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‘Great to Be Back’: Harvard Undergrads Flock Into Classrooms for First Day of Fall Classes

Students stroll past Widener Library on the first day of classes for the College's 2023-24 academic year.
Students stroll past Widener Library on the first day of classes for the College's 2023-24 academic year. By Claire Yuan
By Ella L. Jones and John N. Peña, Crimson Staff Writers

On the eve of the fall semester Monday, Jessica P. Chen ’25 was feeling prepared for her early morning classes. But a late-night coffee bean mishap threw Chen’s first day of class into disarray.

“My roommate offered me Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered coffee beans, and I didn’t know those had caffeine,” she said. “I was so wired through the entire night.”

Chen said she stayed awake until 5 a.m. and slept through her first day of classes, but added that she is looking forward to being in attendance for her junior year academic debut on Wednesday.

Most Harvard undergraduates — unlike Chen — filled the University’s lecture halls for the first day of fall classes on Tuesday morning, which officially marked the end of summer and the start of a new semester.

“It was really great to be back in the Yard to see it back alive,” said Ted J. Sunshine ’26.

Aissatou B. Diallo ’25 had mixed feelings about her first day of class.

“It was just more of an awkward first day than I anticipated,” she said. “But it was nice to see people and say hi to people on my way to class.”

For freshmen, Tuesday marked both the beginning of a new semester and the first day of their college career.

Summer Z. Sun ’27 said she was “super excited” for her first day of classes after managing to overcome first-day jitters.

Sun said she had to call her mom because she was “so anxious” about starting College classes, homework, and extracurriculars after a week of “fun events” for orientation.

B. Nimet Yesil ’27 said nervous excitement kept her up late into the night, but she woke up ready to begin the day.

“I actually woke up 30 minutes before my alarm, which never happens. So yeah, I guess you could say I was pretty excited,” she said.

Undergraduates flock to the Science Center for their first lectures of the academic year.
Undergraduates flock to the Science Center for their first lectures of the academic year. By Claire Yuan

Other freshmen were pleasantly surprised by a lighter slate of first-day classes to begin the year.

Teodor G. Malchev ’27 described his first day as “pretty chill.”

“I didn’t expect it to be actually that easy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tuesday marked the beginning of seniors’ last year on campus, which felt “bittersweet” to Hallie C. Zenga-Josephson ’24.

“I think I will miss Harvard, and this — being the last first day of class — makes me really nostalgic and appreciate everything extra,” said Alice Chen ’24.

Still, seniors said their final year on campus came with a sense of comfort and opportunity.

Emma T. Zuckerman ’24 said she is excited for the chance to take classes that have been on her wishlist for years. Zuckerman — a Mechanical Engineering concentrator — said she finally had space in her schedule to take a creative writing class that she had wanted to take throughout her undergraduate career.

“I think that coming back just feels very comfortable since we’ve done it so many times — a few times,” said Arik Katz ’24-’25.

—Staff writer Ella L. Jones can be reached at ella.jones@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ejones8100.

—Staff writer John N. Peña can be reached at john.pena@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @john_pena7.

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