Hermione Xian, '21, on the lawn at Tufts University. The photo was taken by her friend for a photography class. (Photo by Nancy Chi)

Freshman Focus: Hermione Xian, ’21, takes a part time job at Tufts to foster connections with upperclassmen

Hermione Xian, ’21, attends in-person classes at Tufts University. She is majoring in biology, and is considering a double major in cognitive science.

Q: Why did you choose Tufts University? 

A: Tufts University first got my attention while I was at Country Day when three students from the class before me, ’20, got accepted. It also turns out to be in the Boston area which is basically my favorite city in the USA. 

  Although we are in the suburban areas, it’s really close to downtown Boston where MIT and Harvard are. So, that means I can take advantage of the numerous opportunities and internships in the medical industry there. At the same time, I can also enjoy the quietness of the suburbs, too.

Another reason why I chose Tufts was because they also have a really strong undergraduate biology program. Also, it’s a private, tight knit and smaller school which is ideal during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Q: What classes are you taking? 

A: Last semester, I took Calculus II, introduction to psychology, Bio 13 and economics. This semester, I’m taking English I, introduction to cognitive psychology, Bio 41 Genetics and introduction to Japanese culture. 

Q: What is your favorite class? 

A: For last semester, my favorite class would be my introduction to psychology class. Our professor is  really knowledgeable and passionate about teaching us psychology. It makes the class really interesting and a whole lot of fun. He also shows us really interesting experiments with his daughter to teach us concepts which are really funny, engaging and cute. 

As for this semester, although my cognitive science class is pretty interesting, I would say my Bio 41 Genetics class is my favorite. The professor is just amazing, and she’s great at teaching. The class is very organized, informative and easy to follow. We have these post lecture notes which add additional information to help us understand the concepts. I like her so much that I want her to be my advisor next year. 

Q: Why did you choose your major?
A: I’m leaning towards biology and biochemistry because I was, and still am, thinking of going into the medical field. But, because of the interesting classes I took during these two semesters, I’m considering getting a double major in cognitive and brain science. But, if I do, there’s a chance that I won’t be able to finish the requirements for pre-med. I’m kind of in between the two majors right now so I’ll probably just give myself another semester to think about it. We have this thing in our school where you have to declare a major in your sophomore year which is less than a year from now. We’ll see.

Q: Are you participating in any clubs? 

A: At the moment no, but I’m planning to try out a few clubs around campus. There’s this one Kpop club which seems pretty fun. They basically explore and teach Korean pop culture every week. I’ve seen them perform a couple of times, and it looks interesting. I’ll probably try that out next semester along with a few other clubs. I’m open to joining a new club. 

Q: What is your housing situation like in Tufts? 

A: It’s alright but really crowded. I currently live in one of the biggest freshman dorm buildings in the school. The individual rooms are meant to hold two people but we have three people living in one. The reason is because our school accepted 100 more freshmen, and it’s a requirement to live in the dorms. Also, our dorm has both genders which are separated by different floors. 

Q: How is the food? 

A: The food is generally okay and not too good except for the small dining halls. They offer take-outs which are really good especially during the pandemic. The food isn’t bad, and it’s just at the back door of our dorm. My biggest complaint about food in general at Tufts is the meal swipe program which is required for freshmen to buy. Basically it gives you five meals a day, and it’s just too much not to waste. Plus, you can’t use meal swipes at cafés which makes it even harder for us to finish all the extra meal swipes we paid for. 

Q: Do you work any part-time jobs at Tufts? 

A: Yes, actually I do. I work at a small dining house about twice a week for usually a three or four hour shift. I work at the burrito and burrito bowl section for the majority of the time where I perfect the art of making non-saggy burritos. It’s a really fun job, and it’s also a great place to connect with upperclassmen. A lot of them are always willing to talk about their majors, their experiences and give you good suggestions and advice. It’s just a good place to work and at the same time make connections with upperclassmen. 

Q: How has Country Day prepared you for college? 

A: A lot of the classes I took at Country Day prepared me well for college. For example, Dr. Whited’s AP Bio class really prepared me well for the two bio classes that I took this year. Dr. Whited really went above and beyond what the AP requires to help us better understand all the processes and scientific information in that course. Also, Ms. Bauman and Mr. Hinojosa’s classes really prepared me well for my college writing course. They taught us how to write good arguments and how to support them through using credible sources. It’s not just argumentative pieces. They really guide you well in all kinds of paper. 

In addition to all of that, I really, really think the sophomore project was helpful too. It’s good preparation for college level research and presentation. In our year, we spent a lot of time on that project, and it was really worth it. We learned a lot about citations, finding good sources and everything you need to know about researching along the way. So please work hard on that project because it makes college life so much easier when you have already been through that process. 

Q: Did you make any freshman mistakes? 

A: There was this one time when the washing machine on our floor broke, and half awake, I accidentally went to the boys’ floor to wash my clothes. I didn’t realize I was on the boys’ floor until after I put my clothes in the washing machine. Luckily, there was no one there at the time or else it would have been a bit embarrassing. Still, it was a pretty funny freshman mistake. 

Q: What is your advice to the class of 2022? A: Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to choose professors and classes. Especially in larger public schools, a lot of classes will be filled sooner than you think, so plan and make a list of the classes you want to take next year. But before choosing your classes, go try and explore new things because it’s the perfect time to do so as a freshman in college. You never know if you like something or not if you don’t try it out.

Tufts University
Quality of classes
Student-teacher interactions
Social scene
School spirit

— By Garrett Xu

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