From First-Year Opening Days to Junior Family Weekend

Category Student Voices


College student, Maria
Maria Class of Alumni
Authored on March 06, 2019


The last time my mom was on campus, it was to move me in for my first year at Harvard.

Along with my brother, aunt, and four cousins, we all strolled through Harvard Yard in awe of what was around us. To be frank, we actually didn’t really know what was around us. A couple of days before move in day, we attempted to explore the campus and the surrounding areas, but we were utterly confused about virtually everything. We rented a car (two actually, there were a lot of us), and tried to navigate the winding streets of the Boston/Cambridge area, which was more confusing than we anticipated.

My family and I are from Chicago where the streets are set up in a grid system, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost. Boston was the completely opposite.

Streets suddenly turned into one-ways, other streets diverged into multiple streets with the same name, and tunnels made us lose signal so our Google Maps stopped working. Needless to say, after a day or two of driving around, my family and I were starting to get annoyed with each other.

Family in front of Stoughton dormitory

In front of Stoughton dormitory

My mom, brother, and I in front of my freshman dorm (Stoughton) during move-in day.

However, I was glad that my family was there to experience the confusion with me. It didn’t make me feel too alone in an environment I knew nothing about surrounded by people I didn’t know. The were so many unknowns at the time, and having my family there to crack some jokes and release the tension was much needed. It was an emotional roller coaster for everyone, especially for my mom and I, because I was the youngest - the baby of the family - and this would be the first time I was going to be away from home for an extended period of time.

I knew my mom needed to see the campus, so she wouldn’t worry too much about where I’d be, and I knew I needed my mom to help me cope with the idea of being away from home.

The weekend of March 1, 2019 was Junior Family Weekend, and my mom came back to campus. Junior Family Weekend, in a way, forced me to reflect on how much I’ve grown and learned since those first few days I stepped foot on campus. The last time my mom was on campus, we didn’t even know where my freshman dorm would be . This time, I now live in an upperclassman house, I was able to point out the buildings where I had classes, and  I was able to tell her the history of libraries, statues, and other buildings. We even had time to visit three museums on campus. With each story I told, my mom was completely captivated and in awe of what we were seeing around us.

After a little over two and a half years on campus, I sometimes forget that I’m in a place filled with history and opportunities. I can sometimes be so focused on due dates and social life that I forget to appreciate where I am. My mom reconnected me to where I was freshman year and made me appreciate everything that I have learned and gone through since then.

two people in front of Widener Library

Junior Family Weekend

My mom and I on Widener steps during Junior Family Weekend.