Freshman

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Hello!

Sorry this post is coming a few (umm…almost 12) hours later than normal, but here’s one anyways! While my friends are jetsetting or tanning in Bermuda/Cayman Islands/Mexico, I am just chillin’ (literally, look at the title) with my family and friends back home. In no way am I complaining; Vermont is totally awesome, and I absolutely love it here in March. (Plus, I was in LA over winter break, so that was enough sun to hold me over until the summahtime.) For those of you who are flatlanders (anyone not from Vermont, Northern New Hampshire or Upstate New York), you may not know that Vermont has more than four seasons. We have six, in fact: Spring, Summer, Fall, Stick Season, Winter, and Mud Season, in which we happen to be right now! Though people say you can’t wear white after Labor day, I say you can’t wear white during Mud Season; aptly named for its lovely driving conditions on our dirt roads, this span of a few weeks prepares you for spring by making you readjust your outfits and cars. (You’ll need a realignment on top of taking off your snow tires once May rolls around.) I’ve avoided nice clothing, donned my Muck Boots, and only driven my truck, because the roads are really bad, and you don’t want to bottom out on the ruts and ruin your car!

Luckily, the weather has been pretty nice. It’s been sunny, and today I did all of my French homework for the next few weeks outside on one of our Adirondack chairs and watched my goofy dog, Posey, attempt to catch a squeaky chipmunk as it hid in our stone wall. Here are a few prime photos from the little escapade, which hopefully will bring a smile to your face.

Also, I cut my hair today! Yay! Actually, my really good friend’s mom cut it for FREE, and she owns a salon so it was all professional and such! I also have done a lot of online shopping and research on DIY projects that I can do to create an EPIC dorm room next year…seriously, it’s going to be insane. Prepare yourselves. Think: awesome lighting and headboard.

So, back to Academia: there are a few things that I can assess, as this is the middle of the semester and I probably should crack down around now…not like I haven’t been, but I have to decide my concentration by next November, so I should at least decide whether or not I like my courses. And so I shall, right now, ranking my courses with some numbers, but mostly judgment…just like Flyby’s housing ranking. (Sadly, I won’t make a cool graphic.)

1. Italian Acd: Intensive Italian

This class is totally awesome. My prof (TF, actually) is incredible, and it’s her first semester teaching…ever! She’s wonderful, the camaraderie in my class is top-notch (we had an Italian party the other night where we made pasta carbonara and spoke Italian to one another), and we have learned so much. After having only taken 2 months of Italian, from knowing nothing, I now can form the future tense, both past tenses, and the present, not to mention all the vocab and culture we’ve picked up! Soon we’ll be covering the subjunctive and conditional…yippee! Overall, this class is an A+, which mightn’t be reflected in my final grade, but we’ll see (:

2. Freshman Seminar: Pressing the Page

This class is also totally awesome. The only reason it comes in second place is because I don’t have it every day at 10 am (we only meet for 2 hrs mon/wed), and so I think it hasn’t really been properly tested in the long-term, early-morning scheme of things, like Italian has. My prof is, again, incredible, and Adams’s Bow and Arrow Press is both historical and efficient, creating some gorgeous art. The only reason I’m bummed about  getting housed into Currier is that I’ll be rather far away from the press, but luckily (or unluckily) The Crimson is right next to Adams, so I’ll be spending a lot of my time in that area, anyways! I have no qualms about this course, and really love being able to show my creativity through another outlet (for credit, nonetheless). In conclusion, this class is an A; the only thing that stops it from being perfect is the lack of adequate time to create as much art as I’d like!

Okay, this is where it gets kind of tricky, as I only have 4 courses….so it’s not like the fourth spot is the worst spot, but rather, it is simply the last one, which doesn’t make it bad.

