Prioritizing, Strategizing, & Dealing with Stress

College can be just a tad stressful at times. As an avid Hopkins Interactive blog reader (as I’m sure you all are!), you probably get a sense of how involved students can be. In all honesty, it’s hard to find a friend or student that’s not involved in at least 2 things outside of class. Combine these extracurriculars with a desire to do well in classes, and (big surprise) you end up with a lot of stressed out students!

While I am no exception to this generalization, I’ve found that a few useful tricks have kept me from going completely crazy (for the most part, I think that my friends might argue otherwise!)

-Prioritize. I love writing out everything that I have to accomplish for the day. What do I love even more? Checking off everything on my list! Prioritizing can be done with your assignments in terms of deadlines, but it’s also extremely useful in prioritizing all aspects of your life. Since you’re likely to be at least a tad overwhelmed in that you probably can’t complete every single task for the day, it’s important to rank all of your activities in order of importance for you. Here’s a look at how I’ve spent my time over the past 2 years at Hopkins…As you can see, the sleep priority has definitely taken a hit over the past year!

-Utilize every moment that you have. This is also where prioritizing comes in since you’ll want to know exactly what to work on first! For me, I like to multi-task when at all possible. Although slightly embarrassing, painting my nails while listening to biology lecture podcasts, reviewing my notes for my 9am class while curling/straightening my hair every morning, and sometimes bringing orgo reaction mechanism sheets to the gym are some of my weirdest habits. If multi-tasking isn’t your thing, you can still make the most of your time by setting time limits on the amount of daily unproductive activities. In my case, my biggest, most unproductive activity is definitely watching the cheesiest show on television- the bachelor! To make the most of my time, I try to limit myself to watching the show only when I’ve accomplished something awesome- like going to office hours, or taking a big test, or finishing all of my homework for the week.

-Plan ahead. Being involved in a bunch of extracurriculars is super fun and rewarding, but an extracurricular can easily fall by the wayside if you simply do not have any more time to devote. The last thing that you want to do is sacrifice your grades for an extracurricular or two, and that’s where planning comes in. Everyone’s different, but in my opinion, planners and wall calendars are the way to go in terms of scheduling out future events.Participating in recruitment week for Phi Mu was a great way to test my planning skills since the time commitment really escalated so quickly! While I still felt a bit overwhelmed, doing the majority of my assignments ahead of time allowed for me to devote enough time to Phi Mu! I even scheduled out enough time to make the recruitment video -- check it out!

Phi Mu Recruitment!

-Keep your life relatively in order. Maybe it’s just me, but I truly cannot function in a messy room. Cleaning and organizing (especially your school papers and books) can save you a lot of time in the long run since you’ll be able to find things easily (and not become frustrated instead). 

-Stay inspired, stay positive. It’s easy to fall into the habit of being hard on yourself, especially if you have high expectations and goals for yourself. You work so hard, but it isn’t good enough! Sound familiar? I don’t know about you, but in my case, negativity doesn’t get me anywhere. Luckily, I’ve found some pretty inspiring mentors, ranging from my trusty pre-med advisor to my wonderful and truly inspiring mentor at the JHU medical school. Whenever I meet with these two women, I feel recharged with renewed motivation, and I know that everything will be worth it in the end. Along with mentors and helpful advisors, I think it’s important to surround yourself with positive and supportive friends. In my case, I’m extremely fortunate to have 2 rocks- my best friend Kaitlin and my boyfriend Virgil. I do not know where I would be without these two, and I truly appreciate them dealing with my usual stressed out state!

That’s all for now! Have a stress-free day :)


Lessons Learned

It’s been exactly one year since I first set eyes on my tiny third floor single in the AMR’s, ate my first grilled chicken sandwich at the FFC, and felt genuinly intimidated by every single student that seemed to know their way around campus. Since that first day, I believe that I’ve acquired quite a deal of knowledge in regards to life as an undergrad at Hopkins. The majority of the lessons that I’ve learned have resulted from personal experience, and while my mistakes often led to entertaining escapades, I thought that I’d impart some of my newfound “wisdom” with you.

Also, after reviewing my blogs from this past year, I’ve come to the realization that I’m somewhat of a “moral” writer. No, I’m not terribly concerned with the principles of right and wrong in my blog entries; rather, I tend to point out a moral or a lesson in each of my blogs. For those of you that have followed my blogging efforts over this past year- first of all, thank you (I really appreciate it), and secondly, I apologize if my blogs seemed to resemble Aesop’s Fables in that I usually managed to stick in a moral somewhere. All of this being said, due to my blogging pattern, I thought it appropriate to dedicate my final freshman blog entry to some of the lessons that I’ve learned over my freshman year.

