The blog of The Harvard Crimson

Quiz: What Kind of Zoom Participant Are You?

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{shortcode-282a2a2e139034d0991b320beb24211a9447d900}Let Flyby take a guess about your Zoom habits using your results to this quiz!

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1. What is your favorite snack?

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A) Chips? Crackers? I prefer to just eat a meal

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B) The banana chips from the dhall

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C) Fruit — subtle and easy to eat quietly

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D) Anything I can find to snack on...

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2. What is your favorite part of a Zoom lecture?

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A) Clicking the “leave meeting” button

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B) How do I know what my favorite part of a Zoom lecture is when I don't even know what’s going on?

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C) Hot-take, but the BREAKOUT ROOMS

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D) Asking questions because the professor lost me at the third slide

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3. One word to describe how your semester is currently going.

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A) There are no words

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B) Hanging by a thread — I know that’s more than one, but this was the only way to fully describe my semester

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C) Thriving

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D) Flustered

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4. What are your thoughts on making friends through Zoom?

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A) Absolutely not

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B) I would prefer for it to be in-person, but understand how that’s not very feasible given the pandemic

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C) No other way I’d rather make new friends!

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D) Sure, why not?

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5. When do you leave lectures?

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A) Right when class time is up regardless of whether or not the lecture runs overtime

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B) When the professor finishes lecturing

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C) I always stay 10 minutes afterwards to ask questions

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D) I actually leave whenever I want

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Mostly A’s: No Camera, No Mic, No Chat

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Even though class is now attendable by the click of a button, it was probably still a struggle to find the motivation to go. Your naps in between classes were initially energizing, but have now become dangerously good. 15 minutes no longer seems like enough. Now, you just wake up to hop onto the Zoom call and go back to sleep. Or, you’re hungry and ready to eat. Zoom will certainly not stop you from getting your full lunch experience. The no camera, no mic option on Zoom is currently your biggest life hack.

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Mostly B’s: Camera, No Mic

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Ah yes, the classic camera on, mic off. Whether you’re willfully turning your camera on, you give off the image that you are engaged. But, in reality, you’re completely checked-out. Whether you’re working on an assignment for another class, watching TikToks, or simply just zoning out, it’s safe to say that you have no clue what is going on in this Zoom call. As long as no one knows that, you’re good. Faking it till you make it has never failed you and you’re not about to stop now.

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Mostly C’s: Camera On, Mic On, CHAT

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The Zoomster. You actually look forward to Zoom calls. Whether or not classes and meetings are in-person or online, it doesn’t matter because you know you will be fully engaged. You’re the person who starts the discussion when the professor divides the 200+ person lecture into breakout rooms. No awkward silences for you today!

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Mostly D’s: No Camera, Mic On

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If we’re being honest, you probably have no idea that your mic is on. I mean, who turns their camera off, but has their mic on...? The exception is if you’re in a breakout room and actually have something to say. Otherwise, we know that you’re completely unaware of your mic being on.

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Confessions of a Harvard Confessions Admin

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{shortcode-0a934754a6bf7638f91685c3e5b8032adb532ade}Let’s be real: quarantine hasn’t been the most exciting. We’ve all been trying to recreate the campus chatter at home, and you or your blockmates have probably discovered the allure of Harvard Confessions. Along with Samyra’s tea times on Instagram, the Harvard Confessions Facebook page has been utilized as a platform to anonymously post hot takes, thirsty propositions, and angry rants. If you’ve ever wondered about the behind-the-scenes details, Flyby has got you covered with an interview from an admin who asked to be anonymous to preserve the nature of the Harvard Confessions page.

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1. Did you start Harvard Confessions? When did it get started?

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HCA: Basically I was seeing MIT confessions and I was like, Oh, why doesn’t Harvard have a confessions page? So, I created it in February of 2019.

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2. For those unfamiliar with the page, what are three words you would use to describe it?

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HCA: Relatable, diverse, and whack.

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3. My friends have definitely sent me whacky confessions on the page. Do you guys have a confession hall of fame?

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HCA: No [laughs], but we definitely should in the future.

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4. Like print some out and put it on a wall?

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HCA: Yeah, that would be really fun.

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5. Do you think professed-love and thirsty confessions have ever led to any relationships? Could it ever replace Datamatch?

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HCA: I don’t think so…I think what our peers are doing are great but also…Datamatch is sponsored by restaurants and students can actually meet up, whereas for us, we’re a platform where students can profess their love anonymously and just hope for the best.

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6. Have you ever submitted a confession?

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HCA: In the beginning, yeah, just because we needed to get stuff off the ground. But nowadays, there’s way too much to go through.

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7. So the coronavirus happened and it really looks like the page blew up. Any thoughts about why?

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HCA: People are probably using Confessions as a way to virtually feel like they’re still on campus or connected with fellow students…in March, the page activity definitely ramped up.

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Yes, you can talk to your friends, or DM people, but I think it’s very different than having a common space [like Confessions].

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8. Has it been more difficult running the page?

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HCA: Definitely! Along with more submissions, we got more demands. Like if we didn’t post something fast enough, we would get more submissions asking why we didn’t post it. And it’s not a personal vendetta… I mean like, we don’t even know who you are!

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9. What’s something that people would be surprised to hear about the behind-the-scenes of running the account?

