Reid’s Blog

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Hi readers!

Last time I checked up on the blog, I had just been accepted into the Opportunes– more than a month ago! Now, the leaves have changed from green to red and orange and classes are in full swing. I’ve been so busy, but it’s great to be back to blogging, although I haven’t been far from the Admissions Office, as I am now in my fourth week of touring and giving information sessions! Today I gave an awesome tour to a group of students from London (if any of you are reading, I hope you’ve made it home safely and are working on your application to Harvard). It’s gotten pretty chilly around here, but fall is my favorite time of year, and winter is in close second…tied with summer, of course. (Spring is nice, too, especially because of my birthday.)

Being a sophomore is quite a [nice] change; I really loved Freshman year, because of all the new things, and I love Sophomore year even more, because I’m taking even more classes that I love, adding on even more new things, and having an even more awesome semester so far. I was really stressed out this time last year, and now I’m just more busy than usual, but loving every minute of it. I keep looking around and remembering that I’m still at Harvard, the best school in the universe, for  way more reasons than academics!

Living in the Quad (one of the three houses to the North, rather than the South, of the center of campus) is really great, except for the fact that my bicycle lock has rusted completely shut, and no matter how much WD-40 I use, I can’t seem to get it undone. Commuting on foot is a drag, and I’d go on the shuttle if I didn’t get motion sickness or if the weather weren’t so nice, so for now I’ve been demoted from cyclist to pedestrian. Oh, well. On that note, I’d like to make a new comic of my life this year, compared to my day-in-the-life post of last year, which you can check out here. Yay for visuals!

 

 

I guess I’ll give you some more pics!

The Crimson Execs of 2012! Can you find me?

 

My fellow baby Opportunes and me!

 

Goofy Nostalgics on Retreat

Okay so that’s it for now! I have to go work on my problem set for Stats, and finish up that arrangement for A Cappella.

Until next week

-Reid

Opportunities

Disclaimer: This is a very personal post, and we would appreciate your respect towards commenting on this piece.

I don’t usually wake up at 7 am on a Sunday with a huge smile on my face, heart pounding and adrenaline rushing through my veins. But then again, it’s not every day that your dreams come true.

Here at the Admissions Blog, we like to put a positive spin on life at Harvard, but it’s not always filled with shiny happy people and golden opportunities. Exactly one year ago, I was at the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life. Tears were running down my face as I sobbed in my common-room bedroom, trying to tuck myself away from the concerned eyes of my roommates, three girls whom I hadn’t known for more than two weeks. When I got around to calling my mom in the afternoon, she was more than surprised with my reasoning for being so sad; try as she might, I don’t think she nor anyone else could understand why I was so crushed by my rejection from three a cappella groups. I couldn’t even comprehend until later, when I realized it was a mix of personal issues I’d been struggling through since the year before combined with this blow. I’d fallen asleep the night before with hopes higher than the top floor of Mather, excitement making me toss and turn for a few hours before a pounding noise and chanting woke me up: the sign that the groups had arrived to scoop up their new inductees for celebration, enveloping them into their musical families. Up on the third floor of Canaday, I could hear my favorite a cappella group screaming out my entryway-mate’s name, cheering for him before there was a slight lull. I waited in bed, a small smile playing upon my lips, my throat sore from the exhausting week of auditioning.

I thought back to the prior evening: Final night, where each auditionee sings a full-length solo, the climax of a challenging series of callbacks where block parts, pitch matching, and blend figured in heavily to whether or not you’d make it to the next round. I was called back for Final Night by three of the four groups for which I’d auditioned and had killed it, ripping my way through Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” after successfully completing the back-up parts to various songs. I never felt more alive, more passionate with each cell of my being, than when I sang my solo in the Lowell Bell Tower, eyes shut to the candles and draped string lights that cast flickering shadows on the audience and the Opportunes members. Something shifted within me when I was up there. I’d never been considered a great singer, never considered myself one, until that moment. Walking back to the Yard, I remember consoling my friend by assuring him we’d make it into a group if we were picked for Final Night. The next morning, I wanted to bite off my tongue for saying that.

