Articles by Caroline Burke

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I’m going to go ahead and be the first blogger to formally announce the arrival of the “best holiday of the year”: the Harvard-Yale Game. On this Thursday afternoon, you can already feel the buzz of excitement in anticipation of Saturday’s game: the school shuttles proudly boast “Go Crimson, Beat Yale,” student groups have been selling t-shirts for the game for the past couple of weeks, and entryways have begun putting up Harvard posters in all of the most visible windows around campus. This weekend is easily the most fun and highly anticipated of the whole year, and campus is crowded with visitors from Yale and returning alumni (young and old) coming to cheer on their alma mater in what might very well be the most historic college rivalry in the nation.

Roommates at last year’s game! 

I will admit, I find few things about the Harvard undergraduate experience more exciting more entertaining than the opportunity to play up our rivalry with Yale, and I love the Game in large part because it is the one weekend per year when I get to put on every article of Crimson clothing I own and cheer for my school. I’ll go ahead and brag: our football team has defeated Yale at The Game for the past five years, and if all goes according to plan they’ll continue that streak on Saturday. My fellow seniors and I are really excited about this prospect of winning all four years of The Game as undergraduates, so let’s hope the Crimson performs well!

 

Outside of the actual game, though, the weekend of Harvard-Yale is always exciting because of the number of alumni that return to campus and the diversity of events that get planned. Many Harvard groups will plan performances or events with “sibling” organizations from Yale – joint acapella performances or brunches with different chapters of the same sorority, for example. More informal events, like dinners in the Square with returning friends, are also a frequent feature of the weekend. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on!

To give you all a sense of how exciting Harvard-Yale is, I thought I’d give you an outline of my anticipated schedule for the weekend…

Wednesday

Study Break, Wigglesworth F – ok, so this already happened last night, but the freshman entryway I am a Peer Advising Fellow for had a study break last night focused around making posters for The Game. The Freshman Dean’s Office provided posters and markers for freshmen to use, and are giving out prizes to the entryway that does the best job bashing Yale in their poster. Looks like the administration is on our side!

Thursday

Prep work – not very exciting, but I’m planning on spending this afternoon finding all of the Harvard gear I plan on wearing on Saturday and cleaning my room for the visitors coming tomorrow!

Birthday dinner – one of my friends, a Harvard 2012er who graduated in the spring, is having a potluck dinner and hosting all of the recent grads who are around for the game! Should be a fun way to see everyone in a more casual setting.

Friday

Visitors arrive! – our room is hosting a number of friends who are coming up for the game, including a friend from home, a couple of my new friends I’ll be working with next year, and a sister who’s up for the weekend.

Senior Bar – the Classes of 2012 and 2013 are having “SENIO12 13AR,” a casual event at one of the bars in Harvard Square. Senior Bar is a recurring event put on by the Senior Class Committee that’s open to the whole class, and this weekend we’re opening it up to the 2012ers who graduated in the spring!

Harvard-Yale Battle of the Bands – The Nostalgics, the Motown funk band that fellow blogger Reed is in, are taking on A Streetcar Named Funk (from Yale) in an informal battle of the bands tonight. I’ll definitely be making an appearance!

Harvard-Yale Happy Hour – one of the student organizations I’m in is hosting a happy hour for alumni in Porter Square, and I’ll be swinging by to say hi to some of my favorite former members!

Ad for the Battle of the Bands

Saturday

The Game! – What else? Kickoff is at 12, so everyone will start heading down to tailgate area around 9 or 10 to begin the festivities. There’s a combination of House-run and organization-run tailgates spread out across the entire athletic complex, so it’s always a maze of trying to find friends and groups. Eventually everyone heads into the stadium, hopefully to watch the Crimson dominate the Bulldogs.

Sleep! – After a long weekend, people frequently end up taking lazy dinners and watching movies or going to bed early after the afternoon’s festivities are over.

The other exciting thing about Harvard-Yale weekend is that it marks the unofficial start to Thanksgiving break. While Harvard still has class on Monday and Tuesday, classes are usually really laid back and students sometimes even head home early. I’m certainly looking forward to taking the train back to Rhode Island on Tuesday afternoon!

Go Crimson!

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A busy week of fall traditions!

