study abroad

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Hello!

Here are some photos from my trip!

Mosque in LA

Finals of CUPSI!

 

Delicious Mexican Food

 

Streets of LA proper

 

NYC in the Rain

 

 

So yesterday was the last day of classes (ohmigosh). However, I still have class to go to; today we’re watching a play presented by Italian 40 for part of our Italian Acd final, and we have an oral exam on Monday. The only weird part about taking a foreign language is that we meet during Reading Period and have exams during that time instead of in the Final exam period. So, on Friday I’ll have my final French presentation on the topic of writers fighting against oppression, and on Monday I have my oral exam for Italian, and then I am DONE! (My final paper for Expos is also due on Monday…eek, I have to do some research in Harvard’s intimidating library system.)

 

List of Things…

 

Besides studying this upcoming weekend, I’ll be participating in Grand Elections for The Crimson (from the other side, as an exec instead of a comper, electing the compers to the board) and playing many gigs with The Nostalgics. YAY. My mom is coming up to hear my band play for the last time this year on Saturday and Sunday, and she’s also going to see my Freshman Seminar’s printmaking art show! It’s in the Adams Art Space, which is really cool, and we’ve been working hard to set this exhibit up, so I’m excited to have her come!

 

Sneak Peek of Exhibit!

 

I’ve been reallllll busy these past few days trying to catch up on the work I missed last week, but soon it will be done and I’ll be missing it all, so I’m savoring it, I guess. I’m going to stick around until June 1st, and my dorm crew work doesn’t even start until May 13, so I have an entire two weeks to do absolutely WHATEVER I want! I am looking forward to exploring Boston, Cambridge, and other places around the area. Perhaps I will bike to Walden Pond, or better yet, take the train to Appleton Farm, my favorite place in Massachusetts. (Seriously, it is so gorgeous.) I will also be packing up all of my stuff and moving it into storage in Currier, where it will stay until next fall when I move into my new room! (Crossing my fingers for a single.) I’ll be far, far away in Paris…it’s becoming so real, I bought my ticket last week and this week we have an orientation meeting to figure out logistics! Harvard is great; even if you hate everything about it for some weird reason, you can’t deny the amount of resources that abound from the university (:

 

I don’t have much else to write about. If any of you have questions, feel free to comment and I’ll cover them next week! Congrats on accepted students, and choose Harvard … you will not regret it.

peace

-reid

 

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Hello everyone!
My computer charger is broken so this will be a very short post, as I only have a few minutes left on my battery before I have to go track down someone with a charger.

REALLY exciting things in the future:

•This Sunday I’ll be playing with my band at Yardfest, the big outdoor festival that Harvard hosts every year. We (The Nostalgics) are opening for 3LAU, Das Racist, and The Cataracs, which will be terribly fun and tiring!

•Next Tuesday I’ll be going to the University of LaVerne in LA  to compete nationally with the Harvard CUPSI Poetry Slam Team! We weren’t sure if it would happen, but it really is! Check out our website here for more information.

•I’m currently finishing all of my forms for my Study Abroad Program in Paris, France this summer. This is also 100% happening and it is so exciting. I cannot wait to post about my experience this summer!

Okay my computer is going to die, I shall post some more later!

-Reid

 

My Busy Thursday

 

A few hours later…

I’m back! (Surprise.) Anyways what would I like to talk about? (Please feel free to comment with questions or requests for things you’re interested in, wondering about, etc.) This past week has been chock-full of rehearsals for CUPSI and for YardFest, so I’ve been doing a lot of memorizing and having late-night rehearsals; that’s one thing that’s incredibly different from high school, where none of my activities went later than 9pm, and I fell asleep around 10:30. It is odd to think back to the days where 11pm was really late, whereas now I’m still working/singing/slamming around that hour.

Speaking of high school, my two friends who have been living out west are coming to visit me in a week! They’re driving across the country and will be stopping in Boston around the time that Reading Period starts, then they’ll continue home. It’s a shame that I won’t be back to hang out with them for the month of May, but May really isn’t summer in Vermont, and I’m going to have to work very hard during that time so that I have spending money for France and funds to rent (NOT buy) textbooks. Yay, Dorm Crew and Reunion Jobs! I’d recommend doing Dorm Crew for pre-orientation, because you can start out with a lot of money, some friends, and a really good sense of campus. (However, the other pre-orientation activities are pretty cool…but if you’re worried about money at all, Dorm Crew is the way to go.)