The ensuing weeks didn’t get any easier. I tried to fill them with as many distractions as possible, comping The Crimson photography board, joining The Nostalgics by the urging of Leah, a member of both the Opps and The Nostalgics, taking difficult classes, and working various jobs. I ended up falling in love with photography and my band, and they were there for me when things got out of hand midway through October; all of my distractions had become too much, and instead of keeping my fragile emotions at bay, they overwhelmed me to the point that I didn’t think I wanted to come back to school. I almost wasn’t able to, and fell back down into the depression I’d experienced in early September. My band picked me up off the ground, I held myself together enough to pass my almost-failing classes, and was invited back to campus after a much-needed winter break. I’d stopped thinking so much about a cappella by that time, had a leadership position at The Crimson, and was taking classes that I loved, rather than classes I was ‘supposed’ to take. Things were better. I went from saying that Harvard was ‘really hard’ to saying that it was the best decision I could have made, and I was in a stable, good place most of the time. Summer rolled around, and by the time it was August I had told my parents that I wanted to be on Harvard’s polo team. “The one with horses?” my mom asked. “Yes. That one.” Unfortunately, it’s a club sport, and one at too high a cost; I wasn’t about to spend all of my work-study money on leather boots and rental fees. And I wasn’t about to audition for a cappella again. It’d broken my heart. Anyone in their right mind would never walk back into the arms of something that had driven you to a place so dark and frightening, but I guess I’m not one to heed warnings, even from myself.

Last Monday night, I trekked to Annenberg, took the elevator up to the top floor, and began the audition process, round II: The Harvard Callbacks. My roommate led me through scales. My linkmate wrote down comments on my tone. My closest friends were openly judging the most intimate part of my identity, which was uncomfortable, to say the least. Then, I was off to the basement of Lowell, where Leah, my musical mentor and very close friend throughout my freshman year, was happily surprised to see my face. I hadn’t told her I was auditioning for The Opportunes because I wasn’t… not until an hour before, when I’d decided that I might as well. (Something along the lines of f*&! it, yolo, etc.) It was happening all over again. I was terrified. The week passed.

Last night, in the Bell Tower,  I couldn’t have been farther away from the giddy freshman I was a year ago, happily overwhelmed by the whole audition process, which is very much like how I imagine courting was back in the day, with trinkets and flirting and detached compliments. I was poised. I was restrained. I lowered my shoulders and sang from my diaphragm, preserving my voice throughout the three minutes of my solo so that I’d make it through my upcoming Nostalgics gig an hour later. Although so much was different, I still had chills the entire time the members sang their traditional arrangements, and felt my eyes go blurry with tears on a particularly beautiful resolution. As much as I wanted to keep my hopes down, they were just too strong, and gently pushed up through the depths of my restraints like balloons traveling towards the ocean’s surface. I exhaled. I wrote down my preferences, made my way to the Quad, and began one of the best gigs The Nostalgics have had on campus. After I returned to my room, I started shivering and climbed into bed, my ears ringing from the cheers of our supporting crowd. As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t sleep, a thick blanket of dread covering me more heavily than my quilt. It was around 4 when I stopped looking at my clock and finally rested.

Three hours later, quiet laughter resonated through the Radcliffe Quad. Already on edge, I tensed up, blood surging to my head and filling my ears with the rush of my pulse. The laughter faded. I dozed off.

Ten minutes passed. I awoke to the pounding on my door, the chanting of my monosyllabic name. “REID. REID. REID. REID.” I tried to keep my hands from shaking as I slid out of bed and turned the doorknob, where I was suddenly greeted by a geyser of champagne and a dozen familiar faces. My Opportunes family was here to celebrate, and the smile wouldn’t leave my face even as I showered later, salty tears of pure joy mixing in with the hot water.

This is my golden opportunity. My dream has finally come true.

-Reid

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The sun is setting now, lazy afternoon light sliding through the wide-open windows of my house in Vermont. The sky is dotted with puffy clouds in the east, but a clear azul is spreading across the rest, contrasting against the beautiful rolling green mountains which surround me. With my cat on my lap and my dog at my side, begging for my zucchini fritters, I couldn’t feel any further away from Paris, where I returned from almost a week ago. I’ve transitioned back smoothly after a not-so-simple trip home, and now all I can do is reflect on my summer, soak up the last of my time in Vermont, and look forward to the oncoming academic year.

 

I have been enjoying some good food…here, at a local barn-raising

My time in Paris didn’t turn out to be how I’d expected it; not worse, per se, just different. It quickly became clear that my french wasn’t going to improve by as great a margin as I’d hoped, but in lieu of improved grammar, my conversational skills and linguistic confidence increased substantially. I also became fast friends with the city itself which, as far as urban spaces go, is spectacular. In addition, I made some incredible friends from all over the world and all over Harvard, whilst eating baguettes in a cloud of second-hand cigarette smoke. (Ech. Not going to miss that.) Now I’m not sure what I’ll be up to next summer, and where I’ll be spending my time. Perhaps Paris again? Or perhaps the countryside? Or Italia? Good thing I’ve got a few months to decide :)

 

