In Fourteen Days!

I just got back from visiting my huge family in India. I also just got over three days worth of jetlag, which is equally exciting! The trip was incredibly fun and I am so glad I got to see all of my relatives after so many years!

Some of my cousins and me in front of India Gate!

In exactly fourteen days, I will officially be a sophomore. It hasn’t even hit me yet. A year ago at this time, I was freaking out, trying to figure what to pack and what not to pack. And because I was an indecisive little pre-frosh way back in the day, I made sure to fit my entire closet into a red suitcase, my entire bed into a blue suitcase, and my entire bathroom, dresser, and refrigerator in multiple cardboard boxes. I sincerely apologize to the orientation “move-it move-it” volunteers because I clearly wasn’t thinking. And I know I’m a year late, but I have to thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart for carrying all of my luggage BY HAND and climbing three flights of stairs to deliver them safely to my dorm room. To show my appreciation, I am packing much lighter this year:)

orientation volunteers on move-in day!

I am a little nervous for this year’s classes. I guess my nervousness stems from the fact that I am not taking classes from a survey of departments as I did freshman year. Last year, I took classes from all over the place: math, chemistry, physics, writing seminars, romance languages, classics, art workshops, and art history. By doing so, I learned a LOT about myself (my likes/dislikes, my strengths/weaknesses) and was able to firmly decide on a major. This year, I’m taking classes from a more related set of departments: chemistry, chemBE, physics, and art workshops. The good news is that I now have a fitting major, on which I am able to focus a majority of my class time! However, having spent my entire freshman year exploring different classes and gaining broader perspectives, this will be my first year taking classes from my major, technically marking the beginning of my academic journey (eep!).

I do, on the other hand, feel relaxed about returning to the ever so familiar lifestyle of the college student: easy mac dinners, sleeping over at the library, last-minute laundry runs, treating Thursdays as part of the weekend, calling home every day during that 10 minute walk between your second and third class, and lastly, playing the nose game with your suite when it’s time to clean the bathroom.

This is my last time blogging as a freshman on the shared Class of 2015 page. Thank you to everyone who read my blogs this past year:) I will continue to blog as a sophomore and I look forward to my first sophomore blog post!


Blue jays, Masala, and Chai, Oh My!

I am super excited right now because I will be going to India next week to visit all my relatives! I have a HUGE family…about 30 first cousins and 50 second cousins and a million uncles and aunts…and only two weeks to visit all of them; it’ll be like running a marathon! A majority of my family is from South India, so I will be spending a majority of my time there, speaking nothing but Kannada (one of the hundreds of national languages of India) each day. So if I come back to Hopkins in the fall and say something to you in a strange, bazaar foreign language, it’s because I would have forgotten how to speak English. (Just kidding, that won’t happen!)

In addition to visiting family, I am very much looking forward to all the delicious, traditional, culture-rich Indian food that I will be eating every day:

Like masala flavored french fries...

...and paneer pizza...

...and not to mention, CHAI !!

Although the above are great, I was really referring to something more like this:

An Indian appetizer called "Papdi Chaat"! It is incredibly delicious!

I think I have one more blog to go, so I will definitely share about my trip to India! But for now, something far more pressing has come up. I was scrolling through the files on my computer looking for pictures to use for this blog when I came across this little gem:

candy shaped like a heart (the organ) and brain pencils!

I thought it was really cute so I thought I’d share! Back at Hopkins, during orientation week last year, we had open houses for all the academic departments where faculty from each department spoke about the classes and what each major has to offer. I got the heart-shaped candy and pencils at the Neuroscience open house. If I remember correctly, they had a bunch of other organ-shaped candies you could choose from. They also give out a ton of other cute stuff like brain-shaped stress balls and a Neuro major’s lanyard. The information session is pretty neat as well, so go to the Neuroscience open house during orientation if you’re interested!

