Harvard FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

Foliage at HBS

Hello reader!

I wonder where you’re reading this post from.  Are you a potential applicant, a current student, an alumni, or just curious about life on Appian Way?  I remember reading this blog last year, after coming home from a long day of teaching at my school in Geelong, Australia and thinking, “Wow, these students are so lucky to be studying here.  Maybe… just maybe… I could join them too.”  After an intense application process (in which I never again want to mention  the three-letter word for standardized test to obtain graduate school admission)*  and huge amounts of good luck, it’s still incredible to think I’m now writing to you in my apartment from Cambridge, Massachusetts where I’ve been since September as a student in the International Education Policy program of the Masters of Education.

Having never been to the United States before this trip, and  being exposed to the culture in my formative years through books and TV shows such as the Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps and Captain Planet, it’s now been surreal to actually eat s’mores (thanks to my lovely housemate from Maine, Samantha), see houses with the American flag hung proudly outside, go to a hockey game, and play beer pong.  And of course, apart from the awesome cultural experiences, my studies are in another wow category in themselves.   This time is sacred here because it’s only a 9 month program and will go by in a flash.

This year my cohort consists of around 70% international students.  Studying from the wealth of knowledge and experience that my peers have coming from all around the world is one of the biggest highlights.  On the weekend, I went to dinner with friends from Malaysia, Chile, Qatar, the Philippines, and Ghana – another average day?!  Through the Teach For Australia program, I met so many passionate and engaged people who are interested in education.  That can create huge ripple effects.  Now this is on a global level.   The map shows students in the summer school program in which I participated, probably attended by two-thirds of students studying my degree program (i.e.  the Intensive Preparation for the Study of International Education Program).


This was a week without much sleep.  It’s been relatively full-on because of mid-terms and juggling the workload with participating in different events.  I’ve done papers on deeper learning and a case analysis, a statistics assignment and a microeconomics exam, in between attending office hours to see professors, dinner at the Faculty Club for Australian students, having a birthday picnic on Columbus Day and going to Oktoberfest celebrations and a party organized by the Harvard Graduate Council.  Today I went to see the Head of the Charles rowing regatta, went to Chinatown to eat dim sum and spent a few hours studying in the law library.  Dinner was with a friend from the Kennedy School interested in education and starting a school, and now to sleep and another packed week.

I readily dismissed the term “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) before coming here, but it seems the subtext of the Harvard experience should be “FOMO everyday”.  There’s always so many amazing competing events and opportunities to decide between:  a problem of which I am privileged to experience.  That’s a topic for another blog post!

Until next time!

Foliage at HBS

*Unless you have questions about the GRE, then I will be happy to answer!

Lisa Qin is a master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. She aims to work in creating meaningful and sustainable reforms to address the complex issues of education inequality.  

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