For Future Reference

Alpha Phi PA's during Move-In!

When I was little, all I wanted was to be a cleaning lady – which, to be honest, probably should have been a source of concern for my parents. I used to follow our cleaning lady around the house and watch her as she measured out cups of powder detergent for the laundry; take measured leaps on my tiptoes across the wet kitchen floor and leave a constellation of small dry spots with the pads of my feet. I thought it was the coolest job in the world: going from house to house, tidying, ironing, rearranging the tangible minutiae of the lives of complete strangers.

Clearly, I was destined for greatness. That, or I was just a really weird kid.

In second grade, I upgraded my career goals to being a doctor, without realizing that the basic prerequisites for any job in the medical field include a stomach for flesh wounds and a minimal tolerance for needles…neither of which I possess – at all. I mean, obviously now I can suck it up and deal with it – even if it’s only because it’s not socially acceptable to ask for a lollipop at the doctor’s office past the age of six.

I’ve wanted to be an actress, a singer, Harry Potter’s girlfriend, a lawyer (thank you Elle Woods for giving girls everywhere unrealistic expectations for both hair and law school acceptance rates), Shania Twain, and, knowing me, probably much more.

Now, I occupy smaller and decidedly less ambitious spaces. In the span of nearly two decades (eek!), I’ve gone from being a wannabe cleaning lady to a student here – one of the most prestigious research universities in the nation. And in the span of a year, I’ve gone from an excited freshman receiving countless words of advice to the (somewhat) more experienced sophomore giving it.

I’ve gone from marveling at all of my college “firsts” – first CharMar sub, first roommate (hi Jane!), first day of classes, first hangover, first FFC Late Night, first internship – to marveling at the “firsts” that continue to present themselves regardless of seniority. There is no end to the amount of firsts that can be shared amongst a group of people. Our experiences depend on these details, these firsts, anchoring us and reminding us of who we used to be, even if our innocence has already begun to slip away.

It goes without saying that time flies. It goes without saying that so much can change in a year. But it also goes without saying that, as we project ourselves into the future, those firsts become reference points that ground the innumerable ways in which we can and will dovetail and diverge in the time we have left.

I still sing (in the shower, at least). Sometimes I still wish I were a cleaning lady (like when I look at the appalling state of my closet right now…I look like I belong on “Hoarders”). Although I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be Shania Twain, I’m still holding out for Harry. And God help us all if I ever become a certified medical professional.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, looking back, the future has a strange way of fulfilling itself. So in my very last post as a freshman, I’d like to look back in an attempt to look forward. Here’s to a great year with (and without) some of the most amazing people I know. Here’s to a school, city, major, and group of friends that I’ve come to both know and love. Here’s to all of my ridiculous childhood dreams (and my parents’ unfailing support – love you!). Here’s to sophomore year.

Here’s to the future.

 

What to Expect

Rachel, Blake, Mara and I at a minor league baseball game! Our team is called the Richmond Flying Squirrels...I wish I was kidding.

Some of you will be homesick. Some of you, like me, will be so caught up in the newness of college life that you’ll forget to be homesick. Some of you will gain weight (It happens, don’t freak out). Some of you won’t (And we all hate you). Some of you won’t think to bring rainboots (Try walking on marble steps in flip flops after it rains. Do it. See what happens).

You’ll pay $15 for a cab to Penn Station // Towson // downtown until you realize (or your RA kindly informs you) that you can get there for free. You’ll drink questionable hot chocolate at the Lighting of the Quads and then wonder if you missed it (…but actually). You’ll be nervous that they won’t let you into Maxie’s. You’ll brag about your weekend and wonder why the upperclassmen keep shooting you disgruntled looks as they pass by.

And at some point, you’ll inevitably start to feel a little lost. It might be right away, like when some small Asian girl is far too enthusiastic about being your PA during Orientation Week (sidenote: if you’re a freshman reading this and are in my PA group, THANKS FOR EMAILING ME BACK NOT), or when it’s the first day of classes and you don’t know where Olin Hall is (don’t worry, nobody does). Or maybe it won’t hit you until you’re halfway through the semester and things start to get real, solidify into the beginnings of an experience that is less about making mistakes and more about making memories.

