housing day

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I would steadfastly contend that some of the best things just happen – that’s how my Spring Break was planned.

This Spring Break would be my first outside of PBHA’s (Phillips Brooks House Association) Alternative Spring Break program. For the past two years, I’ve participated and directed the trip to New York City where a group of hand selected undergraduates volunteered with God’s Love We Deliver and wandered both medical schools and the big city!

Last semester, I initially thought I would have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) after Spring Break due to hardships registering for a January spot, but I got lucky and secured a sweet and ideal test spot! Thus, my Spring Break opened up 🙂 My luck doesn’t end here because one of my roommate’s mom had a Disney gift card reward that would not only pay for our hotel at Disney World for a few nights, but also some meals! As if things couldn’t get any better, my other roommate’s older sister works at Disney and was available to join us on our Spring Break getaway and she could get us all our park admission tickets as well! This extremely fortunate series of events created the best (and cheapest) Spring Break to Disney World ever!! As a California native, I’m quite familiar with Disneyland so I was beyond stoaked to venture into Disney World for the first time!

Third year in college, but Spring Breakin like we’re 3 years old

In the wee hours of the first day of Spring Break, my roommates and I hopped on a plane to Disney World. As with most college students, transportation to the airport is more often than not a struggle. Lucky for us, the Boston Logan International Airport (equipped with free wifi!) is relatively close – I know a lot of other schools aren’t so conveniently located near airports, let alone international airports! Harvard is also great about making the college to airport trip not only easier, but also much more cost effective. The UC (Undergraduate Council) organizes shuttles as Caroline mentioned in her latest blog. Additionally, one of the UC’s more recent initiatives is their “Split a Cab” campaign that basically fosters an environment where students can contact each other with the end goal of splitting the cab fare. Most students are economically minded and will send emails over list-servs to get in touch with people going to and back from the airport. My roommates and I actually shared a cab with someone in the early morning because neither the T (subway) or shuttles were running at 4am!

Needless to say, we had a phenomenal time at Disney World with all its thrilling rides and scrumptious food!!! The Florida sunshine was completely necessary, especially since we returned to a snowy Cambridge 🙁 Sometimes it felt like we never left Harvard – we ran into 2 incoming class of 2017 freshman at the adventure park! My roommates and I wanted to talk to them and congratulate them on getting in early, but were initially hesitant because of the blatant potential creep factor. We approached them under the context that I “work” for the Admissions Office to play it cool. In the conversation, both parties were really excited but my roommates and I definitely felt like the karate master who is all knowing of the wildly fun adventures they’ll have in college. I also promised them I would mention them in my blog, so if they’re reading, I did eat all the churros I said I would eat.

Harvard seemed to follow us around Florida, or at least our upperclassman house, Mather. The week leading up to Spring Break is Housing Week which ends with Housing Day – an epic day where all freshman get placed into their upperclassman house for the next three years with their friends. Think the human chaotic version of Harry Potter’s sorting hat.

This year, the theme for Mather was a pun off of Monster’s Inc.

My favorite part of the shirt was the back though:

Our house is infamous for its concrete architecture.

I’ll embarrassingly admit that I thought the theme was just a random throwback to the movie a few years ago. Until we realized there was a sequel coming out and then really appreciated the sweet pun…

Solid examples of the strong community Harvard fosters. My roommates and I also discussed Harvard and its name. Dropping the name is commonly termed the H bomb. I definitely dance around dropping this bomb and would much rather drop little grenades like “I attend college in Massachusetts” or “It’s a school in Boston” commonly followed by “Well, it’s not really in Boston, but an area just outside of Boston” and if the inquirer is really pushy, they’ll get it out of me…maybe. My roommates think it’s weird that I still avoid it that much as a junior in college, but I’ve always noticed a change in dynamics post H bomb and it’s a change I don’t really like. I’m not embarrassed nor ashamed of my school, I just rather not openly discuss it? Not sure, I’m weird about it.

Spring Break is now on its final weekend 🙁 It’s back to reality…but not too fast. I’ve definitely spent the last two days eating like it’s my last meal and rolling around my bed laughing so hard from TV shows like Psych and The Big Bang Theory. The dining hall won’t be open until Sunday dinner, but my roommate and I trekked to the market thanks to Harvard’s evening van service, something I definitely heard of a lot freshman year that hasn’t come up until some of my friends reminded me of it. The evening van service is, from my understanding, like a supplement to the normal shuttle. My roommate and I used the evening van service to shop at a nearby store a mile away to stock up on snacks and semi-real food to hold us over for a few days until the dining hall opens. It’s a great service that I’m kind of kicking myself for due to my lack of use these last 2.5 years!

