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Jazzed about J-Term

As it is currently the midst of finals season here in Cambridge, many here on campus can’t help but think about their Winter Break plans. Known as J-Term on campus, Harvard’s Winter Break lasts for over a month. Depending on your final exam schedules in December, one’s winter break can last from early-to-mid December to late January. With over a month of break in between Fall and Spring Semesters, may Harvard students opt to take the time to do a variety of things: spend time with family, travel abroad, volunteer, work, prepare for graduate school exams, etc. Freshman year J-term and this upcoming J-term I plan to stay home for the majority of it to rest and spend time with my family in Los Angeles.

However, during my sophomore year J-term time, I wanted to have an international experience because I had never been outside of the US before. Eager to spend time in Mexico to get in touch with my ethnic roots as a Mexican-American and put my years of Spanish courses in action, I sought out “winternships” (short internships over J-term) in Mexico. After exploring J-term opportunities through the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, I found a program that would allow me to live and intern in Mexico City for the month of January. Opportunities ranged from non-profit work, government, journalism, to venture capital. My homestay was in the neighborhood of Roma Norte in the Mexico’s capital city and was in close proximity to public transit, local restaurants, and my workplace as an intern for Vice News.

In addition to providing a host for housing and interning, this program also included programming with the cohort of 20 other Harvard students from all academic backgrounds that allowed for food tours of the city and weekend trips to historical sites. My favorite experience was visiting Frida Kahlo’s house, known as La Casa Azul, because it was a museum converted from the house she lived in when alive and included curated exhibits of her artwork and her studio spaces.

A fellow Harvard program attendee and I co-wrote a piece for Vice News Latin America about American expats that live in Mexico and how their experiences in Mexico had informed their thoughts on the upcoming presidential election. The link to the article can be found below:

https://news.vice.com/article/wed-be-on-the-other-side-of-the-wall-us-ex…

Not only was this experience a remarkable opportunity to immerse myself in a new country, but it gave me a supportive network of friends and programming that made that adjustment in a new country all the more enjoyable. As someone who was not necessarily looking to study abroad during his time at college but still wanted an international experience, I’m very grateful that these “winternship” opportunities allowed me to have a brief but substantive visit abroad while at Harvard.

About the author

Hey everyone! My name is David and I’m a junior in Pforzheimer House. I’m planning on studying Government with a particular interest in comparative politics, media, and social justice... View full profile

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