Dear Political Science,

We need to talk. I’ve been doing some deep thinking for a really long time and it’s time I told you something:

I’m breaking up with you.

I know what you were thinking – things are going great! Why now? What did I do? Truth is, everything was going great, in fact, everything IS going great. The unfortunate fact of the matter is, however, that the more and more I try to define my future, the less and less space I see to fit you in and that’s not something I can change.

I see a happy future ahead of me, one that I think I’ve always wanted – teaching American history in High School, and I’ve had a few recent experiences to help me recognize that. Last May, before we really met, (well technically I’d heard all about you, but I don’t think you even knew I existed) I took an internship as an intern and student teacher at my local middle school. They called me “Mr. Cryan” and I would teach them all about things like the Romans and the Mayans (the fact that I knew barely any specifics about the Mayans notwithstanding) and it was the happiest work experience I ever had. Until, of course, about one month later I set off for the Gambia and taught Math and Journalism in a school for disadvantaged girls. I loved the thrill of presenting, and how I knew I was making a difference in these students’ lives. So, when I stepped onto the beautiful Johns Hopkins campus and we finally started dating, I already had an inkling of what I wanted in my future, but decided that I could probably keep you in it.

But there was one thing in all that teaching experience that didn’t feel exactly right to me. Sure, I love math and journalism and ancient history, but I didn’t get the magical *click!* I get when I know something is completely right. I didn’t get the immediate *click!* with you either, but I thought maybe you and I just needed more time to get better acquainted.

The trouble is, I found someone. Someone who clicks.

Well, not so much found, as remembered. I actually think you two know each other – history! We dated a little bit in High School but at the time I never thought we would be serious or anything. However, we ran into each other recently (we have a pretty great class together this semester, Abraham Lincoln and His America) and all those feelings just came rushing back, but now with a purpose – I wasn’t going to teach math, or journalism, or ancient history, or political science – I am going to teach American History!

At this point, if you’re even still reading and haven’t yet balled this letter up in anger, it is really important to me that you understand that for a long time, I really, truly loved you. Remember how in my first blog I paraded the fact that I wrote an essay in the style of the Declaration of Independence as a token of my deepest affections for you? And over the course of the year, we’ve had some simply wonderful experiences. Remember when we took international politics together and used big words that we could tack on things like -ization and -ism and -politics with ease? Or when we would read the newspaper together and laugh over the ridiculousness of the primaries? (It was that or cry…) There were so many late nights that we spent together cramming like crazy, and I loved every second of it. …There was probably a better way to say that. Anyways the point is that we’ve had some amazing experiences and I’ve cherished the moments we’ve had together.

You’ve been absolutely wonderful these last few months and I will always remember you. The only problem is that I need different things than what you can give me. I just hope that, in time, we can still be friends.

Sincerely,

JHU_Kevin

Steps

Hi everyone!

Okay so I’m probably going to be the first person at Hopkins to ever say it, but I’ve never really been sure what “research” is. Based on the responses I’ve got from friends, it seems to be somewhere in between “finding answers to questions” and “cutting up brains and filling up beakers”. Working off the first definition, mainly because the idea of the second seems kind of gross, I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own!

Question: For your average pedestrian, how “big” is campus?

Hypothesis: Despite its wealth of resources and things to do, the campus in and of itself is actually relatively small in terms of getting around.

Materials: Me, my cell phone’s timer, Ethan, a stylish outfit, and academic curiosity!

Procedure: 

  1. Choose a number of important spots around campus.
  2. Starting in my room, walk to those important spots.
  3. Walk at a moderate pace with average-sized steps.
  4. Use stopwatch to time how long it takes to get from my room to that spot.
  5. Count the number of steps it takes me to get to that spot

My walking paths! For obvious reasons, I hit numerous buildings with each pass. For example, Mudd is on my way to Bloomberg, so I just lapped my timer and step count. Still scientific.

    .

 

Raw Data Table:

Places Steps, and Times!

 

Context for the Data: 