The inspiration behind this blog post. Such a good song!

Lessons Learned….


  1. Wait until the end of the year to find out about Pete’s Grill. Seriously though, they have the BEST brunch menu, and it’s within walking distance.

    Highly recommend.

  2. Avoid professors’ office hours. Surprisingly, a lot of professors are far less intimidating during their office hours than they seem to be during their lectures. It’s always helpful to come in with a few questions or thoughtful comments, but even if you don’t, usually, the professor will just be glad that you stopped by and will share some useful information.
  3. Say no to being set-up with your friend’s friend.  JHU_Nick set me up with his friend Virgil, and we’ve been dating for a few months now! (Thanks Nick)

  4. Attend a party/formal the night before an exam or assessment of any kind, even if you have covered grades first semester! (Exception to lesson #3).

    The night that I thought it would be okay for me to attend a "date party" before my chemistry midterm...

  5. Be afraid to approach completely random people the first couple of weeks of school. I remember the very first day of classes I couldn’t find the Bloomberg building for physics, and this super nice upperclassman actually walked me all the way there!
  6. Leave an assignment (especially for physics or calculus) to do the night before it’s due. You’ll end up: a) Hating yourself and pulling an all-nighter in MSE, which is sometimes deliriously fun, but I would not recommend it. b) Not getting it done. or c) Finishing it at a reasonable hour (which usually results in a poor grade).
  7. Only sign up for 1 club. Try to go to the Activities Fair at the beginning of the year and get on the email lists for a few of the clubs that you’re somewhat interested in. After you attend a couple of the first meetings, it’s usually pretty easy to pick which ones you’d like to pursue long term.

    Applying to be a part of SAAB was one of the best decisions I made during my freshman year!

  8. Sign up for too many clubs. (Opposite of Lesson #7) It might be tempting to pack your schedule with meetings/practices/rehearsals, but you need to set aside time slots for studying and office hours as well!
  9. Register for an 8am section on Friday mornings. I was among the high school students that did not realize that Thursday was a popular night to go out in college, hence my being half asleep every Friday physics section (and yes they took attendance).

    Bad decision...

  10. Eat more than 2 FFC cookies a day. Just don’t do it! (I heard a rumor at the end of last year that a single FFC cookie was around 150-200 calories)
  11. Forget an umbrella (or rain boots). Baltimore is notorious for its unpredictable weather! Be forewarned, you do not want to be in the midst of your morning walk to class when a thunderstorm seems to appear out of nowhere. You also do not want to loose a flip flop or shoe in the rain puddles, and yes, I am speaking from personal experience.
  12. Go to the Rec Center around 6 or 7pm- it’s packed! Try to work out in the early morning or later in the evening if your schedule permits.
  13. Be afraid to go through sorority/fraternity recruitment. It starts in the spring, and honestly, even if it’s not your thing, you’ll be glad that you gave it a shot  and saw what it had to offer.

    My entire "pham" during Homecoming weekend.

  14. Take your friends for granted. The friends that you make in college feel like your extended family since you’re seriously around them all the time. Friends are what make college so memorable, so don’t forget to make them a priority!

    My best friends- Carolyn, Carly, and Kaitlin. I'm super excited to live with them this year!

  15. Forget to call your parents. College can be pretty overwhelming at first, and it’s nice to know that you have a support system back home. They’ll be happy to hear from you!
  16. Be afraid to venture off campus, especially as a freshman. The city of Baltimore has such a plethora of things to do and see, don’t wait until your second semester to take advantage of it!

    An inner-harbor outing during Orientation last year.

  17. Leave your dorm walls blank. A few posters and pictures can completely change the feel of your tiny dorm room. 
  18. Sit in the back in any of your classes, especially the big lectures. Professors take notice of the students that sit in the front! Plus, it’s much easier to hear the professor, see the board, and pay attention if you’re in the front row.
  19. Sleep through an exam. If you do though, don’t panic! I actually slept through one of my chemistry midterms last year, and lucky for me, my professor let me take the exam without any sort of penalty.
  20. Be afraid to be a little out there. It’ll make a great story later.

    That time I dressed up as a princess for physics lecture during secret week...

