Articles by Kemie

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Hi all!

I’m checking in with you guys after taking a spontaneous study break this evening.  This weekend was supposed to be work, work, work, because I have a couple of short papers to turn in this week, and a lot of reading to take care of.  However, tonight is also the night that Currier House is hosting their Millennium Dance, so I decided to head across the street to check it out.

The upperclassmen houses here at Harvard are a lot more then student residences.  Each house also functions as social space for the undergraduate student body.  Most houses will host a couple of parties a year, and typically these parties will have a special theme.  Decade dances seem to particularly popular here on campus.  Every year, there are three dances held in three of the twelve houses in honor of the most recent decades.  Leverett House on the River throws the 80’s Dance, Pforzheimer House (my house in the Quad) hosts the 90’s Dance, and Currier (also in Quad) is home to the Millennium Dance, in honor of the 2000’s.

Since the Millennium Dance is in such a convenient location, my friends and I decided to take a short break from our work to burn off some steam on the dance floor.  We didn’t want to get too distracted from our work, so we decided to head over to the dance in Currier as soon as it opened at 10:00 pm.

I had a great time letting loose with my girl friends and dancing around to the music of our youth.  Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, and several other performing artist’s from our younger years were all featured on the DJ’s playlist.

One of several dance circles on the dance floor at the beginning of the night.

I’m back in the Pfoho Library and ready to power through a few more chapters of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for my History and Literature tutorial on Monday.  I never take the undergraduate housing system for granted because it affords me with fun and random opportunities like attending the Millennium Dance tonight.

The ceiling was covered with images from the 2000's, including pictures of Beyoncé, George W. Bush, and the American Idol logo.

Until next week!

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Hi everyone!  This week has been uncharacteristically warm for this time of the year in Cambridge.  I feel like the sunny weather serves as a reflection of my current mood, because I have some great news to share with you all!  I have officially completed New Year’s Resolution #4.  Looking back on my post about the New Year (#auldlangsyne), you might remember that my fourth resolution was to attend at least one Office Hours session for each of the classes that I am taking this semester.  Well, I am happy to report that I have officially accomplished that mission.

Actually, I like to think that I went above and beyond my set goal.  A few weeks ago, I went to Office Hours for my English Seminar on the Civil War, taught by Professor John Stauffer.  I was incredibly excited about our meeting, because he is one my favorite professors at the college.  In fact, I took a lecture course with him in the fall called American Protest Literature, but I never took the time to speak with him outside of lecture.  Since I was already stepping outside of my comfort zone by attending Office Hours, I decided to “go big” and invite him to join me for the Pforzheimer House Student Faculty Dinner.

Every semester, Harvard students have the opportunity to invite a professor, advisor, or teaching fellow (TF) to a Student Faculty Dinner.  For the freshman students, the dinner is hosted in Annenberg Hall (the freshman dining hall).  However, for upperclassmen, the faculty members are invited to dine with you in your respective house.

Unfortunately, he was giving an evening guest lecture on the date of the dinner, and so he had to decline my invitation.  However, in an unexpected (but welcome) turn of events, my professor suggested that we make separate plans so that we could still have a one-on-one discussion.  We decided to meet for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the Square, and the English Department was kind enough to sponsor our outing.

I have to admit that leading up to the dinner I was a little nervous about how things would play out.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hold up my end of the conversation, or that the discussion would be inorganic and awkward.  It turns out that I had nothing to fear, because my professor was as dynamic one-on-one in a casual setting as he is in the classroom.  We were in the restaurant for about two hours, and in that time we discussed my academic interests, my plans for my thesis (talk about thinking ahead), and he even offered me some course suggestions for next fall.  More importantly, he took the time to get to know me as an individual.  We shared stories about our backgrounds, touching on our families, hobbies, and other interests.  It was an incredibly positive experience, and my only regret is not reaching out to a professor earlier on in my college experience.

Meeting with my Professor for dinner was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences that I have had in my time here at Harvard.  It’s reassuring to know that even though a lot of the professors here are well known (and tragically busy), they will still take the time to get to know their students.  That being said, I realize that I may have never had this memorable experience if I hadn’t taken the initiative to go to Office Hours, or if I hadn’t taken a risk and invited my professor to the Faculty Dinner.  Hopefully I will continue to reach out to my professors and teaching fellows, so that I can have similar experiences in my future at the College.

