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Lena Felton

How I Grew to Love Harvard

Hello Magooshers! Please give a warm welcome our new Community and Social Media Intern, Lena! Today, she brings us some great advice about overcoming freshman jitters and learning to love college life. Take it away, Lena!

About a year ago, I had just graduated from high school. And, to be completely honest with you, I wasn’t excited to go to college. Sure, I was happy that I’d been accepted to some great schools and that I’d chosen Harvard, but I didn’t want to actually get on the plane to go there. I was content at home in California, where I’d had an amazing high school experience. The prospect of the East Coast, awkward conversations with new people, and 20-page papers was disheartening. I didn’t want college, so I didn’t want Harvard.

To make matters worse, move-in day – in August! – was drizzly. The campus was gray, uninviting even. I met my roommates and, though I liked them, still couldn’t imagine my new life in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo of Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard, where freshmen live

The next couple of weeks were not easy. Everything was unfamiliar and scary and confusing; I longed for the comfort and ease of home. My laid-back California vibe was in glaring contrast to some of my classmates’ uptight demeanors – my lingo even differed from theirs (no one said “that’s chill” nearly as much). I texted my high school friends constantly, failing to remain present in my current situation. I often wondered if I’d made the wrong decision.

Then, about a month or so into college, something miraculous happened. I adjusted.

After getting into the swing of my classes and meeting more people, I realized that college is actually majorly fun. I loved Harvard’s location, which is only a 15-minute T ride to downtown Boston. I went into the city to eat, shop, explore, and attend concerts, and started to feel like a local. I began connecting with diverse, interesting people and soon met friends I felt I had known for years. I was writing for the school paper, going to fun parties, and getting involved in a student-run fashion show. And most of all? I was learning. So. Much. What people sometimes forget to tell you is that college will do more than challenge you academically. It will also force you to become independent, explore who you really are, and grow into the person you will one day be.

Annenberg Hall, Harvard University

Annenberg, the (Hogwards-esque) freshman dining hall

Being back at home for the summer has made me so appreciate my year at Harvard. Had I stayed in California, I never would’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and consequently learned and matured so much. I wouldn’t have eaten in a Hogwarts-esque dining hall every day, either.

My advice is to accept that college may not be the easiest adjustment. The whole process – from test prep to decisions to moving in – is all at once scary and impossibly exciting. Don’t be afraid to take a risk, have confidence that you’ll come to love wherever you choose, and try to soak in as much as you can (because four years is a really short time!). I never thought I’d say this a year ago, but I can’t wait to go back to Harvard in August.


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About Lena Felton

Originally from the Marin County, Lena is a sophomore at Harvard, where she's studying English. Writing and photography are her greatest passions, and she's involved in journalism at school. In her free time, Lena explores cities, discovers new music, and eats at as many hip restaurants as possible. Follow Lena on Twitter @LenaFelton!

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