My procrastination is somewhat admirable..? I hate (haaaateeee!) skipping classes, but I did a lot of that these past few weeks in order to maximize my midterm preparations. Ending this blog now to get back to the swing of things! Hopefully next weekend, I’ll be able to give an update on my summer plans!


**updated April 12, 2013 at 4pm

In response to some of the comments… (sorry the comments section closed so I can’t directly reply!)

Students definitely get nervous leading up to and on Housing Day! It’s more of a nervous excitement though. I think the closest feeling to it is coming to watch a sports game. There’s this intense, exciting energy all around you and you know you’re going to have a great time regardless. There are people in the vicinity that want what you want and those who want what you don’t want, but you’re all super excited to have your future determined (phrasing it in the most dramatic way). Every house warmly welcomes freshman as the future personality and spirit relies on the shoulders of the freshmeat .. erhm, freshmen!

When I was a freshman, there wasn’t a particular house I wanted to be in because there are soo many pros and cons to each house. I honestly did not want to be put in the quad though and am still glad I don’t live in the quad :p but I do appreciate the quad and go there like once a week which is much more than the overwhelming majority of river people can say!

Side note: Upperclassman dorms are divided into two regions: the river and the quad.

Pretty decent references:



Keep in mind, there are opportunities to transfer houses so it’s not the end all, be all kind of situation. I love Mather House and my sweet suites, but I’m in other houses all of the time! Some people aren’t even sure of where I actually live.

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A few weeks ago, while a few of the bloggers were walking home from the blogging dinner reunion/meeting, I asked one of our new teammates Rob about his freshman year, specifically about the contrast between his fall and spring semesters. It’s insanely beautiful how most college students adapt to new campus environments. You start off in the fall with little hope of losing that deer in headlights, wide-eyed freshman glow. Yet you come in hot at the beginning of the spring semester shopping classes like you have a closet of awesome, high end swag already. I was mostly surprised by the idea someone threw out there that the spring semester is always better than the fall. I cannot wholeheartedly agree. On a scale of 1 to 10, both semesters are AWESOME with its own perks and defaults. However, I do think spring is more conducive to social activities.

You may or may not have gasped at the fact that I’m talking about social activities on the Harvard College blog. It’s only human nature that after feeling trapped in an igloo prison during seemingly perpetual winters that we want to bust out, or rather bust a move. That’s why I made sure fellow blogger Scott was at my sorority’s spring social event called Crush. It sounds semi-violent when all the girls start talking about who we “crushed,” but it’s the most elementary school-innocent conversations because each girl gets the opportunity to anonymously crush two boys. The social committee hand makes invitations and delivers them slyly to each door. It is then in fate’s hands whatever happens after. Love at first sight? Maybe. What I do know definitively is that Scott and I won the dance battle.

Although Harvard does not recognize fraternities and sororities (meaning we’re not like a student recognized organization that can, for example, reserve rooms on campus), I’ve really enjoyed how my sorority connects me with not only other students on campus, but also in the greater Boston area. Nearby Tufts University which also has a sizable active Greek life is inviting one more sorority to campus which led me to explore their campus this past Monday when I was representing my chapter during Kappa Alpha Theta’s extension presentation. At this event, there were Thetas from Harvard, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and BU (Boston University), as well as the national fraternity president! It was a pleasure mingling with Thetas at other campuses to see what their experiences have been like because all of our campus specific involvement differs, but there’s an unparalleled similar foundation upon which the first female fraternity was built upon.

Don’t get me wrong, spring semester has its academic rigors as well! I had my second midterm of the semester this past Tuesday in my Math 19a class. I was honestly, initially dreading this math class because my math course last semester met 3 times a week and had a pset (problem set) due EVERY TIME we met. Not okay. However, I’ve grown to love Math 19a. The class is really small and I feel like we’re already a community! Might even go ahead and say that it’s my favorite class this semester! This math class focuses on applying differentials to the life sciences, modeling predator-prey systems to epidemics and human heart positions within the body. The material totally makes all the premed sides of me tingle with warmth. By all means, I’m not saying I was excited for the midterm, but it helps that I adore the professor.

Math 19a is taught every semester, which in my opinion, is pretty rare since most classes are usually just taught in either the fall or the spring. It’s taught incredibly well, but most notably for the freshness of the class. There are advantages of it the class being help every semester such as the professor is consistent, extremely knowledgeable, and familiar with how students will grasp certain concepts. However, there comes a point when some professors who have been teaching the same course for so long that it becomes mundane and seems too rehearsed. Math 19a, however, sort of “refreshes” every semester. The professor changes the scientific articles that each set of students read and analyze as well as the psets, warm up problems, and lecture notes. These seemingly small changes make grand differences because it keeps everyone involved on their tippy toes rather than complacent and comfortable. I’m a big fan of the class and I’m nerdily looking forward to integrating math into my biology knowledge!

