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The sun is setting now, lazy afternoon light sliding through the wide-open windows of my house in Vermont. The sky is dotted with puffy clouds in the east, but a clear azul is spreading across the rest, contrasting against the beautiful rolling green mountains which surround me. With my cat on my lap and my dog at my side, begging for my zucchini fritters, I couldn’t feel any further away from Paris, where I returned from almost a week ago. I’ve transitioned back smoothly after a not-so-simple trip home, and now all I can do is reflect on my summer, soak up the last of my time in Vermont, and look forward to the oncoming academic year.

 

I have been enjoying some good food…here, at a local barn-raising

My time in Paris didn’t turn out to be how I’d expected it; not worse, per se, just different. It quickly became clear that my french wasn’t going to improve by as great a margin as I’d hoped, but in lieu of improved grammar, my conversational skills and linguistic confidence increased substantially. I also became fast friends with the city itself which, as far as urban spaces go, is spectacular. In addition, I made some incredible friends from all over the world and all over Harvard, whilst eating baguettes in a cloud of second-hand cigarette smoke. (Ech. Not going to miss that.) Now I’m not sure what I’ll be up to next summer, and where I’ll be spending my time. Perhaps Paris again? Or perhaps the countryside? Or Italia? Good thing I’ve got a few months to decide 🙂

 

In Vermont, I’ve managed to keep myself busy, despite the relaxed feeling that’s permeated my bones. Yesterday was very exciting; I went on my first riding lesson in seven years! The horse farm is in Milton, way up north, so I decided to stop by Burlington (our ‘big’ city) on the way there to do some shopping. But back to the lesson. I’m seriously considering playing polo for Harvard’s team, and I had to see whether or not I was over-romanticizing my sentiments towards the sport. So I budgeted a bit for the lessons, called up the stable, and arranged a lesson for the next day. It went very smoothly; I rode a lovely buckskin for more than an hour in the arena, cantering on my first day, as well as accidentally jumping a small hurdle. (Whoops. Don’t tell my mom.) I felt so comfortable, and I have two more lessons waiting for me before I head back to Cambridge, where I’ll be setting up my single (!) in Currier. As a former resident of Canaday, I am fully aware of the lack of architectural beauty that plagues the newer dorms, and Currier is no exception. Thus, I have decided to decorate my room fantastically (I mean it) and so all of yesterday’s shopping was geared towards the housing department. I went to two fabric stores, a craft store, some standard decorating stores, a few cheap-o stores, and returned home with all of my goodies: a bathmat, two square leopard-print/camouflage throw pillows, another smaller throw pillow, yarn, frames, and a bunch of fabric. Do not worry. The fabric will be covering those hideous throw pillows, making them absolutely gorgeous. Ah, my domestic life is flourishing. I move from stovetop to sewing machine to clothesline just like a little housewife. Except I’m designing my room. Which will win prizes and be featured in the New York Times Style Magazine, if we’re lucky.

 

This might be part of my bedroom. Yet to be decided.

As far as the less-important aspects of school go, I suppose I have to choose classes. (Please note that I am joking, as I have chosen my classes as of two months ago.) I have a few conflicts…okay, waaay more than a few, and this semester is the last one that I have before I must declare my concentration…which is still up in the air. Romance Languages and Anthropology? Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology? …Architecture concentration that has yet to be created? I DON’T KNOW. And the clock is ticking, so I’d better decide quickly. I am so excited to return to school, although I am totally afraid that I’ll be overwhelmed and have a rerun of my freshman fall, which was not so nice. Wish me luck, anyhow!

-Reid

 

No, that is not me.

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Ciao a tutti!

Shopping week for second semester is almost over, with Study Cards (an official list of the courses you’re taking) being due tomorrow. Luckily, I’ve figured out my semester. I’ll be taking Intensive Italian (Italian Acd), Advanced French Grammar II (French 50), Expository Writing 20 (Expos), and a Freshman Seminar called “Pressing the Page: Making Art With Letters, Paper & Ink.” I’m very excited about this semester, especially for my seminar and Italian. They’ve been amazing so far, with Italian flying by every day and my printmaking seminar seeming too short, though it’s two hours on M/W! So far I’ve made calling cards and monogrammed notecards. Check out my first creation thus far!

 

I <3 Art

Anyways, get ready for a lot more artsy stuff this semester, to add to my arts list from a previous post. Seriously, this is a Liberal Arts college and my goal is to find out why.