In Vermont, I’ve managed to keep myself busy, despite the relaxed feeling that’s permeated my bones. Yesterday was very exciting; I went on my first riding lesson in seven years! The horse farm is in Milton, way up north, so I decided to stop by Burlington (our ‘big’ city) on the way there to do some shopping. But back to the lesson. I’m seriously considering playing polo for Harvard’s team, and I had to see whether or not I was over-romanticizing my sentiments towards the sport. So I budgeted a bit for the lessons, called up the stable, and arranged a lesson for the next day. It went very smoothly; I rode a lovely buckskin for more than an hour in the arena, cantering on my first day, as well as accidentally jumping a small hurdle. (Whoops. Don’t tell my mom.) I felt so comfortable, and I have two more lessons waiting for me before I head back to Cambridge, where I’ll be setting up my single (!) in Currier. As a former resident of Canaday, I am fully aware of the lack of architectural beauty that plagues the newer dorms, and Currier is no exception. Thus, I have decided to decorate my room fantastically (I mean it) and so all of yesterday’s shopping was geared towards the housing department. I went to two fabric stores, a craft store, some standard decorating stores, a few cheap-o stores, and returned home with all of my goodies: a bathmat, two square leopard-print/camouflage throw pillows, another smaller throw pillow, yarn, frames, and a bunch of fabric. Do not worry. The fabric will be covering those hideous throw pillows, making them absolutely gorgeous. Ah, my domestic life is flourishing. I move from stovetop to sewing machine to clothesline just like a little housewife. Except I’m designing my room. Which will win prizes and be featured in the New York Times Style Magazine, if we’re lucky.

 

This might be part of my bedroom. Yet to be decided.

As far as the less-important aspects of school go, I suppose I have to choose classes. (Please note that I am joking, as I have chosen my classes as of two months ago.) I have a few conflicts…okay, waaay more than a few, and this semester is the last one that I have before I must declare my concentration…which is still up in the air. Romance Languages and Anthropology? Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology? …Architecture concentration that has yet to be created? I DON’T KNOW. And the clock is ticking, so I’d better decide quickly. I am so excited to return to school, although I am totally afraid that I’ll be overwhelmed and have a rerun of my freshman fall, which was not so nice. Wish me luck, anyhow!

-Reid

 

No, that is not me.

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Salut!

The last time I posted, I’d just returned from an incredible weekend in Nice, but I’ve been working away busily in Paris since then in the Harvard Summer in Paris program. Today was our last formal class, and something similar to Reading Period begins now so that we can have time to really crack down on our final projects. The projects themselves must be based around the idea of Revolutions, have a similar theme to one of our lessons, and of course be situated in Paris; as I love food, people, and history, I decided to focus on the open-air food markets of the city. I’ll be making a short film (around 15 minutes) on the lighter side of the market economy, using lots of vibrant colors and rich sounds from the incredibly varied markets, and will also have to write a lengthy research paper. (Mine will probably be 15-25 pages, depending on all of the historical information I find in the various libraries of Paris.) The real work starts now, and I have to motivate myself! This is the hardest part of any assignment…the daunting part. However, I’ve made myself some deadlines and checklists, so hopefully I’ll be all set come presentation time. Then, back to the States :( / :) …I want to go home, but summer is too short!

Back to Paris: what have I been up to, you may ask? I could tell you…but I’d rather show you. Check out some pictures below, with very descriptive captions.

 

I happened to catch the Tour de France, which was a total blast. It was a gorgeous day (rare for this summer), the crowd was wild, the racers were fast, and my man Wiggins won! It really was an experience that I’ll never forget.

 

My friend from Harvard/Germany, Jan, came to visit! Anneli (left) and Mandi (center) hung out with us during the beautiful few days in Paris.

 

I took Europe’s fastest elevator to the top of Tour de Montparnasse, the only skyscraper in Paris proper. There, you can see the Eiffel Tower, which I have yet to climb, and in the distance, La Defense, a district right on the other side of Paris’s border.

I ate Berthillon ice-cream! It’s the same price as all of the other [incredibly expensive] glace in Paris, but tastes so much better. Here we have Cassis, my favorite flavor.

 

I made it to Versailles with my friend, Anneli! It was a gorgeous excursion, and we decided not to go inside the Château, preferring to explore the sprawling grounds, which included a farm (much to my delight). It rained a bit, but hey, it’s Paris.

 

My friends and I spent the evening at “Au Lapin Agile,” a very famous cabaret in Montmartre. Picasso used to hang out there, at the very same tables as us!

 

For my project (and my pleasure) I went to the Marché Bio des Batignolles, an organic market near me. Check out this CHEESE!

 

So, I don’t exactly know these people, but they were my neighbors during one night’s screening of the Olympic Games. A giant screen and beanbag chairs were set up at Hôtel de Ville in the center of Paris, and we got to watch some swimming and handball for free! (Although I much prefer Equestrian.)

 

We went to La Maison La Rocher, an incredibly well-known modernist house created by Le Corbusier; little did we know, this amazing architect had built the Carpenter Center, which houses much of Harvard’s Visual and Environmental Studies building, and is the only North American building by Le Corbusier!

