Posts filed under ‘academics’


A wordy, personal meditation on language, communication, music, and a circuitous path home.


Continue Reading April 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

eduroam – wifi on the fly (Harvard edition)

Strange internet in a strange city.

This post is completely off my normal topics, but I’m putting it up here anyway in the hopes that it will help wandering scholars get their internet fix!

Some hefty disclaimers: I’m not a tech expert by any accounts, so some terminology may be used inaccurately in what follows.  I’m not writing in any official capacity, only from the experience of an end-user using Mac and Apple products with the Harvard network. All  files and links I’m including are up-to-date as of May 1, 2014, but I do not intend to maintain/update this page, so use these at your own discretion, and contact your school’s IT help desk directly for additional assistance. 

Let me set the scene: A Harvard graduate student is spending time away from campus, in a city where there are plenty of other academic institutions, but she doesn’t have any affiliation with these institutions. For reasons of both work and leisure, she needs to connect to a wireless network. Where to find wifi? Starbucks? McDonalds? What about all these colleges and universities? Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of internet consortium that allowed traveling scholars to use the wifi networks on other campuses?


It’s called eduroam. It’s available all over the world. It’s an awesome thing. Lots of times, wandering downtown various cities or on college campuses I’d catch an eduroam wifi signal. But how to connect?

First, your home institution needs to be an eduroam member. If you’re in the US, you can check here to see if your school participates. I saw that Harvard was a member, so I knew I was supposed to have access. But what next?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on how Harvard students, faculty, and staff can use Eduroam. At the time of writing, Harvard’s FAS IT site doesn’t even turn up any results for “eduroam” when you search their site. A Google search led me to a registration portal, which was not particularly explanatory and seemed more targeted toward newcomers to Harvard’s campus. I wrote to Harvard’s help desk, asking them to provide better documentation, and received these instructions (which did help), but I’m writing this page to help clear up the whole process for Harvard affiliates like me who might never have encountered the term 802.1x authentication before. If you’re an affiliate with an eduroam partner that isn’t Harvard, you can read through the basics below, but the certificates and login information will be different, and you ought to check with your home institution for the particulars. With that said, are you ready? Let’s begin!

Step one: Get internet access.
This seems like a redundant, self-obvious point, but one of my biggest frustrations with setting up eduroam was you absolutely need to set it up while you have internet access, in order to configure your computer or device. But of course, if you’re trying to connect to eduroam, it’s because you don’t have internet access in the first place. Catch-22? Yes. But if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet, so now’s the time to configure everything. And really, get everything done while you’re online right now. Laptop, phone, iPod, iPad, everything. You’ll thank me later.

Step two: Install configurations.
Harvard has an installation page with different OS options here: Harvard Wireless: Secure or Eduroam. Choose your operating system, follow the prompts for the installation wizard, and install the configuration profile.

Note for mobile (iOS, Android) users: I had lots of trouble getting to this page on my mobile devices, because I was redirected to a different mobile site. One thing that could work is using a mobile browser like Chrome which allows you to request the desktop version of the site. What I ended up doing in the end, though, was downloading the mobile configuration to my laptop, and emailing it to myself as an attachment. Then, on my devices, I opened the attachment which triggered the installer for the eduroam configurations. For reference, the file I downloaded (on 5/1/14) was named mac_3515.mobileconfig, for iOS.

Step three: Account name and password.
While you’re doing your initial configuration, your device will ask you for your username and password. Easy, right? Wrong. What you need to enter is unlike any other login at Harvard:

Account name: [8-digit HUID]
Password: your HUID pin

For example, if your HUID is 87654321, your login is, and the password is the same one you use to login whenever you use that HUID online. (Note: I don’t know if this works for XID users, but imagine it might not)

Please don’t ask me how many permutations of my name, HUID, and email I tried, or how many times I almost punched my computer.

At this point, you should be configured, and you should get some confirmation that the certificates are installed and valid. Congratulations! You may on occasion need to reenter your account name and password to log into eduroam, but you shouldn’t need to reinstall the certificates (as far as I know).

And you should be free to surf the internet wherever you see the eduroam network, anywhere in the world!


For non-Harvard folks: the same principles apply for every eduroam setup. You need to install authentication certificates before the network will work, and those certificates are issued by your home institution. If, like Harvard, there’s no clear information online about where to get the install packages, contact your home IT department and request their help. Also, the login will almost certainly be different. Many institutions use the email login name; I suppose that Harvard’s multiple email domains (,,, etc.) prevented that possibility.

Anyway, I hope this helps you get connected! Have a happy internet!


May 2, 2014 at 9:36 am 2 comments


In which Katie’s birthday is made exponentially more awesome by the realization that her students learned something, and are kickass gingerbread cathedral makers.


Chartres cathedral. We didn’t make it there on our honeymoon in France, although it was on the list, but it’s one of those monuments of great world architecture that everyone should know. Stained glass rose windows, elaborate buttressing, spires, the works.