  21. Forget a fan if you’re living in the AMR’s. During the first three weeks of school, it can get pretty toasty in the AMR’s. I would even suggest two if at all possible.
  22. Let other students intimidate you. Typically, the students that are always bragging about their grades and the amount of time (or lack of time) that they spent studying are the ones that are trying to overcompensate for their insecurities. Every student has their own study habits and patterns, and you shouldn’t let others try to scare you.
  23. Attempt to do all assignments by yourself. Unlike high school classes, some Hopkins courses definitely require group work.

    Group studying in the AMR's... physics of course!

  24. Underestimate yourself. If you were accepted at Hopkins, the highly qualified admissions committee fully believed that you would be able to succeed in this environment. Selling yourself short or being negative will only hurt you. Set your goals and self expectations extremely high, and even if you don’t make it quite there, you’ll know that you gave it your 100%.
  25. Forget to have fun! We only have 4 years at this amazing university, so we need to enjoy every second of it!

    JHU_Nick and I, living it up!


A Clean Sweep

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once” – Albert Einstein

I consider myself to be a fairly accomplished organizer. I can usually prioritize things pretty easily, or perform a “clean sweep” if you will. Give me an exploding closet or a messy desk, and I can most likely sort through the junk and color coordinate the rest. With this in mind, it’s hard to believe that I would have such a hard time prioritizing the huge things revolving about my life, but I have to say that I really struggled with balance and priorities this past year.

My struggling was mostly due to one single activity that has been looming over my head since freshmen orientation week- tennis. Fun fact- I’ve been playing tennis since I was 7 years old, traveling to and competing in tournaments every other weekend, and constantly working on improving my game, ranking, and performance throughout high school and college. For almost all of my life, most (if not all) of my energy outside of school went into tennis, and I was unbelievably proud and grateful when I found out that I would be able to play for Hopkins this past year. While I’m appreciative of what tennis has given me and I realize that the sport has molded me into the person that I am today, I’ve come to the realization that I need to back off of tennis for a while. There are so many reasons that I’ve decided to leave the team, but when it comes down to one thing, it’s time.

College is an exhilarating experience- there’s an abundance of cool professors to meet, quirky clubs to join, life-changing classes to sit-in on, not to mention a ton of diverse, passionate people to become friends with. With all of the opportunities that college has to offer, especially at Hopkins, it’s quite difficult to choose just a few things to become involved in. My biggest problem during freshmen year was finding enough time in the day to do everything that I wanted to do, on top of my hectic academic schedule, on top of a 2-3 hour practice. I knew that I had a problem on my hands when I started to feel as if I needed to skip practices in order to study for exams or make it to mandatory club meetings. I felt as if I simply did not have enough time to give my 100% to anything- ranging from homework to practice to research or even to sleep. It’s beyond exhausting to feel as if your best isn’t good enough and that’s exactly how I felt when I realized that I really couldn’t “do it all”.

After thinking over my freshmen year time and time again, I’ve decided that tennis was one of my biggest stress factors. Because of this, along with its major time component, I’m ready to put tennis aside for a while in order to focus on my biggest dream of all, getting into medical school. While making this decision was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do, I know that it’s the right one because I already feel more in control. For me, one of the weirdest things about college is that you are completely on your own, and you have the ability to create your own life for yourself. If you stick too much to what you’ve known or what you’re comfortable with, there isn’t really a way for you to grow as a person. Deciding to drop tennis for a while to focus my energy on pre-medicine has already helped me define exactly who I am and who I want to be. My advice to the incoming class of 2016 – try to find your passion and utilize it in order to get where you want to go. We only have four years at this amazing university, so let’s  make the most of our time here.

All My Best,

Home(wood) Sickness

Greetings from Maine! We’ve just completed our first week of second session here at camp, and that means a number of things- the biggest being homesickness. At age 8, missing your parents and your home is pretty natural, especially since these little girls are at camp for 4 weeks. At age 19, I’m finding that my “homesickness” is a bit more complicated. Not only do I miss Texas, but I also really miss Hopkins. After six weeks in Maine, I think that I’ve narrowed my home(wood) sickness down and pinpointed my top 5 things that I miss about Homewood, Hopkins in general, and of course, the awesome city of Baltimore.

Me and my camper, Cori, bumper tubing. Cori has been having a few bad bouts of homesickness lately, but she's getting more independent every day!

Me and my camper, Cori, bumper tubing. Cori has been having a few bad bouts of homesickness lately, but she's getting more independent every day!

