Ask Ana 

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Advice for struggling undergrads, from a struggling undergrad. 

 

Perhaps mistakenly taking for granted the gift that is University funded coffee, I spent ALL of my Board Plus 3 weeks ago (at which point the LamCaf barista laughed in my face) and now I am both cash-strapped and caffeinedeprived…How will I go on? 

– Utterly Undercaffeinated  

 

Dear Utterly Undercaffeinated, 

I want to start off by expressing my deepest sympathies for your plight. I, too, have a love for coffee that knows no reason. My advice to you is a three-parter, so buckle up, Double-U.  

For starters, I really do recommend the coffee that can be found in your local dining hall. I deeply enjoy bringing my own mug, filling it up with some Fogbuster and then packing it with tons of cream and sugar while no one else is looking (read: judging me). While I do recommend this free solution to your problem, I also recognize that there is indeed something truly magical about having someone else make your coffee for you. 

That’s where the second part of my advice comes in. If you don’t already have one, you should really consider getting a job either on or near campus. I happen to know that taking a stroll along Mass Ave or JFK Street will result in the viewing of an almost overwhelming number of Help Wanted signs. You should also check out seo.harvard.edu, because there is a surprising number of establishments hiring on campus. Once you have a job and the dough starts rolling in, I recommend setting aside a reasonable (read: sizeable) portion of your income strictly for buying that caffeinated beverage that we both have admitted to a passion for. You could do that by transferring it to your Crimson Cash account, and then it almost feels like you’re still using Board Plus to buy your coffee. 

The final portion of my advice to you is this: never fear, for you have more Board Plus next year to look forward to. In the meantime, there are more ways to get free coffee, like going to the meet-and-greets that advertise the stuff via email spam. You’d be shocked at how many of them there are. I’m going to one this week. 

Wishing you all the best in your quest for caffeine, 

ANA 

 

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A friend of mine has two roommates who go out partying every night & come home drunk. My friend is a very academics-focused person; how do I gently tell these party animals that my friend would like to pass their classes thank you very much? 

– The Pennypacker Puffin 

 

Dear Pennypacker Puffin, 

I had a feeling an issue like this would find its way into my inbox, and I’m glad it did because I think that you are not alone in this issue. Assuming from your name that you are a freshman, I can see how a situation like this can feel delicate. For starters, the situation hits close to home for you because it involves a friend, but you still have some distance from it because you aren’t the one dealing with the dreaded party animals every night. It can be tough to watch a friend be miserable due to inconsiderate roommates, but it is even harder to try to insert yourself into roommate drama that is not your own. 

I really suggest that you avoid being the one to tell the party animals to ease up on the partying. You may find yourself caught in the crossfire between feuding roomies, and playing the beleaguered middle-man is no fun in situations like this. What you should do is one of these two things: tell your friend to be assertive, or tell them to go to a proctor and have them lay down the law. The first option makes a lot of sense here mainly because your friend needs to remember that they have as much a right to the space as their roommates, and that includes having the right to enjoy the room in a state of peace and quiet every once in a while. 

If your friend doesn’t feel brave enough to be assertive with their roommates when something isn’t okay, that is a sign that there is a serious problem with the dynamic of the room and your friend should really consider getting a proctor to help out, even if it’s just for the proctor to act as the aforementioned middle-man. That is, after all, part of their job as a proctor. 

If neither of these options seem viable, I don’t really recommend this, but you could always have your friend share this on social media of some sort and passive-aggressively tag their roommates in the post. At the very least, it will get a conversation started about setting some ground-rules for their space. 

Wishing you and your friend luck in taming the party animals, 

ANA  

 

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I think my roommate is turning into Hamlet. She’s taken to wearing black, carrying around a skull, and stabbing people hidden behind tapestries. I’m open-minded, but this is out of hand. Something is rotten in the state of Massachusetts!!! 

– The Horatio of Harvard University 

 

Dear Horatio, 

I must say I’ve never come across a problem quite like this. Here’s my advice: as long as the ghost of your roommate’s father doesn’t start making random unexplained appearances in your dorm room in the dead of night, you guys should be safe, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I also think that maybe you should consider trying to gently ease your roommate out of her Hamlet addiction by hiding the skull and checking behind your tapestries daily to make sure that there aren’t any people back there that your roommate may be tempted to stab during accusatory confrontations. If none of this helps, I encourage you to just roll with it. It would be really cool to tell your kids twenty years down the line that your college experience was literally like living in a Shakespeare play. 

Expressing both concern and mild envy for your situation, 

ANA 

  

ANA ([email protected]) loves giving semi-helpful advice, and looks forward to giving more in the future!