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Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2012 is already here. It is unbelievable how time flies, and it definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve been at Harvard for two and a half years already. I told you all I would keep you updated on how my planning for the spring semester is going, and it looks like I’ve decided on only one course so far: “Engineering Sciences 123: Introduction to Fluid Mechanics and Transport Processes.” Okay…so from the title alone, this class isn’t exactly one that I’ve been dying to take since declaring my concentration (major) as Biomedical Engineering. It sounds like there is going to be a lot of physics and applied math involved. I love the latter, but can’t say the same about physics. While I’m not a physics person by any means, I’m open-minded, and this is indeed a concentration requirement.

As far as the other courses in my schedule go, there are a bunch I am looking at.

  • “Computer Science 51: Introduction to Computer Science II”
  • “Government 1093: Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature”
  • “Societies of the World 24: Global Health Challenges: Complexities of Evidence-Based Policy”
  • “Engineering Sciences 91r: Supervised Reading and Research”
  • “Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1266: Gender and Sports”

OFF ON A TANGENT: You’ll notice that I’m considering many courses that don’t have to do with engineering. When I applied to Harvard, I indicated on my application that I intended to pursue engineering and stuck with it. No one actually declares a concentration until his or her sophomore fall. However, applying as an engineer, I was conscious of the fact that Harvard isn’t a traditional engineering school, but that’s what was really attractive to me. I liked the idea of being a “Renaissance Engineer” because I have many eclectic interests. Sure, I love math and science and those are the two subjects I focused on in high school. But I have a great appreciation for English literature (Shakespeare’s King Lear, anyone??), ethnic studies, technology, and global health, to name a few. I knew that Harvard would be able to offer me opportunities in engineering in the context of a liberal arts education, which set it apart from many other, solely technical universities that I was considering.

There are actually several other courses I’m looking at, but these really stood out to me. Selecting courses is extremely difficult, because there are thousands to choose from, and only so much time in one semester. On top of deciding between which subjects I’m most interested in, finalizing my schedule also comes down to logistics, including requirements, class meetings, exam dates, etc. In addition, I haven’t spoken to any friends about classes yet. At least one person usually ends up finding a gem that I didn’t. With so many courses, it’s easy to overlook many of them, let alone one. It usually all ends up working out some way or another, though. When it’s shopping week (check out Jeanie’s post if you aren’t familiar) towards the end of the month, I’ll post a screenshot of my final shopping schedule–I’m sure it’ll look crazy hectic with all of the aforementioned courses and then some. New semester, new courses, new year…I’m really looking forward to 2012 and new challenges, ups, downs, and memories in general!

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#auldlangsyne

Greetings from the endless haze of naping, reading, and snacking that is otherwise known as my life during J-term (winter break)!

Since New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some of my Harvard/Cambridge related resolutions with you all.  I’m usually not very good about sticking to my resolutions past the first week of the New Year, but maybe sharing this list in a public forum will help hold me accountable.

Happy New Year!

1. Stop buying food in Harvard Square during dining hall hours.

I made a nasty habit of eating non-HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) meals last semester, and it really took a toll on my bank account balance.  In the beginning it was harmless.  I started off with a mini cup of frozen yogurt from Pinkberry (coconut yogurt with granola and honey, if you please) here and there, but the next thing I knew it had escalated to a regular sized burrito (buffalo chicken!) from Boloco’s with a nutella milkshake multiple times a week.

I love the food in the Square, and I’m not willing to sacrifice all of my little indulgences.  As a compromise, I think that I could stand to stay away from these treats when the dining halls are open.  Especially since eating in the dining hall is free, so it’s a money-saving alternative.

2. Spend more time in Widener.

I love a good study space.  Freshman year I lived in Canaday, so I was all about getting my work done in the Canaday basement, Cabot Science Library in the Science Center, and Lamont Library.

This year (my sophomore year) I decided to switch things up.  Since I live in Pforzheimer House (Pfoho) in the Quad, it doesn’t really make sense for me to study in the Canaday basement or Cabot Library anymore.  Last semester I went to Lamont whenever I wanted to get work done on the River, and I would go to the Pfoho Library (Pflibrary) when I wanted to be productive in the Quad.

However, towards the middle of the semester I stumbled into the Loker Reading Room (and the Atkins Reference Room) in Widener Library, and it was a total game changer.  Widener is a striking building from the outside, but the interior is absolutely stunning.   Plus, people that go to Widener generally mean business so there’s this peer pressure to be productive.