 

Mandi and I went kayaking at Paris Plages on the Canal St. Martin, in the 11th district. Though we ended up playing kayak-polo instead of going for a leisurely outing, it was really fun and worth the price…that is, it was free!

 

I went to Le Musée d’Orsay for the second time this summer. It used to be a train-station, hence the giant clock. As a student, we get free admission, so I am able to spend as little or as much time as I want per visit. I was only there for an hour and a half, and will go again to explore the 5th floor.

 

Okay, so this is the Musée d’Orsay again, but it’s my absolute favorite piece in the WORLD: the model of l’Opéra Garnier. Note the size (enormous) and the sign in the corner saying no pictures…whoops! (Also, this is where the Phantom of the Opera took place.)

 

While walking through the center of Paris, I heard the familiar sound of bagpipes (cornemuse in French). I happen to play the same instrument as these old fellows from Ontario, so we had a great little conversation about the lovely instrument.

 

In true Parisian fashion, I sported a black blazer and walked 400 steps to the top of Nôtre Dame Cathedral; sadly, I did not become a hunchback nor Victor Hugo.

 

Yes, I ate éscargots for dinner. No, they weren’t expensive; in fact, a supermarket that sells only frozen food is known for having the best snails in Paris! (Cross my heart.)

 

Though this may appear to be in the middle of a jungle, it’s actually at Buttes Chaumont, a park in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The giant caves were a really cool surprise, and a lovely way to wrap up our final afternoon visit.

 

Well, that’s all about Paris. Although I’ve been mostly in the French mindset, I’ve started shopping {translation: looking for} courses for the fall, using this amazing website called Harvard Class. (Nope, I don’t know the people who made it, but I do know that it’s a heck of a lot prettier to look at than the my.harvard tool or the CS-50 standard tool.) I’m trying to figure out my concentration, which means I want to take 7+ classes, as my interests are very varied (hehehe say that outloud). It will take me a bit longer to decide, but it’s so exciting; this time last year, I was doing the exact same thing, obsessing over the coolest thing ever: school. (Synonym, Harvard.) So, incoming Freshmen, if you find yourself doing the same thing, be proud. Go onto your rooftops and sing your love of LS1B. Text your best friend the truth: that no, you’re not really going to Mike’s party tonight, but rather cozying up in your bed and making sure you have the prerequisites to take that Physics of Sailing freshmen seminar. (But go out eventually, please. And take a fun freshmen seminar, one that has no homework, or coursework for that matter.) Freshmen, GET PUMPED. Harvard is as overwhelming as it is amazing, and that’s saying something, as I slept for 3 days when I came home from my first semester. Congratulations again, and can’t wait to meet you once we get back on campus!

À plus tard!

-Reid

 

 

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Hello again!

I can’t believe it, I’ve been in Paris for 4 weeks already! I’m halfway through my Study Abroad program, which you can check out here; it’s wonderful, and the weather has finally brightened up in time for Paris Plages, where the city creates artificial beaches along the banks of the Seine. However, Paris has nothing on Nice when it comes to the beach…I would know, as I just returned from my amazing weekend in the South of France. As a bit of an update, here are some stories and pictures of one of the best weekends in my life.

My friend Anneli and I had decided a while ago that we wanted to go to the south of France, and chose Nice because her host family knew some people there with whom we could stay. The tickets were cheap (EasyJet) and the plane didn’t even remotely crash during our 1h10 flight, which left around 9pm from Orly. Nice by night is oh so much like California, along le Promenade d’Anglais with all the lights, palm trees, and new-ish hôtels lining the beach. Rollerbladers and cyclists oozed down their lane of the promenade, passing piétons as they strolled in the light of the humming lampposts. The air was warm and thicker than Paris, whose air is crisp and spoiled with pockets of cigarette smoke or exhaust. Our view from our room, above the bed (we thought we were going to sleep on the ground) and through the shuttered windows, breathed out onto the bay, which was lit by the colorful night hues, illuminating the neat lines and sailboats below. Panicky joy ensued.

The view from our window, Nice Harbor

 

In the morning,  we packed our daybags and walked out into Vielle Nice. My, how lovely it is. Imagine the streets of Boston, or of Paris. Not of New York, erase all of those grids from your mind. Now, cut each block in half with a road. And another, at a different angle. Sprinkle dead end alleyways where you wish. Alternatively, imagine the most rustic Italian quarter with burnt orange walls, which meander up towards terracotta roofs as they slide into open windows, flaking blue shutters thrown wide, inviting in an even brighter azure sky. The roads cut sharply at acute angles, creating houses as skinny as a cabinet that widen out to twenty times that size. Around the corner is a baby-pink church, its belltower peeking out over the surrounding buildings, as if it wished to glimpse the sea that it heard so often. The smell of bread and oregano wafts through an open window. And, somewhere, a thousand tourists fall in love with a city for the first time in their lives.