DIY skull cutout tee

I know what you’re thinking. With summer winding down, your thoughts are playing a disorienting game of racquetball against the inside of your head, ricocheting from one state of disbelief to the next. You can’t wait to leave. You can’t believe you’re leaving. You direct all of your listlessness towards a picked cuticle, gnawed and red; disguise any feelings of nostalgia as fondness for a particular article of clothing. Your questions seem all wrong: How did you get so old? Why do you feel so unprepared? Does anyone else feel like this too, or is it just you? Is everything ending, or just beginning?

Top: Anselm Kiefer at the VMFA // Bottom: Notes in my sketchbook

The good news is that this feeling never quite goes away. I’ve still jammed more printers in the library than I’ve managed to print from, and the thought of registering for classes on ISIS makes me need a latte.  Sometimes, I don’t know what pleases me more – the fact that I can nab a cubicle during finals week or that I always somehow manage to eat half of my weight’s worth in snacks on C-level without detection. I’m never dressed appropriately for the Baltimore weather, and I still order the same thing from Tamber’s every time.

And when all is said and done, I’m still lost – not in mishaps or even memories, but in moments. This one: a sharp intake of breath, the sudden dilation of thought and sound.

These last few weeks of summer are just the quiet before the storm.  It’s like leaping off of a swing set – propelling into thin air for a brief, heady second – whether you’re a freshman or a senior, this temporary lull leaves us all a little disoriented, a little lost.

So, Class of 2016 – expect all of this and more. Expect to return to this feeling of nostalgia and anticipation again and again. Expect the unexpected, enjoy the rest of your summers, and I’ll see you in two weeks!

 

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

On the road again

Early on in the summer, I read about a study published in Science magazine in 2010 that analyzed customer location data from cell phone providers and used it to observe human movement and behavior. The results showed that human movement patterns and location can be predicted up to 93 percent of the time because most people tend to stay within the same six mile radius. Even people who travel frequently establish routines from which they rarely deviate. From a public health standpoint, this type of data could help anticipate the spread of viruses. From an urban planning perspective, it could inform models of traffic flow. But from a purely subjective standpoint, I was shocked at how interesting I found this blurb of information, especially since it reinforced that I already knew.

We’re all creatures of habit. Even our most jarring breaks in routine, our most unpredictable moments, can more or less be pinned down to individual tendency. Isn’t that weird? I’m not even saying that because I’m quite possibly (see: definitely) the biggest nerd within my own six-mile radius. Empirically, we’re all just really boring. We are no more than the paths we choose, the chance encounters, the occasional intersection in a plane of parallels and gridlines. Familiarity governs the majority of our daily decision-making. I, for one, cling to the familiar like Saran Wrap clings to everything but the thing you need it to.If you’re anything like me, your daily routine involves a waging an internal battle over whether or not I should go to the gym (my body says no but the entire men’s US Olympic swim team on T.V. says yes), reading, eating exorbitant amounts of food, and convincing customers to buy moderately-priced clothing items at work every other day.

In Baltimore with Joy a couple of weeks ago!

Clearly, I haven’t been jetting off to exotic locales on a whim or scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro. In order for that to happen, I’d have to fulfill my gold digging dream of marrying a Greek oil tycoon and conquer my fear of heights. Or, alternatively, I could switch to Geico and save 15% or more on car insurance. What I’m trying to say is that I haven’t exactly used these past summer months to become a well-traveled citizen of the world. I mean, there are 16-year-olds competing in the London Olympics and here I am wondering if going downstairs to get some hummus is worth the physical exertion (Answer: no).

But with that study in mind, I made it a goal to branch out, try new things, venture to places outside of my bubble of reality T.V. marathons and online shopping. So for the past month, my weekends have consisted of taking impromptu trips to the beach, visiting friends at Hopkins, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia, and spending lazy days on the Potomac River. I haven’t spent a weekend at home since June, and getting in touch with my inner nomad has made me realize that the biggest and most revelatory things that happen to people normally occur when they aim past those six miles.

