A Semester Summary

I can’t get over how good my first semester at college has been. Not a thing is missing from the way I had pictured the experience, or from what the experience could be. It is everything. From where I live to what I learn, I have loved it all.

First of all, my balance of classes couldn’t have been better. Deciding to take only one humanities class this semester was a really interesting examination of what is important to me -- I found that I really enjoy exploring disciplines that tickle my brain with challenge, while still being able to run to the Latin classroom for reminders of my intellectual ability. 

I fell in love with evolutionary biology. I’ve written essays on my love for nature but this semester’s bio class has given me a renewed awe and appreciation for the natural world and its magical life forms. The class also heightened my appreciation for the support system I have in place at school -- an almost-failed first exam made me reach out to every academic advisor around until I was sure I could make up my lost ground, and the final result was really rewarding, and led me to forge an unforeseen relationship with my sweetheart of a professor.

Similarly amazing was my experience with the students serving as course assistants for my math class, who helped me make sure I understood every last bit of everything -- I’m so blown away by how talented and multifaceted everyone around me is, and how willing to help their peers out. Take the math genius who sat me down, made me breathe, and helped me when I was freaking out about my first (not graded) problem set; or the professional manicurist who does Kendo and cuts my hair; or the lacrosse player who is my biology tutor; or the CA majoring in Math and English and Astrophysics with a Spanish citation who helps me review for every exam -- I have come in contact with amazing people.

Now, look at Reylon, my yangqin-playing, Wushu-doing, percussion-pounding businessman best friend. And Javier, my ballet-dancing, Annen-burgling, Colombia-loving ballerina brother. And Kirin, my oppression-fighting, poetry-reciting, hand-biting chatterbox soul sister. My friends are unreal. I never thought I could find people with dreams so similar to and talents so different from mine. I care immensely about these kids, and feel the affection oozing equally from them. It’s new, and it’s beautiful. We have shared studious days and heartwarming nights and lots of love.

Speaking of days and nights, I couldn’t have been assigned a more perfect roommate. I feel like I am getting smarter just by living with Eliza Chang. We have completely different academic and extracurricular interests but eerily similar habits and modes of expression -- plenty of common ground but so much to learn from one another. For two such contrasting personalities, we get “you guys are like twins” comments pretty often! Our room is delightful and colorful and neat. And the girls who live along my hall are like my sisters. The latest jubilation or complaint can be rushed indiscriminately to any girl on the third floor for an instant pep talk, heart-to-heart, or giggle sesh.

My a cappella group is insane. The Opportunes drag me out of nerd paradise for seven hours a week to sing, to laugh, and to drink in oxygen while making some wonderful music, and many jokes at my expense. Performing with these guys has been my most enjoyable and rewarding artistic experience, and they are an amazingly quirky group of people to know on campus.

My routine is ideal. I love that I have enough time to sleep plenty and eat more than necessary and meditate occasionally and work out rarely and just generally operate at a pace of life that is both stimulating and healthy. The pattern of my days is pleasant and happy and resembles what I would strive for once I enter the workplace or whatever awaits me in my professional future.

I couldn’t be more proud of my first semester. I’ve had a brilliant start to university and can only hope that each semester turns out as enjoyable and satisfying as this one.

Naturally Nizar

I kicked off the holiday season with two of my favorite boys last night, enjoying the opportunity to hear Naturally Sharp, Nizar's VTech a cappella group, sing Christmas carols in different parts of Reston Town Center. Patrick and I shivered in the cold as the Ho-Ho-Hokies sang by the big ol' tree in Fountain Square, warmed up during their performance at Clyde's, and grinned as they serenaded skaters at the ice rink. The group sang a set of Christmas songs and then exploded into some Natty classics -- spanning from Backstreet Boys to Disney. It was so great to see in person this group I've heard so much about from Niz! And wonderful, of course, to kick off winter break with my varlets.

A Wonderful Weekend

This weekend has been amazingly enjoyable and serene and I want to fight off the drowsiness effected by endless cold meds for a few minutes to write about it.

The end of the week started in grand style, with the fall "jam" of my a cappella group, The Harvard Opportunes -- this is our biggest performance of the semester. I had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day, but am proud to report that this was the most high-energy (and energizing) performance I've ever been a part of. (Videos will be up soon!) What made the night extra special was the plethora of people who came to see me! Almost all of my friends and advisors here on campus were able to come, and there's nothing like performing for an audience you love. Papa even flew up from Virginia to watch my show!

After our awesome gig, we retreated to one Opportune's room to celebrate our success and spend time with former members of the group. It was great to see everyone so excited after our show, and to meet the legends we "babies" often hear about during rehearsals.

On Saturday, I met Papa for lunch in Cambridge, still pumped from our performance. We ran a few errands around town, including purchasing a whole new batch of decongestants for me and beginning some birthday preparations for a very special almost-18-year-old. :)

After bidding him off to Brasilia, I returned to my room for a nap and some quick limerick-writing, and then met Javier in the square for a problem set date. We found a toasty corner of Starbucks and tried our hand at some weird limits while doing our best not to eavesdrop on the exceedingly strange conversation going on next to us. During this time, Javier had his first chai!

As the clock struck 11:50, we raced to Reylon's room to be there in time for the beginning of his birthday. As Rey, Alice, Mim, and Gita watched Japanese cartoons in their common room, Javier and I continued to slog away at our math, pausing only briefly for Reggaetonal interludes. At midnight, we sang a slow and torturous refrain of "happy birthday" to Reylon and force-fed him some cake before returning to our homework.

Around 2:00, Javier walked a coy me back to Greenough, where I fell quickly asleep, looking forward to more celebration this morning. This came in the form of a birthday brunch for Reylon at the wonderful Veggie Planet, where I got to meet his friend Colton and spend more time with his roommate Andrew.

We discussed our presents and our futures and managed to reference enough YouTube videos in the process that we had to return to Reylon's room after brunch to watch them all.

I'm now back in my dorm ready for a nap before Latin homework, dinner with Kirin, and a calculus exam. Huzzah!