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The title of this post makes me sad. This past week was my last spring break…ever. I was able to travel a bit and spend some time at home. Spring break started at 3 am last Friday as I headed to the airport to fly to Seoul, South Korea! That weekend, I’d spend more time in the air traveling, than I would on the ground. I was only in Seoul for about 30 hours. It was the quickest (and longest) trip I’ve ever done. What an oxymoron.

My friend (and former PAF–Peer Advising Fellow, or an upperclassman buddy that is assigned to each and every freshman!), Lilli ’11, and I traveled together to shoot another episode of the Korean documentary we’ve been hosting for the past year. I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, but to recap: “Homo Academicus” is an education documentary series consisting of 4 episodes that I’ve been co-hosting with 3 other Harvard students (Brian ’14, Jenny ’13, and Lilli). We traveled to various countries around the world to observe how cultural differences, privileges, and inequities affect education and styles of learning. One of the coolest things that I’ve done while at Harvard–definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s also something I would have never had the opportunity to pursue if it weren’t for being a Harvard student.

Lilli and I in front of one of our promotional posters!

The documentary premiered on February 28, and new episodes have been airing weekly on Thursday nights throughout March. The first episode had decent ratings, but the second one shot up to number 2 on the charts. As a result of the show’s success, our producers invited us back to film an epilogue of sorts as an episode 5, and thus, the 30 hour whirlwind trip to Korea occurred. The trip itself was as crazy and fun as it was exhausting. As soon as I hopped off the plane (a combined 18 hours of travel with my layover in San Francisco), I headed to a local cafe where we would be filming. We had a live studio audience of about 100 people, which was insane! One of the show’s viewers even drove 3 hours to be an audience member; what a trooper! While I’m on this high, let me just say that we were noticed on the street a few times, which was simultaneously both really funny and super bizarre. It felt like an out of body experience, but still very cool!


Luckily, I haven’t been jet-lagged! I don’t know why. I think the trip might have been too short for me to adjust to any timezone–perhaps my body was just really tired and confused. My parents are moving to a new house, so I’ve been packing up my things and going through all belongings that I’ve lugged around for years and years. I haven’t grown in height since freshman year of high school or so, and therefore, I always tell myself I’ll wear something that is clearly no longer age appropriate for me. This cleaning really helped, though, because I sorted through my entire closet and donated 3 bags full of old t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pants! The best part was that I drove back to campus to pick up my friend, Teagan, who stayed at school for spring break, to join this adventure. The joys of being a (fairly) local Harvardian: campus is just a short 40-minute drive away. Massachusetts residents, I’m talking to you! Being able to drive back and forth to campus from home whenever you’d like is such a huge plus!

I’m still in the midst of packing and am only home for one more day. Yikes. I should probably go do that now, but I’ve had a lovely last spring break that I’m sure I’ll look back on with fond memories. Crossing my fingers that it stops snowing!

Also, HUGE congratulations to the Men’s Basketball team on a historic win in the NCAA Tournament! I have a few friends on the team and am so incredibly happy for them! Can’t wait to root for them when they play Arizona!

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Upperclassmen at Harvard have the opportunity to be really closely involved with freshman orientation, and many sophomores, juniors, and seniors jump at the chance to help new students with their transition to the College. Whether it’s by leading a pre-orientation program (Dorm Crew, FAP, FUP, FIP, or FOP), running events during Freshman Week, or advising first years, there are a hundred different ways to get involved. Personally, I am one of a rare few (in fact, there are only three of us) to get completely submerged with all things “freshman” by participating in the trifecta of orientation opportunities: advising freshmen in Wigglesworth Hall as a Peer Advising Fellow (PAF), leading orientation activities with the Crimson Key  Society, and backpacking through New Hampshire wilderness on FOP 20. This definitely means I’ve seen a LOT of the Class of 2016 over the past two weeks, but it’s been worth it!

First Up: First-Year Outdoor Program and FOP 20 

I’ve written a lot about FOP in past posts, between my time on Steering Committee and my training trip from this past spring, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I was lucky enough to lead my last backpacking orientation trip this August and I had an absolute blast. This year we had a group of eight freshmen and I co-led with Michael, a junior from Lowell House. We were in the Pemigewassett Wilderness in New Hampshire and hiked along “the Bonds,” a series of peaks with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Aside from literally five minutes of rain, we had picture perfect weather the entire trip, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable. Leading my last trip was admittedly a little bittersweet, but I was so glad I took the chance to go out one last time before the craziness of senior year.

Senior FOP Leaders just before heading out to meet our trips!