1) Living with my friends. Not that living with a bunch of 7-8 year-olds isn’t entertaining, but living with a bunch of people your own age is an absolute blast. Freshmen dorms at Hopkins are pretty social (especially the AMR’s), and it’s extremely easy to acquire housing with your friends as a sophomore. This coming year I’ll be living with 3 other girls in Charles Commons, and I really could not be more excited!

2) Going to class. Maybe it’s a Hopkins thing, but classes are usually super interesting. Next year, I’ll be taking organic chemistry, biology, biology lab, intermediate spanish II, and medieval world.

3) Extracurriculars. Reflecting back on my freshmen year, I really enjoyed my extracurricular activities- especially working for a psychologist at the med campus and translating for hispanic patients at the Baltimore City clinic. Feeling like you’re making a difference has a serious affect on your attitude, and I miss feeling as if I’m making a small difference for the city of Baltimore.

4) Free Time. Living at camp and working from 7:45am-10pm can be pretty exhausting, and it’s definitely made me more appreciative of the free time that I have in college. I think that the sheer amount of free time that freshmen have at first can be pretty overwhelming at first. My advice would be to get involved early on, but also leave enough time to decompress and relax every now and then.

5) Baltimore itself. While I’ve gotten to explore a bunch of towns in Maine this summer, I’ve come to realize how much I love the city of Baltimore. Not only does Baltimore have a ton of diverse restaurants, clubs, shopping, and concert venues, but it also boasts a ton of unique neighborhoods that I’ve yet to explore. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to get off campus this coming year.

That’s all for now! I hope that you are all having an awesome summer, and I can’t wait to meet all of the incoming freshmen in August!

All my Best,

Camp Life Lessons

As a college student, I find that I’m often guilty of placing too much emphasis on the material that I’m learning inside of the classroom. Granted, physics and chemistry are relevant subjects, yet the pre-medicine course-load this past year did not really teach me any big-picture life lessons. Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), living at camp with a bunch of 7 year-olds for the past couple of weeks has lent me a few insights. Yes, the professors at Hopkins have PhD’s, research projects, and loads of teaching experience under their belts, but I have to say that there is definitely something to be learned from the younger generation. My ten campers have grown to mean the world to me over these past couple of weeks, and I thought that I’d impart some of the lessons that these little girls have taught me. Hopefully, these lessons will come in handy during your upcoming freshmen year!

My campers, co-counselors, and I decorating our cake!
My campers, co-counselors, and I decorating our cake!

1) Vivian: Hug it out. If nothing else, camp counselors and college freshmen certainly have one thing in common… stress. Vivian’s hugs have taught me that hugs are seriously undervalued in college. We all need a little comfort or love, so don’t forget to hug your stressed-out friend every now and then!

2) Lindsey: Take advantage of the people/resources around you. Lindsey is one of the two 6 year-olds in our cabin, which is probably why she can get away with asking for piggy-back rides to almost every single location about campgrounds. While my back and neck are a little sore, I have to admire her in that she is not afraid to ask for assistance/help from the counselors. At Hopkins, there is such a plethora of resources and offices full of people that can help you (such as your individual academic adviser, pre-professional advising, the career center, the writing center, the learning den, etc.), but sometimes the hardest part is learning how to ask for help.

3) Anya: Do something unexpected. Some of my favorite memories from this past month have been with this little girl, and for good reason. Our cabin has a nightly ritual in which all of the girls circle up and share their favorite parts of their day. A few days ago, Anya viewed this time as an opportunity to put on her roller-blades, skate around the cabin, and sing about her day. I think all college students, especially Hopkins undergraduates, could benefit from straying from the norm in some sense.

4) Ava: Hold yourself to a higher standard. Ava is definitely our most responsible little camper in that she’s always checking up on everyone and informing the counselors of any problems or concerns. Challenging yourself to be a better version of yourself, rather than comparing yourself to your peers, can definitely work in your favor in that you can truly become the best that you can be.

5) Ashley: Be different. Ashley is certainly an individualist, as demonstrated by her consistently going against the cabin consensus. Ashley has taught me that we all need to do our own thing and support our own opinions/perspectives, no matter if they go against the general consensus.

6) Aurora: Branch out. Aurora knows more counselors than I do! Always out to make a new friend, Aurora has taught me to avoid becoming too comfortable with a certain friend group (or in our case our cabin group). College is such a great opportunity to meet different types of people, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are other awesome people out there that you just haven’t met yet.

7) Sienna: Be a good friend. Sienna is constantly going above and beyond the call for her friends, and she’s only seven! Friends are your lifeline in college- they live, eat, study, go out, empathize with, and support you- so you absolutely need to support your friends if you’re planning on having a steady support system in college!