The past week has been an incredibly busy one, filled with deadlines, interviews, and big fall events – definitely a hectic time of year! For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on two major events from the past week: Dunster Senior Common Room dinner and Head of the Charles.

Each House has a “Senior Common Room,” which is both a physical space/room within the house itself and a group of people who are affiliated with the House, including the Masters, Resident Dean, tutors, visiting fellows, and honorary members. The Senior Common Room is meant to serve as a resource for the undergraduates in the House, and each House finds its own way to connect these adults with current students. Dunster does this by hosting “Senior Common Room Dinners” 3-4 times per year, when both the SCR and current undergrads are invited to eat together and get to know one another.

Dunster hosts its dinners in the Junior Common Room, which is literally just a room within the house, but because space is limited a couple dozen undergraduates are randomly invited to attend each dinner. Despite this being my third year as a Dunster resident, this was only my first time being invited to a Senior Common Room dinner, so unsurprisingly I was pretty excited to get the chance to join in on the fun. As it happened, this dinner in particular had a heavy representation of seniors from Dunster and residential tutors, which offered a really nice opportunity to get to talk to classmates and meet some of the new tutors I hadn’t yet been introduced to. The evening started with a reception in the Masters’ house (which is attached to the actual “House” where students live in dorms), which had awesome catering, and then we moved into the JCR for dinner. After about an hour of great conversation with some fellow seniors and a couple tutors,  our Housemaster Roger Porter stood up to give a few remarks and reflect a bit on the history of Dunster House. Overall, it was an awesome night!

Senior Common Room Dinner

A delicious dinner spread!

On an unrelated note, this weekend was Head of the Charles, which I would argue is the second biggest athletics event Harvard takes part in every year (behind Harvard-Yale, of course). Head of the Charles is a two day rowing regatta held – obviously – on the Charles River. For rowers, this is actually a really big competition, and for spectators, it’s a great chance to take in some beautiful fall weather, cheer on friends, and snack on the freebie food being passed out on the riverbank. This year the weather was unbelievable, which made the whole thing even more fun. Plus, I got a chance to cheer on one of my good friends who was rowing in the womens’ doubles!

 

A shot of Head of the Charles – rowers, beautiful fall weather, and lots of spectators by the river!

Cheering on friends!

In other news, I officially wrapped up the fall job recruiting season last week when I had my last interview (Teach for America on Friday). Definitely a relief to have that all over with! Slightly tempted to ceremonially burn my stiff interview suit in celebration but realize that would probably not be a great idea, given that I’ll definitely be needing that next year. Also looking forward to Dunster Faculty Dinner tonight – tune in for more details about that in my next post!

And to wrap up, just a couple of snapshots of campus – Harvard is really beautiful during the fall!

Not a bad walk home!

Dunster Courtyard

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So, I will confess: while I have definitely worked my butt off in all of my college classes and had my fair share of struggles in my pre-med science classes, I’ve never been in a class where I felt completely out of place. That is, until this semester, when I enrolled in a History of Art and Architecture course entitled “American Art and Modernity.” If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t really taken an art class since elementary school – while I think I’m good at appreciating fine art, I certainly am not strong in the understanding and analysis category, which means my first foray into a college art course has been humbling, to say the least.

I started out this semester with the intent of taking an “art” class. Yes, a large part of the inspiration for this was my lingering “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding” General Education requirement, but I also was excited to take a “real” art course, not just one designed for a Gen Ed audience. With this in mind, I ended up shopping and ultimately enrolling in History of Art and Architecture (HAA) 172w: American Art and Modernity, an intermediate HAA course designed for concentrators and those with a background in art history. In short, not a course designed for people like me. I had taken a really fascinating course on American social thought last fall, however, and found Professor Roberts (the instructor of this course) incredibly engaging, so I decided to sign up for HAA 172w and plan on working my butt off.

