The Same New Feeling



The good and the bad of entering Harvard.

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I have never heard anyone express how much they like to be the new kid, a role that consists of constantly looking for a friendly face, an open seat, or god forbid, you wear the wrong outfit, or get lost — reminiscing on these attributes of “newness” leaves a pit in my stomach. This novelty usually belongs to freshmen or transfer students. After my first few weeks of not living in the Yard, I was assured that my freshmen awkwardness would subside and never return: how I was wrong.
Harvard goes to great lengths to acclimate the freshmen to college and Yard life. Freshmen Week, First Chance Dance, workshops, PAFs, proctors — there is almost an inundation of mentors. So although the inevitable feeling of freshmen awkwardness remains, there are countless sources to help guide you though. I recall it being around winter reading period when I could confidently say, “I don’t feel like a new student anymore.” This feeling of comfort must have expressed itself because tourists started to ask me for directions. My favorite question remains, “But where is the famous Harvard building.” I still never know what to say.
However, this year I feel as though I have just been thrown back into the pool of newness. New house, new faces, new buildings, new flavors of frozen yogurt in the dining hall…I feel like a freshman all over again! However, as a freshman it was normal to feel out of place and ask questions. Now I feel as though Harvard expects students to figure it out.

I regard myself as an adult and do not think I always need someone to hold my hand daily. However, I wish there was a halfway point between freshmen aid and nothing. You would never teach a child to swim with a flotation device one day, and then the next day, throw them in a raging ocean. I do have a sophomore advisor but unfortunately she does not know much about me and we do not have much in common. I know I can put in more effort to know her better but she will only be my advisor for a few months. What’s the point?

Until I receive a concentration advisor, someone who inevitably shares an interest with me, I feel as though I am treading water. My solution is for sophomores to keep their freshman advisor for the first semester. With this system, advisors can help their sophomores transition to their Houses and can continue conversations and thoughts from the year prior.
I admit that the sink or swim metaphor is too extreme to describe the transition to sophomore year. However, if the transition becomes less abrupt, sophomores would not feel like new students…again.

Ritchey Howe ’17 ([email protected]) will hopefully not write this article again junior year.