As a professional business owner for over 20 years in the IT industry, I never thought of myself as being unsatisfied with my work. But, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to study in America. So, I decided to take a summer course at Harvard University as a part of my master degree program. Flying from Thailand to America took me two plane transfers, and over 22 hours of long, uncomfortable travel.
I arrived at Harvard University at 7:00 am, which was like two hours early before I could check into my room. So I decided to take a walk around and see the river that was next to the dormitories. The beginning part of July is still a little cold off the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As I arrived at the river, the first thing I noticed was the John W. Weeks Footbridge. Designed in red brick victorian style, I was amazed at how I could see everything as I stood in the middle of it. The water was smooth and reflective as the fowl enjoyed their morning flight over its cool banks. Billowing clouds extend into the distance, an arrangement of trees and shrubs joined the horizon with the water. Many people were canoeing and rowing, as the warmth of the sun became noticeable behind the light cool breeze in my hair. I felt like jumping right in and joining them as they rowed off into the distance.
As I made my way back to check into my dormitory, I was in awe of the historic architecture that makes up the nearly 100-year-old student housing dormitory building. Beautifully kept grounds, huge green lawns, medium-sized trees, and numerous hedges and plants encompassing the building made me feel relaxed and comfortable as I entered. Adorned with Harvard heraldry, the building’s entrance is crested with green flags bearing the house shield made Hogwart’s Harry Potter never seem so real.
As I entered my room, the light-filled the seemingly space from the single window, reminded me when I was a young man entering university for the first time. Sitting down on the bare mattress bunk bed in the empty room looking at my little desk with a single lamp, I took one moment to realize: finally, I was here, at Harvard University.
Sitting down at the finely polished, all oak, wood dining tables that fill the beautifully lit chandeliered student cafeteria, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, American style cafeteria food, and chatter from eager, bright, outgoing Harvard potentials enjoying the first day.
Even a regular walk through Harvard can be like stepping into the past. There are many historical buildings and places of interest all over the entire campus. Walking from the dorms to the classroom every day was a great experience.
My class was a 20-minute walk through Harvard yard, around many park areas, gates, and unique buildings. One of the great aspects of Harvard is the seven gated entrances that surround the grounds. Every gate around Harvard is different. Walking to my class every day, I enjoyed the simple aspects of the campus, like the outdoor sitting and studying areas. Around the yard, there is an assortment of new colorful chairs for people to sit. There are lots of dog companions around campus, and are great for petting and enjoying their company. It’s also common to see and hear some people playing guitars and singing. In the daytime, many tourists are waiting in line to see the John Harvard statue. Many believe if you touch the left foot of the guy, they will be accepted into the school. And one of my preferred buildings on campus is the North Science building. This is where my class is located.
Since my class is an evening class, the walk back to my dormitory is quite different. Harvard at night is a very different experience than it is in the day. After all of the tourists have left, and everything settles down, the lights come on and illuminate Havard’s hallowed halls. Candle-lit-style street lights radiate the sheer grandeur the building designs hold, like a snapshot into the past when the campus housed many of the world’s great minds. Anyone who walks the grounds at night will get the feeling they are a part of the history that these sacred buildings encompass. This is the time I could feel my heart beating and felt like I truly belonged here.
One night, I stood in front of the John Harvard statue without any tourists around. The dimly lit flickering light on the figures brings a particular type of movement that brings the entire place to life. As the wind blows, and the trees were shaking, walking back, I can’t help myself but imagine back in time when John Harvard walked these grounds with the ambition of future generations of highly educated leaders and teachers that will spread the wisdom of the past generation and make the world a better place for all people. With this experience, I feel I achieved my true mission, to find the real reason this place is here and take this knowledge back to my home country and help teach and lead my people into the new day.