Some of the lecture slides we talk about during class – Prof. Roberts does a great job of grounding the pieces we’re examining in the historical (artistic) trends they are a part of

The course itself is a really fascinating blend of history and art analysis, where we’ll talk about a specific movement or time period during each lecture and learn about the seminal artists, pieces, and techniques (or technologies) that defined that era. So far we’ve spent a lot of time learning about 19th century art, and particularly how the Civil War and its aftermath influenced American artists.  While I’ve studied American history a good amount in high school and college, I’ve never looked at how historical invents or inventions influence art; as one example, we spent almost an entire lecture learning about how gun technology during the Civil War impacted the portrayal of time and space in art. Lecture tends to focus on broad themes, such as Civil War photography, aestheticism, or the arts and crafts movement. Section offers a really interesting complement to the lecture material, because we get to consider specific pieces of art and analyze them in depth in an hour-long discussion.

Our professor uploads some of the pieces we talk about during section online, so we can write responses about them for section

While I’m on the topic of section, this course has a really cool and unique section design: we meet at the Harvard Sackler Museum, and spend most of our hour together walking around the exhibits and examining works of art in person. One of the coolest parts of the Sackler is the fourth floor, where there are class-specific exhibits; our professor has taken many of the works that we discuss during lecture and put them on display so we can examine them in person. It wasn’t until my first section that I realized what a valuable asset this exhibit is, because there is a huge difference between looking at a slide of a painting and getting to see the piece up close. I confess that I’d never been to a Harvard art museum prior to enrolling in this course, and I’ve been so impressed by the quality of the University’s collection.

The Sackler Museum, which is just a block off of the Yard

This week marks a big milestone for my HAA course, though: it’s midterm time! After absorbing the material and learning the types of vocabulary associated with art analysis, I’m really going to be tested on how much I’ve learned so far – I’m definitely a bit nervous but am hopeful that I have enough time between now and Thursday to get some quality studying in!

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Though I’m only two weeks into the school year, I can say without a doubt that senior year is a TOTALLY different experience. I remember as a junior being warned that this fall would feel strange, that I would have “one foot in college, and one already out the door” – while I spent all summer hoping this wouldn’t be true (I’m in major denial that this is my last year…), I’ve been surprised by the degree to which my time so far has been defined by tasks like finding a job and figuring out my senior thesis. During shopping week, I spent as much (if not more) time at the Office of Career Services or at employer information sessions as I did actually in class; this weekend, my “to-do” list includes more “real-world” items than it does school-related ones. It’s definitely a strange mindset to be in, but one that most seniors end up sharing at one point during their final year at Harvard.

Why am I looking for jobs in September, you might ask? Why bother thinking about such things nine months before I’m slated to graduate, and a full year before I would want to be starting work? Those are both excellent questions, and I’m still a little shocked that this whole process starts up so early. Seniors go through “recruiting” during their fall semester, which is exactly what it sounds like: employers (particularly those from tech, media, consulting, and finance) come to campus looking to hire a whole batch of students at the same time. Jobs in the public sector (government) and non-profit, as well as those in start-ups, generally tend to hire in the spring. The disconnect between industries and hiring cycles definitely makes the job search harder for seniors, especially those who would ideally like to compare options in sectors that hire at different times of year (government and consulting, for example). Add the pressures of a weak economy to this equation, and you wind up with hundreds of seniors anxiously looking for opportunities and hoping to get the whole job search process over with before spring semester; as a result, a little more than half of the class at least tries to recruit during the fall.

There are a few main components of the “job search,” but the most time consuming of these is the suite of information sessions, “coffee chats,” and career fairs that come to campus every fall to recruit seniors. Information sessions are run by a single company and offer a chance to hear about a firm and meet some employees; career fairs are usually put on by Harvard and feature a few dozen companies all under one roof; and “coffee chats” are hosted by individual companies and offer a space for individual conversations with employees at cafes in Harvard Square. Each of these, unsurprisingly, has its own “vibe” – some are stressful because of the number of people in the room, others because you’re having a 1-on-1 conversation. All offer an opportunity, though, to hear a bit more about the company you’re interested in and get a sense for the people and culture that define the place. All told, I’ve probably been attending 10-12 of these events per week since I got to school; this translates to a LOT of business casual attire.

OCS Job Fair Description

Students at last year’s job fair (photo cred: OCS!)