That’s what college is, right? For some of us, going to college is just one in a series of major life upheavals. For others, it may be the first time they’ve lived in a place other than their hometown. The funny thing about being at Hopkins is that, despite being the epicenter of a thousand different radii – a thousand different trajectories, movements, patterns of behavior – we all eventually settle into the same modes of being. We retreat further into a certain group of friends, our classes get more and more concentrated, and the Hopkins version of “taking advantage of everything Baltimore has to offer” means running to CharMar for a Southwest Chicken sub.

That’s what I’m afraid of – I don’t ever want to stop meeting people or going to different places. I don’t want to be confined by my own geography. So even if I’m not flying first class (up in the sky, poppin’ champagne, livin’ the life – does anyone ever miss Fergie? Because I do) around the globe, I feel like I’m one step closer to the places I’ve been and the places I’m going.

I can’t wait to see everyone at Hopkins in the fall! (For those of you who will have me as your Peer Ambassador during Orientation, I apologize in advance.)

Life As An English Major

Generally speaking, one of the first things people ask me when they find out that I go to Hopkins is, “Oh, so you want to be a doctor?” (Trust me – with my complete lack of tolerance for blood and needles and terrible hand-eye coordination, you don’t want me to be your doctor.) One of the first things people ask me when they find out I’m an English major is, “Oh, so you want to live off of Ramen and broken dreams for the rest of your life?”

Okay, so maybe that’s a gross exaggeration. It’s actually something more along the lines of, “I see…and what exactly are you going to do with that?” which is the politically correct way of expressing some combination of the following thoughts:

a) “I see…So you’re paying several grand a year to be a high school English teacher?” (Yes. You nailed it right on the head. My dream is to babysit a room full of hormonal, pimply teenagers and teach them how to cuss at each other using proper sentence structure.)

I'm actually embarrassed by how many times I've seen this movie

b) “I see…So you’re majoring in grammar Nazism with a minor in alcoholism?” (No, I’m double majoring in sarcastic one-liners and gold digging.)

c) “I see…So you want to write books?” (On a scale from one to the Westboro Baptist Church, this one actually isn’t as presumptuous as it could be. But in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t want to write books – I want to read them. And what better way to do that than work in the publishing industry as a senior book editor from Canada faced with deportation who gets to marry Ryan Reynolds in a comedic tale of love’s ups and downs? Oh wait.)

Needless to say, there’s definitely a certain stigma surrounding humanities majors, especially at a school as math- and science-oriented as Hopkins. But one of the main reasons why I chose Hopkins is because of its stellar humanities programs and, now, a year later, one of the main reasons why I love my classes is because the majority of them are humanities classes. And at a point where most of my friends are switching majors/going through existential crises, I’m perfectly happy with my chosen academic track. I feel challenged by professors who are not only brilliant in their own right but also more than willing to help me grow as a writer and a thinker. My writing and methods of analysis have become even more precise, my academic interests even more densely interconnected. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

At the same time, I’d like to consider myself a pragmatist. (I also kind of don’t want to live off of instant noodles seasoned with the salt from my own tears.) Realistically speaking, the career options for English majors who don’t want to pursue a Ph.D make for rather slim pickings. Granted, I have another three years to get my act together and find a job that will fund my ridiculous Starbucks addiction and general day-to-day gluttony. For a while, I considered print journalism because I had been on my high school newspaper staff. But after interning all last semester at a real newspaper, I realized that – despite my positive experience working there – it wasn’t for me.

G0LdD!GG@$

You’d think that journalism and English would go hand in hand. And in a way, they do. If anything, my internship forced me out of the “Hopkins bubble,” if only because journalism is a field that pushes you outside of your natural borders and compels you to have your hand on the pulse of the city’s happenings as they unfold. Newspaper journalism, in particular, places a very heavy emphasis on timing and relevance – in a field intended to give a platform to the community’s stories, it also seems to trivialize them at the same time. A story is only as significant as the moment in which it happens, and thus news reporting is both a captain of and a victim to sheer timing.

