Ryan DurandoWhat was fall 2020 like as a first-year student living on campus? I never stepped foot into Annenberg or a classroom, but I always felt like a part of Harvard. It felt like home.

I had told my mom I was worried I wouldn’t make friends before I came. I didn’t realize everyone would feel this way. My classmates made so many efforts to connect. We would eat outside in the courtyard, when the weather wasn’t too cold, and people gathered on the Widener Steps to hang out. I also have friends that I only met through Zoom. I feel like I know them, even though I’ve actually never been around them.

Before returning home to North Carolina in late November, I lived in a single at Kirkland House, where I settled into a nice routine. I picked up my breakfast to-go in the dining hall and then logged into Zoom to join my Latin class. It’s a difficult subject for me to grasp, but I enjoyed the struggle, largely due to the supportive class atmosphere. Each student receives specialized attention, and the graduate students in the course are so helpful. I’ve learned so much from my instructors and peers.

Even though this is not the semester I could have imagined, I already feel very nostalgic toward this period at Harvard.

I was able to take the time to really explore, deciding to switch from my focus in high school on organic chemistry and computer science to the humanities. I’m finishing up a Gen Ed course “The Ancient Greek Hero,” trying out for Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business, and hoping to write for the Crimson editorial. I just want to take in all that this amazing place has to offer.

And now I cannot separate myself from Harvard; we are inextricably intertwined, whether I am on campus or 1,000 miles away. I’ve felt the support of the entire Harvard community since the day I received my acceptance letter, and I am so grateful. 

The generosity of our alumni donors made this academic and social experience possible for Ryan and many others. Please show your support for all students by making a gift today.

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