8) Madison: Chill out every now and then and don’t take things too seriously. Madison’s laugh is infectious, and she always seems to bring things back into perspective for the cabin. Stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture can help you get a better grip on the smaller things.

9) Gracie: Enthusiasm is key. Gracie was one of the campers in my mini-golfing group this past week, and honestly, I have not had that much fun on an outing in a really long time. Gracie’s enthusiasm during that trip was truly unparalleled, and it made the trip unbelievably fun. Being excited (or even pretending to be excited) about something that seems somewhat ordinary can really alter your experience. Trust me, you’re going to need that enthusiasm for chemistry when you’re working through some of the lab reports this upcoming year!

10) Juliana: Face your fears. Originally a victim of stage fright, Juliana decided that she would conquer her fear and performed a dance number in front of the entire camp (totaling 400 campers and 200 staff). Sometimes we can conjure up fears or doubts based off of faulty logic or lack of confidence, but in reality, we are usually capable of overcoming our fears and doing something extraordinary!

So those are my ten huge insights that I’ve acquired from my tiny little campers from this past session. Maybe I’m reading way too much into what they do and say, or maybe I’ve been surrounded by children for entirely too long, but at this moment, these little girls are some of the wisest people that I’ve yet to come across.

Orienting Orientation

Greetings from Maine! For the past ten days I’ve been jumping, screaming, laughing, hair-braiding, dancing, jewelry-making, sweeping cabins, decorating posters, giving piggy-back rides, teaching tennis lessons, serving up food to ten hungry little girls, and so much more. At this point, I feel like I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things.. which is good because I’ll be doing this for another eight weeks! How and why have I put myself in such a position you might ask? I’m a camp counselor this summer at an awesome camp in Casco, Maine! I feel as if I’ve lived a lifetime in these past couple of days given all of the responsibility that I’ve newly acquired (taking care of ten 6 and 7 year-old girls isn’t exactly a walk in the park!), but I know that I’ve already gained a ton of life experience that I can relate back to my life at Hopkins.

My co-counselors and I ready for the campers to arrive!

My co-counselors and I ready for the campers to arrive!

One of the things that really stood out for me as relevant to college life was our camp staff orientation. I found that our camp staff orientation was actually pretty similar to the freshmen orientation at Hopkins in that we had a ton of general meetings, there were a lot of super excited college-aged kids, and most importantly, everyone was looking for friends.

Going into college not knowing anyone can be extremely tough, especially if you consider yourself to be on the shy side in the first place. In my case, I came into Hopkins with no contacts and absolutely no clue as to how I would find a group of friends that would somehow be as awesome as the group of friends I had back home. Since I hadn’t had to make new friends or meet any new people in my tight-knit high school community, I wasn’t prepared for orientation week in the slightest. After going through freshmen orientation last year and camp staff orientation just this past week, I’ve come up with a couple of tips that should make your upcoming orientation go a little smoother!

Playing patty-cake with one of my 7 year-olds!

Playing patty-cake with one of my 7 year-olds!

1) Ask random questions. Instead of asking the super common questions such as “Where are you from?” or “What’s your major” or even the favorite- “Why Hopkins?”, try to ask questions that will actually help you in getting to know the person. Questions such as “What do you do for fun?” or “What extracurriculars are you looking to get involved in?” will usually  help you connect with people faster!

2) Smile. Almost everyone at orientation is slightly disoriented and probably uncomfortable. Smiling will help you seem approachable :)

3) Try to go to as many meetings/ events as possible. The more meetings or events you go to, the more people you’re likely to meet.

4) When you ask people for phone numbers, try to type in something next to their name that will help you remember where/how you met them. You’re going to meet so many people during orientation, and it’s not that helpful to have a ton of random names and numbers if you don’t know who those people are.

5) Don’t be afraid to be a little out there. If you feel like you’re trying to tone down your personality or if you’re keeping your guard up whenever you meet new people, don’t! Everyone likes to gravitate towards the slightly weird, but confident personality rather than to the self-conscious “normal” person.

I hope that some of these tips prove useful in your first couple of weeks at Hopkins. Remember, everyone is just as nervous/ awkward as you are so put yourself out there!