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Hi Everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, someone left a fantastic and thought-provoking question on my blog.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see the comment on my page until this week and at this point the comment section is closed on that post.

SO, my solution to this dilemma is to use this post as an opportunity to respond to the question.  Here is the original comment:

Good day Kemie,

I am of African ancestry and the proud dad of 2 daughters who I am prepping for admissions into Ivy league Universities. I was perusing Harvard’s website and I saw your blog.

I am a big believer in gathering data before jumping into a new project, so I was hoping—perhaps quixotically— that you might provide a few words of insight in answer to the 3 questions at the bottom of my message.

Either way, thank you for empowering young black girls by being a positive example.

Cheers,
Henry

1) What single factor do you think most helped in your admission application?

2) If you had to write a to-do list for someone serious about getting into and/or succeeding at Harvard what would the top five items be?

3) What myth about Harvard do you think is most damaging? 

PART ONE:

There’s really no way for me to know exactly which part of my application was the most instrument in my admission to the College.  I’ve heard that once you are enrolled at the College, you have the option of heading over to the Registrar’s Office and submitting a request to view your application.  I haven’t done it myself, but I have a few friends that have checked out their applications.  If I ever take a look at my old application, it will probably be my second semester senior year.  However, I kind of like the idea of leaving it a mystery.

PART TWO:

I am not an Admissions Officer, and so I am not really qualified to say what exactly what someone should and should not do in order to be admitted to Harvard.  However, I can definitely tell you about what I’ve learned so far about being successful as a student here.

This is all completely subjective, but here are my top three factors to success…or at least happiness (in no particular order).  I could honestly go on and on, but I feel that three in-depth responses should give you all an idea of where I am coming from.

1. Go to the activities fair, and actively explore the different student organizations.  Harvard has over 400 student organizations, so there is at least one group out there for everyone.  At the beginning of the first semester, the College hosts an activity fair where different groups set up tables and talk to interested freshman/other students about what they do.    It’s really important to get involved with a couple of extracurricular activities on-campus, because so much of Harvard life occurs outside of the classroom.  I have formed some of my strongest bonds with people that I met from my student groups.

2. Take a seminar or a course with limited enrollment your first semester.  As a freshman I was really intimidated by small classes, because I didn’t feel like I would be as impressive as other students in a focused discussion.  As a result, I spent my first few semesters taking large lecture courses and avoiding situations where I would be obliged to actively participate.  However, my freshman spring I took Expository Writing 20, the freshman writing requirement course, so I was forced to learn in a seminar-style setting.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I truly enjoyed being heard by my peers and hearing what other people had to say as well.  Obviously, my experience last spring has had a lasting effect on my undergraduate experience.  I am now a History and Literature concentrator so I spend a lot of time in seminar courses.

3. Take some time for yourself!  All work and no play makes Kemie a dull girl.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend at least one hour doing something completely unproductive, and just for me.  Whether it is checking out the links of Buzzfeed, watching the latest episode of the Vampire Diaries, or just taking a nap, I take some time away from my work to decompress.  That way, no matter show overwhelmed you are, you know that you got to keep that small part of your day to yourself.

PART THREE:

I think the most damaging myth about Harvard is the fallacy that all of the students are cut from the same cloth.  There is no typical Harvard student, and I think that is what makes the Harvard experience so rich and dynamic.  I am a first-generation born-American, from a public school in Virginia, and I love celebrity gossip, trashy television, and hanging out on my sofa.  There is obviously a lot more to me than just those few details, but my point is that I am not necessarily the student that comes to mind when people imagine the stereotypical Harvardian.  I think that the idea of a homogenous student body is the most damaging Harvard myth, because it fails to acknowledge the manner in which students here are exposed to people of different nationalities, religions, political beliefs, and more.  I know that I am a more open-minded and informed person because of the people that I have met in the past three semesters or so, and it’s a shame that some peoples’ misconceptions can take away from that.

Hi all!

