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Hey all!

So my life has been CRAZY lately!  It seems like ever since we got back from Spring Break, it was hit the ground and go.

First of all, I would just like to give a warm shout-out to my three BEAUTIFUL pre-frosh Taylor, Emery, and Alice!  My roommates and I had SO. MUCH. FUN hosting you guys, and we hope you’ve chosen to come to Harvard.  Obviously, we love it.

Second, I would like to apologize to those of you who have asked me questions in my comments that were so profound that I promised to devote blog articles to answering them.  I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOU!  Once my exams are over at the end of this week, I plan to sit outside in the gorgeous Cambridge weather and do nothing but write, write, write!

I have to get back to studying, but I thought I would reassure everyone that I am still alive and well!

A quick list of things that have happened:  Prefrosh weekend, Mather Lather, Eleganza, Yardfest, Harvard-Radcliffe Choral Concert, Easter in Memorial Church, Theta (my sorority) Crush Event, Celebrations of better weather in the yard… and finals.

I promise to elaborate more at a later date.  Until then, good luck to any high schoolers on AP’s!

 

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I love Boston.  I love Cambridge even more.  But sometimes it’s nice to take a break and do something random, do something spontaneous, do something… like go to New York!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my exam schedule for this semester is really strange.  I had a two-part Spanish exam at the beginning of last week while it was still Reading Period, and a 15-page Celtic History final paper due Friday afternoon.  Now I have an entire week of nothing before my next two exams, which will be Economics 10 on Saturday morning and Government 20 on the following Monday afternoon.  I suppose that most students, given all of this time, would either waste it or use every second to study.  I decided to give myself a break after a week of hard work before the second week of hard work by going to visit some friends in New York.

This might sound drastic and only a little crazy.  I do admit to being on the spontaneous side of normal, but really it was very easy and not at all hard to do.  Being from Pittsburgh, I’m not used to easy travel unless it’s by car to either Ohio or West Virginia or by plane to anywhere worth going.  It turns out that in New England, there is plenty of affordable public transportation that can take you almost anywhere!

After I decided I wanted to go to New York for the weekend, I looked up ways of getting there.  Amtrak has a fast-moving three-hour train ride there for about $90 one way.  While this no doubt would have been both comfortable and quick, I decided that I really wasn’t willing to hand over that kind of cash for a quick trip.  So I looked up bus routes, and lo and behold Bolt Bus has a four-hour ride from Boston to New York for only $15!

The trip itself was also easy!  I took the T (Boston’s subway system) directly from Harvard Square to South Station, where it was a two-minute walk to the bus terminal where I boarded my bus.  The Bolt Bus had Wi-fi and power outlets so I could watch endless numbers of movies on Netflix and stalk my friends on Facebook.

Before I knew it, I was there – dropped off right outside of Penn Station!  But while New York was awesome, I found that I really did miss Cambridge.  The great thing about going to school in a city like Cambridge is that it’s a lot more manageable in size but there is still always more to explore.  But, if you’re ever looking for something crazy and spontaneous to do… New York is just a $15 bus ride away!

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December at Harvard means one thing: finals. For the last three weeks of the semester, students spend the majority of their time writing final papers, finishing final projects, and studying for their impending final exams. We’re lucky in that we have a full week of “reading period,” during which there are no formal classes or exams and students are given time to crunch down.

If that sounds stressful…it’s because it is. It’s hard to deny that finals period is the most intense part of the semester – the libraries fill up, Houses have a “zero-parties” policy, and the line for coffee at Starbucks is consistently 15 minutes long. Luckily, though, I’ve spent (er, wasted) much of my reading period testing out different study spots, coffee shops, and snack stops in an attempt to find my perfect combination. Given my extensive research (glad to see reading period was good for something!), I’ve developed a list of my favorite exam period standbys. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am a non-library, coffee shop studier who loves Dunkin’ Donuts and pizza from Noch’s. Hopefully my bias doesn’t come through too strongly, though!

Best Libraries:

  1. Widener – Great for the “I go to Harvard” feeling. The main study room is really official looking, with long tables and lots of students doing seemingly important things. Plus, the silent study rule makes it a great place to crank out some work.
  2. Lamont – While it gets really packed over reading period, Lamont being open 24 hours makes it a convenient spot for late-night cramming. Misery loves company!
  3. Law School library – Conveniently right off the Yard, and stocked with free coffee! Hard to beat, but few undergrads.

Best Non-Library Study Spots:

  1. Starbucks in the Garage – While there are two Starbucks locations in the Square, the one in the Garage is much larger and has big tables and booths. Constant supply and coffee and snacks if you need them! Downside is that if you stay more than an hour, you start hearing their holiday playlist on repeat.
  2. Crema Café – A small, local coffee and sandwich shop with a great upstairs seating area. Again, delicious snacks at the ready! There’s no wifi, though, which can be good or bad, depending on the type of work you need to get done.
  3. Quincy Dining Hall – The Houses leave their dining halls open at night so students can hang out and study. Quincy’s is the best for serious work – big tables, good lighting, and comfortable chairs.

