Now that the thrill of Decision Day seems long behind us, I am sure you are anxiously awaiting your move-in day. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been daydreaming about getting Greys as your housing assignment (AKA the Harvard Hilton), running through a script of how to greet your roommates, and of course frantically doing a deep dive to see if you can scout out any pictures of the obscure Lionel Hall. I’ve been through it all, so I understand the nervousness, excitement, and myriad other feelings you may be experiencing. Here are some tips for transitioning into your first year and things to keep in mind as you start on your journey at Harvard.
- Learn how to pose
One of the things I wish I would’ve done is document my first year more thoroughly! During my move in days, I felt a little embarrassed as my mom shepherded me around campus and loudly commanded me to take pictures at every miniscule Harvard landmark. Looking back, I wish I would’ve adopted my mom’s attitude to a greater degree for the rest of my semester. Of course, the memories I do have are valuable nonetheless, but I still wish I had more pictures to remember how things went, exactly.
- You have free time, all the time
College is very different from high school. I know that’s not the most genius piece of advice, but it's the truth! Instead of being in class for seven hours a day, five days a week, you’ll only have about 12-15 hours of class a week (a very rough estimate), and the rest of your time is up to you to schedule. You’ll need to fill some of that time with homework, meals, and an obligatory CVS run. On top of that, there are countless student orgs, research opportunities, and student jobs you can take part in. And of course, your free time would not be complete without some time spent taking the T to Chinatown, exploring one of the many restaurants in Harvard Square, or making the walk down to the John Weeks pedestrian bridge. Although there seems to be an infinitely long list of activities for you to fill your time with, there will always be enough time if you make it! My best advice for striking this balance is to keep an airtight assignments list, schedule them out as soon as you can, and then allow yourself to spend some truly leisurely time without the feeling that you should be working on something else.
- Harvard is the people
When asking current students why they love Harvard, you’ll most likely get this almost-cliche answer: “because of the people.” However, as repetitive as this phrase may get, it is most certainly true! I truly believe that Harvard’s rich academic environment is a product of its people. Its thriving extracurricular space exists because of the amazing work of its students. Likewise, your time at Harvard will be a mosaic of all the people you’ve met, from your friends, to your fellow classmates, to your professors, advisors, the staff you lean on, and even the HUDS workers that greet you regularly. As a group of people with a passion for academic endeavors, it’s easy for us to maintain a focus on academics, and this is completely valid; Harvard is, first and foremost, an academic institution. However, a few years down the road, I know that I probably won’t lament spending time meeting new people and making new friends, rather than putting in a few more hours of work on that PSET.
I'm very excited for you to join us in this wonderful community! I know these next 4 years will be full of new experiences and life long memories, and I hope that my words have inspired you to make and keep the memories that matter the most.
My last word of advice is one that I know I needed to hear as well: you belong here. You belong at Harvard.