Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We know how to do Freshman Move-In!

Yesterday, the team at The Harvard Shop was up bright and early to welcome the incoming Harvard Class of 2019!

Fresh-faced and wide-eyed, freshmen filled the Harvard Yard on the official first day of move-in. Caravans of parents toting suitcases galore, fans, books, bedding, and the occasional TV came through campus, each looking tired from the moving, but with a look of immense pride in their children (I remember when I said goodbye to my parents -- letting us go from our nest is probably the most terrifying thing as a parent). 

Our team welcomed the new Class of 2019 with all of our energy -- as a business run and operated by Harvard College students, we know students and what starting college feels like. 

As well as providing the best Harvard apparel & accessories you can find around, our sister company, HSA Cleaners & Dorm Essentials, provided students with laundry plans (pick up, laundry, fold and delivery included? Literally, that saves so much time every week), water delivery packages, microfridge/microwave rentals, and all the other essentials to set yourself up for success at Harvard. 

At the end of the day, we got a surprise visit from Harvard College Dean, Rakesh Khurana! We of course needed to get a group picture with the Instagram famous dean before we rang up his purchase!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Coffee Connoisseurs at Harvard

Let's be frank: without caffeine, I don't know where I'd be right now. I've been drinking coffee since elementary school (my dad would always make a pit stop at the gas station's coffee counter before he dropped me off at school, and I got to take some pretty big sips). My exposure to coffee so early on probably explains why I stopped growing at age 12, but it was too much a part of my routine to let go!

In college especially, coffee is a requirement, if not a lifeline for long nights at the library, early morning exams, and the days that feel as if they stretch for a lifetime. Luckily, there are a few institutional coffee shops on/near the Harvard campus, so we never have to go a day without a caffeine boost!

A Coffee Connoisseur's Guide to Harvard

For coffee enthusiasts, coffee is no joke. A Keurig drip coffee just won't do it for us -- we're all about finding awesome great ambience + coffee brewed with love that will satisfy our caffeine needs for the day. Taking into consideration environment, decor, authenticity, and staff friendliness, I'll be ranking five of the main places that Harvard students frequent for coffee, teas, and the like!

1) dwelltime. To describe dwelltime in a couple words: authentic, so-so-good (wanted to emphasize how good it really is). The menu is short, but that doesn't mean that their coffees don't pack a punch. From authentic cold brews to cortados that have the perfect mix of espresso and milk, dwelltime is the perfect getaway from the Harvard campus for a short coffee break. Distance from Harvard: 15 min. walk. Worth it? I think so.

2) Starbucks in the Square. The location is what puts this Starbucks high on my list. Located right in the heart of Harvard Square, just a minute walk from the main Harvard Yard, this location is packed with tourists and travelers and students alike, boasting lots of seating and outlets (a must when you're a student trying to frantically finish a paper before the midnight deadline). Plus, it's open until 1AM on weekdays, so for last minute attempts at staying up the night to study for that exam we should have started studying for, this Starbucks comes in clutch. You don't know how many hours I've spent people watching/studying here, cooped up in my little corner!

3) Cafe Gato Rojo. A quaint cafe located right under Dudley House, one of the houses in the centrally-located Harvard Yard, it's student-run and has the coziest ambience. A+ for environment and quality of tea -- plus, your best friend may be the one making your espresso shot! Perfect for long nights of readings on readings when libraries get too soul-wrenchingly disheartening, and your bedroom is too tempting for "quick" naps. 

4) Starbucks in the Science Center, Harvard. In between classes, before lecture, after lecture, during lecture -- this Starbucks doesn't judge. Trust me, their Chai tea lattes are the bomb. Plus, every student at Harvard gets $60 of "board plus" credited to their student accounts, so we get to spend that cash credit on all of the Chai tea lattes that we desire!

5) Your dorm room. I don't know about you, but I love drinking coffee or tea in my PJ's, from the comfort of my own home. During the school year, my dorm room is home, and I always make the effort to make it as cozy as can be. My roommates and I always have tons of pillows, rugs, mugs, and the yummiest teas stocked! I have the Harvard speckled mug, and the classic Harvard mug

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer Street Festivals!

