Dunster House

You are currently browsing articles tagged Dunster House.

My remaining posts are probably going to start taking on a similar theme as I run through many “lasts” in my Harvard career, but this Friday marked a pretty important one: my last Dunster Formal! Reading period is always filled with end-of-the-year activities, and one of the major traditions is that each house hosts its own formal dance. Dunster’s spring formal is always held in the courtyard under a tent, which is a really fun alternative to many of the other events that are held at venues downtown Boston, both because it saves us the commute and allows us to really enjoy the beautiful space. The night started out with a champagne reception in our Junior Common Room, and my roommate’s brother entertained us for an hour with his (lovely!) piano skills. We then moved into the courtyard for a long night of dancing, which ended up being SUPER fun.

House formals are always a blast because they’re generally very low key: students will go with or without dates, and while everyone does get dressed up there’s no expectation of wearing anything uncomfortable or overly fancy. As my roommates and I were getting ready, shoe selection was determined by whether we could wear them for a whole night on the dance floor (read: flats). The formals are also attended by all members of the House, including new freshmen who just got into Dunster, tutors, the Resident Dean, and our House masters! It was great being able to see everyone under one roof, and many of us spent the weekend recapping the formal’s highlights.

Enjoy some pictures below!

The courtyard also got “dressed up” for formal

Party favors!

Admittedly really bad shot, but gives you an idea of what the tent looked like!

Goofing off with moose “antlers”

Tags: ,

Hi everyone! My name is Caroline Trusty, and I am a new blogger for the Harvard Admissions Office! I am a junior living in Eliot House and studying History & Literature and this is my very first post on this particular blogosphere, so I’m excited to get started.

It’s been quite a weekend here in the 02138. This weekend was Junior Parents Weekend at Harvard. For non-juniors, Junior Parents Weekend just means longer lines at the Coop, particularly crowded dining halls, and lots of older couples asking for directions. It was, however, really exciting for me, as well as many other juniors, because my parents were here for the weekend!

My parents arrived on Friday morning after their lengthy 8-hour drive from Baltimore, Maryland. It was a short visit – they were only able to stay until Saturday night – but those two days were some of my best at Harvard so far. The weekend was full of love, laughs, and sentimental nostalgia. Harvard provided tons of fun programs for students and their parents to do. On Friday we took a tour of Widener Library. During the tour, my parents were surprised to hear that a large portion of Harvard’s books are actually stored underground. I could have told them this, having spent many long days studying in the study carrels next to those underground books. We also visited the Office of Career Services where counselors assured my parents (and me) that even humanities concentrators can find jobs after graduation. We also attended a reception hosted by the ever-hospitable Eliot House Masters, Doug Melton and Gail O’Keefe, complete with some of the best bacon wrapped hors d’oeuvres that I’ve ever had.

One of my favorite parts of the visit was watching the Immediate Gratification Players perform. The IGP is a Harvard undergraduate improvisational group, comprised of some of the funniest and most talented people at this school. They held a free performance of a one-hour improvised skit that included former Russian spies, reality television, detective agencies, live statues, and plenty of penguins. My mother, my father, and I were all in stitches by the end of the hour.

Immediate Gratification Players

The Immediate Gratification Players performed this past Friday, March 1st, for Junior Parents Weekend. They were hilarious!

What was especially special about this weekend was the fact that this was not just a visit for my parents, but also a return. Both my mom and my dad attended Harvard College “back in the day.” They met in college as undergrads, with my mom being an Adams House resident, while my dad lived in Dunster. The whole trip was a stroll down memory lane for them and a glimpse into my parent’s past for me. We visited the Dillon Fieldhouse to see my dad’s old football and lacrosse team pictures, and took a ton of pictures in the Dunster House dining hall where my mom saw my dad for the first time.

Mom & Dad at Dunster House

My Mom & Dad standing outside of Dunster House. Back where it all started!

