Harvard is the best school in the world. I am not just saying that because my family has gone there since the 1630’s. Ask anyone and they will tell you the same thing. So if you one one of the few thousands that make it every year then congratulations. You may have thought that getting in was the hard but but the truth is the hard part has not started yet.
Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts which is just across the Charles River from Boston. You can take the subway which is locally called the T into Boston. Most students think they will go to Boston at some point but some never do because they are to busy. However many parts of campus are in Boston but none of the actual undergraduate classes are. If you are involved in sports or want to watch sports then you may have to cross the Charles into the edge of Boston. If you do not go to some of the sport areas though you may never make it into Boston.
Being in the Boston area it gets cold. It will snow while you are there. I had always planned to go to Harvard as a kid but growing up in LA the thought that it snows in Boston skipped my mind. My first winter in 2002-2003 was the coldest on record. One day I recall it being -17 with wind chill. For those from warm climates you should get a scarf and also layer. layering is putting on say two t-shirts. It is surprising that one extra shirt can give you lots more warmth. When I first had to deal with the winter I looked liked the Pillsbury Doughboy. I had never even worn a scarf in my life and it took a month before I noticed I was wearing it wrong and began to watch others put them on to learn how to wear one.
Freshman year there is orientation and it is a good idea to go to everything you can. Orientation is also a good time to go into Boston if you want, explore campus, or chill for what will probably the last time for a long time.
All freshman are located close to class. Only two dorms are not in Harvard Yard but they are close by. All Freshman eat at together in Annenberg. The food in Annenberg is notoriously bad. I would suggest that you make friends with as many upperclassmen so you can eat in their dinning halls instead as much as possible.
The first couple of weeks people shop class. It is talked about like its something special but really most schools let you drop classes the first week or two with no problem so its not really as special as they make it sound. Possibly when they first started it was but who knows.
The work load can be intense. For example I had one class that assigned us two books a week. That was just one history class and you have three other classes on top of that. All classes are given the same amount of credit even harder classes that take longer. You take four classes each semester for four years and you graduate. So you may want to avoid taking tougher longer classes unless you need them. For example you can take Spanish instead of Mandarian which is twice as long and more difficult. The only class that all Harvard men have to take is Expository Writing. There is a rumor that no one has eve got an A in it. In fact T.S. Eliot got a B in it although that was because he thought Robert Louise Stevenson was lame and his teacher loved him the teaches still have a copy of his work from the class and admit it was worthy of an A. It took me all of my freshman year to find someone who actually got an A in the class so it can be done.
While the work load may sound intense it used to be worse. Undergrads used to have to learn Latin, Greek, and Hebrew on top of everything else.
Has more Division one NCAA sports then any other school The Harvard Yale crew race was the first U.S. collegiate competition. Harvard also invented football and every other year hosts The Game against Yale. It is the one time we can actually sit by Yalies or even go to their campus.
Before finals you get reading period which is notorious for being a time to party even though it is meant to be used to study. Once the first semester is over you get a week off. Some schools give you winter break and then you start school. We do get winter break but we are not done with the school year yet. So once we finish finals we are then get a break. To be honest I did not even realize about this week break until right before and I noticed classes did not start until a week later and someone told me that it was intercession. Some prep schools do this too. It is nice because we have a really short school year and very few breaks. For instance Yale supposedly gets two weeks for Spring Break. The undergrads also do not get off Patriot Day which is a state holiday and when they run the Boston Marathon even though the other Harvard schools do. The only time the undergrads get off is when the state declares a state of emergency which happened once my freshman year because of a blizzard and it was my first and only snow day. Unfortunately I did not know that until I made it to class and a note on the door of Harvard Hall told me.
Harvard is the oldest college in the U.S. So it has tons of history. I have barley scratched the surface but this information should help you make it through Freshman year. After that you are on your own.