Sitting down on the couch in my rural Princeton home with my Macbook laptop to brainstorm ideas, I realized how much I will miss sitting on my couch, watching TV, even just talking to my parents after dinner. I now know what it means to miss “the little things.”
After being accepted early to Harvard University in February of last year, I knew my life would be different. Come August, I would board a plane and head to the East Coast to attend the school of my dreams in Cambridge, Mass. What I did not expect, however, was how many things in my life would change: The time I typically wake up, the hours devoted to studying, the time spent on a computer, the insane amount of walking, and the number of times I had to explain that Chicago was not the only city in Illinois.
Ever since I have been home in Princeton for Christmas break, not a day goes by during which I did not run into someone at Walmart, the Metro Center or the post office asking me about Harvard and life on the East Coast. I truly appreciate this genuine interest and outpouring of support from my family, friends and the community. After answering these questions multiple times, I have started reflecting on my own. How is Harvard? How do I find life on the East Coast?
The truth is, Harvard is amazing. Incredibly amazing. From the environment, to the students, to the professors, it has genuinely become my home away from home. Some of the highlights so far have been meeting my best friend (born in Germany, but ironically now lives in Princeton, N.J.) while cleaning toilets and finding cockroaches, shaking hands with Yo-Yo Ma during a rainstorm, passing my first three-hour final exam, and giving my parents a tour of Boston and Cambridge when they came to visit. I’ll explain the toilets and cockroaches at a later date.
As far as East Coast living, I am not sure I can give a true opinion, as I have yet to experience a true “Nor’easter,” which Wikipedia describes as a type of macro-scale storm along the East Coast, with characteristics similar to a hurricane. The weather has actually been quite mild, as it has been in Princeton. Until the day I left to come home for Christmas, I had literally worn my winter coat only a handful of times and had been able to continue to run outdoors frequently along the Charles River. Other than the weather, life is faster-paced. People walk fast, talk fast and are constantly active.
I must say, however, my experience with the diversity at Harvard has been the most memorable thing yet. Never before had I been told I had a “Chicago accent” or “pop” was really “soda,” and apparently cornfields do not line the roads everywhere, as no one has ever heard of this thing called detasseling. I enjoy hearing stories from fellow classmates, such as the Olympic diver I met while at Mr. Bartley’s Burgers, or the girl I met at breakfast who was born in India, grew up in London, and whose family is currently traveling throughout Africa. Yet however amazing these individuals may seem, I have also enjoyed sharing my unique experiences with others, and discovering that to them, my stories seem just as interesting.
So back to missing the couch. And TV. And my mom’s cookies, my Hallmark ladies, slow Internet and three rambunctious brothers with whom I have to share a bathroom — all things I love about “home.” But as I’m beginning to long for a Charles River sunrise, chats with my best friend over Berryline frozen yogurt, and study sessions on my dorm futon, I realize its possible to have more than one “home.”
I hope you all are getting back into the rhythm of work and school, and pending the rave reviews of this insight into East Coast living, I’ll write again soon, this time from “home” in Cambridge.
Haley Adams, a Princeton High School graduate, is a freshman at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.