushed me to rely on my high school friends. I Skyped (video chatted via internet) my high school friends a lot freshman year due to the fear that our friendship would become estranged. I definitely don’t regret staying in touch with my high school friends because the ones I Skyped all the time are the ones that give me a strong reason to come home; but, I do feel like the fear of losing my high school friends shouldn’t have been stimulating anxiety. It’s definitely a natural fear to have, but after becoming super busy sophomore year, we’ve kept in touch less throughout this past year. However, I still feel just as comfortable around my high school friends to this day as I did 2 years ago. In fact, thinking about them right now makes me feel simultaneously really lucky for having their continuous support and really stupid for ever fearing that our great friendships would diminish. Therefore, if I could reassure little, lost freshman Jeanie, I’d demand her to not worry so much about her loving connection with her friends and family back home.

After the emotional stabilization, I would definitely tell myself to not try to plan my life. College comes with waves of intense sensations of fear that you’ll fail at everything which will propel you to try to plan your life. This endeavor isn’t possible – at least not your freshman year; it becomes more of a likely possibility your sophomore year and that’s why you declare your concentration (major) your sophomore fall semester rather than during your freshman year which is what most other universities have students do. During your freshman year, it’s best to talk to upperclassmen, your assigned academic adviser, your PAF: Peer Advising Fellow community, faculty and etc. to learn all the classes that are truly geared towards your interests. You’ll learn so much your first year about the differences between class series and the importance of sections, so that the life plan you made freshman year will render itself useless in a matter of a few conversations! It’s best to wait until your sophomore year to start planning how all of your courses will fit in the short time you have as an undergraduate.

I am fully aware that I’m advising you to take your hands off the wheel during your entire first year and that this request is a horrifying one! But enjoy your time as a wide eyed freshman and feel free to be a little lost! Just don’t be so lost that you can’t give a tourist directions to Annenberg.

Holy smokes. My answers always turn out to be soooo much longer than anticipated!! I really hope that the information overflow isn’t overwhelming because that is definitely not its purpose!!!! You truly don’t need to know any of this information because I didn’t and I am (arguably) fine, I promise! AHHHH SORRY!

There are also tons of other resources for any burning questions you may or may not have! One of my favorite finds are Harvard Q&A groups on Facebook. We’re all guilty of wasting time on Facebook so you might as well satiate your curiosity that way! Most of the time it’s benevolent Harvard students answering questions – yay!

                                                                                                                                                                                        **Excuse any slang/improper English please! I’ve been speaking and thinking in Spanish so hard these days while living in Peru – and LOVING it!!!!!

***UPDATE (24 June 2012)

One thing to start thinking about is money on campus – meaning banks. I am no longer an advocate of the sock drawer so one thing I made sure to check for during prefrosh/Visitas weekend was nearby banks. I know of a handful of people who chose to keep their local, small town banks but I feel like the majority of students have local banks for convenience. Once you do your research and choose a bank, you can start thinking about credit cards. And just because you’re going to college doesn’t mean you can’t bring your parents in on this – they have much more experience than you! One additional thing to keep in mind is that many, many Harvard students travel abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers so if you like to plan super ahead, take into account international fees/cards/offers.

Random list of local banks from the top of my head: Harvard University Credit Union, Bank of America, Citizens Bank, TD Bank, Citi Bank

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thanks for watching!

Click Me


Tags: , , ,


It’s been two weeks since my last blog post, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting every other week from now on. Lots of awesome things have happened. I went to NYC, came back to campus, had a celebratory finish to my freshman year at the College, and moved out of Canaday the next day and into Lev a few hours later. It was a crazy trip (I completely overpacked, underestimating the enormous pile of clothes that hid within my dresser drawers), but my new residency was worth the wait, because I have a super cozy single in Old Leverett. Check out some pics!



My room went from this…


…to this ):


My New Room in Lev!


