One thing I’ve noticed about you Americans is that you love acronyms. And I mean love them. Harvard is full of titles shortened down to their initials: the business school isn’t the business school, its HBS, the Kennedy school, HKS, the university dining services, HUDS. The list goes on and on, and I’ll admit, as first, it was pretty overwhelming to try to get your head around them. A seasoned sophomore however, and I find myself using them with increasing frequency.
One of the newer acronyms I’ve added to my vocabulary has been FOMO, or ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. It is something which strikes Harvard students to the core, and is a very real thing, I guarantee you. A lifetime wouldn’t be enough to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities at Harvard, to take all the classes you want to take, let alone 8 short semesters crammed into four brief years. I mentioned in my last post that because of crew I have to make sacrifices, and it’s something I accept. But that’s not to say I’m not hit by FOMO.
I also said in my last post that I wasn’t going to the game last weekend. And I wasn’t. Until Friday evening, talking to a few guys in my boat, FOMO struck hard, and I coffed up the $40 for the bus down. When I thought about it, I realized that I was going to miss one of four Harvard Yale games because of what would become in the future an insignificant cost. And I’m glad I went. It was a crazy day, filled with great laughs and great friends. Sure, I didn’t get any work done, but a late night on Sunday solved that. FOMO can be a seriously strong emotion.
It was another emotion I had coming into this Thanksgiving break. As a resident Brit, Thanksgiving is something which doesn’t really mean a lot to me. I had a couple of offers from friends to go and stay with their families, which was incredibly generous of them, but this term has been particularly straining in many ways, and I really felt like I needed a quiet few days to myself to get some work done and get some well-earned rest before the start of finals. This was augmented by the fact that this Thanksgiving break has come so late in the term; this is technically week 13! Last year I had a fantastic trip to Vermont then Montreal, but I must admit, I came back just as if not more tired than when I left. This Thanksgiving I was really looking forward to just sleeping in my own bed.
Then last week, FOMO struck again. I thought about the great experiences I could have if I travelled, and I was tempted. But this time I stuck by my guns and decided to stay put. And again, I’m glad I did. Although I haven’t been able to get as much work done as I would have liked, it’s been really nice to take a bit of time out and de-stress. There have been a surprising number of people still on campus, including fellow Brit roommate James, so it hasn’t been lonely at all.
Indeed yesterday James and I went up to his host family’s house for a home cooked thanksgiving meal. Every international is offered a chance before they join to enter the host family program, in which Harvard pairs you with a local family for extra support in adjusting to college life in another country. I myself didn’t choose to take
part in the program, but James’ family was kind enough to take me in as well yesterday. They live 20 minutes away in Weston, and we had a great day, watching the annual high-school football game, playing football in their yard with their two sons, and of course eating far too much food. Yesterday, I was truly thankful for their hospitality and generosity, and I started to come to really like Thanksgiving as a holiday. It has all my favourite parts of Christmas, being around friends and family, eating wonderful food, playing games, without the crippling commercialization of Christmas. The tales of stores beginning their black Friday sales yesterday saddened me, and I sincerely hope that this is only because Thanksgiving has come so early, and is not repeated next year. It would be a shame for Thanksgiving to suffer the same end as Christmas.