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HCA: We actually read everything and we discuss everything…And the fact that we get 200-300 submissions per day, so when people complain or say we aren’t approving them fast enough, we really can’t [laughs].

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10. So how do you decide which ones get posted?

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HCA: We usually filter for some sort of quality. As in, it should be funny, interesting, relatable. Originally we wanted to remain completely apolitical, but when we don’t post, people accuse us of censoring and agreeing with the opposing side… we try to do a balance of posting both sides. The ones that have too much profanity or are too offensive, or directly call out individuals, we try to steer away from those...Anything that we know for a fact is false, we definitely also won’t post, like a lot of hearsay that tarnishes an organization’s reputation.

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11. Overall, it’s been pretty popular among Harvard students. Why do you think people submit to it? Why do you think people like reading it?

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HCA: Maybe, for some people it’s seeking validation… For others, seeing if their opinions are a hot take or a cold take. Maybe they feel like this is a good platform to share their thoughts. And for other people, some sort of clout or entertainment?

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12. Describe the page as a singular HUDS dish.

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HCA: The Make Your Own omelet stations. I guess metaphorically, Confessions is what the student body puts into it and each omelet comes out differently based on what you put in it.

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13. So how many of you are there?

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HCA: It’s half our blocking group, so 4 of us. We’re actually looking to bring in new moderators since we’re all seniors now, so definitely looking for younger moderators to join the team. Take the torch please!

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14. Going off of that, what do you see as the future of the page once you’re gone?

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HCA: Just hope that the page continues as long as Facebook is alive.

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ESD: Oh, Zuck.

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HCA: (laughs) Yeah...it’s a really good community for people to highlight issues that aren’t normally talked about. And hopefully a space where people can relax, chill, talk about funny things, and spread campus gossip.

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So if you’re ever bored, whether you’re in quarantine or at school, check out the Harvard Confessions page on Facebook. We promise it’ll (probably) be worth your time.

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How to: Deal With Zoom Disasters

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{shortcode-0e06d2a59c1e6b6462014b218a837e9cafe0a9d9}As technologically well-versed college students, you would think we’ve figured out how to use Zoom by now. But it seems like the summer has made us all forget about the technical issues that can arise when our cameras and microphones are on. If any of these Zoom disasters have happened to you, or you’re nervous that they might, here’s our advice on how to deal with them. Damage control has never been easier!

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The speaking while you’re muted

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This one’s a little embarrassing but not the worst. Maybe you had a really great question in lecture and now no one will hear you flex because you were muted the whole time. No big deal. Hopefully a friend in your class will point this out so you can fix it. Or maybe you’ll just realize when everyone’s ignoring you. Shake it off. Just unmute yourself and try again!

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The speaking while you’re NOT muted but meant to be

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Okay, this one’s a little more embarrassing and a LOT worse. Here’s to hoping you were only talking to your mom and NOT complaining about your professor and their *incredibly exciting* lecture. And here’s to hoping that Zoom didn’t do you dirty by switching the screen to you while you were speaking. If this is you, check with a friend on the call to see what they heard on the receiving end. And if you think you may have offended someone, just apologize!

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The Zoom chat

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The Zoom chat is a disaster just waiting to happen. Picture this: you’re telling your friend about your horrible morning, confessing you didn’t do the reading for lecture, or complaining about the annoying kid in your section. Except you’re not just telling your friend — you send it to everyone on the call. Yikes! As embarrassing as this is in the moment, we can assure you that it isn’t so bad. As other messages in the chat come in, everyone will forget about yours!

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The Zoom chat, part two

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Here’s another scenario. Just like the last one, this also starts with you still spilling your deepest sins to your friend. Except this time, instead of chatting the whole class, you message the wrong person. So yes, it’s a little unsettling to know that a stranger knows all your tea, but hey, think about it like this: worst case, you’ve creeped them out a bit, but best case, you’ve made a new friend!

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The video fiasco

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Listen to us carefully: if you don’t wear pants to class, don’t leave your video on. The easiest way to prevent video camera disasters is to make sure you don’t do things you wouldn’t do in public while you’re on zoom. This includes but is not limited to: nose-picking, not being fully clothed, and using your camera as a makeup mirror. There’s two ways to solve this problem. Either keep your camera off, or just pay attention for the full lecture.

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If you’re still worried about future Zoom disasters or a little scarred from one that happened a few weeks ago, we’ll leave you with this: while we hope this advice will keep you from making Zoom mistakes a habit, accidents are inevitable. If one of these things does happen to you, your friends, classmates, and professors will forgive you. And when Zoom classes become a thing of the past, your Zoom disaster will be too!

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Love it/Hate it: Required Cameras On

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{shortcode-52deab645bec2a39756ac9df56bdf2e1c4f04235}Are you a brain-on-camera-on person or a napping-during-class-camera-off person? Turns out it doesn't matter when keeping your camera on in class is a requirement... Is this new measure of class attendance something to love or something to hate?

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Love it — Nicole T. Rozelman

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Be honest with yourself: as you locked eyes with your reflection in the black screen between your 19th and 20th Netflix episodes, you had a bit of a wake-up call. Your contorted slouch against your headboard couldn’t be good for you and missing campus just isn’t a good enough excuse to be wearing your Pfohome t-shirt every day. What better incentive to get your life back on track than the promise of a Zoom private message-tionship with your new section crush?