NYC, World Trade Center



Funny StarWars Kids in NYC




It was awesome to have a little break in NYC before starting my difficult week. I was assigned to DeWolfe, which probably isn’t talked about a lot on the Harvard Website; it’s the overflow housing for Dunster, Leverett, Lowell, Kirkland, and Winthrop (five of the upperclassmen houses), and is a great alternative to sophomore housing, which can frequently be a downgrade from freshman housing in the Yard. DeWolfe is set up in pretty big suites, commonly with two large bedrooms that are doubles, a kitchen, bathroom, and a common room. With all of those different types of rooms, it was very difficult to clean throughout the week. It’s pretty exhausting work, but I came out of it with quite a bit of dough (almost 500 dollars) and slept very well each night! Here’s a picture of one of the rooms during final cleaning, when we had to go around and redo all of the work we’d done throughout the week in order to ensure that these suites were immaculate.



Empty, Clean Room.




I also worked at The Crimson during commencement, which was very fun! I set up the Year in Sports newspaper with a few other editors, which was great fun. Also, I socialized with a lot of other boards, not just Photo, and made a lot of new friends while eating FREE food! Hollah! Friday night, on a whim, I decided to go home for the weekend! Work started yesterday for Reunion jobs (babysitting), and so I had four full days to go home and relax with my family. I jumped on the Greyhound early Saturday morning and rode to Montpelier, which is close to my house, and drove home to spend time with the fam in the hot, hot sun. We went swimming in the river (my, my, it was cold), I saw my little sister’s baseball game, I made a pie, casserole, and sushi (on different occasions), slept, saw my best friends from home, and generally enjoyed myself profusely. It was incredible to be home, and I missed it this year! I’ll be going back soon (two weeks) to spend time until I’m off to Paris.



Strawberry Rhubarb Pie





My Kitty Emily on the Right


After my awesome mini-vacations, I’ve started working for the Harvard Alumni Association as a babysitter, with 16.5 hour days, as a day and night sitter for little kids. The Reunions have totally transformed the Yard, and it’s teeming with people of all ages, which brings a new level of excitement to campus. It’s nice having this influx of alumni after the regular floods of students have cleared out, because Harvard is completely different.

If I last through these upcoming weeks, you’ll hear from me soon!





Tags: , , , , , ,


Now that I’ve finished my school year, I am on to my next endeavor: Dorm Crew. I’ll be working on campus in a different way than what I’ve been doing these past two semesters, sweeping rooms instead of brushing up on my education. (In all fairness, I’m going to continue studying French throughout the summer, so I’ll never really stop my traditional learning.) These past few days I’ve been working as a storage monitor in Lowell House, one of the prettiest houses on campus. However, the basement storage rooms lack that same aesthetic appeal, and spending three hours a day in a cold basement before the big storage rush is 100% the most boring job I have ever had in my life. But it is also the easiest job I have ever had, and I am making a ridiculous chunk of money from monitoring an empty room.


Next week, the real work begins. I’ll start working Dorm Crew, cleaning out the rooms (in preparation for summer term students/reunions) that I cleaned way  back in August (in preparation for the academic year), and I’ll continue that job until June 1st, when I’ll be free and with a full wallet. I’ve completely emptied my room, hiking up to the Quad with my boxes and the help of my generous friend Parul, packing the rest of it into my dad’s car on Wednesday afternoon, and leaving a bag and my linens to hold me over during the month I’ll be living on campus. I get my temporary housing assignment on Saturday night, and have to evacuate my room by noon on Sunday; according to the Reunion jobs (for whom I’m working the second week), I will most likely live in the Quad, and according to Dorm Crew, I’ll most likely be in the River housing, so we’ll see where I end up. Setting up house for a little bit will be nice, especially if I live in a dorm that I’ve not yet inhabited. (Hopefully not Canaday or Currier!)