Though all Freshmen do not have to take seminars and two languages (well, there is a language requirement, but I definitely loaded up on Romance Languages), everybody who graduates from Harvard College must take Expository Writing. Shaun talks about it from the other side of the bridge, having taken it already, but I have yet to experience this wonderful essay course. Actually, most people don’t like it, but I really love writing, and all the courses I’ve signed up for have high Q ratings (which means they’re good) and are in very close proximity to my dorm! Sweet graphic here:

Wow, Check it out! Canaday has the best location for all things Freshmen.

 

Anyways, these are the Expos courses I’ve sectioned for. A lot of them haven’t been offered yet, and are brand new, so I thought I’d give them a chance, even though it is risky. Imagining Animals does sound pretty interesting, though.

Location, Location, Location. (Okay, and time/subject.)

If I get sectioned into a M/W 11:00-12:00 time slot, I’ll be having bagged lunch twice a week for the next semester! Good thing Harvard offers them for all students, all the time. Also, our dining services have become quite interesting, with HUDS reintroducing the Korean Barbecue night. Let me tell you, that Kimchi was spicy! After I enjoyed my Korean dinner today with my roommate, I met a few of my bandmates and headed up to the SOCH for our first practice of the second semester. We’re playing a few songs and a lot of transition material at Harvard Thinks Big, which is a very popular set of mini-lectures hosted in Sanders Theater. Last year’s information can be found here. It was awesome seeing everyone again, even though the rehearsal was short and the walk to the quad was a bit chilly. If you’ve forgotten about my band, check out this link! Being part of my amazing mini-community was definitely the best part of my first semester, because it helped me to transition into college life much more smoothly.

Whee!!! Random Picture of Cambridge!

 

Another super awesome thing in my life right now continues to be The Crimson! I realized that last semester was a ton of fun, and I had the best time taking photos of sports and arts, specifically for the Fifteen Minutes magazine. Over break, I took a lot of photos, and they have definitely improved, to the point where I am proud of my photography skills. Soon I will be monitoring compers as a Junior Editor, chillin’ with them as they experience that which I’ve just done. Tomorrow, I’m covering the Harvard-Yale hockey game, and my family is coming up to watch with me. I am also “schmoozing” with some peeps (editors/my superiors/great people) in order to be (hopefully) elected Arts Photo Exec. That basically means a lot of mini meetings in order to hold a higher position than my current status. I’ll update you when I hear back, but for now, cross your fingers for me!

Arts and Sports mixed together!

The weather has been uncannily warm as of late, which definitely freaks me out a little bit; climate change is upon us, and it’s been pretty evident here in Cambridge. Hopefully it cools down, so I can use the really great skating rink on the Science Center lawn. (What? Harvard has a free skating rink? Why yes, we do.) Most of the time though, I’m inside, doing my homework so that I don’t get behind. I definitely don’t want to make that mistake again, because it creates a lot of unnecessary stress.  I’ve been doing a bit of walking recently, because I’m auditioning through  Common Casting  for Legally Blonde and Hair (the musical), and I have to hike up to the Aggassiz Theater (also home of the visitor center), Loeb Theater, and Farkas Theater. I really missed auditioning, so this process has been a blast! But I should get back to the pile of work on my desk….

Busy busy

 

Okay! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post, and for those applying to Harvard, these next few months might be a little worrisome, but try to keep the admissions process in the back of your head and enjoy your last part of high school. You’ll end up wherever you need to be.

 

Signing off

-Reid

 

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Back to campus in 7 days. Normally, I hit this wall where I don’t feel like being home on break any longer, simply out of boredom, and am itching to get back to my dorm in Quincy House. However, I haven’t quite made it to that point yet. I think it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of reading, as well as summer internship applications. J-Term (what we call our winter break) has been very busy for me, despite having a lot more free time than during the semester. It’s not a bad kind of busy, but definitely not crazy enough that I’m dying to get back just yet. Last year, I was on campus already at this time in January, training for my upcoming volleyball season. I walked on to my team halfway through freshman year, and after being a varsity athlete as a freshman and sophomore, I decided to “retire” as a junior after realizing I wanted to pursue other opportunities during my career here. I’ve always loved volleyball, and it was my life all throughout high school. But being an NCAA Division I athlete at Harvard requires a lot of discipline and time management skills. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some lifelong friendships through my teammates (that’s how I met one of my roommates), and got to travel to some great places when I was in season and while training. My favorite memory was playing against the University of Southern California Trojans during our spring break trip to California last year. They were the defending national champions and to even step foot on the Galen Center‘s court was a dream come true. However, Harvard has so much to offer, and there’s only so many hours in a day. Between training, practices, games, and traveling, I felt like I wanted to move on to other things and focus my energy elsewhere for my last two years here.

