Author Archives: daniela1213

Upon arrival and upon departure

Hello friends,

I hope you’re doing well. Maybe you’re deciding whether to apply to one of HGSE’s many programs, or you are starting to get ready to move to Boston this August. Either way, I know that if you’re reading this, you probably are somewhat interested in HGSE. As I’ve written in my past posts, coming here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I can’t imagine myself pursuing my degree anywhere else.

However, there are other aspects that must be arranged “upon arrival” and “upon departure” to and from Boston. One thing that takes time to figure out is where are you going to live. Is it going to be in campus housing, in Harvard Square, Somerville, Central, Kendall Square, etc.? The good part is that there are many options to choose from, but the caveat is that Boston/Cambridge are busy cities filled with students that are moving in and out constantly. For this reason, the earlier you start looking for a place, the better options you will have.

In my case, I choose to live in Kendall Square, which is just two T (subway) stops from Harvard Square. My husband is studying at MIT, and we arrived here almost a year before my program at HGSE started, so we decided to begin and stay in this location. Although it is way more quiet than Harvard Square and we don’t have the numerous convenience stores, restaurants and stores, we do enjoy the peaceful ambiance and the proximity to Boston. I just need to walk 20 minutes to get to the other side of the river, which offers many activities to do as well.

I have a lot of friends that live in Harvard housing and they have enjoyed the convenience, location, and community environment. So I guess navigating all of the options really depends on what you are looking for, what are your priorities, and determining your budget.

What I can truly assure you is that you’ll feel welcome wherever you decide to live. Cambridge is a great place with an awesome mix of people from all over the world with endless possibilities to see, do, and learn.



Achieving Milestones…


I hope everyone had a great time during HGSE’s Spring Break.                             

I did a road trip from Boston to Atlantic City then Philadelphia and finally DC. Although it was still cold, I had the chance to see more places around the East Coast and to enjoy a break from the busy life at HGSE. 

It is amazing how fast things have gone by and now I feel as if we’re wrapping everything up. In most of my classes, we are at a stage where final projects are starting to take shape; more than half of each courses’s milestones have been achieved, etc. While on the subject, I’ve been very encouraged and excited about a project that we are doing in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) class. The overall idea of UDL is to consider each person’s individual differences and develop accessible and effective educational curriculum and products for a broader population of students. The professor, David Rose, is amazing and I’ve found this course to be an excellent inspiration and guide for my future work.

As you may have noticed through these posts, there are just so many things to say about HGSE… I’ve really appreciated this awesome opportunity!


International students at HGSE?

Do international students feel welcomed to be in the programs? What are their experiences like? Do they encounter any difficulties with the language? Are professors open with all students? In short, what is it like for an international student to be at HGSE?

These and other questioned lingered in my mind for a long time before I came from my home in Mexico to begin the Ed.M. at HGSE. Although I knew that I was not going to be the only international student in my program, I still felt uncertain about how things would be for me here. To be honest I was a little nervous at first. Once I arrived to the International Student Orientation Session, though, I felt relieved. I had an excellent first impression which has stayed for me throughout the year. All of the faculty and staff at HGSE are extremely open and welcoming to international students; they always seem interested in other countries´ topics and challenges regarding education. The professors and my classmates gave me the confidence to actively participate in class and engage in the discussions. Although  I´m not a native English speaker and I do struggle a little bit more to put my thoughts into words, I´ve had a good time reinforcing my second language and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. 

While being here I joined the student organization LAEF (Latin American Education Forum) and I´ve met other wonderful international friends there as well. This is a great way to meet new people and get involved in a project or program of your interest.

You can be sure that HGSE will provide each and every necessary resource available for you to feel at home while you are here. I now feel like I´m part of this place too!


Perfect Combination

Hello again,

It’s just the 3rd week of classes of Spring semester and HGSE has a full calendar of events that promise to keep us busy for the months to come. Varying from social events, cohort discussions, book talks, workshops, Askwith Forums and countless conferences around campus, we will definitely have diverse learning experiences even outside of the classroom.

