Popular Groups: Crimson, Harvard Student Agencies, Football Team, Crew Team, Basketball team, Lampoon, Hasty Pudding, Harvard Radcliffe Drama Club, A Capella groups Group I'm involved in: I'm involved in the Harvard College in Asia Program. We organized a conference for 60 students from New Delhi, Singapore, Dubai, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo to come to Harvard and learn about American life. In return, these students are hosting us at their universities over our spring break. I'm going to Singapore where I'll get to meet with top government officials, attend classes at another university, and visit an island beach resort. Best of all it's all paid for by Harvard. Dorms and Doors: Freshmen year we all left our doors open. It was our policy that people could walk in and out whenever they wanted. I made some of my best friends this year. Many students, however, live in suite housing which means groups of between 2 and 10 students live in suites with common rooms and off-shooting bedrooms. In this arrangement, most students leave their bedroom doors open, but keep the entrance to their suite closed. Athletic events: Some students go regularly, most don't. However, everybody goes to some. Nobody would miss the Harvard/Yale Football Game which is known to be the best day of the year. Guest Speakers: I don't think there's ever been a week when I haven't gone to see a guest speaker. There are dozens here every day. I have trouble choosing which ones to go to. Harvard brings in so many incredible people. Dating: Almost all of my friends have had some sort of relationship since they got here. Some have lasted, others haven't. There are also a hook-up scene of people not really looking for relationships. Personally, I'm in the crowd of people still in long-distance relationships from high school which is also fairly common. Closest Friends: My closest friends came from my freshman dorm as well as my extracurricular activities. Strangely, I don't think I've ever met a friend in a class. Awake at 2 on a Tuesday: I'm rarely awake at that hour (if I am, it is probably because I am fooling around on the internet). I need 8 hours of sleep or I can't function. I've never pulled a college all-nighter or anything like that. It really isn't all that common here. Traditions: Head of the Charles-- Biggest college crew race in the country. Always on a beautiful fall day. Everyone sits out on the banks of the Charles, eats lots of food, and cheers Harvard on. Harvard/Yale Game-- Biggest event of the year. Huge tailgate followed by game. Everyone is very spirited, and it is the only time everyone is wearing Harvard colors and publicly dissing other schools (i.e. Yale or The Evil Empire). Primal Scream-- The night before final exams begin hundreds of students storm the Yard naked. Thousands watch. Housing Day-- The day that Freshman are assigned their upperclass houses. Blocking groups (groups of eight friends) stay up all night waiting debating about the best and worse houses. My friends and I bought ice cream, and pizza, and watched three movies. By 7 in the morning, we were trying very hard to stay awake, just when we heard the expected knock on our door. In the morning, an upperclass student hand-delivers and sealed envelope to each blocking group. Inside is the name of the house each group will live in for the next three years. No matter what, everyone is always ecstatic about their placement. Groups then storm the freshmen dining hall to find upperclass students from their new house. When I found my new house, I was showered with all sorts of gifts-- a t-shirt bearing my house's name, a chocolate bunny (the house mascot), pens, pencils, candy, and more. Everyone was screaming. In the evening, students are taken back to their house to welcoming parties where they meet their new community and the other students they'll be living with for the next three years. Parties: There are always parties for people to go to. Some people go every weekend. Many people go occasionally. Some never go. It is always an option, but never a requirement. Fraternities and Sororities: I hear we have a few. I couldn't name any of them. They really aren't part of the culture here. Last Weekend: Friday: Went into Boston Went out to dinner to celebrate my friend's birthday Saw a play at the Lyric Theater Went to bar to get pina coladas Saturday: Went out for Mexican food with friends from freshman year Hung out after at Starbucks Went to a hip hop dance show on-campus A Saturday Night Without Drinking: Plays Movies Dinner Comedy Shows Coffee Bubble Tea Lecture Series Pottery Studio Dancing Hanging out with friends in your common room I rarely drink on Saturday nights. It isn't because I don't like drinking or can't get alcohol, it is just that there is so much else I am doing it doesn't really cross my mind. Off Campus: I use Cambridge every day to hang out in coffee shops, casually shop, eat dinner with friends, watch street artists, go to movies, and more. Occasionally, I go into Boston to go shopping, out to dinner, skating, to plays, art museums, or just walk around.
