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If you ever consider visiting Harvard, don’t come when September transitions into October. I’ve never noticed this before – and maybe it’s just a coincidence this year – but every aspect of everyone’s life has recently magnified. These heightened responsibilities stem from upcoming midterms, extracurricular club/volunteering activities, job recruitment…and the list goes on forever. Once October hits, students can no longer deny that school has started and autumn is in full swing. Actually, maybe visit this time of year because it’s so freaking gorgeous with the leaves changing colors.

The view from my bathroom (on the 14th floor)

Classes are strangely picking up – meaning we’re still in the calm before the storm, but people are getting antsy because it’s very obvious that the storm is extremely imminent. I’m going to turn the other cheek with regards to this storm though and focus on the fun things in my life while I can.

Mather had a Magic Show! Mather is one of the twelve upperclassman houses – it’s known for it’s concrete high rise tower (19 floors!). Students live in The Yard (the heart of campus) their freshman year and move into one of the upperclassman houses for their remaining three years of undergrad – this is called the residential college system. Each upperclassman house has a wide range of house-spirit building activities. Think constant pep rallies. For example, some days will be marked as “community dinners” where only residents of the house are allowed to dine in the dining hall. Houses will also hold Stein Clubs, also known as Happy Hour, once every 2 weeks where there’s just a ton of free food and drinks along with great music — these are the best way to start your weekend relaxation! A personal goal before I graduate is to attend every house’s Stein Club 🙂

Fun fact: Most (all?) Harvard houses will be renovated in the next few years! We’re in the process of a long term renovation process which is really exciting because who doesn’t like the new small of architecture?? However, at the same time it’s pretty scary because I’m definitely going to come back to my 10 year reunion clueless of the new names to each building!

Mather Magic Show!

Back to my main point, Mather had a Magic Show! Joe Schwarz came and put on an intimate show for about 10 people. He talked about his nontraditional love for science. It was really exciting to not only see him perform tricks as well as explain them, but also hear about his surprising application of his scientific knowledge. At Harvard, there are a handful of paths that most students go down post-graduation: consulting, finance, med school and law school are the top ones that automatically come to mind. In the moment, students can start to feel like there are no other paths, so refreshing events like the Magic Show are very helpful to remind students that the world is bigger than what we think.

…which can also remind us that we should branch outside of the Harvard Bubble – it’s very common for students to hardly step foot off campus. I’m pretty guilty of being trapped in said bubble and that’s why when my sorority organized a group to fundraise and participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s about 4 miles down the river, I jumped on the opportunity! It was a great Sunday afternoon spent before the onset of midterms!

6 mile Walk to End Alzheimer’s route!

I’ll update in a few days about midterms…ugh


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The annual Harvard-Yale football game not only lifts our school spirits, but also flags the end of the semester. After this game quickly comes Thanksgiving, Reading Period and Finals Exam week. Then BAM, our grand prize of a month long winter break (J-term/January term) for successfully finishing another semester of college.

We are currently in the midst of Reading Period: seven days without official classes (although unofficial classes/review sessions/language classes usually take place during this week) where we can prep for our finals. This time of the year can be pretty stressful with multiple final papers and projects due at the end of Reading Period. Regardless of the stress level, I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for this week – imagine if we had to accomplish all of our immense assignments on top of class! This is actually what most college students have to do.

When I first learned of Reading Period, I thought it’d be the chillest week ever – a week of catching up on my favorite television series and sleeeeeep. However, the relaxation has definitely never been this extreme although the week’s flexibility does allow for normal sleeping hours and longer meals with friends. Reading Period can easily get a bad rep due to the high levels of associated stress, but when I talk to my non-Harvard friends, at MIT and Californian universities, my love for Reading Period is automatically rekindled!

This fall semester, I have 4 papers due within this coming week and then 1 math final on the last day of finals. I’m feeling some pressure, but this hasn’t hindered my holiday cheer!

He may look small but sure knew how to work the dance floor!!!!!