This upcoming weekend, I’ll be taking some pictures for The Crimson of the women’s Lacrosse Game. They’ve been doing much better than normal, which is exciting to watch, and makes me want to play lacrosse again! I played lax and field hockey in high school, and was active in a lot of clubs, music, and theater, which I think is the reason I got in here. (All colleges are looking for someone who fits the bill, and they knew I was prepared for this business.) Anyways, I will also be preparing the Reunion, Commencement, and Year-in-Review newspapers for The Crimson during the month of May, so I can chill with my photofriends. (YEAH!) Now all I have to do is make it through exams…ergh. Being gone next week isn’t going to ease the pain of taking exams and boosting my grade, to say the least.

Hope all is well, happy rainy Thursday!

-Reid

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Hello everyone!

GOOD LUCK ON YOUR ACCEPTANCE LETTERS(if you’ve received your emails/letters by the time you’re reading this, congrats)!!!!!! Last year, this time, I was freaking out the entire day at school, biting my nails and checking my email virtually every two minutes, counting down the time until 5pm. AND THEN MY ACCEPTANCE EMAIL wasn’t sent out until 6:45pm! So good luck!

Sorry that I missed my post last week; I was really busy until Friday came ’round, and it was already too late ): Right now, I’m at the Greenhouse Café, one of Harvard’s many dining locations, sipping on a soy chai latte and editing a few of my essays for Friday. Last night I had not one, but TWO rehearsals for The Nostalgics (at the quad) and for SOL Cupsi (in Kirkland basement), which meant I had to miss out on a lovely Indian-food study break (wop). However, I love both of those activities, so it was fine with me!  CUPSI will be going to LA in late April (yay! lot’s of fundraising to do) and The Nostalgics will be competing for the opening of Yardfest on Friday (ahh). Check out the poster I made in my printmaking class for this event!

Yardfest is a huge celebration and music concert in April, and this year The Cataracs and Das Racist will be playing; hopefully my band will be opening for them, in front of everyone! Last year Far East Movement, Sammy Adams, and White Panda came; this year’s lineup isn’t too exciting, compared to U-Penn’s Tiesto and Yale’s T-Pain and Passion Pit lineups. But what can you do…except get someone better for next year! (Beyonce, anyone?)

I’ve been relatively busy this week, and will be next week, as it is Advising Fortnight for the freshmen, which primes us for our concentration decisions. My calendar is full of fun events, such as “Cool Cupcakes and Hot Munchies” from the Anthropology department, a dinner with the African and African-American Studies department, Romance Languages and Literatures meet&greet, and Enviro-Sci and Public Policy tea! I’m really excited to decide on my concentration (major) and secondary (minor), but I have a while (luckily we declare next November) because I have no idea what I am going to do! It’s not like I don’t have ideas; I’d love to do Franco-Italian Studies, Environmental Studies, African Studies, Anthropology, and Architecture, but sadly I can’t “double major” or “joint concentrate,” as we call it here, in many of these concentrations. There are just too many requirements that I’d have to complete by the time 2015 rolled around. Also, Environmental Studies is not a real concentration here; it’s part of the Visual and Environmental Studies concentration, but is not a fixed path and varies widely based on what you’d like to study within that concept. And architecture isn’t a “real” concentration, either; there’s History of Art and Architecture, which does not prepare you for Architectural studies. So I am going to have to do some research to create my own path here, and I will have the resources if I put my mind to it.

 

Panorama from top floor of William James Hall!

As hectic as this will all be, I’m very excited to have a set direction for my academic studies. It will definitely constrict me, and I’ll have to make some hard decisions, but I will end up with a concentration that I enjoy. (And if I don’t, there’s always petitioning for a change of study and grad school!) Joint concentrations are pretty difficult to make work, but if my so-called “electives” (aka the language courses that I’m obsessed with) count towards my requirements, I’m set! I just have to do what I love, and make my huge dreams a reality. It’ll happen.