The Loker Reading Room and the Atkins Reference Room

3. Take the time to explore Boston.

Whenever I am home and catching up with my friends and family, people always ask me, “How’s Boston?” and I am never able to give them a legitimate answer.  I tell them that Cambridge is amazing, but I can’t tell them anything about Boston-proper because I rarely venture out of the Harvard bubble.  In fact, the only time that I step outside of Cambridge is when I feel the need to hit the shops on Newbury Street.

It’s a shame that I haven’t taken the leap, because there are some things that I am dying to do in the city.  Here are a few:

a. Have a picnic in the Common, the city’s oldest public park, on a sunny afternoon.

b. Spend an afternoon in the Museum of Fine Arts (especially to view van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers).  I’m not actually that much of a visual arts enthusiast, but after I spent last summer in Barcelona I came to appreciate the calm of a good museum visit.  I especially want to take a look at Houses at Auvers because I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year and saw The Starry Night. I just thought the texture of the painting in person was the coolest thing, and so I want to take a look at another van Gogh.

The Starry Night

The Starry Night

House at Auvers

House at Auvers

c. Visit the Massachusetts State House.  My favorite part about the tours that I give (as a member of the Crimson Key Society) is learning about the architecture and the history of the buildings on campus.  I really want to get a good look at the Massachusetts State House because Charles Bulfinch designed it.  He’s the same architect responsible for University Hall in Harvard Yard.  He’s also a Harvard graduate!

 

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

University Hall

University Hall

d. Take the time to visit the New England Aquarium.  I don’t have any pets or anything, but for some reason I love zoos and aquariums.  Since I’m from Northern Virginia, I visit the National Zoo in D.C. and the National Aquarium in Baltimore a lot.  I’m ready for something new!

Honestly, the list could just go on, and on, and on.  The point is that there are a million and one things to do around campus, but I need to make a conscious effort to see what Boston has to offer as well.

4. Go to office hours.  Undergraduate professors and teaching fellows hold regular “office hours”, during which students are welcome to stop by and get to know their professors.  The idea is to make the faculty accessible so that students and faculty members can build strong relationships outside of lecture and section.  I’ve never really taken advantage of office hours.

Every semester, I tell myself that I will go, but the second that I get busy I use my schoolwork and other commitments as an excuse to opt out.  It’s really a shame and a waste of a great opportunity.  This spring I intend on attending at least one office hour session for each of my classes.

5. Take a class pass/fail.  This is probably the trickiest resolution, and I’ll most likely put it off until next fall. There’s no sound reasoning behind this one.  I’m really just curious to see how it would effect the way I learn and treat my assignment.

I think that’s just about it.  Those are my Harvard-related resolutions for 2012! Hopefully posting them to this blog will keep me honest in the coming year.  Wish me luck and discipline!  Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to reflect on 2011 and come up with some resolutions of your own.  Here’s to an exciting new year!

 

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When I said that there’s nothing like stepping out of the exam room after your last final in my blog post from last week, I forgot to mention that there’s (also) nothing like the break time between semesters. I usually don’t like to use the same phrase twice, and I realize this makes me sound like a monster of an exaggerator. Hmm, what other feeling or event would Monster Exaggerator Scott preface with “there’s nothing like”?!? But it’s true. There’s really nothing like it. Really. I’ve only been on break for about a week, and I’ve had lots of family and leisure time. Of course, there are things I should be doing, but everything is subject to a very, very soft deadline on my own time. I think breaks in between semesters (we call winter break “J-Term”) are one of my most favorite parts about being in college. Not only are they incredibly rejuvenating, but you realize how much you take for granted because you’re only home for so long. Between free laundry, being able to sleep in, and my umma‘s (“mom” in Korean) delicious home-cooked meals, you gain a whole new appreciation for everything you don’t have access to while on campus.

At the end of every semester, students are asked to fill out evaluations for each of their courses, which are then compiled and summarized in the “Q Guide.” The Q Guide is a collection of a course’s semesterly evaluations. Students use it when choosing classes for the upcoming semester, and teaching staff use it to get feedback from their students. Some people take it more seriously than others–I always make sure I submit honest and thoughtful comments that I think would help other students, as well as constructive criticism for faculty and teaching fellows. It’s anonymous, so nothing will ever be traced back to your name. However, I always find it super helpful when I’m planning my schedule to read candid feedback from other students, so I try to be as detailed and real as possible.