I’m in the middle of a pretty fantastic weekend.  First of all, it is the last weekend before I get a week away from school for Spring Break.  Second of all, I just bought my ticket for an IMAX showing of the Hunger Games later this month (It’s the little things that give me pleasure).  Moreover, I’m done with the majority of my midterm papers and exams with the exception of one lingering exam for my history course on the British Empire.  Last, but not least, I am in a great mood because my older sister, Ola, is here to visit me until Sunday evening.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I’m from Virginia, so it’s not every week that I get to have friends and families come and spend time with me in Cambridge.  My sister is a senior at the University of Virginia, so she has not really had the opportunity to learn a lot about my school and what I do when I’m away from home.  With that in mind, my goal for the weekend is to offer her a 72-hour Harvard immersion experience.

Her bus got into South Station yesterday (Friday) evening, and we started off the weekend with some appreciation for the arts.  I volunteered as an usher for Ghungroo, so I brought Ola along for the show.  Ghungroo is an event put on by the Harvard South Asian Association.  Ghungroo presents a variety of choreographed dance pieces, musical performances, and other dramatic performances that celebrate South Asian and South Asian-American culture.  As you all know by now, I spend a lot of time checking out different performances by student organizations, so I’m really glad that I got the chance to share that aspect of Harvard with my sister.

Ghungroo

A photo that I took at Ghungroo

Ghungroo

One of the performances at Ghungroo

After the show was over, Ola and I went out to dinner with a few of my friends.  We had a late dinner at Border Café, which was a nice way to end the first of my sister’s visit.  I think that the chicken quesadillas at Border are a revelation (they’re undeniably delicious), and it was great knowing that Ola was able to enjoy one of my favorite meals with some of my favorite people on campus.

Today (Saturday) we had a late start to our day.  The original plan was to grab brunch in Harvard Square, and check out some of the art at the Sackler Museum in order to make the most of our afternoon together.  Unfortunately, the late night at Border Café caught up with us, and we ended up sleeping in past noon.  Although we didn’t have time to see what was on display in the Sackler, we still grabbed a bite to eat at Crema Café.

It just so happens that this weekend is also Junior Parents Weekends.  Junior Parents Weekend is a time when the parents of juniors are invited to campus in order to participate in things like open houses, lectures by faculty members, and to just spend time with their kids.  The timing is fantastic, because it means that my sister had the chance to meet a lot of my friends and their parents as well.  We spent most of the afternoon and evening running around Harvard Square and making the most of the fact that so many loved ones are on campus for the weekend.

Me and my sister, Ola

Me and my sister, Ola. This is a photo that we took and sent to my mom to show her what a great time we were having together.

That just about sums up everything that’s on my mind at the moment.   There’s time in the day, yet, so I’m off to spend some more time with my sister!  Until next week.

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This time last week, my proverbial plate was pretty full, but the storm has passed.  This week I turned in two mid-term papers (hooray!), and I have life left in me yet.  I will admit that I had to sleep in this morning in order to recover, but in the afternoon I walked from the Quad to Sanders Theatre in order to enjoy the 27th Annual Cultural Rhythms performance.

Like I mentioned the other week, I missed out on the show my freshman year, so I feel like I had two years of anticipation stored up.  I had heard rave reviews from my friends that went to the performance last year, but I have to say that Culture Rhythms still managed to exceed my expectations.

First of all, John Legend was honored as the Harvard Foundation’s Artist of the Year, and he did not disappoint.  He was a cool, confident, and charming host for the afternoon.  He even humored the audience by singing a few lines from his hit single, “Ordinary People”.  Before the show I was already a pretty dedicated fan so I was swooning like a schoolgirl the entire time.  My friends sitting next to me couldn’t help but laugh at my enthusiasm.  Apparently I left my pride outside of the theater this afternoon.