Last weekend, PBHA (Phillips Brooks House Association) – our volunteer program umbrella – hosted an end-of-the-semester Holiday Party where there was tons of sugar (cookie decoration, gingerbread house-making, etc.), dancing (dance offs, limbo!), and Santa even made an appearance with presents for all! It was tons of fun seeing all the hard work we put in these term time programs culminate into some of the happiest faces on these kids! It’s also heart warming to see students take a few hours from their busy studying schedules to make joyous events like these happen, especially because they only come once a year!

The high holiday spirits definitely emanate off campus as well.

Boston Commons Park

In the middle of Boston Common, there’s a seasonal ice rink called Frog Pond. My friends and I rung in Reading Period with an ice skating celebration. The park is also beautifully decorated with holiday lights and an enormous tree (someone in the park told us the tree was imported internationally too!)

Some of us ice skated while others hung on for dear life…

What is a holiday season without delicious food??

Good thing that’s something I don’t have to answer since (I think) each individual upperclassman house (dorm) puts on a holiday feast. Each dining hall also puts up a well decorated Christmas tree and menorah. It’s like the school does everything possible to make this time of year less stressful and more cheerful!

All my roommates after dinner

My upperclassman house, Mather, had a wonderful dinner – some highlights were artichoke poppers, roast beef, apple stuffing, broccoli rabe, cheesecake, egg nog and mulled apple cider! YUM

Mather also has an annual game of Assassins since we’re not in class and usually studying around Mather. Students organize the entire game – this year, they passed out water guns (whereas last year, our provided weapons were nerf guns). We have 24 hours for each round and the end of the round comes with an emailed list of obituaries filled with (black) humor.

My favorite laugh from yesterday was reading these obituaries. Here’s my favorite:


Theresa & Jonathan

Both victims of the most casual of killers:

I killed Theresa and Jonathan yesterday.”

…as if this were the most natural thing in the world to send per email. Sends chills down my veteran spine. 
Theresa’s dying word was ” =( ” 
I was killed yesterday morning at the lab I work at. I thought I was safe being a good 15 minute walk from Mather but apparently my assassin was super dedicated and was waiting for me to come in for 40 minutes! Also uncool how her roommates are my co-workers…

Maybe it was a good thing I was killed during an early round so that I can work on my papers! AH


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As a junior at the College, I live in the upperclassman house called “Mather,” also lovingly referred to as the concrete jungle.  We have a residential college system, where you live in The Yard – the heart of campus – during freshman year, then move into a House (dorm). Students remain in the same House – just different rooms – for their remaining time at Harvard (there’s also the option to transfer Houses though) so it’s very natural to gain tons of House pride and feel a strong sense of community. Even if you don’t know everyone in your House, you’ll definitely recognize faces. Mather has definitely become my home, meaning I think about my room (and roomies!) in Mather when I’m not on campus and homesick!

All my roommates from our first year in Mather – we don’t live in the same room this year, but we still call each other roomies <3

Housing Day, Spring 2012 – showing off our Mather spirit & swag

I spend quite a lot of time outside of Mather in different Houses – whether it’s psetting (the act of crushing problem sets with pure knowledge), catching meals or hanging out. I actually think I eat dinner more outside of Mather than in Mather! However, this week I’ve spent a lot of time in Mather. It’s been an awesome week of exciting events here!!

Mather Book Club

I definitely enjoy reading for fun! But I’ve had difficulty in “finding” time to read novels for pleasure and usually just spend hours procrastinating by reading random articles on my Twitter feed. This semester, I’m determined to find time for everything I want to do! I joined the Mather Book Club which meets monthly and I’ve really enjoyed it!

The Book Club is run by a student in Mather, supported by House Masters and Tutors, and definitely not limited to just students living in Mather House as all are welcome! We always discuss books over monkey bread and French pressed coffee – I would come without these incentives too though! 😉

For the month of September, we read Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story and discussed the cleverly narrated novel. In October, we read Thérèse Desqueyroux which has a new movie coming out soon! I’ve enjoyed both books and I really look forward to our November book: The Year of Living Biblically, especially because it’s a book I recommended.

I didn’t anticipate how much I would like these discussions. I’ve never been super enthusiastic about English classes, but only because it’s hard for me to appreciate the laborious and time consuming task of writing papers when I could slightly less eloquently express my ideas to someone verbally much faster. However in Book Club, talking and joking about the psyche of characters and their interactions is beyond intriguing because it can either remind you of someone you know or open up a whole new way of thinking and understanding people.