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As the air starts to take on that autumn crisp, we all know the rush of nervous excitement that we kick ourselves for having as soon as the first 100 page reading gets assigned. But like it or not, school is fun. It’s the only time in our lives when we get to soak up as much information as possible from world-class professors and engage with incredibly smart and passionate peers, both of which are much harder to do with our cameras off. It’s far too tempting to scroll through Insta or honestly just take a nap during class, so camera-on policies are the extra push we need to help us make the most out of the classes we’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to be in. While Zoom can’t replicate the experience of being in a classroom, watching everyone’s reactions to class discussions and chat pms gone wrong helps make us all feel like we’re part of a community.

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Plus, in this age of online classes, the students have the upper hand. By April, most of us had figured out the perfect lighting-angle-background-wfh setup for every situation. Trying to look cute in a 250 person lecture? Cameras required plays right into your “I just happened to be wearing a full face of makeup” vibe. (Pro tip: accidentally unmute yourself to make sure you’re pinned to the first grid of everyone’s screens.) Didn’t do the reading and trying to disappear? We recommend sitting in front of a sunny window and tilting your camera up for a nice half-face, half-ceiling shot. If the glare of the light isn’t enough to make your professor look away, the Zoom name label will blur your guilty face as you do work for another class.

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We’re all just faking it ‘til we make it here at Zoom U, so maybe a little forced interaction with other humans and *this is fine* energy is exactly what we need to get us as close as possible to a semblance of a college experience.

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Hate it — Christine Mui

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No words make my ears want to curl up into my head and never come back out more than when a professor says “everyone must turn their cameras on” at the beginning of a Zoom meeting. Okay, they typically don’t word it like that. More frequently, this demand is phrased as a vague, “chill” up-to-you type of deal, along the lines of “Hey, I’d really appreciate it if everybody who’s able to can turn their cameras on.” Sure, there might be some professors who genuinely mean this, but they’ve been ruined by the handful of professors that pause class five minutes later to point out the proportion of students still with their cameras off before spending the next who knows how long contemplating out loud whether these students all have valid reasons for doing so. But at the end of the day, why do they get to determine whether my reason for wanting to turn the camera off is valid?

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I’m not saying I don’t understand the reasons professors require cameras to be on. “It’s to recreate the environment of class like it would’ve been on campus.” I mean if we were in Science Center C, let’s be honest you would never dwell on my face long enough to memorize it, let alone notice if I had sunglasses on or a bag over my head, essentially the real-life equivalent of cameras-off. And though keeping cameras on does make it less likely students will go on their phone to watch TikToks, it’s certainly no guarantee. Seeing somebody’s face is only one, fairly limited component of academic engagement. Yet, I’ve noticed that professors have been stopping there when they should be focusing on how to better the presentation of material, not the presentation of students themselves.

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There are less practical reasons too. Maybe, last night, at 3 in the morning, I dyed my hair pink and cut half bangs before chickening out (true story), so I’m saving the class from seeing this. Or take CS50 for example. Those same recorded class lectures are reused for the edX version of the course. I’m not trying to make my Internet debut to hundreds of try-hard highschoolers, that’s what TikTok is for. Zoom fatigue is real. For those of us who don’t have blue-light glasses, please just let me take the occasional day to focus solely on the audio.

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How to: Virtually Volunteer

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{shortcode-22ec9966b0368b2b90d3f18ab60eb23f9cdd7615}One of the greatest joys of being a college student is having a plethora of volunteer opportunities available year-round. Even if COVID-19 may prevent us from lending a hand in person, there are still countless ways to give back virtually. While the email lists, activities fairs, and Harvard Serves Everywhere newsletters may feel overwhelming, we hope you eventually find an organization or two that you’re passionate about. Read this list for a few programs that are excited to welcome new members — and remember, this list is just a tiny fraction of what Harvard has to offer!

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Phillips Brooks House Association

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The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is the go-to hotspot for volunteer opportunities. It is an entirely student-run organization that allows you to give back to the greater Boston community in response to expressed needs. Mentor elementary students through Strong Women Strong Girls, teach English to recent adult immigrants through Chinatown ESL, spend time with the elderly through Alzheimer’s Buddies, or advocate through the Student Labor Action Movement. Here is the long list of all the opportunities available this semester virtually. We can all agree that online bingo with senior citizens is much more enjoyable than a physics pset.

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Operation CORE

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Operation CORE was created to support Boston Chinatown businesses and mentor high school students for college preparation in response to COVID-19. This organization aims to mitigate the damages caused by xenophobia and prejudice through financial relief. Families pay what they can afford for Operation CORE’s college preparation services, and the money is redirected to its Community Relief Fund. Operation CORE is looking for undergraduate students to volunteer as mentors, so sign up!

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Harvard Undergraduates Raising Autism Awareness

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Harvard Undergraduates Raising Autism Awareness, otherwise known as HURAA, is an organization that strives to increase awareness and build community in the autistic community in Boston. Undergraduate volunteers interact with members of the autistic community every Friday during “Friday Night Club” events, with various activities including playing Uno, singing karaoke, and coloring. All members and volunteers of HURAA enjoy catching up with one another.