Lastly, I took my Differential Equations final exam last week at Rutgers University! It was a pretty sentimental moment for me since it was my last pure math class EVER (from this point forward, the math I will learn will be applied to my major). Luckily, the final exam went well and I feel like I owe it all to the blue jays that sat outside the building hall where I took my exam. Yes, actual blue jays! On the day of my exam, as I was walking towards the classroom, I saw blue jays chilling at Rugters.

Oh hey there!

In the eight weeks I had taken the class, not once had I seen a blue jay walking around the campus until of course, the very last day when I saw FOUR! I was beyond convinced they were there to cheer me on or something. I am not kidding; just the sight of the blue jays gave me a bigger boost of confidence than a Starbucks doubleshot would ever have. And along with all of that, I saw them again during the exam perched outside the classroom window. I swear, I am neither going crazy nor making up superstitious claims in my favor. Those blue jays were there and they were good luck!

What? Planning for School Already?

Yes. This week, my suitemates and I have started planning for the new school year and basically brainstormed a list of all the essential and absolutely necessary things to bring for sophomore year! So far, our list consists of hair dryers, a coffee machine, a pink fuzzy rug, every Disney movie known to man, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a hammock chair, and a waffle maker. We’ve clearly sorted out our priorities. I’m actually really excited to be living with close friends this year; it’s going to be like one giant sleepover! I mean, school? What’s that?

Suitemates (and Chipotle!) on The Beach!

In planning for this year, I quickly found everything to become incredibly reminiscent of planning for my freshman year! It was actually around this time (more like mid-July) of last year that I got my roommate and housing information via email. I still remember the excitement of finding out my room number and being very eager to meet and get to know the two randomly selected people that would soon become my roommate and suitemate. We contacted each other right away, finding each other on facebook and posting on each other’s walls within minutes of getting our housing information! Soon, everyone was posting on the 2015 facebook page and looking at the dorm floor plans trying to figure out who their neighbors were. No joke, I think that entire day was spent on the facebook page figuring out who I was living near and friending everyone!

A week later, we started planning for freshman year, brainstorming a list of things to bring, much like what I’m doing right now. And even though I was planning for dorm life with two complete strangers, we were just as excited and enthusiastic as my friends and I currently are!

I even remember some of the brainstormed items! I know there is a lot of decision making involved in deciding what to bring to college, sometimes from multiple parties including yourself, parents/guardians, your roommate, even extended relatives, etc. One of the greatest dilemmas I had last year was deciding whether to bring a fridge or not. I decided against it (which was a mistake) but luckily, my roommate let me share hers! Here are some things from my freshman year list that I strongly recommend getting based on my experience:

  • A fan. If you live in the AMRs, a window fan might be convenient. If you live in the Buildings, it would be a good idea to bring a small desk fan for the winter. In my experience living in the Buildings, although it was temperature controlled, sometimes they would heat the buildings way too much in the winter. A fan definitely came in handy! I got the O2 Cool Portable Plus 5″ fan at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10.

  • Shower Shoes. There are some really nice fancy ones out there, but I just used flip flops from Old Navy. They are pretty inexpensive as well as waterproof, so they will last the full year!
  • A mini-fridge. We used this item on the list the most! My roommate rented a micro-fridge from the school and our suite shared it. If you rent from the school, it’s about $180 for the micro-fridge and about $140 if you want just the fridge. Many people split the cost among suitemates and share a fridge for the whole year. You can also find great deals elsewhere and bring your own!
  • A mini vacuum cleaner (along with other cleaning supplies). If you live in the buildings, you don’t have carpeting, so it’s really important to clean the floors frequently since they can quickly gather dust. I got the Dirt Devil Power Air Stick vacuum cleaner from Target at a sale price of $20. I did my shopping in mid-August when a lot of the back-to-school sales take place!
  • A Brita Filter water bottle. It’s not absolutely necessary since the tap water is clean and drinkable. In fact, my roommate and suitemate just used a regular water bottle. But if you are super paranoid like yours truly, you might as well invest in a Brita bottle! I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10.

Of course, there were a million more things on the list; however, these were some of the items on my list that I consider super important. They definitely came in handy throughout the year!