I’m going to take this opportunity to go ahead and advocate for the liberal arts system of education because I feel so lucky that I get to concentrate in the sciences with regards to classes, but also have a plethora of opportunities to immerse my free time in other fields of study as well. As nerdy as that sounded, it’s true!! I’d pick a pset over a paper any day, but have me psetting most nights in a week and I’d be more willing to flirt with papers.

Mather Healthcare Discussion My Facebook newsfeed full of politically charged status updates definitely confirms it’s election season!

Certain issues may be dividing the country, but this is my first (and only) presidential elections during my time at Harvard and I feel like it has created a unifying atmosphere – all televisions across campus were tuned to the debates!

Most college students are eligible to vote, yet choose not to. To counter this destructive apathy, active Harvard students have been creating this huge movement to push students to register to vote by having voting and registration information available at all the upperclassman Houses’ dining halls during meal times and utilizing TurboVote. There’s even a House-wide competition where the House with the highest number of students who have pledged to vote get a cash prize dedicated towards activities intended to promote House spirit (i.e. seasonal House formals & class outings).

Mather held an informational/discussion event where politically active students and affiliates with the Harvard Kennedy School (i.e. Alum & Professors) came (with cookies!) to the Senior Common Room. They oriented us by laying out the healthcare plans of both Obama and Romney. Then questions were proposed to the presenters as well as the audience. One of the best debated questions was whether the government should focus on making healthcare more affordable or more accessible. When the issue was first presented, I had a clear opinion; but as I listened to others’ rational thoughts, I wasn’t so sure anymore!

I thought it was an extremely well organized event. The turnout was pretty small (less than 20 people) which made the environment much more comfortable to express opinions and ask questions. I’m definitely not one of the most politically aware people, nor do I take classes geared towards these topics, so I’m glad there are many other opportunities to become knowledgeable!  Healthcare is such a broad category which affects everyone so I really appreciate Mather making an effort to help students understand the current situation.

I was running meeting to meeting Tuesday night with tons of homework assignments lurking around in my mind, but I’m really glad I made the decision to make time (read: sacrifice sleep) for this event. My next Spanish composition prompt asks me to write a letter to a politician so attending this healthcare discussion has catalyzed my ideas for my next essay! I love when things come full circle!!

Mather Faculty Dinner

Harvard hosts a Faculty Dinner every semester. This is an opportunity for students to invite a member of the teaching faculty – whether this be a professor, graduate student teaching fellow (TF), an adviser, etc. – for a more casual setting for lively conversation over delightful food. If your head is screaming AWKWARD, you can silence it by finding comfort in the fact that you can invite one faculty member with a group of students.

Freshman all share one dining hall: Annenberg, so freshmen and their invited faculty all congregate here for a marvelous dinner, after a reception in the basement of Annenberg also known as the Queen’s Head. The lines are usually ridiculously long but it gives you a chance to break the ice – or create more ice haha. Freshman fall, I invited my Admissions Officer and then my Expos 20 (Tales of Murder) preceptor in the spring.

Each upperclassman House holds their own Faculty Dinner each semester with an earlier reception in the Master’s House. Dinner is always pretty fancy as there are table cloths and people serve you – how exciting! If you choose not to participate, the House asks you to eat dinner in another House for the night. During my sophomore fall, I invited my advanced Neurobiology professor with 3 other students in Mather. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend in the spring when I was taking organic chemistry (orgo) and physics – 2 classes with time consuming labs!

This semester, I invited my Neurobiology Tutorial professor, Dr. Barak Caine. I’ll be his student for the entire year so I figured I’d try to get to know him better sooner rather than later. My friend in Mather is in the class with me so I reached out to her and we sent him a joint invitation. We had a great dinner without even one lull in conversation. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego (my hometown!) so we had lots to discuss and I even learned so many fascinating tidbits about my classmate 🙂 It was definitely one of those nights where I eat 2.5x my body weight and didn’t regret it one bit – in other words, it was definitely a great night.

Snaps to Mather!

Although my week was pretty sleep deprived, it set up a good weekend. Get excited for Head of the Charles in my next post!