All the Best,

To Be Honest

“I think for the most part, if you’re really honest with yourself about what you want out of life, life gives it to you”
– Ted Mosby

It’s been over three weeks since I left the beautiful Homewood campus behind- saying goodbye to my AMR single, to the FFC cookies (definitely for the best), to my C level cubicle, to the crazy Baltimore weather, to my freshmen status, to physics (FOREVER!!), to my friends, and…. to my ChemBE major. Wait, my major? I’ll back up.

This past semester, I was guilty of something that I feel like a lot of incoming freshmen are at risk of. It’s called overextending yourself, putting too much on your plate, thinking that you’re an amazing superhuman who can do absolutely anything and everything- you get the idea. In high school, I don’t think that I was really in danger of this at all. I knew what I was interested in, there were only a certain number of clubs to join, my parents were always there to keep me in check, and my classes were not exceptionally difficult.

Our season starts up in the spring!

Life at Hopkins is pretty different. There are literally over 300 clubs you can join, there’s always something going on, the classes can be pretty intense, and there’s no one to keep you in check but yourself. Given these circumstances, I spread myself way too thin this past year, especially second semester. After an entire year at Hopkins, I have finally acknowledged that I cannot balance engineering, pre-med, tennis (in season), a sorority, research, SAAB, and two additional clubs, all while maintaining a normal sleep schedule, plus extra time to see my friends.  And it’s okay that I can’t.

Looking back, I’ve realized that I was physically capable of doing it all, but the problem was that I wasn’t doing anything to the best of my ability. Everything got maybe 2/3 of my total effort because I felt as if I needed to move onto the next thing. As you can imagine, this did not bode well for my transcript, nor for my happiness. I decided that I needed to change something or give up at least one thing hanging in the balance, but I couldn’t decide what I should give up!

After re-evaluating my ultimate goal (medical school), I decided that I needed to switch out of engineering. Not only was I not giving my engineering classes as much time as they required, but I found that I was continually asking myself why I chose ChemBE in the first place. Engineering seemed like the right decision before arriving at Hopkins honestly because I was after job security if medical school didn’t work out. After a year of balancing engineering, pre-med, and everything else, I’ve recognized that it’s only possible to balance everything if you’re passionate about absolutely everything that you’re doing. Job security was (and still is) important to me, but in my circumstances, I felt that I needed to focus all of my energy on actually getting into medical school rather than spending the majority of my time working on a back-up plan.

So, what will I spend my next three years at Hopkins studying? Biology? Public Health? Chemistry? Nope! After my experience this year, I wanted to study something (along with pre-med courses) that I am really passionate about, so I’m switching over to International Studies! I know, for those that didn’t know me in high school (probably most of you), it might seem completely random, but I absolutely love history, politics, languages, and different cultures. Actually, I initially applied to Hopkins as an International Studies major, so it just feels like I’m finally being true to myself.

At a political conference in high school!


After my first jam-packed year at Hopkins, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who succeed do so by staying true to themselves. Through being honest with myself, I feel like I’m finally on the right track in that I can pursue my goal with full force!

A Comprehensive Look at JHU_Kaitlyn’s Crib!

After an amazing nine months of living in my spectacular dorm room, I thought I’d pay tribute to my snug little single and share some knowledge with the future Class of 2016. From choosing the right dorm building, to buying all of the necessary (and maybe rather unnecessary) supplies and decorations, to finally unpacking it all on move-in day, there’s a lot to figure out in terms of your living situation. I know that when I was an incoming freshman, I really wanted specifics when it came to what the university provides you with, and what you should bring on your own. So, without further ado, this is my comprehensive look at all things dorm related, enjoy!

First of all, you should choose which building you think would serve you best. You can find more information about the different buildings here. Personally, I chose the AMR’s due to it’s location and traditional dorm layout. I also managed to snag a single, so that I’ve been able to have my own space this year to study, sleep, watch TV, or really do whatever I want (which is awesome and I’d highly recommend it)! I also have plenty of friends who love their roommate and their double room situation, so really think about what you think would work best with your schedule and personality for the next year.

Here’s what the university provided me with: (As I’m an AMR II resident, my armoire is slightly bigger and my desk is slightly different than the respective furniture in Buildings A & B and Wolman)

  • Bed: With your average twin xl size college mattress, this is really a staple in terms of college dorm experiences. At Hopkins, you’re able to loft the bed at varying heights, dependent on your preference. My bed is fully lofted (think of a bunk bed without the bed underneath), so that I put my futon underneath. Typically, students half-loft their beds so that they can fit more storage underneath the bed. Also, maintenance does this lofting of the bed for you, so you don’t have to worry about buying bed risers or tools or anything of that nature -which is really nice!

