Thanksgiving Break

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We’re in the last few weeks of the semester – (unlucky) week number 13 (according to my Spanish class syllabus) to be exact. While sweet, sweet winter break is on the tip of our tongues, we all know that taking a bite into our well deserved vacation is like taking a bite into a plum – the skin sucks but it’s so deliciously juicy inside! Probably the weirdest metaphor ever used in my writing career, but y’all get the picture…and if you don’t:

Final psets (problem sets), papers, and projects (the P-trinity) are trickling in and as our minds wear down, we try to at least protect our bodies from the violent winds. Although winter solstice (my 21st birthday!!) hasn’t passed, it’s undeniably cold. It’s that time of year when Pandora/Songza not only reads our minds, but looks into our souls to play the Go-Go’s Vacation (All I Ever Wanted).

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving Break.

Harvard doesn’t hold class Wednesday-Friday of Thanksgiving week. (Yale has a full on one week vacation whereas a lot of California schools have only Thursday-Friday off, so I’ll take what I can get!) Harvard’s calendar has slightly changed during my time as an undergraduate student. We use to only have 2 days off at the end of the week, making it harder to travel and really wind down (read: catch up on TV). The whole Wednesday vacation business began last year and often encourages students to leave campus early (skipping Monday and Tuesday – this is college freedom!). Break is always the best because it gives your schedule more flexibility – whether you have tons of work to do or not. (Hats off to you if you’re actually academically productive during break!)

My freshman year, I went to my best friend’s house in Connecticut where I witnessed my first real snow fall and practically gained a beloved extended family. During my sophomore Thanksgiving, my roommate and I immersed our-little-Southern-Californian-selves in the pleasures of New York City: The Lion King on Broadway, ice skating in Central Park, FOOD and etc. This Thanksgiving was the first time I’ve been on campus.

I feel like staying on campus solicits a lot of pity, but this was a choice I made and I don’t regret it! I thought about going home, but I’ll be home all of winter break (J term/January term). A few friends invited me over – heck, my boss did too – but I really wanted a selfish break where I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted – and that I did. My days off were filled with some quality friend time, quiet reading, ultra long distance running, cable television, and careless sleeping. I was living the dream. And this Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful that I live a dream-like life! I’m thankful for the time I have with others and I’m thankful for the time I have with myself. I normally find time as the enemy since it always passes too quickly without my consent, but I do appreciate how consistent – as well as how consistently kind – it’s been with me.

Quite a number of students stay on campus too – things definitely get quieter, but don’t imagine a ghost town! The college also does an amazingly phenomenal job at ensuring our stay is not only comfortable, but also nutritious! That’s if you consider over-eating as nutritious…

At least one dhall (dining hall) is always open at any given meal time and HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) even provides a traditional Thanksgiving feast! I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy stuffing myself…

On the Thanksgiving menu was: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, New England clam chowder, cheese & crackers, dried fruit (apricots, pineapple), and pumpkin/apple pie a la mode! (note: not an exhaustive list) We were eating for literally 3 hours, helping ourselves to multiple entrees 🙂

Some tutors (typically graduate students or faculty who live with us undergraduate students to help us keep the peace and the sanity / just to be confusing, these amazing people are called “proctors” if the undergraduates are freshman) stayed on campus as well and hosted a late night “study break” (always more break than study) where there was sushi, fried dumplings, naan + dip, chips + salsa, etc.! Study breaks are the best. I’ll miss these so much when I’m in the real world and expected to fend for myself.

After dinner (and post-dinner eating), I enjoyed the football game with some Charlie Brown, and planned to go shopping with one of my blockmates for Black Friday. (Blockmates are a group of friends that you form during your freshman spring semester in order to tell the college that you all want to live in the same upperclassman house/dorm for your remaining time as an undergraduate. For all you commitment-phobes out there, students can transfer from house to house if we wish to do so). From Scott’s blog, I guess Black Friday is a normal blockmate activity 🙂

My blockmate is a Boston local and took us to Wrenthem Outlets, about an hour outside of campus. We left school around 2 am, avoided the traffic jam and most of the lines to enter the store and checkout. It was the most ideal time. Sales were insane!! I found myself a little sleepy around 5 am until I was instantly energized by 50% off with a 15% student discount on top of that. I’m still feeling the happiness buzz from my purchases. We ended up coming back to campus by 7 am. Sadly, I set my alarm for 8:45 am because I checked out a library book and it was due at 9 am. Not to worry though because I was back in bed from 9:03 am to 5:58 pm. At which time, I went to dinner, watched a few episodes of dramatic TV, read a few chapters of The Bell Jar and was in bed by 10:30 pm until noon ish the next day. Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with myself too.

