Here are some photos of the blizzard from last night and today. I’m so excited; I LOVE snow!
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Yes, it is I, after a very long sabbatical from writing, back to report to you about my life.
So wow, a lot has happened, but rather than bore you with a drawn-out narrative of the stressful end to my sophomore year (papers, papers, papers, Finals, Finals, Finals, PACK UP, MOVE OUT, OMG STORAGE IS CLOSING IN 30 MIN! AHHHHHH), I will share with you a few vignettes from my summer so far. I have had some incredible experiences – some big and some small and meaningful. But they foreshadow what I hope to be an amazing summer!
Before I launch into it, I’d just like to say that finishing my sophomore year has been a strange experience — I’M HALFWAY THROUGH COLLEGE! What is this supposed to mean? Do I even know what I want to do in life? Am I ready to graduate in another two years? Did I do enough with the two I just had?
As I contemplate all of these feelings, Bon Jovi’s song “Living On a Prayer” Living on a Prayer comes to mind, and that’s where I got the name of this post.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
In celebration of being done with all of our final exams, my roommates and I treated ourselves to buying tickets to a RedSox game. I had never been to a RedSox game before and one of my roommates had never been to any baseball game before so this was a big event.
It was a wonderfully warm summer night, and the Boston fans were out in full force. The Sox were playing the Indians, but not a single Cleveland fan could be spotted (I mean, they would have to be pretty brave). My roommates and I arrived at a packed T-station, sporting all of the RedSox paraphernalia we could find. Thrilled by the combined sentiments of being done with finals, of being at a Sox game, and of finding great seats even though we had paid for standing room-only tickets, we were giddy as we dug into our cracker jacks and hot dogs.
But in the moments after the ballpark had stood up to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” I admit, the happy feelings began to falter a bit. Our sophomore year was over! We were now halfway through our college experience. We weren’t going to see each other for an entire three months. And in just another two years, we would be separated by wherever life took us. Everything just seemed so scary!
And so, embarrassingly, we had one of those girly, sentimental moments – right there, in the middle of Fenway Park. A few tears may or may not have been shed. And I don’t regret it one bit. In fact, I think it’ll be one of the moments I remember most fondly when I do eventually graduate and look back at my college experience. Because I was there, surrounded by my closest friends. Together we had grown to be new people, together we would continue to change during the next two years, and eventually together we would face the world. And it wouldn’t be so scary so long as we had each other.
And that might be the corniest thing I have ever written.
But I mean it.
So freaking Patriotic
I went home for a week around Memorial Day, which is a big deal in the town of Sewickley, PA. We host a huge parade in which every pee-wee baseball team, every Girl Scout troop, every high school band member from every high school around, every greyhound dog owner (don’t ask…), every vintage car owner, and every firefighter troop and its trucks, not to mention every veteran from every war (including reenactments of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars) march, jog, trot, play, and drive through the town. In addition, the middle school’s Clown Club always provides alternative modes of transportation to its members such as unicycles and pogo sticks.
Not only is Memorial Day a big deal to our town, but it’s also a big deal to my family. My dad is a Gulf War I veteran and we’re all very proud of it. My dad will usually organize a group or fellow-vets to march in the parade and host a barbecue at our house afterward. This year, the town asked my dad to give the public address at the post-parade commemorative ceremony.
As my dad stood in his dress blue speaking about the heroism of those who fight to defend our freedom, I felt so proud and so loved surrounded by my family and my community. It’s a feeling that I sometimes forget when I’m at Harvard, hustling and bustling from one activity to another.
But as I watched the parade march by, the same parade I had been watching every Memorial Day since I can remember, and as I was feeling this great sense of family and community, I couldn’t help but also feel a sense of separation. Less and less do I feel like Sewickley is my home, and more and more do I feel like its part of a very loving past. It wasn’t a sad feeling, just a different feeling, one that I accepted. I had been living at Harvard the past two years, Harvard was my home now. And well, I guess that’s what you get after you finish your sophomore year.
