Two weeks ago I moved from my home on Long Island back up to Cambridge for my sophomore year at Harvard. Understandably, these past few weeks have been pretty hectic. Here we do something called shopping week, which basically means we have a week to sit in on classes and decide which ones we like best before we make a finalized schedule. This is both a blessing and a curse; on one hand, it’s nice to be able to get a feel for a class before I decide to take it, but on the other, I end up falling in love with a whole bunch of classes and then I’m upset when I obviously can’t take them all.
Also, shopping week brings about an issue that makes all Harvard students quake with fear: lotteries. When there are more students interested in a class than the class can hold, the professor holds a lottery, with only a certain number of students being randomly selected for enrollment. Some people have really terrible luck with lotteries, and then they find themselves having to scramble last minute to put together a solid schedule.
I was fortunate enough to be lotteried into a pretty amazing gen-ed (general education) course, and I got accepted into my first-choice creative writing workshop, so I’ve got a pretty fantastic schedule that I’m really excited about. My classes this semester are USW35: Excellence and Equity in American K-12 Education, Psy 18: Abnormal Psychology, English 44: Arrivals (Early British lit), and Creative Writing: Introductory Fiction. Sophomore fall, bring it on.
Freshman year wasn’t particularly bad for me at all, but now that I’ve emerged onto the other side, I’m pretty glad that it’s over. During freshman year, Harvard sorts us and a group of friends called a blocking group randomly into one of its twelve upperclassman houses (very Harry Potter, I know), so it was really nice to move into Mather House this year with an amazing, tight-knit friend group and a greater sense of comfort, stability, and self-assuredness. To say Harvard is intimidating as a freshman is an understatement, but now that a full year has passed and I know all the ropes, I can confidently say that there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
There are some things I’m still hoping to accomplish this year, though. For one, I’d like to chill out—a lot. I’m a planner by nature, constantly thinking towards the future, so I spent much of freshman year worrying about my lack of pre-professional extracurriculars and my general preparedness level compared to my peers. It’s hard not to think about these things in a place like this, but it certainly does none of any good. I’ve come to terms, though, with the fact that I don’t have to be so certain about everything. Not everything I do needs to be done with a future goal in mind. I’m making a pact with myself to just go with the flow a little bit more this year, because god knows I need it.
Secondly, I want to take the time to figure out what I really, really love. I know one of those things is writing, but I’d like to do a little bit more exploration as well. In addition to my myriad of writing extracurriculars (and two jobs that circulate heavily around writing as well), I’m looking into getting involved in some global, international exchange-type programs to fuel my love of travel and experiencing other cultures. By trying some new things, I’m hoping to be able to take a step back and assess which activities outside of the classroom I’m truly passionate about, and which I’m just doing because I should.
Though there are plenty more, those are my two major goals for this year. In short, I need to devote more time to me—figuring out my goals, figuring out my passions, figuring out myself without all the pressure of the future weighing me down. It’s undoubtedly a tall order, but it’s important and worth the effort.
So far, sophomore year is off to a wonderful start, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring.