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100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GRADUATE

By Amanda P. Fortini

This morning I took my last midterm. As I scribbled the final words of an illegible essay, the realization hit me: it was my last midterm at Harvard, perhaps ever. I am not at all sorry about this.

Lately, even perfectly horrid experiences have come to take on a strangely sentimental quality. For seniors like me, time that previously seemed monotonous and endless has become punctuated by "lasts": the last shopping period I will every scurry through, the last time I will return to Harvard after winter or spring break, the last time I will wait in line to buy sourcebooks. (Okay, so it's not all that bad.)

The rituals that comprise our lives here at Harvard are swiftly coming to an end. And yet even as I started to mark the "lasts." I have been acutely aware that there are many "firsts" I have not yet attempted. There are too many paths I have left unexplored, too many people I have not met.

The numerous doors left unopened began to multiply in my mind until they formed themselves into a mental list. Somewhat sheepishly mentioning my "list" to a friend, I was surprised when she grinned and yanked out of her bag a piece of spiral notebook paper on which she had scrawled all the movies she plans to see before graduation. Another friend produced a typewritten document of all the places he plans to go before he leaves fair Harvard.

So I started asking other people. "I have a list!" was the inevitable response of the ever-organized Harvard senior. Thus this pre-graduation guide to Harvard was born.

There are 61 days until Commencement. If you are a first-year, sophomore or junior, you have one, two or three years and 61 days, respectively. Any way you look at it, our time here is all too short. As I wrote this list, I realized there were many things that as a senior I will never again see or do (sniff!). Still, there are still 61 days. In the immortal words of Horace, "Carpe Diem."

1. Turn in your thesis.

2. Return the 89 books strewn throughout your room...you know, the ones that were recalled five months ago and are racking up fines of $89 each.

3. Relax a little. (Or a lot.)

4. Spend a full two hours in the dining hall--for breakfast, lunch and dinner--like you did your first year. That's six hours. Do it for an entire week. That's 42 hours.

5. Go soak up some sunshine by the River.

6. Go soak up some moonlight by the River. Take in the stars.

7. Get an even better view from the Science Center observatory telescope (It's an astronomy lesson better than any Core class could give you.)

8. Camp out in the Yard. Roast marshmallows with John Harvard.

9. Learn a new skill, like guitar-playing.

10. Or ballroom dancing.

11. Or bartending or quilt-making. Now teach somebody else.

12. Read a book for the sheer enjoyment of it.

13. Go see the play, movie or concert you keep saying you want to see but have been saving for when you have time. Now is the time.

14. Better yet, see all the movies in your House library, in your friend's House library, and those in Lamont. They're free and waiting for you.

15. See all the foreign films in the language lab.

16. Make a snowman in the Yard. And snow angels. Slide down the steps of Widener.

17. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

18. Stop complaining!

19. Banish the phrases "I'm too busy," "I'm too tired," "I don't have time" and "I have so much work" from your lips. Forever.

20. Leave Cambridge, more than just to go to the airport.

21. Go clubbing in Boston.

22. Find a bar you've never been to.

23. Go to Quincy Market. (For the rest of your life, everyone will ask you if you've been there.)

24. Speaking of questions for the rest of your life--go to Bullfinch's. (You know, the "Cheers" bar.)

25. Visit Walden Pond. (You've read the book...)

26. Revisit suburbia. Find a friend with a car and go get Slurpees at 7-11, french fries from McDonald's and pancakes at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP). Take pictures for your dorm room wall.

27. Take a road trip, preferably an unplanned one to a place far, far away. (Come on--be daring. Leave your Dayrunner in your room.)

28. See an O M N I M A X film at the Museum of Science.

29. Ice skate on Boston Common.

30. Go rummaging at Filene's Basement.

31. Visit all the museums in Boston.

32. Don't forget to go to the Aquarium too.

33. Go whale watching in Boston Harbor. Remember the Dramamine.

34. Go people-watching in Harvard Square.

35. Sit in the Pit for more than an hour. Take a look. Take a good look.

36. Attend services in Memorial Church. Find out what those 8:45 bells are about, and don't leave without hearing Reverend Peter Gomes speak.

37. Make sure to hear all of Harvard's "greats" at least once. West, Gates, Sandel, Gould--attend their debates, shop their classes.

