Students from around the globe apply to and attend Harvard for its academic rigors and plethora of opportunities. These are the driving factors that compelled me to enroll; however, there are a different set of factors that explain why I have willingly stayed as an eager student in the community. The people I’ve met on campus and the relationships I’ve built are the reasons why I get butterflies of excitement when I return to school after a vacation or even when I return to my dorm room after a long day of class and lab.
No one can truthfully deny that Harvard is competitive, but I think the intensity of our competitive nature is usually overestimated. Disregarding the outliers that I expect to exist in every academic setting, we’re a community of forward thinkers who like to discuss as well as debate our innovative ideas and controversial opinions. We may like to keep secret our hope that our unique idea is the best, but more often than not, we’re not very good at keeping our ideas a secret from each other. As a math and science student pursuing the premedical track, I normally have multiple, brain-teasing (or even brain-splicing) psets (problem sets) due each week. I’ve never submitted a pset without asking questions to either the professor or TF (teaching fellow) in office hours, or my peers. NEVER. And I don’t even finish psets early. I normally try to start psets as early as possible, but the majority (if not all of it) gets completed the night before the deadline – this is a horrible habit and me and my history of sleep deprived nights are fully aware of this; therefore, I do not encourage this practice! Anyways, enough confessions for me, my point is although I typically finish my homework close to deadlines, students are still willing to answer my questions and review the material. Learning definitely boosts both our knowledge and confidence, but it’s not a selfish practice here.
Learning, studying, and practicing class material, coupled with our extracurricular commitments (i.e. sports, work, various student groups) consume the majority of our time. But I think most students (hopefully) would agree that there’s also time for random, nonacademic, YOLO activities which probably take up the majority of my fondest college memories…and that’s why my roommates and I went on a random cruise of the Boston harbor!
The physical setting of Harvard is already phenomenal even if you look at it in isolation. Yet if you expand your horizon just a few miles, Cambridge and Boston harmoniously merge as the Charles River leads into the Massachusetts Bay. At the same time, it’s still like an ironman challenge to try to rally students off campus due to the high concentration of events and opportunities conveniently right in the heart of campus. At the beginning of every semester, I always tell myself that I’m going to get off campus more frequently and this became less and less of a lie as I started to pursue distance running during my sophomore year. Running around 10 miles along the river helps you realize all the wonderful events and opportunities off campus yet still super close to campus. I’ve been able to participate in heart walks, various community 5k fundraisers, as well as the delicacies of farmers’ markets! My friends and I have never regretted making a trip out to Boston, even if it’s just for some dessert! Therefore, when one of my best friends and roommates advertised a 2 hour cruise on the Boston harbor, there was no hesitation in committing.
We excitedly separated ourselves from campus for a few hours after making a few expert transfers on the T (subway) and soon boarded the boat! Our backdrop was beyond beautiful, the DJ was skillfully mixing throwbacks and top 40 songs, and an array of fruit and hummus was served. If you couldn’t already tell, all the ingredients for the perfect night were present and I don’t think we could have exploited the night any better!!
It’s always emotionally tolling when I think of how little I see my family and friends back at home, across the nation; however, I know the opportunities I have here on the East coast are unparalleled. I can’t imagine having this much fun anywhere but Cambridge where there’s a harmonious blend of an urban and small-town feel.
I may put more of an effort into exploring downtown Boston, but it’s always very natural to explore Harvard during my downtime too!
I’d say it’s pretty common for students to have jobs on campus – whether its to pay for academic or social costs – most of my friends all hold steady jobs during the term time. There’s even a Harvard Student Employment Office (SEO) that links available jobs to students. Jobs range widely from librarians, cafe baristas, cleaning bathrooms with Dorm Crew, or lab/research assistant jobs like mine at the Harvard Decision Science Lab (HDSL). The common thread of these varying jobs is that they all pay well! If your salary is connected with the Harvard payroll, it’s usually higher than minimum wage and since the jobs are on campus, they’re super convenient! Although you should keep in mind that job opportunities are not only limited to the university’s offerings as some of my friends work for local restaurants and retail boutiques as well.
One of my friends recently started working at Eliot grill. I’ve never heard of Eliot grill, but I’ve heard (and enjoyed!) its sisters: Quincy grill and Dunster grill. Eliot, Quincy, and Dunster are all upperclassman houses (dorms for sophomores, juniors, and seniors) which have a late night grill for the typical college cravings i.e. mozzarella sticks, burgers, and ice cream milkshakes. Their hours differ but are typically open even later on the weekends.
We decided to visit the grill while my friend was working and it was much fancier than I thought! I kept wanting to refer to it as Eliot diner because “grill” just didn’t cut it!
There was a pool table, a Foosball table, a big screen television and comfy couches all atop a checkered tile floor. I just wanted waiters/waitresses to come by on roller skates!
I’m not really sure when Eliot grill started working, but I’m pretty disappointed I didn’t know about this space earlier. I’m excited and determined to continue exploring both Boston and Harvard! It’s always the best to be able to tell your visiting guests a few exciting secrets about your home.