Vielle Nice

The majority of them can be found on the beach, where we happened to spend most of our day. It is incredibly crowded, incredibly sunny, and incredibly beautiful. Les cailloux are smooth, grey, and warm, not scalding like sand, nor are they as comfortable as their counterpart. They become smaller as they reach towards the water, where they dip, and rise, and dip again before plunging into the sea. It is deep almost immediately, a light salty blue closer to the shore and a brighter hue further out. The perfect temperature, it stretches on forever, embraced by Nice Côte d’Azur airport on one side and la colline, a fortressed hill, on the other. Nice-ville stretches in between, connected by the Promenade. After buying strawberries from an old lady who closely resembled a dandelion, and ice cream from a dim man on the street, Anneli and I walked back to the sea. I slurped up the fast-melting passionfruit scoop, took a lick of coffee, and finished by dipping my strawberries into the rich dark chocolate of my final scoop— and all for 4€. The sun was strong; we bought some sunscreen from a para-pharmacie. Eventually, we figured out how to use the VéloBlue, and spent the next two hours biking around, returning the creaky blue bikes to their stations before the 30 minutes were up and re-renting them to avoid any charge at all. After biking all the way to the airport, we decided that we’d bike to catch our flight at 5 am. Only then did I realize how burned I was, and after another swim in the evening with bronzed Russian children, we rinsed in the beach showers and returned back home to change, taking the long route via climbing the stairs of the fortified hill and weaving through the paths up there. It was silent, and for around 3 minutes I heard nothing but nature, something we both needed dearly. We gazed out at this marvelous town, thanking Harvard for all of the gifts it’s given us.

Nice Beach, one side of the hill

Me chillin’ on the other side of the hill

 

We finished our first day with smiles plastered onto our faces, and on Saturday  evening we decided to splurge on some dinner. Walking around Nice with the fantastic light charmed us until we returned to Place Girabaldi, where a restaurant with the same name awaited us. The catch? It had fresh pasta. Anneli ordered pesto gnocchi, and I ordered black truffle risotto. Both came with parmesan. Our waiter was terribly bizarre, but the food was phenomenal. I mourned the half of the risotto that I couldn’t eat, knowing that now, as I write this, I would be (and am) craving the delicious earthy flavor and richness of that plate. After eating, Anneli realized that all of the tables around us were full of Swedish people. She is Swedish, after all, and so a lengthy discussion with the portly man and his wife next to us ensued. I loved listening to it, but found myself automatically wanting to speak Italian afterwards, as Swedish is about as sing-songy as the other language I know, and is very different from French. It was hilarious to hear, and we eventually left after Anneli had had her heritage-full, spending the rest of the night on the beach in between tight circles of boys and night-fishermen, who actually caught fish in the warm Mediterranean.

My Risotto…dying

Now that I’m back, I can tell you that it was the best two-day vacation ever. Seriously. The Mediterranean has officially become my favorite ocean, and I know I must return to Nice. You know you’re spoiled when you don’t want to go back to Paris (:

Have a lovely summer, and incoming Freshmen, get excited!!! Harvard is the BEST!

Ciao begli!

-Reid

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Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your summers thoroughly, and that the lovely [scary hot] weather at home is giving you all great tans and instilling a bit of fear…it’s quite the opposite across the pond, where the weather for Paris is always predicted at 70 degrees with 60% chance of showers. Fortunately, the rain rarely comes and falls for about 5 minutes, the wind blows, the clouds move a tad, and suddenly there is sun, until the wind blows again and the weather changes. It seems that everywhere I live has mercurial weather, but that’s perhaps because I haven’t lived in California or Antarctica. Hélas.

Besides the weather, which I kind of like but kind of hate passionately, Paris is wonderful. The limestone buildings glow in the evening light, contrasting against the grey sky, and the language rolls into my ears like rivulets twisting over slippery rocks. My words aren’t quite as beautiful; were they rivulets, they would pool in shallow depressions and eventually gain enough momentum to run onwards, creating an almost-constant sound. But that is how language goes, n’est pas?

And now I’d like to share a few moments from Paris with you, if you don’t mind.