In preparation for my difficult 3 weeks ahead, I’ve been sleeping a whole lot and hanging out with my friends around campus. Last week, I helped a friend with their final project for a Civil War class, so we held a Gettysburg reenactment in Cambridge Common. Before, I took a nice shot of the Common, showing how green everything’s become these past few weeks, due to the rain and random days of sunshine.


Cambridge Common


A Resident of Cambridge Common


Also, before my tough work, I’m having a little vacation. I’m with my dad in NYC today! We’re about to go to B&H, my favorite electronic store, and are going to snoop around looking for cameras. I really want a video capable camera, and am thinking about getting a Nikon 7000, if I can afford it! (Is this my motivation to do Dorm Crew? Hm…only time will tell.)


PEACE! Happy end of my school year!


Tags: , , , ,

On any given day of the year, I would take any pset (problem set, notorious in science classes) over any written assignments. Although I dread deriving equations that other, more brilliant scientists have already derived, I feel much more accomplished doing this compared to spending 10 minutes mentally drafting each meticulous sentence to eloquently express my semi-insightful ideas. However, if I swallow some of my scientific pride, I can definitely appreciate the beauty of the written word. No other class has catalyzed and reaffirmed this appreciation more than the Expository Writing 20 class I took last spring semester (2011).

The summer before your first semester at Harvard College, you take Placement Exams – I remember taking one for math, science (biology or something like that), a language one (if you’re interested in that), and a mandatory writing one. Although actual placement isn’t strictly forced (it’s just highly recommended by faculty, me and my peers!), the latter exam is suppose to determine your entrance into one of two essential Expository Writing classes.

Expository Writing 20 (colloquially termed Expos) is a mandatory class for all freshman and is definitely frequently spoken about. I’m truly being honest when I say most of my conversations about Expos are more like obsession-confessions since the classes are small and led my talented preceptors, but keep in mind that there will always be a handful of people that dislike Expos. The class serves to help transition students into writing in the college environment. There are many, MANY types of Expos 20 classes and this hefty selection not only makes it appealing to the normal student, but more so to students who aren’t inclined to writing (guilty). Students rank these Expos classes by interest and some fancy type of randomizing algorithm places students. Some classes may have multiple sections which increases your chances in the lottery process.

Last spring semester, one of my favorite things to boast about was my Expos 20 class. I was enrolled in Tales of Murder (my first choice was actually Darwinian Dating, but I’ve never been more happy to lose a lottery) and after announcing the title of my class, everyone becomes so intrigued!

The class was divided by three papers and each paper was devoted to a specific unit – this is a typical Expos 20 structure. Our first unit was murder ballads – the preceptor (Emily Shelton) provided a CD of old murder ballads with accompanying lyrics to analyze. The second unit (my absolute favorite unit in which I produced the best six pages I’ve ever (and will ever?) write!) was termed the “lens” unit because we read a variety of stories by Edgar Allan Poe along with literary critiques. We then had to synthesize these two sources to extract a theme about murder. My paper in the second unit argued that anyone who was literate was also capable of committing murder and getting away with it…a creepy thought considering my environment. Unit three was a film unit. I know this sounds like every student’s fantasy but I checked out one of the films from Lamont and since it was only loaned to me for ~5 hours, I returned it immediately after watching it. This means I walked ~1000 yards at like 4am in the dark right after a movie revolving around murder. Scariest thing ever! I had HUPD (Harvard University Police Department) pre-dialed on my phone just in case. Speaking of safety, there’s an escort service HUPD provides so you never have to walk alone if you feel even slightly uncomfortable. It’s always important to remember that Harvard is located in an urban environment; therefore, knowing both your surroundings and resources is crucial. Okay, the preaching is over.