Speaking of making dreams a reality, I will be going to Paris this summer!!!!!! I received a huge Rockefeller grant for summer study, and will have a crucial jump on my concentration requirements by studying in France! I’ve never spent the summer in a city, but I’ll be home for a few weeks in June and a few in August to get a breath of country air and swim in the river near my house. I’m going to have to get into a good athletic schedule so that I don’t become too heavy from all those pastries … yum. Also, two of my really good friends will be spending the summer there, one interning in a Neuro lab and the other doing the Columbia-Penn French program. (Oh so fun.) I can’t wait! I have yet to receive another very important grant from the Romance Language department, but it should show up tomorrow as a lovely birthday present. (I’ll be 19, yay!) Check out what I could design with my potential future concentration in my potential future city!

 

So, that is all for now 🙂

Happy spring!

-Reid

 

 

PS Check out some Harvard Talent, for those of you who are still unsure of whether or not Harvard is the right fit for your artsy-selves.

(Leah Reis-Dennis from my band!)

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This past week was phenomenal. I can say this fairly because bad events occurred as well, but ‘tis life – nay – ‘tis a great life because I’m perfectly ecstatic with how things unfolded.

As I’ve stated (desperately) before, my well being was basically dependent on whether I go abroad this summer. At this point, I truly can’t think of any better way to improve my Spanish proficiency other than forcing myself to think, breathe, speak, and eat Spanish. I’m more than happy to report I’ll be doing all of the above for 8+ weeks this summer!

I’ve been scrambling to research and apply to many summer opportunities (including research and interning abroad) ever since my return to campus after J-term (January break/winter break) – so much so that it felt like a fifth class! Being a research assistant at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, which is more of a social science lab, has really made me miss wet labs (pipettes, microscopes, etc.). This isn’t to say I don’t like my job there because I definitely do and intend on working there for many more semesters! Seeing the economics/psychology behind so many common, daily tasks (such as first impressions) has truly propelled my curiosity. Nonetheless, wet labs were my focal exploration point throughout high school and this is an area I feel like I’ve been failing to pursue during my precious and fleeting time as an undergraduate. Therefore, I applied to various REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs at universities and companies as a Plan C.

Plan A and B were quickly formed after further investigation of the DRCLAS (pronounced Dr. Class, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies) Summer Internship Program (SIP) as well as Sustainable Development Programs. I applied to work in Latin America and Mexico, and with luck on my side, I got accepted into both programs. My first choice is definitely interning in Latin America so that I can join my friends and teammates on Refresh Bolivia (a student run organization here at Harvard College) after my internship ends. Fun Fact: Refresh Bolivia was founded by a current senior who will be heading to Harvard Medical School this fall!! He’s been my friend since my freshman fall, but now I’m just star struck by him!!!!

Returning from my tangent, the real kicker is that my funding request was accepted as well! One of the main factors that initially attracted me to Harvard College was its incredibly generous financial support – both in and out of the classroom. Many have heard of Harvard’s renowned financial aid in the classroom, but during my first tour of the undergraduate campus, I was in shock that Harvard also financially supports its students in endeavors that make/keep us happy such as partying (safely of course!!!!) and working abroad!! I’m so beyond eternally grateful that my summer adventures will be partially funded so that I can avoid being an actual adult for that much longer by putting off organizing my finances.

The plot twist (cue scary music here) is that my funding request was approved for the Mexico Sustainable Development program when I prefer Latin America. When I spoke to a few friends, they only worried me by emphasizing how inflexible the protocol for summer funding is. Thank goodness they set my expectations low because that only set me up for a higher rise after I spoke to the faculty in the DRCLAS and OIP (Office of International Programs) offices who are currently working so that my funding can be transferrable in between the two DRCLAS programs. Everyone affiliated with Harvard University has been so kind and helpful that I doubt I could ever be thankful or appreciative enough!

I’ll definitely update when my summer plans are set in stone. For now, I can happily enjoy the present. Spring was here last week with temperatures in the high 60s(?), but now Spring is just near as everyone busts out their puffy jackets with a pout once again.

Things I’m looking forward to: my best friend from home visiting me this weekend!, catching up on sleep and classes (I feel guilty when I’m so behind on lectures!), my sorority’s (Kappa Alpha Theta) Spring formal, YardFest, Relay for Life, PreFrosh weekend … DUDE I LOVE SPRING

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our very own Jesse Sanchez!!!