My midterms are spaced out pretty well this semester; I really have nothing to complain about. My next exam is Monday night in LS1b (genetics). I have to be honest that it’s been a little hard to study with Spring Break on my mind. I do have exciting plans for my vacation, but on campus, the few days leading up to Spring Break is Housing Day  http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3…) where all the freshmen (self-grouped into ~8 friends) get assigned an upperclassman house to live in for the rest of their undergraduate years!

For the freshmen, this waiting period is full of unknown and maybe some excitement. The upperclassmen have the most fun job of advertising their own respective houses though. Students (more often than not) always have pride for their respective houses as you can hear in everyday sly comments in casual conversations. This house spirit magnifies with great intensity the weeks leading up to Housing Day though because there is so much glory to be had when freshmen rightfully desire the house in which you reside.

This time of year is very exciting because everyone’s (hidden) talents come out. In order to publicize the greatness of an upperclassman house, there are Facebook fan pages and pep-rally-like events/study breaks. Yet my absolute favorite form of spirit is Housing Day videos which are typically parodies on culturally relevant/hilarious matters in the media. I’ll leave you with a few videos:

My house/best house, MATHER HOUSE last year jumped on the Call Me Maybe coattails and created this gem:

This year, we wanted to double up and went with a James Bond twist with the help of the House Masters and Administration!!

Last year, Quincy House came in a close second to Mather’s Call Me Maybe by adding their Quincy flare to the movie Inception:

As you can see, not all the parodies are current. We appreciate throwbacks too!

Adams House (notorious for the gaudy gold decor) came out with a real gem – or should I say they struck gold?

I have to say that the best throwback this year was Lowell House, known for their loud bells:


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Gabby Malatesta, History Concentrator in Mather House, Class of 2013

Since sophomore year I have lived in Mather House.   As a freshman, I was beyond excited about that for a number of reasons: I would have a single, it was on the river, the dining hall and food are awesome, etc.  But two years later, it’s safe to say the biggest reasons why I still get excited about Mather have changed quite a bit.  While the rooms, common spaces, and dining hall are all great, the people who I see everyday are why I sing its praises to mostly everyone I meet and why I dread the day I have to leave this place.

#1 – Hey, look at that, it’s Mather!

Mather House

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?  Okay, so concrete may be an acquired taste, but when I walk into the courtyard after a long day, I can’t help but feel happy.  In my opinion, that feeling is exactly what living in a residential House is all about: having a home.  In a House, fellow students, tutors, the House Masters, administrators, and dining hall and House staff all are there for you—whether you need a recommendation, personal advice, or even an eye-patch for the coming weekend’s pirate-themed party.

#2 – The Dining Hall: My Second Room

Mather Dining Hall

Here, I’m in Mather’s dining hall.  In a House, the d-hall is a place for eating, studying, socializing, events, and late-night snacking, and it’s a safe bet at least one or two of those will be going on at any given time.  It’s rarely empty, and once 8:30 p.m. rolls around, you’re sure to see a lot of familiar faces at Brain Break.

Nothing is better than a two-hour dinner spent with friends or that feeling of solidarity that comes when you’re at a table full of Matherites writing papers and doing problem sets until midnight.

#3 – Housing Day

“Charge!  Mather House residents flock wildly in the Yard.”  That was the Gazette’s caption.  I’m the one with the scarf, and we had just finished “dorm-storming” Matthews.  Dorm-storming is when a hoard of upperclassmen run into freshmen rooms early in the morning to greet the ‘blocking group’ of freshman assigned to the house where they will live for their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Housing Day!

Housing Day can be suspenseful for freshmen, but most upperclassmen consider it the best day of the year, with as crazy a lead-up as the day itself.  Most Houses put together a Housing Day video (check it out below) to show freshmen why their House is so sweet (not to do too much bragging here, but back in the day, Mather gave the world the first one ever).

Freshmen will be sure to see House mascots chilling with John Harvard or taking notes in an Ec lecture. For the rest of the day, freshmen wear their new shirts around the Yard and to classes, and then around dinner time the Houses welcome incoming residents with dinner, Masters’ receptions, tours, and social gatherings.