Basically, Expos 20: Tales of Murder completely revamped my writing style. I remember in high school, for the most part, writing felt extremely formulaic. Your first sentence is a general statement, then you narrow your focus into your thesis which had to be the last sentence of your introductory paragraph or else it wasn’t really a thesis. Each body paragraph started with a supporting thesis, followed by a lead in to your quote/concrete evidence. I always felt so constrained and only started feeling like I was actually persuading my readers during my junior year of high school in Advanced Placement English Language (APEL) where my supporting theses didn’t have to be the first sentence of every body paragraph. My writing world really started rocking senior year of high school when a lot of the papers we wrote were promptless – my Advanced Placement English Literature (AP Lit) teacher would provide leading questions and ideas, but it was really up to us to extract an insightful message from the author. I guess you just have to earn freedom in your academic progression. This freedom was really epitomized in my Expos 20 class. When my preceptor told me that introductory paragraphs should really be introductory pages – this wasn’t just the best thing ever, but it just seemed too good to be real!!!!!

There were just so many revolutionary ideas about writing in Expos 20 that I still can’t hardly handle it. We talked about explaining motives which entails proving to readers why both the author and you as an author have a rhyme and reason to write. We talked about “standard readings” and although obvious, it’s important to include. More importantly, however, are the shocking twists and turns to these standard readings which drive the paper into its thesis.

The concepts I learned in Expos 20 still reverberate to this day. During Reading Period (when official classes stop for a week before Final Exams begin), I looked back through my Expos notes in preparation for my 12 page marathon paper for my Ethical Reasoning 24: Bioethics course. I know there are plenty of you out there that can crank out many more quality pages in a leisurely afternoon while dog-sitting, but I would literally rather run a marathon…twice.

That being said, Expos 20 was truly the arsenal of knowledge (and caffeine!) that got me through my final paper. I was so thankful that I even emailed my former preceptor to inform her of my boundless appreciation. I’m still stunned by her immediate (and of course eloquent) response where she basically summarized all three of my papers! Ah! She’s SO COOL! Is she still fair game to invite to my faculty dinners? TBD

Tags: , , , , ,

Visitas Weekend has finally come! Every April, Harvard opens its gates to the admitted students for a jam-packed weekend full of diverse events, great food, and incredible conversations. This is an important weekend because the admitted students have to make the decision of where to spend their college careers. It’s an exciting time of college exploration and finding out if Harvard is right for you.

My favorite part about this weekend is meeting the Admitted Students- or as we call them at Harvard- the “Pre-Frosh.” Current students get the chance to host Pre-Frosh in their dorms during Visitas in order for a chance to see what it’s really like to go to Harvard. Hosts are also there to provide any kind of advice, guidance, or past experiences to help the Pre-Frosh make their decision. I signed up for 3 and I can’t wait to pick them up and show them around once they get here!

Another one of my favorite parts of this weekend is that Presencia Latina falls on the Friday of Visitas. Harvard’s Presencia Latina is a spectacular Latin Arts Showcase where groups from across the Harvard, Cambridge, and Boston communities can come together to celebrate the Latin culture. I really hope some of my Pre-Frosh can make it to the show! I was at Dress Rehearsal last night until the early morning so I know the show is going to be a great one, as always.

Another reason why this year is so special is because Presencia Latina has reached it’s 10th Year! That’s an entire decade of Latin Arts. I really appreciate that Harvard gives us the resources and space to celebrate a culture that means so much to me and I know that we’ll continue sharing this beautiful culture for years to come! That was one of my concerns about coming across the country to college- I thought I would lose my culture. Luckily, Harvard provides a ton of opportunities to celebrate the culture you grew up in as well as learn of the diverse set of cultures that make up Harvard’s student body. This weekend will be unforgettable.

To get a look in to what last year’s Presencia Latina looked like, check out this video!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Hey everyone! This week’s post is different than normal; I decided to take some photos and collect some information about Freshman Housing at Harvard. It’s known around the country for being incredible, as you’ll find out while reading this post. Click on an image to enlarge it, click on a title to find out more information, and enjoy the post! If you would like another resource, click here to be redirected.