3. Expos 20: Contemporary Theatre

Two things I really like: theatre and writing. Sadly, I don’t like writing about theater all that much; I’d rather perform, and creative writing/poetry is my forté, not analytical writing. But, it’s Expos, and most people complain a lot about their courses. Mine is pretty interesting, and covers risqué topics, so it’s never boring during class…it’s just when I get in front of my computer and try to write my 6 page essay about something I’m not interested in…that’s when it gets pretty difficult. I do, however, want to be a better writer, and I trust that this course will help me to become more apt with my words. Overall, I’d give this course a B, which is probably higher than my current grade.

4. French 50: Liberty and Culture (or something)

J’adore le français, alors c’est un peu étrange que je n’aime pas ce course beaucoup. Also, I’ll be going to Paris this summer (hopefully), which might lend some insight about my sentiments towards French culture. (I love it.) This class is interesting, and our workbook clarifies the complexities of French grammar (which is honestly so ridiculous sometimes…SO MANY EXCEPTIONS), but it feels like a lecture, even though there are only 15 people in it. Language courses should be more interactive, at least for me, and this isn’t very interactive. Still, I am heavily considering a concentration in Romance Languages and Literatures, or at least Francophone studies, so I can’t dislike this class too much (: Final grade? B-. It’s not in the C range, because it is definitely above average, as all courses at Harvard are!

Soooo, that’s all for now. Time to go:

a) bake a cake?

b) clean my lil’ room?

c) record a new song?

You choose.

Until next time,

-Reid

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Wonderful Week

Heyyyo!

I’ve been having the best week ever, and it’s been so busy that I haven’t had any time to post on this site, so sorry for the delay! This is going to be slightly shorter, because I have a meeting at 3 with my Peer Advising Fellow (PAF) to talk about blocking (aaahhrrggg, deciding on my suitemates is so complicated), classes, and my summer plans. Also, I just applied to be a PAF next year, so we’ll see how that goes, and maybe one of you class of ’16 readers will be my PAFee! (That’d be so exciting.)

Yay random picture I took of Harvard Hall yesterday!!

So: a quick synopsis of what has happened since last Thursday. On Friday, I passed in my official study card (yippee!) and had a meeting with my slam poetry team. Later,  my mom came to visit and we watched the Harvard-Yale men’s hockey game, which I covered for the Crimson. Harvard won 4-3, and we beat Yale in the women’s hockey, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball games. Woohoo! Then I went out to a really fun party with a few of my friends and saw some a cappella people whom I hadn’t seen in a while, which was great. The next morning, my mom swung by for a little bit in between my auditions of common casting through the HRDC. Basically I tried out for  a lot of musicals and got some minor roles that I decided to drop, because I have a million things happening already. (Check out the link above for more information about theater, another addition to my Quest for the Arts!)

 

Go Harvard!

Sunday wasn’t too busy, but I ended the day with great news: I was appointed Arts Photography Exec with my friend Dean for The Crimson! Now I get first “pitches” (really cool events to cover) and I lead a crew of Junior Editors and Compers in their journey of photography this semester. I couldn’t be more excited.

Monday was my first Photo Exec meeting, in the newly designed photo-lounge of the basement. The basement holds design, video, and photography (really, the best part of a newspaper in both online and digital editions), and within that group there’s a great sense of community. I was alerted on Monday that I needed to give a gift to the Exec I am replacing, so that’s been my weekly project (keep reading).

 

Cast Lists are Posted!

Tuesday was my first day of Expos! I was sectioned into Contemporary American Theatre, a course with a very high Q Score and an amazing prof. I’m really looking forward to it, though it’s going to definitely be a difficult course. Later, I had an all-photo meeting with the Junior Editors and Execs, which was great. I pitched The Arts as a beat (translation: I gave reasons to people for why they should take pictures primarily for Arts), in the form of a song! It was very classy and very fun. Later that night, I started drawing up sketches for my gift to the ex-Arts Photo Exec (who is now the Editor-At-Large of Photography), having decided on a shirt as a gift. The design is of a pug puppy (the cutest, obviously… and photo has a bit of an obsession with baby animals) reaching for a soda bottle with the word “AHT” on it. (The ex-exec has a thick Boston accent.) Then, I had a few more late-night meetings and finally went to bed.