As I was completing my evaluations, I started to reflect on my junior fall. Studying and doing the assignments for Computer Science 50 and Organic Chemistry alone could have been a separate semester in itself. Students here normally enroll in 4 courses a semester, so considering my other 2 (a statistics course and an elective about childbirth), I realized that I had a very tough workload. I’ve always challenged myself since I was a freshman, but when compared to the others, this semester in particular had its fair share of long and stressful nights. I think that’s why I felt so accomplished and satisfied with the past four months. I started to think about the spring, and there are way too many courses I want to take. It hit me that I only have 3 semesters left, which means that realistically, there are a limited number of classes I can take with way too many to choose from. In the grand scheme of things, I’m very lucky to have this problem. However, I want to take public speaking, do research, and, of course, I have to finish my concentration (major) requirements. I have 3 left! My list is still nearly double the size of a typical schedule, so I’m going to read up on the Q Guide and try to narrow it down. I’ll keep you all updated.

Aside from that, I’ve just been trying to relax! I hope you’re all doing the same and enjoying this time of year, regardless of what your holiday preferences are. I’ll post again next year. (Get it?? In 2012?? What a corny joke…I’ve always loved it, though…) Happy New Year!

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Most people may find it easier to appreciate doing something for the first time – whether it’s jumping off the swings or jumping out of a plane. This natural appreciation stems from the unique, incomparable quality of the experience. However, these are similar reasons why I’m more likely to appreciate seconds (this applies when it comes to meal times too). I take pleasure and extract personal significance from the opportunity to juxtapose similar experiences. Results of this direct comparison allow me to realize how much I’ve grown and changed throughout a lapse of time.

As I enter my second winter break (J-term) of my college career, my feelings regarding ending this Fall semester and returning “home” to Sunny San Diego are drastically different than last year. After my first college semester of adjusting to long distance relationships with my bestest friends and family as well as adapting to a college workload and lifestyle, I would have literally eaten a cockroach in exchange for the fastest flight back to California. This isn’t to say I didn’t have a magical time exploring East Coast architecture and city life, or familiarizing myself with Harvard courses and community because I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences for any superhero power you can offer me. I was just super homesick and felt on the verge of burning out after the numerous problem sets (psets) and papers that I wasn’t use to cranking out in a compact period of time (especially after my self-diagnosis of a serious case of senioritis). For my first J-term, I planned absolutely no productive activities in order to maximize relaxation and bonding time with loved ones. I have exactly zero regrets about making the month-long vacation all pleasure and no business because sometimes that’s precisely the balance you need. I look forward to doing the same this J-term, but just in another country (traveling to Vietnam for the first time with my family!!).

This year, when the final exam schedule was released, I intentionally gave myself two days after my last exam to enjoy the beauties of Cambridge that most students pass on during the chaos of the semester. Although I was indeed itching to return to warm climates and share another semester worth of adventure stories, there was no way you could have convinced me to even step into the same building as a cockroach.

I have a very loose definition of “home” now because I’ll always identify myself as a native San Diego girl, but most of the time when I say “home,” I’m referring to Mather. When I drop cereal bits on the floor, I pick it up immediately because that’s exactly what I would do at home (before my mom yells at me!). When my roommates have had a rough day, I’ll do my best to comfort and/or distract them because that’s exactly what I would do for my older sister. Regardless if home means San Diego or Mather, it’ll always have a warm connotation…just like airports!

I’ve grown very fond of airports. Despite their perpetual mugginess and lack of warm décor, airports have transformed into a representation of almost home. These lackluster buildings naturally incite nervous excitement and it feels exactly like the few moments I’m walking up my driveway right before coming home for the first time in months.

These minor moments have become extremely significant in my life. They’re a constant reminder that time has not only passed, but allowed me to grow as an individual as well as alongside my close groups of friends. And as I’ve grown, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of reflection more and more. Travelling is a personal trigger of reflection, but whether you end up at a university around the corner, across the country, or even in a different hemisphere (!), I hope these reflective moments creep up on you so you can realize and accredit yourself to your accomplishments!

Happy holidays everyone! May you eat as much as you relax!

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There are a lot of lies you’re told in life. Remember when you were told there are nine planets in the solar system? Well, there are actually eight planets now if you personally accept Pluto as a dwarf planet. Remember when you were told that after you memorize the symbols of the periodic table of elements, you’d get it over with and never have to do it again? Well, you’re going to need to do it three more times. Remember when you were told your teeth would fall out if you didn’t brush before bed? Well, the latter is actually true. But sometimes you want teeth to effortlessly fall out (like when your piggy bank feels a little empty). The weekend before Thanksgiving break was one of those times.