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Two suitcases – one for summer clothes and one for winter clothes. One backpack with a laptop, toothbrush, and a passport.

This was my arsenal of protection for five countries in three months. I know I wasn’t exactly roughing it to the extreme, but it sure felt like it at times, especially when my bus company left me at the Peruvian-Bolivian border and my mess of sobbing tears triggered the sympathy of a different bus company to bring me into Bolivia…pretty much my favorite sob story from the summer.

At the age of 20, I’m beyond proud, honored, and lucky to say that I feel like an experienced world traveler. I know that passport photo headshot copies are as useful as eye drops and burn ointment to carry around with you. I know that I can go four days without showering and still be happy. I know that I can survive without a smartphone to Google Map me out of any bad situation.

It’s extremely comforting as well as empowering to discover some of my hidden capabilities. And I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say it feels just as great to be home at Harvard. Home sweet Harvard! 

The heart wants what it can’t get in a really sick and twisted way. I’ve wanted to travel and roam freely since I could string a grammatically correct sentence together, but there were low moments while traveling when I just wanted to be home and settled. I couldn’t wait to return to Mather (my upperclassman “house” or dorm) and have the luxuries of a dining hall where I would never eat potatoes again.

Sure, I may have returned to this:

College essentials

5 loads of laundry later…

But when your college roommates are as welcoming as this:

Welcome back/catch up session with the best friend and roomie!

Then your high spirits help you make your beautiful single into:

I’m excessive 🙁 but I’m working on it!

I’ll never take having a home base for granted ever again. It also helps to live in Mather – one of the twelve upperclassman houses at the undergraduate college – because our house motto is “Singles for Life,” meaning that each student is guaranteed a single room. I’ll admit that I’ve been very spoiled in my college housing lotteries since I’ve never had to bunk with anyone and because the singles in Mather are inside a bigger suite so you can control your degree of isolation for studying purposes!

There are seemingly endless perks concomitant to entering your third year of college – having a room triple the size of your sophomore room is just one of them. My other favorite elderly perk is my increased class elective freedom. Since I’ve completed several of my basic core classes such as physics and orgo (organic chemistry) for both my premed and Neurobiology concentration requirements, I’m now facing much more relaxed requirements with guidelines such as “one advanced Neurobiology class” with more than 20 choices to fulfill it. Having so many choices resulted in my craziest Shopping Week ever.

Shopping Week is referred to as the first week of every semester because students are free to walk in and out of any classes at any time during the week – we essentially shop and sample any classes that our hearts and minds desire. Although it can still be difficult to project if you’ll enjoy the class for the rest of the semester, Shopping Week takes part of the guessing factor out and allows students to make educated decisions when selecting classes. The week is also a lot of freedom that most college students don’t ever experience (my high school friends like to remind me how lucky I am) so I always make sure to try to appreciate the entire week!

Study Card Day” marks the end of the first week of school which is the same as the end of Shopping Week. Students submit to the registrar Study Cards which list the classes they’re planning to enroll in for the semester and sometimes these cards require professor/adviser signatures depending on the course.

I had a lengthy shopping list of classes that sounded super interesting, had a great Q guide score (the Harvard version of ratemyprofessor.com), and had colorful recommendations from my older friends. Although this is a good problem to have, the choices layered the week with stress which is actually a topic that the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, where I work as a research assistant, has discussed. The midst of stress can blur the bigger picture and make your week dreadful. When I had six classes competing for one slot – four of the six occurring simultaneously – I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable since I would be walking out of intriguing lecture classes the size of ~15 students in hopes that maybe another class would be even more engaging.

It wasn’t until I ran into a recently graduated sorority sister by surprise while crossing the streets of Cambridge that my attitude about being a class shopaholic changed. She more than willingly listened to me vent and reassured me. As we parted, she turned to reiterate that Shopping Week’s evil twin of chaos is always short-lived and worthwhile. All the diligent course sorting I’m doing now will make a better semester because my classes and workload will be customized to my interests. I instantly felt better about my situation and lingered around how I feel like my youth has passed but my wisdom hasn’t arrived yet.