My sides hurt from Cartwheels and Laughing
During the summer, when most Harvard students are off campus exploring the world, the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) suspends its normal programming and starts up twelve summer camps for low-income kids around Cambridge and Boston. These twelve camps constitute PBHA’s Summer Urban Program (SUP). Like everything else at PBHA, SUP is student-run, so I am working this summer on what we call Fulltime SUPport (get it?). I like to tell people that the job is a combination of administrative work and manual labor.
SUP is a great community of awesome students working together to change the lives of elementary and middle school students. But beyond that, it’s a great community of friends. We live in the Radcliffe Quad in Cabot House, and in the evenings, after camp is done for the day, we use the Quad to play soccer, run around and have fun.
This summer, I have compiled a short bucket list of things I would like to accomplish. One of these things is to be able to do a cartwheel. Now, I know this is a basic part of many people’s growing up, but somehow between my never-ending stages of gangly awkwardness, I never could quite get there. I remember when I was probably three or so, my mother signed me up for a Gymnastics course, and at the end of the class while all the kids performed cartwheels and summersaults to the “Ooooo”s and “Ahhhh”s of their parents, my only contribution to the performance was a Donkey-kick… in which my teacher had to grab my legs and kick them up for me.
Yes, clearly I am gymnastically-talented. So finally, at the age of 20, I am determined to accomplish this great feat.
With the help of a few good SUP friends, I practiced on the Quad Lawn for about an hour, slowly progressing, but never quite getting it. By the time it started getting dark, I was sore all over from trying to propel my legs through the air (don’t laugh…) and from laughing with my friends at each of my awkward crashes to the ground.
I haven’t accomplished a full cartwheel yet, but it was a great evening, one I shared with close friends as we looked forward to what the summer would offer us.
And that’s all I have for now! As you can see, I have some pretty mixed feelings about beginning the second half of my college experience. A large part of me is screaming, “I don’t want to grow up!!!” while all the while, I keep looking around and seeing the ways I already have. It’s a funny thing. But you guys get to witness the whole process. Should be interesting to look back and read all of these entries in two years.
There’s a line I say quite frequently that I wish I heard others vocalize as well: “We met at science camp.” I actually say it with a shy pause – definitely not because I’m slightly embarrassed or anything…it’s just for the dramatic effect!
I spent two of my high school summers at science camp: COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science) at the University of California Irvine and YSP (Young Scholar Program) at the University of California Davis. Whenever my peers question these summers, I naturally articulate that it was THE BEST SUMMER EVER as my eyes roll to the back of my head to replay all my cherished and hilarious memories. The chemistry and neuroscience classes/lectures that I attended, the hands-on research exposure and experiences, and most definitely the people I’ve met, all can explain my personality and interests, which is a huge reason why I put tremendous effort into maintaining my friendships from science camp.
Last semester at the epic annual Harvard-Yale football game, a friend from science camp – the only Yale student I know – reached out to me and offered to tour and host my friends and me during the weekend of the game. We all had so much fun with my friend showing us the local hot spots and agreed that this one weekend was too short. Therefore, this past weekend, the Yalie visited me for Yardfest! He’s never been to Harvard before and has been pretty committed to bashing it since he got waitlisted, so naturally, my goal was to change his opinion. My favorite quote of the weekend: “Harvard is so great! There’s a river and we can walk around at night.” I’m so glad that he not only felt safe roaming the streets of Cambridge, but also had a blast at Yardfest where students wildly danced to The Nostalgics (with Reid!), 3LAU, Das Racist, and The Cataracs. For two years now, Yardfest has pulled through to be an awesome Sunday evening and since the event ends before 10pm, there’s still time to study after!
Although New Haven Yalies may appreciate Harvard’s security, this week, I’ve become cognizant of not only how excited and committed Harvard students can get about the most random things, but also how much I love this enthusiasm!! If you follow us on Twitter (which you should!), I tweeted about an article about all the House Wars that have been arising – check out Caroline’s take on the wars! As a freshman last year, I wasn’t aware of these inter-house wars that are such a perk to House Life! I’m a proud Mather House resident, and us Matherites are led by a somewhat anonymous “General Mistie” (a spin off one of our house master’s names?).