#4 – HoCo

As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty active in House Life.  Since my sophomore year, I have held a position on Mather’s House Committee (HoCo); first, I was a Publicity Co-Chair and am now currently a Co-Chair.  HoCo is responsible for making their House the best place to live for all students, and HoCo hosts many big and small events and acts as the representative for their House to the House and College administration.  HoCo makes it possible for Matherites to enjoy such events as Housing Day, Formals, Happy Hours, study breaks, and barbecues ever year.

HoCos are responsible for a Winter and Spring Formal every year, and the Spring Formal is usually the last event of the year.  While I’ve had awesome extracurricular experience through my HoCo responsibilities, what I value most is the friendships I have gained.  Without HoCo, I would not have seen the sunrise while on a coffee run the morning of Housing Day, have yelled, “DP4UC,” for two weeks outside of the Science Center, or had hour-long Bananagrams breaks from papers at two in the morning—all with people I am lucky to call friends.

Me and most of our HoCo board at our 2011 Spring Formal

Me and most of our HoCo board at our 2011 Spring Formal

In truth, I never expected to love Mather as much as I do now.  In retrospect, I probably should have known.  You see, my dad lived in Mather when he was an undergrad, and because of this, I grew up knowing fun facts like the first House Master kept racehorses, or thanks to the skylights and the design of the roof, you could see rainbows on the ceiling of the d-hall after it rained.  Mather stayed with him well past Commencement, and I know that it will do the same for me too.  I am the person I am today because of the people I have met and the times I’ve had in Mather, and there’s nothing I would change about my House or the family I have found there.

Okay, I’m done talking about all of my Mather feelings.  I’ll leave you now with a little something from Madness.


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Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of Dunster-related activity in my life: between Housing Day, room selection, and faculty dinner this past week, it’s been great to have excuses to get involved with the House.

First up: Housing Day. As many of my fellow bloggers reported, Housing Day is truly one of the most exciting (if not THE most exciting) day on campus, and I’ve found that the tradition has only gotten more fun as an upperclassman. Dunster, like every other house, starts the day early with breakfast in the dining hall – we all get decked out in new Dunster “swag” (this year we got tanks and sunglasses) and start getting ourselves psyched up for the critically important task of welcoming new freshmen into the House. This year, I had the important responsibility of sporting one of the moose costumes – mine was an inflatable moose head, which looked TOTALLY ridiculous on me but was a complete blast to wear.

Me (the moose!) with the Pforzheimer House polar bear

While Housing Day was a blast, I was also super excited to undertake the process of finding a room for senior year. Admittedly, I was a bit freaked out that I was looking for my senior suite, because it’s just further evidence that I’m starting to get old, but it was nonetheless fun to spend time with my blockmates finding the perfect room. While freshman blocking groups get randomly assigned to a house and then placed in a suite over the summer, upperclassmen are given the opportunity to hand pick their specific room. It is, of course, a privilege to have some say in what room you end up living in, but it also ends up feeling like an enormous responsibility – I’m in charge of my own fate! This year, as seniors, we weren’t going to take any chances and the process was undertaken with extreme precision and care.

The first decision we made was to join up with other girls from our blocking group, such that we’re living in a “quint” as a group of five (rather than in a triple, like this year). We then spent HOURS poring over the floor plans for the house, comparing common room size, bedroom layout, window views… We were so indecisive that the night before the lottery happened, we went and visited our top four picks, sinking so low as to knock on the doors of current seniors’ rooms at 11 pm the night before the lottery to settle any debate about which room was our first choice. We even hunted down the four groups who got to pick their rooms in front of us, to figure out which suites they were going for – this kind of information is important! Ultimately, all of the preparation made for a smooth lottery overall, and we got our first choice room – it has a SWEET view of the river!

Fourth Floor Plan

This week was also Dunster’s Faculty Dinner, and I invited Dr. Andrew Berry, a professor in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology department, along with two other undergrads from the House. It’s always such a great opportunity to have dinner with your professors – being able to interact casually with them makes for a really interesting interaction. One of my favorite traditions at Harvard!

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Hey, everyone! I know I promised to share the project I have been working on for a while, but it will be my next blog entry, which I’ll post around March 29th, in honor of college admissions decision day.

Last month, the Men’s Tennis Team had the opportunity to travel to Indiana and New Hampshire.  Ironically, the tennis team was in Indianapolis, Indiana during Super Bowl weekend.  On this trip, we played three dual matches against Vanderbilt, University of Indiana, and Butler. All three matches were extremely exciting, and we ultimately bested Vanderbilt and Butler, 4-3 and 7-0, while falling to Indiana 5-2.