Harvard freshmen all live on campus around Harvard Yard, the central location of Harvard College. There are four “yards” which encompass various dorms, all of which have their perks. When you’re a sophomore, you live in a House (or the Dudley co-op, if you so choose) until you graduate, but this post is only about freshman housing…perhaps I’ll feature upperclassmen housing next year. If you’re interested in learning about how the housing process works, check this out; otherwise, keep reading!


Apley Court

Apley Court is known for huge suites, marble bathtubs, and its distinct location between the Yard and River houses.

Not a dorm, but Holden Chapel, my favorite building in the Yard




Yay, Hollis! Suites, which are only doubles, are absolutely gigantic.


I personally love Holworthy, mostly because of their awesome (yet again giant) suites and their common room, which is the best on campus in my opinion.


 Lionel’s twin is Mower. I get them confused. There are only 40 residents, and each suite has a private bathroom!

Mass Hall

Mass Hall is incredible, with around 14 freshman living there, because it also houses President Faust.


Lionel’s twin, home of one of my favorite people, is both adorable and tiny.


Straus, home of my future roommate (!), is awesome. It’s in a private yard, has lovely rooms, and really cool staircases (things you notice when living in Canaday).


Stoughton! Home of more great people, this dorm is awesome because it looks like it is split in two. Other reasons include huge doubles and ideal location to run Primal Scream.


Union Dorms!

Union dorms (Pennypacker, Greenough, and Hurlbut) are “far away;” that is, they are really close to Lamont,

and about as far as Straus to Annenberg. Also, because they’re farther away, there’s more space to have better rooms.


Despite its gross name, Hurlbut is gorgeous. The suites are huge, and there are many “pod systems” comprised of luxurious singles around a big common room.


Pennypacker, home of the radio station WHRB, has in-suite bathrooms in each room, a central staircase, and tons of dorm pride.


Greenough has hardwood floors and huge suites. Enough said.



Wigg is where it’s at! This incredibly long dorm has the best practice rooms, where I spend most of my time, and has spacious suites to boot. You’re very close to all of what Harvard Square has to offer!




Canaday is my dorm! As a resident, I can honestly say that it is the ugliest dorm on campus, rivaling Mather (an upperclassmen house). The good things of Canaday include our own courtyard, proximity to everything (it takes me less than one minute to walk to class), heightened security (riot-proof building…but that’s not actually a plus to living in Canaday), and most importantly, the GIANT windows. I live in the common room, though, so that might effect how I see the world (pun).


Thayer is awesome. I love it. It has the best interior design, with hardwood floors, crown molding, and pale green walls. The rooms are big. My future blockmate and friend since 7th grade lives there. It’s really close to Canaday!




Dream of Weld. If you like huge common rooms, you’ll love Weld.


Matthews also has incredible housing. Pattern? Yes.


Grays Hall

Grays is known as the Harvard Hilton for a reason. (Hint: best rooms.)


I asked around campus in order to find some of the best freshmen dorm rooms Harvard has to offer.

To the class of ’16, you might be lucky next year and end up in one of these sweet suites!

A Weld Room


Welcome to the huge common room. Boasting dormers, a hand-made coffee table, and natural light, this common room might be the best in the yard.


Pictures from home are displayed on a clothesline in a whimsical fashion.


Check out this coffee table, complete with Crimson!


A white-board wall is a creative and artistic addition to this lovely room.


Both Weld doubles and singles are spacious and well-lit.


An Apley Room

This single in Apley Court is enormous, complete with walk-in closet and and hardwood floors.


Same room, different angle: check out that closet!


This might look like your bathroom at home, if your bathroom had a marble bathtub.


Although this room is on the 5th floor, who wouldn't want to ascend that staircase every day?


Two Hurlbut Singles

If this room had a superlative, it'd be best-dressed.


A not-so-average college dormroom is common place at Harvard!


A Grays Room

This spacious common room gets a cozy feel from the christmas lights

Same room, different angle: brick walls add a classic Harvard touch


Too Cute to Bear

A Canaday Room


This common room, although messy, is well-lit and has colorful touches. (And it's where I live!)