My trip! FOP 20 in New Hampshire

Peer Advising in Wigglesworth

After two years of advising students in Matthews Hall, this year I’ve moved to Wigglesworth F to work with a group of 23 freshmen alongside two other PAFs and a new proctor. So far, the experience has been great – it seems like the entryway is already getting along super well, and it was a ton of fun getting to talk to them all during orientation. While PAFs have responsibilities throughout the course of the year (planning study breaks, holding advising meetings), our efforts are particularly focused during orientation and shopping week, during which time we’re expected to help freshmen get settled into school and talk them through picking their first classes. As a full entryway team, we had several meetings over the course of orientation to talk about life in Wigg F and what freshmen should expect out of their first few weeks of school. In addition, I’m personally assigned to work with eight freshmen, meeting with them individually and offering advice on everything from class selection to extracurriculars to roommate issues.

I got a chance to sit down with all of my advisees over the course of this weekend, and it was so nice to get to know them on a more personal level. As a senior, it’s a bit of a time warp listening to freshmen talk their way through major decisions impacting their life: whether to take top or bottom bunk, how to make the most of the activities fair, or whether or not to go to the First Chance Dance with the rest of the class. I definitely experienced many of the same questions and thoughts during my own freshman orientation, and it always “brings me back” when I’m talking to brand new students during their first few days on campus. What a great reminder of all I’ve experienced to do this right before launching into senior year!

John Harvard dressed up for Move-In Day

FWK and CKS 

In the Crimson Key world, Freshman Week (or, as we like to abbreviate it, FWK) is the biggest event of the entire year: many of us spend the weeks and months leading up to it counting down and planning in anticipation. Of course, a lot of the excitement comes from the fact that Key gets to plan and execute many of the major events that occur during orientation, including the Freshman Talent Show, First Chance Dance, and small scale social activities for the new class. While the freshmen do have to spend a lot of their time going to formal meetings and seminars on life at Harvard, they also get to attend a bunch of fun activities during Freshman Week – and Key gets the pleasure of providing this “fun”. As might be expected, there are a lot of hours required to pull off FWK, which means that it’s all hands on deck for Crimson Key members. Each of the 90 members are expected to put in a number of shifts over the course of the week, ranging from 4:45 am move-in shifts on the first day to late-night clean-ups after the freshman dance. We get to wear bright red t-shirts (yes, the same shirt all week) and enjoy the fun ourselves, though, so it makes the time well worth it.

Crimson Key members staffing the Information Tent on Move-In

FWK is also highly anticipated because it offers a rare chance for the upperclassmen from Key to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company for an entire week before classes start. Key is a group of fun, outgoing, ridiculous people, and we always do a good job of entertaining ourselves over the course of FWK – whether that be on shift, going out in the Square, or just relaxing in someone’s dorm room. Many of us refer to Freshman Week as “Camp Harvard,” a time when we all get to hang out and enjoy campus and each other without the pressures of classes or extracurriculars weighing down on us.

Senior CKS members dressed up for our Love Story movie screening

Move-In and the First Day of Class 

While I definitely have spent a LOT of time with freshmen over the past two weeks, I’ve also been busy moving myself into my own dorm room, hanging out with my roommates, and picking classes for my fall semester. We’re living on the fourth floor of Dunster this year, and while our incredible views of the river make the trek upstairs well worth it, moving all of our furniture up four flights was definitely…an adventure. A few Zipcar rentals and a hearty helping of elbow grease later, though, we managed to get our three (count them – 3) couches into our big senior common room. As far as class selection goes, I’m still definitely in the throes of shopping week – for once, I don’t have any requirements to fulfill this semester, which leaves me the challenge of finding awesome electives for this fall. It’s both exciting and a bit overwhelming to head into course shopping with little definition of what I’ll be taking, but I’m eager to see what I come up with at the end of the week!

The full blocking group at the Dunster “welcome back” cookout

Move-in struggles

And to close out the post, I’m including a photo of my roommates and me from this morning – our last first day of school!

Last First Day of School!

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The last day that I was on campus as a Proctor for Harvard Summer School, a few of us went to Revere Beach, which is about a 40 minute T ride from campus (the T is what we call our subway system). Fun fact: Revere Beach is America’s first public beach! Actually, about 10 of us were supposed to go, but between real world jobs and trying to wrap things up on campus, only three of us ended up making the trek out to the shore. Meghan and Chris are both rising seniors as well, and we figured we would have one last hurrah before leaving for the last few weeks of summer. And, of course, we wanted one more opportunity to get our tans on, since that’d probably be pretty difficult to do once the semester starts in September.