Men's Tennis Team at Butler's Basketball arena

After traveling to Indiana, the tennis team traveled to Dartmouth to compete in the ECAC championships. The ECAC Championships is a three-day eight team tournament, and seven of the eight teams were in the Ivy League.   In the first match, I competed in the first “Harvard-Yale” game of my college tennis career. The match started around 8 pm, and while it was a tough match, Harvard was able to pull away for a 4-1 win. In the second match, we played Dartmouth in front of a divided home crowd. This match went the length, as Harvard won the doubles point and three singles matches to clinch the match 4-2.  In the finals, we played Brown. After losing the doubles point, we were able to register four wins in singles and came away with a 4-1 win to clinch the championship!  This event was really special, as our team really came together and persevered through many challenges.

The Men's Tennis Team at ECAC Championships in New Hampshire

With each weekend traveling and playing dual matches, I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in as many other extracurricular events as I did in my first semester, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a college athlete.  While it is a great privilege to be a student here, I find greater joy in representing Harvard on the tennis court. In my opinion, the biggest difference between competing at the junior and collegiate level, is that, at the collegiate level, you represent something that is larger than yourself, and that feeling is truly priceless.

While tennis has been very exciting, school has also had its share of excitement.  Last week, the freshmen received their housing assignments for our next three years on campus. For those not familiar with Harvard’s housing system, after freshmen year, all freshmen are sorted into 1 of 12 Houses. You can “block” with up to eight other students, which guarantees that you will be placed in the same House.  While the House assignments are completely random, Housing Day gets very intense. On the Thursday morning before spring break, upperclassmen members of the Houses storm Harvard Yard (where freshmen live), carrying flags and decked out in costumes and House t-shirts. Then, the upperclassmen come into the dorms and notify each blocking group of the House they were placed in to. (To give you a better idea here is a link from this year’s Housing Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6ZxMBEkB8). After many stressful hours, my blocking group found out we were placed into Winthrop House!  Winthrop House boasts some pretty cool alums and once home to President John F. Kennedy; Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Winthrop House is located on the banks of the Charles River,  pretty close to the athletics facilities, and not far from the center of campus.

Members of Winthrop House storming our room

That’s all for this post! For spring break, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team is heading to San Diego to compete in another 8-team tournament. I hope you all enjoy spring break, and I look forward to blogging about our adventures in California!

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Thursday, March 8 was Housing Day! It’s really similar to how students are sorted into the houses in the Harry Potter series. Here, there’s no Sorting Hat, but students can “block” with up to 8 people freshman year that they’ll be randomly placed with into an upperclassman house for the next three years (if you don’t like living there, you can switch houses after a year–but most people fall in love with wherever they end up). These people are referred to as “blockmates” or your “blocking group” and, for me, have been a huge part of my experience at Harvard. Once put into a house, freshmen won’t move in until the fall of their sophomore year, but they can fully enjoy their respective house’s offerings and advantages. For example, my house, Quincy, has community dinner in the dining hall on Thursday evenings that only Quincy residents can attend.

As the House Committee (HoCo) Co-Chair, I spent hours and hours planning Housing Day festivities with the 7 other HoCo members. I was literally on my feet from 7:00 am in the morning to 10:30 pm–no exaggeration. I was present at every single event listed below. Many things had to be taken care of for Housing Day, and while we all worked together, it took a significant contribution on everyone’s part.

Pre- and night before:

  • Pick a theme (“Q-Men: Freshman Class” — our play on “X-Men: First Class”)
  • Create a video (can you spot my cameo?)
  • Have the House vote on a t-shirt design (see photo below)
  • Think of a free gift for freshmen (see photo below)
  • Hold a sign-making event
  • Stuff the informational folders for the incoming class
  • Organize Big Penguin/Little Penguin groups (a Quincy House program to pair incoming students with upperclassmen buddies)

Day of:

  • Organize breakfast and face painting the morning of for upperclassmen (7:00 am – 8:00 am–about 150 came out to storm the Yard and dorms!)
  • Hand-deliver letters with other upperclassmen to each blocking group (8:15 am – 9:30 am)
  • Trek to freshmen dining hall, Annenberg, and set up table to check students in and give free t-shirts (10 am – 2:15 pm)
  • Meet and greet and speak at Community Dinner (5:00 pm – 7:15 pm)
  • Meet and Greet freshmen at the Master’s Open House (7:30 pm – 10:30 pm)

Quincy Housing free Housing Day t-shirts and drawstring bags!

There were delicious desserts at the Master’s Open House event, and we showed the Housing Day video again. It was incredibly well attended, but towards the end of the night, I was so tired that I almost couldn’t wait for it to be over. I ended up falling asleep on my House Master’s couch, and my friends apparently took photos of me (which I have yet to see). How embarrassing.

Me with Ginny, the HoCo secretary!


