Rachel Brown, Psychology Concentrator in Adams House, Class of 2012
Sitting in my summer office in the Holyoke Center and overlooking Harvard Square, I can’t help but observe the energetic activity of all of the people outside. I think about what the Square looks like during different parts of the year—in the fall when the students cross Mass Ave in their commutes from the River Houses to the classrooms just a few minutes before (or after) the hour, in the winter when the density of people significantly decreases, mirroring the decrease in temperature, and in the spring when all-too-eager students wear shorts on sunny days despite the not-quite-warm enough weather. However, I will have to wait to see that again because it is summer now, and Harvard Square is packed with summer school students, tourists, and the year round residents, all seeming to share two common affinities: the new two-storied Starbucks and the new Pink Berry—both perfect for warm summer days. During the summer, I have found the atmosphere at Harvard to be entirely different than that of the school year, and so I have decided to reflect on two of those differences.
The first and most noticeable difference is the change in my lifestyle as I exchange my textbooks for business casual pumps and shift gears from Harvard student to Harvard employee. I am working at the Advising Programs Office which oversees programs geared toward advising sophomores and incoming freshmen. During the summer, we are preparing for the arrival of the freshmen by assembling course suggestion guides, coordinating the faculty advisers and matching freshmen with upperclassmen peer advisers. During the school year, 5:00 pm usually marks the half way point in my day as I am finishing up softball practice, eating dinner and settling in for a night of school work, but 5:00 pm during the summer means the end of the work day and the start of a relaxing and fun evening. From September-May, most weekends are filled with school related events including attending athletic events, competing for my softball team and doing homework, but during the summer, I’ve found very different ways to stay busy. So far, I have visited my roommate’s house in Maine, seen the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, shopped at the Haymarket Farmer’s Market, visited Revere Beach for the Annual Sand Sculpting Competition and seen several other parts of Boston. So yes, weekends still fly by way too fast, but I’ve traded in my football foam finger for a Charlie card to explore the city.
Another significant difference involves my athletic commitments. In addition to working Monday through Friday from 9:00-5:00 in the APO, I am also training for the Varsity Softball team to prepare for my senior season. Four mornings a week, I join the “Summer Dawgs” group in the Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center for agility training, conditioning and lifting. The group contains athletes from various teams, all committed to excelling on our respective fields/courts/rinks/etc. It is hard not being in the physical presence of my teammates not only for some weight room enthusiasm but also for the camaraderie that naturally builds up during the year, but our e-mail chains help to keep us motivated and connected despite our temporary separation. For the summer, I turn to this new group of Harvard athletes to inspire me to work hard, and if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that I, a softball pitcher, will never beat a women’s hockey player in a race.
Harvard Square is different during the summer—it is missing most of the student population that resides here for 9 months of the year, but it hasn’t lost its energy. For those that are still here during the summer, we get to experience Harvard in a new way, perhaps in professional settings or perhaps by transitioning away from our typical student lifestyle and enjoying different adventures that Cambridge and Boston have to offer. I am looking forward to carrying these new experiences and my new outlook into my senior year, but until then I will try to survive the heat and humidity as I anxiously await the return of the upperclassmen and the arrival of the bright-eyed freshmen, eager to start the next phase of their lives.
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