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Wave Learning Festival

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Wave Learning Festival is another organization initiated as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It currently has over 10,000 members and offers more than 300 free courses and seminars covering a diverse range of topics, allowing middle and high school students more access to academic support and online resources while schools are closed. You can teach anything you are excited about, from a world language to biology to English. This is also a great way to enjoy a throwback to all your favorite subjects from when you were younger.

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Whether you are a first-year student navigating all the available volunteering opportunities or a seasoned senior trying to find a new activity for your final year, we commend you for hoping to make your community a better place. As you can see, there’s something for everyone!

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How to: Avoid Becoming a Zoomster

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{shortcode-bd955b45fcd7098b768f512c16cd300bb393c86c}Though you might not be able to become a Lamonster from all those late nights “studying” this semester in that building we all miss so much, we definitely don’t want you to become a Zoomster (see what we did there? Zoom + monster!). Check out these tips and tricks for navigating your way around the traps of the Zoomster (beware!). Good luck!

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A simple rhyme: When not on Zoom, leave your room.

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Actually. Stand up. Stretch. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Maybe walk to the kitchen to grab that snack you’ve been craving all day, or even be adventurous and go for a social-distanced walk outside. Reset. You’ll need it.

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Put screen time limits on your phone.

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This is a life and time SAVER. Have you ever been mindlessly scrolling through social media only to realize it’s been two hours and you missed section? Set a time limit on social media and other time-consuming apps to make sure you spend at least a few hours technology-free.

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Phone a friend.

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For real (aka don't just call your friend and spend the time scrolling through GroupMes and Instagram while having a half-hearted conversation). Sometimes we all just need to focus our attention on anything other than Zoom and technical difficulties (arghh — how are these STILL happening?!)

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Color.

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Buy a coloring book, or just use those colorful pens you have lying around your house, and color anything and everything. Not only is it fun, but it’s also very relaxing. And guess what? No touch-screen device required!

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Whether the academic year has started off smoothly or you’ve been frantically experiencing wifi glitches, computer screens are probably your new (maybe not “best”) friends. We spend all day with them, we talk to them, and we even eat with them on a day-to-day basis (except in those classes that impose “no eating” rules, even though we’re hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away). But honestly, sometimes giving your new best friend, Zoom University, some space — aka taking some time away from the blue light that’s giving you that pounding headache — is healthy.

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Fall 2020 Zoomester Playlist

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{shortcode-d06682836c3d59e0addfcc6a5408baa747090a93}Just because classes are on Zoom doesn't mean you can’t listen to music in between to pretend you’re walking to class! Here’s Flyby’s roundup of our favorite songs going into September. From Megan Thee Stallion to Taylor Swift, enjoy our virtual mixtape created just for you!

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And with that, we present our Fall 2020 Zoomester Playlist.{shortcode-4dbea8d4df76f3c8d12e4e7428f444d529692dd8}

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Like what you hear? Follow our Spotify account, where you’ll find all our playlists. Don’t like it? Tell us about it. Shoot a message to flyby@thecrimson.com, especially if you have ideas for more songs we can include.

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How To: Write and Send a Letter

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{shortcode-18cff8e5a37a5cfc4f01b180ed023a9fe59df0a0}After months in quarantine, we’ve grown a little tired of seeing our friends through Netflix Party, Skribbl.io, and Houseparty. Looking for a new way to communicate with your friends that doesn’t involve a screen? Read on to discover the art of the letter.

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Who do you send it to?

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Maybe you’ve been writing secret love letters that you hide in your closet, or you haven’t written a letter since elementary school. The great thing about letters is that they never go out of style, and can be sent to everyone. Send a future note to yourself, write a fun letter to your friends, or let your family know you care about them. If you’re adventurous and want to make a new friend, you can find a pen pal here!

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How do you mail it?

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Like us, mail comes in all shapes and sizes. Buy a local postcard for a little personal flair, or browse the Target aisle for the funniest card and stick a stamp on it, which can be found at your local mail center. If you’re feeling extra nice, you can even get a box and fill it with your favorite snacks to show your letter recipient that you love them. You can also buy a gift from Etsy and add a personalized note.

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What do you write in it?

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A blank piece of paper is a lot more daunting than a blue text bubble on a phone screen. But this empty canvas also holds so much opportunity to let your mind run free. If you mess up, you can just start over with a new sheet of paper instead of agonizing over that text you accidentally sent to the wrong person. If you’re writing to your family, they really just want to know you’re okay, so let them know every detail of your day, from what you ate for breakfast to your horrible Zoom class, and make sure to note how much you miss them for extra brownie points. If you’re writing to a pen pal, add some questions at the end to spice up the conversation and learn more about the receiver.

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What else could you put in the package?

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Don’t feel like writing? Send small gifts instead. For a friend group, you could thrift a cute jean jacket and send it across the country from friend to friend, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants style. At each stop, someone can add a patch or pin to it, and by the end of the year you’ll have an adorable memory. If denim isn’t your style, share some photos for wall decor, or send non-perishable snacks to your quarantine cutie.

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As classes start and the stress follows, sending and receiving letters are the perfect way to add a little slice of joy and excitement to your day. Reconnect with old friends, spice up your Zoom call with a surprise package, or meet a new friend from around the world.