I hope this is somewhat helpful when time comes for you to plan for freshman year! That time is coming up soon, for it’s almost mid-July:) But until then, spend your time watching fireworks, singing patriotic songs, and having a great 4th of July!

Sum Ambulans in Sole

It’s been a little over a month since I left Hopkins and came home for the summer and I have exactly two more months of break to go before I’m back in Homewood for my sophomore year. Summer is going by way too fast. But I feel I have spent it wisely so far, making some memories that I will take with me for a long time!

I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble. The other day I played a game with my family who are all Scrabble wizards. My little sister, who is 5 years younger than me, will always manage to beat out the whole family by at least 100 points. And then there’s me and my disastrous playing ability. For several rounds, my family would let me get away with playing words like “Ba” after I would spend several minutes convincing them that it is a word, for it is the sound a sheep makes. For years I would play small made-up words like that and be satisfied with the 4 points I would get each round. However, the other day when I played with my family, something amazing happened! After intently starting at my set of letters, I played a word that was not two, not three, but SIX letters long! The word was “Zealot” with a double letter score on the “z” and a triple word score for a total of 75 points for that one turn, which for me was the most ingenious play on the face of the planet. It was hands-down my greatest Scrabble moment ever and I will forever remember it even when I’m old.

Basically how I normally play... :P

I also played paintball for the first time. I know. I’m insanely crazy. I have no idea what propelled me to try it, but I did and I’ll be completely honest; It was a great experience and I’m glad I tried it, but I’m definitely not brave enough to do it again! For someone who can barely play laser tag, paintball is some scary stuff! I went with my friends who are incredible paintball enthusiasts, so naturally they were far more into it than I was, stealthily maneuvering their way through the course and aiming at the other team with complete accuracy. I, on the other hand, had a more fitting strategy. My plan was to hide behind a tree until it was safe to come out. Unfortunately, the other team seemed to spot me anyway and sent nearly 50 paintballs in my direction, each at about 200 mph. And those paintballs HURT! This continued for many rounds and the general trend was that I would always be one of the first ones out. But in my defense, I would get shot out having tried my absolute best! I even *almost* shot a player on the opposing team! Even though the experience was physically painful (leaving me with about six welts and bruises by the end of the day), it felt very fulfilling to have tried something so completely new and far off from what I would normally do. I have to thank my insane but amazing friends for that!

My friend (left) and I (right) with our paintball guns! We speak Latin.

A more recent obsession of mine that took place a few weeks ago is the BBC show Downton Abbey. I watched the ENTIRE series in a week. It is just too good to take a break from watching! As a Beatles fan, I naturally gravitate towards all things British such as Jane Austin novels, Cadbury’s chocolates, and of course BBC shows. To take my obsession to the next level, I’ve even started to learn how to play the Downton Abbey theme song on the piano. Don’t judge. Watch the video below! It’s the promo from when the first season came out and hopefully it entices you to start watching if you already haven’t:)

Lastly, I’m spending a majority of my summer taking a Differential Equations class at Rutgers University. Contrary to how I thought it would be, Diff Eq is turning out to be one of my favorite classes! The course material is incredibly interesting and seems to apply directly to everyday life, especially the modeling unit, which is one of the first units in the course. In modeling, we learn to write equations that represent certain situations, including population growth and decay, changes in solution concentration over time, and compound interest. From then on, we learn how to solve more complex differential equations. As tedious as they can be at times to compute, I feel a great appreciation for the material since I’ve realized its usefulness from the modeling unit!

That’s my summer so far! I have two more months to go and I can’t wait to see what else happens! So until then, feel free to ask me any questions about student life or Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!

Bentornati a New Jersey!

Right now I am relaxing in my back yard at home in Flemington, New Jersey, enjoying the beautifully sunny and breezy weather that only comes around at this time of year. It’s summer break for me and the rest of JHU! I am spending time with friends and family, working on some paintings, and most of all, catching up on all the TV shows I missed during the school year!