In addition to the informational events, Harvard’s Office of Career Services offers a bunch of workshops and office hours for seniors partaking in the job hunt this fall (in addition to a huge range of other offerings, as well!). Some of the most helpful resources include drop-in hours (some of which are only available for seniors), during which time you can get advice on writing cover letters and resumes; and “mock interview marathons,” where students get to practice interviewing with OCS employees and Harvard alum and get feedback on their performance. As someone interested in applying for consulting jobs, these types of offerings are incredibly helpful – many of the firms I’m looking at will read hundreds of resumes and conduct hundreds of interviews, which means that every little bit of advice and feedback is incredibly helpful for this process.

After a couple of weeks of preparation and networking, the actual application process for a lot of companies starts this week, and interviews will begin about two weeks from now. I had a big personal milestone on Friday: applying for my first job! I submitted the first part of my Teach for America application on Friday evening, and am looking forward to hearing back about next steps.

My confirmation email from TFA!

 

Outside of the job search, senior year has gotten off to a really fun (if not hectic!) start. This weekend, I got to celebrate two of my friends’ birthdays on Friday night (we were all in the same freshman entryway!), and then spent Saturday hanging out with the seniors from Dunster House. I also got a chance to go see the Nostalgics, a soul/funk band featuring 12 undergrads – I have a few good friends that play for them, and they are a really fun group to listen to, so I always love getting a chance to hear them play live. The event was the “Vinyl Club,” a school-wide event sponsored by the Harvard radio station, WHRB.

Dunster Seniors – and yes, we’re in “golf” costumes

Vinyl Club poster

My roommate and me at the Nostalgics!

And a shout-out to my fellow blogger, Reid, who rocked it last night as one of the singers for the Nostalgics!

Work it, Reid!

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My Fourth Freshman Orientation!

Upperclassmen at Harvard have the opportunity to be really closely involved with freshman orientation, and many sophomores, juniors, and seniors jump at the chance to help new students with their transition to the College. Whether it’s by leading a pre-orientation program (Dorm Crew, FAP, FUP, FIP, or FOP), running events during Freshman Week, or advising first years, there are a hundred different ways to get involved. Personally, I am one of a rare few (in fact, there are only three of us) to get completely submerged with all things “freshman” by participating in the trifecta of orientation opportunities: advising freshmen in Wigglesworth Hall as a Peer Advising Fellow (PAF), leading orientation activities with the Crimson Key  Society, and backpacking through New Hampshire wilderness on FOP 20. This definitely means I’ve seen a LOT of the Class of 2016 over the past two weeks, but it’s been worth it!

First Up: First-Year Outdoor Program and FOP 20 

I’ve written a lot about FOP in past posts, between my time on Steering Committee and my training trip from this past spring, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I was lucky enough to lead my last backpacking orientation trip this August and I had an absolute blast. This year we had a group of eight freshmen and I co-led with Michael, a junior from Lowell House. We were in the Pemigewassett Wilderness in New Hampshire and hiked along “the Bonds,” a series of peaks with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Aside from literally five minutes of rain, we had picture perfect weather the entire trip, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable. Leading my last trip was admittedly a little bittersweet, but I was so glad I took the chance to go out one last time before the craziness of senior year.

Senior FOP Leaders just before heading out to meet our trips!

My trip! FOP 20 in New Hampshire

Peer Advising in Wigglesworth

After two years of advising students in Matthews Hall, this year I’ve moved to Wigglesworth F to work with a group of 23 freshmen alongside two other PAFs and a new proctor. So far, the experience has been great – it seems like the entryway is already getting along super well, and it was a ton of fun getting to talk to them all during orientation. While PAFs have responsibilities throughout the course of the year (planning study breaks, holding advising meetings), our efforts are particularly focused during orientation and shopping week, during which time we’re expected to help freshmen get settled into school and talk them through picking their first classes. As a full entryway team, we had several meetings over the course of orientation to talk about life in Wigg F and what freshmen should expect out of their first few weeks of school. In addition, I’m personally assigned to work with eight freshmen, meeting with them individually and offering advice on everything from class selection to extracurriculars to roommate issues.

I got a chance to sit down with all of my advisees over the course of this weekend, and it was so nice to get to know them on a more personal level. As a senior, it’s a bit of a time warp listening to freshmen talk their way through major decisions impacting their life: whether to take top or bottom bunk, how to make the most of the activities fair, or whether or not to go to the First Chance Dance with the rest of the class. I definitely experienced many of the same questions and thoughts during my own freshman orientation, and it always “brings me back” when I’m talking to brand new students during their first few days on campus. What a great reminder of all I’ve experienced to do this right before launching into senior year!