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Good thing Yale never engulfed Vassar because then I’d have to dislike (understatement) Vassar through association.

This past weekend, my two friends from Vassar kicked off their Spring Break with a Harvard visit! It was my first time hosting people sophomore year, but my itinerary hardly changed. As a freshman, I hosted a ton of prefrosh (prospective/accepted students) from random kids the Admissions Office introduced me to, all the way to close friends from science camp. In great efforts to sway them in the direction of Harvard, I showed them around campus, forced tourist pictures in front of the John Harvard Statue, and even broke out of the Harvard Bubble with a mini tour of Boston.

Busy, busy! Just let me be ubiquitous please!

Showing people around my favorite places in Cambridge is easy (Science Center, Annenberg, Berryline, etc.) but trying to appear as the master of Boston proved to be more difficult and included interviewing friends from the area as well as a ton of Googling! One of my favorite Harvard characteristics is how campus life feels like a harmonious mesh of urban and suburban culture. It’s a shame that most students’ hectic schedules prevent us from taking advantage of Boston, but I definitely use every hosting opportunity to exploit the city’s pleasures!

First stop: the waterfront. When I think of Boston, I never think of water. Yet, I’m surrounded by the beautiful harbor and Charles River constantly. The harbor is ~500 feet from the T (subway stop) and always calm and peaceful. My friends and I lucked out because the sky was gorgeous although it was still SO cold (California girl speaking here).

Boston Harbor at sunset

From the harbor, it’s just a short walking distance from Faneuil Hall – a great place to people-watch, shop, eat and even see local street performers!

Faneuil Hall

I like to end the tour with a big bang: Mike’s Pastries. This place is legen…wait for it…dary, LEGENDARY. They have the best cannolis I’ve ever eaten and their usual out-the-door line says enough. Even though I hype this place up so much in my head, it never disappoints!! The crispy and flaky texture of the shell which envelops a creamy, yet light ricotta cheese is unparalleled in this and any other dimension. Seriously.

Mike's Pastries in the North End of Boston

For centuries, people have been repeating one word three times: location, location, location! I’ve finally figured out the reasons behind their redundancy – the need for tremendous emphasis! Harvard and its unique and generous opportunities are beyond both phenomenal and amazing; I could type about this forever, but since I still have a pset and a midterm hanging over my head, I’ll just illuminate that one of the more admirable characteristics of Harvard University is its location. Wedged in Cambridge among other top universities as well as successful companies, Harvard fosters a delightfully diverse environment students can thrive on.

My current environment is all the Housing Day hype! Tomorrow is Housing Day!! Basically,

Pfoho's Polar Bear studiously taking notes

freshmen are getting sorted into various upperclassmen houses and as upperclassmen, it’s our duty to make it known that our respective house is the best. We strive to conquer this endeavor by wearing our house mascots everywhere – and yes, this includes lecture – as well as releasing housing day videos!


Check out Mather’s official video for Housing Day 2012, a spin off of the hit sensation taking over Harvard campus by storm:


May all current and future freshmen win the Housing Day lottery with acceptance into Mather!




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Hello everyone!

It’s March, my favorite month. Why? Because it’s my BIRTHDAY MONTH…though I have to wait a whole 4 weeks until the big day rolls around and I turn 19. Another reason is because it’s only a week (exactly) until Housing Day! Eeek! Look at what I just got under my door, from Leverett House!

Housing Day is so SOOON!

I am very excited about this big day, because I’ll get a whole new community in which I can stay for three whole years! Also, even though Harvard is a small school (~6,000), I really need a smaller group of people, and having a House will let me do that. Some really funny housing day videos have come out from Pfoho, Eliot, and Adams (private video), and a very weird Currier video. Check ’em out. I can’t wait to make one once I’ve been “sorted.”

Speaking of Housing Day, I will be reporting next week on Friday instead of Thursday, giving you all the insight you’ll ever need about Housing Day. YAY! I’m blocking with my friends Cynthia, Buffalo, and Ansel, and we’ll be staying in Thayer where we have a perfect view of the Yard, which apparently gets totally crazy. OMG IM SO EXCITED I CANT WAIT.

Anywayssss, yesterday was Leap Day, which meant that Lady Gaga and Oprah came to Harvard. I don’t really care all that much about seeing either of them (I know, I know) but my friend Allie got some incredible photos of Gaga. Check them out here, in the “Going Gaga” media file. Also, it snowed (for about three seconds, and then it turned to rain) but c’est la vie, and this life is without snow 🙁 I miss it, not going to lie.