Double also, best of luck to everyone waiting on decisions tomorrow. My judgement day was April 1st (April Fools Day – which is pretty cruel) so consider yourself lucky! Know that the Admissions staff is really in an unenviable position because there are SO many qualified applicants! Keep your heads up and whatever happens, happens for a reason!

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Last week, I had a depressing blog about my experiences with the (unavoidable?) demon popularly termed Sophomore Slump. BUT! I’m back a week later to uplift your spirits, happily reporting that this week has taken a turn back to happy norms – or as happy as possible in the gloomy presence of midterms and deadlines. Although the workload conditions haven’t altered much, the difference is that I’m not hating existence and my professors are once again able to heighten my intrigue with binary numbers and Aspartic catalysts, can I get a WOOT WOOT?

I pinpointed the root of my slumpish nature as my anxiety revolving around my summer plans and the big possibility of not being immersed in the love of the people I spent my first 18 years of life with; the alternative would be a cultural and/or scientific immersion. So the moral of the story is: I’m a brat. Clearly, I don’t have much to say on this topic because it happens so rarely ….… but having rough weeks is actually a great experience because I wouldn’t appreciate the good as much if it were good all the time.

There were two prominent things that helped me cope with my disaster week – one of them being my upperclassman house, Mather! (You can’t say it without an exclamation mark!) As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been feeling pretty stagnant with regards to my Spanish learning curve which has catalyzed my desire to study abroad. But since I’m a 20 year old brat who still gets homesick, I’d never be able to stick it out as a foreigner for a semester, so I’d ideally like to go somewhere this summer where I can think, speak, live, breathe and blink Spanish. My resident tutor (freshmen here call it proctor, but it’s more widely known as RA: Resident Adviser, basically someone older/wiser who lives in the dorm and repels chaos) and current Spanish 50 class TF (Teaching Fellow) holds a “Spanish Table” every Wednesday during dinner time and last Wednesday was my first (but definitely not last) partake. Spanish Table gives students a chance to have a meal over Spanish conversation. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. The atmosphere is really chill and not intimidating at all! Thinking and speaking Spanish outside of the classroom, in a casual setting, really refueled my excitement about the possibilities of going abroad! Southern California, I’ll thank you endlessly for literally being one of the most influential factors for shaping who I am – from the way I dress, think and speak – but I’ll be okay if we don’t see much of each other this summer.

Studying at a college so far away from home and with seemingly endless possibilities has really made me feel like a globalized person – or maybe just a country-ized person? I’ll earn the term “globalized” if I do indeed go abroad this summer (I’m typing with my fingers crossed here). Harvard offers a plethora of opportunities I never thought existed and recently, its international opportunities have really caught my eye. Everything from Harvard offered programs to non-Harvard programs (campus organizations like OCS: Office of Career Services will work with you to apply and even transfer credit!) to professors who offer to connect you with organizations such as WHO: World Health Organization (my Bioethics professor, Dr. Daniel Wikler, offered to do so!) is just so extraordinarily unbelievable that I can’t wrap half my mind around it. Living and thriving in an environment with massive opportunity, filled with driven people is truly a humbling experience, which brings me back to the second thing that helped me during my disaster week: talking with my best friend from home.

It’s strange how, for me at least, the beginning of college came concomitant with living in a split dimension: your high school life vs. your college life. It’s easy to get caught up in your busy college life, but during sophomore slump weeks, you just want to escape and I accomplished that by catching up with my besties from middle/high school.

I’m pretty confident when I claim that the Sophomore Slump has been a nationwide epidemic because a handful of both friends from home and Harvard have had rough weeks recently. (I partially blame pre-Spring Break Fever) So my best friend from high school, Emily, and I were retrospectively examining our lives (some pretty profound stuff if I dare say so myself) and she mentioned how college is an incredibly humbling experience in the realm of grades which help you realize how smart you are not. I wholeheartedly agreed as I thought about all my premed classes and how students legitimately earn A’s without the curve – snaps AND kudos to everyone because one form of encouragement wouldn’t be enough. This makes it really easy for the majority of students to feel stupid and unworthy, but I’d like to point out that these two things are mutually exclusive. I’m not sure if that makes things better, BUT at least it’s true! I’d like to remedy this situation by telling myself (and you!) that college isn’t all about the grades – it’s about the experiences too. When I look back at college, I won’t remember the 100% I got on my organic chemistry final (not based on a true story), but what will indeed stand out is that time my roommates and I watched scary movie trailers all night for no reason.