So imagine my delight to see the following email in my inbox this morning:

Hi Professor and Katie,

Every year Undergrad House has a gingerbread house competition and this year, we three students decided to put our knowledge gained from Medieval Art and Architecture to use for a tasty design project. Our inspiration was Chartres Cathedral although we were limited in resources and did not quite have 35 years. Regardless we feel we came away with a fairly creative building that we thought you might enjoy!

Holiday wishes,

three awesome students

My day has been made. Candy cane buttresses! Squee!

December 9, 2010 at 11:56 am 2 comments

So you wanna be a Slavic PhD

So, every 6 months or so I get an email or Facebook message from an old acquaintance from somewhere in my past who is interested in applying for a Slavic PhD, and, seeing that I’m enrolled in one such program, they ask for advice. What’s it like? How hard is it to get in? Do you like it? Will I like it?

Of course, I’ll continue to share my sagacity with friends on request, but it seems like the sort of information that could use a bit more publicity. So, for those of you thinking you might want to change careers and become a Slavic PhD, here are my words to you.

Being a Harvard Slavic PhD is a mixed bag. Harvard’s department is wonderful – you won’t find a nicer one out there, says the girl who visited 6 top-notch schools when making decisions, and has kept in touch with folks at several other universities. The faculty aren’t overbearing, but are interested in seeing you succeed, and can be nurturing when that’s what you’re looking for. Harvard has a bit of a reputation for being cold and competitive, but this really varies from department to department, and among the humanities PhD students, I think you’ll find that feeling is rare.

A literature PhD is a strange thing, though. You’ll find yourself spending all your time reading texts and articles at various levels of obscurity, you’ll hear “Russian, eh? What’re you gonna do with that? Not very practical” so many times that you’ll start to question why you got into it in the first place, and in full disclosure, the job market is pretty iffy these days (Tenured faculty will tell you, “the job market’s always been iffy, don’t worry about it,” but I think it should be in the back of every well-informed grad student wannabe’s mind that there’s always the chance that after all your hard work, you might not find your dream tenure track job). Harvard has enough allure that our grads have always been really successful on the job market, even in this economy, but it’s certainly not a recession-proof field, and as you see your friends in the sciences getting lucrative job offers in “industry” while you’re hoping upon hope for a NTT adjunct position at a 3rd-tier school to be open when you graduate, it’s a little disconcerting (especially because these entry-level positions often are weak on benefits and job security).

While we’re talking about the unpleasantness of finances and jobs, I’d recommend that you really get the scoop on funding for the programs you apply to. As a Slavic PhD in an American university, you will not finish in less than 5 years, no matter what the university’s overall projections say (these have the sciences figured in, where 3-4 year degrees are possible. Not so with us) Completion in 5 years is amazing, 6 is possible, 7 likely, and 8 not unlikely. Be sure to understand what funding options there are, how long they last, and what you have to do to get paid (because you won’t have much time for side work, and most of the good grad programs are located in expensive places).

That’s the blunt, somewhat pessimistic side. The bright side is that the field is awesome, quirky, and full of great people. Being in the humanities in academia is one of the freest, most vibrant communities you’ll take part in, and there’s always something going on. You’ll get to read all the classics, and work on something uniquely your own for a dissertation project. That’s pretty great. As I mentioned, the community at Harvard is fantastic, faculty included, and there’s a lot of exciting interdisciplinary work going on, so you can work in a variety of different departments aside from your own.

One last word of advice/warning – make sure you have in your mind what a PhD will be for you, why you want to do it, and why it is that you want to get on a career track that will take 6+ years of work before you can take an entry-level job. Know that the work will be fun a lot of the time, but soul-sucking at others. There will be months when you’re expected to write 4 research papers, 20+ pages in length each, all of “publishable quality”. There will be others when every night you’re up late grading undergraduate papers where the facts are all wrong, the syntax makes no sense, and the arguments (if you can call them that) are lifted straight from Wikipedia. You may have to teach courses you have absolutely no knowledge about or interest in. You may have to beg to teach these courses. It can get ugly.

If you know what field you’d like to study specifically, find out about the people who work on that in the different departments you’re interested in. Meet them. Email them. Try to get coffee with them, and try to read their vibes (note: the summer is a hard time to do this – people are away and some professors feel it’s their prerogative not to answer emails from June through August. But also remember – when you’re writing grant proposals and dissertation chapters that need feedback, will you be happy with a professor who doesn’t respond to email for weeks?). Will this person be a good mentor to you, will he/she help guide you to the finish line? Are there any signs that he/she be retiring or changing universities in less than 6 years? If your research interests change, how do you like the person who works in your second-favorite field?

As for your own work, are you ready to market your interests in terms of what’s academically trendy? If you study something obscure (and really, when isn’t Russian literature obscure?), are you okay with tying it to something more marketable, or holding out for the once-in-a-life teaching position? Can you be versatile?

These are my words of wisdom. That, and don’t stress out about the math section on the GRE – so not worth it. It’s all pre-calc!

In any event, here’s hoping that these words may help some poor soul make a decision in the direction best for him or her. Good luck to you all!

July 27, 2010 at 10:14 am 2 comments



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