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How to: Make Connections with Your Professor Online

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{shortcode-770ff07beaa7b1374c82645a3cf2d20dca67ad97}While Harvard is fully online this year, establishing rapport with professors is still an essential aspect of the college academic experience. But what do you do when you cannot pop in spontaneously to in-person during office hours anymore? Don’t worry, Flyby has you covered with some insightful tips on how to create meaningful connections with your instructors through a computer screen.

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Office Hours: Virtual, But Still Functional

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Sure, maybe you can’t wow them with your in-person aura anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should skip their online office hours. Try to show up every week, and don’t be afraid to talk about topics beyond the classroom. Even better, you don’t have to trudge for 15 minutes through the Cambridge streets to show up!

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Classroom Participation

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It’s never easy to speak up in front of the whole class, but the students who do will stick in the professor’s mind, especially if they do it consistently. Thanks to the Zoom format, you will feel a lot less pressure while voicing an insightful comment or a thought-provoking question during the class session.

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Unique Backgrounds

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While your thoughts and conversations will be the most enticing for your professor, there’s no reason not to bring in some visual prowess and spice up your Zoom background. A bright student with a unique sense of style? Double points.

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Send Memes in Your Emails

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This depends on your instructor’s sense of humor, but if you sense a meme spirit in them, go for it. Think about how many boring, “I hope this email finds you well” emails professors get from their students every day. Drop a customized meme that relates to a course quirk or trend, and you will definitely receive some appreciation along the way.

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So, don’t despair! Whether you’re trying to secure that solid recommendation letter or make a new friend, don’t be afraid to use the full range and potential of an online education to build a strong relationship with your professors.

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How to: Recreate Lamont

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{shortcode-037d6f2704e7ee0605e82d2d8332f60b333402a4}Of all the things we’ll miss the most this semester, Lamont definitely makes the top of the list. Who wouldn’t miss those late night study sessions-turned-hangouts-turned-all-nighters? Do you consider yourself a Lamonster? Are you craving those delectable, one of a kind LamCaf snacks and drinks? C’mon, we know you do. But even though Lamont might be hundreds or thousands of miles away, we’ve found some ways to recreate that unique ~ambiance~ at home.

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— For the times when your taste buds are feeling a bit nostalgic, try to recreate the delicious tastes of LamCaf. We know that java chip drink isn’t actually coffee, but who cares? Make it and show off that hand-crafted drink to your Zoom section :)

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— If you’re feeling like a chef, recreate one of those delicious vending machine snacks that only seem to exist in LamCaf (for real though, why do some snacks ONLY exist in Lamont and not CGIS?). Want a salty, yet sweet snack? Try making yogurt covered pretzels, or if you’re too busy finishing up that assignment or are stuck in Zoom meetings for days, order them online (that’s probably what we’ll do).

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— Though Lamont might be a library, the noises of Lamont would say otherwise. Miss finishing up that last minute paper amid people talking (yelling?) in the nooks of Lamont? Background noise comes in many forms, so check out this background music from the mindfulness genre (hopefully this three hour clip will be enough time to finish your CS50 pset!).

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— 24/7. Save your work for the last minute just like you did when you knew you could always head over to Lamont. Just kidding.

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— Recreate your LamCaf table by setting up a virtual one! For real. Send out a Zoom invite to all of your Lamont friends, bring some snacks and drinks, and study or talk until the wee hours of the morning (or until your computer runs out of charge or the 45 minutes of Zoom expire).

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Though recreating Lamont might not be exactly the same as Lamont itself, these tips and tricks will definitely help on those nights when you really do miss it. And if you’re really missing it a bit too much, print out a picture of Lamont and paste it on top of your desk for ~inspiration~. We’ll also probably be doing that too.

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An Open Letter to the Snow Day We Never Got

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{shortcode-95569f35e7b7a99deaaf509d6d3a33d6fc77c841}Dear Snow Day,

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Let us start with the facts. Some online digging has shown that between November and April, it snows for about 22 days every year in Cambridge. Considering that we were on campus for most of that time, it’s reasonable to hope that Harvard would have had a big snow storm at some point. In particular, we mean big enough to get class cancelled. Spoiler alert — this didn’t happen.

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We are pretty disappointed that you never came. Yes, it’s easy to be mad when snow gets in your boots and makes your socks wet, or when it piles on trees in the Yard and flies into your eyes when you take a walk. But while some people associate snow with sniffles and shivers, I like to think about the snowflakes and hot chocolate and most importantly, you.

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You probably don’t know or realize how much we miss you, but believe me, twenty-four hours of no class and complaining about the weather is exactly what every college student needs in the middle of midterm season. I don’t know what your excuses are for not happening this year. Maybe you didn’t feel like it. Maybe you were running late. Or maybe global warming just didn’t let you (I’ll forgive you if it was this one).

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A single snow day may not sound like a big deal to Northeast natives, and it’s probably not. But believe me when I tell you, many of us who come from places where it doesn’t snow have been WAITING for you for months. Now that we’re in quarantine in California or Hawaii or Florida or anywhere else with warm weather, all of us winter-wannabes will never get to meet you.

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Before you say you’ll be back next year, I must sadly remind you that the rise of Zoom may render you obsolete. Next time we’re snowed in, will it be a day of virtual backgrounds and remote class? I hope this isn’t goodbye forever, but rather only goodbye for now. As long as the snow keeps coming, we hope you will too.

