The blog of The Harvard Crimson

How To: Recreate Harvard From Home

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{shortcode-f81315f6e69a5663404fb5a67ba565e3aee743a9}The ever-approaching finals season may have you watching lectures at double speed, contemplating life in the shower, or truly just wishing for some ~authentic~ Harvard experiences. For those of us who are still stuck off campus, fret not. As you push towards the end of what is *hopefully* your last remote semester, here are some tips to make campus seem a little less distant.

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Making yourself HUDS dishes

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Although home-cooked meals can never grow old, there is something special about the collaborative dining food experience that you may miss. An easy way to solve this would be recreating your favorite HUDS dishes at home. Start by obtaining a tray or brown paper bag and creating a line with your family members around the house. This can trigger the familiar sensation of walking through the dining hall or the FlyBy (no, the other one) line. After enjoying your top HUDS meal (caesar salad always slaps), find a random rack in your house to simulate the dish return area. Your parents may not like this, but it’s worth it.

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Wearing Harvard merch 24/7

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What better way to recreate the Harvard experience than constantly reminding yourself and the people around you of it? Start by finding and investing in your top Harvard merch. At home the options are endless: Harvard shirts, sweaters, sweats, socks, pajamas, and even underwear. Somehow, the COOP doesn’t sell face masks, so make sure you get that buy that oh-so-subtle Harvard facemask from some third-party vendor so that everyone knows you go to “a small liberal arts college in Boston.”

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The Perks

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Remember those Harvard perks when searching for snacks? Try pretending your $65 of Boardplus still exists at your local supermarket. The cashier may be confused, but it’s on Harvard’s dime, right? Another favorite classic memory you can recreate at home is “Brain Break.” Don’t forget to buy your favorite off-brand cereals like “Cinnamon Toasters,” “Marshmallow Mateys,” “Fruit Rounds,” and “Cocoa Peanut Butter Spheres.” These delicious breakfast snacks combined with any assortment of random leftovers in your fridge at 12 a.m. will immediately transport you back into your house dining hall.

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Hahvahd’s Traditions

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You may have the food and the fits down, but one thing that really makes Harvard are the unique and confusing traditions we have. Start simple by referring to your parents and siblings as your “blockmates.” If you’re feeling ambitious, don’t forget to streak through your neighborhood *with a mask* before finals. This special Harvard tradition may not always be socially acceptable, but it is definitely doable, as long as you’re willing to shed your dignity along with your clothes. Just be careful if you pee on your neighbor’s lawn — but then again, if the dog can do it, so can you (note: Flyby does not endorse public urination).

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Follow these steps, and who knows! Maybe you’ll be featured on Dean Khurana’s Instagram ;) All in all, we miss Harvard and Harvard life, but hopefully these little tips can make you smile or at least contemplate the decisions you make on campus.

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Harvard Houses (Taylor's Version)

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{shortcode-92c46917b3c316e4f5af668a97acd3062ab41885}It’s been nearly two whole weeks since Taylor Swift released her re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which means Swifties everywhere are bored out of their minds. To help with that, Flyby has created the only vibe chart you need. Who cares about which House you’re in when you could be a Taylor Swift album instead? Baby, just say yes! ...to our picks ;){shortcode-b23d10d74cab9d2f0fbcfe380f0440a0ac5b225c}

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Love It / Hate It: Zoom Backgrounds

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Love It: Fake it till you make it — Tina Chen

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Zoom convenience has really hit these days, especially when I can roll out of bed 5 minutes before class, or even attend lectures from the comfort of my bed. But thanks to a magical combination of Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature and a specially selected virtual background, I can at least pretend that my life is not that big of a mess. There’s no need to worry that someone will see the state of my blanket and piece together that I had just woken up. All there is to be concerned about is that pset due in 24 hours that I have yet to even look at…

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Let’s face it, ever since the pandemic started, we’ve all developed our coping mechanisms, from spending hours making whipped coffee to developing a plant collection. Now that we’re back on a school schedule, Zoom backgrounds have added some much needed spice to the mundane routine of online classes. Sure, you can show off your room in your Zoom call, but you can also pretend you’re on a tropical island with the wind blowing through your hair. You decide which is better. They also have potential to be great conversation starters, whether it be a classmate or even your professor inquiring about your video background of yourself walking past the camera. Best of all, the possibilities are endless! Check out some of Flyby’s suggestions for best Zoom backgrounds for your next class!

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Hate It: You lost me at “virtual” — Matylda A. Urbaniak

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As much as I love attending class from the comfort of my dorm (Goodbye, running across the Yard in the cold!) it’s true that it’s much harder to learn about… the boa programming language? The cobra language? The snake language? (Wait, no, it’s definitely not a finance thing…) In CS50 than it normally would be. Who can resist the allure of scrolling through TikTok, or even better, Flyby, all day? Enter the Zoom camera feature: now you can see all of your classmates, just like in real school! But wait! Why is your professor’s head coming off of his body? Why is your screen being assaulted with a gif of Among Us spacemen behind someone at 9 am???? The ugly truth is that Zoom backgrounds leave you even more confuzzled than after taking your midterm (if your midterm wasn’t canceled under mysterious circumstances and replaced by a problem set, that is), and who needs that?

