As I begin writing this, I realize that in two short weeks, I will be boarding a plane yet again. But this time, I’ll be heading home. Not for a week, or four weeks, but for three and one-half months. Where did the time go? Have I actually almost completed one entire year of college? I think about this, and yes, I’m proud of myself. But I’m also scared. Does life really fly by that fast?
I am sure all of us have heard our parents or grandparents give us the, “Oh, time just flies; enjoy your life now,” speech, but could they actually be right? Sometimes, I think about my first year here at Harvard and can’t help but feel like I missed out. No, I did not go to Boston every weekend, spend time with my friends as much as I wanted to, nor go all the places or see everything I wanted to, but that’s where I stop. I stop thinking about all of the things I wished I had done and consider those things I did accomplish and how much I truly did learn. Realizing that this list is significantly longer is a rewarding feeling.
This year truly had its ups and downs. Let’s see ... where to begin? I was able to go to Yale on a bus trip for “The Game” (meaning the Harvard-Yale football game, one of the biggest Ivy League rivalries in history). I met new friends and tried octopus for the first time (I promise it is better than it sounds!). I went shopping on the famous Newbury Street (think of a more expensive Michigan Avenue) and quickly learned why college students are always broke. I passed my first three-hour final during first semester. This semester, I broke down and cried after one of the worst exams I’ve ever taken, and though it may not be the happiest of memories, it was a humbling experience from which I learned the importance of being able to pick myself up and carry on. I embarked on my first substantial paper writing journey, which resulted in my first 30-page paper — and being able to read it and feel proud of what I wrote. I ran my first half-marathon with my friend KJ and crossed the finish line in just over an hour and 40 minutes, feeling exhausted but exhilarated. I spent time with my family in Cambridge and enjoyed showing my parents and brothers around my city. I learned to sincerely appreciate the technology known as “Skype” and just how much someone truly cares when he flies 1,000 miles to be your date for a formal. I performed in my first ever company show as a member of the Harvard Mainly Jazz Dance Company. Finding a balance between continuing activities to which I am accustomed and trying new things was a challenge, yet rewarding in the end.
These good (and some not so good) memories are unique to me and make up the first of four years of my Harvard experience. The truth is, there will always be “what ifs” and things we wish we could have done. However, I am sure that each and every one of us, unfortunately, often pays more attention to those “ifs” than enjoying what actually happens. Most of the time, life doesn’t hand out second chances; instead, we must keep trying to “Do it right the first time.”
I hope my accounts of life at Harvard have been interesting and applicable to your life, at least at times. I’ve enjoyed my experiences as much as I have enjoyed sharing them. With that said, I am truly excited to visit the Midwest again so I can stop having a “Chicago accent” because contrary to popular belief, Chicago is not the only city in Illinois.
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.