If you’re a high school senior procrastinating, let me help you out by providing some HILARIOUS insight to the emails that have been sent out:
Read this Crimson article for relevant background info.
In the words of General Mistie:
The war council has decreed its intent to defend Currier if Adams continues hostilities towards our Quad brethren. Note that we only act to protect our allies from harm, and will declare war if necessary:
“Decree to Save the Tree” (best document title ever…Currier’s Mascot is the Tree)
Mather House takes this opportunity to remind the warmongers of Adams House that we have long maintained a strategic alliance with Currier House. Our houses unite every year to promote peace and prosperity, setting an example for all Harvard houses to Increase Mather and Currier spirit.
Adams’ recent encroachment on the sovereignty of Currier is an unwise and rash decision, greatly underestimating the strength of Currier and its allies. Pforzheimer House has already declared its solidarity with Currier, reminiscent of the Pfoho-Adams War of 1999.
Adams would be wise to remember Mather’s actions in the Great House War of 2004, where we acted courageously in Adams defense against Kirkland. When Kirkland infringed upon Adams territory by stealing the Adams gong, Mather courageously stepped in to protect Adams against its stronger opponent. Without Mather Gorilla warfare, the gong may have never been recovered.
We will not be the house that stands by and watches its allies struggle alone. Mather calls on Adams to rescind its declaration of war by 11:59:59 P.M. Wednesday April 11th, 2012. If Adams does not comply or takes any hostile action against Currier or its allies, Mather will immediately declare war in solidarity with its Quad allies.
We urge Adams to reconsider their reckless decision and advise the citizens of Adams to implore their leaders to withdraw their declaration of war. After almost eight years of peace, Mather does not wish to enter hostilities with any house. But where there is tyranny, we will fight for the right to maintain housing independence.
And to not play House favorites, I’ll also illuminate the participation of Cabot House:
Let it be known that on this day, the Tenth of April in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, the House of Cabot did officially enter into an accord with the House of Currier. We, the people of Cabot, are joining in defense of our ally, sturdy Currier, with the good Houses of Pforzheimer and Mather to denounce and oppose the acts of aggression taken by Adams House against our sister house, fair Currier.
Adams House’s declaration of war and illegitimate claim to the territories that rightfully belong to Currier House is an offense and provocation to all Houses. Following the senseless and terribly made Adams housing day video, Cabot residents did not succumb to provocation and instead let the people judge Adams. However, we can no longer stand idly by and watch Adams continue to commit these acts. We, the people of Cabot, will not stand for such injustices and must act to impede this infringement upon our Faust given and unalienable Rights (one of my personal favorite quotes of all time!), among these being Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In the spirit of Quad solidarity and in support of the rights of all peoples of all Houses at Harvard to live freely and peacefully, the undersigned do declare that the people of Cabot have entered into a defensive alliance with the House of Currier and will be at war with the House of Adams if any acts of aggression are made.
Until the time at which Adams publically recognizes its misdeeds and renounces its actions, Cabot House will maintain its hostile relations to Adams. Let it be known to the Harvard body that Cabot House, the Heart of the Quad, will not stand for houses that act dishonorably. Quarter will not be provided to those who wish harm against our brothers and our sisters.
Lastly as a consequence for Adams continued dishonorable acts of aggression and vitriol, Adams house residents will be held to Cabot House dining hall restrictions, whereby Adams house residents will not be allowed to eat on Tuesdays from 1:30 PM until 2:00 PM. Let this be a lesson to all who transgress against such peaceful houses as Currier.
The technical, sophisticated language, the historical references, and just the overall passive aggressive tone makes me want to read multiple textbooks on these House Wars! I’ll always LOVE the intensity that Harvard students bring towards not only their academics, but also extrapolating ridiculous jokes.
This type of enthusiasm will definitely carry over to this weekend as we welcome the newly admitted undergraduate class during Visitas (formerly known as Pre-Frosh Weekend)!! We’re all so excited to see you…looking lost, confused, and holding a crimson folder with a dandy map inside! Be ready for free swag! The weather is for sure welcoming as I just had my first class outside today on the steps of Memorial Church!