The last time I saw the number, the count of student organizations on campus was above four hundred. There is seriously something here to interest everyone, and something exists to respond to every student need. There are groups that teach you how to be successful (Women in Business), political organizations (Institute of Politics, Dems and GOP), a cappella groups, dancing troupes, volunteer missions (PBHA), pre-professional clubs, advocacy groups, ethnic organizations, publications, etc. (I’m sure I’m leaving a hell of a lot of things out). A professor of mine once compared students here to those of a rival institution (let’s call it Winceston) by saying that while we were intellectually similar, Harvard students were involved with so many more activities and found so much more to do in our spare time. College is the time to meet new people and try unfamiliar things out, and a lot of students take this to heart. This weekend I attended a Cultural Rhythms dance show, where performers representing traditions all over the world shared dance, music, and food with the school. Not only was the breadth of the show impressive, but many of the performers were not actually from the culture they were presenting, having only picked it up for fun while at Harvard. Parties here widely vary in shape and size, from private gatherings to Happy Hours to dining-hall extravaganzas. People throw parties because they feel like it, clubs and sports teams throw parties all the time, small (and not so small) groups of friends get together to drink, and the College subsidizes the large, official parties that are excuses for students to mass-gyrate in different dining halls. Socializing is also where finals clubs and sororities come in (fraternities and female finals clubs also exist, though they’re slightly less-well-known). Greek life at Harvard is popular, but restrained, since the House system means people don’t actually live with their sorority sisters, etc. And partying in finals clubs is said to be classier and more fun than hanging out at larger parties, but it comes with political connotations given the elitist and sexist nature of said clubs. For those neither interested in partying nor drinking, there are theatrical/musical/dance performances happening just about every weekend, for affordable prices and in support of student groups. Boston is always a short T ride away for those willing to commute. And some of my most fun weekends have been spent just sitting around our common room, watching a movie, playing a game, or just laughing with roommates. The story of the dating scene is probably encapsulated by, “what dating scene?” This is not to say that people don’t have significant others—many do (2/4 of my suite, for example). Love lives on campus, however, tend to only encompass the “marrieds”—longstanding couples who spend a good deal of their time together—or the “hook ups”—people who meet each other at parties, hook up, and don’t really bother to see each other again. Between these two categories and the fact that Harvard students often have their mind on other things, people don’t really date (i.e. get together occasionally and see how things work out) around here. Lastly, I feel that any mention of social traditions should include a uniquely Harvardian one—blocking. The freshman-year concept of choosing the seven people guaranteed to share your House for the next three years is an infamous—and unnecessary—one. Every year, tears are shed, blame is leveled, and relationships ruined as friends unfortunately discover that their friends don’t want to live with them. Just about every blocking group has some harrowing story of the drama that went down before blockmates were picked. Blocking forces freshmen to constantly gauge and re-gauge their friendships as they hope that those they like, like them back. Freshman year is enough of an adjustment, and Harvard students are often already overstressed. While giving students the choice of who they want to live with is commendable, I feel that the Yale system of housing (where Houses are assigned before college starts, and everyone in your freshman dorm is also in your House) is the superior one. Many students block with freshman-year dormmates anyway, and being spared such an inevitably-offensive-but-necessarily-strategic choice would be beneficial to a lot of Harvardians.
Popular groups/organizations/clubs/teams: I think it's really to each their own. People tend to get involved in their own Houses (House Committees), and athletics (especially crew) are pretty popular. Other than that, people tend to join things that will make their resumes look good, as well as things they enjoy. Group I'm involved with: The Harvard University Choir is the only salaried music group (that I know of) on campus; we sing every Sunday in The Memorial Church and do other special performances as well throughout the year. Athletic events: I don't really know. Harvard-Yale is the only thing lots of students care about. Guest speakers: pretty popular. Often the IOP (institute of politics at the Kennedy School of Government) Forum has to lottery tickets to speaker events, which can include world leaders (I saw Queen Rania of Jordan). Theater: for those who are interested, there is a great theater scene here, both for audience and performers. Dating scene: hook-ups or "almost married", in the words of my friend. Not too good, unfortunately. How did I meet my closest friends? In the freshman dining hall. Like I meet everyone (in the dining halls, that is). On 2 am on a Tuesday, if I were awake (unlikely) I would probably be either writing a paper due the next day, on YouTube because I'm not really tired, or talking to friends. Traditions/events each year: depends on the House. University-wide events include Commencement (of course), Harvard-Yale, Freshman Parents Weekend, Junior Parents Weekend, and more. Partying: People party every weekend and during the week as well, depending on how much work they have. Houses host Stein Clubs (beer and pizza parties) weekly. Fraternities/sororities: I think we have one or two of each; they don't have their own residences and primarily are service organizations, from what I understand. The "frats" are called finals clubs and are elite male clubs that tend to be severely sexist and disrespectful towards women. What did I do last weekend? Went to a conference for my job/organization and did lots of homework. I'm going to a performance and a huge afterparty this weekend. Saturday night/no drinking: party without drinking (haha), go into Boston, rent a movie, hang out with friends, go to BerryLine or Herrell's or another ice cream/tea/etc. shop, etc. What do I do off campus? Usually I go into Boston or go walking with friends.