Mariachi Veritas performing in Sanders Theatre

Mariachi Veritas performing in Sanders Theatre

Ballet Folklorico de Aztlan

Ballet Folklorico de Aztlan

Corcairdhearg (Irish dancers)

Corcairdhearg (Irish dancers)

 

Cultural Rhythms is basically a showcase of a selection of cultural performance groups on campus.  The groups featured included Mariachi Veritas, the Harvard Breakers (a breakdancing/popping/locking dance crew), and the Kuumba Singers.  I have to say that my favorite part of the afternoon was probably the grand finale.  The final performance featured one or two representatives from each of the different groups that performed in Cultural Rhythms.  They all came together in one dance, and they incorporated choreography from each of the earlier performances.  Also, to top it all off they were performing to John Legend’s “Green Light”, as he looked on from his seat on stage.  I can’t think of a better way for them to have concluded the show.  You could tell that they put a lot of thought into the organization of the show, and I really appreciated the attention to detail.

All in all, it was an incredible afternoon.  Right now I am in the best mood imaginable because Cultural Rhythms is symbolic of what I love about being a student here.  Diversity is, without a doubt, the feature of my college experience that I value the most.  I love the excitement of being constantly exposed to the unfamiliar.  Moreover, diversity here at Harvard goes beyond race and ethnicity.  The student body is composed of individuals that represent various academic interests, and people that have distinct talents that set them apart for everyone else.  I genuinely feel like every student here has something different, something unique, to offer the undergraduate community.

Keeping that in mind, I am going to bask in the brilliance of a fantastic afternoon, and listen to some John Legend on my iTunes.  Happy Saturday!

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#busybusybusy

Hi all!

This past week has been okay, but nothing too exciting happened in the last seven days.  I don’t really feel like I’ve had the time to sit still long enough to really process what is going on in my life at this moment.  So instead of re-capping things that happened in hindsight, I’m going to focus on all of the great things that I have to look forward to.

February

-Cultural Rhythms at the end of the month!

March

-Spring Break!  I don’t have any specific plans as of now, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

April

-Yard Fest, which is a concert held every year in the Yard.  Last year the special guests were White Panda, Sam Adams, and Far East Movement!  They haven’t announced who will be performing this year, but it will be fun regardless.  Everyone gathers together in the yard for great food, great music, and just an overal great time.

May

-I’ll be flying down to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see my older sister graduate from the University of Virginia.  I’m so proud of her already, and it’s nowhere near May…

 

It’s great to have something to look forward to when things get a little hectic around here.  Hopefully things will calm down by next week!

The tickets for the Harvard Foundation’s Cultural Rhythms went on sale this Thursday!  I am happy to report that I got in line as soon as I got out of class in the afternoon, so I am now the proud owner of two tickets to the show!

The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations is devoted to encouraging diversity on campus by sponsoring activities and events that promote cultural awareness.  Although I am not personally involved in the group, I have a few friends on-campus that work as interns for the Foundation.  Culture Rhythms is the Harvard Foundation’s biggest production of the year, and each year the Foundation selects a distinguished performing artist that represents the Foundation’s mission statement, and honor them with the title of Artist of the Year.

There are a bunch of different components to the Cultural Rhythms Festival, including an ethnic-cuisine tasting and a small luncheon in Kirkland House with the Artist of the Year, but the main production is the afternoon performance in Sanders Theatre.

Luncheon in Kirkland

Last year's luncheon in the Kirkland House dining hall.

The show features performances by a wide array of cultural groups on campus, so there will be singing, dancing, and just about anything entertaining.  Moreover, the show is co-emceed by a Harvard Foundation Intern and the Artist of the Year!  To be clear, Cultural Rhythms is exciting in and of itself, but the Foundation has done a great job of attracting well-known and influential Artists of the Year while I have been here at Harvard.  Last year, Shakira was honored with the title…and this year the Artist of the Year is John Legend!

This year's poster for Cultural Rhythms.

This year's poster for Cultural Rhythms, featuring John Legend.

This will actually be the first Cultural Rhythms show of my undergraduate experience.  Last year I went to the luncheon in Kirkland with Shakira, but I didn’t make it to the actual performance.  I was having one of those days and I was too tired to do anything but sleep, so I gave my ticket away to a friend.  At the time I was dealing with my first wave of midterms, and school and health come first!  It was, admittedly, a bitter pill to swallow, but this is my year to redeem myself.  In 2012 I will not opt out of Cultural Rhythms to take a nap… I hope.

Shakira at Cultural Rhythms

Shakira receiving a special gift from the interns of the Harvard Foundation. This was taken at last year's luncheon.