The church in Mt. Vernon that I used to pass on my way to The Baltimore Sun!

I’m an English major because I love stories. How it’s told and who’s telling it says just as much, if not more, than the story itself. There’s something so fascinating to me about the timelessness of writing, the possibility that a certain line or story can transcend generations. Fiction often poses the question of what kinds of stories human beings can tell, how, and for what purpose. Journalism tends to put a very specific filter on these questions.

Like, for example, the blind Argentine man who used to get on the JHMI every week with his seeing-eye dog. One day, I overheard him telling his new assistant about how his previous assistant left him in the middle of Baltimore and how he almost got assaulted because of it (cue me looking extremely horrified while clearly eavesdropping), how he lost his eyesight over time, how beautiful Argentina is and how he would like to return someday.

In journalism, this particular story would be – for lack of a better word – useless. The subject is too old. There’s no “peg.” But in fiction, this man’s life could be the beginnings of the next great story.

So what exactly am I going to do with my English major? Who knows. Ideally, I’ll be taking over the publishing world with JHU_Tess in ten years and (hopefully) looking as good as Sandra Bullock in a pencil skirt. At the very least I hope I’m not homeless (I know, I know – WOAH DREAM BIG). In the meantime, I’ll keep reading books like it’s my job (I’m currently reading The Other Wes Moore which was written by a Hopkins grad!) and defending my major til I die (see: consoling myself over some Cup of Noodles with this article).

Packing Heat

Pre-power outage // reunited for the weekend!

This past weekend, I took a spontaneous trip to Baltimore to visit Sonu and Joy, who had just finished the first session of summer Orgo at Hopkins. To clarify, I love spontaneity but spontaneity doesn’t always love me. In retrospect, booking a train ticket for 6 a.m. was probably a little overly optimistic, seeing as I missed my train not once but twice (…oopz).

Regardless, I pulled into Penn Station around noon on Friday, after spending an hour sitting in the Richmond train station and another three hours being anti-social in Amtrak’s Quiet Car (I prefer to travel sans screaming toddlers and middle-aged women gabbing away on their cell phones. You know how some truly great love stories start with a guy and a girl meeting on an airplane or train? This might explain why I’m still single).

A few hours later, a quasi-monsoon hit, and all of Baltimore was drenched in darkness. So much for a celebratory weekend, right? I think this was Baltimore’s way of saying, “Congratulations, you survived Organic Chemistry! Now die in a pool of your own sweat.” With no electricity, hot water, or AC in 105-degree weather, it’s truly a testament to the company I was in that I didn’t dissolve into a puddle of bratty desolation. And while I am fully aware that all of this warrants a very big #firstworldproblems, I found that on a scale from one to watching any of the Twilight movies, braving the heat in the midst of a massive power outage wasn’t as miserable as I thought it would be.

With one of my favorite Desi gurlz – Love ya Sonu!

(Sidenote: This is coming from someone who has a notoriously low threshold for pain or discomfort – which is both good and bad. Like, for example, extreme cases of torture for classified information, piercings, tattoos, childbirth, shots at the doctor’s office, and/or fighting to the death in a wilderness arena against 22 other teenagers. Think about the first person that dies in every single horror movie you’ve ever seen – that’s me. On the bright side, you guys will never have to worry about me dying in a tragic cliff-diving accident.)

They say hindsight is 20-20, and I’m guessing this mantra was supposed to be applied to things like dysfunctional relationships, eating a giant tube of cookie dough at two in the morning, and other similarly poor life decisions, but I’m going to go ahead and use it to shed light (…too soon?) on surviving a weekend without power in B’more.

Survival Tip #1: Candles. Technically I think candles are considered contraband // possibly a weapon of mass destruction by the Housing Office. At best they are “strongly discouraged.” Anyways, my advice would be to blatantly ignore that rule and stock up in the event of another power outage or emergency.