A Canaday single may be smaller than some, but it's cozy and guaranteed to be yours (or in this case, my roommate Helen's) for at least a semester.


Canaday rooms make you incredibly happy, as displayed by my roommate Rachel.




until next time


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The first day of Spring was yesterday which clearly means I was thinking panicking about summer. I’m still waiting on a handful of decisions from summer opportunities – whether that’s interning in Cambridge, San Diego or abroad. Without peace of mind, I can’t help but stretch myself a little thin and continue applying to more jobs, but this task gets difficult every time I’m reminded that I’m also a student taking classes. I guess the majority of my anxiety stems from what happened last summer.

Here’s a reflection blog I wrote a few months ago that I never posted – think of it as vintage!

                Paid internship, international travel, and pinnacle life revelations – those are the three elements every Harvard student needs to incorporate into their summer plans. It can’t be that difficult to execute if you budget one per month, right?

                This is what it can start to feel like in the high-achieving Harvard environment. Yet, I’m not so sure if I achieved any of the above during my first summer as a Harvard student. Then why do I feel so accomplished, fulfilled, and refreshed? Probably because I spent the summer my way and since I’m a Harvard student, then it’s also the Harvard way. As infallible as my deductive reasoning skills can be, this connection originated after much internal struggle and I’m honestly still in the progress of genuinely accepting that my nontraditional summer was indeed a meaningful one, filled with memories and experiences I’m excited to catalyze my future with.

                I ended my freshman year the same way I began it – scrubbing stainless steel showers in the entryways of (the freshman dorm) Wigglesworth as the university’s Dorm Crew employee (take my continued involvement as a STRONG encouragement to look into pre-orientation programs!). After a long week of dust bunnies and a six hour flight to sunny San Diego, my body was reunited with my memory foam mattress just like how your favorite pair of jeans flatteringly curves along your muscular legs. But just like how your favorite jeans grow raggedy, my body grew tired of lying in bed all day.

                I booked a one way flight home without any jobs, internships or projects lined up. I dropped all my plans of researching in Cambridge and servicing rural communities in Bolivia when my grandmother’s leukemia dramatically worsened. All I had wanted at the beginning of summer was to spend time with her and although that was exactly what I was doing, I started to feel inadequate and embarrassed when my Facebook newsfeed flooded with updates regarding consulting job offers and international adventures. It came down to either: A) assisting my grandmother while sending out invitations for my self-pity party; or B) pursuing my interests in science and ultimately creating a productive summer which would direct me down a less hazy career path. As my jaw hung low and I mentally projected the most negative portrayal of what my future could be, I remembered I could have both. If I could ever impose any sense of wisdom on the world, it would be to take advantage of every opportunity when you don’t have to divide and conquer, simply because you can just conquer it all!

                I began to pioneer a more active role in my grandmother’s health. I researched everything from the molecular background of leukemia to folkloric rituals that reported mysterious health benefits. I attended her bi-daily doctor appointments which not only catapulted my Vietnamese fluency, but also my medical vocabulary – so much so that I felt comfortable enough to email oncologists at local hospitals and universities. These contacts led to shadowing opportunities as well as prominent roles in their clinical research work. I wasn’t receiving monetary compensation, but my exposure and experiences serve as invaluable resources in my arsenal of knowledge. I can’t imagine my previous summer plans igniting my passions of pursuing the medical career path as much as my unplanned summer did. I also never imagined enjoying Vietnamese soap operas or the craft of crochet as much as my grandma does, but that’s what an unplanned summer can do for you if you’re willing to embrace the unknown.

Going back and rereading my thoughts definitely comforted me! (Diaries are not only for elementary girls!) At the moment, my short term goals are stay focus & positive and enjoy the Spring! Cambridge is bringing in gorgeous weather – take that SoCal rain.

Tags: , ,

« Older entries