So what happens after you graduate?
Of course, you move out of your dorm. You take down the wall decorations, finally clean out your fridge, and start donating as much of your stuff as possible so you can get rid of all the junk you accumulated over the course of four years.
Then, you leave campus. You might go back home with your family, move into a new apartment, or even stick around campus (like I did!) working a summer on-campus job.
What doesn’t change, and what never will change, is a student’s affiliation with their upperclass House.
At Harvard, all students are offered four years of guaranteed on-campus housing. For their first year, they live in one of 17 dorms located in historic Harvard Yard, which if you’ve ever visited campus (or seen photos) is one of the most scenic campuses ever. For the next three years, students live in one of 12 upperclass Houses, which usually have somewhere between 300-500 students (as opposed to 14-150 students in the first-year dorms) and offer a ton of opportunities for students to get to know each other.
House culture is an ingrained part of Harvard life, and as a senior in the fall of 2022, it was hard for me to imagine leaving behind Kirkland House and the friends I had made. Luckily, I would soon find out that it is as difficult to separate a Harvard alum from their House as it is to separate academics from Harvard. That is to say, impossible!
Every year, Harvard holds reunions and an annual Alumni Day. Through these reunions and celebrations for alumni, Harvard graduates get the chance to connect with one another and bond over shared memories — or, in some cases, connections that last decades. For example, this past May I met some past Kirkland alumni who were coming to celebrate their 50th reunion. Although our time at Harvard was 50 years apart, we immediately bonded over having shared living space and traded facts over what Kirkland was like then versus what it’s like now.
Even today, as a recent alum, I get asked by fellow Harvard grads what my House was. Though I’ve left Harvard behind, and packed up my bags from Kirkland House, I’m happy to know that it will be with me for the rest of my life.