The huge list of opportunities and things to do inside and out of HGSE and Harvard in general was an important factor when I was looking for the best place to get my Ed.M. Although the courses, faculty, and resources are all of top quality, I believe that what has made this adventure so amazing is the combination of the incredible academic environment and extracurricular activities.

I hope you are having a wonderful time!


PS- Here is a picture of our city after Nemo, the Snow Storm that hit Cambridge this past weekend. Coming from Mexico, I must say I was (and still am) thrilled by having this much snow!



121 days left…

I’m constantly amazed by how fast time goes by when you are busy and doing what you like. That is how I´ve felt at HGSE since the first day. I just count the days left (121) before Commencement Day and I can’t believe it. I definitely don’t want this to end as it has been an incredible and enriching experience in many ways.

For me, this semester will be very different from the last one, starting with the whole new set of courses I´m taking: Cognitive Development, Education and the Brain, Monitoring and Evaluation for Improving Education Systems, Universal Design for Learning, Emotion in Development and Learning and maybe a 5th course at HKS. The same as last time, I did have a hard time choosing the courses due in large part to the variety and the number of options that we have available. I guess everyone has a strategy to select the classes that fit their personal and professional careers in the best way.

Another aspect that I think will change is how I will manage the time I have left in Boston, at HGSE, with my husband (both of us being students), and with numerous social events. Even though last semester I also had this in mind, I´m more aware now that this will soon end. I need to continue searching for a job, and I also don’t want to miss any opportunities or great things happening around Harvard. I want to squeeze the most out every class I take and every Askwith forum I attend.

I´ll let you know how these months turn out and in the meanwhile, I need to go back to reading some articles for tomorrow´s class…


Winter Break (some rest and some job search)

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing great, I am just getting back on track from the winter break and already beginning a new year!

I must say that I really enjoyed this break. At first I was skeptical about what my break at home in Mexico would be like, but I certainly took advantage of the time I had there and even began looking for a job in my city. Although my husband and I are not entirely sure of our plans (we could stay in the US for a year or two), our hope is to return to Mexico in the short-term.

During my time in Mexico, I met with people and attended a couple of interviews in my city and had Skype calls with employers in other states there. I´m still undecided about the path I would like to take after HGSE, but after reviewing some possible options, I feel more confident and prepared to take any challenge.

I leave you with two “Welcome pictures,” the first one was taken just after arriving to Miami for a family trip in January. And the second one was Boston´s way of receiving me!


End of the semester: Mixed feelings

Amazing semester! But I still can´t believe it is actually over… Time really flew these months and, although I´m happy to have accomplished various milestones this semester, it is somewhat sad to think that I only have one semester left at HGSE. But the good part of it is that I still have some time to continue enjoying this incredible experience!

For me, December is a time of the year when it is inevitable to reflect upon what has happened throughout the whole year. What challenges did this year bring, how did I overcome them, in what ways could I improve, etc. Among these thoughts, I constantly think about my days at the Ed. School and how each class has taught me something special. In 3 of the courses I took, I designed and started developing real projects related to education, to be implemented in Mexico upon my graduation.  In the other 2 I did research papers concerning current and important issues around Media and Education as well as Mexican immigrants in the US.

Everyone comes to HGSE with different backgrounds, interests, and ambitions. Nonetheless, we all learn and collaborate within the same space. Hence, the great thing about the Mind, Brain and Education program (and I would guess that the same could be said for all the other Ed.M. programs) is that you can adjust and align the courses and numerous  resources at Harvard to meet your own career objectives and personal goals.

I hope you have a great winter break, and we´ll see each other next year…

Happy Holidays!