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Sincerely,

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Your friends who miss you the most

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Multiplayer Games For Your Next Game Night

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{shortcode-d81c4ec53751b3a66d722728ab88c27107f6d28c}Looking to get competitive during your next club social or call with friends? Look no further — Flyby’s rounded up some multiplayer games perfect for trying out during your next Zoom call. You and your friends may be scattered across different time zones and worried about catching coronavirus, but at least these games are here to help you catch up and stay sane.

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Skribbl.io

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2-12 players

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If you haven’t played Skribbl.io yet, you’ve been missing out! Make a private room and get a bunch of your friends to join. You’ll take turns getting a word and drawing a picture for it, guessing what your friends’ drawings are supposed to be, and laughing a lot when the drawings are, uh, bad. There’s also support for custom words, so you can build your own deck of words to draw from.

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Among Us

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4-10 players

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To play Among Us for free, everyone will need to download the app on a phone or tablet. The premise is that all players are a team completing tasks to run a spaceship. One player, however, is actually an Imposter whose goal is to ruin the mission. While everyone runs around doing tasks, the Imposter will kill crewmates, sabotage ship technology, and try to keep their identity hidden. Crew members are tasked with keeping the ship running and figuring out who the Imposter is before it’s too late.

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Set with Friends

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1+ players

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This is a beautiful web app for playing the classic card game Set, and one of its developers is Harvard’s very own Eric K. Zhang ’23. In Set, cards display groups of shapes that may come in different numbers or colors. You compete to be the quickest to find triplets of cards satisfying certain rules. This may sound vague, but once you get into it, it’s hard to stop playing!

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Enigma

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4+ players

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Players are split into two opposing spy teams. Each team has four keywords they use to send encrypted messages for their teammates to decode, but beware — the other team can see your encrypted messages, too. As the rounds go by, see if you can use the enemy team’s previous messages to crack the code and figure out what their next one might say.

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Drawphone

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4+ players

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Drawphone is like Telephone, but with pictures. The game will give you all the instructions you need, so don’t worry if you haven’t played before, but the idea is that everyone starts out by making a drawing with a caption. After that, you’ll go back and forth getting drawings with no captions (and guessing what the caption should be) and captions with no drawings (and making a new drawing for it). Drawphone isn’t competitive; the goal is to just have fun! This game is best when played with very imaginative friends.

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All games have an option to play in a private room with only people you’ve invited, but if you feel like making new friends, many have opportunities to play with strangers in public rooms, too. Online games may not be the same as hanging out in person, but they definitely make the wait for the pandemic to end more bearable. Have fun!

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Tips for Remote Research

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{shortcode-8da69f28eacaab35791aa9f7fe4addfb9f5d0827}Let’s be real: even for the most well-prepared students, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into all of our plans. Along with summer travel plans and on-campus classes, COVID-19 has even taken out in-person research — restrictions are so tough that even the most hardcore pre-meds can’t get into a physical lab. Even though you envision test tubes and beakers when you think of a lab, there are plenty of remote research opportunities available at Harvard. If you’re looking to get involved in a lab or work for a professor, check out ways you can maximize your remote research experience below!

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LinkedIn Learning

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Who knew every Harvard student’s favorite social media site could be so useful? LinkedIn Learning is a free platform that offers over 15,000 on-demand courses to learn valuable skills such as Python for data science, R, Excel, market data analysis, and more. Hopefully you learn something new, but at worst, you’ll be able to brag about it to your 300+ connections.

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BioRender

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For the artistically challenged, BioRender is the perfect tool to create beautiful figures for your research projects or when you’re just feeling bored during class. Tried and true Flyby hack: try to make your professor’s face out of the provided icons when you’re bored during lecture.

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Ask a Librarian

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Our favorite and often most underutilized resources! The Harvard librarians have set up a live chat option operating from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or just submit a question over email.

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Library Shenanigans

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No, we are not referring to the stacks. To use the libraries ~properly~, check out the research guides that are fit for a variety of disciplines, digital library collections that allow you to study over six million digital objects, and Lean Library, a browser extension that gives you access to digital content available through Hollis.

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If you’re struggling with remote research, we feel you! Even though this is a new challenge, hopefully Flyby has equipped you with the tools you need to get started. And if not, don’t worry — your Nobel will still be waiting for you.

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How to: Make Any Space Feel Like Harvard

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{shortcode-1a7ff19e6976b087cf5583da99302a1a1d83eb2b}With the start of the remote semester, looking at old pictures of Harvard Yard and your friend’s Instagram Stories of campus aren’t cutting it anymore. We all miss Harvard, and even for those on campus, life just isn’t the same. But who says your new life can’t look a bit more like the Harvard of the past?

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Room Makeover: Home Edition

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You can admit it… you kind of miss your old twin-sized bed and, some nights, maybe even the top bunk. Have no fear: You can buy some bed risers or even make your own so that you can fit your dresser under your bed and get that dorm chic look. While you’re at it, replace your nice comfortable desk chair with one of the many famous Harvard chairs. One option is what the COOP calls the “Original Harvard Chair,” but if you want to bring the outside in, opt for one of those Harvard Yard chairs you’ve been missing a little extra lately.