 

The Phone

“But, only Asians live on the sixth and seventh floor. Are you sure you’re in the right house?” she asked, perched in her doorway, her face a mix of confusion and worry. I wasn’t sure. I had no idea, in fact, if I was in the right building, because apartments 40-47 were all built by the same architect in 1914 and were like six peas in a pod, neatly lining the street near Pont de Versailles station. “Non, madame, je suis super desolée mais je sais pas, est-ce que je peux utiliser votre téléphone, s’il vous plaît? J’ai pas assez de crédit, et ….” The woman whose home I’d entered handed me her phone with concern, and I dialed Anneli’s number for the sixteenth time, my fingers shaking and my eyes blurring with prickling tears. I turned away from the woman for a moment, waited, and heard nothing but faint clicking. Anneli’s phone wasn’t working, and neither was Mandi’s. I called Steven again, and for some reason, it went through, again; the only problem was that his calls weren’t connecting to either of the girls, and we were both about to run out of credit. It was already 9:00, and I’d been trying to get into Anneli’s house for exactly an hour to eat dinner and plan our evening. Obviously, it wasn’t working. Distressed, I thanked the woman and left the apartment building, knowing I was in the wrong place and that there was no way Anneli could see me from her 7th story window. I walked to the métro, defeated, and was letting line 12 rock me to sleep when my Bollywood-esque ringtone jolted me upright. It was Mandi, who said that her phone wasn’t working and that she couldn’t get through to Anneli either, and that she had just failed to enter her building. I told her I was going to meet Steven instead, as I hadn’t eaten, and she said she’d probably do something else and maybe I’d see her later. Our hopes lowered, we ended the call and I sunk back into my chair, my eyes closed, counting the 15 stops until my next transfer.

 

 

 

Puma Social

It’s a’ one two three take my hand and come with me cause you look so fine that I really wanna make you mine. His eyes were more than halfway closed, his shirt buttoned incorrectly, but his feet grooved to the driving beat. We threw our heads up and down, tasting the humid air with our hanging tongues as if to quench our wild thirst, but only succeeding in looking absolutely insane. To put it frankly, I didn’t give a care; I was on a perfectly-crowded, perfectly-lit dance floor in Paris with two awesome girls and thirty-odd French guys just off of Rue Oberkampf at 3 in the morning.  I swung my wet hair out of my face, singing the words to Jet’s best song along with the rest of the club, the only difference being that mine were correct and not tilted sideways with the smooth French accent. The music went on. I was so glad to be wearing sneakers instead of flats. I could dance forever, and had been dancing for at least two hours among well-dressed, kind of skinny, faintly cigarette-smelling men and my ladies, stopping to refuel on cold water and ice cubes snatched from champagne buckets. Mandi and I had gone to the bathroom a few songs ago, which was a thin corridor of black-lights and white writing, contrasting slightly from the higher-lit rest of the club; I was glad that I only looked relatively insane (maybe just suffering from a personality disorder). Now, however, I could be sure of nothing about my appearance except for the fact that it felt like I’d been swimming in the tropics for the past twenty songs and that the guys here were pretty good dancers and, if they weren’t, they were at least fun to watch. Four five six come on and get your kicks now you don’t need money with a face like that do you honey? Nope. I don’t. Which is good, because I don’t have any more cash.

 

Brunch

My iPhone charger wasn’t plugged in so there was no alarm, but it’s a good thing I am fast at getting dressed, because I’m already a half-hour late to meet Anneli for brunch and I haven’t even left my flat. Exactly twenty-seven minutes later, I’m at Bastille again, this time for the pleasures of Sunday morning, also known as brunch and less tourists in the Marais. I see Anneli (orange dress, grey sweater) before she sees me (orange shirt, blue pants). We embrace in our démi-français half-english way, hugging and cheek-kissing all at once, and decide on Fontaine Café for the morning special of croissants, coffee, and wifi. As expected, all are slow, but we have plenty of time to spare and it’s best spent together before the afternoon clouds roll in. Over buttery, feathery pastries and café allongé (luckily not the expected tiny cup of espresso) we let delicate French words roll off our ever-studious tongues, weaving stories of childhood and countrysides that bind our friendship tighter. A firetruck passes by, the siren tearing at my eardrums, the contents of the packed-vehicle eyeing us like we’d just eyed our croissants. A little boy in a red striped shirt and mussed hair reminds us of Hanna Anderson, yet another thing we had in common growing up, and more stories fill up the hours of the morning. By the time the waiter comes with the check, it’s hard to stop talking and stand up. It’ll be even harder to cease speaking French and leave Paris, but I suppose we have some time.

 

Les Étrangers

There’s little else cooler than seeing someone you haven’t seen in more than a year pop out of the métro via the escalator, and Tess was no exception. Our roles had changed, she no longer a foreigner in my state, me no longer the one speaking a native tongue. Tess and I had graduated high school together last June and by some twist of fate I’d ended up in Paris for summer school when she’d just completed her Baccalauréat in the same city, with high honors nonetheless. She leaves tomorrow for the south of France, to Montpellier, and I come the center of Vermont, just near the capital with the same name. But today, we were having coffee and catching up. As she smoked her skinny Vogues and talked about her upcoming years of preparatory school for Les Grandes Écoles, I couldn’t help but feel excited and bizarre; this encounter reaffirmed how intertwined our lives become as get older and meet more people. I used to be afraid of growing up, but at least for now, I’m liking it.