 

Oh So Cute

Wednesday, I interviewed Dean from Dean & Britta, an alternative music duo, for the Office of the Arts. Now all I have to do is write up the article, and I will post the link next week! I had my printmaking seminar again, which was amazing, per usual, and continued to work on the project I’d started on Monday. We were asked to create a visual representation of our favorite word, and I chose “noodle.” Okay, I’m not sure if that’s my favorite word, but there were so many to choose from…so I just chose my favorite food-word. Also, there are tons of alternative definitions for noodle (such as brain, or fool, or Mr. Noodle from Elmo’s World), which means I can be very creative. Next week I’ll be pressing my page, framing that bad boy, and maybe gifting it (or keeping a copy for myself). This has definitely been one of the best artistic outlets I’ve found here at Harvard.

Later that day, I met up with my friend Cynthia to work on a few songs for Freshman Formal, which is tomorrow night. Of course I’ll be going, but we’ll also be playing music during dinner, so we met up in Wigglesworth basement to practice. The practice rooms are really big in Wigg, so we had enough space for her piano and my guitar/uke. We’ll be playing some sweet songs (such as Janelle Monae and Adele), and afterwards we’ll be dancing it up in the Night Under the Stars, as it is so aptly named. Yippee!

No Stars in the Sky Yet

 

Then I had to cover a Flashmob for The Crimson. CityStep, a program that teaches children to dance and other valuable skills, went into Ticknor Lounge (a gorgeous room) and busted out some moves. I was lucky enough to experience it, in all of its cuteness/awesomeness.

Haha, Flashmob!

A few hours later, I realized that couldn’t stop working on my gift for my friend, so I went to Urban Outfitters to buy a blank T-shirt ($5), then to Utrecht Arts to buy some fabric paint ($8). I cut out the stencils I’d created in record time (okay, like two hours), ironed them onto the shirt, and painted away. Today, I finished it up, and I couldn’t be happier with the final product! It turned out infinitely better than I had expected, and I’m sure the gift will be well-received.

 

Yay Puppies and Pop!

Now I’m off to my meeting, then some more practice for Formal, homework, dinner somewhere in there, a run-through of some spoken word that I’ll be performing with a group next monday for a belated MLK celebration, and finally an Exec event later tonight. Wow! This semester is going to be awesome. (Plus, it’s cold today–bonus!)

Happy Thursday!

-Reid

 

Squirrel<Pug

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Hey everybody!  As summer is coming to an end, and a new school year is on the verge of beginning, I thought I would take this time to reflect on my freshman year and the new sophomore year to come.

So to start, freshman year… wow.  That’s really the word that sums it up the best: wow.  Going into the year, I honestly had no idea what to expect.  I mean, sure, I thought maybe I would get some cool roommates, make some new friends, take some fun courses, learn some stuff, but I never could have foreseen the nine months ahead.

During my first year at Harvard, I met some of the most talented, hard-working, charismatic, brilliant, and interesting people I have ever encountered.  There were kids who already had patents under their names, kids who had made speeches in front of thousands of people, kids who had organized huge charity events that raised thousands of dollars, kids (*cough, cough* my roommate) who could wake up at three in the morning with only six hours before a paper was due and speed write twelve pages that still earned them A’s.

I know you’re probably thinking, well, what do you expect?  It IS Harvard, after all.  And I suppose you’d be right.  But the thing that struck me was how down to earth everyone was.  I arrived on campus knowing that I would meet extraordinary students with extraordinary talents and achievements, and feeling pretty inadequate.  I mean, the thing I was most proud of was being the Editor-in-Chief of my high school yearbook.  But the cool thing about going to a school with a less than 6% acceptance rate is that there is a level of respect, especially among freshmen, for even getting in.  Everyone’s reasoning is that if you got into Harvard, then there must be something truly special about you.  And it was really awesome to spend long nights my freshman year in Annenberg dining hall listening to people’s stories and learning about what makes them who they are.

Me loving my freshman year at Harvard!

