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Life is alright. As a computer science major, I probably spend more time cooped up doing work than other people. I like the house system. It's great to have upperclassmen living on campus, and the system does a good job of fostering a sense of community. Cambridge is a fantastic city to live in. I don't think you can really do much better in terms of location, unless you absolutely can't stand cold weather. Anything you could possibly want is nearby and the T is an incredibly convenient public transportation system. You wouldn't want to be driving around Boston, anyway. Some people complain about the party scene, other people seem to be pretty happy with it. To be honset, I don't party, so I really can't judge.
Very grueling (academically for science majors, extracurricularly for humanities majors.) Everything is a constant competition, which grows tiring.
The best thing about Harvard is the different types of people here. Like everyone has a different view on everything and everyone is passionate about something and willing to learn about other things. It seems like everyone is here to get something out of college. I think Harvard is just the right size and I love the sense of community that groups and clubs create. People usually try not to freak out when I tell I go to Harvard and it becomes awkward. Sometimes they do freak out and it still becomes awkward. It's just...always awkward. I love the fact that there are other schools around so that you can assert your superiority. Haha, just kidding. But it's great to have other schools cuz you can mix it up and go to their parties and take them to your parties.
Harvard is completely overwhelming. In every way imaginable: academics, socially, extra-curricular-wise, etc, and it's extremely important to stay grounded and true to yourself. It's easy to feel completely overshadowed by everyone, and the best mentality is to celebrate the achievements of everyone around you while figuring out your own path and interests. The town around is great - Cambridge has some great stores/restaurants, and it's a nice break from campus. The best thing about Harvard is the people you meet - I've met some truly extraordinary people here, all of whom are talented and passionate about what they do.
At Harvard, everyone's a leader. It's a bit exhausting and spurs untold numbers of inferiority complexes. It's a place that makes people feel like they should be extracurricular superstars as well as academic. There are a million student groups, tons of volunteer organizations and opportunities and a great infrastructure to support them (the Phillips Brooks House), final clubs, fraternities and sororities, political groups, and a bunch of other kinds of activities. Having transferred from a state school, I could hardly believe how much money the place has. It's evident everywhere, and most students have no context for appreciating how lavish it is. From the gorgeous dining halls to what struck me as amazing food and gourmet menus (that I of course eventually tired of) to the receptions and wine and cheese that followed lectures, to what seems to be hundreds of thousands of dollars given to undergraduates for research during the year and the summer. Being located in Cambridge is definitely a nice thing about Harvard, though the people of Cambridge might disagree. It's wonderful to have such beautiful and vibrant neighborhoods within walking and biking distance of the campus, though thanks to the Harvard Corporation, the corporate body alternately controlling or at odds with the faculty and administration, Cambridge is getting more and more expensive and commercially and demographically homogeneous.
Harvard's beautiful -- it takes a while to realize that. One thing you have to know when coming to Harvard is not to set overly high expectations because you'll be let down sooner or later. When I first came to Harvard, I felt disoriented -- I expected life to be perfect and the school to accommodate to my every needs. But, after having dashes of realism slapped to my face, I realized that would never happen and that Harvard is great as it is. If you go to Harvard, you're going to have to deal with the uncomfortable situation of people asking you where you go and then being shocked to hear the answer. It's a bit awkward because they usually react by believing you to be a brilliant person destined for greatness, to which you have to respond with a combination of modesty and agreement. I spend most of my time in my dorm room. I do frequent the dining halls, libraries, other people's rooms regularly though. On the weekends, when I feel overloaded, I like to go to the various shopping malls we have (3 big ones: Downtown Boston, Cambridgeside Galleria, Prudential). Boston's a great town and I'm excited to exploring it more. The complaints I have about Harvard's administration are I feel they could really do more in terms of school food and school-wide events. The food isn't great -- with that much money, shouldn't we have better food? Comparatively, though, I feel it's equivalent or a little better than most college campuses, so maybe I'm just a bit spoiled. As for school-wide events, Harvard seems to pool a lot of money into individual club events and such. There aren't many school-wide events for people to attend without club affiliation. Of course, club events are usually open to everyone, but still, it'd be nice to have more "Harvard" events to increase school pride. There is of course a lot of school pride about Harvard. Most everyone is happy that they go here and the "prestige" it lends to their self-esteem. For the most part, Harvard school pride isn't verbalized however. There is more overt "house" pride (upperclassmen are separated into Houses, where they stay from sophomore to senior year).
Frances SophomoreReviews provided by: Unigo