John Harvard dressed up for Move-In Day

FWK and CKS 

In the Crimson Key world, Freshman Week (or, as we like to abbreviate it, FWK) is the biggest event of the entire year: many of us spend the weeks and months leading up to it counting down and planning in anticipation. Of course, a lot of the excitement comes from the fact that Key gets to plan and execute many of the major events that occur during orientation, including the Freshman Talent Show, First Chance Dance, and small scale social activities for the new class. While the freshmen do have to spend a lot of their time going to formal meetings and seminars on life at Harvard, they also get to attend a bunch of fun activities during Freshman Week – and Key gets the pleasure of providing this “fun”. As might be expected, there are a lot of hours required to pull off FWK, which means that it’s all hands on deck for Crimson Key members. Each of the 90 members are expected to put in a number of shifts over the course of the week, ranging from 4:45 am move-in shifts on the first day to late-night clean-ups after the freshman dance. We get to wear bright red t-shirts (yes, the same shirt all week) and enjoy the fun ourselves, though, so it makes the time well worth it.

Crimson Key members staffing the Information Tent on Move-In

FWK is also highly anticipated because it offers a rare chance for the upperclassmen from Key to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company for an entire week before classes start. Key is a group of fun, outgoing, ridiculous people, and we always do a good job of entertaining ourselves over the course of FWK – whether that be on shift, going out in the Square, or just relaxing in someone’s dorm room. Many of us refer to Freshman Week as “Camp Harvard,” a time when we all get to hang out and enjoy campus and each other without the pressures of classes or extracurriculars weighing down on us.

Senior CKS members dressed up for our Love Story movie screening

Move-In and the First Day of Class 

While I definitely have spent a LOT of time with freshmen over the past two weeks, I’ve also been busy moving myself into my own dorm room, hanging out with my roommates, and picking classes for my fall semester. We’re living on the fourth floor of Dunster this year, and while our incredible views of the river make the trek upstairs well worth it, moving all of our furniture up four flights was definitely…an adventure. A few Zipcar rentals and a hearty helping of elbow grease later, though, we managed to get our three (count them – 3) couches into our big senior common room. As far as class selection goes, I’m still definitely in the throes of shopping week – for once, I don’t have any requirements to fulfill this semester, which leaves me the challenge of finding awesome electives for this fall. It’s both exciting and a bit overwhelming to head into course shopping with little definition of what I’ll be taking, but I’m eager to see what I come up with at the end of the week!

The full blocking group at the Dunster “welcome back” cookout

Move-in struggles

And to close out the post, I’m including a photo of my roommates and me from this morning – our last first day of school!

Last First Day of School!

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This past weekend I got to spend Sunday afternoon walking around Boston taking photos for a project I’m working on, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some snapshots of the city in the summer! Of course, these photos only skim the surface of what there is to see in Boston, but I had a lot of fun walking all over the city – it was awesome to get the chance to roam around as I pleased. Enjoy!

Stop 1: Newbury Street and Copley Square

Newbury St is a posh shopping area downtown Boston that sits right between Back Bay and Boston Common. It makes for great people watching and is always a great place to grab a snack. Not always so great for shopping on a college student’s budget, though!  Boylston St runs parallel to Newbury and is just two blocks over, and this is home to the Prudential Center (a shopping mall of sorts) and Copley Square, where the Boston Public Library and the historic Trinity Church are located. In my mind, this part of the city is what people imagine when they think of “Boston” – it’s so pretty!

The Prudential Center – One of the coolest things I’ve done as an undergrad is get dinner at the very top!

Copley Square – That’s Trinity Church!

Stop 2: Boston Common

“The Common,” as it’s more often called, is a big public park right in the middle of downtown Boston. For those history buffs out there, it’s actually the oldest public park in the country – it’s where the British troops camped before the battle of Lexington and Concord. The Common is adjacent to the Public Garden, which is home to the city’s famous swan boats. It’s definitely one of the most scenic areas of the city, and is particularly beautiful during the summer. For those who have never been, it’s definitely worth spending $2.75 for a swan boats ride!