 

 

About class, if you want to know:

I love class but hate how people slip into English so easily. We are only in Paris for 6 more weeks, babes. Let’s stick to the nation’s tongue like taste buds. The readings for class are kind of a lot, but really interesting, so I don’t mind reading them. I haven’t been able to always get through the readings, but I find that we discuss a variety of things throughout class and so it doesn’t always matter that much. Class is kind of like this:

  • Sprint to school (fast-walk, at least). Jiyae (my roommate) forgets where to turn which always makes me laugh, but Reid Hall is across from the cool hotel with painted tree shadows on its façade.
  • Go over les actualités, from newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le New York Times/International Tribune.
  • Brief history and summary of the arrondissement we visited the day before. (Side note: I thought this was going to be a stupid order, because I like learning about things and then going out and visiting them, but this works really well because our discussions are more grounded in experience.)
  • Discussion of parts of the texts we read.
  • Launching of the broad philosophical questions of the day, also prepared by the students responsible for the arrondissement of the day before.
  • 10 minute break, where most people buy 45¢ espresso. (I finally bought some yesterday, and met these awesome girls from Barnard and Hamilton who showed me how to use the supah-high-tech machine. Coffee wasn’t strong but tasted really nice, even though there was slightly too muchsucre.)
  • Discussion of parts of the text within the context of philosophical questions.
  • Done at 13h00.
  • Lunch until 14h00
  • Afternoon excursions until 16h00 or later, frequently with theatre or movies or supplemental activities after the excursions. (I tend to go home unless it’s mandatory, as I want to rid myself of my backpack and take off my shoes.)

 

How does this relate to Harvard? Well, Harvard made it possible for me to go, from offering the program in the first place to graciously giving me funds once I’d applied for them. If you have any questions about Study Abroad, especially summer, let me know!

À bientôt!

-Reid

Just doing some learnin’ near the Pantheon, sporting my future University’s hat — La Sorbonne

 

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Hello!

I’ve been in Paris for two whole days, preparing for the start of the Harvard Summer in Paris program, and am ready to fill everyone in about my trip! Yesterday was, how do you say, long. After the uneventful plane ride, during which I missed dinner but woke up 4 hours later for breakfast (you can’t trick me, Corsair), I decided it would be best to take a cab. I exchanged my money, hopped in a Peugeot cab with “Grenade” by Bruno Mars bumping on the radio, and peaced out of Orly, heading to Paris. I glimpsed the Tour D’Eiffel on my right, in between some graffitied concrete dividers, and 35€  later, I was at Rue de Printemps, valise in hand.

 

Salut, Tour D’Eiffel!

 

 

I met up with a neighbor of my host family, and he crammed me into the elevator, pressed 5, and up I went. Dominique, my host mom, met me at the door, as did Jiyae, another student in my program. They led me to my room, which Dominique explained as being mine only for this week, because two other girls (whom I have yet to see) are living in the other room across the hall, and when they leave I’ll be taking over their room with a German girl, apparently. However, I have fallen in love with this room (my single), and will be sad to leave.

After I put down my luggage, Jiyae and I walked over to Phonestore/house/something, a tiny tabac, and asked for Farid. He sold Jiyae a phone, but didn’t have the one I wanted, so I told him I’d go to Orange (the bigger store) to buy my mobile. He quickly phoned a friend and said it’d arrive by dix-sept heures (5 pm), and I waved him goodbye, excited to find the phone that I desired. (Cheap, keyboard, conversation-based texting.) We went back to the apartment, Jiyae went to sleep, and I connected to the internet in order to tell everyone I was safe and to find Mandi, my lovely friend who is working in a Neuro lab this summer. We decided on meeting at the Tuileries because it was a nice day, and I hopped on the métro, got off at l’Opéra, and proceeded to literally walk in a circle for 10-odd minutes until I finally found Rue de Paix, the last road around Place d’Opéra which I’d checked.

Rue de Paix wasn’t exactly as peaceful as its name suggests, and as I weaved my way through the throngs of tourists and locals, high-fashion names such as Dior and Chanel jumped out at me. A couple buzzed their way into a secure jeweler’s, which had the most beautiful display of watches and necklaces I’d ever seen. I walked past a store devoted solely to polo wear, with a saddle slung atop the dressing room and white jeans galore. Shortly, I was at Les Jardins, and passed through a carnival (see the photos) in order to get to the Obelisk at the entrance, where I said I’d meet Mandi. I spotted her from afar, we laughed, and then walked over to a bench behind a statue of a curvaceous lady. We talked for a while, and I ate some of Mandi’s delicious sandwich and drank the RedBull that she had so kindly thought to bring me (I’d probably be really awful company without it). After we toured the garden a bit, we walked around Place D’Opéra and were awestruck by the crazy shops again. We then made our way to the Seine and sat down, only to be swarmed by these odd girls who said they were from the Blind and Deaf department; it’s a weird, common scam where they get you to donate money and sign their petition. Deciding it was best to leave, we walked back to Place D’Opéra, decided to go to my house, and took the 3 back to Villiers, one of my Métro stops.