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Also, in a semester where we’ve all been looking for excuses to slide into the zoom DMs of the cutie in our section, what better way to ~subtly~ make yourself seem really cool? Did your crush just mention that they want to go to Mexico? Boom, put a physical Mexican flag on your wall! Not only will they think that you’re cool, they’ll probably also slide into your DMs (or so I’ve been told. If the kid from my Math 1b section is reading this, help me out here! Dinner by the river on Friday, babe?) Overhear them say something about Avatar in your breakout room? Get a poster of those funky blue people in your background! They were definitely referring to that movie, right? Nobody will call you out for making a fool out of yourself, and you just might catch the eye of that special someone. Or, you know, you could just talk to them, but not all of us are that heroic.

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8 Pandemic Phrases That Would Normally be Bizarre

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{shortcode-3b9b316fa8b41345f2be6693c27fa05a481a0ff2}Do you ever wake up from your mid-lecture nap and suddenly have this moment where nothing feels real? Like, why are you watching your lecture online, from your childhood bedroom, with damp hair slightly scented like seasoning from when you passed out face down in your bowl of ramen?

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Me too. It hits me especially hard when I’m watching Netflix (definitely not mid-lecture) and the characters are gathering in groups without masks. Today’s pandemic world feels like an alternate dimension, yet we keep hearing the term “new normal”. And, after taking a step back, you realize how much society has already adapted to this “new normal” without fully being aware of it. As proof, here are some common phrases we’ve started saying because of the pandemic that would have sounded crazy to us before ’rona moved in.

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“So sorry, I swear it’s just my allergies! So sorry!”

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Never before have people been so apologetic about their allergies. Or been so desperate to stifle sneezes. Or coughs. Or sniffles. Or anything that may sound like a cold, even if it’s not actually a symptom of the coronavirus. Some days, it’s just better to stay home and not buy those bananas you needed in order to make the fifth banana bread of this week.

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“Please remain socially distant and six feet apart at all times.”

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This may sound perfectly normal to us now, but think back to a year ago. How would you react if the lady at the grocery store told you to stay away from all other human beings in the vicinity? It would just be weird. That is all.

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“Sorry, you can’t come inside without a mask.”

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This one’s in the same category. Seems very reasonable now, but back in the pre-rona ages, this one would have sounded just bizarre. Is this some sort of coup? Are we all robbing the store together? Or are we performing surgery in the middle of the store? Is there some hazardous chemical on the walls that we shouldn’t be breathing in? Are masks the new fashion statement? A pandemic would probably be the last thing that comes to mind.

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“Oh, sorry, I forgot to put my hand down.”

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Ah, yes, the beauty of Zoom classes. Think about it. You forgot to put your hand down? Obviously, in the Zoom context this phrase makes perfect sense, but if someone overheard you from another room before Zoom classes were a thing, they may or may not have taken you for a lunatic.

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Constantly telling everyone to “stay safe”

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Whether it’s when you’re catching up with an old friend or signing off powerfully worded emails to your professors, you keep telling people to “stay safe.” In normal times, we would have thought that was just strange. Like, how did you know I was about to send that risky text to my ex? Just food for thought.

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“I’m getting such bad maskne.”

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It’s a thing. Wearing masks and sweating in them for hours on end has been negatively affecting our complexions throughout the pandemic (it’s definitely not caused in part by all of the baked goods we’ve been consuming). But “maskne” is an entirely new slang word that didn’t exist before Coronavirus. A year or so ago, if someone overheard you saying that, they would have either been plain confused, or utterly disappointed in their inability to keep up with all the modern day lingo.

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Elbow tap!

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I’ll let you think about this one on your own.

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Well, that’s all for now. Stay safe ;)

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Flyby Investigates: Ways To Stay Motivated for the Last Weeks of the Semester

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{shortcode-e7b844403d298b86159c10938ffec3d13a12a8d5}Let’s face it — life since the pandemic has been quite the ride. None of us could have foreseen even half of this year’s events, yet here we are waking up one minute before lectures (or, you know, two hours past), reaching the peak social experience that is Zoom, and watching time fly by (pun absolutely intended) and disappear into a time warp. With every month, it grows exceedingly more difficult to stay at least somewhat motivated and catch up on the 10 lectures you’ve missed. Luckily, flyby is here to help you finish off the last stretch of the semester strong!

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Fix up your workspace for ~optimal productivity~

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As much as you may claim that your utterly chaotic workspace is simply an “organized chaos and you definitely know where everything is located,” don’t deny the fact that you’ve spent three months looking for a pencil and eventually found it under the pile of laundry that lives on your chair. Your surrounding environment has a huge impact on your productivity, so it’s time to finally change things up. The Spruce magazine recommends a few steps you can take to completely transform your workspace, including practical storage solutions, the addition of greenery, new lighting, or even an inspirational vision board. But if you’re not feeling up for all that, at least put the laundry away already. We believe in you.

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Apps to help you stay focused

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Can’t stop reaching for your phone every five minutes when there’s no good reason for doing so? You’re definitely not alone. Mobile app developers have built some adorable applications that can help motivate you to study and stay off your phone. For example, a popular app named Forest has you plant a virtual tree when you begin working, and as time passes the tree continues to grow as long as you don’t leave the app. You can also collaborate with friends to plant entire forests. As an added bonus, the app is partnered with an organization that actually plants trees. If you leave the app, however, the tree dies. Don’t do it! SaVE thE TreES!

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Get on top of your sleep routine.