In response to Stephanie’s comment about her upcoming visit to Harvard, I thought I would post a list of the Top 10 Things To Do When Visiting Harvard. As I began writing, however, my roommate reminded me that admissions letters would be coming out SOON, and that new prospective students would be looking for things to do on their visits (by the way, we’re SOOOOOOOOO excited to meet you guys)!!!!
As a result, I took it upon myself to compile TWO lists – one for anyone who just wants to take a look around and one for prospective students! I will include the list of top To Do’s in my next post.
But for now…
THE TOP 10 THINGS TO DO AS A TOURIST AT HARVARD
1.) DO NOT under any circumstances touch John Harvard’s foot.
As you walk into Harvard Yard, take in its classic beauty, and reflect upon the centuries of history it has witnessed, you may find yourself drawn to a rather iconic statue of John Harvard, also known as the ‘Statue of Three Lies.’ Lest you be unprepared I shall verse you in these lies: 1) John Harvard was NOT the founder of Harvard, he was merely a donor, 2) Harvard was NOT founded in 1638, it was founded in 1636, 3) the man portrayed in the statue is NOT John Harvard… its some rando. All things considered, I personally feel that a fourth lie needs to be added to the list. This lie would be 4) touching John Harvard’s foot is NOT a good idea. I mean, go ahead and rub it for good luck…. Just don’t ask me to shake your hand afterward.
2.) Go on a Crimson Key Tour
It’s easy to say, “Go to Memorial Hall!” or “Go to Widener Library!” but really, the Crimson Key tour covers it all, and they do a GREAT job! Seriously, do yourself a favor and go on their tours. They leave from the Information Center in the Holyoke Center (next to the Au Bon Pan in Harvard Square) at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm Monday- Saturday.
3.) Stand outside of the Science Center between 12:00 -12:07
It is said that no Harvard student can go all four years without taking at least one class in the Science Center. No, this isn’t because all students are brainiacs – it’s because SO many classes are offered in that huge, ugly building (every college campus has one… even Harvard). As a result, during class transition time – also known as ‘Harvard Time’ – a CRAZY number of students pass through the area right outside (I’ve heard stats saying up to 50% of the undergraduate student body)! If you want a taste of student academic life, go hang out there.
4.) Mr. Bartley’s Burgers
Have you seen The Social Network or Good Will Hunting?!?! If so, you may have noticed a lovely place featured called Bartley’s. This is because they have THE BEST burgers OF ALL TIME! I’m not joking. This dive has been around for a loooooonnnnggg time, and for good reason. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching your cholesterol, if you’re at risk of terrible food-induced ailments, take the gross caloric hit and GO FOR IT! You won’t regret it.
5.) Check out the Greenhouse Cafe
After you get swept away by the wave of students outside of the Science Center, head on inside and grab a snack (or Starbucks) at the Greenhouse Café! This is a major hang out spot for students in between classes, and it’s just a generally cool place to check out.
6.) Stop by the COOP
Why visit Harvard if you don’t have something to show for it? The COOP has a plethora of Harvard paraphernalia to offer, PLUS if you’re curious, you can take a trip to the top floor and look at the textbooks students buy for class!
7.) Walk along the Charles River
If it’s a nice day, take a walk along the Charles River! It is honestly one of the most beautiful strolls ever, and you can see the River Houses, where sophomores, juniors, and seniors live.
8.) Watch the Crew team practice on the river
While you’re on the river, if it’s Fall or Spring, you might be fortunate enough to witness the Crew team practicing (or racing) on the river! Crew is a BIG DEAL at Harvard, so it’s always a good thing to see.
9.) Visit Radcliffe Quad
One of the least appreciated spots on campus, Radcliffe Quad is home to three upperclassmen houses (Currier, Cabot, and Pfoho), and is where the women of Radcliffe College used to live! The Quad is less than a mile up Garden Street and has a unique history.