The entrance to the Public Garden

Swan Boats!

Stop 3: State House and Beacon Hill 

If there’s a part of  Boston that rivals the Common as being the “most classic Boston,” I would say that’s definitely Beacon Hill. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, has been home to dozens of important historical figure, and still has the same narrow cobblestone streets from when it was first built. It’s right next to the State House, which is considered the true “center” of Boston (and “the Hub” of the universe, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes).

Massachusetts State House

Beacon Hill

Stop 4: Government Center

The busiest part of downtown Boston is the area immediately around “Government Center,” which earns its name literally because of the number of government-related buildings in a two-block radius. I actually interned in Government Center last summer and can say from experience that it’s the part of the city where a lot of people go to work their day jobs and then leave come nightfall, which means the neighborhood is at its busiest between 9 and 5. I can also tell you that there are 4 Dunkin’ Donuts and 3 Starbucks within three blocks of my office building from last summer – if that’s not an indication that it’s a professional area, I don’t know what is. Right nearby Government Center are two other Boston landmarks, the Old State House and Faneuil Hall, which is a cute shopping strip that hosts lots of street performers. Though not pictured, there are also a lot of historical destinations around the area, including churches and graveyards that hold relevance for Boston’s colonial history. Definitely a significant part of Boston!

Old State House tucked among taller office buildings

Faneuil Hall

Stop 5: Back Bay and Fenway

Back Bay, home to Boston University, is slightly quieter than downtown and exudes more of a true “neighborhood” vibe (at least, to me it does!). It runs right along the Charles between Boston Common and the Fenway/Kenmore area, where Fenway Stadium and the Boston Red Sox are located. Nothing better than Yawkey Way on game night!

Yawkey Way at Fenway

Back Bay at dusk

…and to wrap things up, some cool shots of the Charles!

Downtown Boston

Cambridge silhouette against the sunset

Summer is absolutely flying by! Bit scary to think that it’s been almost 6 weeks since my internship started; pretty soon I’ll be back on campus for FOP! Having now spent a good chunk of my summer working, I thought I’d check in and give an update on everything that’s been going on… Enjoy!

As I mentioned, I’m now in the throes of a nine-week summer internship at Monitor Group, a strategy consulting firm based out of Cambridge that does work in a huge range of content areas and industries and has offices around the globe. I was lucky enough this spring to get an offer with them through the On Campus Interview program run by Office of Career Services, and I signed on for their training program towards the end of the semester. As a premed Social Studies concentrator, I came into the summer with effectively zero business background and only a faint idea of what “consulting” really meant. Fortunately, the internship was designed with people like me in mind, and Monitor’s done a fantastic job of introducing me to the foreign world of strategy consulting.

In total, there are twelve interns in my program, hailing from seven colleges and representing a huge range of academic backgrounds. One of the best things about the summer has been the opportunity to get to know my fellow interns – Monitor is unique in having all of its interns located in a single office, and it’s been really fantastic to have a group of peers to spend my time with. We started the program with a weeklong orientation to Monitor, its policies, and the expectations for the summer. We learned the ins and outs of Excel and PowerPoint, heard from some of the partners at the firm, and got a chance to ask questions of the younger consultants (examples include what to wear on “casual Fridays” and how to effectively ask for feedback from managers). Mixed into that week were a few social events, including dinners with other employees at the firm and outings with the interns, which provided ample opportunity for the twelve of us to get to know our coworkers (and each other!).

Dinner early on in the summer

After orientation, I received my “allocation” for the summer: I was assigned a case team and a manager and sent a bunch of “ramp up” materials to get up to speed with the material and the team’s progress. I’ve found the case to be really interesting so far, as I’m working on a pharmaceutical case that combines social and private sector with government and non-profit work. Having spent a lot of time at Harvard thinking about social issues, it’s really cool to attack similar issues from a totally different angle. There are certainly moments where I feel a bit out of place and find myself asking lots of questions, but I’ve been surprised by the degree to which the skills I’ve picked up at school (communication, critical thinking, secondary research capabilities) have been directly applicable in an office setting. Way to go, liberal arts education!

