“How was it like to attend Harvard?” is one of the questions I get most frequently, so today I’m spilling the tea! Here’s what Harvard student life is really like – discover a day in the life of a Harvard student!
It was always my dream to attend Harvard University. And once I was there, it definitely lived up to my expectations. And more. Right off the bat, Harvard changes your life. An overwhelmingly busy lifestyle draws the students in the moment they enter the hallowed gates of the Harvard yard! From class mixers to dorm events to guest lectures, there’s never a dearth of activities for a Harvard student.
Harvard Student Life
From very early on, I realized that being at Harvard would be all about prioritizing the activities that would fill up my day. It was always on the same day that your favorite celebrity was coming to give a talk at the University as your class would plan a field trip. It was always at the same time your new crush would ask you out on a date as your new friend would plan a trip to Boston for brunch! Prioritization and scheduling is key!
How is Life at Harvard in the Beginning
If you come from a 9-5 work life like I did, one of the most difficult things to get back to is the unstructured lifestyle of a student. I spent my first few days in a haze.
Since I got there from India, my cell phone was not working. So I forgot how many other uses we had for the phone, even before smart phones became a thing. Without a time piece, I would be late for orientation and forgetting stuff. So in the next couple of days, I began to get used to a good old alarm clock while I searched for a new phone! (Getting a phone plan in the US is another deal, but we can leave the cultural shocks for another article!)
Once you begin to learn the names of your next-door neighbors, get used to the overwhelming chaos that is student orientation and start remembering the faces of your professors and staff at your school, things start getting much easier. It hardly takes any time to learn that the Harvard student life is a great life – there are things to do for every type of student.
A Day in the Life of a Harvard Student
The classes and extracurricular activities you do make up your daily routine. So in reality, Harvard student life may vary for every student. On some days there are early classes, and some days have late classes, so that kind of dictates how much sleep you get!
If you live in a dormitory, socialization begins even before breakfast time, as you meet your floor mates while brushing your teeth! This is great, since it makes your mornings start on a fun, light note! During the week, students have early breakfast, either in their dorms, school dining halls or cafes. It’s mostly a coffee with toast, and if you’re feeling bold, a sandwich! If you’re lucky, your early class will have coffee!
Breakfast is also the class prep time, which involves checking emails regarding any class material, or reading notes. The first half of the day is mostly filled with classes. Students sometimes spend the time between classes for homework or group meetings for class projects or papers.
Lunches for Harvard students are either an extremely rushed social activity or busy study time. Mostly, working lunches fill up the Harvard student life. Oftentimes, lunch is even had during the class or while doing group meetings. That’s how packed the schedule of Harvard students is!
Students typically spend the second half with more classes or professor meetings. If you have a part-time job like I did, you also spend a lot of the second half at work.
After 5, we usually had an early dinner in our dormitory’s dining hall, which was right in the middle of the Harvard yard. Early dinners are a lovely relaxed time to hang out with other students and make friends outside of your classes or school. It’s a great time to get to know people from different countries, academic backgrounds and learn about different cultures, different Harvard schools, and what not. After all, that’s what Harvard student life is all about – learning outside the classroom!
After dinner, I usually headed to the dorm with my friends and spent some time doing homework.
Students typically spend late evenings at Harvard square for student mixers, class dinners or drinks with friends.
Sometimes professors plan group dinners with your class. Sometimes students get the opportunity to go to mixers of other schools or university clubs. They are a great way to expand your circle and make contacts within the larger Harvard community.
During early nights, students do more homework. it goes on till midnight or so, depending on how much of a night person you are. As I said, Harvard student life is different for everyone. But yeah, you’ll find most students studying past midnight.
Also read: What Kinds of Students Get into Harvard?
I often enjoyed my night-time homework with midnight snacks or having fun with my floor mates at the dorm. Night-time coffee runs to the dorm’s kitchen is also a great unexpected way to make new friends. Those spontaneous encounters and fun times are some of the best memories I have from my life at Harvard! Sometimes, I also enjoyed cooking midnight snacks or baking things I couldn’t find in the dorm dining hall.
Weekends at Harvard
The weekends usually start with late mornings, the perfect time to catch up on lost sleep. Students often go grocery shopping with their friends in the am, to stock up on food items that can last the week. Sometimes, I would go out with friends outside the campus for a nice brunch.
We usually spent the weekend afternoons at library doing homework or having class meetings to work on group projects. Or we would be busy with extra curricular activities such as a collaboration project with students from other Harvard schools.
If I had free time, my favorite activity for the weekend evenings was hanging out in the Harvard yard, reading a good book that I found in the library earlier that day, or at Starbucks, painting, or catching up with friends.
Weekends also became the time to do chores such as laundry; or if we felt like it, go to Boston to do shopping or other outings!
We used to frequently spend the weekend evenings cooking in the dormitory kitchen or with friends. It’s also common to grab drinks and a quick bite outside with friends. I used to spend most of the weekend nights working on extracurricular projects, such as working on my book, writing/hobbies or finishing up my homework. And if I had nothing or too much work to do, then I would just watch TV with friends or by myself!
So much more filled my Harvard student life than I can write in one short simple article. There is so much more worth mentioning, such as travels, taking classes at Other Harvard schools, exploring the campus and a million other extra curricular activities. It’s a colorful, exploratory life, and words can’t even do justice to it!