Friends from home


Family (on Top of the Rock in NYC if you were wondering!)




The Office

= Epitome of awesome summer.

But wait…there’s more!

Recently I changed my major from Biology to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, more commonly known as ChemBE. I decided to make the switch because I found that I really enjoy chemistry (if you couldn’t tell from some of my previous blogs), and the whole concept of taking raw materials and converting them into materials that are more usable simply fascinated me. It’s like Transfiguration from the world of Harry Potter (but with molecules instead of animals)!

I am really glad to have found a major that is more fitting for me and I am greatly looking forward to taking ChemBE classes next year; however, switching from Arts and Sciences to Engineering after my freshman year means there is a lot of catching up for me to do in terms of fulfilling requirements. This summer, I have enrolled in a Differential Equations class at Rutgers University, which is only a 40 minute drive from where I live. I am taking the class for credit since Differential Equations is a requirement for my new major (Many JHU students from New Jersey take summer classes at Rutgers University for credit since the credits do transfer). Taking the class over the summer allows me to fulfill one of my requirements while making room in my sophomore year schedule for other ChemBE classes to be taken on time. And I guess it also makes me feel productive and keeps me from the guilt of squandering time by having too much fun!

Feel free to ask me any questions about student life or Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!

Also, congrats again to the Class of 2016! 3 more months to go!!

A Day in the Life of JHU_Purna

I was just getting back from volunteering at this week’s SOHOP event when I remembered that I wanted to write an “A Day in the Life” blog. I was debating between my Mondays and my Fridays for the longest time, but then I decided to write about my Wednesdays instead. So here it goes!

8:00 AM: Wake up I know I know; it’s awesome because it’s so much later than waking up for high school! Looking back, I don’t know how I used to wake up every morning at 6:00AM, rush to get ready on time, and on some days wait outside in the cold and rain for the school bus to arrive. Now I get to wake up later, get ready, and leisurely walk two feet outside my dorm building to grab breakfast. I don’t even have to deal with beating an annoying younger sibling to the bathroom! (…although I do have that Alaskan roommate)

Hopkins waffle for breakfast!

9:00 AM: Gen Chem II My first class of the day is General Chemistry II in the ever so famous (or infamous…depending on the day!) Remsen 1. Remsen 1 is this humungous lecture hall that seats hundreds of students in classes like chemistry, biology, and other large lecture classes. Right now we’re learning about lasers and the chemistry of light! It’s pretty interesting:

Looking over the power point after class!

10:00 AM: Free Hour I don’t have a class at 10:00 AM which is super nice. During this time I either take a nap or go to the library and catch up on my readings for my classes :)

11:00 AM: Gen Physics I Probably one of my favorite classes this semester. The class is taught through clicker questions, or multiple choice questions on a projector that students answer by using a CPS clicker. It’s like playing Jeopardy or Quizbowl! After each question, the professor reveals the right answer by doing a live demo using props to illustrate a mechanics concept. It’s very useful during exams since we don’t have to really memorize the concepts. All we have to do is remember what happens during the demos!

12:00 PM: Calculus III Class #3! I’m glad I took it in the afternoon when I’m mostly awake because this class requires a lot of focus!

1:00 PM: Silk Road Express Silk Road is an Asian food place located in the Mattin Center. I always go there before my art class and get iced chai bubble tea. My art teacher is super nice and allows food in the classroom, so sometimes I get spring rolls to eat while I paint!

Chai bubble tea!

1:30 PM: Painting I Best. Class. Ever. It’s four hours of painting and I kid you not, it’s the most relaxing class I’ve ever taken. Currently, my class is working on master copies of European paintings showcased at the BMA. I chose to do a Seurat painting, while my classmates have chosen works ranging from Picasso to Botticelli. I love chatting with my classmates while painting and listening to my ipod. It’s like recess!

I painted fruit! It was fun.

