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Seniors Bring Life to Dead Weeks

By Tova A. Serkin, Crimson Staff Writer

Before donning suits and leather briefcases for the grind of the nine-to-five, the Class of 2000 had one last chance to party.

For the last two weeks, most seniors have been free from all obligations, enjoying a welcome stretch of free time.

Some spent the time making the rounds of Boston bars. Others attended official senior events--the Booze Cruise, the Last Chance Dance, the Champagne Brunch, the Clambake.

Some seniors were a bit more creative, heading out of town for a good time. A few went as far as Europe and Morocco, while others explored the outdoors but stuck closer to home.

Eight Women in the Woods

Last Sunday night a group of senior women gathered in Quincy 604 to pack for their three-day, two-night camping trip to the Green Mountains in southern Vermont.

With a full-size tent set up in the room and plastic bags full of oatmeal strewn all over the floor, the group packed at a leisurely pace, excited to be ending their senior year with a familiar experience.

"We started off senior year with a hiking trip," Anne C. Tsai '00 said. "It's nice to start and end the same way."

Tsai and her four roommates had gone camping at the beginning of the year, while the other three women were joining them for the first time.

Ilana N. Kurshan '00 said she, too, joined the trip for a sense of closure. She began her time at Harvard by participating in the First-Year Outdoor Program (FOP), a weeklong hiking trip for first-years.

"I started with FOP," she said. "It's nice to have that symmetry."

The women offered different reasons for taking the trip.

"Yeah, I'm psyched," Tsai said. "It's such a good excuse to eat lots of high-calorie food."

"I think it's going to be a good experience to be away from Cambridge for a little while and reflect on our four years here," Dolly Bross '00 said.

But Kurshan, perhaps, summed it up best.

"I love being outside and it will provide much scope for the imagination," she said.

With wool socks and fleece jackets flying across the room, Bross explained that having FOP leaders for friends came in handy for their trip.

"We borrowed a lot of stuff--everyone was very generous," she said. "They were like, 'Have a sleeping bag or backpack or whatever.'"

Even though all eight women didn't know each other, they said the trip was a wonderful bonding experience for them all.

"It's a good way of getting to know people when my life depends on them," Kurshan said.

Family Ties

While most of her friends were taking finals, or at least making fun of their roommates with finals, Sara M. Jablon '00 spent nine days in Spain with her family.

Her parents had wanted to take a family vacation. The only time that worked with everyone's schedule was the end of Harvard's exam period.

"It was extremely strange, because the weekend before I left I wrote three papers in four days and had barely slept," said Jablon, who is also a Crimson editor. "The entire plane ride I was in this surreal dream state realizing that I had just finished." Jablon, her parents and her 19-year-old sister spent nine days in Spain, visiting both Barcelona and Madrid. Their itinerary included lots of museums and even an authentic bullfight.

"The bullfight was amazing," Jablon said. "The people there were dressed like they were going to the opera."

Still, Jablon said it was a strange time for a family vacation. After all, most students spend the end of their senior year with the friends they will be leaving behind.

"It was a lot of fun to be with my family, but I felt this kind of weird helpless feeling," she said, "like I was out of control after being in college and doing my own things for so long."

Happily Ever After

Going to a family wedding is one thing, but Jonathan X. Gruenhut '00 attended a ceremony two weeks ago where he knew neither the bride nor the groom.

A Jewish wedding ceremony requires two witnesses unrelated to either party, and when the couple chose a rabbi for the wedding, he helped them find someone appropriate for the job of witness.

The Boston University-based rabbi called Rabbi Hershy Zarchi, a peer at Harvard, who in turn contacted Gruenhut, an Orthodox Jew with some free time on his hands before Commencement.

The wedding took place at building near the BU campus called "the Castle."

This is not the first time he has been called on to serve as a witness at a wedding, Gruenhut said, but the wedding two weeks ago was a particularly "weird" experience.

"There were only 20 people there," he said. "It's not like I could just blend in."

Movin' On Up

It's not Everest, but seven Pforzheimer House seniors took on the challenge of New Hampshire's Mount Washington on Memorial Day.

Though the mount is a mere 6,288 feet tall, it is the highest mountain in New England.

Mount Washington has the worst and most unpredictable weather in America--almost 100 people have died on it. Luckily, the peak did not live up to its wild reputation last Monday.

"It was actually a really nice day outside," said Luke Y. Wang '00. "It was kind of surprising."

The most interesting part of the trip was when the group reached the top, Wang said. Climbers reaching the summit are greeted by the sight of a huge parking lot, part of the visitors' center.

"It's like the Simpsons episode where Homer and Apu scale a mountain, only to find this giant commercial Kwik-E-Mart just sitting at the top," Wang wrote in an e-mail message.

Wang and Alberto Fassinotti '00 organized the trip for their blockmates because the first time Wang climbed the mountain he had not gotten a picture. This time he did indeed snap a shot.

Scaling the mountain was also a cheaper alternative to whitewater rafting, their original plan.

Meeting the other hikers was a highlight, Wang said. But another perk of the 15.5-hour adventure was the group's conversation, spanning topics from cannibalism to the vote on China's Most Favored Nation status to thong underwear.

The trip, the students said, was a perfect end to four arduous years at Harvard.

"The constant phrase we kept mentioning was from Gladiator: 'Strength and honor,'" Wang said. "It was really hard at the beginning because we didn't know how much farther, or what it was going to be like, but once you reach the top it's a really glorious feeling."

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