10.) Walk along Mt. Auburn street late Saturday night
If you want a taste for what Harvard nightlife is like, I would suggest walking down Mt. Auburn street between 11:00 pm – 2:00 am on Saturday night and seeing all of the final clubs. I’m not suggesting you try to go in, but you’ll get the sense that Harvard students play just as hard as they work.
Hogwarts isn’t the only school that is obsessed with its houses. Harvard also believes in sorting its students into one of several houses that become ridiculously competitive with one another. A few differences? Hogwarts only has four houses while Harvard has twelve. Oh yeah, and Hogwarts is a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while Harvard isn’t (though we like to believe otherwise 😉 )!
Like I was saying, due to the tight-knit nature of the houses, house competition can be fierce. And no day showcases this competitive spirit than Housing Day.
Before I continue, I feel that I should probably fill you in on some Harvard vocabulary:
Houses – there are twelve large houses on Harvard’s campus that are comprised of living spaces for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Each house also has a dining hall, common rooms, and a bunch of other amenities that vary per house (squash courts, gyms, climbing walls, theater spaces, movie rooms, etc.). Houses are grouped into neighborhoods of three. The houses (grouped by their neighborhoods) are as follows: Mather, Dunster, and Leverett; Lowell, Quincy, and Adams; Winthrop, Elliot, and Kirkland; and Currier, Cabot, and Pforzeihmer. For a better idea of where each of these houses is, visit http://map.harvard.edu. (Can’t find the last group of houses?? Scroll to the upper left for a ways, and you’ll see them.)
Housing lottery – the mysterious system that randomly assigns freshmen blocking groups into houses.
Blocking group – a group of up to eight freshmen that are guaranteed to be in the same house.
Linking groups – two blocking groups can “link” and they are guaranteed to be in the same neighborhood.
River Houses – the older houses that run along the Charles River and are often close to Harvard Square… unless you are in Mather or Dunster.
The Quad – the houses that when looking at the map of Harvard, you had to scroll to the far upper-left. Don’t worry, they’re not as far as they look, shuttles run every 10 minutes, and the housing is MUCH nicer.
Blocking drama – the imbalance of emotion that can result when trying to finalize your blocking group.
River Run – the night before Housing Day when freshman visit each house. Traditionally, students used to build boats, write the names of the houses they didn’t want on the bottom, put them in the Charles River, and burn them. This all ended when members of the Class of 2012 came up with the smart idea to build a really BIG boat and fill it with cans of Axe body spray so that it exploded in the middle of the river (Ok, I’m not gonna lie, I find this to be awesome). Now, Harvard Police, Cambridge Police, AND Massachusetts State Troopers line the river on River Run, so sadly this tradition has come to an end.
Housing Day – the day in which freshmen find out what house they will be in for the next three years. This is BIG for the freshman and the upper classmen who get dressed up and run from dorm to dorm to surprise us at 8:00 am. Festivities continue throughout the day with a celebratory reception in each house that night.
Because my roommates and I are so close, the five of us decided to block together with one other good friend who lives in Matthews – a dorm in the Yard. I unfortunately could only catch the later part of River Run as I was busy writing a grant to fund a volunteer program I run (more on that later), but from what everyone said, it was a BLAST!
The next morning, our proctor and Peer Advising Fellows (awesome upper classmen that provide advice about anything and everything) greeted our floor with Dunkin’ Doughnuts as we all sat in wait to find out what house we were assigned. As hoards of cheering and shouting students stormed our dorm, my room anxiously waited as each group passed by… each time putting a tick mark next to each house listed on our newspaper wall. But finally, a loud, obnoxious group in green came roaring up the stairs and barging into our room shouting, “CURRIER! CURRIER!”
That’s right. I’m in the Quad a.k.a. the land of the better rooms (can you say singles your sophomore year?!?!), better food, awesome parties, and really close community! If there is one thing that Pennypacker (my current dorm – see my older post) has taught me, it is that being a little bit farther away can actually be a blessing. You develop closer friendships and a better feeling of “home,” if only because when you go back to your room, you are leaving the hustle and bustle of the school area.
So, for those of you who find yourselves here next year, look for me on the shuttle!