The annual Harvard-Yale football game not only lifts our school spirits, but also flags the end of the semester. After this game quickly comes Thanksgiving, Reading Period and Finals Exam week. Then BAM, our grand prize of a month long winter break (J-term/January term) for successfully finishing another semester of college.
We are currently in the midst of Reading Period: seven days without official classes (although unofficial classes/review sessions/language classes usually take place during this week) where we can prep for our finals. This time of the year can be pretty stressful with multiple final papers and projects due at the end of Reading Period. Regardless of the stress level, I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for this week – imagine if we had to accomplish all of our immense assignments on top of class! This is actually what most college students have to do.
When I first learned of Reading Period, I thought it’d be the chillest week ever – a week of catching up on my favorite television series and sleeeeeep. However, the relaxation has definitely never been this extreme although the week’s flexibility does allow for normal sleeping hours and longer meals with friends. Reading Period can easily get a bad rep due to the high levels of associated stress, but when I talk to my non-Harvard friends, at MIT and Californian universities, my love for Reading Period is automatically rekindled!
This fall semester, I have 4 papers due within this coming week and then 1 math final on the last day of finals. I’m feeling some pressure, but this hasn’t hindered my holiday cheer!
Last weekend, PBHA (Phillips Brooks House Association) – our volunteer program umbrella – hosted an end-of-the-semester Holiday Party where there was tons of sugar (cookie decoration, gingerbread house-making, etc.), dancing (dance offs, limbo!), and Santa even made an appearance with presents for all! It was tons of fun seeing all the hard work we put in these term time programs culminate into some of the happiest faces on these kids! It’s also heart warming to see students take a few hours from their busy studying schedules to make joyous events like these happen, especially because they only come once a year!
The high holiday spirits definitely emanate off campus as well.
In the middle of Boston Common, there’s a seasonal ice rink called Frog Pond. My friends and I rung in Reading Period with an ice skating celebration. The park is also beautifully decorated with holiday lights and an enormous tree (someone in the park told us the tree was imported internationally too!)
What is a holiday season without delicious food??
Good thing that’s something I don’t have to answer since (I think) each individual upperclassman house (dorm) puts on a holiday feast. Each dining hall also puts up a well decorated Christmas tree and menorah. It’s like the school does everything possible to make this time of year less stressful and more cheerful!
My upperclassman house, Mather, had a wonderful dinner – some highlights were artichoke poppers, roast beef, apple stuffing, broccoli rabe, cheesecake, egg nog and mulled apple cider! YUM
Mather also has an annual game of Assassins since we’re not in class and usually studying around Mather. Students organize the entire game – this year, they passed out water guns (whereas last year, our provided weapons were nerf guns). We have 24 hours for each round and the end of the round comes with an emailed list of obituaries filled with (black) humor.
My favorite laugh from yesterday was reading these obituaries. Here’s my favorite:
I killed Theresa and Jonathan yesterday.”
Maybe it was a good thing I was killed during an early round so that I can work on my papers! AH