Scott’s Blog

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It’s hard to believe that summer is over, and all of the new freshmen will be arriving on campus soon. It’s weird to think I won’t be going back to Harvard in September to start school. I will, however, be back on Labor Day to serve as a marshal for Freshman Convocation, which is a fairly new tradition that started with my class. It is essentially a welcoming ceremony, and the only time that a Harvard College class is together in its entirety with the exception of Commencement. Both Convocation and Commencement are nice bookends to a Harvard experience, and I’m definitely jealous of all of the students just starting their journey. If you couldn’t tell by my (still) blogging, I miss it a lot! I imagine I’ll be posting very infrequently from now on, but I thought I’d post this recap I promised several weeks ago.

Commencement is the most wonderful, ludicrous, over-the-top experience. In the weeks leading up to it, I had several people tell me that it would be a crazy, extravagant ceremony, but words simply don’t do it justice. I know it sounds like it’s really far away, but senior year will sneak up on you! As a Class Marshal (which is basically the equivalent of a high school class officer or board member), I was lucky enough to stand at the front of the procession line of faculty, honorees, and special guests. We all stood there, ecstatic, taking photos of each other and of the incredible view we had–both of the stage in front of us and the sea of people behind us. I’m not sure if it’s true, but apparently there were over 32,000 people in Harvard Yard that day.

Commencement is broken up into three parts–the Morning Exercises, Diploma Presentations at the Houses, and the Afternoon Exercises (Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association).

The morning was my favorite. The ceremonies involved a man whose sole responsibility was to call the exercises to order by shouting at the top of his lungs and banging a long metal (?) rod on the ground. He did the same thing to close the ceremonies. He wore a large top hat and had the loudest voice I’ve ever heard. If I remember correctly, he spoke in an accent and appeared as if he could have arrived to Cambridge by horse. Beyond him, there were some incredible speeches that you can YouTube, but the most surreal part was being in front of all of the honorees, who are the leaders in their fields. The honorees included some incredible scientists, philanthropists, and historians, as well as Oprah Winfrey and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

The ceremony is really awesome–each dean from the different schools stands up and delivers brief remarks, which is followed by that respective school standing up and President Faust using the words “with the power invested in me” and “confer upon you” (or something to that “official” effect) to grant degrees. The College came last. It is tradition for the Class Marshals and Summa Cum Laude graduates to stand on the steps of the stage, directly in front of the Dean, President, and special guests as our degrees are conferred upon us. While I didn’t cry that entire week, this is where I cracked…a bit. It was very emotional standing up there in front of people like Oprah, and the whole 5 minutes was quite symbolic. I teared up and tried to hold it in, but when I looked over at my friend and fellow Class Marshal, Nadia, who was fanning her face with tears welling up in her eyes, I also started to cry. The best part was when Oprah saw Nadia, stood up, and motioned to hug her. That’s the point when waterworks began for several people and we all started hugging President Faust and Oprah, which was a crazy moment that I still don’t believe happened. Speaking with and meeting Oprah felt really out of body, like a dream. I know I’ll never forget it, and we got a pretty cool picture out of it, too!

Scott Yim, Nina Yancy, Julie Barzilay with Oprah at Harvard Commencement

The Oprah encounters didn’t end there. After we received our diplomas at our Houses, it was time to run over to the the Afternoon Exercises. I was lucky to have a seat on stage, but little did I know that I was going to be directly behind Oprah. I ended up being on camera nearly throughout her speech, which meant all of my stupid, goofy, and animated faces were documented. I’ve started to call it the image (s) that I will never escape. Footage or pictures of me behind Oprah have found themselves on MSNBC, ABC, various news channels, Pinterest, and all over my Facebook, among other places, I’m sure.

Just me and Oprah…

I really wish someone had told me I would be in the camera shot the whole time, but I guess it’s kind of hilarious and I guess it could be worse. I keep telling myself I’m lucky I didn’t fall asleep or yawn obnoxiously or something. After all, we were all up really late the night before Commencement, hanging out with friends, so it was very much a realistic possibility. I also had friends tell me I should have made ugly faces or have done something outrageous to catch peoples’ attention more. They said I had the best opportunity to troll behind Oprah and become a Buzzfeed sensation. Better luck next time? Regardless, if you haven’t seen the video, I’ve included it below, in case you want to see any of my ridiculous reactions and faces.