Survival Tip #2: Use this opportunity to explore other well-lit, air-conditioned parts of Baltimore. Like Maxie’s (Kidding! Sort of). Unfortunately, half of Charles Village was closed – no Subway, Unimini, Starbucks, Chipotle, or Ajumma’s. So Jane, Joy, Sonu, Will and I went downtown Saturday night and enjoyed dinner at RA Sushi, which was thankfully open and had power (see: AC).  We hit up Fell’s Point for a bit and met some interesting locals who made us laugh // forget about the lack of power back at Hopkins. You’ll probably have to eat out for at least a couple of days, so I took advantage of the situation and went to Carma’s and Donna’s (Turkey burger and sweet potato fries til I die), which I missed immensely while I was away.

Yummy sushi

Survival Tip #3: Oil-blotting sheets. While I know that an extra sheen of sweat pretty much kills any aesthetic motivation, invest in some of these. Unless you want to look like the BP oil spill happened on your face, blotting sheets will tide you over until you can take a decent shower. Which brings me to my next point…

Survival Tip #4: Get used to cold showers. It builds character.

At RA with my APhi loves. Did I mention there was AC?

Survival Tip #5: Eat everything in sight. So this might be more of a personal life philosophy (ALL I DO IS EAT EAT EAT NO MATTER WHAT…loljk) than a survival tip, but chances are that most of the food in your fridge is going to spoil within 48 hours – especially if Maryland state authorities are saying it could take up to a week to completely restore power. Before eating out, try to salvage what you can! By Sunday morning, Joy and Allison (our lovely hostesses!) looked so dejected and miserable that Jane and I ran to Eddie’s and Barnes and Noble to get them healthy, non-perishable food and cold drinks as a parting gift (to be honest I think Jane and I were responsible for at least a quarter of their drink revenue in two days…no big).

We were going to buy them a consolation cake before remembering that cake technically has to be refrigerated...oopz.

Survival Tip #6: Be grateful. If you live in the tri-state area and had power this past weekend, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I hate you. However unbearable the heat, we still had clean running water and a roof over our heads, which is more than the 1.4 billion people living under the poverty line around the world. From a less dramatic perspective, the only thing worse than being constantly sweaty is being constantly sweaty and surrounded by people you hate. Luckily for me, I spent the entire weekend with a really great group of people who still managed to be as ridiculous and fun as ever.

Happy 4th of July!!

Summer Kind of Wonderful

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. (Nelson Mandela)

Virginia Beach!

There’s something about spending the summer in a place called Mechanicsville that makes everything seem both hopelessly boring and oddly soothing. It’s a small town (actually, according to Wikipedia we’re technically a township – whatever that means) where front porches and colonial-style shutters reign supreme in each subdivision, where the humidity comes at you in blasts from cracks in the sidewalk after a thunderstorm, where deer and TEA Party signs sprinkle the roadside, and where you have to make your own kind of fun because everything closes by 9 p.m.

Having moved several times throughout elementary and middle school, I don’t really feel a deep sense of connection or belonging to any particular place. I miss people more so than places; geography is just kind of a technicality. So for me, summer means being rooted to a place that I haven’t ever really considered home.

On one hand, I don’t mind it at all. It’s a nice break from the intense schoolwork, and having plenty of downtime means taking day trips to Virginia Beach with old friends, spending a lazy weekend on the Potomac at my friend Taylor’s river house, re-visiting local eateries in Richmond, tackling my summer reading list (I just finished Bossypants by Tina Fey and The Hunger Games Trilogy, and want to read Toni Morrison’s new book, Home!), and working part-time to save up some money.

On the other hand, I can already feel myself getting restless. This is the kind of place where the Southern charm and ridiculously low crime rate can lull you into a sense of complacency – which I suspect is part of the reason why most people don’t go out-of-state for college and why, around this time last year, I was itching to get out. A good number of people here have never even heard of Johns Hopkins – and I’m not trying to condemn or ridicule them, because that’s just the way it is.

