The days leading up to Spring Break are a truly insane time for Harvard students. On top of our midterms and papers, many of us are struggling to work out summer plans and funding while simultaneously trying to balance the normal workload of club meetings and problem sets. Around mid-March, however, we get a light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel: the glorious 10 day vacation that is Housing Day and Spring Break.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Harvard housing system, students are sorted at their freshman year into one of twelve upperclassmen Houses, which then becomes their home for sophomore through senior year. While the freshman housing lottery is completely random, students are able to choose who they enter the House with – a 2-8 person group known as their “blocking group”. At Harvard, Housing Day, when freshman find out what House they are assigned to, is arguably the most exciting and spirited day of the year (tied with the Harvard-Yale Game, probably), and students are known to prepare and count down to the occasion for weeks.
Housing Day is a truly indescribable experience. Starting at 7 am, each House sends a “Welcome Team” to the yard to start delivering letters to the freshmen. With each House sending anywhere from 50-100 people are part of the their welcoming committee, this amounts to a truly enormous crowd of rowdy upperclassmen gathered in the Yard in preparation for Housing assignment announcements. At 8:30, each House starts delivering letters to dorm rooms, welcoming freshmen with screams, noisemakers, and giant House mascots. Check out this video the Crimson posted of Pforzheimer House!
As a sophomore, Housing Day takes on a very different level of excitement. Rather than spending the morning worrying about what House you’ll be placed in, you get to run around the Yard screaming your head off with your friends from the House. Enjoying the experience from the “other side” inspires a sense of appreciation for the community that you’ve become a part of. While as a freshman, I was definitely excited about Dunster, I’m not sure I realized what an enormous part of my life the House would become. What better way to celebrate this fact than by cheering for my House for 2 hours straight! I had a sore throat for days afterwards…
For all Harvard students, the excitement of Housing Day leads straight into Spring Break – in my case, I finished my welcome committee duties around 11, went to class until 3, and then immediately hopped on an airplane bound for Spain! Needless to say, I slept through the entire 9 hour flight. For those of you interested in study abroad at Harvard, I spent the week visiting my blockmate who is spending the semester in Alicante, Spain. I couldn’t possibly explain the entire experience, but here are a few snapshots to give you guys an idea.