March is an exciting month for Harvard first-years because it includes the years-long tradition of blocking and housing.
At Harvard, 97% of undergraduates choose to live on campus all four years because the on-campus community and facilities are just that awesome. While first-years live in specific dorms designated for them, sophomores, juniors, and seniors live in 12 upperclassmen houses. Each house accommodates between 350 and 500 students and, because sophomores live in their assigned houses for all three years until graduating as seniors, houses create close-knit communities within the broader University. Each house has its own dean, tutors, advisors, dining hall, library, and social/recreation rooms. Pretty much everyone at Harvard has their own opinions about which houses are the best in terms of campus location or room and suite designs. However, each house has its own wonderful traditions and characteristics. For example, one House has a pottery room, while another has a dark room for photography, and yet another contains a full dance studio. One House has massage chairs, while another has a huge indoor rooftop common space. As you read this, you may be wondering: Hmm, how can I get into one of these Houses? Well, there actually is not much you, or I for that matter, can do because the selection of first-years into the houses is a random lottery system. This is a good place to mention that a House is not “off limits” to students who do not live in it. For example, even if you are placed into the House with a pottery room, you can use the dance studio in the other House or even just go hang out with your friends. In light of all this, I do have to admit that, while I am trying to keep an open mind about which House I will ultimately be placed in, I have heard really good things about Lowell, Adams, and Pforzheimer (also known as Pfoho) and would not mind if I was placed in any of them (BUT we will see, and I will be happy no matter what!).
Due to the pandemic and first-year students being all over the world, the Housing Day process and festivities will look different from years past. However, even though it will be virtual, I am trying to be as positive as possible as this is still a wonderful tradition at Harvard. What House are you in? is a common question around Harvard and, when Harvard students introduce themselves, their House is as much of the introduction as their name, year, and concentration (Harvard’s word for major). Because of this, I will be walking through the housing process virtually, and I invite you to join me as I do. Even as I write these words, I have no idea what House in which I will eventually be placed. So yes, through the next paragraphs of this story, you will be joining me on the month-long journey that is blocking, and by the end, we will find out my House together!
Late February – Choosing a Blocking Group
A blocking group is anywhere from one to eight people with whom a first-year student is guaranteed to live in the same House. Today, I met with my potential block mates (the group with whom I will be blocking) on Zoom. I know a couple of them through my courses, and we all seemed to click pretty well. We got to get to know each other, discussed our study habits, and talked about roommate expectations. They seem really chill, and I would like to block with them! We all ended up feeling the same way and, after the initial meet-up, we decided to block together.
March 2 – Housing Form Opens
Today, the sophomore housing form opened (yay!), and my group and I are going to meet on Zoom to submit our housing form. We had to choose a group name and agreed on the amazing Pop, Block, and Drop It (we were going for a clever name). It was good to see my blocking group again as we went through our forms, and I am getting more excited about Housing Day next week!
March 11 – Housing Day Eve
Today is Housing Day Eve, and someone has mentioned Housing Day in at least one of my classes every day for the past week. I am excited the day is almost here, and a couple of my professors have even moved around tests so they will not conflict with Housing Day. To let you know where I am, my preferences have not changed, and I am still keeping an open mind but would not be sad if I get Lowell, Adams, or Pforzheimer House. The First-Year Experience Office kindly sent all the first-years a Housing Day package filled with a beautiful poster of all the 12 houses as well as some stickers and a booklet detailing the history, traditions, and a welcome from each house. Other than that, I am strangely very excited. I have watched a couple of Housing Day hype videos that the upper-level students who live in the Houses make and upload to YouTube. Tomorrow, before the official reveal at 11am, I am going to meet with my block mates on Zoom just to get hyped, watch some more housing videos, and speculate more on the Houses. Until then… see you for the big day!
March 12 – HOUSING DAY
The day has arrived, the moment of truth. This morning, I had Spanish class and was asked which Houses I want, and I reiterated that, while I will be happy with whatever House I am assigned, I would not mind Lowell, Adams, or Pforzheimer. After class, I hopped on a Zoom with my block mates, and we watched fun videos of Housing Day hype videos together. An hour ago, I got an email from the Housing and Residential Life Office with a Zoom link and message telling me that I am assigned to GROUP 10 (what House could that be?). Once it is 10:59am, I switch to the other Zoom where all of the House Committee Chairs introduce themselves and wish us luck.
It is now… quite literally... the actual moment of truth. We now get sent yet another Zoom link – this time associated with my group number. While I sit in a waiting room for what feels like forever, my block mates and I text each other anxiously awaiting our House reveal until… finally, we are allowed to enter the Zoom room. Once I enter, I realize I am in… drum roll please…
I am so excited! When the first-years were allowed into the Zoom room, there were so many cheers of joy and welcome. After the initial astonishment and celebration subsided, we were introduced to the Resident Deans, Faculty Deans, tutors, and administrators who all offered us heartfelt welcomes. Tonight, the Adams Housing Committee is hosting some fun events for us first-years.
This truly was an exciting day and, while this Housing Day has been different, I am grateful for all that everyone has put into making this day as special as possible. I look forward to spending my next three years at Harvard as part of this community with the upper-level students, fellow first-years, and my block mates (by the way, our group’s name, Pop, Block, and Drop It, was even named as one of the Top 10 Blocking Group Names by a Flyby blog in the Harvard Crimson!). I hope you enjoyed blocking (and blogging 😉) with me!