That’s about it!  The show will be at the end of the month, so I’ll be sure to give you all a full report.  Happy Weekend!

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Hi!

This week was a whirlwind, friends.  I’ve been brainstorming and trying to remember how I spent the last seven days, but for the most part all that I can recall is a haze of class, meals, and sleep.

The first week of class after shopping period is always a bit of a slap in the face.  After having a month off from school for break, it can be difficult adjusting to being back on campus.  Since the last week doesn’t really form a continuous narrative in my memory, here are a couple of random moments from the past few days that stood out to me for one reason or another.

Monday, January 30, 2012:

On Monday I had to wake up early to “poster” the yard, which really just means taping flyers to bulletin boards and kiosks.  Since I was already awake and out of the Quad, I enjoyed hot breakfast in Annenberg (the freshman dining hall) with some friends.  It might not sound like a significant moment to you, but hot breakfast is kind of a big deal around here.  Hot breakfast means eggs (any way you want them!), bacon, breakfast sandwiches, etc. as opposed to muffins and cereal. It was a superb way to jump-start my Manic Monday.

Annenberg Hall

Annenberg Hall (the freshman dining hall and proud provider of hot breakfast!)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012:

I had one hour of class.  I don’t think that I need to justify why this was a bright moment in my week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012:

Wednesday afternoon I remembered that I had BoardPlus credit!  BoardPlus is essentially free money.  Every semester Harvard loads $65 of Board Plus on every student’s Harvard I.D.  You can use BoardPlus credit in place of cash/credit at certain locations on campus.  With the start of the new semester, I had $65 fresh dollars in my account, so I treated myself to a large FREE café americano at the Barker Center Café.

Thursday, February 2, 2012:

Thursday evening I had my first section meeting for my history class on the British Empire.  Section is basically an hour-long session during which a small group of students meets with a Teaching Fellow (TF) to further discuss the readings/lectures for classes with larger enrollments.   I don’t usually have a lot of sections because History and Literature courses tend to be offered as seminars.  Seminars usually have a maximum of 15 people, so there’s no need to breakdown into sections.

That being said, I was dreading having to add an extra hour of class to my schedule.  However, it turns out that section was actually a good time!  The TF is young, spunky, and easygoing.  She’s a History of Science grad student with a focus on madness and mental illness in Britain.  How cool is that? She’s also British, which is a nice touch considering the subject of the class.

Friday, February 3, 2012:

I don’t have class on Fridays, so that’s reason enough to celebrate.  I spent the entire day de-stressing and rewarding myself for surviving the first week of work.  I went to Newbury Street for a hair appointment, and then I wandered up and down Newbury Street and Boylston Street to explore the shops.  I cannot imagine a better way to end the week.  It’s great how it’s the little things that really stick with you when everything is said and done.

Newbury Street Boston by Celia Judge

An oil painting of Newbury Street by Celia Judge

Until next week!

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Hi all!

I just finished my first week of class, and the outlook is bright.  I’m all settled on my courses for the semester and it’s great to be done with stress of shopping classes.  This semester I am taking the sophomore tutorial for History and Literature (my concentration), an English seminar about the American Civil War, a history class on the British Empire, and an introductory course in French.  I feel really good about things right now and it should be a fantastic semester, but only time will tell.

In other news, this Thursday was the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Woman of the Year celebration.  The Hasty Pudding Theatricals is an undergraduate theater company that features an all-male cast, which means that Harvard men in drag portray female roles!  This year the Theatricals honored Claire Danes as their Women of the Year (WOY) and she did not disappoint.  It’s a daylong affair and includes a parade through the streets of Cambridge, a roast of the honoree, and a preview of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual spring show.

I joined in on the festivities after class, so I caught the tail-end of the parade.  The parade featured a marching band, On Harvard Time (a student-produced comedy news program), members of the company, and of course the Woman of the Year herself!

Claire Danes in the WOY Parade.

Claire Danes in the WOY Parade. Unfortunately, I caught her mid-blink…

The press trolley in the parade.

The press trolley in the WOY Parade.

The band in the WOY parade.

The band in the WOY Parade.

On Harvard Time in the WOY Parade.