We're now just two weekends away from the start of the new school year (cue the tears), so each and every second of the weekend is too precious to let go to waste.

Last Saturday, I broke out of the Harvard bubble and ventured to the nearby Union Square in Somerville for the "Ignite! A Global Street Food and Fire and Fire Festival", a huge food/culture/arts festival featuring some of the best food inspired from countries around the world, handmade, handcrafted artisanal goods, a collection of the coolest people from all around Boston.

I have to say that the ambience of Boston/the neighboring communities is so different in the summer. The vibes are so chill -- the Bostonians who've stayed in the city for the summer months are mostly all professionals or student interns, making for a relaxed bunch of city dwellers looking for a casual, good time on the weekends. 

These lanterns were so cool. We sat and watched all of the street performers (the music was also on point! There was a group of about 15 musicians who coordinated to play the theme of Ghostbusters, complete with a little synchronized dance) while eating some of the best naan and samosas in the city. Mmmmm.

Summer is dwindling, but I'm all about taking advantage of every last ray of sunlight before to have fun and adventure around the city before school starts again!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer fitness goals

If I've learned anything at Harvard in my last two years here, it's that most Harvard students are your typical type A kids who love setting goals. Harvard kids are big goal-setters, and especially over the summer when things get a lot less structured and a lot more ambiguous, I know summer goals are a way of keeping me on my self-determined track to personal improvement and development. 

One of my summer 2015 goals is to stay fit and exercise five times a week. It's a pretty tough goal, especially with working 9-5 business hours, but it feels good to get my blood pumping and feeling my stamina growing. Who knows, maybe I'll run a marathon one day (#lifegoals)! But for now, I'll keep to my morning-before-work workout regiment, and keep motivating myself by buying the latest athletic wear!

The Harvard Shop rolled out a new Athletic Wear line for the summer/fall of 2015, including gym-friendly and sweat-friendly t-shirts including a performance tee & the Veritas tee, and the comfiest workout pants/lounge around all day every day like these running shorts and these yoga pants (if I could wear yoga pants every day, I totally would). 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer in Boston: A day on the Hahvahd Tour

Growing up, my family did a lot of traveling. We've been to the various national parks, forests, and tourist traps there are out there in the vast state of California, but my family's method of 1) arriving, 2) finding somewhere to eat, 3) walking around, and 4) moving on to another location probably isn't the best way to explore a new place.

When I was in Europe this past summer, I tended to stay away from organized tours because they often spanned for 3 hours at a time, and I didn't want to look too much like a tourist. They often cost way too much money as well, so as a student traveling on a budget, I couldn't bear giving away my precious euros away (as you have probably gleaned by now, I was on an extreme budget). 

The downside to that was the fact that though I was seeing so many beautiful buildings and breathing in the history of magnificent European cities, I had no idea what I was really seeing or breathing in (that plus all of the fumes from the canals in Venice... not an enjoyable experience, to say the least). 

Part of traveling is about seeing everything, and in today's world, about taking selfies with everything you see. But I have to say that the other side of traveling (and in my opinion, the more important) is learning about and from the places we go. My time exploring London is so much concretely ingrained in my mind because I went on an hour-long walking tour across the royal city, as compared to an afternoon wandering aimlessly around the Roman ruins in Rome (beautiful as it may be, I dug deep into my elementary school Roman education reserves... and got little to nothing). 

So after 20 years of aimlessly roaming new places, I've decided that it's time to be an adult and take advantage of each travel experience as a true learning experience.

The Hahvahd Tour

Harvard especially has an incredible (and long) history as the nation's first university, and the educational stomping ground of world-renowned thinkers, politicians, actors, business people, and students alike. 

See the classic Hahvahd t-shirt and the iconic Harvard straw hat while you're roaming the campus? Nope, they didn't just spell Harvard wrong -- the Hahvahd Tour, run by Trademark Tours, is the city's best, student-led tour of the Harvard campus. 

