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How Am I Basically a Senior? - Harvard Reflections

As we are getting ready to enter reading period, I keep finding myself incapable of wrapping my mind around the fact that I’m almost a senior. I don’t feel old enough to be a senior in college!

Obviously there is so much to still look forward to - even this semester, there is still Cabot Theatre’s Legally Blonde production, Quad Spring Formal, some friends’ birthdays, and sleeping in for the first time forever!

However, being the nostalgic person I am, I can’t help but reflect a little on all the things that has happened since coming to Harvard. A lot of these I never expected or planned for, but they turned out to be some of the most meaningful experiences!

Getting Cabot House

During the spring of freshman year, blocking groups of 1-8 people are formed. On Housing Day, these groups are randomly placed into one of the 12 upperclassmen Houses which will be their home for the next three years! When my blocking group got Cabot House, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. Cabot House is one of three Houses in Radcliffe Quadrangle which is a little bit further in the opposite direction that some of the other Houses (though to be honest, it’s a shorter walk to the building where I have most of my classes than from some of the other “closer” Houses). The Quad Houses often get a bad rep because of this distance, but getting “Quadded” as they say, was one of the best things that happened to me! Cabot has such a strong feeling of community, something I felt even though I have lived in a hallway single for the past year. I was worried that I would feel lonely, but in Cabot, everything seems like home so I haven’t had that feeling once! Being in Cabot has also led me to be involved with Cabot Theatre Board, one of my favorite things I do on campus! As I type this, we are in tech week for Legally Blonde the musical which is comprised of about ⅓ of Cabot students! It’s been an incredibly bonding experience, and I’m so excited to see it pay off this weekend!

Some other Cabot House highlights: having a three houses in one vibe with the other Quad Houses (such as our joint formals and events like Ice Bar!), having a student-run coffee house right below my room, the incredible tutors who have offered support and friendship, a place to be creative in the art space (Third Space) or through events like the Quad-wide photogallery going on right now!

Above: Cabot Pride on Housing Day

Above: A beautiful Quad sunset

Declaring History of Science

As I have mentioned previously, I had no idea that History of Science existed before taking my freshmen seminar, A Brief History of Surgery. But I am so so so so glad I found it! It’s incredible how much a difference liking your classes makes (who would’ve thought?). In all seriousness, History of Science has changed my life. Not only did I find a field that truly interested me, but it’s also shaped how I think, view, and process the world. I’ve found it helpful even when I’m dealing with personal matters in my life to take a step back and look at it with the skills I’ve learned. The faculty has been incredibly inspiring and helpful in terms of class work as well as my own interests. I also think History of Science will help me be a better healthcare provider in the future as it has challenged me to see the person behind each case, to recognize the changes that occur in medicine, and how culture/society interacts with science. The two History of Science classes I am in this semester will be especially helpful. One is History and Culture of Stigma, which looks at the stigma of different diseases and conditions, and Traumatic Histories, which traces the path of trauma psychology. Let’s just hope my love for History of Science will continue into next year when I’m writing a thesis…

Above: I got to do a week’s worth of research in London!

Traveling Abroad

Before coming to Harvard, I had never been north of Washington D.C., west of Tennessee, or south of South Carolina (I’m from the southwest part of Virginia). I had never been on a plane before going home for winter break freshman year! But now I can say that I have been to New York City, Portland Maine, Seattle Washington, Iceland, London, Italy, and Paris! It is surreal to think that I’ve actually been to those places. I can remember looking up at Big Ben and not being able to really convince myself that it was the same thing I’ve stared at in pictures ever since middle school. Traveling is something I have always dreamed of doing. However, where I am from, not a lot of people get those opportunities. The fact that I was not only able to travel to these places, but also did it with my best friends who I have meet here at Harvard and with financial aid from Harvard is something I am so thankful for. I definitely have the travel bug now, and I hope I can continue exploring the world in my time left at Harvard and beyond! I think this desire has been fueled even more by the people I interact with here. Harvard is full of diversity - culturally, ethnically, socioeconomically, politically, where people live, what people have done, what people think, all the ways! Hearing people speak about where they have been has inspired me to travel even more! Hopefully this diversity will also result in having friends all over the place who I can stay with!

Above: Milan, Italy

Above: The Tuscan countryside

Working in the Admissions Office

This might sound disingenuous since I’m writing this blog post for the Admissions Office, but working here has also been such formative experience! First, I never expected to come to Harvard period. I applied Early Action just to see what would happened, was deferred to Regular, and then wait-listed. When I got the call that I was being offered a spot, I was shocked! Coming to Harvard, I was still partially convinced that I had been admitted by some mistake, and that I didn’t belong. Talking to others here, I began to realize that almost everyone felt the same way. And after I survived my first year, I began to think that “hey, I do belong.” I didn’t necessarily plan on working in the Admissions Office, but I wanted to stay in the Cambridge area the summer after freshman year and it seemed like a fun job! Flash forward to now, I’ve been working here ever since! I love interacting with students and helping them through the college process. I’m also constantly reminded to not take Harvard for granted. It’s easy to go throughout your days and forget because everything does seem normal - classes, homework, extracurriculars, people! But this job helps me remember what it felt like when I first got in and came to campus, it keeps me grateful. This job as well as some other mentoring positions on campus inspired me to apply to PAF. PAF is peer advising fellows who are assigned to freshman dorms. They help guide them through Opening Days, run weekly study breaks, and set up individual meetings with any freshmen who wants to chat! It’s a quite sought after job, but I got a position! I’m so excited to do it this next year, and I really do think that this job and YOU (all of you who read these blogs and send us questions via email) helped prepare me for it!

About the author

Hi everyone! I’m Alexis, and I’m a senior at Harvard College. I’m originally from Radford, Virginia, and I live in Cabot House here on campus. I study History of Science, and I plan to enroll in a... View full profile

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