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I know you may be laughing at this one, but seriously, at least try. Despite what you may have heard, it’s not actually possible to catch up on sleep. Not only do you feel like complete crap (and nap through Zoom lectures) when you don’t get enough sleep, prolonged sleep deprivation can actually be pretty dangerous. Our very own Harvard Med School calls out our sh*tty sleep habits by noting several health hazards that come with sleep deprivation, including anything from anxiety, depression, obesity, and diabetes, to an increased risk of car accidents. Ever zone out mid-lecture? You’re actually lapsing into a “microsleep” where you temporarily lose all consciousness. Who knows what you’re capable of doing in that span of time, god forbid you accidentally unmute yourself and don’t realize it until after you’ve passionately performed an Ariana Grande song cover to the entire class. Plus, there’s no good reason to be sleep deprived. We all know you’re just watching TikToks at 3 a.m. and not actually doing anything productive.

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Take breaks. But, like, purposeful ones.

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I know what you’re thinking: the problem is I take too many breaks! No, the problem is that you probably aren’t smart about the breaks you take. Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro study technique? Aside from it’s awesome name that makes me think of spaghetti, it’s actually proven to be incredibly effective. Essentially, this method says to study for intervals of 25 minutes, taking five minute breaks in between, and after four sessions take a thirty minute break. The University of British Columbia gives a short blurb on the Pomodoro method, and it’s definitely worth checking out. When you do take breaks, consider stepping outside or doing some jumping jacks so that you can pretend you exercised. Plus, you’ll feel as though your breaks are perfectly justified (which they are!).

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Have something to look forward to.

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We all know that this is not the ideal time to travel or plan holiday parties of any sort. But try to plan something fun for the future so that you have something to look forward to. Maybe that means a family camping trip, or finally taking on a project you haven’t gotten around to. Or maybe even go psycho with some fresh spring decor this year and deck out your home until it’s no longer recognizable. Or knit your dog one of those adorable Christmas sweaters. Or knit yourself a sweater. I’m just throwing stuff out there, but get creative! We can all make the best of our situations, even if nothing is ideal this year. Remember, we’re all in it together.

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In short, finding motivation isn’t a hopeless task. Even the most minor changes can be complete productivity game-changers. So hang in there, buy a Snuggie, tune into those last lectures, and have a wonderful rest of the semester!

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People Watching in Harvard Yard

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{shortcode-1fe00d09ca22ced9baace9f0c6514bb3ab83967a}Harvard Yard: Where an elite college meets a popular tourist attraction. The Yard is home to sleep-deprived students, surprisingly bold squirrels, YouTubers interviewing students for their 10k subscribers, and of course, tourists. For any new students coming to campus, here’s who you’ll find while rushing to Annenberg.

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Spy vs. Spy

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At first glance, you may be confused. Is this a proctor taking pictures to use as incriminating evidence of you sitting six feet too close to your friends? Or maybe they’re a Yale student, coming to campus to dig up our darkest secrets. Never mind, turns out they’re just another tourist who will go back home with blurry photos of Harvard students.

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Touching John Harvard’s Foot

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Honestly, all we feel is pity. Don’t you see the shadows of a stream under the foot? The only remnants of a night most of us have forgotten? It does offer us some entertainment, however, seeing those bright-eyed tourists rub that foot like Aladdin’s lamp. Oh no, are you licking it? No no, please don’t, I beg you.

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Fig Magazine

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If you’re studying on the steps of Widener Library, you’re sure to see at least one person posing in front for the classic Harvard picture. Use this opportunity to kickstart your modeling career! Smile at the camera and give a thumbs up, hiding the fact that your pset is slowly killing you inside.

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Clueless (college, not high school)

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For some reason, these tourists tend to walk in packs. They manage to somehow cover the entire width of the sidewalk when you’re just trying to get to Annenberg before lunch ends. Bonus points for when they ask you for directions to the Law School and you’re just as lost as them.

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Fitness goons

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There’s countless places to exercise. The gym, the Charles, a playground. For some reason, however, some people choose the Yard. For those of us there to socialize, nothing really sets the tone like a rando grunting while doing lunges up the steps nearby. Props to y’all for staying active, but can you take it elsewhere?

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YouTubers

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These are easy to spot. They’re usually carrying a tripod, and expensive-looking camera, and generally look much more put together than the hungover students in sweats walking to their 9 a.m. classes. If you’re lucky enough, you might appear in their “Are Harvard students smarter than a fifth grader?” video later, making a fool of yourself. How’s a comp sci major supposed to know who the last queen of France was?

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All in all, Harvard Yard is still a heartwarming place for all of us. Every time you make the trek in front of Widener and feel the stares of what seems like hundreds of eyes, just remember that you too can sit on the steps and watch as people traverse through the Yard. Just don’t slip and fall, that’d be pretty embarrassing.

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PSA: Guide to Visitas 2021 is Here!

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{shortcode-9d61141244804a39e1a3d03a5344b7daa157410e}Check out this year's edition of Flyby’s annual Guide to Visitas feature, where we’ve got the inside scoop on all things Harvard student life, advice from current undergraduates and faculty, and ways to make the most of this ~virtual~ week. Welcome to Harvard, Class of 2025!

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Advice From: Class of 2021

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{shortcode-d226f2c9f01ec815d31f39ec45e9f4baa84ff5b7}With Visitas coming up quick and Decision Day not too far behind, you may be feeling just a bit clueless about what this whole “college” thing is really all about. Lucky for you, our senior writers have been through it all, from the overwhelming number of club comps freshman year to senior thesising hell. As their time at Harvard comes to an end, enjoy a few words of wisdom from Flyby’s own seniors in the Class of 2021.