I’ll hopefully be able to write about some alumni events in New York, as well as Convocation. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and write to give you a sense of what life as an alum is like! Signing off for now, but leaving you with an awesome photo 🙂

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It’s been a little over a month! So much has happened between Commencement and transitioning into the “real world” that it’s hard to remember every detail of the past couple of weeks. However, I’ll touch on some of the most memorable parts of my Commencement experience that made it so much more than anything I could have ever imagined. Here’s Part 1: Class Day.

As a member of the Senior Class Committee (SCC), I was able to help plan many amazing events for the Class of 2013. In particular, I was in charge of organizing Class Day, the annual gathering of the graduating senior class, as well as Harvard faculty, Housemasters, and the students’ family, friends, and loved ones. The ceremony is about two hours long, and features remarks from the Dean of the College, the Harvard Alumni Association President, graduating members of the Class of 2013 (4 selected student speakers, as well as student leaders on the SCC), and a special guest speaker. Myself and two other members of the SCC, Emily and Rebecca, worked together all year long to make sure this day was as special as possible.

The guest speaker whom we invited was Soledad O’Brien ’88. An incredibly accomplished journalist (she reports for CNN and HBO to name two) and philanthropist (she has a foundation with her husband that sends promising young women to college), we invited her because she pursued her passions of storytelling and followed an untraditional path after college. Today, she’s an incredible journalist, who has traveled the world telling stories of extraordinary people and circumstances. She sounds pretty awesome, right? Just wait until you hear the speech she delivered to our class.

Class Day Committee with Soledad O’Brien

Every year on the day of the event, the SCC is lucky enough to have a luncheon with the speaker. However, because these people are quite busy individuals, we were told that we shouldn’t necessarily expect to spend a lot of time with Soledad. And in past years, students have only been able to take one photograph with the celebrity. I can’t say that I was surprised when Soledad didn’t conform to these expectations. She arrived to the luncheon on time, and immediately started introducing herself to students. I thought this was weird because we obviously all knew who she was, yet she clearly didn’t think she was above shaking our hands and telling us her name just like any other person. Soledad was affable and down to earth. She was incredibly patient as she took individual photos with every single Committee member, which probably took a half hour–something that many people with an accomplishment list as long as hers probably wouldn’t stand for. She was quite the class act, and we all fell in love with her as soon as we met her. However, the most magical part of the afternoon happened when she took the stage. Soledad delivered a deeply personal and touching speech. I actually just watched it again last week, and despite the cliche message that one might expect from a Commencement address, her delivery was one of the most genuine things I have ever heard. See below. It truly made our Class Day one I will never forget, and she immediately became a role model whom I’m proud to be able to call our Class Day guest speaker. I know I’ll remember her speech forever.

Meeting Soledad O’Brien!

Presenting Soledad with a little gift from the Class of 2013 Senior Class Committee

Me and Soledad

Soledad’s speech (Keynote Address):

As Second Marshal (the equivalent of Vice President of my class–you see, Harvard has all of these official names, but it all means the same thing. Tuh-MAY-toe, tuh-MAH-to), I had the honor of closing our Class Day exercises. Speaking in front of an audience of 10,000 was incredible, especially looking out and seeing my family and friends in the sea of faces. It is definitely a moment I will cherish because I don’t think that’ll happen ever again.

My speech (Closing Remarks):

Keep an eye out for Part 2: Commencement. It’ll feature a special woman named…Oprah!

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Last week was Senior Week, which operates a lot like a high school senior week — a week of fun and memorable events just for seniors! My senior week in high school involved a Blue Man Group show, an honors and awards banquet, prom, senior breakfast and yearbook signing, and Relay for Life. Senior Week at Harvard is pretty similar, and I thought I would share our schedule events below:

Sunday, May 19 – Six Flags
Monday, May 20 – Scavenger Hunt
Tuesday, May 21 – Moonlight Cruise
Wednesday, May 22 – Senior Talent Show
Thursday, May 23 – Luau & Last Chance Dance
Friday, May 24 – Beach Day
Saturday, May 25 – Senior Soiree
Sunday, May 26 – Senior Olympics & BBQ

With friends for Senior Olympics!