Another exciting thing that happened this week was Cultural Rhythms on Saturday afternoon, with my favorite person, John Legend, coming to Harvard to receive his Humanitarian Award!! I love him. He sang a few bars of “Ordinary People” and was a brilliant host, but the majority of the show was devoted to student cultural groups, mainly dance and music. I took some lo-fi videos, which are posted here.


African Dance Troupe



I loved being able to cheer on my friends in this amazing exhibition, because everyone is so good at what they do, and it makes me so proud! I couldn’t cheer too loudly, though, because I had a gig right after and couldn’t ruin my voice before the show. My band and I cruised to Wellesley, the women’s college nearby, and played for their College Formal; it was awesome, and they had great decorations and even better food! (Yum)

I’ve been having a really great semester so far, with my midterms coming up next week (eek!) before we all go on Spring Break. I have to study my Italian vocabulary and flashcards, but we’re having a party tomorrow night (without la professoressa, sadly) where we’ll make “la cucina Italiana” and dance! My Italian class is awesome; we have a great mix of people, learn at a crazy-fast pace (tomorrow we’re doing the future tense, after only studying the language for a few weeks), and I love my teacher. Some of the students in my class are from MIT, and commute here every day, which I couldn’t imagine doing, but it is for the love of languages. I’m just glad we have such incredible courses offered here!

In my other courses, I’ve also been having a splendid time. I’m more motivated in French, although the class becomes stagnant sometimes, and I have to study hard in order to do well in my summer in Paris (hopefully). My expository writing course is great; we have a ton of papers due next week, though, with one due on Thursday (housing day), along with my Italian midterm! And, of course, my incredible Freshman Seminar that I’d actually been drooling about since last summer when we received the Seminar booklet. It’s amazing, and I know I’ll be spending a lot of time in the Bow and Arrow Press for the next few years here!

The back room of the Bow and Arrow Press, where all of the wood type is kept.


The presses are rollin'!


Some orphan lead type (don't worry, we wash our hands thoroughly).


Thank you so much for reading, and get ready for the most exciting post of YOUR LIVES next week!!

Again, happy March 🙂




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Last week, I had a depressing blog about my experiences with the (unavoidable?) demon popularly termed Sophomore Slump. BUT! I’m back a week later to uplift your spirits, happily reporting that this week has taken a turn back to happy norms – or as happy as possible in the gloomy presence of midterms and deadlines. Although the workload conditions haven’t altered much, the difference is that I’m not hating existence and my professors are once again able to heighten my intrigue with binary numbers and Aspartic catalysts, can I get a WOOT WOOT?

I pinpointed the root of my slumpish nature as my anxiety revolving around my summer plans and the big possibility of not being immersed in the love of the people I spent my first 18 years of life with; the alternative would be a cultural and/or scientific immersion. So the moral of the story is: I’m a brat. Clearly, I don’t have much to say on this topic because it happens so rarely ….… but having rough weeks is actually a great experience because I wouldn’t appreciate the good as much if it were good all the time.

There were two prominent things that helped me cope with my disaster week – one of them being my upperclassman house, Mather! (You can’t say it without an exclamation mark!) As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been feeling pretty stagnant with regards to my Spanish learning curve which has catalyzed my desire to study abroad. But since I’m a 20 year old brat who still gets homesick, I’d never be able to stick it out as a foreigner for a semester, so I’d ideally like to go somewhere this summer where I can think, speak, live, breathe and blink Spanish. My resident tutor (freshmen here call it proctor, but it’s more widely known as RA: Resident Adviser, basically someone older/wiser who lives in the dorm and repels chaos) and current Spanish 50 class TF (Teaching Fellow) holds a “Spanish Table” every Wednesday during dinner time and last Wednesday was my first (but definitely not last) partake. Spanish Table gives students a chance to have a meal over Spanish conversation. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. The atmosphere is really chill and not intimidating at all! Thinking and speaking Spanish outside of the classroom, in a casual setting, really refueled my excitement about the possibilities of going abroad! Southern California, I’ll thank you endlessly for literally being one of the most influential factors for shaping who I am – from the way I dress, think and speak – but I’ll be okay if we don’t see much of each other this summer.

Studying at a college so far away from home and with seemingly endless possibilities has really made me feel like a globalized person – or maybe just a country-ized person? I’ll earn the term “globalized” if I do indeed go abroad this summer (I’m typing with my fingers crossed here). Harvard offers a plethora of opportunities I never thought existed and recently, its international opportunities have really caught my eye. Everything from Harvard offered programs to non-Harvard programs (campus organizations like OCS: Office of Career Services will work with you to apply and even transfer credit!) to professors who offer to connect you with organizations such as WHO: World Health Organization (my Bioethics professor, Dr. Daniel Wikler, offered to do so!) is just so extraordinarily unbelievable that I can’t wrap half my mind around it. Living and thriving in an environment with massive opportunity, filled with driven people is truly a humbling experience, which brings me back to the second thing that helped me during my disaster week: talking with my best friend from home.