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Prioritize making friendships and memories that you can look back on in 30 years, rather than trying to take the hardest classes, having the most extracurriculars, or landing the best job.

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— Hannah J. Humes ’21

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Dip your toe into everything that seems even mildly interesting to you — whether it’s academics, extracurriculars, or something else. You’ll eventually have to choose, of course. You can’t do everything, and you definitely shouldn’t overwork yourself. Still, you might fall in love with something that you never expected you would fall in love with, and that will make it all worth it.

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— Lorenzo F. Manuali ’21

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Harvard’s campus is amazing, but don’t forget to explore the nearby Squares (like Porter, Davis, and Central) and Boston itself! Make a bucket list for each year rather than an ultimate bucket list, because your four years will fly by (no pun intended) before you know it!

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— Cindy Li ’21

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Do the things you care the most about, and don’t let other people pressure you in those decisions. Writing a thesis, doing research, or joining a certain club isn’t worth it if it never brings you any joy — you have to do what’s going to make YOU happy, not anyone else. And don’t worry, it really will all work out eventually!

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— Claire J. Hoffman ’21

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I know grades seem like they’re the be all, end all of school, but as the years have gone by, I’ve tried to focus on doing my best within parameters that let me be as happy as I can be. Doing things that fulfill you — hanging out with friends, playing video games, volunteering, acting, whatever — are so much more important than a paper only two people are ever going to read (if you even read your papers all the way through once you’ve written them).

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Be conscientious and compassionate to others, and leave petty high school behavior in, well, high school. It’s old and it’s annoying. If you notice people around you exhibiting those behaviors, really evaluate for yourself whether or not they’re worth it. Also! You don’t have to make all of your friends right away! One of my closest friends I met during her senior fall, and we only knew each other in person for a semester + two months before getting kicked out. On that note, befriend upperclassmen. Advising here sucks tbh which I’m probably not supposed to say, but let upperclassmen be your guide. Have fun! Be safe! Try new things! And don’t let imposter syndrome get you down. xoxo.

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— Rocket Claman ’21.5

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How To: Actually Get Something Out of Virtual Visitas

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{shortcode-5e3f6137cc3eaace2d03b014df60ac7a4a0509ba}For another year, Visitas is being held in the comfort of your own home. What could be better than listening to how ~transformative~ your years at Harvard will be while chilling in your pajamas in bed? Although it may be tempting to sign into Zoom and podcast the sessions as you do something else (maybe listen to the new Taylor Swift album?), we compiled a couple things that hopefully will help you actually get something out of Virtual Visitas.

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Icebreakers And Possibly Friends

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Yes, there will be breakout rooms and yes, there will be icebreaker activities. Having an interesting fact about you or where you come from can hopefully ease some of that awkward breakout room tension. If you see someone who looks cool and you’d like to be friends with, don’t be shy! Shoot them a Zoom DM and ask for their number or socials! Everyone is looking to make new friends so they're probably as scared as you are. Don’t be afraid to join group chats, join the smaller group hangouts and even plan to go to events with people! Buy into the hype of the event you’re attending and don't be afraid to actually participate.

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~Networking~

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Is it a friendly virtual hangout or a mutually beneficial networking meeting? At Harvard you’ll never know. Although there is no substitute for meeting someone for a coffee in the Yard, we have the next best thing. In the case “let’s Zoom sometime!” becomes an actual meeting, here’s how to make a lasting impression on your fellow peers. Dress almost-but-not-too-casually in your Harvard sweatshirt, make sure your Harvard banner is visible in the background, and name drop all the club events and people you’ve met. Extra points if you practice in the mirror how to look casually aloof as you mention how you interned at Google, saved the turtles, and was class valedictorian in your senior year. Don’t be shy to humble brag, that’s the Harvard way! And remember, these networks — oops, friendships — are going to be lifelong, so be sure to add them on LinkedIn!

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Facebook and Freebies

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Facebook groups don’t have much going for them, but once in a while you come across a diamond in the rough and find some cool events with free merch or food. To stay updated on all the events, join all the Harvard Class of ’25 Facebook groups, GroupMe(s), and Instagram pages. You can also make your own smaller groups as a way to keep in contact with people throughout Virtual Visitas and beyond. Harvard College’s main Instagram account is also a good stop to stay updated on general news and updates. And of course, follow flyby at @flybyblog to keep up with our Guide to Visitas!

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Concentrations and Labs

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Are you already wondering which classes you should take in the fall? Have you heard the horror stories of CS50? Is there a research lab you want to join? Look no further! Be sure to stop by the events on academic advising, research opportunities and concentrations (fancy Harvard speak for major) to ask all your burning questions on whether or not you should take Math 21a, Chemistry 15, and Physics 19 all in one semester while being a research assistant at a lab (spoiler, you shouldn’t). To get the most out of the sessions, take notes, have some questions ready, and even sign up for drop-in hours. If you have no idea what concentration or classes you want to take, that’s also okay! You will have plenty of time in the fall to decide which classes to take, so don’t stress.