It was cool for them to relive their college days, and compare their time at Harvard to mine. They could never have imagined while they were walking across the yard to class back in the eighties that over twenty-one years later they’d be back visiting their daughter on that same campus. I truly learned this weekend what it means to be a legacy at Harvard, and I am truly grateful for that special title.

Anyway, that’s about it for now – but I’ll be back next week with more stories about my Harvard experience!

Tags: , , , ,

Though I’m only two weeks into the school year, I can say without a doubt that senior year is a TOTALLY different experience. I remember as a junior being warned that this fall would feel strange, that I would have “one foot in college, and one already out the door” – while I spent all summer hoping this wouldn’t be true (I’m in major denial that this is my last year…), I’ve been surprised by the degree to which my time so far has been defined by tasks like finding a job and figuring out my senior thesis. During shopping week, I spent as much (if not more) time at the Office of Career Services or at employer information sessions as I did actually in class; this weekend, my “to-do” list includes more “real-world” items than it does school-related ones. It’s definitely a strange mindset to be in, but one that most seniors end up sharing at one point during their final year at Harvard.

Why am I looking for jobs in September, you might ask? Why bother thinking about such things nine months before I’m slated to graduate, and a full year before I would want to be starting work? Those are both excellent questions, and I’m still a little shocked that this whole process starts up so early. Seniors go through “recruiting” during their fall semester, which is exactly what it sounds like: employers (particularly those from tech, media, consulting, and finance) come to campus looking to hire a whole batch of students at the same time. Jobs in the public sector (government) and non-profit, as well as those in start-ups, generally tend to hire in the spring. The disconnect between industries and hiring cycles definitely makes the job search harder for seniors, especially those who would ideally like to compare options in sectors that hire at different times of year (government and consulting, for example). Add the pressures of a weak economy to this equation, and you wind up with hundreds of seniors anxiously looking for opportunities and hoping to get the whole job search process over with before spring semester; as a result, a little more than half of the class at least tries to recruit during the fall.

There are a few main components of the “job search,” but the most time consuming of these is the suite of information sessions, “coffee chats,” and career fairs that come to campus every fall to recruit seniors. Information sessions are run by a single company and offer a chance to hear about a firm and meet some employees; career fairs are usually put on by Harvard and feature a few dozen companies all under one roof; and “coffee chats” are hosted by individual companies and offer a space for individual conversations with employees at cafes in Harvard Square. Each of these, unsurprisingly, has its own “vibe” – some are stressful because of the number of people in the room, others because you’re having a 1-on-1 conversation. All offer an opportunity, though, to hear a bit more about the company you’re interested in and get a sense for the people and culture that define the place. All told, I’ve probably been attending 10-12 of these events per week since I got to school; this translates to a LOT of business casual attire.

OCS Job Fair Description

Students at last year’s job fair (photo cred: OCS!)

In addition to the informational events, Harvard’s Office of Career Services offers a bunch of workshops and office hours for seniors partaking in the job hunt this fall (in addition to a huge range of other offerings, as well!). Some of the most helpful resources include drop-in hours (some of which are only available for seniors), during which time you can get advice on writing cover letters and resumes; and “mock interview marathons,” where students get to practice interviewing with OCS employees and Harvard alum and get feedback on their performance. As someone interested in applying for consulting jobs, these types of offerings are incredibly helpful – many of the firms I’m looking at will read hundreds of resumes and conduct hundreds of interviews, which means that every little bit of advice and feedback is incredibly helpful for this process.

After a couple of weeks of preparation and networking, the actual application process for a lot of companies starts this week, and interviews will begin about two weeks from now. I had a big personal milestone on Friday: applying for my first job! I submitted the first part of my Teach for America application on Friday evening, and am looking forward to hearing back about next steps.

My confirmation email from TFA!