I’ll be sure to post some videos from the Senior Talent Show as soon as we get them. We are planning to post them on our official Harvard 2013 YouTube channel. I did a hip-hop routine with Expressions Dance Company — we closed the show! It was so cool to perform on Sanders Theatre’s stage before graduating. Definitely one of the highlights of the entire week.

My favorite event was the Scavenger Hunt. I was one of the Senior Class Committee (SCC) members who planned it, and it was a lot of fun. Just as an FYI, the SCC is a board of just under 30 members of the senior class who plan events for our last year in college and make sure the transition to alumni life is as smooth as possible. The SCC tries to ensure that students remain connected to Harvard. Despite not participating in the Scavenger Hunt, my friend Nina and I got to make up all of the tasks and help score as people sent in their hilarious pictures and videos. We sent our peers off with over 60 tasks around campus and Boston, including taking pictures with tourists, conga lining down Newbury Street, and running around from freshman dorm to upperclassman house. There were some creative takes on many of the items on the list. It was pretty awesome to see how dedicated (and fast) people were. Two groups even got a Nobel Prize winner to do the dougie with them, which was a task that had one of the largest point values. We also didn’t think anyone would actually be able to do it!

SCC with our best blue steel faces!

Nina and I on Scavenger Hunt day!

It’s such a different feeling being on campus with nothing to do and a goal of simply having fun. I think every class should have a week dedicated to themselves at the end of the year, but perhaps that would make the final Senior Week less special. And of course, all good things must come to an end. Senior Week has come and gone, with a quick turnaround to Commencement Week, which included some of the most memorable and magical days of my life. Commencement warrants its own post entirely, so I will make sure I do that sometime soon. To give you a preview — I had lunch with Soledad O’Brien; I cried in front of, talked to, and hugged President Faust, Dean Hammonds, and Oprah Winfrey; and, most importantly, was awarded my diploma surrounded by my family and friends. There were so many emotions running through my head and it all happened too quickly. Luckily, it was well documented in photos, which I will post in my next blog entry.

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There are so many cool events and activities on campus. The best time to get a taste of these awesome things is senior spring, right? Therefore, I’ve been trying a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve never done before!

Holi, a traditional Hindu ceremony that celebrates renewing relationships and the triumph of good over bad, was a few weeks ago. We have an annual event here on campus, much like ceremonies around the world, where people get together and throw colored powder at each other to celebrate. I think a fully authentic ceremony would also consist of a bonfire, but open flames aren’t allowed on campus, so unfortunately we aren’t able to replicate it exactly. Regardless, it was such a fun thing to do. There were so many seniors there (I imagine they had the same “senior spring” attitude to participate in things that they haven’t before graduating), and the pictures from the event are really awesome!

Me and my blockmate, Lina, at Holi!

Me and my blockmate, Lina, at Holi!

Another event that I just participated in is the Identities Fashion Show. It’s kind of hilarious because I’ve never done anything like it before, but my friend Sifon dragged me to the audition. Well, maybe “dragged” isn’t exactly accurate–I had secretly wanted to try something like this for a while, but I would have never tried it without her encouragement. Participating in the show was pretty simple. The scene directors basically fit you in expensive designer clothing, and you just practice walking. The day of the show, you get your hair and makeup done, and just walk down a runway. It was surprisingly a lot more fun than I imagined it was going to be, and I’m so glad I did it…definitely something I probably won’t ever do again, so it was a pretty neat, out of body experience!

Me and my friend, Nina, at Identities!

Me and my friend, Nina, at Identities!

Participating in all of these events has made me realize that there are so many amazing things at Harvard that I haven’t taken advantage of, even though I’ve been incredibly involved. There’s just so much to do here!

This weekend was my last show for Expressions Dance Company, a hip hop troupe that I joined the fall of my junior year. It was an incredibly fun and fulfilling experience because we’ve been working really hard all semester with weekly rehearsals, which ramped up to about 4 hours of rehearsal everyday this week. I choreographed two different segments, one of which is part of the annual Senior Dance! Senior Dance is open to any senior who wants to join, regardless of skill level. We had about 75 seniors in the dance, and it’s been a lot of fun to meet so many new people from different social circles, which is what Senior Dance is all about–bringing members of the class of 2013 together to have a good time.