 

17ième Arrondissement, where I live

 

It was around 5 when Mandi and I got back, and so we walked to Phonehouse/store/truc (truc=thingy), waited in line, and eventually I bought my phone! YAY. Luckily, as we waited, we were savoring the delicious pastries from the Patisserie across the way, me a Paris-Brest (not too sweet, super creamy, and full of almond paste) and Mandi a crème brulée…or two, as it turned out to be. Later, I introduced Mandi to Dominique (who has a cat!) and we met up with Jiyae and went out to dinner at this incredible Lebanese place near St. Germain. I had the most tendre poulet that I have ever eaten, died a little bit of salt-shock, and had my iPhone stolen as a joke by the waiter…oops. (He gave it back.) Jiyae said goodbye, needing sleep, and we parted ways. We cruised around for a bit on the quest for Wifi, and found it hours later, at a Starbucks. I then contacted Anneli and Anna, my two other Harvard friends who are in Paris, and we met up at Pont St. Louis, the bridge in between the two islands in the center of Paris. It was lovely seeing them, and we walked around to Nôtre Dame, watched a fire-poi dancer, and pushed our way through the fourth quarter. As it was getting rather late, we said bonne nuit and took our trains into the night. When I returned, sleep came easily, golden buildings still etched beneath my eyelids.

 

That’s all for now…the internet is slow and I can’t put up any more photos.

Bisous!

-Reid

Carnival at the Tuileries

 

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Oh, my gosh! Harvard College Student Blog looks so good! (That’s all, but read Jeanie’s blog post, it is killer.)

-Reid

Thanks for watching!

Click Me

-Reid

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Hello!

It’s been two weeks since my last blog post, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting every other week from now on. Lots of awesome things have happened. I went to NYC, came back to campus, had a celebratory finish to my freshman year at the College, and moved out of Canaday the next day and into Lev a few hours later. It was a crazy trip (I completely overpacked, underestimating the enormous pile of clothes that hid within my dresser drawers), but my new residency was worth the wait, because I have a super cozy single in Old Leverett. Check out some pics!

 

 

My room went from this…

 

…to this ):

 

My New Room in Lev!

 

NYC, World Trade Center

 

 

Funny StarWars Kids in NYC

 

 

 

It was awesome to have a little break in NYC before starting my difficult week. I was assigned to DeWolfe, which probably isn’t talked about a lot on the Harvard Website; it’s the overflow housing for Dunster, Leverett, Lowell, Kirkland, and Winthrop (five of the upperclassmen houses), and is a great alternative to sophomore housing, which can frequently be a downgrade from freshman housing in the Yard. DeWolfe is set up in pretty big suites, commonly with two large bedrooms that are doubles, a kitchen, bathroom, and a common room. With all of those different types of rooms, it was very difficult to clean throughout the week. It’s pretty exhausting work, but I came out of it with quite a bit of dough (almost 500 dollars) and slept very well each night! Here’s a picture of one of the rooms during final cleaning, when we had to go around and redo all of the work we’d done throughout the week in order to ensure that these suites were immaculate.

 

 

Empty, Clean Room.

 

 

 

I also worked at The Crimson during commencement, which was very fun! I set up the Year in Sports newspaper with a few other editors, which was great fun. Also, I socialized with a lot of other boards, not just Photo, and made a lot of new friends while eating FREE food! Hollah! Friday night, on a whim, I decided to go home for the weekend! Work started yesterday for Reunion jobs (babysitting), and so I had four full days to go home and relax with my family. I jumped on the Greyhound early Saturday morning and rode to Montpelier, which is close to my house, and drove home to spend time with the fam in the hot, hot sun. We went swimming in the river (my, my, it was cold), I saw my little sister’s baseball game, I made a pie, casserole, and sushi (on different occasions), slept, saw my best friends from home, and generally enjoyed myself profusely. It was incredible to be home, and I missed it this year! I’ll be going back soon (two weeks) to spend time until I’m off to Paris.

 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 

Baseball

Baseball!

 

My Kitty Emily on the Right

 

After my awesome mini-vacations, I’ve started working for the Harvard Alumni Association as a babysitter, with 16.5 hour days, as a day and night sitter for little kids. The Reunions have totally transformed the Yard, and it’s teeming with people of all ages, which brings a new level of excitement to campus. It’s nice having this influx of alumni after the regular floods of students have cleared out, because Harvard is completely different.

If I last through these upcoming weeks, you’ll hear from me soon!

-Reid

 

 

 

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