Outside of the job search, senior year has gotten off to a really fun (if not hectic!) start. This weekend, I got to celebrate two of my friends’ birthdays on Friday night (we were all in the same freshman entryway!), and then spent Saturday hanging out with the seniors from Dunster House. I also got a chance to go see the Nostalgics, a soul/funk band featuring 12 undergrads – I have a few good friends that play for them, and they are a really fun group to listen to, so I always love getting a chance to hear them play live. The event was the “Vinyl Club,” a school-wide event sponsored by the Harvard radio station, WHRB.

Dunster Seniors – and yes, we’re in “golf” costumes

Vinyl Club poster

My roommate and me at the Nostalgics!

And a shout-out to my fellow blogger, Reid, who rocked it last night as one of the singers for the Nostalgics!

Work it, Reid!

Tags: , ,

As is always the case, reading period and finals have once again snuck up on me this semester – and per usual, the week has been jam packed with all sorts of events, meetings, and assignments. While reading period is meant to be a “break,” a time when students can catch up on end-of-the-semester assignments and start studying for exams, it always ends up turning into a really crazy time of year, both because of all of the fun, social events going on and because of the immense amounts of work we’re all expected to do. Over the next week, I’ll be finishing a 25 page term paper, plus another 10 page paper, plus two take home finals, plus a problem set, plus an application for thesis approval… You get the picture. On the upside, though, I’ve gotten to break up the week with various events and wanted to take this blog post to highlight just one – the Dunster formal.

Each of the 12 Houses has a formal each semester, and Dunster’s spring formal happens in a tent in our courtyard. We call it “Beltane,” after a Gaelic spring festival celebrated in Ireland. The hallmark of the event is the IMMENSE amounts of flowers that decorate the inside of the tent, which really makes the whole thing feel like a spring festival. This year, I spent a few hours in the morning making the flower arrangements that got hung around the room and constructing a flower arch to go above the door. My roommate is HoCo (House Committee) Chair and therefore was in charge of planning the entire event, so it was fun to be able to help her out for a bit and gain some appreciation for how much work goes into preparing events like this (read: it’s a LOT).

My roommate decorating the tent!

Putting up the lights and lanterns

The night started out with a reception in the Dunster Junior Common Room, and then everyone moved outside for dancing and some food. We had a swing band for the first hour, but then music switched over to a DJ – both were super good! While some people will bring official dates to House formals, students for the most part tend to go with roommates or groups of friends, which makes for a really fun vibe on the dance floor. Also, while the majority of people at each formal are from whatever House is hosting it, we can all go to each other’s formal, which means there’s a nice mix of people there. The House formals are definitely one of my favorite things that go on around campus – such a fun reminder of how excited I am about Dunster and what a great community of people live here. I remember going as a freshman, right after I’d gotten into the House, and starting to get so excited about moving up to an upperclassman House – glad to see that Dunster’s lived up to expectations!


And just for fun: pre-Beltane, freshman year – with my blocking group! (well, 6/8)

Now, back to the paper writing! Wish me luck!

Tags: ,

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of Dunster-related activity in my life: between Housing Day, room selection, and faculty dinner this past week, it’s been great to have excuses to get involved with the House.

First up: Housing Day. As many of my fellow bloggers reported, Housing Day is truly one of the most exciting (if not THE most exciting) day on campus, and I’ve found that the tradition has only gotten more fun as an upperclassman. Dunster, like every other house, starts the day early with breakfast in the dining hall – we all get decked out in new Dunster “swag” (this year we got tanks and sunglasses) and start getting ourselves psyched up for the critically important task of welcoming new freshmen into the House. This year, I had the important responsibility of sporting one of the moose costumes – mine was an inflatable moose head, which looked TOTALLY ridiculous on me but was a complete blast to wear.

Me (the moose!) with the Pforzheimer House polar bear

While Housing Day was a blast, I was also super excited to undertake the process of finding a room for senior year. Admittedly, I was a bit freaked out that I was looking for my senior suite, because it’s just further evidence that I’m starting to get old, but it was nonetheless fun to spend time with my blockmates finding the perfect room. While freshman blocking groups get randomly assigned to a house and then placed in a suite over the summer, upperclassmen are given the opportunity to hand pick their specific room. It is, of course, a privilege to have some say in what room you end up living in, but it also ends up feeling like an enormous responsibility – I’m in charge of my own fate! This year, as seniors, we weren’t going to take any chances and the process was undertaken with extreme precision and care.