During the last few days of my previous summer vacation, I was informed that all four of my wisdom teeth needed to be removed as soon as possible. In an attempt to strategically plan an influx of parental pampering and special-sympathy treatment, I scheduled the surgery for winter break. As the development of my J-term plans incorporated international travel, however, I realized I would need to extract my wisdom teeth during the academic semester. In a fearful frenzy, I reached out to Harvard staff, proctors and residential advisers for referrals and was quickly comforted after speaking to Harvard University Health Services (UHS) which directed me to the Harvard Dental Center. The staff was SUPER friendly, polite, and patient! Not only did they answer my redundant questions, but they also referred me to local practices in addition to walking me through the procedure so I would know what to expect from a good oral surgeon. The pharmacy next to UHS also made sure I was equipped with pain killers going into the extraction as well as vaccines I needed for my J-term travel plans!! Talk about a full service.

After much planning and anxiety, my best friend graciously escorted me to the dentist the Monday before Thanksgiving. Within an hour and a half, I was back on campus with my precious roommates super willing to ice and hydrate me.

SHOUT OUT TO MY ROCKSTAR ROOMIES

Within the next 48 hours, I had slept for 40 and spent my 8 conscious hours finishing a physics pset (problem set/homework), throwing up, and somewhat uneasily boarding a bus to New York City for Thanksgiving break. With an estimated negative caloric intake, I was feeble and just plain miserable.

Moral of the story: Get your wisdom teeth out before you go to college! There are literally 21 million things to think about and prep for before college. Not only can the application process be a nightmare, but you’re forced to mentally project your future and predict if a university can offer you happiness. Although you should prioritize focusing on academic concentrations and university curriculum, you can’t forget about logistics such as transferring to a more convenient bank…or getting your wisdom teeth out!!! Crush the boulders along your path to college into gravel by planning ahead, but don’t feel like you have to anticipate every challenge and circumstance because the university and its resources are definitely ready for your personal exploitation.

Also, the title of this blog entry wasn’t just another one of my cheesy attempts at a pun. A university-thought process drastically differs from that of (most American) high schools. In college, you’ll be trained to approach and resolve problems differently (more conceptually). That being said, don’t buy into the lie that high school is a waste of time. Without all my magical high school experiences and arsenal of knowledge, I can’t imagine ever grasping overarching concepts such as the cable theory and equation (in my class called Molecular and Cellular Biology 115 – Cellular Basis of Neuronal Function). Respecting high school is undeniably a fantastic way to prep for college.

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Hello everyone!  I am sorry that it has taken me so long to write, especially considering that I have been back on campus for THREE WEEKS.  Life has just been so busy! But never fear, I have finally found a moment to sit down over a Qdoba grilled veggie burrito to write to you.

First and foremost, my J-term was fantastic.  I went home to the lovely city of Pittsburgh to sit on my couch and watch my favorite team in the whole wide world, the Steelers, fight their way into Super Bowl XLV!  There is NOTHING like Pittsburgh on game day.  Ben Roethlisberger jerseys are considered acceptable church wear (I know… its ironic), and every public place without a television switched to the game is deserted (for a taste, watch Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” music video).

Anyway, despite my obvious affection for my home city, I traveled back to Cambridge a week early in order to participate in Harvard’s brand-new Optional Winter Activities Week (OWAW… or “Oh-Wow!” if you prefer).  Before leaving for break, I got a chance to look over the extensive list of activities to do during this glorious week offered to Harvard undergrads, and one immediately jumped out at me – Food Literacy Project’s cooking courses!

The Food Literacy Project is an organization on campus devoted to teaching students about nutrition, food preparation, and making good food choices.  Since I LOOOOOVVVEEEEE food and have zero idea how to cook (let’s be real, the microwave is high class for me), I thought the program sounded great!

I started Wednesday, learning how to make split pea and wild mushroom soups, and both Irish soda and corn breads!

Thursday was my favorite day – chocolate day!  We made the most delicious chocolate mousse and truffles (so good, soooo much work).  Then we took a field trip to Taza Chocolate, where we got to learn all about how chocolate goes from a plant to a yummy candy bar.

This photo is credited to my wonderful friend Michael George.

“Coffee and Pie” was Friday’s lesson plan, and while I don’t drink coffee [insert shocked and horrified gasp here], my apple pie was incredible, if I do say so myself.

And I finished making this lovely pie just in time to see a comedy show put on by some of the other OWAW students and welcome my roommates home with fresh dessert!

This is the apple pie I made! 23 is our room number.

Home Sweet Harvard! 😀

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