Best Coffee and Tea (for you caffeine-addicted readers…)

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts – Ok, ok. Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t actually have the best coffee, if you’re looking for quality of bean or any sort of real measure of quality. Being from New England, though, I’m biased! The guy at the DD up the street knows my order.
  2. Crema Café – Great home brews and cute coffee cups! They make the drinks to order, so everything’s really fresh.
  3. Starbucks – I hate to admit it, but it’s true. It’s hard to beat Starbucks in terms of convenience, tastiness, and options.
  4. Burdick’s – Admittedly, Burdick’s is known for it’s hot chocolate, not it’s coffee, but their mochas are delicious. The dark hot chocolate is especially tasty, as well! Small tables, but they have wifi – good place to check your email or edit a paper.

Best Brain-Boosting Snacks

  1. Slice of pizza from Noch’s – Make sure you ask for Sicilian! Cheesy and delicious, and made even better when used as a break from studying. My recommendation is to get a slice of whatever’s coming out of the oven.
  2. Smoothie from Boloco – One of the three burrito places in the Square, but this one has a plethora of smoothie options that are both sweet and filling.
  3. Bagel from Au Bon Pain – Best part about ABP is that it’s open til 2 am. Anything with sugar and carbs is going to be super helpful getting through that late night of studying!

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Finals time has arrived, and this being Harvard, EVERYONE is hitting the books.  Luckily, Harvard has anticipated our crazed desire to study 24 hrs/7days a week and has scheduled a ten day Reading Period in which classes are canceled, meals are plentiful, and the campus is abuzz with chapter reviews.

It is during this time of year that the colloquial term “Lamonster” takes on added meaning.  Lamont is the College’s 24-hour library used by undergraduates looking to overdose on work.  It provides every work environment imaginable.

On the first floor, you will find a café operational until 2 a.m. where students can purchase sandwiches, cappuccinos, pastries, and sushi, or can grab any assortment of snacks from the vending machines.  The Café is a social work area where students are welcome to talk about work, complain about work, or chit-chat about everything BUT work, while sitting in lounge chairs and throwing their feet up.

Because pictures are not allowed in Lamont during Reading Period, here is a picture I grabbed off of Google Images. This is the Lamont Cafe, but imagine it packed to the brim with students.

Need to get some real work done?  No problem, just head back a little further on the first floor to the quiet study section, where you will find an open workspace filled with more lounge chairs and cubicles.  There you can still feel part of the world as you shoot silent glances across the room to your roommate or watch your friend from Life Sci receive your Facebook chat asking about the third question on the problem set.

But find even that much interaction too distracting to be productive?  Try the second floor where there are desks set up among the stacks or the third floor where there is another quiet study room with more cubicles and fewer lounge chairs.

Ahhh!  You just got a text from your Spanish partner reminding you that you need to finish up that group project tonight, and Lamont Café is too full!  Not a problem, there is a large group-study space in the basement with plenty of large desks to spread your stuff out, and swivel chairs.

Right now, you might be thinking, “Gee… Lamont Library really has everything a person might need… food, comfortable chairs for naps, study space, books, computers, friends to talk to, and it NEVER closes.”  And you would be right.  Thus, the Lamonster.  The Lamonster is the terrifying creature within us all that lurks the bookshelves late into the night and doesn’t ever leave.  The Lamonster eats, sleeps, and works all in the same building, only glimpsing the sun through the windows and only venturing outdoors to go to class.  The Lamonster is very, very real.  And no time is more conducive to Lamonster behavior than Reading Period.

As I sit in one of Lamont’s first-floor lounge chairs, I can hear the pitter-patter of fingers on keyboards, the scratch of pages being turned, and the faint tin of various types of music blasting through earphones.  I have not become a Lamonster today.  Soon I will pack up my studying and head home to Pennypacker.  But last week was a different story.

I have a very strange exam schedule.  I had my two-part Spanish exam last week during Reading Period (I know, I thought this strange too) and my 15-page final paper in Celtic History due last Friday.  While this was a completely manageable amount of work, I spent quite a few hours in Lamont.  Because I am easily distracted and find that I cannot help but talk to every single person I recognize when work is the other option, I worked on the third floor… for a looooooonnnnngg time.  As I am not guaranteed that my teachers (or my mom) will not read this, I will not tell you just HOW late I was up the night before my Celtic paper was due, but let’s just say, that it was very, very late… or should I say early?

But even I have to admit, it’s kind of cool to have a place to go when you’re uber-stressed about a test, a paper, a presentation, and find a community of equally hard-working students!  It can be depressing to see the light of the early morn in you room by yourself after a night of work, but in Lamont, you are always guaranteed to have company.  I should also note here that not everyone at Harvard becomes a Lamonster.  If you have even half-decent time management skills and place even a little value on sleep, you will be a perfectly healthy and happy student with good study habits.  But if you happen to be like me and have no ability to manage time and a propensity to put assignments off, just know, you will never be alone in Lamont!

UPDATE:  Upon seeing this blog post, my roommate referred me to this new website called Sleeping in Lamont, which I find to be HILARIOUS and very relevant.  Enjoy!

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