My take-home message would be to relax! I feel like 149% of the prospective students I come into contact with (their parents representing the extra 49%) expect that Harvard students are the definition of perfection and that our records/transcripts/etc. should have their own exhibition in the Smithsonian, BUT this is so wrong! Your imperfections shape you just as much as your more admirable qualities and admissions officers realize that you, buddy, are a package deal. Harvard students have their fair share of imperfections and rough weeks – and that’s perfectly fine.

 

Preemptively striking, Housing Day – the epic day that freshmen find out which upperclassmen house they’ll be residing in for their remaining years as an undergraduate – is in just one week! See for yourself why Mather! can’t be said, but only exclaimed!

*props to Scott for helping me share Mather! Love

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Hello Everyone! I’ve been really, really busy (in a good way) these past few weeks, mostly with Crimson and school stuff, which is obviously a blast. Although I’m getting worn down, I think I’ve been structuring my day properly to allow myself enough time to do exactly what I need to do and still get some rest. Do you know that I sleep 8 or 9 hours a night? Yep. I do. I pride myself on that, and basically my theory is that anyone who gets less sleep hasn’t organized their time well enough, or totally overbooked themselves. I have managed to (kind of) find a balance, with the help of some schedules and structure.

My schedule from yesterday afternoon…pretty full, but totally do-able!

 

So what, exactly, have I been doing? Same old, same old, except for this INCREDIBLE and very bizarre event I recently went to. It was called “Experiencing Economies; Innovate or Die,” and basically it was a tour of innovative and design businesses/spaces in Boston which ended up selling out in one minute (there were 50 slots, too). My favorite place that we went to was Continuum, an innovative consulting corporation that was definitely one of the coolest places I’d ever been. I was covering this event for The Crimson, and ended up going all alone on a tour with a ton of grad students and people who were older than me. It was all very secretive, and I really had no idea what to expect, so the bus that I boarded could have been going to Akron, for all I knew! However, we ended up at Harvard’s iLab first, which is essentially a large technologically-innovative and up-to-date building where students from MIT and Harvard can come in and collaborate on big ideas, eventually getting funding for them. It’s about half way between Harvard and MIT, and was really cool. There, we did a psychology experiment on advertising and branding, lead by a History of Psychological Science Graduate student. Here are some photos from the event!

Some Art at the iLab

 

This was pretty cute…and cool, because people were drawing on the walls!

 

This was definitely my favorite quotation.

 

Some photos of the psychology experiment….bringing me back to my SLS-20 (intro to psych) days!

Obviously, my artistic and academic abilities were put to the test! The next stop that I enjoyed was Continuum, because there was an incredibly interesting exhibit set up there; these two women had gone into Boston’s inner-city high schools and worked with students who were affected by violence, and they broke that violence down altogether. They filmed fights and replayed them to analyze how they worked, charted the cycle of a fight, talked about the differences between domestic abuse and gang violence, and went into extreme detail to help these students work out the true definition and consequences of violence.

This was really inspiring.

 

This exhibit was moving, and made me really consider pursuing a career within Continuum; it puts creative and innovative ideas to good use, for the benefit of others. What could be better? By the time the exhibit was closing, I started to get really, really hungry. Luckily, there was tons of food, and my friend Ned was bartending, so I could swing by and visit him!

Yummmm

 

Ned with the red suspenders!

 

The evening was a total success, and after I went to my friend/bandmate Noah’s 21st birthday party, I fell asleep both content and inspired. Check out the OFA article I wrote here!

 

The next day (Saturday), it was my mom’s birthday! I called her up a million times until she answered, chatted with her for a while, and was on my way. I love my momma! I had to finish a photography shoot for the cover of this week’s Crimson Arts, so I ended up staying at the Crimson all day Thursday, for part of Friday, and for a while on Saturday and Sunday in order to finish up the cover with my fellow exec, Dean. Here are some behind the scenes shots!