5:30 PM: Call home As soon as I get out of art class, like the minute I take one step out of the studio room, I pull out my phone and call my family. It’s the perfect time to call home since all my classes are done for the day. Plus, my family is guaranteed to catch me in a good mood since I would have just gotten done painting! The conversations can some days last 10 minutes and other days last 100 minutes. I’m especially excited because they’re coming to visit me this weekend!

6:00 PM: Grab dinner This is when I get to spend time with friends and eat (two of my favorite things) at the same time!

6:30 PM: HERTU I help out with the Hopkins Emergency Response Teaching Unit. Right now, we are working on teaching our fellow Hopkins students how to run emergency medical scenes, such as coming across patients with asthma attacks, allergic reactions, and drug misuse. The class is completely student run. I took the course over intersession and now I help out with the spring semester course as a TA. The classes are very informative and at the end of the course, each student receives an EMR certification.

10:00 PM: Library M level Homework time! My friends and I start off at M level for group study, but then we end up getting distracted from our work and talking to each other the whole time. So we eventually have to split up so we can focus and be productive. (Unless it’s studying for midterms, during which we are all very serious!)

2:00 AM: Sleep The best part of the day :)

Hope you enjoyed reading that! Feel free to ask me any questions about student life or Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!



Why Hopkins: My Experiences With JHU!

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!!

While thinking about what to write, I became incredibly reminiscent of all the events leading up to how I ended up here at JHU. I toured the campus in my senior year of high school and instantly fell in love with the overall positive and motivated attitude of the student body and professors, and not to mention the beautiful campus!

Now that I am officially a Hopkins student and have almost completed a whole year, the greatest thing I have come to appreciate about this school is the amount of opportunity: opportunity to learn, opportunity to do, opportunity to teach; there is an endless amount of ways to get involved and gain exposure to the field of your interest.

As a super math and science nerd in high school, I have always for the main part pictured myself practicing medicine and doing research in a lab. I’ve also pictured myself riding a vespa past gorgeous gardens and cobblestone villas while sipping cappuccino every morning on a balcony that overlooks the riverside.  A large portion of my adolescent life has been spent playing punch buggie with Ferraris, stalking Rafael and Da Vinci on ARTstor, listening to Andrea Bocelli sing “O Sole Mio” a thousand times on constant loop, and trying to convince the world that tiramisu is possibly the greatest thing they will ever come across in their life. Yes, I do secretly wish I was Italian. And by the time I was a senior in high school, I set a goal for myself: After I got my MD, I would become the proud owner of a vespa and set up a practice on the Italian Riviera so I can occasionally paint landscapes of the riverside if time allowed.

As crazy and farfetched as my dreams appear, it’s definitely worth working towards them. To my extreme fortune, Hopkins encourages that. Hopkins knows that every student here pictures big things for themselves, whether it is to become a hospital manager in Honduras while simultaneously working to refine irrigation in Africa, or to become the most renowned brain surgeon on earth and win the nobel prize in medicine, or even the next great fashion-designer/lawyer/adult fiction writer of the century. (Those are real goals set by real people here and they are well on their way!) We have an excellent network of alumni, professors, and advisors who are always supportive of their students and are whole-heatedly willing to help them achieve in every way possible.

Image of a mouse neuron. Courtesy of Ryan Patterson, my neuron-obsessed floormate!

When I told my academic advisor in the fall about my doctor/artist/Italian goals, she suggested I start by taking general chemistry and focus on fulfilling my premed requirements first. (Don’t worry, I have prioritized!) She then told me to set aside some time in my schedule to work towards a Homewood Arts Certificate for visual arts by taking art classes of my choice. And finally, if I must be Italian, she suggested I try taking Italian elements, which has conveniently taught me to become proficient in reading an Italian menu. I feel so grateful to be able to receive so much support and guidance from a school that is genuinely interested in helping me work towards my very specific goals.