  1. FFC: The place most freshmen eat most of their meals. I’t's a nice, social place that I like a lot. Located under buildings A and B on the Pink path.
  2. Mailroom: The place were I pick up my mail. Located in AMR 2 along the Pink path.
  3. Laundry: in AMR 1, and therefore I didn’t draw a path to it. It’s in the basement.
  4. Turn Style: There’s a security guard and a gate in front of all the dorms. On literally every path.
  5. Library: Milton S. Eisenhower library, self-explanatory. But, I should add that they’re building what looks to be a really awesome addition of study spaces called the Brody Learning Commons and I’m excited for when it opens next fall! Timed on the Green path.
  6. Gilman Hall: The hopkins “Home for the Humanities”, it’s that b-e-a-utiful building smack dab in the middle of campus. On the Green path.
  7. Bookstore: A Barnes & Noble store with two stories, all your textbooks, and campus gear. Located under Charles Commons on the Yellow path.
  8. Charles Street Market: A nice little store with tons of food and really good sandwiches that takes Dining Dollars -- and there’s an Einstein’s bagels in the back! On the Yellow path.
  9. Shriver Hall: This place has a huge auditorium where Hopkins puts on numerous shows, movies, guest speakers, etc. On the Orange path.
  10. Mason Hall: Home of Admissions! I was actually just there two days ago to start my training as a tour guide. On the Purple path.
  11. Hodson Hall: Has a lot of new classrooms. My Advanced French and Beginner Persian classes are in here. On the Purple path.
  12. Mattin Center: Just an all-around cool place. It has a Chinese restaurant, the digital media center, soundproof practice rooms, and a theater, among other things. On the baby blue path.
  13. Levering Hall: Another all-around cool place. Has a café, the Tutorial Project, a lounge with fireplaces and armchairs, a great hall for big events and dance practicing (I do Chinese lion dance there and I’ve seen the Capoiera people there sometimes too), the Glass Pavilion which is kind of an all-purpose event room, a dining hall in the basement, and the Study Abroad office. On the Purple path.
  14. Bloomberg: I’m not entirely sure what specifically goes on in here, but I think it’s all the cutting edge science-y lasers and stars and whatever building. To me, at least, it has a pretty cool air of mystery. On the Red path.
  15. Rec Center: The Gym -- we actually have 2 gyms here, one for varsity athletes and another for regular people like me. I think it’s a really smart system because then there’s less competition for machines AND I don’t have to feel badly watching some guy bench press like a million pounds while I put in a good hour on the ellipticals while watching Dr. Who on my Ipad. On the Pink path.

    What Mudd Hall is going to look like once it's done!

  16. Homewood Museum: It’s the house that Charles Carroll (No, not THAT one, his son. But the Declaration of Independence signer did pay for its construction!) lived in. I took my Intersession dancing class there. Timed on the Green path.
  17. Breezeway: Beautiful set of steps connecting the lower and upper quads. Pretty much everybody on campus walks through this structure every day. Timed on the Orange path.
  18. Mudd Hall: Classroom building which is undergoing some HUGE renovations. Supposedly there are going to be tons of new undergraduate Biology labs or something, On the Red path.
  19. Maryland Hall: Classrooms for a lot of Engineers and such. I tried to have one building on the list that was simply the most archetypal Hopkins classroom building. On the Orange path.

Observations

  1. The majority of those times to get to areas all throughout campus are between 2-6 minutes.
  2. I found the walks to each area easy and not in the least bit tiring.
  3. All the places I went were actually really interesting.
  4.  Saturday afternoons are wonderful for peoplewatching. Walking around, I saw the Quidditch team practicing, some people walking their dogs, a family out for a stroll as their little daughter splashed in a big puddle, a guy doing balancing tricks with his soccer ball, my friend Pam twice, the lovely ladies of Alpha Phi doing their Pancake brunch fundraiser for Women’s health, and everybody else on campus got to see me -- the beautiful but weird kid who is muttering sequential numbers to himself, checking his cell phone, and scribbling in his Ipad!
Sources of Error?
Probably.
Conclusion

Lacking data from any other schools of Hopkins’ caliber as to how long it takes one of their freshmen to get to classes and other buildings, obviously because only Hopkins cares enough about you having all the information you could possibly have as you make decisions, it’s hard for me to make any judgments as to the relative size of Hopkins. However, 2-6 minutes seems more than reasonable, wouldn’t you agree? I would argue that my hypothesis stands.

Now, before I let you go I just want to add that my Day in the Life video is UP! Watch it Here!

Goals and Marshmallows

Hi everyone!

Okay this picture doesn't show any of what I wanted to convey, but just understand it was really pretty, warm, and sunny for the last couple of days! Also yeah those are a few lacrosse players, but there were actually a bunch of people playing frisbee just off to the left, and others sitting around chatting on the lower part of the quad i swear!

So yesterday the Hopkins Resident Advisory Board, (RAB) was throwing another one of their weekly-ish (I’ve never really kept track, but they do a ton…more on that later) de-stressing and productive activities here in AMR1 entitled “Goals and Marshmallows”, in which people would gather over some hot chocolate and just chat about what they want to accomplish over the coming semester. Now I didn’t actually go, being a busy person and not entirely in the mood for hot chocolate with this 60 degree weather, but it got me thinking — when I leave for summer break, what do I want to have accomplished? Then, upon watching a How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall reads an old list of the goals he set for himself when he was 15, it was settled. I am going to figure this out. So, without further ado, je vous présente:

That Thing That’s Going to Make Me Super Depressed in a Few Months Because I’ll Have Failed All of These.

Between my RA and RAB, there's a ton of things to do!