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While you’re redecorating, get yourself a John Harvard replica desk statue or a beautiful print of the iconic tourist attraction — just make sure not to spill any specific liquids on this version. If you want to add a more casual touch, why not store your shower caddy in your off-campus room to remind yourself of your freshman experience? We’ve heard this look really goes well with polaroid photos you took after a long night out with some friends. Corral all your memories together and spotlight your class (or your would-be class, if you’re taking a leave of absence) and finally hang up your class photo next to your Harvard pendant, just to remind the people in your Zoom section that you are, in fact, a Harvard student.

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Bring the Dhall Home

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Who says trays are just reserved for Annenberg and upperclassman housing? Swipe into your kitchen (or show your parents your ID card), grab a tray and load up on some HUDS recreations — this way it’s easier to bring your snacks to your room anyway. If you only have a short break in between your classes and are feeling nostalgic for the quick trips to FlyBy, go ahead and pack yourself a PB&J, some carrots, or maybe even some tomato ravioli soup.

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Harvard Conversation Starters

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It’s been a while since we’ve heard the perfunctory “Let’s grab a meal sometime” line. Recreate this feeling at home by telling your parents or roommates that you should schedule a time to hangout, and pull out your GCal only to find that you’re too busy this week… maybe next week! If you’re also missing spontaneous run-ins with your friends, FaceTime or Zoom them at random times of the day to make things feel just a bit more natural.

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Add some personal Harvard touches to your childhood bedroom, off-campus apartment, or even your dorm to bring yourself back to pre-March 2020 times. But make sure to also create new memories, routines, and habits that you can bring back with you whenever we do return to campus.

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Flyby Investigates: What Happens if You Get COVID-19?

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{shortcode-c59f3f8eb177f3a2e446c7940266144fa7b9a6d6}A core component of Harvard’s Fall reopening plan is its high-frequency viral testing for everyone returning to campus, also known as sticking a giant Q-tip up your nose every two to three days. While you know the boy standing exactly 56 feet away from you in the Yard has booger-free nostrils, what happens if your COVID tests come back indeterminate or (gasp) positive?

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Testing

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For students living in on-campus housing, testing has meant receiving a baseline COVID-19 test in the Science Center upon arrival to campus, then quarantining in two phases, each corresponding to a different level of restrictions. According to the procedure, students will have completed the second phase after their third negative test. Upon completion, they’ll proceed with switching over to unobserved, self-administered tests three times a week (I guess we’re all on the pre-med track now). Students won’t receive testing results until two days later, through the Broad Institute’s online portal system (at least this one doesn’t have Duo login).

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Testing Positive

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So what if you test positive? According to HUHS’s policies on viral testing, “a medical professional from HUHS will contact you and discuss next steps. You will be required to remain in isolation for at least 14 days.” An invalid or indeterminate test means another nose swab is looming in your future. You’ll also be contacted by a HUHS medical professional and later reached out to by an HUHS contact tracer — an exciting social interaction prospect for freshmen.

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Through a 20 to 30 minute interview, the tracer will connect you to additional resources according to your needs and barriers to self-isolation, identify your proximal and close contacts over the past several days, and perform daily check-ins throughout the isolation period. Isolation locations will vary depending on your current housing situation. However, regardless of location, the protocol remains the same: Students will have to stay in their room for around 10 t0 14 days.

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If Your Friend Tests Positive

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If you test positive, the people directly exposed to you will have to receive a daily check-in and may be referred to additional testing (see this graphic for an aesthetically pleasing and informative guide). Harvard’s coronavirus policies FAQ adds that the Department of Public Health will only contact students deemed to be at an increased risk for contracting the virus because of close contact with another student who tested positive (it seems like good ol’ Harvard is selective to the end). Since all contact tracing communications through the College fall under a policy of confidentiality, it is up to each student whether, upon receiving a positive test result, they feel comfortable doing additional outreach to individuals they’re been around.

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Students Living Off-Campus

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Students learning remotely — including those living in the Cambridge/Boston area, deluding themselves that they’re living their regular on-campus lives — likely won’t receive regular screening tests. Only remote learning students with symptoms or close contact to someone who tested positive are allowed to be tested through a HUHS clinic — which may result in asymptomatic cases going unreported. Testing options also vary for remote students who have opted out of the student health insurance plan. Harvard has recommended that these individuals discuss testing options with their personal primary care physicians, especially if they experience COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms.

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Academic Concerns

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Though Harvard has expressed that a school representative will contact on-campus students daily “regarding academic support, the specifics for supporting your isolation period, and to address any other needed supports,” common practical academic concerns go largely unaddressed in email correspondence and the fall plan. College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an email to Flyby that “students should notify their professors in the ordinary way. The processes for requesting extensions are no different this year than in years past. If students require medical intervention off campus, the College will continue to support students via the academic and residential support structures that are in place.”

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Furthermore, students testing positive for COVID-19 while learning remotely are on their own in trying to get guidance on these topics, even though procedures for who students should notify and how have yet to be clearly established. In the meantime, with many academic procedures unchanged or not outlined for this fall, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your House deans and professors to clarify any concerns you have sooner rather than later.

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Spilling the Tea with Samyra

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{shortcode-2ce696b8810564edd26dc494f83dc617b001c422}Let’s be real, at this point Harvard feels more like a vague concept than an ~actual real place~, and we have no idea what’s going on 80 percent of the time. With students scattered all across the world, clubs left on their own to figure out what virtual programming even means, and a seemingly endless list of deadlines and Zoom calls from the College, the information is endless and our inbox (or mine at least) is already at 15,000 unread messages and counting.