Beyond that, I never expected to make some of the best friends of my life, join a sorority, head a volunteer organization, write a blog on my life that people actually want to read, and all of the other things I’ve gotten myself into.  Freshman year blew my expectations out of the water, and I hope sophomore year will do the same.   To answer a commenter’s question from a few months ago – how have I best utilized the amazing school I go to and made sure to not take for granted the amazing opportunities I’ve been given – I’d have to say that I have tried to get to know a new person everyday, to learn something new about the people I already know, and to find a new way to care about those who surround me.  This world is made up of the people in it.  Each person has a story.  Each person is the way he/she is because of a sequence of events that have been linked together to form the chain of his/ her life.  And I think it is important to listen to and care about the people we meet, whether they are on or off of Harvard’s campus.  It is through listening to other people that I learn the most about the world and life in it.  Everyone deserves to be heard.  And that is what I hope to continue to do as I start my sophomore year!

Thoughts on my sophomore year:

  • What will my concentration be???? AHHHHH!
  • Will I enjoy living all the way in the quad?
  • I need to find a job…
  • Where do I buy a bike?
  • I’m so, so, so excited to be back and to see everyone!
  • Oops!  I’d better unpack!

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Sue Brown, Resident Dean of Freshmen, Elm Yard

If you are an incoming freshman, first of all let me congratulate you on your accomplishment! Here at the Freshman Dean’s Office, we are very excited to meet you in August. You are probably engaged in one of a variety of activities (or several, as the case may be). You are working, traveling, backpacking through the wilderness (and likely not reading this blog), or just hanging out and gearing up for the big move. It’s an exciting time.

 You probably aren’t really wondering what we are doing in the FDO. Who are we anyway? Well, at our helm is the Dean of Freshmen Tom Dingman. There are four Resident Deans who oversee roughly 60 proctors. All of us live in residence with or very close to students. We have a fantastic Director of Freshman Programming (Katie Steele), an outstanding Department Administrator (Sheila Coveney) and a thoroughly amazing support staff (Julie Berenzweig, Brandon Edwards, Mary Lincoln, and Chrissy Spakoski). We hope you’ll come by and meet us in the fall!

So, what are we doing? Well, believe it or not, we are getting to know you. Most of the FDO is busy preparing in a variety of ways for your arrival. The four Resident Deans are housing you with your future roommates. You may or may not know this, but we do nearly all of it by hand. The only random bit is which dean you’ll work with (which puts you into either Elm, Ivy, Crimson, or Oak Yard). After that, we go through all the applications individually and match you based on a number of factors including the preferences you indicated on your housing applications. This process takes several weeks in the summer. Each of us has 400-450 students to fit into the spaces in each Yard (which are all very different!). In the end, we build entryways that reflect in some way or other the diversity of the freshman class. We’ll be finishing up and sending out your housing assignments next week!

How do we do this? Well, I can’t give away all of our secrets, and I can’t speak for the others, but I can share a little about how I do it. First I house the women and then the men. Each of you indicated your preferences for social and neatness levels in your suite, as well as how many students you would like to live with. This gives me a broad sorting mechanism. I then read through each application and note your interests and musical tastes and study your essay very carefully. Do you like art museums and coffee? Perhaps I’ll find someone from another country who also likes art museums and coffee to go with you. Do you like Broadway show tunes and country music? Maybe your roommate will, too. Do you have an adventurous spirit and a quirky sense of humor? Maybe your roommate will will have spent a gap year in Southeast Asia and want to write for the Lampoon. Do you like video games/not like video games? Are you particular about your bedtime? Do you want social roommates who hope to use the room to study and relax, while they socialize outside the dorm? These are just some of the many, many things that get taken into consideration when we match you.

Here’s what it looks like when we’re in the thick of it (imagine a very large game of Concentration):

In matching this way, we hope you’ll teach each other and share your life stories with each other. We hope you will broaden each other’s horizons and support each other. We hope you will be open to each other’s differences as you seek out your commonalities. Ultimately, we hope that you and your roommates will strive to enrich each other’s lives. This is what you tell us you are eager to experience.

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