Monitor’s been doing a great job of planning a fun summer for us, as well – we’ve gone to dinner in Boston, tried out our artistic abilities at “Paint Bar,” and traveled to Maine for a weekend white water rafting trip. Check out some photos below!

Monitor Interns at Paint Bar

Scavenger hunt through Boston

All of the Monitor interns (Cambridge + Toronto!) in Maine

And though it may not sound like it from what I’ve written above, this summer has also provided opportunity for non-internship-related fun in Cambridge. I’ve found that a ton of my friends are on campus, many conducting thesis research, and it’s been nice to have some time to catch up with them in a slightly different environment. I’m living in Central Square, which is a fun change of pace, and I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot more about Cambridge from my adventures this summer. I’ve been walking to work as much as possible (it’s about 2 miles from my apartment), and I must confess that there are a lot of pockets of Cambridge that I’ve yet to explore. No better way to really get a feel for an area than by walking!

Celebrating the 4th in Cambridge: no better place to be than ‘Nochs!

At Fenway with my brother!

Shockingly, summer is beginning to wrap up, which is both terrifying and exciting. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing about my PAF placement for this fall and getting back on campus for FOP trips and Freshman Week (shout out to 2016!). Not so excited to think about post-grad life, the job search, and the fact that my last year at Harvard is quickly approaching! :(

 

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I can’t believe it’s June already! Even though I finished exams way back on May 12, it’s been a pretty constant rush over the past few weeks: I transitioned from school immediately into a backpacking trip for Harvard FOP, and then have been spending the past couple of weeks starting research for my senior thesis. Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to!

Exam period was absolutely crazy for me this year: I ended up writing 75+ pages in four days (distributed across papers and take-home finals) and then had two tough exams right at the end of the week. Needless to say, I was pretty burnt out by the end of it all, and was really grateful to have the opportunity to go up to the woods on a training trip with FOP. This year, I was leading a “switch” training trip, which meant that my co-leader and I spent ten days in New Hampshire teaching trainees the art and form of FOP trip leading. Most of the time, we got to kick back and relax while the trainees practiced leading; other times, we would set up “simulations,” which gave them the opportunity to practice their outdoor medical training. “Switch” trips are half backpacking and half canoeing, and we were really lucky to have BEAUTIFUL weather while we were out on the lake. It was 75 degrees and sunny almost every day!

 

My trip at WFA medical training

Me and my co-leader!

Throwing up the switch "S" at sunset

Once I was out of the woods, I started transitioning into research for my senior thesis.  I think (?) I wrote about this briefly in an earlier post, but I was really fortunate to find an advisor from the Sociology department who’s allowing me to work as a research assistant for him on a study that he’s developed for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. I was able to put some questions on the bigger survey that will directly target the issues of health and healthcare that I’m looking to address in my thesis, and have gotten a lot of support in developing my question and using different research methods. It’s been really interesting to be part of the bigger project, as it’s my first time doing formal research outside of the classroom, and I think it’s been a great opportunity to get a taste of academia. Between my 3-4 weeks working as a research assistant for this summer and my 9-week summer internship for a consulting firm, I’m hoping to get a taste for different post-grad options. (It’s also terrifying to already be thinking about “post-grad options,” but that can be the subject of a different blog post)

I took my first trip to Coney Island this summer!

This coming week is going to be exciting for a couple of reasons: Wednesday is my 21st birthday, and I’ll be officially moving into my summer sublet in Cambridge this coming weekend. I also spent this past weekend celebrating my younger brother’s 16th birthday… Needless to say, there’s a lot going on around here! I’m looking forward to my last official week of summer before my internship starts!

We're turning 16 and 21 in the same week!

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As is always the case, reading period and finals have once again snuck up on me this semester – and per usual, the week has been jam packed with all sorts of events, meetings, and assignments. While reading period is meant to be a “break,” a time when students can catch up on end-of-the-semester assignments and start studying for exams, it always ends up turning into a really crazy time of year, both because of all of the fun, social events going on and because of the immense amounts of work we’re all expected to do. Over the next week, I’ll be finishing a 25 page term paper, plus another 10 page paper, plus two take home finals, plus a problem set, plus an application for thesis approval… You get the picture. On the upside, though, I’ve gotten to break up the week with various events and wanted to take this blog post to highlight just one – the Dunster formal.