What? It was Cinco de Mayo

Now that I’ve been back for almost a month, I’ve been able to suspend the general feeling of disbelief that accompanied the end of freshman year. Going from a quiet, conservative town to the eclectic city of Baltimore and back has made me realize how lucky I am just to be able to do so. My freshman year at Hopkins has taught me so many things – how to get a 4.0 (yes, it really is possible), join a sorority, find internships, make cookies in the microwave (again – you can do anything if you set your mind to it), and live with four random people (five, including my suitemate’s boyfriend – Hi John Doyle!) who you not only get along with but will genuinely miss.

When I look back at freshman year, I remember late-night talks with my lovable and brilliant roommate Jane, who always left the light on for me after a night out, spending a ridiculous amount of time in Sonu’s room and stealing coffee from Julia’s Keurig (hehe sorry!), propping open my window to talk (see: shout) to Joy across the open alcove in Wolman (I could see her room from my window, and vice versa), and running around Homewood with JHU_Tess and my bigbig Annie in sombreros.

Jetskiing!

I know these are very specific moments that apply to an even more specific circle of people at Hopkins. But these are also the moments that point to something even bigger and broader about Hopkins – like looking around during one of your lectures and realizing that every single one of your classmates is going to do something amazing someday. Hopkins fosters a community of people that makes you want to aspire to bigger and better things, simply by being your friend, professor, roommate, or teammate. There’s a healthy social pressure that compels us to live up to others’ expectations of who we are and who we could be.

In high school, I had a teacher who tried to impart some wisdom. He told me never to think that I was irreplaceable, because I wasn’t. He said that nobody is really irreplaceable. To a certain extent, I guess it’s kind of true – maybe in the corporate world, or maybe in Mechanicsville. Then I think back to my personal experiences, and it’s also blatantly false. Not about me, per se, but about everyone I’ve met in the past year. In my mind at least all of those people – all of those moments – are irreplaceable.

Hopkins hasn’t given me any more of a sense of belonging than Mechanicsville has – I stick out in both places for different reasons. I still miss my high school friends while I’m in Baltimore just as much as I miss my Hopkins friends when I’m home for the summer. But if I had to sum up my freshman year in one sentence (or blog post…oopz), I’d say that it’s taught me to embrace that feeling, because it means that I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, carving a space for myself in this network of irreplaceable people.

Memorial Day Weekend on the Potomac River

Happy (Belated) Fathers Day!

 

 

Picture This

My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations. (John Green)

In trying to come up with a topic for this penultimate (eek!) blog post, I found myself at a loss for words. Which, for those of you who know me, is shocking. Friends, family, haters (h8erz?), and disgruntled teachers will be the first to tell you that I’m more than a little vocal – but for once in my life, I can’t think of anything to say. My thoughts and emotions are virtually the same as they were in my last post: I’m staring at the end of my freshman year, disbelieving and sad and not ready to say goodbye to all of the people and places that I’ve come to love, only if for a while.

I’m not ready to be a sophomore. I’m not ready to start packing up my room in Wolman. I’m most definitely not ready for my Calc II final. I’m not ready to reflect on how I’ve changed or what I’ve learned because I’m still grasping at words to describe an experience that is largely indefinable. So, in this rare moment of speechlessness, I’m left with fragments, snapshots – anagrams of detached thoughts that can’t really be captured within such linear confines. As we get a little older, a little fatter, and (hopefully) a little tanner, I’m left with pictures that have already started turning into memories and the knowledge that, sometimes, there are no words.

Picture this: days blending into weeks, the disorienting blend of color and sound that is Spring Fair, thumping bass, final papers, the best nutella pizza you’ve ever tasted, last meetings, Sterling Brunch, formals (JHU_Kevin = perfect date), cupcake-making (and by “making” I mean “eating”), running around in a onesie (HAY TESS) – all images that sum up my last weeks as a freshman and my unwillingness to live in anything but the moment.

Picture this:

Welcome to the Fray

I don’t want to grow up. And I know that now is not the time for me to be having any sort of existential crisis, but I think I’m finally starting to understand what adults mean when they talk about The Real World. I used to think that The Real World was some distant horizon, a term dangled in front of jaded teenagers as if to say, “You don’t know anything.”

Now, I’m not so sure.