I am also very grateful to go to a school that gives me such great preparation for my subject of interest. Science at Hopkins is perhaps the biggest reason I decided to come here. Although the science courses are very rigorous, my friends and I have all agreed that we have learned a lot (like really, a LOT). I remember walking into chem lab on my first day and having to pick my lab station. I was in awe at the rows and rows of lab stations that took up the entirety of Mergenthaler first floor, for I had never seen a lab room this huge! I haven’t had a chance to take pictures of my lab experiences, but my hip-hop dancing friend has documented the squid dissection unit in General Biology Lab and was nice enough to let me use her picture! I never got a chance to do the squid dissection since I am not enrolled in gen bio, but from what I’ve heard, it was a very interesting experience.

So much cooler than the pig dissection in high school. Courtesy of my hip-hop dancing friend!

The gen bio class is very interactive. Some of their assignments require them to go on field trips to the Maryland Zoo and even the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor! I may or may not have (but definitely have) pretended to be a gen bio student and tagged along on the aquarium trip…

Me (left) with my hip-hop dancing friend and crazy-awesome lab partner (who are actually gen bio students) at the aquarium!

Reflecting upon my freshman year so far, I realize that I have learned so much more academically than I ever thought I could. I’ve learned so much chemistry in such a short amount of time; I’ve learned what it really means to be in Lab; I’ve learned CPR and have become EMR certified through HERU; I’ve even had the opportunity to become AHA Instructor certified to teach CPR at the Johns Hopkins Hospital! On top of all that, was still able to pursue art and Italian, which I hope to pursue in my next three years as well. I’m really glad I came to Johns Hopkins; I never would have thought to get involved this much and make use of all these opportunities if I had gone anywhere else.

A (Spring Break) Day in the Life of JHU_Purna

Lately, a lot of my fellow freshman SAABloggers have been posting A Day in the Life blogs about their typical Johns Hopkins day and they are possibly the greatest things I’ve ever read! I really want to write one, but right now, I’m home for spring break. I’m having a lot of fun being back in my hometown and spending time with my family. But I’ve come to notice that a day in my life during break as a college student is quite different from one when I was in high school. So I guess there is room for me to post an “A Day in the Life” blog after all. (I shall eventually come around to writing one about my day at Hopkins!)

So without any further ado, here is A (Spring Break) Day in the Life of JHU_Purna! (I picked Tuesday)

7:00 AM: Rise and Shine! I know this is way too early to wake up during spring break, but I wasn’t headed to class, so it’s okay! Instead, I was getting ready to watch my high school compete in the National Junior Classical League’s Annual Certamen (basically like a Quizbowl for Latin grammar, history, and Roman mythology). I was on my high school’s team for the past few years and now I get to support them as they compete this year!

NJ Junior Classical League Banner at Princeton U!

8:30 AM: Head off to Nassau Street! Every year, the New Jersey Regional JCL competition is held at Princeton University, which is about an hour away from my house. Normally, I would complain about having to drive that far, but I was actually really happy to be able to drive again!

9:30 AM: Find parking by the Princeton train station. Time to meet up with my high school’s Certamen team. I became super nostalgic almost instantly. I was so glad to see my friends as well as my old Latin teacher!

Me (right) with my friends on my high school's JCL team!

11:30 AM: Wander around Palmer’s Square! Like Princeton, NJ is a really nice place to shop or go out to lunch. Although Nassau street is very unique, I felt a little like I was back at Hopkins, but that just may be because I was in a university town! My friends and I visited the Princeton University Art Museum, where we uncontrollably “oohed” and “aahed” at their collection of Monet paintings. Visitors aren’t allowed to take pictures of select paintings, but the museum guard was nice enough to let us take a picture with a Monet painting we really liked, seeing how excited we were to see it!

My friend and I freaking out over the Monet painting!

1:30 PM: Head back to Flemington. Luckily, the traffic wasn’t as bad on the way home as it was in the morning!

2:30 PM: Back Home! Now it’s time to watch some TV, which is sadly something I’ve missed…like a lot. I do watch TV in college, but I watch it on my laptop. And watching TV on a lap top is NOT the same as watching TV on a TV :)

4:00 PM: Log onto Blackboard. Even though it’s spring break, I have to take advantage of the free time to do some catching up and reviewing in my classes. From what I’ve experienced, Hopkins does not assign homework over breaks; however, they do give you a heads-up on all upcoming assignments that will be due after the breaks. In other words, you can totally get away with doing no work over break, but it definitely helps to get a head start!