    My lofted bed!

  • Armoire: The armoire that you’re provided with varies dependent on your dorm, but in the AMR’s, the armoire’s are typically on the larger side in that you have ample hanging space along with two bottom drawers.
  • Desk + Chair: The desk comes with a built in desk light, a top shelf for books and an extra light, and three drawers for desk materials and additional storage.

    My desk. (I brought my own printer, but you can always print out things at the library).

  • Set of Drawers: The university also provides you with 3 additional drawers for storage, along with the 2 bottom drawers in the armoire.

My armoire and set of drawers, provided by the university.

Here’s what I brought to my dorm:

  • Fridge + Microwave:The university offers a service in which you can rent a “micro fridge” and a lot of students choose to go with this option. I just went ahead and bought my own since I wanted a fridge and microwave for my four years!

    My fridge, microwave, and coffee maker

  • Futon: I think that this is the most unique part about my room, and I love it! The futon has turned out to be perfect for hosting tennis recruits, prospective students, or visiting friends. It’s also nice because my friends and I can watch TV on the futon, instead of on my bed!

    I love my futon!

  • TV: I opted to get a TV with cable, but I’d say less than half of the students here have one. I actually use mine a lot to keep up with the news and some of my favorite shows, plus it keeps my single from seeming too quiet. I’d recommend a TV if you know that you’ll actually use it!
  • Sterrilite Storage: I ended up purchasing this half way through the semester, since I had accumulated way too many free shirts between joining a sorority and being on the tennis team! It also works as additional shoe storage. (In such a tight space, pretty much any free space turns into extra storage.)

    My Sterrilite Storage, another great Amazon Prime purchase!

  • Shoe Storage:I bought these shelves at Target, and they’ve served me fairly well!

    Shoe storage + Hair accessory storage

  • Hair Accessories Storage: I actually bought this at PB Teen, and it’s one of the best purchases I made for my dorm! The little storage unit has a power strip in the back, so that I can plug my straightener, curler, and dryer in all at once.
  • 2 Cabinet Sets: Also from Target, these cabinets hold a plethora of miscellaneous items, ranging from my rain boots to laundry detergent to plates and silverware to my shower caddy. It’s hard to realize the sheer amount of stuff you’ll acquire over the year, so I’d suggest buying or bringing as much storage as possible!

    These shelves are super useful for storing all of the random stuff I ended up needing!

  • Lamp: It always helps to have more light in the room, no matter what dorm you’re living in! I’d suggest getting both a floor lamp and a desk lamp.
  • Fan: If you’re living in the AMR’s, you should realize that there is no air conditioning. This only turns out to be a problem in the first couple weeks of school, and the last two weeks of school or so. This is easily fixable though by purchasing a fan!
  • Mattress Pad: Though definitely not a necessity, my mattress pad had made my bed amazingly comfortable. They sell them almost anywhere for pretty cheap, and I’d say its worth the money!
  • Bedding + Pillows: I purchased my bedding from Anthropologie, but most students have luck finding bedding at the usual suspect stores (Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.). I also saw a bunch of bedding at Urban Outfitters as well.
  • Decorations: Decorating your space really livens up your living space. I found that picture frames, flowers, decorative pillows, concert posters, and old cards and notes have really made my dorm feel like home. Before you leave for college, make sure that you bring some pictures and knick knacks that remind you of home!

    The wall above my desk: I got the photo organizer from Urban Outfitters. The TX flag and music posters I brought from my room back home, but I think that I originally found them online.

  • Towels and Towel Rack: It helps to have a towel rack so that you don’t end up with wet towels everywhere… you don’t want to grow mold!

Finally, here are some of the stores that had a lot of awesome dorm finds from my experience: Target, The Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, Ebay (for unique decorations and posters), Walmart, PB Teen, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropologie. Also, make sure to check out yard sales! If you’re lucky, you”ll be able to find some perfect dorm decor and furniture for a great price!

Hopefully this overview of my dorm proved helpful for some of you enrolled students!  Make sure to check out the plethora of cribs videos that Hopkins Interactive has created over the years to get a better feel for how other students have made the most of their living situation. Each video offers a different perspective that’s pretty helpful in terms of the individual dorms.