Waiting at bus stop by the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon on my way back to campus.

This semester has been different in a lot of ways – my courseload is a lot lighter (especially in comparison to all of the upper-level courses I took in the fall), my caffeine intake much less frightening (see: above), my extracurricular involvement higher (I was recently accepted onto the publicity board for the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium – so go to our speaker events in the fall! Okay, shameless plug over), and my days much busier.

I’ve been interning at The Baltimore Sun downtown this entire semester, so I take the bus to Mt. Vernon three times a week after I get out of class. So far, I’ve worked on compiling online photo galleries, pitching story ideas, and contacting interesting locals (such as the executive chef of Charm City Cakes!) for the Reader Essay section. I’ve even interviewed a pirate (Yes, a pirate – did you know that Fell’s Point has an incredibly rich pirate and privateer history? Don’t worry, neither did I), and my first published piece is set to run next week (!!!).

Tanning/studying at our top-secret study spot! Maturity at its finest.

So this is the Real World: the clickety-clack of fingers typing frantically away at their respective keyboards, piles of paper stacked into neat perpendiculars, an afternoon bus packed with sleeping, waiting, breathing masses – a balmy Saturday on the Beach, date parties, a Relay for Life moonbounce filled with laughter and air. And as the end of freshman year draws nearer and nearer, I’m finding that – for the first time in my life – I just want things to stay as they are. The Real World is like a reel of images that change as they repeat themselves, and I’m not ready to give up all of the carefree mishaps and sense of possibility that come with being a freshman. The thought of moving out of Wolman in a month is overwhelming (it also doesn’t help that I could probably fill an Olympic-sized pool with the sheer amount of stuff I’ve accumulated over the year).As much as I look forward to the perks of being another year older  and another year closer to taking over the publishing world with my big, JHU_Tess (I’m only half-joking), it’s also a little daunting.

At RA Sushi with my favorites for Sonu's 19th! Another year older, but none the wiser. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONU!

At my internship the other week, I happened to overhear a conversation a few cubicles over (I work at my own half-cubicle – can I get a woop woop?!). A newly hired staff member was being introduced to one of the editors, and there was the usual hand-shaking and making of references that I’m too young to get as the seasoned editor gave the new writer a rundown of the newsroom. As they parted ways, the editor said, “Well – welcome to the fray.” For some reason, that phrase has stuck with me since.

I am by no means a seasoned Hopkins veteran, and in a lot of respects you probably shouldn’t be taking advice from me. But from what I’ve experienced so far at Hopkins, I can tell you that the one thing that will never change is how fast the time goes.

So, for all you Class of 2016ers reading this – you have so many fun experiences ahead of you, so embrace being at the bottom of the pack for as long as you can. Most of you will probably be corralled/coerced into going to PlayFair during Orientation, you’ll complain about the FFC, and you’ll quickly learn to have a separate pair of frat shoes when you go out on the weekends. You’ll idolize any upperclassman who talks to you, wonder how people can automatically tell that you’re a freshman (heads up: it’s the Johns Hopkins lanyard).  You’ll feel like a champ after surviving your first college all-nighter, even if you only had to pull one because you procrastinated for so long (guilty as charged). You’ll change your major, your group of friends, your favorite hangouts, what level you study on in the library.

Allow me to introduce you to my big.

You’ll slowly start to see aspects of The Real World  seep into the world that you’ve created for yourself – a world that is, in its own way, much more real than anything I or anyone else can explain to you. You’ll get internships, jobs, research opportunities – all stepping stones to the bold and brilliant things you’re bound to accomplish, because that’s why you’re here. And, a year from now, you might face the same quasi-crisis that I’m facing now, wanting everything to freeze just for a moment because you’re not ready to take on The Real World without training wheels.

Growing up seems ultra-fabulous until you realize that college might be the last time that you can take classes solely because you’re interested in them, dress up as a sea creature/cowgirl/furry animal/viking/all of the above for a party without looking like a complete idiot, and get more excited over a moonbounce (or anything else intended for small children) than a preschooler would.