7:00 PM: Dinner! I legitimately get excited for every meal at home. Home cooked meals are not something I complain about anymore since they are quite hard to come by in college.

8:00 PM: Skype dates with Hopkins friends (and even friends from home)! When you go home on breaks, you will miss your Hopkins friends terribly. They are like a second family to you and it is hard to spend even a day away from them. On the bright side, you get to see all your friends from home, whom you would have missed terribly during college. Unfortunately, Johns Hopkins has spring break a lot later than most universities, so it is really hard to get together with friends from home since most of them are back at school from having earlier spring breaks. So Skype is the next best thing! (The break schedules are more coinciding for Fall and Winter break).

My flexitarian friend skyping me from all the way across the country! JHU friends are hard to be away from:(

10:30 PM: Goof around with the family! Monopoly is our absolute favorite board game. We started a game over the summer and we continue playing the same round every time I come home from college!

12:00 PM: Sleep! The absolute best thing about going home for break is being able to go to bed early and catch up on all that missed sleep during college!

Well that is just one day in my spring break life! Hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to ask me any questions about student life or about Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!

5 Things You Should Know About Hopkins That Can Make Your Life a Little Easier…

I’m home for spring break and for the first time, I do not have a secret desire to be back at Homewood. I guess my true homesickness has finally kicked in about 7 months into the school year, for I completely and absolutely want to be home right now and cannot be more happier that I am. Don’t get me wrong; being away from home definitely has its pros, but after a while, calling my family and only getting to talk to them for less than an hour every other day became frustrating. I missed being able to come home after school every day and spend an unlimited amount of time telling them funny anecdotes about my friends and professors. I also missed being in a familiar setting and being able to jump in a car and go wherever I wanted (Freshman aren’t allowed to bring cars on campus).

So yeah, right now I’m spending a lot of time with my family and a few friends who have spring break at the same time as me (Hopkins has a later spring break than most universities). I’ve even had some time to do some thinking and reflect on my past 7 months at Hopkins. I realized for the most part, they have gone pretty well, but there are a few little things I have learned and feel I should warn you about before you begin your Hopkins journey.

So without any further ado, here are 5 things you should know about Hopkins that can make your life a little easier…

1. Buy your Hopkins gear at the right time: In late August/early September, the JHU Barnes and Noble has a sale on sweatshirts where you can buy 2 for $55 (select styles only, but the select styles are the generic ones that you would normally buy even if there wasn’t a sale). You can just find a friend and split the cost. It’s a pretty good deal considering sweatshirts are normally around $35.

This is one of the more popular designs!

2. General Physics and WileyPlus: For those of you planning to take General Physics at some point during your undergraduate career, you are required to purchase the course textbook as well as an online WileyPlus account where you can access and submit your weekly problem sets. In addition, the account has various resources, like video lectures and concept simulations, than can help you better understand the coursework. But here’s something the department doesn’t tell you before you make your purchases: Spoiler alert…The textbook is on the account! Just a couple days ago (after having both the book and the account for nearly 2 months now), I was browsing through my WileyPlus account while studying for my midterm when I literally found a cover to cover ebook included as a feature of the account. I was like, “Are you kidding me?” This whole time, I could have just purchased the account and still have been able to access the textbook. On the other hand, if you are a student who usually highlights and annotates their readings, you might still want to get a textbook. But if you are comfortable with using ebooks and doing your readings online, you may want to consider just getting the account. (Textbook and account info will be available right before school starts so don’t freak out about this now.)