Trust me, a tour of Harvard doesn't get more real than it does with a student leader. You'll hear all of the great stories, hear the truest insight on what it's like being a student at Harvard, and be able to ask any and all the questions you don't get to on a traditional tour. 

With a super-quirky, theatrical script delivered by hand-selected students from across the different class years and schools of study, the Hahvahd Tour guides are one of a kind. If you're like me and get impatient with tours, but want to soak in the experience of Harvard, you have to take a tour. There's no way around it!

Groups stay small, the scripts are comical, and really, the walk isn't that much (Harvard has a pretty tiny campus for a school so notorious!). You'll hear about the many myths of Harvard, as well as the traditions and to-do's before graduating (I'll spare the details here).

Most of all, my biased opinion is that a tour given by real-life students is always going to beat out a tour led by huge coach tour bus drivers. Always. :) 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer in Boston: SOWA Market

Growing up, I always looked forward to going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings -- it was a time honored tradition between me and my mom. Farmer's Market trips were the second best to Saturday morning cartoons, which is saying a lot because you couldn't get me away from the television screen when Sabrina the Teenage Witch was playing. 

Photo by SOWA and New England Open Markets

Farmers Markets are a whole new ball game in the Northeast. For the past 12 years, the South End Open Market (SOWA) hosts an amazing farmer's market with the freshest produce from local farmers, an arts & crafts section with the cutest trinkets and gifts for the family, and a lot full of specialty food trucks serving the hoards of hungry wanderers who crowd SOWA. 

SOWA's only open on Sundays from May to October, so the space is always packed with Bostonians! (SOWA's a well-kept secret amongst Bostonians, so you'll be avoiding all the tourist traps) My family was there a few weekends ago, and the hot summer weather coupled with our post-brunch sweet teeth made us hungry for dessert! Luckily, I had my tortoise shell Harvard sunglasses to fend off the sun, and we quickly found a great ice cream truck selling green tea ice cream & a chocolate chile-infused ice cream (don't let that contrast scare you off - it was super delicious). 

You can see everyone trying too cool down from the brutal July heat with their yummy treats! From Roxy's Grilled Cheese to BonMe's Vietnamese-American fusion truck, SOWA has the best of the best from the food truck culinary world. 

Pictured are my parents, visiting Boston all the way from California for a fun continuation of our weekend Farmer's Market trips. :) 

Check out SOWA before the summer ends, but make sure you're equipped with a water bottle and a tote bag to curb the summer heat and store all of the goodies you pick up along the way!

Photo by SOWA and New England Open Markets

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Daytripping in Boston: Food Adventures

Last week, I blogged about my road tripping adventure to Portland with my co-workers at Harvard Student Agencies. Apart from the breath-taking views of the waters and the historic, grand lighthouses that guard the ports of Maine, Portland boasts an incredible foodie culture. From gourmet eateries like Duckfat to ice creameries visited by influential American Presidents, Portland is a hub for hipster traveling in the Northeast.

We were famished by noon, and everybody needed an hour-long iPhone battery charge. I had my trusty Harvard Charge Pack (I made sure to grab one before a road trip -- can you prove you did something fun when you don't have any pictures? Not in today's social media-obsessed world...), but even so, we were all just itching to get our battery levels back up to 100%. 

We found Eventide Oyster Co., an oyster bar/classic New England fare restaurant that had the most inventive renditions of the dishes we've come to know and love. Fish and chips, lobster rolls, and oysters will never taste the same after you've come here!\

Boston is big on oysters, with plenty of restaurants hosting a $1/oyster nights around the city most nights of the week. Being a New England coastal city, we get the freshest of seafoods, and so oysters are not anything new your average Bostonian. I've got to say, however, that the sampling of different types of oysters that we had at Eventide were unparalleled. 

So if you're a #foodie and you have a free weekend this summer, make sure Portland, ME is one your list!