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Although I have yet to begin my final exams, I’ve finished the first semester as of two hours ago! Now I can dig into studying, Christmas music, and second-semester planning. Before I do that, though, there’s some reflection of the first semester that needs to happen, focusing mainly on what I’ve learned so far in my 3 months at Harvard! Check out my list below to see just what Freshman Fall has taught me, in no particular order.


1. Dorm Crew is a great pre-orientation program, but not for reasons you may think.

Cleaning bathrooms is not everyone’s top priority. However, Fall Clean Up (FCU or Dorm Crew pre-orientation) includes very little bathroom cleaning! The majority of my time was spent mopping and sweeping Leverett Towers, alongside my eight other d.crew members, from 9-5 every day. This is, by no means, ‘fun.’ What is fun is making friends, impressing other freshmen with your knowledge about campus, making money instead of paying money, and getting an upper-body workout. Having upwards of $400 dollars in my pocket before I even started school gave me a little bit of a cushion as I set out in the World of Harvard, to which I was accustomed due to the extra week on campus. Also, all dorm crew groups have a secret “theme” that you’re supposed to figure out by the end of the week. Ours was pretty obvious; all of us were going to live in Canaday! Now, I have friends in different entryways (as well as in mine) which really helps to foster dorm spirit; I also have an automatic (and lucrative) on-campus job which took care of some of my financial aid. Moral: Dorm Crew is GREAT, and you make a small group of good friends right off the bat!


2. Rent, don’t buy, Textbooks!

After researching the prices of my Chemistry, Biology, and Psychology textbooks, I wanted to either rob a bank or drop those classes. Instead, I discovered some great book-renting sites, such as e-campus and Chegg, whose rental prices prevented me from performing criminal acts in the name of Academia. I ended up paying a third as much as if I’d bought the books, and they were brand-new! (One of them even came with a Schick Razor, which was really weird but useful, I guess…hey, it was free!) Anyways, search around, because the Coop (pronounced ‘coop,’ not ‘co-op’) is MAD expensive, and there are a ton of online options that will save you precious dinero!


3. Talk with your deans, advisors (PAFs included), and proctor!

Harvard has a lot of great resources on campus. Unfortunately, they’re not readily-accessible unless you know where to search; it’s very different from high school where everyone is proactive for you, instead of you representing yourself. I found this out the hard way, which caused more than a few points to be knocked off one of my course’s final grade. You have a Peer Advising Fellow, who is a totally Harvard-savvy upperclassman to whom you can ask questions you’d rather not ask your Advisor. Go to them first! They have a big budget to take you out to coffee, which is always high on my list. Your advisor is the next up, and normally they’ve majored in a subject that you’re interested in. (If you’re considering pre-med, there are even advisors for that!) They can help you plan your schedule, work out problems with roommates (luckily, I have had none of those because my roommates are THE BEST), and decide on a plan of action if anything goes awry. However, you need to be very proactive about your problems; if there are even just the faintest sensations of difficulties, meet with your advisor! It takes only a few minutes and can save you a lot of stress in the future. Finally, if things get a little whacky, your Resident Dean is there for you; their job is to help you (along with lots of other stuff), so don’t worry about meeting with them. Also, lots of people have a hard time with courses their freshman fall (and beyond), so there’s no need to freak out if you feel like an idiot. (Because, really, you’re not.)


4. Never go to Annenberg at 6:30.

There is a slight problem with Annenberg’s hours: they are really short and really early. Annenberg opens at 4:45 (or something) and closes at 7:15, so everyone ends up going around 6:30, which means you’ll have difficulty finding a seat, getting food, and hearing the person across from you. (Exaggeration. But not really.) You don’t need a tray, either! Freshman fifteen probably exists, and if so, I have found the cure: go trayless. There are a million choices of food and lots of fun containers, which can be tempting, but with one plate of healthy food and a glass of whatever, you’re set! (Just make sure you’re eating properly…I am not a nutritionist, but there are a lot of them at Health Services.)


5. Comp the Crimson…if you’re Crazy

Okay so that might have sounded bad. But The Crimson is amazing, and everyone there is a little bit crazier than other Harvard students, which is a good thing. Especially crazy boards to comp (comping is the first step to becoming an editor, where you get to write articles or take photo/video) are FM, photo/video, and Arts. You get to hang out in the crazy basement after having waited crazy hours to get let into the crazy Crimson (no swipe access=long nights), go to crazy formals, cover crazy events, and sprint around like a crazy person while you should really be doing something else! (Post Scriptum: Other boards are also crazy, if you’re interested in crazy economics or crazy no-shave november hockey players, or like sharing your crazy opinions.)


6. Get a Mac!

No, not because you miss Steve Jobs. Harvard IT has HUGE deals on Macs, and you really need a fast computer while you’re here. Also, you get a free printer, $100 dollar iTunes Store Giftcard (or whatever Apple decides to do next season), and a great warranty. Go Apple!