3. Don’t spend your dining dollars all at once: It will come back to bite you. Dining dollars are a set amount of money that is added to your Hopkins student ID card and can be used at certain locations on campus to buy food. The amount of dining dollars you have to begin with depends on what meal plan you get. Although FFC food is satisfying enough to be able to eat all your meals there, the food can once in a while get redundant and it’s necessary to eat at other locations. I have a meal plan where I get 100 dining dollars at the start of each semester. This semester, I have been obsessed with the F’real milkshakes that you can get at Charmar, so I’m already down to 17 dining dollars. And we have 2 more months of school to go. So now I can’t get milkshakes as often, which makes me sad.

This one's chocolate. But mint chocolate chip is better.

4. Laptop size: Don’t get anything bigger than a lap top with a 15″ screen because it would be really hard to carry around, especially to your huge lecture classes. I have a 14″ and I sometimes find it hard to use in a giant lecture hall because the seats are all so close together and the desks are pretty tiny. Also, I personally wouldn’t suggest anything smaller than one with a 13″ screen since a lot of homework is done/submitted online and it could hurt your eyes; however, a lot of students carry around netbooks and ipads and find them okay. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference.

5. Don’t bring a bike to campus: Unless you really want to, there is simply no need to bring a bike to get from class to class. A lot of people I know brought one, but then ended up not using it…or they used it and faced some problems like getting to class way too early or nearly running someone over along the way. For practical purposes, it’s more convenient to walk to your classes since the campus is pretty small and you only really need a maximum of 15 minutes to get from one end of campus to the other. But as usual, there are exceptions, like if you are an athlete and use biking as your form of exercise, then by all means, bring your bike because Baltimore is really hilly and that’ll help strengthen your quads.

I thought this was funny!

So that’s my list so far. Maybe I’ll add onto it as the years go on! But until then, feel free to ask me any questions about student life or Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.”

Picasso said that, by the way. I’m sitting in my room right now listening to my Alaskan roommate and neuron-obsessed floormate quote Noam Chomsky and discuss the birth of linguistics. They’re both surprisingly very calm and ironically enjoying themselves considering what they’re studying for is their Cognative Neuroscience midterm…yes, midterm…that they have tomorrow morning! But I guess what would be a freak out study sesh for me is nothing but the equivalent of a riveting book club meeting to two neuroscience majors here at Hopkins! And I’m sure they’ll do great on their midterm considering how interested and passionate about the subject they both are!

Me (left), my neuron-obsessed floormate (middle), and Alaskan roommate (right) showing our premed pride -_-

Earlier today I had my painting class, which is my absolute favorite class this semester, in the Mattin Center, which is my absolute favorite building at Hopkins! The Mattin Center is the arts center on campus, where students have various art/photography classes, music rehearsals, and dance practices. Mattin is also home to the Digital Media Center (DMC). The DMC is really cool. In the beginning of the year, they offer many free classes and tutorials on programs such as Photoshop and InDesign.

The Mattin Center

But back to my original point, Painting I is a studio oil painting course where our reference objects put on a table in the center of the classroom with one light source. Each student picks an angle at which they want to observe the image and then do their best to replicate it on canvas. So far, we’ve finished working on a gradient color grid and a still life project, which happens to be my very first college painting!

The still life reference objects!

Close to the angle I chose to paint

My first college painting:) Oil on canvas

After stalking their website last summer as a prospective student and visiting the studios for Student Art League once in a while during the first semester, I’m finally getting to take a class from the Homewood Art Workshops! In general, the art classes here are studio style and about 3-4 hours long for one day a week (the same as Chem Lab, but more fun). The classes are also really small (maximum of 15 students) which allows the professors to give each student specific feedback and help us improve right then and there. Just today, I was unable to mix the right shade of blue to paint the base surface and my professor caught my mistake and spent legitimately ten minutes helping me mix my paints. The art faculty here is very dedicated and incredibly talented! Anecdote #2: I was also having trouble getting the bottle in the still life look rounded and my professor did a quick demo to help me where she painted a cylinder in under two minutes. I was in awe.

Overall, my Homewood art experience has been really fun so far! I can’t wait to take more art classes in the following years! Feel free to ask me any questions about student life or about Hopkins in general and I will answer them right away!