First, I want to go to more activities thrown by RAB. Over the course of the last semester they have thrown some pretty fun-sounding meetings, such as Trick or Treat, Fall Fest: Haunted House at Hopkins, Tattoo Me Monday, a Six Flags Trip, Free Rita’s Water Ice, Celebrity Poker at Nolan’s, Texas Hold ‘Em, Pumpkin Smashing, Costume Contest, Mocktoberfest, Tie Dye, Study Breaks, Pancakes & Personality, and a Dining Meeting. And you know what? I don’t think I went to ANY of those. How depressing is that? These guys put hard work into creating these events, and the least I could do is show up and eat all their food. Plus, I just finished going to the first days for all of my classes and thus got all 5 syllabi with full lists of readings and essays and tests and i can tell that I’m going to need a good way to de-stress.

Second, I want to at least once visit stressbusters, the Hopkins free-massage giving club, to see if it’s as excruciatingly awkward as I expect it’s going to be.

Third, go to the gym on at least some sort of regular schedule. I am a supremely lazy person. Like seriously. I snooze alarms for 5 minutes at a time for over 30 minutes regularly, once doing it for 3 hours. Anyways this quality reared it’s ugly head in a big way over winter break (I watched all of 30 rock, Parks and Recreation, AND Doctor Who…) and I was able to justify it to myself by deciding that over Intersession, with all of my free time, I wold go to the gym 5 days a week. I went twice. Total. So now I decided that maybe if a bunch of other people on the internet know that I’ve made this goal, I’ll be more likely to follow it. So I’m not saying 5, but at least a few times a week I’d like to hop on over to the rec center, get on one of those stationary bikes, and stream netflix through my ipad which I can put on the stand in front of me. I exercise in style.

Fourth, I have absolutely got to figure out an organizational system that works for me. Last semester, I relied far too heavily on three things – 1. people to remind me, 2. My notoriously horrendous memory, and 3. My superb poker face to cover up my “Oh my GOD that reading was due today?!” face. No longer. I have an absolutely perfect lineup of interesting and challenging courses this semester (I can’t wait to write another blog post about them! Soon, I promise) and I want to be able to participate completely, do all of the readings, and learn absolutely everything I possibly can. That means having a system to make sure I can do it.

The absolute perfect post-studying break

On a relatively similar note, I want to go to more office hours. Last semester, I went … once. Pathetic, right? Not again. All of my professors this semester seem incredible and office hours are an integral part of getting to know bot them and the material better. This is happening.

Sixth, I want to read books for fun. I do so much readings because professors tell me so, but it’s been too long since I’ve cozied up in bed with a great novel and cup of coffee and just enjoyed the experience. Salient among my list are Bossypants, the fourth Harry Potter book in French, Silent Spring, and The Fountainhead.

Seventh, get grades that I can be proud of. Obligatory part of any complete Hopkins goal list.

Eighth, I absolutely need to explore the wider baltimore area. I know charles village, the few blocks around Hopkins, pretty well… but past that I haven’t done much real exploring. I’ve been to the mall a few times, the inner harbor, little italy, but there’s still a million things left to see! Anyone who’s looked through LSB’moreknows that the aforementioned things are just the tip of a very large iceberg.

My GOD that's gorgeous

Ninth, I have absolutely got to head over to the Peabody campus sometime. Everybody keeps telling me that their library is absolutely stunning, and they do some really cool concerts and stuff, it sounds so wonderful and it’s just a quick, free shuttle ride away! Actually rumor has it that the spring opera is going to be The Crucible, so I might head on down for that with my friends when the time comes.

Finally, I need to take more pictures! It’s hard because I don’t have an iphone (#firstworldproblems, aka my life) but the truth is that the fact that I had to carry around a camera to get all my pictures was a disincentive for me, but you know what? College is going to fly by so quickly, and I want to have a nice record of everything wonderful I’m doing here. Trust me, there’s a whole lot that I never want to forget.

And so that’s it!

…Now watch me fail all of those. I’ll make sure at the end of the year to write a blog assessing my completion of these goals. Anyways check back later for more great posts here on Hopkins Interactive!

On a completely separate note, I would like it to be known to the entire internet that I got 12 million on temple run. Just cuz.

If Not Now, When?

So comfortable!

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since my last post, but luckily for all of you I spent the vast majority of it doing very little, so there’s not much to catch up on (Yay winter break!) A few highlights: I learned to knit, I became an anglophile, I’m the proud owner of a deluxe snuggie, and I drew a picture of the tank man at Tienanmen square for my sister’s christmas gift  – and that’s most of what I have to show for my last 3 weeks. But now winter break is over and it’s now the most wonderful time of the year, Intersession!

As I was explaining to a friend the other day, you have you’re whole life to work and be productive and whatever, but you only get TOPS 4 Intersessions. I say tops because, as you likely know, this January term (9th-27th this year) is completely optional. I actually think it’s a great testament to how much people like this school that they would give up a few extra weeks of sitting around doing nothing to be back here on campus voluntarily, especially because so many people I know came back. In any case, only 4 Intersessions, right! Okay so yeah I was saying that I really want to make this (and all subsequent Intersessions) count. Now’s the time for me to branch out a little and do all the fun stuff I might not get to during the spring semester, like:

Kathleen and I in front of the Homewood house!