Choreographers at Dress Rehearsal!

Some senior girls at Dress Rehearsal in my friend Julie’s segment!

Aside from Senior Dance, I’m also a member of EXP, the traveling sub-group of Expressions. Here’s a video of an EXP segment, choreographed by two incredible freshmen named Kristen and Rebecca. So much talent!

Are those of you who are coming for pre-frosh weekend (or “Visitas” as they are now calling it) excited to visit campus?!

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The title of this post makes me sad. This past week was my last spring break…ever. I was able to travel a bit and spend some time at home. Spring break started at 3 am last Friday as I headed to the airport to fly to Seoul, South Korea! That weekend, I’d spend more time in the air traveling, than I would on the ground. I was only in Seoul for about 30 hours. It was the quickest (and longest) trip I’ve ever done. What an oxymoron.

My friend (and former PAF–Peer Advising Fellow, or an upperclassman buddy that is assigned to each and every freshman!), Lilli ’11, and I traveled together to shoot another episode of the Korean documentary we’ve been hosting for the past year. I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, but to recap: “Homo Academicus” is an education documentary series consisting of 4 episodes that I’ve been co-hosting with 3 other Harvard students (Brian ’14, Jenny ’13, and Lilli). We traveled to various countries around the world to observe how cultural differences, privileges, and inequities affect education and styles of learning. One of the coolest things that I’ve done while at Harvard–definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s also something I would have never had the opportunity to pursue if it weren’t for being a Harvard student.

Lilli and I in front of one of our promotional posters!

The documentary premiered on February 28, and new episodes have been airing weekly on Thursday nights throughout March. The first episode had decent ratings, but the second one shot up to number 2 on the charts. As a result of the show’s success, our producers invited us back to film an epilogue of sorts as an episode 5, and thus, the 30 hour whirlwind trip to Korea occurred. The trip itself was as crazy and fun as it was exhausting. As soon as I hopped off the plane (a combined 18 hours of travel with my layover in San Francisco), I headed to a local cafe where we would be filming. We had a live studio audience of about 100 people, which was insane! One of the show’s viewers even drove 3 hours to be an audience member; what a trooper! While I’m on this high, let me just say that we were noticed on the street a few times, which was simultaneously both really funny and super bizarre. It felt like an out of body experience, but still very cool!


Luckily, I haven’t been jet-lagged! I don’t know why. I think the trip might have been too short for me to adjust to any timezone–perhaps my body was just really tired and confused. My parents are moving to a new house, so I’ve been packing up my things and going through all belongings that I’ve lugged around for years and years. I haven’t grown in height since freshman year of high school or so, and therefore, I always tell myself I’ll wear something that is clearly no longer age appropriate for me. This cleaning really helped, though, because I sorted through my entire closet and donated 3 bags full of old t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pants! The best part was that I drove back to campus to pick up my friend, Teagan, who stayed at school for spring break, to join this adventure. The joys of being a (fairly) local Harvardian: campus is just a short 40-minute drive away. Massachusetts residents, I’m talking to you! Being able to drive back and forth to campus from home whenever you’d like is such a huge plus!

I’m still in the midst of packing and am only home for one more day. Yikes. I should probably go do that now, but I’ve had a lovely last spring break that I’m sure I’ll look back on with fond memories. Crossing my fingers that it stops snowing!

Also, HUGE congratulations to the Men’s Basketball team on a historic win in the NCAA Tournament! I have a few friends on the team and am so incredibly happy for them! Can’t wait to root for them when they play Arizona!

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Wow, it’s been a while! It’s currently blizzarding a bit outside, and I’m not sure when it’s going to stop. I grew up on the border of New Hampshire, so I’ve been over the snow for years. It’s definitely not my favorite part about New England, but everyone else seems to love it. Check out Caroline’s post from earlier today for some pictures!

Prom pose!

Prom pose!