38. Take Gen. Ed. 105. Everyone else will.

39. Study in random libraries: Try the History Department's in Robinson Hall. Find Gutman, if you can.

40. Take any book off the shelf in the library. Read it. Now go to the foreign periodical section of Widener and read from one. Out loud.

41. Attend Cultural Rhythms. (Food, music, dancing, and stars like Sinbad and Halle Berry--need I say more?)

42. Go to at least one more a cappella jam.

43. Visit a Finals Club at least once. (That should be plenty.)

44. Do Tai Chi in the MAC Quad. Invite your friends to come by a few hours later and watch.

45. Breathe.

46. Stop to smell the roses. Or the coffee. (Or your dirty laundry, as the case may be, and then wash it.)

47. Learn a new language. Take classes, attend language tables and schedule dinners with native speakers.

48. Realize that your peers are an amazing resource. (Come to this understanding early and often.)

49. Learn from them. Again and again.

50. Walk the Freedom Trail.

51. Run naked at Primal Scream this spring.

52. Crash the Boston Marathon.

53. Do the Walk of Shame. (Formal attire required.)

54. Read the Advocate, Diversity & Distinction and Light-house. (Those are the magazines still sitting in your door box.)

55. Better yet, get published in one of them. Express your opinion. Write an editorial or a letter to the editor.

56. Heck, just express yourself. Take a creative writing class or a film class or a photography class.

57. Keep a journal.

58. Write a letter to someone to thank them, to tell them how much you value their friendship or to just say "Hi."

59. Talk to that person you always wanted to get to know but never did.

60. Talk to that person you used to know but now pretend you don't. (That guy or girl from your first-year dorm or that really great section you both hated.)

61. Forget your schedule for an entire day.

62. Forget it for an entire week.

63. Throw a party.

64. Read the newspaper. Every day. Remember that there is life outside Harvard.

65. Attend the Harvard Education Forum and Institute of Politics speeches. Never again will you have the opportunity to hear so many famous people speak, unless you become one of them.

66. Learn to design a Web page.

67. Go to office hours, just to say you have.

68. As a professor to your Student-Faculty Dinner. If one says no, ask another.

69. Study in groups.

70. Stop procrastinating.

71. Start procrastinating.

72. Try to get into Annenberg for lunch, just to see Domna again.

73. Order a packed lunch from the dining hall and then sit and watch the line move by the checker slowly. (Grilled eggplant roll-up anyone?)

74. Use all the Board Plus money on your ID card each semester. If there's any left over, stock up on candy at Loker Commons.

75. Go see what Loker actually looks like now. (I hear they have a pool table.)

76. Become a pool shark.

77. Attend all your master's open houses. Eat as much as you can without getting sick.

78. Speak to your masters while you are there.

79. Eat in every dining hall.

80. Be crazy. Try a hot entree with a frightening name. (Bell-ringing beef? Chicken curry in a hurry? Savory baked tofu?)

81. Have a slumber party--pajamas, sleeping bags, Cool Ranch Doritos and all. Make it co-ed.

82. Borrow a boat and scull on the River.

83. Volunteer your time to help someone else. Go to PBH and arrange to tutor a child. Befriend an elderly person.

84. Termbill "supplies" at the UHS pharmacy.

85. Dig out those little 20 percent discount cards from the Harvard Book Store that are lying in your wallet, purse or desk drawer. Use them.

86. Ride the T to the Charles/MGH stop at sunset. Turn around and ride back.

87. See the glass flowers exhibit at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Try to make your own. (Fail miserably.)

88. Make an appointment to view some rare books at Houghton Library. (Shakespeare's folios, the writings of William James, class of 1864, the letters of Robert Gould Shaw, class of 1860. When will you ever have access to these again?)

89. Do brunch at Henrietta's Table.

90. Enjoy the jazz in the Square, at Regatta Bar at the Charles or the House of Blues.

91. Scorpion bowls at the Kong. Enough said.

92. Margaritas at the Border Cafe.

93. Be a part of Tommy's late night scene.

94. Exercise.

95. Wash. Floss. Flush. Brush. Pay your bills. Recycle. Call your mother.

96. Stop worrying. (Really!)

97. Be happy.

98. Just be.

99. Have sex in Widener. (It had to be said.)

100. Get Started.

Amanda P. Fortini '98 is an English and American literature and language concentrator in Kirkland House.

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