-Dance like Jane Austen. My friend Kathleen and I (pictured to the right) decided to take this personal enrichment class on a whim and after our first lesson, I can genuinely state that it was really fun! Everyone stands in two lines and you and your partner jump and skip and twirl and arm-lock with everyone in the ballroom until you’re all exhausted and content. This activity has meshed well with my aforementioned new found anglophilicism (over break I watched a lot of doctor who, torchwood, and downton abbey — great!) and it’s held inside of Hopkins’ own Homewood House, where the son of Charles Carroll (A signer of the Declaration of Independence) lived. Needless to say, the Political Science/History nerd inside me was pretty happy.

-Watch the entire second season of Downton Abbey in three days. Yes, a bunch of my friends here are in love with the show too, and we would all gather in my (newly decorated!) room, drink tea, and gush over how amazing Maggie Smith is as the grandmother. I’m actually currently in the midst of a very heated argument with one of my friends over whether Thomas or Mr. Bates is better (hint: it’s not Mr. Bates, he’s awful)

- Take a nice, low-stress class purely because it looked interesting. Now, that’s not the world’s biggest break from normal schedules because Hopkins is super-relaxed about

Pure Awesomeness

requirements, but it’s worth mentioning that I really like the class I’m taking. It’s called War and Society in the New World, looking at military history in the colonies. Part lecture, part discussion, this class meets 3 afternoons a week, assigns interesting readings, and is on a topic I found really cool – did you know that in terms of the percentage of the population killed, King Phillip’s war was the most destructive war in America? Granted, that’s a pretty big “In terms of”, but that’s still pretty cool.

-Mock Trial like a pro. I’m three character witnesses for my team, and I’ve got to say that I’ve put a lot of work into my costumes and characters. With all my free time, we’ve been meeting a bunch to really bang out the details and make sure everything looks and sounds good.

-Stay cozy! It’s quite brisk here in Baltimore (at least it is today — if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this city, it’s that the weather never stays the same for long) So now it’s time to break out the snuggies, pillows, slippers, hot chocolate, and last but not least, friends!

Does it count as cooking if I put the K-cup in myself? I think so.

Now’s the time I would like to remind all of you that I’ve only been here for like 5-ish days and still have a lot left to do! For the rest of Intersession I look forward to exploring Baltimore, traveling to New York for a mock trial tournament and DC to visit friends, hopefully cook a little, catch up on my reading, and do more of the things I outlined above because God knows I like the routine I’ve got going.

Anyways, until next time! Hope all of your Januaries are going accordingly swimmingly!

Ode to the FFC

Hi everyone! So I’ve been away from my dear Johns Hopkins for a good 11 days now, and I’m starting to miss it. I miss my friends, my dorm, walking around campus, and (some of) my classes.

Gosh darn it, I even miss the FFC.

Now I’m no writing seminars major, and this is my first foray into poetry for a looooong time, but I wanted to give this a shot. So here goes!

Ode to the FFC

One walks inside, ‘neath A and B,

‘twixt bushes and stone pathways.

Bricks and glass for all to see,

where freshmen gather most all days.

One day we even had ice sculptures!

Pull the doors, cubbies line the wall!

Leave backpacks, umbrellas, and books.

Video cameras see it all,

but still, don’t leave valuables…

Stride up to Gladys at the desk,

She’ll swipe your card with a smile.

To-go box if your day’s a mess,

when that’s done, walk in with style.

Miscellaneous, that’s the first place,

it changes every day.

Salads and wraps for your plate,

no one item’s here to stay.

Then fries, they look warm and good,

but beware the enthusiasm gap!

My main complaint when it comes to food,

when I eat it, all taste appears to sap.

But fear not! There’s stations more,

one’s for cold cuts, yogurt, and fruit.

Eating healthy is surely no chore,

and it’s pretty darned tasty to boot!

Like this, but bigger and more industrial-looking. It's pretty cool.

The juicer, it’s flavor a delicious orange,

and its frame a sparkling silver.

High in demand for its wonderful… DAMMIT

it really brightens up my…OH COME ON.

And what of the salad bar?

Choices enough to please.

All its food does not come from afar,

and my god there’s even goat cheese!

Haiku change-up whaaaat

Special to-order station

Quesadillas yum.

The to-order station!

The hot station is pretty neat,

it’s the heart of a meal.

Chicken, steak, and other kinds of meat,

but ethically, I hope they don’t serve veal.

What would the FFC be without the pizza line?

It’s a warm and solid choice.

They change up flavors all the time,

pepperoni, pineapple, anchovoice. (don’t judge me)

My favorite is the vegetarian station,

though I don’t subscribe to the life.

The food is Mexican, Italian , and Asian,

turns out tofu is something I like.

How do I love thee, dessert tables? Let me count the ways

or not, I want this to be an original poem.

But FFC cookies make me want to pray,

that I could eat them forever and never go home.