Running a marathon…

When one of my friends back home asked me how I’ve been doing at HGSE, the image of myself running a marathon came immediately to my mind. I couldn’t find a better way of describing my daily status these past weeks. I’ve been feeling as though I’m running and jumping from one day to the next; time has gone by really fast and I can’t believe that this semester is almost coming to an end. Although the idea of running a marathon may seem daunting at first, for me running a half-marathon was one of the best experiences I’ve had. For this reason, it is a perfect representation of my adventure so far.

When I started to prepare for the big race, I experienced a mix of feelings, just as I did with the application process: sometimes high optimism and happiness, other times I felt anxiety and frustration. Even though it may be time and energy-consuming, it is definitely worth doing.

Then, when I was admitted to HGSE, the emotions couldn’t have been better. The idea of coming here was constantly on my mind. Finally, it was race day and I felt excited and somewhat overwhelmed. Hearing the whistle that signaled the beginning of the marathon was just like when classes began and everything started taking shape. Along the race there are certain moments where my determination is tested and the challenge gets tougher, but these moments are the ones that build character. There are also many times where the endorphins kick in, and it feels great! I have realized that coming here is the best decision I’ve made, and that I couldn’t be in a better place. Although the workload is considerable, it is definitely manageable and highly enjoyable!

All these months have been an incredible journey and I definitely don’t want this race to end.


Connecting the dots…

Hello!! Although the title of this post it is a total cliché, it really describes the point I’ll make later on….

It is true that it is getting cold in Cambridge, though I´m still enjoying the weather. I love winter outfits, coffees, and finding places to be cozy and warm. Even though it might sound “geeky,” one of my favorite places (and a favorite of many HGSE friends as well) is the 1st floor at Gutman Library. Since its recent “makeover,” it has become a really nice and comfortable place to read, study, and work on assignments or projects, and grab a bite at the “Commons” – HGSE´s own cafeteria.

Another thing that I´ve been enjoying at HGSE lately is that, since the courses are halfway through and we’ve reached a point where we understand the general idea of each class, I’ve been starting to make very interesting connections among them. Whether between Neuroscience and Economics, or Arts and Technology, the courses all have some sort of connection with one another. Being able to grasp this idea and analyze things from different perspectives has been awesome!

Although this may sound obvious, when you are in graduate school – specifically oriented towards education – it is still amazing when you start connecting the dots among concepts or ideas that seem totally unrelated at first. And I believe that is the great power of “transfer” that we as educators talk about all the time. I have experienced first-hand how all these concepts and ideas are gaining relevance in many areas of my personal and professional life, and how they have had a huge impact on the overall understanding and learning experience.


Moment of the day

One of the greatest things about being at HGSE is that not a single day pass without having an awesome “moment of the day” – either is a conversation with a professor or with your classmates, at an event at HGSE, and around Harvard. It amazes me how we are constantly challenged to analyze topics from different perspectives and question our own assumptions. This enriching and encouraging environment is a combination of excellent curricular design, inspiring classmates, and last but surely not least, incredible professors.

I´m taking five courses this semester – four at HGSE and 1 at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Two courses are associated with the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. One is related to the impact of media on children, teenagers, and adults in general, and the other one is a project-based course, focused on assisting us in the development of new educational technology tools. I’m also taking Educational Neuroscience – an amazing class! – where we explore the complexity of the brain and translate scientific research into actual educational practices. I also love Learning in a Globalized World: Language Acquisition, Cultural Awareness and the Role of Neuroscience in International Education Policies and Practices, which is an inspiring course that pushes me to think beyond set boundaries. The last course at HKS is actually taught at the i-Lab (Harvard´s Innovation Laboratory), and the purpose of the class is to guide us in the design and creation of a social change idea, through successful case studies and great input from the professors.

As you may have noticed, all of my courses are quite different, but I chose them to explore different areas, learn new concepts and ideas, and challenge myself. The great advantage of being at HGSE is that all the necessary resources are available to us; we just need to decide how to make the most out of this experience and in what direction to move our career forward.

See you next time!