What students see on my.harvard.edu

After a short yet long week of shopping and meetings with advisers, I’ve decided to take 4.5 classes. One of my courses counts as “half” a class because it only meets for 1.5 hours every week (3 hours is about the average) but I’ll be taking the class throughout the whole year. Even though it’s a year long course, it will only count as a full one semester course. This special class is my Neurobiology 95hfh tutorial on Dopamine. I was weary about taking a whole class on just one neurotransmitter, but the professor, S. Barak Caine, is beyond riveting! He’s so passionate about the topic and has a knack for transmitting that excitement onto his students. I was hooked after just one lecture and I’m really excited for our class on Monday! Neurobiology tutorials are capped at 12 students so it’s a great way to get to know a professor, especially since the classes really thrive on discussion. Throughout the year, we’ll be focusing on developing skills to critically read and understand scientific articles.

Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 50 – Literature and Medicine

This class double counts for a General Education requirement as well as for my secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. I’m a little nervous about the class because I’ll never consider English and Literature my thing, but the professor, Karen Thornber, is a phenomenal public speaker and is very aware that a 2 hour lecture can be difficult to sit through. I’ve only been to one lecture, but it seems like we’ll be attacking how literature throughout the ages has tried to capture illness and disease. I’m looking forward to further developing my writing skills!

Molecular and Cellular Biology 145Neurobiology of Perception and Decision Making

This marks my second course that counts as an advanced Neurobiology course and it was the golden course chosen because of my recent realization that I’m a closet economics person. I started working at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory at the beginning of my sophomore year and therefore have been more exposed to economic professors and research topics ever since. Its always been a fascinating work environment because I hardly think of every facet of life in an economic viewpoint which motivated me to take this class so I can further dive into this thought process. The title of the class is pretty self-explanatory, but what excites me most is our final project which will mimic a grant proposal for a research topic of choice!

Mathematics 18 – Multivariable Calculus for Social Sciences

Math 18 is a brand new class this semester – well it has a brand new name and an upgraded structure! It use to be called Math 20 and it’s required for students on the Honors Economics track. It’s suppose to be like the Math 21 series, but instead of physics applications, we’ll be using economic models. I came across this class as I was looking into Math 19a (Modeling and Differential Equations for the Life Sciences), a Neurobiology concentration requirement, and shopped it just because I was curious. The professor, Meredith Hegg, is new to the university but teaches the class with such energy, encouragement, and enthusiasm that I would have felt stupid for missing a grand opportunity if I didn’t enroll in the class. Math 18 is only offered in the fall, whereas Math 19a is offered every semester, so I’ll definitely be taking Math 19a next semester. For now, I’m pretty happy with taking Math 18 just for fun, although the first three psets (problem sets) have been pretty tough and lengthy. It’s been a little rough because I’ve never taken an econ class so I don’t know what terms like substitutes and complements mean, but there’s tons of support for the class. Meredith Hegg has office hours three times a week and the two undergraduate course assistants also hold a multitude of office hours as well.

Spanish 61nThe Ethics of Business

I’ve had my eye on this course since last spring semester!! I wanted to skip Spanish 50 to take this class because I felt like I’ve had enough Spanish grammar review for a lifetime, but everything happens for a reason. This semester is the perfect semester to take this course because it focuses on businesses in Latin America which is where I spent the majority of my summer! It’s so fun to be able to relate my experiences in Peru and Bolivia – especially because 2 other students who participated in the same DRCLAS (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies) program in Peru are also taking the class with me! This is my first Spanish class that is like a normal class, just conducted in Spanish and I love it!! The 1.5 hours go by too fast and I spend most of that time laughing. It’s also a nice change to only be talking about corn and potatoes instead of actually eating it 🙂

Yes, 3/4.5 of my classes deal with economics/business even though I’m definitely a Neurobiology concentrator. Yay for liberal arts education! As I said before, I’m still really refreshed and excited about this upcoming semester! I’m eager to do my assignments and have no trouble seeing the real life applications of my class lessons. Junior year is starting off with a blast and I wouldn’t change anything about it! Hopefully I can maintain this attitude until the end of finals…

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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:

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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


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FedEx/Kinkos, 12:17am the morning before my thesis is due

It’s official! My thesis has been turned in, despite accidental hole punching, buying the wrong binders, and picking up printouts from FedEx at midnight, it is done! I, luckily, wasn’t feeling as disheveled as I look above once I finally got my print out, but perhaps a bit delirious (though I also just really like that hat). There was even a nice ritual to turning it in, signing your name off, being congratulated, and getting a free Government tote bag.