Then sit down with friends,

and eat all your food.

The cycle never really ends,

but at least the atmosphere’s good.

Stock photo-- I have no idea who these people are. That's not creepy, right?

And there you have it folks! As you may be able to tell, I ran into the problem of not actually having any pictures of my own of the FFC, not being on location to take them myself, so a big thank you to JHU_Kate, JHU_Purna, and the good people at madeinchina.com for being so generous as to allow me to borrow their pictures without asking.

 

And with that, Merry Christmas Eve! See you guys later, when I report on Intersession!

We Enter the Future Backwards

Hey everyone! While the title, a quote from the French poet Paul Valery, might imply some sort of very philosophical post or whatever, I regret to inform you that this is not the case. Instead, I’ve felt like there has been a theme throughout my last week-ish, and this is the most eloquent way I could think of to say it. Anyways, because so many events and thoughts of mine have seemed to be about moving forward while looking back, I thought I would share it with all of you!

me, modeling/tour-guiding. You can expect a lot of that if you get me as your guide.

First off, and this one is a bit smack-you-in-the-head obvious, I was just formally accepted into the Blue Key Society, which are the JHU tour guides! That’s right, starting in the spring semester I will be giving out tours to all of you prospective students who come to visit campus – and I can’t stress it enough, please come. Hopkins Interactive is a great resource that can give a great feel of the campus, and we all work really hard to give you a sense of what it’s really like here, but in my book, visiting campus is still #1. When I came, I loved my tour guide, got lunch at the FFC, bought Hopkins socks at the library, and picked up a publication of the Black and Blue Jay, our humor newspaper. The whole experience of stepping onto campus and seeing the sights was wonderful to me and made me know I would apply, and this is my chance to give back.

Next, I’ve been moving forward into Finals season by looking back over my old notes. Right now is reading period, the week before finals begin where classes are all cancelled and students have all day to apportion out as they see fit. As for me, it’s been looking over study guides, old homework, and notes to make sure I know as much as possible when I go in Monday for my first test. And then my second. Which is immediatelyafter the first. From what I hear that isn’t a common occurrence - I guess that the administration or whoever makes the final schedule didn’t take into account students who take both International Politics and Environmental Engineering. In any case that means that I’ll be done with finals on the 12th, thus commencing a very early Christmas break!

Obsessed. Probably not healthy, but still.

Then there was the “slightly out of left field but totally relevant” Glee Night. You see, I’ve always been a huge gleek. Like huge. and at the end of last year I decided to share that with my friends! So, we would get together every tuesday night, snuggle up on my couch and eat some delicious snack that I prepared and watch the show. It was a wonderful tradition and one of the hardest things for me to give up, right after friends, family, birds, and my private bathroom. Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried really hard to re-create the feeling: I’ve tried calling my friends to watch glee over the phone together, but we’re all so busy that it’s hard to do regularly, although great when it works. I’ve tried texting them afterwards with my thoughts and feelings about the episode, but that’s not the same. Instead, at the end of my first semester, I realized that I entered the future backwards, trying to grasp on to an image from the past instead of diving into the Hopkins community. I’ve made a bunch of friends here who like the show just like me, and maybe we can make our own night out of it! I’m building a new home now, and it’s time for me to face forward and embrace it.

Finally, there’s This Semester. Yep, it’s wrapping itself up, and I think I’ve earned a little time to reflect upon it. I’ve been to the last of all my classes, said goodbye to some great professors and had my last tournaments/performances/meetings for all of my extracurriculars. If it’s true that we enter the future backwards, then based on what I’m looking at over the last semester, the spring and all my 4 years here are sure to be amazing.

So that’s my last blog of the semester! Don’t worry though, I’ll stay in contact and make sure to write.  Check back later for Ian’s blog!

Occupy my Free Time

Why hello there! I know, I know it’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been busy stuffing my face with turkey, gravy, and mashed sweet potatoes (although delicious, I’m still pretty bitter we didn’t have the real deal). Aaah, Thanksgiving, gotta love it. But now I’m back, and I can sense your relief- after so long reading heartwarming, shocking, and thoughtful blogs, you finally get to kick back and relax with some fluff by yours truly.

So I’ve decided to write my blog about something that all Hopkins students take so lightly: Classes! No but actually, I can’t believe I’ve made it to my final week of classes for the semester (Cue a repeat of my “I’m sorry, WHAT?” blog) without actually telling you all about something so core to my Hopkins experience! So without further ado, Here are the courses I’ve been taking:

All my classes for the fall semester

Preièrement, Advanced Writing and Speaking in French. Those who have thoroughly stalked my profile will know that this is my favorite course of the semester. This class is a ton of fun – every week we have a new theme, like friendship or art or money, and then we spend classes discussing them based on relaxed but helpful homework assignments. It’s writing intensive, which basically means a 1.5-page paper in french on the theme each week, but it doesn’t feel like work to me. Rather, because the themes are so open-ended, I get to really be creative and have fun! As an example, I wrote for the “money” theme that, because I have expensive taste yet currently want to enter into the career of teaching, I would need to find some alternate way of making tons of money, and then went on to detail various possibilities such as win the lottery, marry rich, or befriend a rich, lonely, and elderly person so that they write me into their will. And you know what? A. You’ve just got to love that class.