Let’s all hope that I can keep impressing myself academically…woohoo 1.5 more weeks of class!! Reading Period (the time when classes officially end, the prelude to Final Exam week) begins Dec. 5 and lasts until the 12th. Giving everything a date just now was a really scary thing – so many mixed emotions! I can’t wait to go home, see my family who I haven’t been with since Memorial Day, catch up with friends, and celebrate my birthday! Things I can wait for: final paper deadlines, math exam, being more than halfway done with college…EEEK

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Yikes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on life. This semester has flown by. And I feel like I say that in every other post I type. It’s true, though!

The past few months have been stressful and emotional. Senior year is weird. I think it’s starting to hit me that I only have one semester left. It’s bizarre thinking I won’t be seeing my 7 roommates everyday or that I won’t be able to head down to dinner with them in the dining hall next year. Aside from friends, there are also so many classes I want to take before graduating. There’s just not enough time!

Looking towards the future, searching for a job is quite possibly the most daunting task I’ve ever had. As a senior, the culture here can be quite stressful and cause you to doubt yourself, especially when you feel like you’re the only person who has no idea what you’re doing next year. I’ve heard it all: unbelievable job offers that my peers have landed, to medical school folks either with a research position or those who are going straight to becoming a physician, to people who are just planning on taking a year to travel the world. However, there are so many people without plans who just aren’t as visible, which is what I keep trying to tell myself. I’m currently in the midst of applying for different opportunities, all of which I’m incredibly excited about. I know I’ll find something I love, but it does, indeed, get difficult hearing about people who have already figured out the next several years of their lives, so to speak. I miss being an underclassman. I think these feelings come with being a senior and would exist regardless of where I went to school. The thought of being somewhere other than the place that I love so much and have come to call home for the past three and a half years is incredibly scary. I don’t want to leave Harvard.

Me and one of my roommates Paul!

Me and one of my roommates Paul, Harvard-Yale 2012

Before we get any more nostalgic, seeing as I still have 5 months left as an undergraduate, let’s talk about the present, something more uplifting! This past weekend was Harvard-Yale, as Jeanie mentioned in her last post. We have this huge rivalry with Yale (surprise!) that dates back since the beginning of time. Each year, students and alumni from both schools gather at Harvard or Yale (the location alternates schools every year) and reunite all to watch the Harvard-Yale football game in what is probably the most memorable weekend of the fall semester. This year, The Game (yes, it’s a proper noun) was at home at Harvard Stadium and I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend from Yale! Funny story–she and I met at Harvard’s Pre-Frosh Weekend (now called Visitas) back in 2009. She ultimately chose Yale, but we’ve kept in touch since and had our first meal together in my dorm building, Quincy House, since we first met as seniors in high school. It was so nice catching up with her and we had a great conversation about our experiences at our schools. There were too many good memories to pack into such a short meal!

Me and Catherine, the other Co-Chair of Quincy's House Committee

Me and Catherine, the other Co-Chair of Quincy’s House Committee, Harvard-Yale 2012

As far as The Game goes, we won 34-24! My class, 2013, has been really lucky because we haven’t lost once since we’ve been Harvard students. I think Yale needs to step up their football game 😉 In her post, Jeanie mentioned the Rhodes Scholar interviews that occur every year on the weekend of Harvard-Yale. There were indeed not one, not two, but SIX winners from Harvard this year! Of those six, four live in Quincy and three are friends of mine! We’ve been laughing saying that there must be something in the Quincy water. All four winners literally live within 20 feet of each other in the same hallway. I can poke my head out my door and see their rooms. I’m so happy for all six of them. What an achievement–definitely worth missing The Game for!

I’ve been home, just about 40 minutes north of campus on the border of New Hampshire, for a few days now on Thanksgiving break. I also went shopping at midnight yesterday (or early this morning, rather) for Black Friday, which is a day of the year when many retailers open their stores at ridiculously early hours with huge sales to get rid of much of their inventory. It’s one of the biggest days in the United States for the retail business, as well as a day when many people get their holiday shopping done. It sounds crazy that I went at midnight, and even crazier that I drove back to campus to pick up some of my roommates and blockmates (up to 8 people you choose to be placed into the same House as you after freshman year)! I guess that’s one of my favorite parts about being a local student. I can go home for breaks, bring people with me, or just drive back to campus if I want to hang out with my friends. We had too many people who wanted to go shopping, so my roommate/blockmate, Adam, rented a Zipcar for the entire morning. We took advantage of a lot of the deals and shopped until 7 am!