To celebrate, at 5pm the day my thesis was due, the Government Department had a toast with the department staff and other students who had made it through. My only advice at the end of it all, besides choosing an advisor you can talk openly with, is to make sure you really love your topic. I know everyone says that, but it is not that you must just “like “ or “love” your topic, you must “REALLY love” it because you will get sick about reading it and writing it if not (and probably even if you do).


And upon finishing my midterm for my “American Food: A Global History” course, Spring break has arrived. In our last section for this course before break, we went over our final research projects for the year. I’ve been looking forward to this project all semester, as it will be the first (and hopefully not last) time I get to really utilize Harvard’s Schlesinger Library. I’ve never seen such an extensive archive on food and women (two academic subjects of my fascination), including everything from old cookbooks aboard military ships from the 1700s to the first U.S. vegetarian magazine.

Leaving my midterm I saw this beautiful ornament near the Religion Department

As I wait for that time, this week at least offers a nice break with some friends visiting and a trip to New York to see my brother. From my “American Food” class, I’ll bring along “The Jungle” (an assigned reading) for some nice company on the bus ride (besides my boyfriend, who just sleeps the whole time anyway). Hope you all are enjoying spring too if you’re near my part of the world!

Oh yeah, and as some of the other bloggers here have already mentioned, this week was housing week where freshman are sorted into their houses for next year (a la Harry Poter style minus the fancy hat) and upperclassmen in each of the houses welcome in their new housemates with social events and awesome videos. I’m in Leverett, but the Quincy Housing Day video for two years has been epic (see if you get the reference)!

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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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Last week, I had the worst week ever. Ever. Capital E.

I’m definitely being as dramatic as:

Probably true at every university…


And yes, I’ve jumped on the meme-bandwagon. In fact, many of my thoughts occur in a series of flashing Push it somewhere else Patrick and Keanu Reeves Conspiracy memes and I think I’m hilarious.


It all started Valentine’s Day when my intake of chocolate wasn’t nearly high enough, ultimately pushing my prolonged cold into a seemingly perpetual flu.(Direct cause and effect here people.) I know I’m premed, but this just means I’m perfectly fine being surrounded by sick people. However, I’m the worst sick person ever. Being physically ill never fails to catalyze a concomitant homesickness which manifested itself when my mom called me and the kindness and concern in her voice mobilized streamlining tears. Poor mother – she just wanted to know if I needed anything from Costco … I wonder if it’s too late to ask for a churro…

I’ll be 21 in 10 months (but who’s counting?!) and all I want (besides a crunchy Costco churro) is to sit around with my sister and tease my parents. I literally hadn’t been this congested, exhausted, and homesick since the December of my freshman year. As I was trying to analytically pinpoint the reasons behind my sophomore slumpin’ week, I thought about some of the summer applications I had recently submitted. These first few weeks of the spring semester are always hectically spent researching and applying for summer plans/jobs/internships, etc. Although it may be difficult at times to navigate resources, having too many resources is one of the best problems to have. Thank goodness for the Office of Career Services for centralizing summer resources! What I would LOVE and be SO LUCKY to do this summer is intern in a Spanish speaking country and pretend that I’m suave for 8 weeks. As I slowly conceptualized the thought of being in a foreign country on my own for two months, I realized this would be time spent not soaking up California sunshine and loving.

I think much of this week’s past emotional turmoil stems from the fact that I’m growing up and as time swiftly passes by, San Diego is becoming more of my past rather than my future. This freaks me out. There isn’t really a euphemism for that. Although I feel really lame for being homesick, I also feel like these feelings are a natural part of attending college so far from home. I want to discourage, however, having distance as a main factor in your college decision process! I wouldn’t trade anything for my East Coast experiences. Yet this concept of growing up genuinely excites me as much as it profoundly frightens me. I don’t know what will happen this summer and I may be internally panicking for absolutely no reason. It’s easy for me to say that I can’t wait for summer but it’s even easier for me to retract that statement after what I realized last Saturday.