Last Sunday, Jeanie‘s sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, had an event at a local restaurant in Harvard Square. We danced the night away and were able to snap this fun “prom pose” picture! It’s always a good time spending time with other bloggers. The event was my fun for the weekend because I had a busy week coming up, both academically and extracurricularly. I would argue that this week was my worst week of the semester, with two midterms on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with meetings for student groups and lectures all in between. I think I slept a total of 6 hours during that two day window. Relatively, I have it pretty good since I’m not writing a senior thesis (hence the title of this post–Thesis Shmesis), which, depending on one’s concentration, have staggered due dates all this week, next week, and even post-spring break. After my exam on Wednesday, I was on an adrenaline kick and decided I would do something nice for my thesis-writing friends who live on my floor. I made a wall of encouraging memes, as well as printed out motivational posters and taped them to everyone’s door. It took me about an hour, which was a lot longer than I expected, but I think (well, at least I hope) that people were surprised. The decorations also added a lovely touch to our hallway.

Thesis Encouragement Wall of Memes

Thesis Encouragement Wall of Memes!

A few hours after postering and finishing my project, I came home to a Facebook notification that had me tagged in a photo and read, “THANK YOU to whoever posted this sign, but James might be a bit confused why it’s on his door… :)” I realized I should be a bit more careful when running on such little sleep…check our the photo below.

Woops–wrong door!

I spent all morning yesterday filming a “Senior Spring Hype Video” as we are so unoriginally calling it for now. We had about 30 seniors show up to our film location in 10 minute intervals, and we asked them to dance, flip their hair, make faces, and act goofy in front of the camera. I’m in the process of editing all of the footage now into a 2 minute clip that we’re setting to fun music. We’re planning to release the video when we get back from spring break since most people will have much less work to do and can really bask in all the glory that is senior spring. We want people to really take advantage of our last few months here and this video will be an awesome way to welcome everyone back to campus. I’ll post the link when it’s up on YouTube!

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s my first post in 2013. I graduate in less than 5 months! I’m currently at home relaxing for a week before I head back to campus. I just returned to the States from South Korea on Thursday. I was in Seoul promoting the documentary I’ve been a part of for the past 9 months. You can read more about it in a post I wrote back in June, but to get you all up to speed, here’s a quick recap: “Homo Academicus” is a new documentary series that I’ve been hosting in between school and other commitments since the beginning of summer in 2012. Along with 3 other Harvard students (Brian ’14, Jenny ’13, and Lilli ’11), I traveled to various countries around the world to observe how cultural differences, privileges, and inequities affect education and styles of learning. Between the 4 of us, we’ve traveled to China, Japan, India, Israel, South Korea, and Uganda, visiting schools, interviewing students, and immersing ourselves in the rich culture of each of the countries. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for which we’re all incredibly grateful. It won’t be released until March 2013 on the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and possibly BBC, but I thought I’d share a sneak peak of it with you all. I’ll have to try to find some online videos on YouTube or something, but in the meantime, check out the video below.

The trip to Korea was over a span of 5 days, including travel. The flight itself is about 14 hours, so we weren’t there for too long. The morning after we landed, we had a publicity blitz consisting of a morning talk show, as well as interviews and photoshoots with 3 different magazines and a newspaper. Some of the footage in the YouTube video above is from this week. Many of the interviews included questions about each of our upbringings and our road to Harvard. It’s fascinating how different all of our experiences were while growing up, and I learned new things about Brian, Jenny, and Lilli as we answered each interviewers’ questions. Many of the magazines also asked us our thoughts on the education systems of the countries to which we traveled. We mentioned some key takeaways we realized from traveling. I think one of the things we all agreed on is that we’ve been quite fortunate here in the United States, not just at Harvard, but in the education system in general. We’ve been able to study what we’re passionate about, which isn’t always the case in some other countries due to family expectations or boundaries that are set upon children at birth. We also agreed that we learned a lot more than we expected. Education isn’t the first thing you think about when considering cultural differences; it’s usually the language, food, social structure, etc. that come to mind. However, we all learned firsthand that the approach and attitude towards education vary from country to country and region to region.

This is one of the best examples of a neat opportunity I’ve had just by virtue of being a Harvard student. This project definitely would not have presented itself if it weren’t for Harvard, and all 4 of us agree that we’ll never forget this experience.

