Dear Freshman: From the Freshmen of Flyby

By Margot E. Shang

Zoom school is in full swing, and by now we’re (hopefully? maybe?) starting to move into the acceptance phase of the five stages of grief. Now that you’ve gotten the chance to hear some upperclassmen words of wisdom (*brief pause to let you go catch up on the rest of this feature*), we can’t forget about the freshmen of Flyby too.

So how much are we really missing out on? — Alina A. Taratorin

I know you’re probably tired of hearing this, but of course this year is far from the typical freshman-year experience. Instead of going through and listing every. single. damn. thing. we’re missing out on (Convocation video with all of last year’s pictures, we’re looking at you), I want you to think of it this way: a few days ago, I ran into a sophomore living in the quad, and we had a little conversation during which I asked him, “So how much are we really missing out on?” His answer was something along the lines of, “Honestly, freshman year is that awkward stage anyways and you guys kind of get to forego that.”

And taking a step back, you realize that’s kind of true. Yes, maybe we don’t get Housing Day or in-person classes, and instead have to deal with the indisputable glamour of “speed-friending” over Zoom. But on the flip side, think of all the wonderful things we do get to experience. Anything from waking up five minutes before lectures and taking class from the comfort of your bed, to having all this extra space in the dorms (for those on-campus), not having to wear pants, full access to the mute and camera buttons when you just feel like *disappearing*… the list goes on and on. And in the future, we will always get the flex of saying we were THE freshman class that started college in the midst of a pandemic. No one else will understand the struggle of remembering our good ol’ friend Crimson Clear, being quadded as a first year, studying outside the library (because being allowed inside is an intangible prospect we can only dream of), or, you know, starting the whole college experience quarantined inside your single room and taping “HeLp” onto your window. If that’s not a bonding experience, I don’t know what is.

Class of 2024, a.k.a. the class of future Zoom legends — Kate N. Guerin

Even one year ago, nobody could have anticipated how this year would unfold. But, we have moved past the initial awkwardness of meeting friends virtually and learned to navigate this semester, which includes everything from trying to conduct a successful Zoom breakout room, to filling in the most elaborate and detailed GCal. I suspect the novelty of the semester will continue throughout this year, as we match this year to our clashing expectations of college; this novelty has become a source of never-ending small talk, a shared experience that our entire class can remember. It’s too easy to procrastinate starting that pset in favor of complaining about how that one class would be SO much better if it was in-person; however, we need to be grateful that the Harvard community is still alive, so reach out to your fellow incredible and talented peers! Many of the members of the freshman class are living on campus and (knock on wood) are healthy, a feat for which we should be thankful — even if it means foregoing that idealized college experience we have on replay in our minds. So say good morning to your favorite HUDS worker, go eat a socially-distanced lunch with that person that you think might be in your Tuesday 9 a.m., and sanitize your hands folks!

We’re in a pandemic, so breathe — Alexandria T.Q. Ho

Maybe you haven’t slept for the past two weeks. Maybe you are crying and wishing that you had taken a gap year when you had the chance. Maybe you keep falling asleep in class or feeling like you have nothing to contribute during discussions. Maybe you feel very socially inept seeing people posting pictures of Boston hangouts every weekend while you are stuck inside working on psets. Maybe, this is the first time you ever feel like you are not in control of things and this is driving you mad. Maybe, reading this long paragraph full of the word “maybe” is stressing you out and giving you a headache (sorry btw!).

So, take a moment and breathe. Starting college is scary. Starting college online is freaking horrifying. For the past month, I have cried countless times as I struggled with schoolwork, homesickness, and making friends. Being Harvard students, we are used to staying on top of things, to setting the curves on exams. We are used to things coming to us so easily and maybe even effortlessly. And it is very scary to be confronted with the reality that things are not going as planned. However, be kind to yourself. We are in a global pandemic that has turned the world upside down. Everyone is coping right now in their own way. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. It is okay to feel scared. You are not any less of a Harvard student to feel these emotions. In fact, if anything, you just passed the “I am not a robot” test. So congratulations! Don’t feel the pressure to be in control of everything. We’re in a pandemic. So take a second to breathe and remind yourself that “Wow! I’m alive! Everything will be okay!”

So just remember: things could be so much worse. At least we’re in it together! Think of the upperclassmen who don’t even get to be on campus this semester, after already having experienced everything Harvard has to offer. Our time will come, and we have three more years to go crazy. So take a deep breath, study for those Zoom midterms, and have a fantastic rest of the semester!

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