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Crowded Halls, Puppy, and Telescope Feature in First Day of Classes

Professor N. Gregory Mankiw discusses the inflation of Zimbabwe dollars at the first lecture of Economics 10B: Principles of Economics in Sanders Theatre.
Professor N. Gregory Mankiw discusses the inflation of Zimbabwe dollars at the first lecture of Economics 10B: Principles of Economics in Sanders Theatre. By Jacqueline S. Chea
By Amy L. Jia and Sanjana L. Narayanan, Crimson Staff Writers

Light showers and heavy crowds descended on Harvard’s campus Monday morning,as students in the College flocked to classes on the first day of the semester.

Classes were packed across disciplines, with students clamoring for seats in courses like the perennially popular Economics 10B: “Principles of Economics” and the newer Theater, Dance, and Media 110: “Foundations in Acting: Viewpoints.”

Several students said they had to leave large lecture halls due to a lack of space.

“There was like a huge line out the door, you couldn’t even get through,” said Deedee R. Jiang ’20, a Crimson Design Editor who had wanted to attend Societies of the World 38: “Pyramid Schemes: The Archaeological History of Ancient Egypt” in Science Center Hall D. “We just didn’t push to get to the front, so we got screwed over.”

Students said that classes as varied as Computer Science 181: “Machine Learning,” Science of Living Systems 20: “Psychological Science,” Organismic and Evolutionary Biology 130: “Biology of Fishes,” and Philosophy 20: “Happiness” faced similar problems with crowding.

Some professors did more than present the syllabus on the first day of class. Astronomy Department Chair Avi Loeb took the students in his freshman seminar, Freshman Seminar 21G: “First Stars and Life in the Cosmos,” to see the Great Refractor—the largest telescope in North America when it was built in 1847—in the Harvard College Observatory.

Preceptor in Scandinavian Agnes Broomé surprised her students in Swedish AB: “Beginning Swedish Language and Literature” by bringing in her dog.

“At the end, she brought in a puppy, a German Shepherd puppy. It was absolutely adorable,” Nichlas G. Vranos ’20, who attended Broomé’s class, said. “It was really nice and a good way to start my week.”

Students do not finalize their course roster for the semester until Friday, allowing them to casually survey classes before committing.

Raj Karan S. Gambhir ’21, a Crimson arts editor, wrote in an email that after sitting in on a certain class at last year’s Visitas program—the College’s welcome weekend for admitted students—he had been eagerly looking forward to taking it in the spring.

“Finally, the lecture starts, and I begin to realize that this class is not for me. I made the mistake that many make when entering a relationship—I jumped the gun,” Gambhir wrote. “Meanwhile, my once skeptical friend is as fervently in love with the course as I was just minutes prior. I’m glad we have shopping week. It gives us time to fall out of love with the wrong courses, and fall in love with the right ones.”

For others, such as Brandon N. Wachs ’18, the first day of classes was a more casual affair.

“We figured since it’s our last first day of school as seniors, we woke up early and intended to go to class. But then we had also planned to drink in the morning, and that just continued to a morning-long drinking session while looking at classes on the Q Guide,” Wachs said, referring to the online course catalogue. “But then around noon, people did decide to start going to classes.”

“It was a good bonding experience to kick off the last semester we have here,” Wachs added.

—Staff writer Amy L. Jia can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyLJia.

—Staff writer Sanjana L. Narayanan can be reached at

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