This summer, 23 Seren students have had the opportunity to attend the Harvard Pre-College Program Summer School.
We hear from Tyler Rawlings, a Seren student from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire hub about his experience on this amazing trip…
Tell us about the trip
I went to the Harvard Pre-College Program between June 24th and July 5th to take the ‘Introduction to Astrophysics’ course.
What were your classes like?
My classes ran from Monday to Friday 8:30am to 11:30am, and I received about three hours of homework a day, with some homework assignments being much bigger tasks, such as making a presentation to give on the last day.
In my course, our classes were a general overview of what content would be covered in the full course that you could study as an undergraduate at Harvard.
I’ve been interested in becoming an astrophysicist for a few years now, but I’d never been sure of exactly what that would entail.
I decided that taking the astrophysics course would be the perfect way to experience what it would be like, and now that my two weeks are over, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
It was a massive step up from the level of difficulty in school, and classes were much more intense due to how densely packed with information they were.
However, this wasn’t a problem, as my professor was really understanding and was happy for us to make plenty of mistakes so we could learn from them to find the right answers.
My class also included an evening session where spent part of the night using one of the telescopes and domes on campus to observe some space objects such as nebulae, stars, planets, galaxies, and globular clusters.
I really enjoyed spending the night with my class and conducting some interesting practical work.
Through my class, I made plenty of friends through talking to people during lessons and breaks, and through group work.
Overall, I really enjoyed my classes, as the content was exactly what I hoped for and it was interesting to find how different the teaching process is in Harvard as opposed to my school.
What other classes did you take?
On top of the classes we were given, we were also able to choose some extra academic sessions and recreational activities to take part in.
I ended up choosing talks on public speaking, the future of the global economy, time management, and managing stress.
I really enjoyed the talks I signed up for, and I managed to learn a lot from them all.
As a result of the public speaking session, I felt myself grow in confidence a little.
The time management and managing stress talks were extremely helpful and gave me useful and insightful advice that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and the global economy talk was also very interesting.
What was life outside of classes like?
On the recreational side, I chose a board game night, a day trip to Rhode Island, and going to see the Boston Red Sox (a baseball team) play.
The game night was a fun, slow evening which I could spend with the other Seren Students and with the new friends I made.
In my spare time when I wasn’t in any classes, doing any homework or participating in extra activities, I spent all my time socialising and adventuring around the Harvard campus and Boston.
Doing this, I managed to make lots of new friends from many different countries and we made some great memories together.
Meeting people and making friends with them was easy, even for someone who doesn’t excel socially like myself.
At Harvard, you’re also put in a ‘proctor group’ to meet new people. In my group, we had meetings where we got to know each other over the fortnight, and through those meetings I became good friends with my roommates and the people in the rooms nearby.
On the whole, we were given plenty of time to have a social life around our work, so that we could enjoy our time exploring the country and getting involved in the culture.
What was your favourite memory?
My favourite memory of the program has to be the Fourth of July celebrations.
Due to Independence Day being a national holiday, we were given a day off to do what we wanted.
In the morning, a group of us went to Boston and watched the Independence Day parade, which was great fun and it really highlighted the difference in culture.
We also went to listen to the Boston Pops, an orchestra group, and watched the fireworks.
As the celebrations took place the day before we left, it felt like a fitting ending to our two-week journey.
I was outside at night on the Fourth of July, stood with the friends I’d made and spent lots of time with over the course of the fortnight, watching the best firework show I’d ever seen in my life.
It felt like a suitable finale to the program, and I felt so happy to be there.
Make sure to keep an eye on our social channels this month where we’ll share more highlights of Harvard from other Seren students throughout August…