The first decision we made was to join up with other girls from our blocking group, such that we’re living in a “quint” as a group of five (rather than in a triple, like this year). We then spent HOURS poring over the floor plans for the house, comparing common room size, bedroom layout, window views… We were so indecisive that the night before the lottery happened, we went and visited our top four picks, sinking so low as to knock on the doors of current seniors’ rooms at 11 pm the night before the lottery to settle any debate about which room was our first choice. We even hunted down the four groups who got to pick their rooms in front of us, to figure out which suites they were going for – this kind of information is important! Ultimately, all of the preparation made for a smooth lottery overall, and we got our first choice room – it has a SWEET view of the river!

Fourth Floor Plan

This week was also Dunster’s Faculty Dinner, and I invited Dr. Andrew Berry, a professor in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology department, along with two other undergrads from the House. It’s always such a great opportunity to have dinner with your professors – being able to interact casually with them makes for a really interesting interaction. One of my favorite traditions at Harvard!

Tags: , ,

As a freshman at Harvard, stress about housing is largely concentrated in the few hours leading up to announcements on Housing Day. After having picked a blocking group, students wait anxiously to hear of their assignments and are usually so excited by their placement that any worry about rooming groups, square footage, or window placement for their future dorm falls away. Freshmen get the heavy lifting done for them: they receive a simple email in August with their room number and move into their new House a few weeks later.

I’ve found that things are not so simple for sophomores. To be honest, I wasn’t aware that the process was any different for rising upperclassmen; I figured that groups were somehow judiciously divided amongst the rooms and we would magically receive our assignments before heading off for the summer. This, as it turns out, is not the case. Instead, rising juniors and seniors must engage in the complicated, dramatic, and tense process known as the housing lottery.

The housing lottery is, as the name suggests, a drawing where each group is assigned a number and allowed the chance to handpick their room in the House. Rising seniors get the opportunity to choose first, and within each class groups are divided both by number of individuals in their group and the average lottery number assigned to its members. That is, seniors rooming in a group of 7 get first choice of housing, followed by senior groups of 6, and so on, all the way through junior groups of 2 individuals. For a lowly rising junior with only 3 girls in a rooming group, this means that I’m due up for one of the last picks in the entire lottery.

Dunster Floor Plan

How, then, does one prepare for this highly anticipated lottery? For the three of us, preparation involved hours of poring over House floor plans, comparing size, window placement, proximity to the stairwell, and views. In Dunster, views can range from the back wall of neighboring Mather House to a perfect view of the Charles River. You can be on the first floor facing the street or on the sixth stuck under slanted ceilings. Being placed in the same entryway as the dining hall becomes key during the cold winter months; having to walk around the outside of the building to get to dinner is less ideal. Needless to say, there are an enormous number of factors to consider.

A word those outside of the Harvard bubble may be unfamiliar with? “Walkthrough”. In many of the River Houses, bedrooms within a larger suite connect to each other through only a single door, which means roommates might have to walk through each other’s rooms in order to get to the bathroom. Admittedly, it’s a downside (and something that our classmates living in the Quad Houses frequently remind us of – “Quadlings” typically have great rooms), but it’s a reality of living in one of these old dorms.

When it came to the actual afternoon of the housing lottery, my poor roommate was forced to tough the selection out herself (I had class and our third roommate is still in Europe!). I was getting minute-by-minute text updates of which rooms had been selected, which ultimately made me just as stressed about it as she was. At the end of it, we wound up with one of our solid choices. Admittedly, most of the star triples had been snatched by the seniors the day before, but given our lottery number we would up with a great room: lots of windows, view of the Charles, and a big common room!



Tags: ,