Next there is International Politics. This is a pretty stereotypical lecture class – Two classes where the professor talks at length about a certain aspect of international relations, such as hegemonic theories, liberal internationalism, or today’s module, China. But it’s not like I’m falling asleep in that class, not even close. Instead, Ethan and I quickly take down everything Professor Deudney has to say because it’s all so interesting and I don’t want to miss a thing. Then, every week, there’s a section that’s just you, about 10-15 other students, and an Teaching Assistant (TA). Generally my TA will let us ask questions about various readings we did for the class, explain things we didn’t completely understand from class, or give a shorter lecture on a subsidiary topic to the big lectures. Everybody I know seems to really like their TA’s, and I currently think mine is awesome because when on my test I wrote that industrialization made balancing power more difficult because it made war “harder, better, faster, stronger”, he drew a face next to that line and write that it was “IR Kanye”

Cool angle of Gilman Hall, where I take a lot of my classes

Next down the list is my Freshman Seminar on the History of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Chemistry. Essentially once a week we all get together in a classroom as a few students come up and present on their given Nobel prize winner. My guy was Karl Landsteiner, the scientist who discovered blood types. Also, on an awesome note, JHU_Jacqueline is in that class as well and she gave such an impressive, in-depth presentation (AND with donuts to go along, talk about incredible) that she actually got offered a research position by the professor! Yep kids, at Hopkins it really is that easy.

My penultimate class is Environmental Engineering. Even though I’m a political science major, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have all the courses from one of the top engineering schools at my fingertips. I enjoyed chemistry in high school, and this seemed like a practical and interesting way to apply that knowledge. Turns out that I really enjoy this class, a lot more than I thought I would! We talk about pollution and groundwater flow and waste-to-energy incinerators and stuff like that – it’s all really cool and getting me my math-science fix that I needed.

Just one of the 10-ish books we read over the semester

And finally there is my Great Books at Hopkins course. This one is really cool – over the course of the semester I’ve read some wonderful literature: The Odyssey, Goethe’s Faust, Dante’s Inferno, Plato’s Phaedo, Frankenstein, Hamlet, Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, Wilson’s Fences, and more. Occasionally (once every 3 books or so) we write essays analyzing passages that we close-read, and before every weekly section there’s a discussion board that we all post on and discuss questions about the book that we can later flesh out in person during sections. I’ve read so much in this class and really felt my literary horizons open. Plus, we often have fun with the books, such as a discussion on modern sinners for Dante’s Inferno, and how they should be punished – My favorite came from my friend Carrie, who cursed “Those who leave their laundry in the communal washers long after the cycle is done”.

And those are all of my classes for the semester! I definitely lucked out with course selection this summer, and just last Monday I did it all over again for Spring semester! Say what you will about lacrosse, or our great seasons with Women’s soccer and Men’s Football, but let’s face it – Course selection is Hopkins’ most competitive sport. Luckily I lined up a bunch of great courses for next semester, a lot of French and a WHOLE lot of Political Science, just the way I like it.

Horcruxes

You, dear reader, may have noticed over the past few weeks a number of blogs detailing the most prized possessions that we Hopkins students keep in our dorms, based on the idea “If your house was burning down, what would you take?”

I, unfortunately, have in abundance two traits which pretty much doom any ability to get all of the things I love out of my burning room in time: First, I am disorganized, and my room spends a lot of time in a state of “clutter”, as my mom likes to call it. Furthermore, I am a sentimental packrat – anything that I associate with a positive memory or emotion I keep, and grow really attached to. So, if I had to rush out of my burning dorm, not only would I have a ton of things to take, but it would take me forever to find it too.

So instead of detailing “what would I take?” I switched it to “what would I miss so freaking much that I would be so obviously depressed that if it somehow came out in court that I was depressed and the opposing attorney objected ‘state of mind’ they would get overruled because it’s so visibly obvious how deeply saddened I am” (I just got back from a mock trial tournament and I’m still a bit in the mindset. Anyways, objection: relevance. Sustained. Moving on.) I realized that a part of me would would (figuratively) die from their loss, much like Voldemort did at the loss of of one of his Horcruxes. And then it hit me – these are my Horcruxes!

So now I present to you my list:

First up: My Ipad. 

I’ve always loved technology that’s smaller, sleeker, and faster. And so while some people chastised my choice of not getting a new laptop for college and instead getting an Ipad to pair with my old desktop computer, I stuck to my guns and I’m so incredibly happy I did. This thing is perfect for me. It’s the only thing I take to all my classes because it does everything- it lets me type out lecture notes, download readings and annotate them, make graphs, draw pictures, listen to music, read books, surf the internet, play words with friends (obsessively…) and all the little things that render the world of notebooks, pens, and calculators obsolete. Ethan (My Ipad’s name) is my best friend.