Each of the 12 Houses has a formal each semester, and Dunster’s spring formal happens in a tent in our courtyard. We call it “Beltane,” after a Gaelic spring festival celebrated in Ireland. The hallmark of the event is the IMMENSE amounts of flowers that decorate the inside of the tent, which really makes the whole thing feel like a spring festival. This year, I spent a few hours in the morning making the flower arrangements that got hung around the room and constructing a flower arch to go above the door. My roommate is HoCo (House Committee) Chair and therefore was in charge of planning the entire event, so it was fun to be able to help her out for a bit and gain some appreciation for how much work goes into preparing events like this (read: it’s a LOT).

My roommate decorating the tent!

Putting up the lights and lanterns

The night started out with a reception in the Dunster Junior Common Room, and then everyone moved outside for dancing and some food. We had a swing band for the first hour, but then music switched over to a DJ – both were super good! While some people will bring official dates to House formals, students for the most part tend to go with roommates or groups of friends, which makes for a really fun vibe on the dance floor. Also, while the majority of people at each formal are from whatever House is hosting it, we can all go to each other’s formal, which means there’s a nice mix of people there. The House formals are definitely one of my favorite things that go on around campus – such a fun reminder of how excited I am about Dunster and what a great community of people live here. I remember going as a freshman, right after I’d gotten into the House, and starting to get so excited about moving up to an upperclassman House – glad to see that Dunster’s lived up to expectations!

Beltane!

And just for fun: pre-Beltane, freshman year – with my blocking group! (well, 6/8)

Now, back to the paper writing! Wish me luck!

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Hanging out with Crimson Key!

Yesterday marked a FANTASTIC end to the week: in addition to it being generally beautiful out (75 and sunny!), I got to spend nearly the entire day with friends from Crimson Key Society. Crimson Key is one of the main extracurriculars I’m involved with, and is a group that I’ve really come to love as an undergrad, so it was awesome to hang out all afternoon with friends. Key is what I like to think of as the official “welcome committee” for Harvard College: in addition to giving historical campus tours three times a day, we run freshman orientation, staff freshman and junior parents’ weekend, and help out at Commencement each spring. As might be expected out of a bunch of tour guides, Crimson Key is generally really enthusiastic, energetic, and outgoing, so it makes for a really fun group of friends to hang out with.

Crimson Key during freshman orientation

My day with Key started with an afternoon game of softball across the river by the Stadium. One of my favorite (random) things about Harvard is that a few of the student organizations on campus run a softball league in the spring, which is really laid back and just offers an opportunity for students to enjoy the spring weather and hang out on the weekends. The league includes a wide variety of groups, ranging from the Harvard Band to Hasty Pudding Theatricals to the Crimson; yesterday, we were playing the Advocate (a literary magazine). The one downside about the league being so laid back is that we don’t actually have any formal equipment – we like to call it a BYOG league (“bring your own glove”). Unfortunately, since neither the Advocate nor Crimson Key remembered to bring a baseball bat, our softball game turned into an impromptu kickball game played with a soccer ball, which ended up being a blast! Luckily Key had brought a couple ex-soccer players, so we ended up beating the Advocate 15-8. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the weather!

Key celebrating the softball/kickball win!

Key softball/kickball then transitioned into pick ups/welcoming of new Key members who just got into the organization. We have 33 new members in total! Over the course of spring semester, Crimson Key runs a “comp” process where students who are interested in joining go through a couple rounds of interviews and evaluations. “Comp” is a concept employed by a number of organizations on campus – while it originally stood for “competition,” comp now stands for “competency” and just means that each group determines a way to train and evaluate potential new members. For Crimson Key, students have to prepare a “model tour,” where they memorize the full historical tour and present it for evaluation in front of current members.  Last night was when “compers” found out that they had gotten into the organization – overall, 33 new members were welcomed! It was so much fun to get everyone together and celebrate the end of comp and the start of a new year with Key.

Three of your favorite bloggers! Kemie, Scott, and I are all in Key together

In totally separate news, this weekend is Visitas, or visitation weekend! I snapped the picture below when I was at a New England reception that was being held in the Quad. It’s sort of scary to realize that my own prefrosh weekend was three years ago!

Springtime (and prefrosh) in the Quad!

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