The T is super easy to navigate and incredibly convenient. To be honest, I don’t get to use it as often as I’d like just because it’s so busy during the school year. However, I have several friends who try to get out to different parts of Boston and Cambridge a few times a month, and that’s something I’m going to try to do for the upcoming semester–after all, I only have two left. We arrived in Revere to find out that there was a group of 15 year olds playing incredibly loud music on a stage near the beach as part of some kind of community youth event. It wasn’t exactly the peace, quiet, and relaxation we were looking for, but I think we learned to tune it out since we all ended up taking a dip in the water at one point and then eventually falling asleep as we laid on the sand.

Meghan, Chris, and I at the beach!

As we were leaving, we noticed a super conveniently located ice cream shop right next to the T stop. What’s a beach day without ice cream? We took well over 5 minutes to decide what we were all going to order, which was especially inconsiderate seeing as there were people in line behind us. However, we were so incredibly excited and our server was really accommodating and sweet. I wish I knew what the stand was called so I could give it a plug in here, but the delicious ice cream is the only thing I remember. Yikes. Either way, the ice cream shop right next to the Revere Beach T stop is delicious and you should all go if you get a chance!

Our delicious ice cream

I’m in India for the last leg of filming for the documentary I’m co-hosting and will make sure I blog and post pictures from this trip! Back to campus at the end of the week for PAF* training, and I’m really looking forward to it. Blog again soon!

*PAF: A Peer Advising Fellow, or “PAF,” is basically an upperclassman buddy that every first-year student is assigned to based on broad academic and extracurricular interests.

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I am back on campus! But before I get into my hectic Harvard Summer School Proctor training schedule the past few days, I’d like to take a second and comment on Jeanie’s incredible post. I feel upstaged. You should read it…it’s filled with insider goodness. While I disagree with Wigglesworth being the best freshman dorm (I lived in Greenough my freshman year), I like to think that part of the reason why Jeanie had such a memorable experience was because I was one of her Peer Advising Fellows…she just forgot to mention me. A Peer Advising Fellow, or “PAF,” is basically an upperclassman buddy that every first-year student is assigned to based on broad academic and extracurricular interests. Each entryway of about 20-30 students within a dorm building has 3 or 4 PAFs who work with the Proctor to help with personal and academic advising. They also plan weekly study breaks that have lots of free food and are (supposed to be) a lot of fun. We try our best to be creative! I’m entering my third year as a PAF, and I miss Jeanie’s entryway in the Wigglet a lot. We had a lot of fun at all of our study breaks, which included some awesome themes, such as Super Bowl (nachos and wings, anyone?), holiday, and ice cream, to name a few! Free food is amazing in college. Sometimes, I attend events just for the free snacks. Student group information sessions and academic panels and open houses are just two of the several types of events that are notorious for providing delicious, free food: Boloco burritos, Finale cakes and desserts (cheesecake is my favorite), the super popular Pinocchio’s Pizza (“Noch’s” for short), etc. Wherever you end up in the world, find the free food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Annenberg and our dining hall food, but it’s nice to change it up once in a while. Also, click the link for Annenberg Hall — our dining hall looks straight out of a Harry Potter movie!

As far as Proctor training goes, we’ve been learning a lot the past few days. This is my second year as a Proctor so I’ve done all the training before, but it’s nice to get a refresher on so many things, from rules to what to do in an emergency. I’ll admit that it did get a bit monotonous at times, and the beautiful (but hot!) weather outside didn’t help to keep any of us focused. My students moved in this weekend, and I have a great group from all over the place. Harvard Summer School attracts people from over 100 different countries. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone. Let’s also hope I don’t have to bring down the iron fist…is that how the saying goes? Yikes!

This summer, I’ll be taking a course called “Tissue Engineering for Clinical Applications” that describes disease pathology, as well as latest advances in tissue engineering and prospective research ideas to treat those diseases. It’s right along the lines of my Biomedical Engineering concentration (major) and I’m excited to learn in a setting that’s more relaxed than during the school year. Now that I only have one class to focus on, I’ll be able to manage my time between my studies, working, and pursuing other interests that I’m not able to during the regular semester.