Literally I love this machine

Second: Tiger Stripes

This is the beanie baby I’ve had since wayyyy before I can remember. He’s had his “lost years” in the deep recesses of my room but he always pops up occasionally and I brought him with me to college. He is to me what Woody is to Andy, except the story of our relationship is a whole lot less epic.

Tiger Stripes!!

Third: My Keurig

If any of my items were analogous to harry-as-voldemort’s-horcrux, it’s my keurig. We have the ultimate twisted relationship. It provides me with life as its coffee runs through my veins, like harry and the whole “new body from enemy’s blood” scene in the 4th book, however, if anything is to be my downfall, it’s going to be this. I promised myself, a long time ago when I was 13 and I saw some pretty bad scenes of caffeine detoxing in Africa that I would never become addicted. This machine, coupled with my classes, is ripping that promise to shreds.

My Keurig, as of yet unnamed... that's not okay... hmm, how about Bilius? OOH wait I actually really like that! Okay, Bilius the coffeemaker.

Fourth: My internship thank you letter

During the months of May and June, my school decided that it wold be better for all these super-senioritis-inflicted students to head off on internships before they graduate rather than waste all their time in class. As such, I worked as a student intern for a crew of about 70 6th graders, doing everything from grading tests, to tutoring struggling students, to actually student teaching! It was a wonderful experience – the kids were all amazing and I was so sad when my internship ended! But on my last day they gave me one of the nicest presents I’ve ever gotten – a big thank you card with notes from every student. I wanted to cry right then and there! Anyways I keep it up on my wall for me to look at every day.

Tell me that's not adorable

Fifth: My Beige Jacket

I really like this jacket. Like a lot. It’s so versatile! It works with all sorts of pants, you can wear it by itself, or you can pair it with a sweater or a sweatshirt, it’s warm but not too hot, it’s not bulky, it doesn’t make that weird scratching noise… oh god it’s just nice. Definitely horcrux-worthy.

In all its glory.

Sixth: Fréderic

Now, that’s not to be confused with the pedestrian and uninspired “Fredrick”. No, Fréderic is REGAL, and deserves a name reflecting that. He was a graduating gift from my aunt (an interesting juxtaposition against the pile of cards and checks from other relatives) and we’ve grown really close in the few months we’ve had to get acquainted. I don’t know if you can see from the picture, but he has REALLY expressive eyes for an inanimate object.

Wondering how I fit him into a dorm room? Me too.

And the seventh and final horcrux is… Rain Gear!

… It is Baltimore, after all. I would probably die without it.

Yes. that's a fold-out jacket in a bag. I know, you're jealous.

Each of these items contains a great amount of importance in my eyes, and my soul would die a little if I lost any of them! As such, they are my 7 perfect horcruxes. Also I didn’t have to kill anyone to get them, so that’s a plus.

Anyways check back later for JHU_Jacqueline’s (the inspiration for this blog, by the way) post!

 

And You Thought THAT Was Hard?

Today being the infamous November 1st, I’m going to dedicate this blog to all the high school seniors who as of this moment have all completed their Early Decision applications! Hooray! Now is the time to pat yourself on the back, relax, eat a mountain of chocolate pudding, or whatever it is you do congratulate yourself of a job incredibly well done. If you’re at all wondering, I’m personally very partial to the pudding option.

Moreover I’m very excited because that means a whole heck of a lot of you who just pressed that fateful button on the common app will be here on campus in less than a year, partying it up with me! (Say what you will about our beautiful campus or great academics or whatever, I know why you REALLY applied.)

But or the next month and a half, time will slow. You will agonize over that application, whether it’s being read RIGHT AT THIS SECOND, or if you’ve already been placed in the “admit” or “reject” pile and just have to await the December 15th confirmation. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if there’s really an “accept” or “reject” pile. In fact, I barely know anything about the actual process of admissions.) So how do you survive this period without the stress-induced personal implosion characterized by such actions as pulling out all your hair, renouncing God, and (this is the worst) wearing sweatpants to school every day? Well you should follow my Survival Guide!

The JHU_Kevin’s handy-dandy super-fantastic battle-tested Survival Guide of Pure Correctness (TM) is broken down into three sections: Keep up the Good Work, Find and Outlet, and Take Your Mind Off It.

Keep up the Good Work

Regular Decision

Yep that’s right, you got in your ED application! However that’s no reason to neglect your Regular Decision responsibilities – keep up with supplements, refine your essays, make sure you have all your ducks lined up in a row to ensure a smooth RD application cycle. There’s still work that needs to be done. Granted I, of course, placed all my hopes into getting into Johns Hopkins Early Decision and decided to not even look at supplements for other schools until December 15th passed. Luckily for me, I did get in, but I was playing with fire and I ask that you all don’t.