All My Best,


Why Hopkins: “Work Hard, Play Hard”

“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously,

but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard” -Colin Powell

     When I applied early decision to Hopkins in late October of 2010, I had more than a few preconceptions of how my college experience would turn out. I had visited a couple of campuses at that point, I had gone through undergraduate admissions websites memorizing statistics and common FAQ’s, and I had even watched my fair share of ABCFamily’s “Greek” and the movie “Animal House” to give me some sort of idea as to what to expect (FYI I would not recommend these strategies…). Eighteen months later, I’m reporting back to say that my preconceptions were almost completely wrong.

     I’m not going to lie, I had a ton of fun in high school, especially senior year. Not to get the wrong impression, I studied by butt off for exams, and I was always super busy with tennis and my other extracurriculars; however, I definitely made time to go out with my friends. I was lucky enough to have  had an extremely social, close-knit group of girls and guys to hang out with on the weekends, so I considered myself to be a pretty social person. When I told my friends that I applied to Hopkins early decision, I got a similar reaction from almost all of them- Why Hopkins? Don’t you want to have fun in college? This got me thinking. I wanted to go somewhere that would really challenge me academically, somewhere that I would be proud to call my alma matter, somewhere that I could continue on with tennis and my extracurriculars at, somewhere that all of my hard work had led up to. I was pretty sure that Johns Hopkins was that “somewhere” for me, but I couldn’t help but think that my friends had a point. Was I trading in fun for choosing to go to an academically rigorous school?  The rest of my senior year, I attempted to have as much fun as absolutely possible. In my irrational thinking, I assumed that I had already reached the peak of fun and good times in high school, and that my college experience would be on the downward slope.

Some of my closest friends from high school!

     Before this thinking scares you off, let me let you in on the spoiler- I was completely wrong! My preconceptions about college, ranging from a huge week-long Greek tailgate to a bunch of smiling, pristine students effortlessly keeping up with their studies and extracurriculars, were all off. Hopkins students have more than enough fun both inside and outside of the classroom, but we also have more than enough problem sets, essays, reading assignments, and projects that are rather not so fun; yet, all of these assignments, no matter how fun or not so fun there are,  have the potential to push you to your absolute personal limit, but that’s the point at which you realize that you can keep going. Picking yourself up and becoming even more proactive and engaged in your studies allows for you to grow as a student, and more importantly, as a person. The lessons learned from the hard times over freshmen year will undoubtedly serve me well in my next three years at Hopkins, and even into my next few years in medical school. I think it’s absolutely necessary to go to an academically rigorous school and work hard. Not only does it provide experience, but it builds much needed character for the real world.

My amazing sorority "pham" and I. My Big x3 (far left) is a senior and already has an investment banking position lined up! (Hopkins has definitely prepared her for the real world!)

     All of this being said, I’m happy to say that my college times have been even more fun and memorable than my high school memories.Yes, I have spent Saturday nights hammering out physics and calculus problem sets, but I’ve also spent Tuesday nights dancing around with my new sorority sisters at our date parties. Hopkins abounds with a various Greek events, a multitude of bars and restaurants close to campus, a ton of campus wide activities such as Acapella concerts, dance shows, and multicultural celebrations, not to mention the enormity of things to do in Baltimore.

At a fraternity's date party.

     The bottom line is this: Do not choose to go to an easier school because you think that you’ll have more fun. If you’re truly a fun person, you’ll be able to have fun wherever you go. It’s just different at Hopkins because those fun people are actually putting just as much energy into their work as they are into having an awesome time (whether that’s by going to a fraternity party, exploring the inner heart of Baltimore, or even meeting up with your favorite professor). If this sounds like you, I think that you’ve found the right school.

Congratulations Admitted Students!!!

Congratulations to the Class of 2016! Let me be one of many to congratulate you on this enormous achievement. Applying to Hopkins and enrolling were possibly the two smartest decisions that I’ve ever made. Not only have I grown as a student, but Hopkins has definitely helped me become a more well-rounded, insightful, and passionate individual. All this being said, I want you to know that Hopkins is a ton of fun! These past few months have literally flown by, and I know that my next three years here will be gone before I know it. I thought that I’d show you a few pictures of my spring semester to get you all excited about all the fun you’ll have at Hopkins, please enjoy!

Also, you should really check out the rest of the Hopkins Interactive site. We have an insane amount of archived and current student blogs about their daily Hopkins life, our “Hopkins Cribs” videos for the dorms, a ton of pictures on flickr, our “Learn More, See More, B-More” videos, and a lot more!!

P.S. If you feel that you’re somewhat overwhelmed by the site and have some questions, please feel free to post a question on my forum, here. I’d also love to answer any questions that you have concerning Hopkins or really anything!