Friday, August 20, 2004
We arrived early, around 8:45 or so, thinking it wouldn't be crowded. We weren't exactly wrong, but there were definitely more people than I thought there would be. When we went to the registration table I was told that I had to walk all the way over to Teele Hall, almost a mile away, because I still had a tuition bar. Now, I paid my tuition back in early July, so this was pretty irritating. When we got to Teele, we found that it was a month of unpaid rent (for September!) that was causing the bar. Now, the housing office told us we could wait until September 1 to pay that. Not so, said Ms. M, a true bureaucrat, we couldn't register until we owed Harvard nothing. Anyway, after some argument we paid and were on our way.
Before 11am, the start of the first presentation, I registered, Jie registered as a partner, we checked in with the Student Association and got our t-shirts for Sunday's HBS Apprentice Games (some form of team building excercise, I believe), got our permanent parking sticker, and joined the Harvard Coop. Not Co-op mind you, but coop. Oh yeah, I also had my photo taken for my id and registered my laptop with this nifty anti-theft service, STOP.
At 11am I went to a pretty interesting Technology presentation that introduced the HBS student portal, which is really very cool. They have created this web-based interface that tells you just about everything you need to know while you're at HBS. It has your class schedule, homework assignments, notifies you of announcements, etc. There is a section with information about your classes, complete with syllabi, course overviews, assignments, and class rosters. There is also a nifty section with FAQ's about all different aspects of HBS life, like grading and abscence policies, as well as student support resources, and more mundane things like how to find your locker.
Speaking of lockers, that's a funny topic all on its own. We have these lockers (think small post office boxes), in the bottom of Spangler, where the people behind the scenes at HBS put our cases and other handouts before we will need them in class. Yesterday we had to go pick up our cases and books that we will need in Foundations, along with our nametag and class placard. Apparently people usually have so much trouble opening their lockers, that they took the effort to record a helpful video and then play it on a loop on a big TV in the hallway with the lockers. The funniest part is that many people needed the video, because sometimes it would take 20 minutes or more for them to get their locker open. They have combo locks that you turn left-right-left, and many people were having serious trouble. On the other hand, one student's one year old daughter managed to open one all on her own. I guess she's future HBS material... ;)
After the Technology session I went home for lunch and then was back at 1pm for the presentation on library resources. Baker Library, though currently located in Kresge while Baker itself is renovated, has a lot of cool resources, almost all of which are located on the web. I'm a big library nut, so I think I'll try to swing by Kresge some time and check it out.
Next we had a panel discussion on forming study groups. There were three second years and one recent grad, and they talked about their experiences. It was pretty comical, a significant minority of HBS students take study group formation very seriously. One girl told stories about how she was interviewed about her background, motivations, study habits, and goals before she was allowed in a study group. It seems that most of those groups die out eventually, though, and the ones that last are the friendly ones where people just discuss the interesting points of the case. I think my number 2 criteria for a study group (number 1 being people I like), will be that attendance not be required. Study groups should be a relaxed atmosphere, IMHO.
At 3pm Jie came back up to school and we went to a safety and security session. It seems that most students pass on this, but I found it to be pretty informative. Harvard has a very good relationship with its police department, and both the security guy (a private firm), and the police Seargant were very nice and approachable.
After a nice nap, we went to our small group dinner that the SA put together. Our's was at Brother Jimmy's, a pretty good BBQ place in Harvard Square. We had a really good time, and met some really nice people. We talked and ate and drank for several hours, and then went to meet up with the rest of HBS over at John Harvard's. Harvard's was packed though, so we changed course and went to Grafton Street instead. We finished off the night there and walked home.
I can't stress enough how friendly and nice everyone is here. If there's one thing I would like future applicants to get from my blog it's that the stereotypes about HBS are wrong. Yes, there are people here who hold interviews for their study groups, but the vast majority are nice, cooperative people who are looking to make friends and have a good time.
Ok, if you read all this then bravo, I'm impressed. Please let me know of any specific questions about the activities, I don't really know what's useful and what's not, so if you are curious about something just make a comment or send an e-mail and I'll fill in details.