Skip to content ↓

COVID-19

Learn more about how MIT Admissions is responding to COVID-19 in this blog post from our Dean and new dedicated FAQs.

MIT student blogger Kathleen E. '22

Harvard Friends, Part 2 by Kathleen E. '22

finding my quarantine dream team

This is the second part of a two-part series about being an MIT student with some close friends at Harvard! In Part 1, I discussed how cross-registration helped me make friends at Harvard and how our friendship has evolved since we met. In this post, I describe how we’ve stayed in contact (and even grown closer) since being sent home due to COVID-19.

flower chain

Staying in contact with my friends was more challenging than I expected after getting sent home from MIT due to COVID-19. I found myself calling friends I previously saw almost every day only once a week, at best. Everyone had to deal with their psets and exams,01 the emergency grading policy of Pass/No Record didn't magically make us stop trying, surprisingly in addition to the new stress of an unexpected return to family life and the worsening pandemic. Even when we did have free time, things like time zone mismatches and Zoom fatigue got in the way of calling.

I took the drop in communication pretty personally at first. I wondered why my friendships were seemingly falling apart and questioned if they had been built on a false foundation. I found some resolution through directly talking with my friends about my worries. They assured me that nothing was specifically wrong in our friendships – they just had trouble balancing social calls with their other obligations. As the months passed and my life got busier, I began to also struggle with this balance. Still, my friends’ reassurance and my own empathy for the difficulty in finding balance didn’t erase the new vacuum in my social life. I missed hanging out with my friends. I missed forming memories together! The memorability of the average Zoom call is just so much lower than that of a meal together or a weekend outing.

The vacuum in my social life was filled in a few unexpected ways. One of them was reconnecting with my Harvard friends. As I mentioned in Part 1, we had stayed in contact since last summer, but rarely had time to hang out. As finals wrapped up and people began transitioning into their summer plans, I found myself joining group Zoom calls with them more and more often. Now, I talk to them more frequently than any of my MIT friends. I even made a new friend, Alyssa C. (Harvard ’22), who I had met before02 We originally met over the summer at the most awkward middle-school themed party of all time. No questions will be taken at this time. but never had a chance to get to know well. I didn’t think it was possible to get so close to someone through just Zoom calls. Now I feel like I’ve known her for much longer than just a few weeks.

four women

i draw the things i love

This little Zoom group, informally called PADK,03 for Paige, Alyssa, Denisse and Kathleen has been so nice. We made a recurring meeting early on and can just hop in and out whenever. I see them at least three times a week04 See point 3 and most weeks much more.

Here are some of the things we’ve supported each other through:

  1. Surviving the wait: MIT and Harvard took forever05 from when we got kicked out until early July to give us news about the fall semester. Each week of waiting felt so long, as the uncertainties piled up and the time left to make plans trickled away. Through all those long months, it was helpful (although it also drove me slightly insane) to have lots of opinions and ideas about how the fall plans might look and how we could make the best of each scenario. One thing stood out to me about how Harvard students seemed to be approaching the fall was that (according to preliminary surveys sent to both student bodies) more of them seemed to be considering taking a Leave of Absence, compared to MIT students. This ended up influencing me quite a bit.06 See point 4
  2. Handling the news: When Harvard released their plans on Monday, July 6, we got on a call together to discuss it. We were still on that call when MIT’s plans leaked on Monday night.07 they were supposed to come out on Tuesday Many components of the plan, while not entirely unexpected, were still so shocking to see written out officially. It was helpful to have a support group with which to process it. Since all of us knew the specific priorities and concerns of the others, we were able to be especially supportive of each other that night. It was also comforting that, despite Harvard and MIT having different plans, as rising juniors we were all pretty much in the same spot. None of us would be going back.
  3. Working out: When the summer started, we decided to work out together three times a week. At first, I wasn’t that enthused with the idea – I hadn’t tried a social Zoom workout before and was really unsure about if I would like it. For example, I normally listen to music while I workout. Would I still be able to do that on the Zoom workout? If not, what would I hear instead? Heavy breathing? It just sounded like a suboptimal setup. But, we tried it and it was great. Zoom didn’t transmit the heavy breathing, thankfully, and I didn’t mind not blasting my own playlist for once. We keep it pretty varied, doing everything from HIIT to Vinyasa yoga. It’s been really nice to have the security of a consistent workout routine during quarantine.
  4. Thinking outside of the box: I didn’t want to wait for MIT to announce its plans to begin thinking about the future. I felt so blindsided back in March when we all got kicked off campus – I didn’t want to let MIT put me in a suboptimal living or schooling situation for another academic year. All the way back in April, Denisse was the first friend in the group to suggest the idea of taking a Leave of Absence for the next academic year. At first I completely shrugged it off as a viable option for myself. What would I even do in a gap year during COVID-19? As MIT delayed announcing their fall plans more and more, I started taking the idea very seriously. Through being proactive, I managed to craft a gap year I’m incredibly excited about. Now, all four of us have decided to take a gap year! I plan to write another post about all of this.
  5. Planning fall living arrangements: Living at home is a mixed bag. On one hand, I’m pretty comfortable out here and I get to hang out with my sister and eat fresh eggs08 My parents raise chickens. I should write a blog about that. every day. On the other hand, I miss not having a bed time09 okay, I don't have a literal bed time at home, but I definitely get intense shade for being awake past midnight every day and closely interacting with people my age. I somehow convinced my parents to let me live with a subset of my Harvard friends this fall. The process of finding housing that matched our various criteria was really hard. We began our search in early May and only finalized a spot in early July. I think this process could have taken even longer if I was trying to do it with people who were less communicative, less sure of wanting to live together, and less sure of their plans.

My Harvard friends have been my “quarantine dream team” because of how much they’ve supported me throughout the many ups and downs of the last few months. I feel incredibly thankful that they helped me think outside of the box to make plans for the near future that I feel truly excited about and I’m excited to see how our friendship will continue to evolve as we embark on our gap years.

  1. the emergency grading policy of Pass/No Record didn't magically make us stop trying, surprisingly back to text
  2. We originally met over the summer at the most awkward middle-school themed party of all time. No questions will be taken at this time. back to text
  3. for Paige, Alyssa, Denisse and Kathleen back to text
  4. See point 3 back to text
  5. from when we got kicked out until early July back to text
  6. See point 4 back to text
  7. they were supposed to come out on Tuesday back to text
  8. My parents raise chickens. I should write a blog about that. back to text
  9. okay, I don't have a literal bed time at home, but I definitely get intense shade for being awake past midnight every day back to text