Dean photographing one of our models in The Crimson

 

Our completed cover!

 

It was a really fun assignment for The Crimson that Dean and I got to run entirely, from conception to final product, which was printed yesterday! Many thanks to all of my models/friends for their pretty faces (:

Now that I’ve covered some exciting things in my past, we can look to the exciting thing in the future: this summer, I will be going to Paris in the Harvard Summer Study Abroad!! I was accepted about a week ago, from a pool of many applicants, and will be able to get a jumpstart on my potential path as a Romance Languages and Literatures concentrator! Nothing could be more exciting than spending my summer in the City of Love (and blogging about it while I’m at it). Now all I need is for my grants to be approved, something I’ll know in about a month. By that time, I’ll be in a House, have my summer planned out, and be preparing for my trip to LA with my fellow CUPSI Slam Poetry members. Wow! The future is pretty exciting in general, but even more exciting when you’re at Harvard.

Thanks for reading, and happy Thursday.

-Reid

 

 

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It feels so incredible to be back! Not only is it great seeing old friends and making new ones, my classes this semester are inspiring new self-exploration in a way that I have never felt before. I came back a new person with my passion for Education & Education Policy reinforced and after so many amazing experiences working with students around the world, I now have the opportunity to study the systems, structures, and dynamics that govern the Educational world from an academic setting in the Harvard classroom.

It’s hard to explain how it feels to be in a classroom studying ‘yourself’ and the models that were meant to help you- All I can say is that I am grateful to be on this side of the analysis for once. I am acquiring the tools necessary for me to make an impact in the field I feel so passionate about and I can’t wait to bring my perspective to a world that is beginning to be introduced to ‘people like me.’ &Feel free to interpret that as you see fit.

I am not only a Harvard Student or a First-Generation College Student or a First-Generation American or a Minority Student or a ‘Low-Income Student’ – I am all of these things and more, infused in a way that gives my perspective and voice a unique resonance that I have been dying to share since the day I knew I was meant to enact change. Of course, I have quite a bit of growing to do and things that I have yet to learn but know that my voice will be heard.

But my voice isn’t the only one worth hearing- we need your voice too. &Only you can provide it. As long as you continue seeking the tools available through higher education, your voice will resonate louder than mine ever could.

College is a place for growth and I’m happy that Harvard has been relentless in the challenges it has set before me because without these challenges, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“The more life pushes you back, the more you can move forward.” If that’s true, then I’m more than ready for whatever this semester has in store for me.

If you want a more vivid look into what my Harvard experience is like, watch my weekly video series – “Wake-Up Wednesdays.” Let’s Live out our First-Generation College Student Dreams Together.

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In sophisticated literature, the color white tends to symbolize kindness and purity – that’s why I’m so okay with telling myself white lies. Popular recent white lies to myself include (but are not limited to):

“Oh it’s just Shopping Week. I don’t have any work or books to even think about,”

“This is only the first actual week of school and Rush Week only comes once a year! There aren’t important psets (problem sets),”

and my personal favorite: “I promise this is my last dessert ever.”

                                                                     Going along with Scott’s dessert fantasies,

here are some homemade peanut butter cupcakes

crafty Thetas made in Mather’s (upperclassmen house) kitchen!

It’s pretty unfortunate that I forgot how easily the color white stains. These seemingly harmless white lies have darkened so much that they’ve almost cast a gloomy dark cloud following me everywhere…almost. Things have gotten real this week: my first 5 hour organic chemistry lab, my first frustrating physics pset, my first experiment at HDSL (Harvard Decision Science Lab). I really can’t solicit any sympathy because everyone else is at least just as busy. It’s during times like these (when I find myself doggy paddling just enough to stay afloat) that I think back to what a graduate student at the Harvard School of Public Health said to me: “There’s a difference between balancing and juggling.”

I think the main difference between these two activities is prioritization. When you’re physically balancing objects, you appear to be much calmer and poised. As impressive as juggling is, the image is definitely more hectic and things are much more easily dropped. I personally strive to achieve a balance where I’ll prioritize matters such as my interpersonal relationships with my family and friends, my academics, and my well-being over Facebook, Twitter, and scoring higher on Temple Run than all of my friends. Although the rankings of these priorities are flexible from hour to hour, the activities that have the most meaning in my life will never be dropped. Prioritization is also a great way to determine what is most important to you – in high school, I always did my chemistry homework first and that’s how I knew I liked moles more than beavers (#corny).

