Housing at Harvard is going to be awesome compared to pretty much any other college. Period.
However, because we’re Harvard students, we always find something to complain about. Here are a list of things about the housing situation that would knot your undies once you get on campus.
1) No cable TV.
This means, you become scarily uninformed about the simple things in life that CNN Headline News informs you: celebrity deaths, weather disasters, etc. etc. If you were a casual news watcher to begin with, you will soon be visiting nytimes.com everyday to ensure you sound competent when it comes to current events.
Or, you can visit the gyms, which are always fully stocked with personal televisions attached to each treadmill.
Do not be like me…when it took me an economics problem set to realize that Ben Bernanke was going to be our new Fed. chair.
2) Not all rooms are created equal.
Some people will be living in tight quarters, others will be enjoying kitchens. Some will be waking 4 minutes before class, others will plan their lives around the quad shuttle. Some will have house masters that encourage happy hours, others will be filling out forms just to have parties.
Each dorm/house has its pros and cons. Some more pros than others. Others more cons than the rest. But generally, where you live is out of your control, and chances are, you’ll learn to love it.
3) Crazy roommates do exist.
In fact, all of your roommates will be crazy. You will realize this when they’re dressing up their hair to create some Dr. Seus inspired do’s. You will also realize this when one of your roommates misses her 3rd flight of the year. Or when another roommate doodles her essay outline onto her window with an oil pencil.
But you’ll end up loving them anyway.
But, there are those you don’t. So, moral of the story. Figure out what’s important to you when it comes to keeping you sane and write that in your housing form. Is it cleanliness? friendliness? respectfulness? It’ll go a long way.
4) Realize that midterms/finals/papers will make you grumpy.
This seems like common sense. But when you have your own personal space, your grumpiness is usually contained. Just realize that everyone, including yourself, will be exceedingly grumpier when stressed. This means, being more easily irritated by loud noises, music, sexiling etc. etc. when under normal circumstances you can just brush off.
This is why Lamont is 24-7. So if you NEED to pull an all-nighter, you can do so without keeping up your roommate. Similarly, if you go out of your way to accommodate him/her, he/she should do the same for you.
5) Rooming decisions will always be stressful.
One of the main selling points of Harvard (versus Yale) is that you can choose 7 (+8) of your closest friends to live with after your freshmen year. What they don’t tell you is that this will be probably even more stressful than waiting for your admission decisions.
Similarly, because each house has its own rooming rules, you will probably go through a variation of “blocking” as a sophomore and junior to figure out how that group of 8 girls is going to split off into quads, quints and triples. Likewise, if people bounce out for study abroad (which they will) or take a semester off (also somewhat likely), then you have to worry about shuffling.
Then again — this happens at every college, more or less. So it’s nothing new. While freshmen are tempted to come to campus with rosy glasses, just realize that some college problems are simply universal.