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Clubs

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In high school, you probably played a sport and a musical instrument, did mock trials, and still somehow had time for five other activities. Many try (and fail) to keep the same I’m-in-ten-clubs energy, but very few (read: none) maintain it. Clubs are a great way to meet new people, especially cool upperclassmen. Attend a variety of club events, even the ones that just seem remotely interesting. Step out of your comfort zone by attending a dance event, see what pre-professional clubs have to offer, meet new people in cultural groups, and explore different niches! Don’t know what club events to attend? Have no fear! Simply open the Visitas calendar or The Hub, close your eyes and blindly point at your screen. You landed on flyby? What a coincidence!

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Once your GCal is full and overlapping with events, you are ready to take on Virtual Visitas and actually leave better than you came. But, make sure to not overextend yourself! Be reasonable, but also remember that you’re at Virtual Visitas to explore and learn — don’t overcommit, and allow some space for spontaneity. Have a great Visitas!

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Plan Your Virtual Visitas and We'll Predict Your Harvard Future

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{shortcode-a3489411fdd2a4b71d18693d24a1fe18ea7b61ca}You’ve done it! You’ve impressed all of your relatives and friends, successfully completed your five-year plan from eighth grade, and updated all of your social media accounts to include H ‘25 in your bio. Now what? As shocking as it may be, there is a future at Harvard and after Harvard. Keep reading to find out yours based entirely on your Virtual Visitas experience (yes, it’s decided that early).

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1. Which club events are you planning on attending?

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a) All of them! I just don’t know when to stop!

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b) Just the ones that sound interesting enough to take full advantage of my five minute attention span.

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c) Anything that has finance or consulting or money in its name!

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d) I pretend I do not see

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2. What’s the random webinar that somehow made it into your schedule?

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a) A HUDS presentation. I hunger for knowledge and food alike!

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b) Something useful that I might have the chance to take advantage of soon, like study abroad! (Author’s note: RIP)

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c) Larry’s Welcome. Never too early to get my network on.

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d) A Bridgerton rewatch

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3. How have you been meeting people from your class?

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a) I created the class GroupMe, so they all know me already!

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b) Created a Facebook just to send some ~friend requests~ a la Zuck

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c) My LinkedIn just crossed 500+ connections

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d) I accept their Instagram follow requests after wondering how they found me

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4. What is your ~intended~ concentration?

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a) I’ll explore some biology classes and then make my decision!

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b) Probably not anything STEM-related...

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c) Finance. Wait. Econ then.

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d) Why can’t we just call them majors?

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5. Most confusing Harvard lingo?

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a) What’s the difference between El Jefe’s and Felipe’s?

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b) Is Harvard Time a thing of the past?

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c) What are all these Houses and how do I get one?

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d) Anything with an acronym

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Results

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Mostly As: Over-Achieving Pre-Med

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You’ve probably got another 10-year plan ready to go. And that’s totally great! Just remember to let yourself have some fun while you grind for these next four years and impress everyone you talk to!

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Mostly Bs: The Well-Balanced Person We All Want to Be

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Work-life balance? You’ve been besties for years, and we’re jealous of you for that. We (and the people from Harvard who will ask you for donations the moment you graduate) can’t wait to see what you will achieve.

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Mostly Cs: Proud Snake

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The worst kinds of snakes are those that pretend not to be. But you? You’re a snake and you’re proud. Whether it’s telling anyone who will listen about your stock portfolio or posting all of your finance-related clubs on your LinkedIn, you have a clear goal and will slither your way to success.

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Mostly Ds: Still Figuring It Out

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Let’s be real, this one’s most of us. The best part? You’ll have about four years to figure it out! You might change your mind multiple times, change it back, and finally actually find yourself. Can we ask for anything more?

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How To: Make Friends (And Foes) During Virtual Visitas

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{shortcode-fb005a1299c4f752d3e643c48faf438d5b4b1ef1}Congratulations on getting into Harvard! Now that you’re in, you’re probably going to Visitas, which is our version of admitted students weekend that’s taking place on (where else?) Zoom this year. During Visitas, you’ll hear from several important grown-ups about the ~transformative experience~ that awaits, but you’ll also have the chance to interact with classmates for the first time! Read on for a few helpful tips on how to make friends (or perhaps foes) during Virtual Visitas.

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Friend: Participate in icebreaker activities.

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Sure, the game may be cheesier than a One Direction song from 2012, but it may help you loosen up and stimulate those handy endorphins! From Charades to Two Truths and A Lie, be a good sport and bond with the faces on your screen, who may be the people you’ll spend the next four years of your life with. By the end of the activity, maybe you’ll even gain a buddy or two! Just make sure to actually note their names and grab their contacts…

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Foe: Make it clear that you’re already so over it, because you totally played this childish game when you attended that elite summer program two years ago.

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Remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression! Visitas is an opportunity for you to meet completely new people from all over the world, so leave that judgy look behind and go along with the activity, no matter how excruciating the Zoom world can be.

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Friend: Pay attention to other people’s introductions and stories.

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Whether someone is telling a funny anecdote about how they got a scar on their arm or they’re spilling their heart out about their lifelong hobby, lend an ear to your new classmate. Each person at Harvard was accepted because they have their own special something to bring to the table, and it’s up to you to be receptive to learning from them. Your peers are some of the coolest people you’ll ever get to speak with, so why not start now?

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Foe: Brag incessantly about the nonprofit you started and the awards you received and the perfect standardized test scores you attained and the celebrities you met and the number of Ivy Leagues you got into and...