In my experiences at Harvard, I’ve heard many people declare that they’re too busy for X, Y & Z. To me, that’s just another way of indirectly saying X, Y & Z aren’t significant enough to prioritize for you. One thing that Harvard students definitely prioritize is breaks! The current hot topic on campus is activities during Spring Break and Summer Break. People are deciding where to go, what to do, and how to fund their interests/travels. There are TONS of options – i.e. study abroad and public interest internships. There’s also an amazing alumni networking tool called Crimson Compass if working in a specific location is of utmost importance to you. Navigating all the opportunities can most definitely be overwhelming so I must give a loud and proud shout out to the Office of Career Services (OCS) who holds frequent informational sessions and office-hour type drop-ins for students seeking guidance.

But for now, I’m prioritizing my organic chemistry pset. Cross your fingers for me and send some positive energy (in the form of protons??) my way! 😀

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Hello everyone! I’m writing from the comfort of my dorm room right now…it’s definitely cozier in here than it is outdoors. Finally it snowed, but it’s melted since then, leaving the ground bare. Not all hope is lost, though–it should snow on Saturday! Another amazing event that is happening that day is the final performance of my Wintersession spoken word workshop. We’ve been working from 10-3 everyday this week, producing a lot of writing of which we should be proud. The Speak Out Loud club is hosting this program, and we’ve had a lot of amazing guests come in to work with us. Yesterday, we made this crazy web to connect all of these different ideas and created poems about them, and afterwards we talked about the Hunger Games (which was great, because I’m obsessed with that series).

Crazy Web

Spoken word is a really fantastic way of self-expression, and on the sixth of February, we’ll be performing a piece in Memorial Church for a belated-MLK celebration. I’ll be doing a group piece with my friend, which will be fun, because it’s my first time collaborating on any spoken word. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I got back from LA on Saturday night, and came to Harvard just in time to watch the Giants-Packers game with my dad at Tory Row, a café/bar right in the square. Luckily, the Giants whooped the Packers (really, the defense was fantastic), so my dad could drive home happily that night. I also met my older sister at South Station, and after we’d watched the game, we went back to my room and packed her bags for Zanzibar. She’s doing a semester abroad there, and is currently in Tanzania, crossing the ocean in a little while to the island where she’ll spend her next few months. Eloise (my sister) could only take one large backpack and a carry-on, so we had to pack everything tightly. We rolled all of her clothes and crammed them into her bag, densely packing it so that she could fit everything. Lo and behold, there was room to spare after we’d finished! On Monday, we had lunch with our grandparents at Henrietta’s Kitchen in the Charles Hotel, and after my workshop, I took her to the airport. We got there pretty early, checked her bag (11 kilos), bought some candy, and called our mom. Then, we parted ways as she went through security. Today, she called me from Tanzania on Skype–a lovely surprise. It made me think about all the places I’d like to go for Study Abroad, which prompted my transition back into my grant applications for the Summer Study Abroad in Paris. There’s a very good study abroad program here, which can be found at these two links, one for summer and the other for the academic year. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I’ll be accepted this year!

It’s lovely being back on campus. Nothing has changed much–the same food (though I’m eating less of it), the same buildings (obviously), the same yard (except for the lack of Occupiers). However, there is one new exciting addition to campus: a skating rink! It’s free, with skate rentals being only $5. I’ll have to check it out sometime. Later today, I’ll be heading to a warmer sporting event, covering the men’s swimming and diving competition against Brown, as I’m now a Junior Editor for the Photo board of The Crimson. (Yay!) So, that’s all, folks, but I’m ready for a new exciting year of work and play!

Happy Winter!

-Reid

The lovely snow, from my window!

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My first formal exposure to the Spanish language (not counting Dora the Explorer) was in 8th grade where Introductory Spanish was a 6-week course offered as part of the Exploratory Wheel elective. Spanish class soon became a year-long course for me every year since then – even now in college!