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As the semester winds down, life is getting busier, the days are growing longer, and it’s starting to look like summer a little more each day. My motivation for doing schoolwork is decreasing and I can’t believe that it’s almost the end of my third year here. The end of the spring semester brings about a whole bunch of things, including summer plans and one of my favorites–Quincy Assassins. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but long story short, we sign up in teams of up to 6 people and are assigned targets that we have to shoot with Nerf guns. The rules are 13 pages long! Caroline wrote about the most epic battle yet in Quincy courtyard the other evening. My team is all just about terminated, but the few other teams that are left are extremely intense. They stake out our dining hall and hallways on a daily basis. The game makes you incredibly paranoid, but it’s probably the most involved and dramatic game of Assassins played on campus (many other Houses run their own versions).

Quincy Assassins

Me and a few members of my Quincy Assassins team being ridiculous!

As far as summer plans go, it looks like I’ll be doing two things–proctoring on campus for Harvard Summer School and traveling the world hosting a new documentary series. While I can’t mention too much, the television show is basically about how different cultures and backgrounds affect people’s learning styles. I’ll be lucky enough to travel to Korea, China, Israel, France, and India with two other Harvard students, as well as one of my Peer Advising Fellows (PAF) from my freshman year, who has since graduated. Peer Advising Fellows are basically upperclassman buddies who are assigned to an entryway of first year students to advise them on academic, social, and personal matters. I’m currently a PAF and I love it! For those of you who will be studying here in the fall as freshmen, you’ll all have a PAF, as well. But I digress. My PAF’s name is Lilli, and she is now working for Google. Jenny is another one of the students, whom I’ve actually been very close with since freshman year, as we met through playing volleyball (she played on the Varsity Women’s Volleyball team for two years). The other student is Bryan, whom I met a few months ago, but I’m excited to get to know him better. We were all filming this past weekend and had a lot of fun together!

This coming weekend is Visitas, or as Harvard called it when I was visiting as a high school senior back in 2009, “Pre-frosh Weekend.” I think Visitas has a better ring to it. Regardless, I hope those of you who are visiting will meet as many people as possible and take advantage of all the cool opportunities on campus. One of the people I met during my visiting weekend is now one of my closest friends and blockmates (blockmates are people you pick to live in the same House with after freshman year). It’s also extremely fun to meet people and keep in touch over the summer before you get to campus. There is an activities fair where you can get a whole bunch of free swag and sign up for mailing lists to show your interest in various extracurricular clubs even before you start studying here. Also, a great majority of the student groups put on performances and special events, so be sure to check those out as well. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m the House Committee (HoCo) Co-Chair for Quincy House (each of the undergraduate upperclassmen houses have a House Committee that plans house events like formals, study breaks, and other events to foster community and make the house a fun place to live). Each HoCo has been working hard to plan your regional reception events, so be sure to check those out. Now that you got in, you may or may not be wondering one of the main questions I constantly thought about: Am I the Admissions Mistake? Absolutely not. And I hope you step on campus this weekend knowing that you deserve and have every right to be here.



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About three weeks ago, I received a surprise email in my inbox alerting me that I had been accepted as a Peer Advising Fellow – in Harvard lingo, I’m a new PAF! While the name certainly sounds a bit intimidating, the idea is that each Harvard freshman gets assigned a PAF to serve as a peer mentor throughout their first year at school. PAFs generally have 6-10 “PAFees” to advise, and are expected to meet with their advisees a few times a semester to check in and answer basic questions. Last year, I found having a student perspective to be incredibly helpful in choosing classes and navigating all of the resources and events at Harvard.

Competition to become a PAF is fierce – the Advising Programs Office receives about 800 applications for approximately 75 spots – and I was ultimately placed on the wait list when I initially applied last spring. That’s why I was so shocked to receive a congratulatory email this spring! I thought they had entirely moved beyond last year’s waiting list, and, in fact, I had just submitted my new application for this spring’s cycle.

Admittedly, coming in as a new PAF halfway through the year has been a bit strange. I’m filling the spot of an outgoing senior, and therefore am picking up where she left off, with a batch of second semester freshmen who I’ve been busy introducing myself to over the past few weeks. One of the perks of being a PAF, however, is that I get to attend “study break” once a week: all of my PAFees are assigned to the same entryway, and each Wednesday the two other PAFs and I plan an hour-long snack break for the freshmen. This week we had a chocolate themed study break, although my personal favorite so far has been burgers and fries!

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be helping my advisees navigate sophomore housing applications and think about potential concentrations. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to know them a bit better!

And, on a completely unrelated note, I also went to see Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals show this week. Hasty Pudding is an all-male theater troupe that performs (largely) in drag every spring, and their shows are always HILARIOUS. It’s a long-standing Harvard tradition – this year was the 163rd show! I’m including a photo below, but if you want more info check out their website!

Photo Credit: The Harvard Crimson

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