Shop 'til you drop?

Shop ’til you drop?

I’m trying to relax, spend time with family, and eat leftover Thanksgiving desserts (pie, anyone?) before heading back to campus on Monday morning for Reading Period and exams. I’ll be sure to update more regularly now that the crazy part of the semester is over!

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Sorry that I’ve been missing in action the past few weeks!  I’ve been all over the place mentally (Physically I’ve pretty much just been here in Cambridge…).  Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

Time flies when you're having fun

Time flies! Get it?!

Here’s a brief overview off what’s been going on in my life since my last post.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19th: Harvard-Yale

As always, Harvard-Yale (H-Y) was an unforgettable experience.  Just to be clear, H-Y is the annual football game against Yale.  It’s cryptically referred to as “The Game” here on campus.  This year, H-Y was at Yale so there was a huge exodus from Cambridge.  Most people made their way down to New Haven to take part in the festivities.

I look forward to H-Y without fail because it is one day a year when school spirit reigns supreme.  H-Y is evidence of the thriving Harvard community.  Students, Alumni, friends, family, and football enthusiasts all come together to share in the experience.  This year was no different.

I’m not much of a sports fan, so I prefer to shift my attention to the student tailgates.  I dressed up in my best Harvard apparel, ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and kicked back with some of my closest friends and fellow classmates.

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Oh, and Harvard won the game 45-7. Go Crimson!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd: Home Sweet Home!

After Harvard-Yale, I went back to campus and powered through the last few days of class before Thanksgiving break.  By Tuesday evening I was sitting at the Starbucks in Logan Airport, waiting to board my flight home.

I love traveling to and from school.  As I mentioned in my Blogger Bio, I’m from Virginia, so I usually fly into one of the Washington, D.C. airports.  Travel from Boston to D.C. is a breeze!  Tickets are almost always available, and the flight only lasts about one hour.  Plus I can take the T (Boston public transportation) to the airport, instead of spending a ton of money on a cab.

The best part about coming home for breaks is the warm welcome!  My mom treats me like a soldier returning from war.


Thanksgiving is one of my top three favorite holidays (the other two are Halloween and the Fourth of July).  I look forward to it each and every year, and this year did not disappoint!  The spread at my house included everything from honey baked ham to corn soufflé.  I especially love Thanksgiving now that I’m in college, because I don’t have to ration the leftovers.  I’m only around to enjoy the food for a few days, so I don’t worry about saving anything for the next week, so I just enjoy the food recklessly.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27th: Back to School

I flew back to school on Sunday morning.  I decided to get to Cambridge early in the day so that I could get ready for the LAST WEEK OF CLASS of the semester.  The light at the end of the tunnel had never been brighter.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2nd: School’s Out! (But not really…) 

Last day of class!  Actually, I don’t even have class on Friday, so Thursday was technically my last day but we won’t worry about that silly little detail.  Regardless, I decided to reward my hard work this semester with an evening of appreciating the arts.

First, I stopped by Memorial Church (Mem Church or MemChu) in the Yard to see the Kuumba Christmas Concert.  The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College are just one of the many amazing choirs here on campus.  I went to support a few friends and hear some great music.  The energy at the concert was fantastic.  People were on their feet, clapping to the beat, and swaying back on forth.  One highlight of the concert, at least for me, was when the group sang the Boyz II Men arrangement of “Silent Night”.

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

After Kuumba, I made the short walk of to Sanders Theatre to catch the second half of “Twas the Jam Before Christmas”, which was a joint-effort a capella concert featuring the Harvard Krokodiloes (Kroks) and the Harvard Opportunes (Opps).  Unfortunately, I missed the Opps because I was at the Kuumba concert, but the Kroks were out of this world.  They must practice in their sleep, because they seemed so comfortable on stage.  The jokes between songs genuinely made me laugh, and the soloists were incredible.  There was even tap-dancing involved in the show!  I think the best word to describe the performance is “cheeky”.  They do a great job of making sure their bits are fun and carefree, with just the right amount of sass.

My ticket from the Kroks and Opps performance

Okay, I think that just about catches us up.  You’ll have to excuse me now, as a hide away in my “Reading Period Cave”.*  Also known as the Harvard Library System (especially Widener, Lamont, and Houghton).









*Reading Period is the week or so before final exams.  Most students spend the time writing final papers and studying for exams.