My two sounding boards for literally ALL of my high school problems

Find an Outlet

Friends

I was an absolute hot mess (stress hot) during this decision season and I could not have survived it without my friends alongside me. We moaned and complained to each other, we offered support and self-depreciated together, we cursed the names of our respective ED schools for not handing out decisions faster, and that more than anything is why I’m still a relatively sane person.

We were working on a machete case, so at least I was relatively on-topic...

Silly Putty

On that fateful day, December 15th, I actually brought some blue silly putty to all of my classes and molded it incessantly to channel all of my stress and anxiety. I actually played with it so much that it prompted my Mock Trial coach to take it out of my hands, walk over to the 2nd floor window, and chuck it out onto the street so I could concentrate.

Take Your Mind Off It

The Sims

During this stress-inducing period, I played this game with a fervor that can only be described as religious. Concerning myself with having my sim max out skill points, reach the top of every career, and score with all the neighbors was a great distraction from worrying.

Again, Friends

Interestingly, they aren’t just there to hear you complain about how much your life sucks – hang out and do something fun because it’s hard to feel depressed and anxious when you’re laughing and happy.

So to re-cap. Stay busy, stay productive, and don’t bottle it in. If you’re at all wondering, this is the shortened version – the full copy is for purchase at the price of 12,000,000 pesos.

Make sure you check back later for more awesome blogs!

I’m Sorry, WHAT?

This was my slightly dumbfounded response yesterday to a friend’s innocent observation -- As of yesterday, I was exactly halfway finished with my first semester of college. (!!!)

Say it ain’t so! I mean, I kind of just got here, didn’t I? I’m still starting to get involved in all the clubs and classes pretty much just started picking up -- how could the semester be already halfway finished?

And then I thought about it, and realized that my assumptions were way off base.  I’ve actually become incredibly involved in my activities in campus! Last weekend, I got to play cymbals in my Chinese lion dance troupe’s performance for parent’s weekend -- half a semester in and I’m already on stage! And soon, once I get the moves and balancing right (it’s pretty tough) I’ll be on stage with a lion head of my own. and then my work with the Tutorial Project can hardly be said to still be in its beginning stages. My tutee and I are already really close and we’ve got a good tutoring routine all tooled out that we run through twice a week.  Furthermore, I’m leaving for my first mock trial tournament on Friday, and I’ve got another lined up in about a month. Throw in this blog, exploring Baltimore, and making friends, and honestly i’m astounded I’ve been able to do so much in just the first half of my first semester!

Studying hard on a nice fall afternoon

Moreover, classes didn’t “just start picking up” -- in fact, I’ve already survived the first round of midterms! Although to be fair (and the fact that I write this in retrospect is a huge factor here) survived seems too harsh an adjective to describe what were basically a few unit tests. And if you’re wondering “Well how could a whole midterm be just like a unit test? Doesn’t it cover like a million units? Also isn’t it way too early for midterms?” then you’re in good, beautiful, and downright hilarious company because those were the questions I had going in as well.But, as it turns out, here there are two midterms and a final per semester, generally. So it’s true that they come faster, but they cover only a few units and they are non-cumulative, at least for me. That means that for my second midterm, I’ll only be tested on the things since my first midterm. I kind of wish people had told me this before I over-studied my butt off, but whatcha gonna do? Plus on the upside, I ended up doing really well!

In other “i’ve actually been here a really long time” news, last weekend was parents weekend! This is when parents of freshmen are encouraged to come to campus for the weekend (if you couldn’t have guessed.) Luckily for me, mine came down and it was really nice -- we went to nice restaurants like Woodberry Kitchen, explored a little and even made it over to The Book Thing, where I got a bunch of nice, free books including Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the wildly influential novel which sparked environmental reforms and activism in the 70s. Fun fact, guess where this incredibly popular and talented author went to school? You guessed it, Hopkins!

A little piece of home

Anyways I’m sidetracking…. oh right! Parents weekend. So for the past month and a half, time seemed to fly -- and so in the same sense that I was caught off guard by how for I’ve come in a half a semester, I was surprised by how much I missed the things I left. Walking around campus with my parents, seeing my stuffed lion Fréderic (i originally left him at home because I didn’t think I’d have room for him, but when my parents surprised my and brought him down, i just had to make room), and talking about everything going on since I’d been gone, i couldn’t help but get nostalgic. It was nice.

And so that is my mid-semester reflection. I’ve been doing so much that it doesn’t feel so long, and yet I honestly feel like the events of just a few months ago -- graduation, AP tests, fencing tournaments -- were part of some different lifetime. Dear God, if this is how I sound like at 1/16th of my way through college just think how bad it’s going to be at the end!

Anyways check back later for JHU_Jacqueline’s blog post!

P.S. I wanted to point out a mistake I made in my first blog post -- as you may have put together while reading this one, I will be away at a mock trial tournament during the October 22nd Fall Open House! So for all you adoring fans who can’t wait to express your love for me, there’s always the 29th as well.