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Post by: Julia Reimann, MDiv ‘22, HDS Office of Admissions Graduate Assistant

Editor’s Note: No matter where you might be in the admissions process, a glimpse into a new student’s experience at Orientation can help give you a sense of the kinds of programs and facilities that are available at HDS. 

Hi everyone! My name is Julia Reimann and I am one of the new Graduate Assistants in the Office of Admissions here at Harvard Divinity School. As a first-year Master of Divinity student, the last few weeks have been filled with orientation activities, campus renovation, and checking out classes for shopping week. During shopping week, students can visit any classes they might be interested in taking. The course registration deadline happens after we’ve all had a chance to explore. 

For those of you who don’t know, HDS’ Andover Hall (soon to be Swartz Hall) is under renovation, which has slightly altered the campus map. Jumping into school after a few years away sometimes feels overwhelming, but it has been comforting to realize that our entire campus and community is in a similar time of transition and new beginnings.  

60 Oxford Street 
Photo credit to KATE HOETING, MTS ’21

The week before classes began, our incoming class participated in a 3-day orientation to become better acquainted with HDS and the resources available to us as students. The bulk of our Orientation activities were held in the 60 Oxford Street building (the Divinity School’s temporary home), a short walk away from the rest of HDS’ campus. Amidst meeting many of our classmates from different degree programs, we attended myriad information sessions.

Here are a few highlights from Orientation:  

  • Many of us opted to take a tour of HDS’ very own Andover-Harvard Theological Library, which offers access to the most incredible library system, including more than 70 libraries across the University and more than 500,000 volumes housed within the Andover-Harvard Theological Library itself. 
  • We attended the Women Studies in Religion Program (WSRP) panel during which we were introduced to the five full-time Research Associates teaching and researching at HDS. The WSRP brings in five different female scholars each year to teach courses and continue working on research related to women and religion. This panel was a great way to learn more about each professor and their courses for this academic year.
  • The final day of Orientation consisted of Course Information Sessions in which almost every HDS professor gave us a short overview of their courses for this academic year. These sessions gave our incoming class the opportunity to hear each professor speak and to begin to imagine what each of our schedules for the semester might look like.
  • Finally, we were able to share lunch with our faculty advisors on our last day of Orientation. These faculty members are available throughout each student’s time at HDS to help with course selection, career guidance, and general advice. Meeting our faculty advisors during Orientation week was a great opportunity to get to know our advisors before meeting with them individually during shopping week

All in all, the last month has been a mix of the new and the familiar in my return to school and has made me even more excited for all that is to come in the next 3 years.