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Yeah… we stopped listening already. Think twice before you flaunt your accomplishments, because people would rather be friends with someone with a big heart than a big resume. Take pride in what brings you joy, but know the difference between “chatting about your interests” and “unloading every award you’ve ever won.”

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Friend: Be real about your emotions.

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Many of you are probably “nervous but also excited!” and you should own that feeling! Don’t be pressured to downplay anything just because you fear that you’ll seem too eager or not strong enough. Authenticity is key to long-lasting friendships.

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Foe: Act like uprooting your entire life to live in an arbitrary city in Massachusetts hundreds of miles away from your family is the breeziest of breezes, and anyone who doesn’t agree is so below you.

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Of course, there are many amazing things to look forward to in college, like the new friends and the (potential?) parties, but the transition poses unique challenges for everyone. Remember that everyone experiences this transition differently, so try to understand these different perspectives and be a supportive friend!

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Friend: Smile!

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Especially on a Zoom screen, the best thing you can offer is a sincere smile. You’ll give off major #goodvibes.

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Foe: Glare at the person who’s threatening your place in the spotlight.

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You may have been your small town’s star student your entire life, but one of the most important lessons to learn in life is that it’s nice to let others shine too. How would you feel if someone rolled their eyes or snickered whenever you were talking? Do your best to show some enthusiasm, even if you are in the same childhood bedroom that you’ve been Zooming from for a while now.

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Friend: Add someone to a group chat they didn’t know about.

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Whether it’s a cultural affinity email listserv or a class-wide Facebook page, share the love and help others join new communities within Harvard. These group chats are a primary way to get to know (read: lurk on) your peers before the fall semester begins, and who knows – maybe someone will do the same for you too!

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Foe: Follow someone on Instagram, accept their follow-back request, and then immediately unfollow them.

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This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’re definitely not developing any new friendships from trying to increase your social media presence at the expense of others.

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Visitas is the first opportunity you have to meet your peers, so try to make a good first impression — but also keep in mind that Zoom Visitas isn’t going to make or break your college experience. As long as you put yourself out there and treat everyone with kindness, you’ll do just fine!

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Everything I Didn’t Learn From Virtual Visitas

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{shortcode-69502dd4f740a786aa7b779eac6b13fc9cedb0d0}Once upon a time, I was disappointed when I learned Visitas was turned into Virtual-tas. Though I did not get the vlog-worthy admitted student weekend, the week-long Snapchat takeovers from Harvard were enough to get me to commit. Still, despite Virtual-tas being four days longer than the typical in-person event, there was so much of the true Harvard experience that was left out. So here you go, pre-frosh. Here’s a short list of all the things I didn’t learn from Virtual Visitas that I wished I had.

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Don’t Wear the Lanyards

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Sometimes, Harvard doesn’t feel like a college but rather a summer program full of stressed-out, sleep-deprived kids with identical lanyards. Pre-frosh, for the love of Flyby, do not wear your lanyard around your neck. Put your key in your wallet or even a fanny pack, you will look a lot less dorky than the first year walking around with that crimson-colored albatross around their neck.

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Avoid These Bathrooms

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In 2019, Janani Sekar ’23 gave us this wonderful rating of bathrooms on campus.

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For the impatient and desperate students, here’s a TLDR version:

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The ones in the basement of the Science Center: just no.

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The ones in Lamont: a bit scary, approach with caution.

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The ones in Northwest Labs: only if you have to.

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The Cost of Signing Up for 100+ Mailing Lists

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Pre-frosh, before you get too excited and subscribe to every single mailing you could get your hands on, imagine this scenario: it is 8 a.m. and you’re woken up by the sound of 50 email notifications from the clubs you signed up for on a whim in September and have since dropped, advertising the same event from the IOP. Save yourself the trouble now.

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Don’t Overcommit

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{shortcode-10c2634c1b809c75ff8070b19aabbd3a46b6d974}Sure, that youthful straight-out-of-high school enthusiasm might say that you CAN manage all the different clubs that you attended the info sessions for. But unless this looks like a fun Saturday to you, limit your involvement to just those activities that you truly are passionate about.

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How to Drop the H Bomb

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Seriously. Do I just come right out and introduce myself as a Harvard student or do I play it cool and just vaguely mention that I got to college “near Boston”? What should I say to not come across as a braggy snobby Ivy Leaguer? Send help.

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Avoid HUDS Banh Mi

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It is my biggest fear that someone would try the Banh Mi at HUDS and then think that Vietnamese cuisine sucks for the rest of their lives. So here’s a PSA for all the pre-frosh: avoid HUDS Banh Mi and google what actual Banh Mi looks like before you judge it. To actually know the taste of authentic Banh Mi (Bon Me in the Square… isn’t quite it), take a train to Dorchester and check out Banh Mi Ba Le. Trust me, it will be worth it. — signed, a very frustrated Viet crimed

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Should You Sit Through That Random Club's Visitas Meeting?

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{shortcode-7a2c5ff58dfa9c6f8d2d43f4cd9a4be31fc7e9f6}The number of events at Visitas can be overwhelming, especially on Zoom! With so many clubs planning exciting events, it can be difficult to pick and choose just a few. If you're deciding whether to skip or stay at an event, check out this flowchart to see if it's truly worth it!