It’s strange how, for me at least, the beginning of college came concomitant with living in a split dimension: your high school life vs. your college life. It’s easy to get caught up in your busy college life, but during sophomore slump weeks, you just want to escape and I accomplished that by catching up with my besties from middle/high school.

I’m pretty confident when I claim that the Sophomore Slump has been a nationwide epidemic because a handful of both friends from home and Harvard have had rough weeks recently. (I partially blame pre-Spring Break Fever) So my best friend from high school, Emily, and I were retrospectively examining our lives (some pretty profound stuff if I dare say so myself) and she mentioned how college is an incredibly humbling experience in the realm of grades which help you realize how smart you are not. I wholeheartedly agreed as I thought about all my premed classes and how students legitimately earn A’s without the curve – snaps AND kudos to everyone because one form of encouragement wouldn’t be enough. This makes it really easy for the majority of students to feel stupid and unworthy, but I’d like to point out that these two things are mutually exclusive. I’m not sure if that makes things better, BUT at least it’s true! I’d like to remedy this situation by telling myself (and you!) that college isn’t all about the grades – it’s about the experiences too. When I look back at college, I won’t remember the 100% I got on my organic chemistry final (not based on a true story), but what will indeed stand out is that time my roommates and I watched scary movie trailers all night for no reason.

My take-home message would be to relax! I feel like 149% of the prospective students I come into contact with (their parents representing the extra 49%) expect that Harvard students are the definition of perfection and that our records/transcripts/etc. should have their own exhibition in the Smithsonian, BUT this is so wrong! Your imperfections shape you just as much as your more admirable qualities and admissions officers realize that you, buddy, are a package deal. Harvard students have their fair share of imperfections and rough weeks – and that’s perfectly fine.


Preemptively striking, Housing Day – the epic day that freshmen find out which upperclassmen house they’ll be residing in for their remaining years as an undergraduate – is in just one week! See for yourself why Mather! can’t be said, but only exclaimed!

*props to Scott for helping me share Mather! Love

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The days leading up to Spring Break are a truly insane time for Harvard students. On top of our midterms and papers, many of us are struggling to work out summer plans and funding while simultaneously trying to balance the normal workload of club meetings and problem sets. Around mid-March, however, we get a light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel: the glorious 10 day vacation that is Housing Day and Spring Break.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Harvard housing system, students are sorted at their freshman year into one of twelve upperclassmen Houses, which then becomes their home for sophomore through senior year. While the freshman housing lottery is completely random, students are able to choose who they enter the House with – a 2-8 person group known as their “blocking group”. At Harvard, Housing Day, when freshman find out what House they are assigned to, is arguably the most exciting and spirited day of the year (tied with the Harvard-Yale Game, probably), and students are known to prepare and count down to the occasion for weeks.

Dunster's Swag: Moose Antlers and T-shirts!

Dunster's Welcome Committee

Housing Day is a truly indescribable experience. Starting at 7 am, each House sends a “Welcome Team” to the yard to start delivering letters to the freshmen. With each House sending anywhere from 50-100 people are part of the their welcoming committee, this amounts to a truly enormous crowd of rowdy upperclassmen gathered in the Yard in preparation for Housing assignment announcements. At 8:30, each House starts delivering letters to dorm rooms, welcoming freshmen with screams, noisemakers, and giant House mascots. Check out this video the Crimson posted of Pforzheimer House!

Houses Waiting in the Yard

As a sophomore, Housing Day takes on a very different level of excitement. Rather than spending the morning worrying about what House you’ll be placed in, you get to run around the Yard screaming your head off with your friends from the House. Enjoying the experience from the “other side” inspires a sense of appreciation for the community that you’ve become a part of. While as a freshman, I was definitely excited about Dunster, I’m not sure I realized what an enormous part of my life the House would become. What better way to celebrate this fact than by cheering for my House for 2 hours straight! I had a sore throat for days afterwards…

For all Harvard students, the excitement of Housing Day leads straight into Spring Break – in my case, I finished my welcome committee duties around 11, went to class until 3, and then immediately hopped on an airplane bound for Spain! Needless to say, I slept through the entire 9 hour flight. For those of you interested in study abroad at Harvard, I spent the week visiting my blockmate who is spending the semester in Alicante, Spain. I couldn’t possibly explain the entire experience, but here are a few snapshots to give you guys an idea.




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