So, orientation week is almost over and it’s been busy, to say the least!

On Monday, we started out the week with a welcome from the dean, a break out session on inclusion and diversity, an all-campus picnic type thing, and then a program meeting in the afternoon.

Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of course shopping, which was really very fun. The profs essentially present a 40-minute version of their class, to give you a better sense of what you’ll be doing all semester and you’re free to shop as many classes as you want. I wish I’d had course shopping through my undergrad because it really does give you a better sense of what the course is like. The profs are also really helpful because they very clearly present the course in a “you should take this course if…”/”don’t take this course if you’re expecting…” way. I shopped 11 classes (could have shopped more, but for sanity’s sake I tried shopping the ones I was reasonably serious about) and came away with a few definite nos and a lot of “that was so cool! I wish I had two more years of classes to take!”. :P

I’m 100% sure about three of the classes I’ll be taking (T-522 Innovation By Design, T-561 Transforming Education through Emerging Technologies, H-107 Intro to Educational Neuroscience) and am still unsure about the fourth. I definitely want to cross-register at one of Harvard’s other schools or MIT but I’ve yet to decide which of five courses (each at a different school too, no less) I’m taking. I’ll be meeting with my advisor tomorrow, so that should certainly help!

Yesterday afternoon we also had the internship expo. There were a TON of employers, a ton of cool internship opportunities, and just as many students. A little overwhelming? Yes. A reminder that I need to develop my networking skills, like, ASAP? Hell yes.

Then, today, there were a lot of optional sessions and I attended ones on career services programming, university health services, a panel of past HGSE students, and then a special panel of past TIE students.

This week has been busy and full of meeting people and getting acquainted to resources (of which there are MANY)… but I’m also excited to get started with classes next week.

Miscellaneous thoughts/observations so far:

  1. People have been SO friendly and SO nice. No one I’ve met seems to have any airs or fancies and most people seem just as surprised as I am that they’re actually here, which is comforting. :P
  2. What’s been repeated over and over this week has been that yes, we are students at the Graduate School of Education, but more than that, we really do belong to this larger Harvard community, which is very cool… but also kind of a sobering, “whoa” realization.
  3. There are so many wonderful places to eat around here! Coming from Grinnell, IA with a grand total of 10 restaurants in the entire town, it’s food heaven here. :) Went to a burger place the other day which names each of its burgers after celebs. I had a Barack Obama and it was delicious.
  4. The HGSE library–Gutman–is such a fabulously social place! In between events (and I assume in the future, classes), everyone comes to hang out there. They have this great cafe and it’s just a really nice meeting place for people to come together.
  5. Alums are so friendly and really eager to get to know students!
  6. Harvard is really decentralized–every graduate school has its own system for registration, for shopping classes, for doing anything really. The sense I get from the admins and those who’ve been here a bit is that it’s more than a little frustrating to get any joint-school efforts done.
  7. Just through shopping, I’m getting the sense rather quickly of the calibre of my peers. I’m so pumped to be learning from and alongside my classmates. Just a tiny bit intimidated, but mostly excited. I also love how varied peoples backgrounds are–so many people from industry, engineering, a couple from law, theater, medicine… all over the spectrum!

More later!

The famous John Harvard statue in Harvard Yard. Though apparently, he wasn’t really a founder but because he donated a ton of money to the university, they changed the name of the university after him.