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The encircling 1am darkness was subtly interrupted by the dim lights of a New York City subway underpass. Up the stairs stumbled two Southern Californian 19 year old females struggling with the forces of rain, wind, and heavy suitcases. A scheduled 8:30pm bus arrival became a midnight arrival due to rain and natural Thanksgiving traffic. These unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances left my roommate and me at Penn Station flipping a coin to determine if we should take the uptown or downtown train. Maybe leaving for New York City for Thanksgiving break 25 hours after a wisdom teeth extraction was poor planning on my part, but am I glad (retrospectively) that I did it?


From the Tuesday night until Sunday morning of Thanksgiving vacation, my roommate and I conquered New York City. We shamelessly stuffed ourselves in Little Italy and Chinatown, tapped into our domesticated sides at the grocery store to create a wisdomteethless-friendly Thanksgiving dinner, watched the Macy’s Day Parade live, saw The Lion King on Broadway, and were approached by countless people soliciting money and/or directions – an extremely immersed experience if I do say so myself.

Times Square

Ice Skating in Central Park

Personally, Thanksgiving break has become an essential necessity like water or oxygen. It is perfectly placed between the second (or third) wave of midterms/papers and before final semester exams. This vacation teaser allows you to resuscitate your sleep depository and mentally prepare for looming obstacles.

Being born and raised in San Diego, California, I feel an innate inclination towards urban settings. That’s why one of the strong benefits of Harvard University is its location. Not only does Boston offer a great skyline and a delicious array of cultural restaurants, but Boston also offers unique opportunities in practically any industry you can think of (i.e. business – Boston Consulting Group, medicine – Massachusetts General Hospital, non-profit – Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program). Yet, Boston doesn’t feel like a giant, overwhelming city. If that’s the atmosphere you’re looking for though, New York City is just a short bus/train ride away. I love the fact that I can take advantage of both majestic cities during my undergraduate years!

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It’s my very own tradition to peruse the sales ads that come with the Thanksgiving Day newspaper while lying on my aunt’s couch after consuming more turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole than any human should. I look forward to Black Friday every year, which, in the United States, is the day after Thanksgiving when retail stores open as early as midnight with some of the biggest sales of the year. Many people use this day to buy Christmas gifts or set up tents outside the store before it opens to have the chance to purchase a discounted computer or television. People watching is one of my favorite things to do, so for me, Black Friday is more about interacting with human beings than buying clothes and electronics. I will admit, though, that an inexpensive 4 or 8 GB flash drive is always super appealing. You can never have too many of those, right?

This year, I decided to drive back to campus to pick Paul and Adam (two of my roommates) up and take them out. I’m lucky to attend college close enough to home that I’m able to do things like this during breaks from school. Now, home is only a little more than a half hour away from campus, but the mall we were planning to go to opened at 4 AM. The simple act of waking up at 2:30 AM after going to bed at 8 PM, let alone to drive on a barren highway, was disconcerting to say the least. It was pitch black, the roads were empty, and I felt out of place on the highway. It also felt strange pulling up to Quincy House (my dormitory building) in the middle of the night…to pick my roommates up…to go shopping. Bizarre.

We started out at the mall, and it was shocking to see how many cars and people were out that early. The three of us went store to store, with Adam making the first purchase of the morning: two polos for under $20 total. Nice! Normally, we’re all pretty frugal with our money. Three of my five roommates work part-time jobs (I give tours of our beautiful campus and love every second of it!), but I think Black Friday is one day of the year that it is acceptable to splurge a bit. Around 6 AM, the sun was finally up, and we drove to an electronics store. By 6:50 AM, we were at a department store that opened at 7 AM. The three of us waited outside in the company of about 20 middle-aged women. There we were. Three college boys in a crowd of mothers. I thought this would be my favorite moment of our Black Friday excursion, but not long after the doors to that very store opened, we found none other than…Harvard gear! I was so surprised seeing as we weren’t that close to campus, and it was just so random for this department store to carry college-branded clothes. Actually, there weren’t any other articles of clothing with other schools’ names on them, just Harvard, which is what made it even more random.

Paul and Adam with the surprise Harvard sweatshirt!

Paul and Adam with the surprise Harvard sweatshirt!

While finding the Harvard sweatshirt was probably the coolest thing, the most epic event occurred at another department store an hour later. On a whim, Paul decided to purchase a television. I don’t have cable back home, so a television wasn’t even on my radar (or budget, for that matter). However, it was a great deal and Paul loves to watch TV while doing his schoolwork, so it was the perfect purchase for him. At this point, it was nearly 10 AM, and we were all beat. I came home empty handed, but I think Paul’s expenses made up for the lack of mine and then some! As I said, Black Friday is not so much about purchasing for me. Rather, it’s all about the people, and that awkward 10 minutes with all the moms made my entire morning worthwhile.

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