Upon entering Boston, Massachusetts, I instantly experienced an almost tangible excitement in the atmosphere that was a complete change from the calm, stagnant air in my small, Midwestern town. From shopping on famous Newbury Street to watching the renowned Fourth of July fireworks, Boston city life simply screamed thrill and adventure. With my fellow Harvard Summer Secondary School Program companions, I gulped down Boston with avarice; every weekend, we would walk to Harvard Station, located conveniently just outside of our Wigglesworth B22 dormitory, and take full advantage of Boston’s subway system: the T. With the latter transportation, our minor statuses became negligible; with a swipe of our Charlie cards, we would be ferried instantly to our chosen destination.
Returning from Boston to Cambridge, there was scarcely a transition between our surroundings; despite being much smaller, Cambridge has its own electrically charged ambiance. Constructed to serve the needs of Harvard and MIT students, Cambridge sprouts numerous book stores, clothing outlets, and souvenir shops. To us, Cambridge was physically no bigger than the Harvard Square area, yet emotionally, it was an entire world filled with nightly excursions to CVS, shopping sprees at Urban Outfitters, and completely random expeditions to J.P. Licks.
However, the truly stunning experience of my summer did not take place in either Boston or Cambridge; instead, being in the environment of Harvard University itself simply took my breath away. I cherished every little thing about Harvard: living in the actual freshmen dorms, walking along the cobbled pathways past the other dormitories in Harvard Yard to eat meals at the splendid Annenberg Hall, sitting and studying on the grand steps of Widener Library—second in size only to the National Archives—and numerous other activities that could only be fully appreciated at that precise location within Harvard. Although I was only there for the summer, I had a fleeting taste of what it feels like to be a Harvard undergraduate. Everything there is like a microcosm of one elaborate tradition; walking across the Yard to my classes, I was struck with sheer wonder at the countless generations of greatness emanating from the ancient buildings. Everyone who goes to Harvard leaves part of their legacy behind, touching all future students and visitors with their achievements.
Despite how amazing that sense of being a Harvard student was, the best part of my summer there by far was meeting the menagerie of different people from all over the world. For once in my life, I was surrounded solely by people who had the same, if not higher, academic zeal that I had. The professors, too, gave impressions that they not only taught their subjects, but thoroughly lived them. We all arrived at Harvard with clean slates, each an awkward stranger to the other. Within a few weeks, however, I had made irreplaceable friends and been influenced by each of them in some way. Together, we had a firsthand experience of the freedom of college life and the problems of balancing that precise freedom with our schoolwork. We lived together, laughed together, supported each other, and breathed in the same exhilarating air of Harvard life. I left campus not as a full person, but as only a part of that gigantic summer community. Everyone who goes to Harvard leaves part of their legacy behind; I hope I at least left mine in the hearts of the people I met. They certainly have made imprints upon mine; even if I never return to Harvard, I have gained one thing that can never be taken away: relationships with people whom I will never forget.
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