7. Icing Shots are Disgusting, but Sweet is Great.

Sweet is this incredible cupcake store that makes the best cupcakes in the world, and also the most horrendous invention in the world. They sell these big trays of teeny cups full of icing. Blegh. If you don’t like frosting, don’t ever eat it.

7.b) Good food places include Flat Patties (get the grilled cheese), Crema Cafe (they have legit wraps), Burdick’s (deliciously expensive hot chocolate), Starbuck’s (…sorry…), and Cardullo’s (they have EVERYTHING YOU COULD EVER DESIRE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.)



If you take this course, you will maybe regret it. You will come away from it knowing too much about how your mind works (joke), potentially much more wealthy/exhausted (psych studies pay 15 or 10 dollars an hour!), and a weakened sense of self-esteem (everyone, except for those terrible smart people, perform poorly on the exams…they’re multiple-choice deathtraps). So…take it, or don’t. Your choice! (Or is it?)


9. You learn so much….



That’s all, folks!


Happy 2nd Day of December! © S. Reid











*this is college, where you learn things. but this is also harvard, where you learn more!

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¡The Arts!

So, I must admit that I was very worried about what the arts scene would be like here at Harvard when I first applied.  I was generally drawn in towards other schools which focused more on a liberal, artsy education (e.g. Wesleyan/Oberlin/Brown), and I just assumed that Harvard’s focus would be more academic (it being Harvard). I was not wrong in assuming that Harvard places a lot more importance on academics than everything else (obviously, for how else would it accept top-tier academics?). However, I was TOTALLY incorrect in assuming that nothing else goes on here. On the contrary, there are so many extracurriculars that I can honestly say that I’d major in them if it were allowed. (It’s not. For a full list of actual concentrations, click here.)

My favorite extracurriculars are: 1) the ARTS! 2) making money!* 3) environmental action stuff.  The Arts completely trump the other extracurrics, so here comes my ecstatic list of reasons for why I love them so much.

Reason 1: Art, in general, is beautiful and an excellent emotional outlet.

The Science Center and Canaday lighting can get a little ugly every once and a while, so all I have to do is turn on my Christmas lights (yes, I have them on because yes, Daylight Savings has begun), look at my beautiful painting my sister gave me, and pick up my guitar. Suddenly, everything is gorgeous! My woes become pretty via melody, the cinderblock walls of my dorm room seem to blush with the x-mas’d-out lighting, and I am happy again. Want to know what goes down when I write? Check out my soundcloud. #shamelessselfpromotion


Reason 2: Art makes you new friends!

Although you can (feasibly) find friends elsewhere, you will never find your potential soul-mate if you don’t join an artsy group. (Spoiler alert: I’m biased.) I happen to be in the BEST artsy group ever, in fact. We are The Nostalgics, a Motown-soul band with the most extraordinarily-talented musicians on campus, and we have the most fun. Last weekend we took the bus to Wellesley College and played our funky jamz for the TZE formal; it was fantastic, although the travelling was a hike. The moral of this mini-story is: I would never have made these awesome friends without trying out and involving myself in the arts. They are my family, and we do a whole lot more than make music together– we make THE BEST FRIENDSHIPS <3 <3 …yes, that was disgustingly corny, but it’s true, and I wanted to give you an honest account of my feelings towards them and the arts in general.


Reason 3: Your evenings will be forever changed…

So, I thought I was going to Asian Feast last Friday night to support my roomie. Turns out, there were a lot more (non-asian, non-food related) things happening in Quincy D-Hall than the title described.  Take a look:

Irish Dancers!



Reason 4: It can make you money!

Contrary to popular belief, the arts can be [kind of] lucrative. There are many job offerings in the arts here on campus, such as working for the Office of the Arts (which I’m doing second semester as a blogger), writing articles about the arts or taking pictures/video for the Harvard Crimson (which I’m currently doing, but I’m not an editor so I don’t get any money…at least, not yet), joining a killer band that plays at formals and gets paid bank (see reason 3), and/or immersing yourself in the history of art here at Harvard (museums, music library, etc) for pay. Though majoring in Econ will probably make your pockets cozier, nothing is better than getting paid for what you like to do, and if that passion happens to be artistically-inclined, it’s time to celebrate because it’s possible here at Harvard!


and finally…

Reason 5: You will fall in love…

…WITH ART! (No guarantees on art’s romantic influences, but take a look at Frank Sinatra’s love life and you might get the gist…) Never tried sculpting before? How about art history? Or, in my case, Jazz Harmony and Composition? You can do all of those things here, for credit! No need to wait until class ends; with hundreds of courses in the arts, you can try out whatever floats your boat and feel the artsy undertow pulling you in.  Next semester, I am planning on taking a Printmaking seminar–and I thought those were only offered at arts schools. Wowzah.


Those are all the reasons why I LOVE ART at Harvard (and why you can, too)!

Hope you liked them 🙂

Peace, Love, and Art




ps, even the buildings are artsy! Check out my picture of the Graduate School of Design




*One day the wonders of Dorm Crew will be discussed 😀

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