What am I doing this week? Well, I’m currently transferring files from my old laptop to my new one. My first computer was on its last leg during the fall semester, so I purchased a new one, but didn’t have the time to migrate photos, music, and important documents. Therefore, I’m doing it now–what I consider a great use of my January break. Unfortunately, I forgot my external hard drive at school in my dorm room so I’m currently using a 16 GB flash drive. It’s quite a slow process, and I’m driving myself nuts. It’s such a mindless process, though, that I really don’t mind it all too much. I just get nervous that I’ll end up missing a file that I really need.

I’ve also been working remotely from home with tons and tons of emails and Google Hangouts regarding things pertaining to the senior class. I’m a Marshal for the Class of 2013, which is probably best explained through the Harvard Alumni Association‘s website:

“Each senior class will elect eight class marshals. The first marshal is the Harvard College equivalent of class president and the second marshal is analogous to vice president, with the remaining six marshals serving as Class-wide representatives. Class marshals are elected by all senior class members eligible to vote, with the top two vote-getters earning the designation of first and second marshal, respectively.”

The Class Marshals make up 8 positions on the larger Senior Class Committee, which is a group of 29 seniors who work together to make senior year and beyond awesome and memorable. You could think of us as The Party Planning Committee if you’ve seen The Office. I’m pretty sure I’ve used that analogy when talking about House Committees in a previous post, but we do a lot of similar things–just on a larger scale! We’re currently working on a merchandise order, as well as planning parties, innings (around campus), outings (in Cambridge or Boston), service trips, and Senior Week in May. We actually just launched our official website––so be sure to check that out!

I’m off to migrate more files. Take a look at our new Twitter layout for 2013. I’m no pro, but I try. We received some new followers after early admit decisions came out last month, so I’m trying to use my time productively and make it stick!

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I’m done! And I’m writing to you all from home! I got home on Saturday afternoon and then spent the rest of the day shopping for Christmas gifts. By the way, the holidays totally snuck up on me this year. I haven’t really had the time or chance to think about them and Christmas Eve is…today!

The days leading up to my exam, I spent quite a lot of time in one of my favorite study spaces on campus: The Graduate School of Education‘s Gutman Library. It underwent renovation last fall and was completed in the spring. Gutman Library is actually one of the most relaxing places ever. The people don’t seem very stressed out; perhaps it’s something about the Ed School culture? On top of the great atmosphere, they have awesome purple chairs, huge tables, comfy, lounge-like couches, and an amazing cafe that beats Starbucks any day. Check out the following video of John Collins, Head Librarian, who gives a tour of the renovated space:

What’s my favorite part about Gutman Library? No one checks your bag before you walk out! The other two libraries I frequent, Lamont and Widener, have people who sit at the entrance to inspect bags as students are leaving. They have to do this to make sure that someone isn’t walking out with items such as the Gutenberg Bible, of which Widener has a complete surviving copy. There are so many important books in our libraries…it’s nuts. It’s funny because as soon as you walk out of Gutman, it feels strange that no one asks you to open every compartment of your backpack. I love it. Hey, it’s the little things! And speaking of little things, another one of my favorite parts about Gutman is the fact that Dean McCartney buys everyone free coffee and tea throughout Final Exam Period! No kidding — it’s free drinks every single day, and you don’t even have to be an Ed School student. However, she was just named President of Smith College so I’m hoping whoever succeeds her will still buy us free coffee and tea during exams. I know it sounds hilarious but it’s really one of my favorite parts of studying there at the end of each semester! Gutman Library is truly a gem, and if you get the chance, I hope you’ll all check it out!

My sister, Amanda, came to visit on Thursday and stayed with me for two days. I don’t see her too often because she lives and works in Los Angeles, so all I wanted to do was hang out with her. Of course, I had to force myself to study! Luckily, I brought her to Gutman with me on Thursday and we were able to do work next to each other. She loved Gutman as much as I do, and just ask her for an outside opinion; I’m confident she would give rave reviews.

Happy Yim siblings!

Happy Yim siblings!

