A Day in the Life of a Harvard First-Year

Category Student Voices


Farah Afify Class of '22
Authored on October 17, 2018


Transitioning to college can be difficult but learning to manage time effectively can be its own set of challenges.

As someone who never had a busy schedule back home, being exposed to so many opportunities can be overwhelming; however, I’m glad that I’m slowly falling into a routine, and I’d love to share it with you!

7:50 AM- 9:00 AM Rise and Shine

Most college students will tell you that you rarely have to wake up early for a class after high school, and as someone who’s not an early riser, I definitely didn’t think I would be one to choose a daily 9 AM class. Though it was due to a scheduling conflict, I’m growing to love waking up earlier in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee, and taking a stroll through the yard (which is absolutely beautiful in autumn)!

9:00 AM- 10:00 AM My First Class of the Day: Elementary Arabic

My first class, an Arabic language course, is small and discussion-based, which I love because it’s much more interactive than your typical lecture. Plus, I genuinely love learning from my professors, who always make it slightly easier to wake up to my alarms in the morning!

10:30 AM- 11:45 PM GOV 20: Foundations of Comparative Politics

After grabbing a cup of tea, I typically head to my next class, which happened to be about political science today. Most classes, I’m sitting in on a lecture which covers key ideas from the weekly readings. Though the lecture is usually large, we also have smaller, seminar-style discussions later on where we participate in interactive activities like debates.

12:00 PM- 12:45 PM Lunch at the Berg

Famously known as the Berg among first-year students (though I personally prefer Annie), Annenberg is the Hogwarts-esque dining hall where all first-years have their meals. The Berg is well-known as a great spot for socializing, where first-years can catch up with some friends or meet new ones over a meal! When it clears out at night, it’s also a great place to grab a late-night snack or even do some studying.

four students at Annenberg Hall

Me and my friends grabbing a meal at Annenberg, the first-year dining hall! Photo courtesy of Marwa Albaadani

1:00 PM- 4:00 PM Hanging with HFAI

After lunch, I head over to the Admissions & Financial Aid Office where I work as a Student Coordinator for the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI). I absolutely love coming into the office, so it never actually feels like work!

4:00 PM- 6:00 PM Free Time

Most days, I have a social or academic event planned at this time. Last week, I had a meeting about preparing to tutor refugee and immigrant children in Boston. Other days, I might have a quick chat with one of my advisors or join a discussion on public service, which is one my interests. Today, for example, I attended a discussion at the Institute of Politics where Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy joined us for ice cream!

Nancy Pelosi speaking at the Institute of Politics in the Harvard Kennedy School

Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking at an event that I attended!

6:00 PM- 7:00 PM Dinner

After whatever meetings I have for the day, I head back to the Berg for dinner with some friends.

7:00 PM- 10:00 PM Getting Down to Work

At night, I settle myself into a nook at nearby Lamont Library with an iced coffee from the library café and get going on any homework I have. Most times, I’ll be with a group of friends, chatting about our day (and hopefully actually getting some work done!).

10:00 PM- 11:00 PM Catching up with Pennypacker

After a night of studying, I head back to my beautiful (and objectively best) first-year dorm, Pennypacker, where I’m likely to find some friends in the common room. From having a Just Dance battle to celebrating a roommate’s birthday, people who live in Pennypacker are always finding a great way to spend the last few hours of the night!

Overall, adjusting to college can be challenging; however, with the amazing opportunities and support systems I have here, I am beyond happy to call Harvard home!


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Farah Afify Class of '22

Hello! My name is Farah Afify, and I am a sophomore living in Pforzheimer House. I plan on concentrating in social studies with a focus field in ethnicity and migration and a language citation in Arabic.

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