As I was finalizing some last details of my Alternative Spring Break Trip to New York City (sponsored by Phillips Brooks House Association, PBHA), I realized that Spring Break is literally right around the corner which means that the spring semester is over! I know this sounds insane (rightfully so!) but once freshmen “block” (gather a group of up to 8 friends who they’ll live in the same upperclassman house with for their remaining time as undergraduates), Housing Day (the epic day freshman blocking groups receive their upperclassman house) happens, Spring Break happens, exams happen, and summer begins!! My astonishment with the realization that spring semester is over became an unhealthy obsession which soon stopped Monday night when my friend had to pull out his laptop during dinner to prove to me that the spring semester is definitely not over nor close to being over.

All in all, I’m really glad to be reporting that my sophomore year progression is slowly regaining its uphill momentum as my immunity system restores itself as well. In an attempt to respectfully avoid any more slumpin’, I strive to REM cycle more and pset (do problem sets/homework) earlier, but more importantly live in the present.

Today was a day of epic proportions – my first of three organic chemistry midterms is over! After going to TF (teaching fellow) and PSL (peer student leader) office hours and reviewing lectures over the long weekend, I actually felt prepared. I also spent the majority of tonight rewarding myself with cookies and the fabulous Mather House also had a movie night showing a classic: Mean Girls with Lindsay Lohan … your face smells like peppermint.

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I think something like 98 or 99% of students live in the awesome dormitories on campus, but there are a handful of people who choose not to. Two of my blockmates (a group of up to 8 people who you choose and are all put in the same upperclassmen House after freshmen year), Lauren and Wes, moved off campus last year, and they have a nice apartment about a 10 minute walk away from where I live in Quincy House. This weekend, they invited a group of us over for a Super Bowl party. Lauren and Wes had prepared wings, oatmeal cookies, brownies, chips and dip, and a lot of other delicious treats for the big game. I don’t really follow football (I’m more of a basketball guy–go Celtics!), but, born and raised in Massachusetts, my allegiance was to the Patriots, of course. I apparently fell asleep during Madonna’s halftime performance, and then dozed right through all the screaming and cheering until there were 4:00 minutes remaining in the last quarter. Oops?

Things have started to pick up a bit. The first few weeks on campus are always very social and lively since everyone is back and reuniting and talking about their breaks. I haven’t gotten into a routine, nor have I been too stressed out just yet, but I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. One new thing I’ve noticed since being here are all the new food choices from Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS)! While there are always multiple entrees available, a sandwich, soup, and salad bar every night, and a grille, the following new foods are just some of the specials on their schedule:

  • Monday – Peking chicken and tofu bar
  • Tuesday – fruit bar
  • Wednesday – Korean beef barbecue

Being Korean-American, I’ve become very used to my mother’s home cooking. Therefore, HUDS’ Korean food isn’t exactly authentic, but it’s definitely a great imitation. The students here love it. I’ve heard people talking about Korean BBQ night during the day on Wednesdays, as well as going up for seconds and thirds. Personally, my favorite HUDS initiative is the new line of frozen yogurt flavors, which they describe as tasting more like the flavor options at Berryline, a super popular frozen yogurt shop in Harvard Square. If you have a chance to go, Berryline is definitely a staple that you need to check out. I have friends who go once every week or two, even in the cold weather, because they love it so much. HUDS conducts a school-wide survey at the end of each semester, where students can voice their opinions online. The dining hall staff have told me that the Korean BBQ is the most popular and most demanded meal out of anything they offer. My one request? Cheesecake! It’s funny because I’m that person who begs for cheesecake on those surveys, regardless of what the comment box is actually asking for. If a survey question asks, “What are the most important aspects of your meal? (i.e. temperature, appearance, etc.)” or “What is your favorite breakfast offering?” or basically any question that includes a box for an open-ended answer, I usually dodge whatever the actual topic is supposed to be and just write something about cheesecake. I’m still hoping they’ll have it on a more regular basis, but I’ll make sure I keep you updated. I’ll probably take a picture of the cheesecake if they decide to put it in there. But I’m guessing I might have to recruit some more folks to fill out the survey in a similar, aggressive, cheesecake-minded manner. Cheesecake for all!

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