Now that I’m home, I’m ready to take some time to relax for the holidays, which will include plenty of eating, as well as Netflix watching. I’m thinking of starting a new television series. I also have several books I want to read. After some much needed chill time, I think I’ll start applying to post-grad opportunities. I’m also going to Korea with three friends from Harvard for 5 days to do a final promotional run for the documentary series that I was a part of this past summer. However, I’m purposely trying not to stay too busy!

I hope everyone enjoys the holidays and the end of the year. I also hope you’ll write or tweet to us bloggers if you have any questions! See you all in 2013!

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First, congratulations to the Class of 2017! I’m so jealous you all found out so early. I had to wait until the spring when I applied my senior year of high school because there was no such thing as Early Action!

On December 5, Quincy House had our semester-ly formal event! This year’s winter formal was a Tri-House Formal along with Dunster (Caroline‘s House!) and Leverett, which are two other upperclass dorm buildings. The event was at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, and it was the last event of the year I planned as HoCo Co-Chair. HoCo (short for House Committee) is essentially the party-planning committee (Have you seen The Office?) for each upperclassmen dorm building. Every House has one, and in addition to formals, we plan community events like study breaks and act as liaisons between the administration and students. My term is officially ending at the end of this semester. But back to the formal, which was a lot of fun. The venue looked like a convention center and it was decked out in winter decorations, along with falling snow and projections on the walls. Pictures absolutely don’t do it justice, but I thought this might help with the visual:

Tri-House Formal: "A Night by the Harbor"

Tri-House Formal: “A Night by the Harbor”

During Reading Period (which is the week before Final Exam Period, where there are no classes and we get all of this unstructured time to study), I had the opportunity to watch the musical RENT, which a few of my good friends were acting, singing, and dancing in. It’s a poignant story about young artists who live in New York and whose lives are all affected to some extent by HIV/AIDS. Read more about it here. I’m always amazed by my peers’ talents, but this show took that to another level. I’ll admit that I’m not very knowledgeable regarding musicals, but I very much enjoyed this one. It was definitely the best show that I’ve seen on campus. I don’t think there are any videos up right now, but I’ll make sure I post one as soon as they go up on YouTube.

Here's me and two of my friends, Mel and Yasmeen, who stole the show in RENT!

Here’s me and two of my friends, Mel and Yasmeen, who stole the show in RENT!

The semester is coming to an end, and I wish it wasn’t because this means I’m that much closer to senior spring. I’ve actually been feeling pretty sick the past few days. I had a 20-page final paper to write with a 102.4 fever. That sounds absurd, right? I don’t know where it came from. It happened so suddenly and I just felt deathly ill. Luckily, the teaching staff of this course that I’m taking was incredibly understanding and gave me an extension on the deadline. This way, I was able to sleep instead of trying to get creative juices flowing. Looking back on the earlier portion of the week, it’s actually kind of hilarious because I can’t describe what I felt like in any other way than feeling like a vegetable. My head was heavy and thinking was so incredibly difficult. I’m not at 100% yet, but definitely a huge improvement from what I was feeling on Monday/Tuesday. And the paper’s in!

I’m far from done, as I have an exam and another paper due by the 21st (aka the last day of Exam Period). Unfortunate! I haven’t stayed on campus this late since freshman year. Everyone leaves here at different times for a variety of reasons–some people leave as soon as their last commitment on campus is over, whereas some people choose to stay a few extra days to hang out. Reading Period and Finals are interesting because the level of difficulty and rigor can vary from semester to semester, from concentration to concentration. I’ve had a semester where I had to take 3 exams, and others where I have only had papers and projects. I’ve also had two exams on consecutive days, or like this semester, have one paper due and then literally over a week until my next assignment or exam. I’m not sure which I like better. It’s always a tradeoff though. For some, getting everything over with is the ideal, even if it means a super high-stress couple of days. For others, dragging everything out over the full two week period and staying until the last day is desired. This is the first year in a while that I’m the last person in my room to leave. My roommate, Paul, left today, which is a full 8 days before I head home. One roommate down, 6 to go. The rest of the guys will be leaving between now and Wednesday, which then leaves me here for three days on my own…

I’m sure those three days will leave me bored and wanting to procrastinate, so I’ll make sure I post once more before the end of the semester!

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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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