On Harvard Time in the WOY Parade. Please note "Drew Faust" in high spirits!

This year the show is called “There Will Be Flood”, and based on the preview it is going to be filled with hilarious puns, over-the-top costumes and sets, and fantastic talent.  The show is a student-run musical, so it’s a lot of fun to be a part of the audience and see my friends and classmates on-stage and running things.  I have already purchased my ticket to see the show in two weeks and I cannot wait!  If you’re going to be in the Cambridge area between February 4th and March 4th, then you should really consider stopping by Farkas Hall to check it out!

…On a completely separate note, I was having lunch in Adams house with my friend Lanier the other day, and I couldn’t help but notice that she got a little creative with her meal.  It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) has an off day, and the dining options are bleak.  Instead of resigning herself to the salad bar and grill (solid safety options), Lanier thought outside of the box and prepared a makeshift pizza!  She had pita bread, pasta sauce, shredded mozzarella, and a microwave at her disposal, so she made it work.

Chef Lanier with her fantastic creation!

Chef Lanier with her fantastic creation!

A closeup of Lanier's Lunch.

A closeup of Lanier's Lunch.

Alright, I’m actually not in Cambridge right now because I am on a board retreat for the Crimson Key Society in Chatham, Massachusetts, so I have to run.  I’m already looking forward to checking in with you all next week!

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Greetings from Cambridge!

As you might know already, I am an Information Office tour guide through the Crimson Key Society (Key).  I just gave my first tour of the semester, and I have to admit that it got me really excited about the upcoming semester.  I’ve been basically bumming around campus since I flew back to Cambridge on Sunday, but now it’s time to start thinking about classes and activities for the spring.

Monday is the first day of Shopping Period, which is the week or so when students are allowed to sample the courses that they are considering for the semester.  I plan on taking four classes this semester, one of which will be my History and Literature tutorial for concentrators.  My tutorial will meet for three hours every Monday, which sounds painful but I actually think that it will be my favorite course this semester.  My field in History and Literature (or Hist and Lit) is America, and the seminar will focus on New York City.  I was checking out the syllabus earlier this week, and the readings are on point.  I’m genuinely excited to read and discuss The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton), and Angels in America (Tony Kushner) to name a few.

Cugat's Cover Art for The Great Gatsby

Francis Cugat's cover art for The Great Gatsby.

Honestly, my biggest problem right now is figuring out where to put all of my books for the coming semester.  I didn’t sell any of my texts from the fall, and I couldn’t take them all home with me over break, so my bookshelf is kind of running low on space.  Aside from my tutorial, the rest of my schedule is up in the air, so this Shopping Period will be heavy on the shopping.  I’ll let you guys know what I decide in my next week or next.

My Book Shelf

Books on books on books.

Outside of the classroom I am looking forward to dedicating lots and lots of time to Crimson Key.  I can’t remember if I mentioned it in any of my posts last semester, but I ran and won a spot on the Crimson Key Board as a Tour Coordinator.  My job is basically to work with the Information Office to staff historic tours of Harvard Yard.  I love Key and I love tours (and I especially love a good e-mail) so it’s actually a match made in heaven.  Also, Crimson Key runs its comp* from February through April so that’s where I’ll be focusing a lot of my time and energy this semester.

Last but not least, I have some disappointing news to report.  Unfortunately, I have already failed to stick to one of my resolutions for 2012.  I’ve only been back at school for about 5 days, and I have already indulged in numerous non-HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) treats.  In this short window of opportunity I have been basically hemorrhaging money thanks to two visits to Pinkberry, a stop at Broadway Market for Sushi, a soup and sandwich meal at Crema Café, a Boloco burrito dinner, and numerous mid-day Starbucks drinks.  I am a sham and a failure.  Hopefully I’ll show more discipline in regards to my other resolutions…

I’m looking forward to writing next week!  Hopefully you all have been stronger than I have been in the New Year.

*Comp, which is kind of short for “competency”, is the process of joining a student organization here on campus.  Some student groups have comps, some don’t.  Some comps are more competitive than others.  At the end of the day it is just another dimension of student life. (Paraphrased from Inside Harvard by the CKS)

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