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The confusion may be constant, but Flyby sat down with Samyra C. Miller ’21, our favorite go-to news source (sorry News Board), to spill the tea and tell us how she keeps us all informed and, of course, entertained.

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RR: Of course, we have to start with: how does it feel to basically be holding this entire institution on your shoulders with one Instagram story?

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SM: Have you seen Riverdale? It feels like I’m one of Archie, Jughead, Bettie, or Veronica who solve all the town’s problems, even though they have all the resources they need to solve the problem, but it seems like only these little children can do the solving. I don’t know which one though — definitely don’t want to be Archie. Kinda hate Archie.

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RR: So how did this all actually start? Did you plan to make it a regular thing or did it just happen naturally?

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SM: So, I think that I’m petty. When I first started going on rants or posting things that people would respond to that I would then post, it was around my sophomore fall. At first, I was just dragging these orgs that everyone else was afraid to drag, then other people had stuff to say, so I started posting what they had to say about these orgs too. Any of the bad “-ists” or “-isms”... shut it down. I think the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I was doing a lot of posting conversations about stuff and doing polls, and that was really when people started taking a liking to it a lot more.

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RR: Did you anticipate it becoming as well-known as it is today?

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SM: In life, in general, I don’t like to have high expectations for anything. But I definitely didn’t intend or expect anything to come out of me just either airing people out or spilling some tea or getting other people’s opinions. It was never me like, sitting down at my desk and being like “How will I plan to do this?”

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RR: Have you ever talked to admin about your Instagram? Like are they aware of how much students rely on you spreading info?

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SM: They’re very happy that students are getting this information — though sometimes they’re like “I wish students would just read their emails.” Like people think I’m the ~knower of all things Harvard~, that I just know stuff, but half the time I just read the emails they send! And then I post the info from the emails. From admin, they have been trying to find a way to centralize things, and I think that they see my Instagram being that place of centralized information, which I think they appreciate, but wish that it could have been a more University-affiliated centralized way. But I know that they see it — some of them follow me, some of them respond to my stories, some of them contribute — some are even the anonymous people that y’all are engaging with and have no clue.

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RR: Do you have a favorite discussion you’ve had on your account?

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SM: This wasn’t really an actual “discussion,” but the Corona Confessions were so funny. I’m sitting here and I see everything. But the stuff people were telling me… I know so much stuff about so many people from Corona Confessions! For more impactful discussions, I think when we had that talk about colorism, I think a lot of people learned a lot. Any time we talk about final clubs, people always go off but there’s good discourse on either side. Or when Harvard’s decision came out for the spring, that was crazy. The only reason why I went live was because my DMs were blowing up so much… that I just had to go on live and let people talk.

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{shortcode-29a227071d2c65e362a328f5b06708557f564ab2}

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RR: What do you do to de-stress, both in general and especially with social media?

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SM: I’ve been doing some singing, watching Netflix (recently I’ve been watching Selling Sunset), talking to friends… I love candles, so sometimes I’ll just light a candle and go on websites to shop for clothes that I’ll literally never buy… kinda therapeutic.

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RR: Do you have ideas on how to actually make info more accessible to students?

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SM: I think if Harvard got their socials popping, if Harvard got their Twitter popping… any very public, very modern place that students are checking into that isn’t like, “Download the Omni app.” Instead of telling students to meet you somewhere, you need to go meet the students somewhere. Get a little more on Twitter, little more on Instagram, just make it a little more fun and engaging for students instead of just “Here are the deadlines for the week.” If Dean Khurana got on TikTok... Dean Khurana, I need you to get a TikTok, or Instagram Reels. I challenge Dean Khurana, I challenge Dean O’Dair, I challenge John from Annenberg. We would pay attention! Come into our world, we’re not coming to yours. We’re not going to Omni.

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RR: Any plans for how you’ll keep this going after you graduate?

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SM: So people have DMed me asking, “How are you going to make sure this info is still available when you graduate?” I don’t know! Someone was like “You need to pass the torch” — if anybody wants to do it, be my guest! Alternatively, Harvard could just get popping on Twitter. They just have to make some engaging content, and it’d be crazy! But I’m also down to pass the torch (or the little tea cup).

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RR: Best advice you would give first years or other seniors in your year?

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SM: Never make permanent decisions for temporary feelings. That’s the first one, which goes for anybody. For first years, I would say to just do what you want. When I came to Harvard, I did whatever I wanted. I used to go scream at the top of the balcony in Annenberg, I used to blast music in the dining hall, just do what you want and be yourself unapologetically. Don’t try to come here and *sssssssss* slither. You don’t have to be one like that. Just be who you want to be and not who someone thinks you should be. That might be cliche, but everything’s cliche for a reason — because it’s correct!

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RR: Is there anything else you want other students to know about your account?

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SM: What I do isn’t able to be done without people sending me stuff. It’s one thing for me to post stuff, but most of the information I post is from other people. Sure, I am the one posting it and holding the space, but y’all are the ones who contribute to that space! It’s not all on me, everybody does their part. This is a group effort!

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*cue We’re All In This Together from High School Musical*

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