I clearly remember the day in 8th grade when I became determined to acquire Spanish fluency. One of my good friends – endearingly nicknamed Briana Banana – raised her hand in the midst of silence during a writing exercise. She inquired about one of the new infinitives we just learned meaning “to play” which evoked an alarmed and confused countenance by the teacher who repeated back: “soufflé?!” It was one of those unexpected misunderstandings that provoked our endless giggling – we literally hysterically laughed about this for weeks. If I were to ever write a memoir, this moment wouldn’t only be noted as a randomly hilarious event, but also as a turning point when I decided it would be way more than awesome to be fluent in Spanish so that I could translate words like “soufflé.”

I’ve been learning Spanish for almost 5 years now (didn’t enroll in a Spanish class senior year of high school after taking AP Spanish my junior year, highly recommended class by the way!) and recently, I’ve been feeling that the steep slopes of my learning curve have started their inevitable plateau. This is not to say that Harvard language classes aren’t fulfilling – I definitely feel like I have more mastery with regards to grammatical points such as compound verb phrases and my most recent class (see description below) incorporated Spanish cinema which naturally gave me more of a sense of Spanish history and culture.

[Spanish 40: An advanced language and culture class that further develops linguistic competence using regions of the Hispanic world as a focus for class discussion, grammar review, and an introduction to Hispanic social contexts and texts. Course materials may also include films, interviews, painting, photography, music, selections from the press, as well as literary or historical readings. Frequent written and oral assignments, and a thorough review of grammar.]

I think my lack of complete satisfaction stems from the fact that my Spanish acquisition has been contained within the four walls of a classroom. Ever since high school, most of my time outside the classroom has been dedicated to furthering my scientific interests in order to narrow my future career path. However, I’m pretty confident that I need to either volunteer or study abroad in Spain, Latin America, or any other Spanish-speaking region so that my Spanish learning is concomitant to my personal growth (as corny as that may sound) because studying abroad offers a harmonious combination of formal learning in the classroom and informal learning via outdoor adventures and interpersonal interactions. My adventures in Vietnam this J-term have really cemented my desires to pursue being active abroad in the near future.

As a first generation Vietnamese-American, I simultaneously learned Vietnamese and English growing up. I’ve never received any formal Vietnamese instruction, but I can listen and speak just as well as I can butcher words when I read them. I couldn’t write Vietnamese if my life depended on it and my reading abilities are fairly limited to restaurant menus. Therefore, I depend on my listening comprehension and speaking skills for communication. My parents’ friends are generally impressed with my fluent façade because most Vietnamese kids born in the US have English-dominated language skills. I believe my bilingual language advantage stems from the fact that I grew up living with my grandparents so the demand for Vietnamese was higher. However, this advantage no longer applies in college where I no longer reside with anyone who pressures me to speak Vietnamese. My desire to maintain my Vietnamese in college led me to volunteer in Dorchester, a heavily Vietnamese populated community near Cambridge. These efforts haven’t been too helpful since the PBHA BRYE (Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment) program aims to tutor struggling Vietnamese teens in English. I’ve also sought out various ways to enhance the Vietnamese half of my Vietnamese-American identity such as participating in Len Duong Camp last summer and traveling to Vietnam this J-term.

I’ve been in Vietnam almost two weeks now and my parents who once use to mercilessly describe my Vietnamese abilities as pathetic, now just tell friends and relatives that I’m indeed capable of speaking Vietnamese. I’ve learned much more slang as well as new vocabulary – specifically for all the new fruits and cuisines that aren’t readily available in the United States.

LEMON Ritz…WHAT?!

I think the most convincing proof of my Vietnamese acquisition has been my improved abilities to make jokes and puns in Vietnamese!!

I’m not even sure if Charles Dickens has enough words to describe how fulfilling my first (and hopefully not last!) trip to Vietnam has been. Everything from meeting all the relatives who I have and haven’t heard about to seeing where my parents were married and where they use to hang out afterschool has not only been a culturally immersive experience, but also a personally fulfilling one.

A man playing the recorder…with his nose!!

I intend on using this family trip to Vietnam as a catalyst for studying abroad because I am SO ready to collect some stamps in my passport!

A street sign in Saigon – I guess rockets are allowed on this street?? 😉

This restaurant had a special vomit section in the bathroom and we still ate there.

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