Harvard NCAA Division I Men's Varsity Volleyball, 2010-2011

Harvard NCAA Division I Men's Varsity Volleyball, 2010-2011

It’s definitely different not being a part of an organized team, but I don’t think it’ll fully hit me until my former teammates have their first game of the 2012 season on January 24th. I haven’t actually experienced a spring semester here while not being in season, so I’m looking forward to what other things I’ll get involved with. When people find out I left my team, the question they ask me most frequently is why I quit. I then correct them using the word “retire” and proceed to explain. The next question I’m usually asked is whether or not I’m happy with my choice. Yes. I am incredibly happy with my decision. However, I do miss many aspects of being an athlete, and do not regret investing the past two years into volleyball. I’ve learned time management skills, teamwork, leadership, so much about myself, and met some of my best friends.

Harvard Men's Volleyball

My team — can you spot me? (Hint: I'm the shortest!)

For those of you who are considering applying to Harvard and playing a sport here, I encourage you to do it. If you don’t, though, it’s not the end of the world. As a 3-sport athlete in high school, not being able to play sports was one of my biggest fears coming into college. There are so many levels of athletics here, from pick-up games to intramurals to club to varsity–there’s a level of skill and commitment for everyone. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen (how cliche of me…). I didn’t plan on pursuing volleyball in college, but things just fell into place halfway through freshman year. Of course, you need to do what’s right for you, but having athletics as part of my undergraduate experience was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s true that everyone, athletes included, are held to the same academic standards here. But Harvard professors and teaching fellows are normally understanding and willing to help make sure you have a positive experience, athlete or not. I had a great experience as a student-athlete. I will admit that I still need to get used to my roommate, Derek, running out of the room to go to practice without me, but I’ll definitely be in the stands supporting my team this spring.

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How many people are staying in your room?!?!?!”

This was the reaction I received from many Harvard students when they discovered how many Yalies my roommates and I would be hosting for the big Harvard-Yale Game weekend.

The answer was eleven, which meant that counting the five of us who lived in our suite, we had sixteen college freshmen in our room.

Was it a little crowded?  Yes.  Was it completely and totally worth it?  YES!!!!!

The Harvard-Yale Game is the one weekend out of the whole year when Harvard students pull out all of the stops to show school spirit.

Not that people aren’t proud they go to Harvard.  If I do say so myself (and all of the t-shirts made for this past weekend would agree with me), it is the best school.  But there’s a difference between wearing a Harvard sweatshirt on your way to class, and donning every single piece of obtainable Harvard-wear to go cheer on a the football team until you go hoarse.

And that is exactly what Harvard-Yale is all about.

We wake up at 8:00.  Grab breakfast.  Hit up the never-ending medley of tailgates by 10:00.  Enter the stadium at 12:00.  And enjoy the best two and a half hours of football one could ever experience.

The excitement stems not so much from the game itself – though it is full of unforgettable, heart-stopping plays and our guys really do give it their all – but from the infectious atmosphere created by the fans.  Students are so psyched to be there, continuing the 127-year rivalry.

Harvard-Yale game

First Yale was up 7, then Harvard came back with a touchdown, but before we knew it, Yale was up again, only to have Harvard run in a touchdown after Yale’s kick-off at the beginning of the second half.  The tension was palpable, and when Harvard’s defense stepped up in the last three minutes of the game to ensure our victory, the fans went wild.

We rushed the field, jumping over the cement walls and sprinting towards the team.  Hugs were exchanged, people were lifted onto shoulders, and the cheering, whooping, and blowing of (banned) vuvuzelas filled the air.

After so many years of hearing about the famous Harvard-Yale Game (yes, I was that girl who motivated herself by looking up Harvard trivia throughout high school), it was unreal to experience it first hand.  It was one of those moments where I think everyone felt both proud and lucky to be at Harvard.  Who says Harvard students don’t have school spirit?

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