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What They Won’t Tell You During Your Virtual Tour

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{shortcode-9835dd9f18cf5a382d0c27e50cd646baff682f64}Even though we lost track of time a couple months ago — anyone know if it’s still February? — we’re fast approaching the end of the spring semester. For high school seniors, this means it’s everyone’s been talking about Where You’re Going To College for, like, a billion years. You might have taken plenty of virtual tours by now, but it’s no secret that college tours don’t tell you the whole story. Curious about what the fabled Harvard Yard is actually like? Consider this your in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour of the Yard, courtesy of the lovely writers of Flyby Blog.

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John Harvard Statue

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As you embark on your first (virtual) journey through the Yard, you’ll inevitably be drawn to everyone’s favorite not-actually-John-Harvard John Harvard statue. Widely known for its not-so-secret tradition involving a certain foot — touch for luck if you’re not a student, pee on it if you are — every student knows about the piss, and if you listen as you walk, you can hear the Very Knowledgeable, Not-Like-The-Other-Tourists tourists imparting this knowledge to their friends.

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You will be late to class at least once due to Yard crowds flocking to the statue, so be prepared to reroute your walk or get comfortable with hustling through groups lined up to touch John’s shiny foot. It’s more than likely that during some late-night adventure, peeing on the statue will seem like a fantastic idea. However, approach this tradition with caution: you or someone you know may inevitably be that one person who breaks an arm while scaling Piss Mountain. And, unless you want to see many half-drunk students trying to ~add to the tradition~, we’d personally recommend avoiding this tour spot at night.

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Widener Library

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Back in the olden days, Widener was known for three things: tourists, being the go-to spot for cute senior thesis pics, and sex. As of last fall, though, the Widener steps have become the spot for outdoor socializing, and apparently “meet me at the steps” is, like, a common phrase. There’s a lot to look forward to about the stately study space in the fall, whether you’re chilling on the steps or actually studying in the Stacks.

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First things first, the validation of walking up the steps and studying in such an aesthetic place is truly unparalleled. Also, exploring the Stacks with friends (or friends-with-benefits) is always a fun time, since it’s truly a labyrinth in there! P.S., we’re not telling you that C West is a dark, more secluded corner of the Stacks, but we’re also not not telling you that. ;) Finally, Widener doesn’t just look better in the winter — it is better. Dear reader, it’s up to you to take part in upholding the time-honored tradition of sledding the Widener steps on a Dhall tray after a major snowfall. We hope you’re up to the challenge.

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Lamont Library

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Next up on this Urban Dictionary of virtual tours, we’ve got the ever-beloved Lamont Library. Sure, it may be unassuming on the outside, but on the inside? It’s a wonderland of students (affectionately known as Lamonsters) camped in its cozy seating on the main floor, or on the top floor, a strict no-noise zone with plenty of desks for doing *actual work*. The built-in cafe, a.k.a LamCaf, has all the coffee and snacks you could ever need for those inevitable all-nighters. If you’re really looking to dig into a pset or paper and not move for hours (or dare we say, days) or just don’t want to wade through tourists on your way to study (@Widener), Lamont’s your girl. Note: one of our writers loves Lamont with a burning passion, and stands firm in the claim that LamCaf serves the best lattes on campus. If they bring back BoardPlus, just accept that you’re going to waste invest plenty of your money here.

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Sever Hall

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Ah, Sever Hall. Good, reliable, and only smells a little bit like old people and students’ tears. As you may know from a more “traditional” tour, this classroom building will be a familiar site for anyone exploring GenEd or humanities courses — i.e., we would be shocked if you escape your freshman year without taking at least *one* class in this classic Harvard building. Don’t be scared of the chaotic entrance right when you walk in: here, you’ll really get to see a mix of everyone Harvard has to offer. Not to mention, the benches in each hallway are prime spots to get all the dirt on your section buddy’s latest entryway gossip.

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A pro-tip from us to you: make sure to go get a coffee from LamCafe before you settle in for that next class! With the true power combination of being unusually warm, lacking caffeine, and a way-too-soothing professor’s voice in the background, you’ll inevitably find yourself snoozing through a class or two (don’t worry, we won’t judge). Now’s the time to break the high school habit of asking to go to the bathroom (especially in lecture classes — we promise, you can just go) and take a short break down in the basement where you’ll find the restrooms and a vending machine perfect for a mid-class snack.

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The Warm Spot By Canaday

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Have you ever thought to yourself, “Man, I really wish there was a vaguely garbage-scented patch of hot air right at the border between the Yard and the Science Center”? Well, dearest reader, dreams do come true. Right outside Canaday B (a first-year dorm on campus), there’s a squat little vent that emits some ~questionable~ steam. Much like your future section crush, you might initially think it’s a little odd and kind of trashy, but hey — it’s hot. Once Cambridge winters really get going, you’ll be grateful for the brief respite from the frost that the Warm Spot provides, and probably will end up using it as a toasty rendezvous point more than once.

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Annenberg

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It looks like Harry Potter! Hell yeah, it does. Berg is a mammoth of a building, and we can attest that her many stained glass windows are as beautiful as you think they are. Annenberg is actually just one part of a massive complex of Harvard buildings — truly the 3-in-1 shampoo of Harvard, but, like, in a good way. The back half is the famed Sanders Theatre, which hosts everything from acapella performances to CS50: “Introduction to Computer Science.” The ginormous basement of Berg is home to various classrooms, music practice rooms, the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub (a fun place to grab mozz sticks and frequent host of trivia and other club events), and our mortal enemy, FlyBy (note the capital “B”). For the uninitiated, FlyBy is also known as “The Thing Under Annenberg”, and is a grab-and-go bagged lunch line for upperclassmen who can’t make it back to their House’s Dhall between classes. While FlyBy is an essential, in our unbiased opinion, Flyby is just a *little* better.

