Some heavily anticipate their Sunday cartoons; others excitedly wait for their monthly shopping catalogs. One day that unites all us Harvard students is the day of The Game. Once a year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the old Harvard-Yale (HY) rivalry blooms into friendship(ish) since the football game location alternates between the two campuses every year and students typically find a floor/futon host with friends or friends of friends (of friends).
I can personally guarantee you that any student with a 9 am class here complains. Yet HY Game day is so epic that we’ll all wake up super early as to not waste any beautiful daylight! I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but since I’ve been a freshman, the weather has been absolutely spectacular on this particular Saturday – I’m talking about long sleeve/light jacket apparel!!
This year, my fun festivities began on Friday because the Yalie I hosted arrived Friday afternoon for his HLS interview. He’s the only person I know at Yale and we met the summer of 2007 at science camp. You’d be surprised that I keep in touch with quite a few people from this camp – my best friend there is a senior at MIT and my sorority sister! Anyways, when my Yalie arrived, we went to Grendel’s Den for lunch. It was a pretty selfish suggestion on my part because I’ve heard good things, haven’t been yet and have always wanted to go (semi-because it can be recognized in the movie The Town!). Most places in Harvard Square can be pretty pricey due to the constant tourism, but Grendel’s has an awesome lunch special! It was really nice to catch up with an old friend who’s known me since my embarrassing awkward teenager days when I dance-party’d to Ashlee Simpson.
Most Yale kids arrive Saturday morning just for the tailgating and football game so I was a little nervous about my Yalie arriving a little early because I had a jam packed weekend. That afternoon, the Harvard Decision Science Lab, where I’m a research assistant, was hosting the last presentation of a semester long series for the Institute of Quantitative Social Sciences. I was looking for something for my Yalie to do while I presented on the study I’ve been involved with, but he was totally stoaked to watch my presentation and even seemed like he enjoyed it with his inquisitive questions. I always enjoy giving these end-of-the-semester presentations because it gives you a chance to reflect on where you started so you can see how far you’ve gone / how far you need to go; these reflection points are great transitions to cross off goals and add on new ones to refuel and (re)motivate you for the final stretch of the semester.
After my presentation, we rushed off to the North End in Boston where there’s a heavenly strip of Italian restaurants. I was pretty good at going off campus towards the beginning of the semester, but with classes and extracurricular activities picking up, I knew there was an end to my off campus excursions. Guests are always the best excuse to escape campus for a few hours, especially if there’s good food involved! The nearby Boston skyline is beautiful and we couldn’t gasp enough at its beauty as we walked through Faneuil Hall (which is already decorated for the holiday season!) towards the harbor.
As glorious as my Friday sounds, I was up to the challenge of having the perfect Saturday. I woke up early because my sorority (Kappa Alpha Theta) has a chapter at Yale and we always have a joint brunch on Game Day. Then I was off with my best friends to the tailgate area where undergrads, graduate students and alumni all come together and rally before kickoff. Enjoying great company on a gorgeous day is something I’ll always be thankful for. There were so many moments where I was just in awe of my surroundings.
Harvard won (expected) and continued our winning streak! I know part of the fun comes from the rivalry but I find greater joy in convincing the other team how lovely Harvard is. It’s even better when they go through this process without my help though: since my Yalie is applying to HLS, he already loves the campus and couldn’t stop raving about the magnificent Charles River.
Don’t get me wrong – HY weekend doesn’t unite everyone. Some may choose not to participate and some may have scheduling conflicts i.e. Rhodes Scholar interviews, casual. Last year around HY, there was a controversy about the Yale quarterback not being able to play because his Rhodes Scholar interview was the same time as the Game (but he was later retracted from the scholarship award). This year, things were much less dramatic and much more celebratory as six Harvard seniors were granted this once in a lifetime slash life changing opportunity!! I literally take my hats off for them!
I’m telling you all: HY weekend is magical! It’s the classic time stamp of the semester. It’s the trigger of the end. It’s the sign notifying you of how much time you have left. By HY, the majority of midterms are over (so sorry to those that must endure a third midterm in these upcoming weeks). HY flags the much needed turkey-induced sleep and relaxation – as well as the end of the semester! When Thanksgiving hits and ends, Reading Period is just around the corner and Final Exams marks the end of my 5th semester as an undergraduate. Say it isn’t so!
I’ll be staying on campus for the first time ever this Thanksgiving – update soon! Hope everyone is taking advantage of their breaks wherever you may be! Stay safe and eat like you’re going to die young 😉