Thoughts on being oriented

Author: Brianna

I’ve experienced a week full of orientation in many forms. Learning a new city, for one, and acquiring everything that comes with it: bike, beds, couches, kitchen supplies, rugs, tables, soap. Much browsing of Craigslist, though tomorrow our strategy is to drive around Allston (a primarily undergrad housing area) for “Allston Christmas,” where everyone leaves their unwanted stuff out on the curb. Fear of bedbugs precludes acquiring any soft furniture there, but we still need bookshelves and dressers.

We joined a brand-new climbing gym, BKB Somerville, which is absolutely gorgeous. The walls are light wood panels, they feature grafitti and metal art from local artists, and it’s huge. They also have some really nice work spaces with a variety of features – couches, standing desks, regular desks, obligatory pullup bars. My hands are sore thanks to being out of climbing shape, but at this rate, that will change pretty quickly.

Two days in a row I was oriented to graduate school at Harvard, first for all Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students and the next day for my department. At the broad orientation we were encouraged to both fall in love with Harvard and find love while at Harvard. This was a little odd, though I agree that having a “real life” is important during graduate school and that may include romantic relationships. The emphasis just felt strange. I also learned a good deal of useful things (including that Insomnia Cookies are possibly the best cookies on the planet). I received a nice red folder full of information about resources, and social events, and where to eat nearby, and the like.

Departmental orientation was low-key and friendly. My department is fairly small and I think I’ll like that. We learned even more useful things there, getting down to the nuts and bolts of funding, teaching assignments, qualifying exams, and so on. Next came a tour of our library (yes, there is a library for us), the Ernst Mayr Library. It’s cozy, quite old, and full of the delicious character that comes with old libraries. The stacks, in particular, are spectacular. Libraries have a kind of religious quality for me (SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE IN ONE PLACE AND SO MANY BOOKS) and I suspect I’ll spend a good deal of time in that library. It’s going to be one of my first stops next week.

Sunday is moving day for me and basically the entire Boston/Cambridge/ area. So that will be fun…ideally we can keep driving to a minimum. Classes begin on Tuesday and I can’t wait to get started. Perhaps in a few months all the bright-eyed bushy-tailed-ness will be beaten out of me, but for now I am having an excellent time.

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