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When you enter Berg, however, the first thing you’ll notice is not the gorgeous mahogany, but the sheer size of the dining hall. There are so many tables in the cavernous hall that the napkin holders are labeled with a letter and a number, so be prepared to inevitably send a “Hey, I’m at B-14, where are y’all??” text at some point. Architecture aside, Annenberg is also legendary for another reason — John! No, not the statue (John from Annenberg is much cooler). John S. Martin is the iconic and friendly card swiper at Annenberg and is a fantastic conversationalist. Other highlights of Annenberg include the cute holiday decor, the Veritaffle station on Sundays, randomly fancy meals, and an unfortunate tray return that will inevitably lead to you breaking a plate or two (probably in front of your crush).

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Thus concludes the unofficial tour of the Yard! This list is definitely not exhaustive in terms of locations and details, but we hope we’ve imparted enough knowledge for you to explore the rest in the fall ;) Happy Visitas!

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Virtual Visitas Bingo

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{shortcode-4fffcab1150e47a54a10aed6c855ab80c62de5b2}There may be a lot to do at Virtual Visitas this year, but don't worry! Flyby's got you covered with the most important ones. Try to hit as many items as you can on this bingo, and we can personally guarantee you would've had a classic visit weekend experience.

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Advice From: Class of 2024

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{shortcode-c1dfd16b2e7e317cad13a85a22c970d04e8f7353}It’s sure been a wild ride in the post-coronavirus era, but at least Virtual Visitas isn’t unprecedented! Need some advice on starting college in a really weird, masked-up, socially distanced, and virtual world from people who’ve actually done the damn thing? Well, you’re in the right place. We may not be ancient — sorry, we mean wise — upperclassmen, but we’ve still got some helpful hacks and hints to share. Best of luck, webinar warriors, and see you in the fall!

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Try to keep an open mind! I remember not wanting to go to any webinars because I was already sick of online stuff at that point (whoops), but attending events actually brought me to the coolest organization on campus (read: Flyby)! Go to the events! Or at least the Flyby ones!

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— Matylda A. Urbaniak ’24

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Reach out to people in your class! Even if it’s just a simple Zoom message (if that’s still happening) or an Instagram DM, making friends feels scary but is actually super easy and you’ll meet so many amazing people. You can form pset groups, chat up random people in the Yard, or check out fun extracurriculars where you’ll definitely meet a strong, tight-knit community!

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— Tina Chen ’24

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Harvard is great! Probably the best part of it has to be the people, as cliche as it may sound. Meet people on Facebook or Zoom meetings, and start making friends! And when you’re on campus, you’ll get to actually meet them in person!

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— Manny A. Yepes ’24

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Try a little bit of everything that even remotely interests you. There are so many options at Harvard and it’s easier to know what you don’t like than pinpoint exactly what you like. Go to events, try out new things, shop different classes, you truly never know what you’ll find! Also, don’t worry about making friends on the first day of orientation. You’ll find your people eventually!

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— Sandra W. Mwangi ’24

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Go but try not to feel overwhelmed! I remember feeling that this was an introduction to everything, but there will be more info sessions in the fall. Go to things that really interest you!! (And that you have time for.) Also pm people friendship shots! It works :)

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— Mia A. Word ’24

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Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! At least this year, you won’t have to do it through Zoom DMs (hopefully). At the same time, don’t feel obligated to join every club or try every opportunity someone recommends to you. Choose a few things you’re truly interested in, and you’ll find your people!

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— Sakshi Garg ’24

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It might take a little while to find people you connect with, but don’t stress yourself out about it! Everyone is trying to find their people and make friends. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to someone you got along with in a breakout room, they will probably be thrilled you want to chat with them. Most importantly, use this as an opportunity to explore your interests and learn more about what Harvard has to offer!

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— Johneth R. Price ’24

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It can be overwhelming at first, but try to go to as many events as you can. Reach out to people, which will feel totally weird and awkward at first, but just go for it! You can meet some of the greatest people! Virtual Visitas is what you make it. There are so many cool things to learn and love about Harvard!

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— Ashton E. Body ’24

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You never know where you’ll find the best experiences or meet the most amazing people. You should never feel pressured to be or do something that just isn’t you. Everyone is here for a unique reason, which is exactly what makes Harvard so diverse and exciting. At the end of the day, we are all here to learn and grow from our experiences, drawing inspiration from others but ultimately forging our own paths.

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— Alina A. Taratorin ’24

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Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there more than you normally would! Everyone else is looking for friends too, so it will never hurt to reach out to someone. Also, I would say that it can be so helpful to try a lot of different things to figure out what you really enjoy, but let yourself step back from things that you are not truly interested in so that you can have more time for what you’re passionate about!

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— Katie E. Hennessey ’24

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Freshman year has been amazing, even in a virtual world. The best part? Meeting fellow freshmen. Text people in your class, go up to others sitting in the Yard, start an at-first-awkward-but-eventually-not conversation with someone in the dining hall. Communities at Harvard are waiting to be found. It’s overwhelming, but exciting — register for events (online or not), reach out to professors, let yourself be inspired by Harvard and what it has to offer!

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— Alexandra A. Kassinis ’24

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