I am politically conservative. The campus overall is very liberal and quite secular. However, there is a pretty good spirit of debate, and it is not the case that most classes are over political, or that conservative students feel threatened or lack administration support. There is some, but not too much, radicalism on campus. By and large, people are liberal personally, but way to busy to protest and march about. Now, I am probably not qualified to talk about social life, but here goes. A lot of kids complain about the party scene. I did not go to any parties (I do not like crowds) so I do not really know. There are parties and things going on most weekends, but I have heard they are lame. There is less of a culture of partying here than at some other schools, but it is available if that is what you are into. I had a great time socially hanging out with friends, going to concerts and plays, watching movies, and traveling with some clubs and student organizations. The university does not make much of an effort to provide any unified social experiences-- we do not even have a student center. I think this makes Harvard feel less like a community. I am in a relationship, but I think there is less of a culture of dating and more random hooking up than might be desirable.
I'm involved in this really low key game development group that I love. It's perfect for people who like programming and game development. The events at Harvard are pretty popular -- especially the ones that are well-advertised. The most popular groups/organizations are the ethnic ones (Asian American Association, etc.), Women in Business, and the Harvard Crimson. Fraternities and sororities are not allowed technically but a few do exist. Instead, we have Finals Clubs...but most people don't participate in these, only a select few. An event that happens each year is Primal Scream -- in which about 20 or so students strip naked and run through Harvard Yard. Everyone can participate but don't ask me about the details -- I'd never do it! You can do a lot on Saturday Night -- play games with friends (poker, Wii, PS2) or, my favorite, go to Boston to go shopping! There are also lots of great places to eat. Unfortunately, Harvard Square is lacking in good Japanese food but has a good assortment of Indian, Thai, and Mexican food. Boston is famous for great food. If I'm awake at 2am, unfortunately, I'm probably trying to do my Problem Set or doing some other sort of work. I wish this wasn't the case, but it's true -- most students have to study and work very hard.
2am on a Tuesday I would either be writing a paper, or studying for an exam the next day - because all my exams seem to fall on Wednesday. Several times I was up talking to roommates, but only because we weren't in the thick of exams. :) Most of my closest friends I know from the Christian Fellowship, my entryway, and the Internationals. I'm thankful for these particular friends, especially those in the Christian Fellowship, because it is where I can be completely real and honest - something I feel is lacking at Harvard - because of an inherent superiority complex and pride. The dating scene here (something I'm not involved in) can also be quite awkward - there are 3 main categories of dating couples; those who hook up and don't remember each other's names the next day, those who have been dating since freshman year and are, as I write, already engaged and planning their wedding, and those who are neither, who are increasingly coming to terms with their non-existent romantic lives!
Most people seem to make their best social connection to Harvard through a student organization. There are hundreds of them here, and getting involved in any group is the best way to meet new people and have Friday night plans from day one. Of course, there are also plenty of other social opportunities, as well: "final clubs" (still functioning dining clubs now more interested in drinking, girls, and interesting combinations of the two), House parties and regular dances (including IncestFest, the '90s Dance, and Fête), a handful of off-campus fraternities, and odd events the university occasionally tries to sponsor. There are concerts, shows, poetry readings, and more every weekend, and the Harvard name is able to draw a fantastic list of guest speakers annually. Boston has a social scene of its own, as well. Dating, however, has been said to be elusive on campus, so students looking for college love may look elsewhere.
Studnet groups are for resume building ONLY. name one person doing/running an organization 100% becuase he cares about what he is doing, i will pay you 1000$. dorms doors are constantly locked. i don't even know my nbs. athletcs- i don't really know, but they are popular. speakers- perfect, you can go around listening to intersting talks from intersting people all the time, they are actually interesting. dating- pretty easy if you can find girls that qualifies as girls. girls are hard to find though, you can find lotz of Hilary Clintons, only some of them are more stupid and uglier and with worse personalities than Hilary. party- all the time tuesday night- prob drinking beer talking with myh rooommate because we just ordered pizza. we talk about everything from girls to bible. weekend- sleep and sleep, play poker, beer, and how can you not drink?
I think like 30% of guys are in a frat or final club and 15% of girls, but I could be making that up. Athletic events are not generally well attended unless it is a big game against Yale or something. Theater is pretty rampant -- generally 2-4 shows a weekend. Dorm rooms aren't generally left open, but apart from the final clubs, that is where the majority of parties take place. Dating here tends to be either casual hook-ups or "you're almost married." Friday and Saturday are the main social nights, although sometimes Thursdays can happen. There are very few wild, trash-the-house keg parties here, because no one wants to do that to someone's dorm room, and the final clubs are fairly classy, multi-million dollar establishments. For those kinds of parties, one can easily go to MIT or BU.
There's lots of dancing and music. The IOP is the big political center and PBHA is the hub for community service. Smaller groups are largely discovered by word of mouth. A number of people play IM or varsity sports, but it's a small group. The athletes stand out as almost separate from the rest of the student body, while the IM sports players are scattered, with most people only playing a few games, or a season, or intermittently. Theater is fantastic and common, guest speakers are always coming and going for variousl groups, there are few fraternities/sororities, such that they're activity is peripheral to the social scene here. Off campus, I generally will be going to a restaurant or out shopping or to a museum or such.