So slow down, Class of 2016. There’s plenty of time to grow up and act responsibly. I’m enjoying every date party, mixer, tailgate, birthday dinner, and low-key study sesh that I can as I learn how to format my resume, apply to internships, and cook something other than Easy Mac and Ramen.

The Real World can wait. In the meantime, welcome to Hopkins.

Welcome to the fray.

 

 

Freestylin’: Why Hopkins

So a fun fact about me, in case you care –

My rhymes are fresher than the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

And like Hilary Duff, I’m coming clean,

So listen up, Class of 2016!

Whatever you do, wherever you go,

There are some things about Hopkins that you should know.

On weekends we party it up like S Club 7,

The Los Angeles Angels should take notes, ’cause I’m in heaven.

But there’s also Kappa (KKΓ), Pi Phi (ΠBΦ), and Phi Mu (ΦM),

11 frats, sports houses, and Maxie’s too.

Just lose yourself like my boy Slim Shady,

And if you get too crazy, there’s always the Shush Lady.

She’ll keep you out of trouble, so don’t give her flack,

Like the Empire, she’s ready to strike back.

On Monday it’s back to the old bustle and grind,

At any other school you’ll be hard pressed to find

Students who work as hard as they play like we know how to do,

Just ask Mulan – the academics here will make a man out of you.

Gilman atrium, The Hut, and of course, Club MSE

are the best places to study – and they’re all B.Y.O.B.

Bring your own books, this is Hopkins you fool,

It’s no Easy A, we prefer to do things old school.

But with no core requirements and a distinguished faculty,

Hopkins students can do it all, as you’ll soon see.

Silly rabbit, you think kids just want Trix?

We’ve attracted the best and the brightest since 1876.

Whether you’re in class or strolling on the Quads,

Tanning on the Beach and checking out hot bods,

You’re going to meet people who will change who you are,

People who you just know are going to go far.

Imma let you finish, but we had the first research university of all time!

Oh Kanye, you pretty much just read my mind.

We’re harder, better, faster, stronger,

This love lockdown won’t last much longer.

Hopkins and I go together like green eggs and ham,

Which is why these rhymes are sweeter than a candygram.

Forget Lil Wayne, ’cause he’s got no love,

For all the reasons that I listed above.

On the wings of a Blue Jay, you’re bound to take flight,

Welcome to Hopkins, Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Your years here will go quicker than a Kardashian wedding,

Don’t try to keep up, you’ll only start sweating.

Hopkins will give you a college experience that you’ll miss,

So smile for the camera, Class of 2016 – you’ll want to remember this.

 

 

 

Hopkins CRIBS [Unofficial]: Ruthie, Wolman 6 West, 622B

Eat at my favorite noodle place: check.

Cuddle with my cat: check.

Catch up on “Keeping up with the Kardashians” re-runs: check.

Celebrate St. Patty’s Day at UVA with my friends: check.

Drive to/from Charlottesville without causing any minor traffic accidents: …we’ll see.

After a whirlwind of presents, getting serenaded by the JHU AllNighters, viking helmets (don’t ask), cat sweaters, and enough baked goods to sustain a third world country (Secret Week = hands down the best week of spring semester, thanks to my new big JHU_Tess!), I am officially home for Spring Break! While I could bore  you all with the details of my so-called life, I’ve decided to try something new and do a photo/video blog instead.

So, Macbook Pro in hand, I tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to do my own pseudo version of the Hopkins Cribs/'>Cribs videos, which I highly recommend checking out on the Hopkins-Interactive Youtube Channel if you have any questions about freshman housing, or just want to get an idea of what each dorm looks like inside. Sadly, because I am severely lacking in the videography skills department, this vlog isn’t nearly as high-tech as the official Hopkins videos. Regardless, I hope you watch it anyways and scroll through the photos below – not because I just told you to, but because dorm life is such an important part of college that people often underestimate.

College in general is sort of like our modern-day rite of passage – it’s an experience that’s supposed to, for better or worse, change you. And even if it’s not an earth-shattering, mind-blowing change, there are still going to be things that startle you, people and classes that will challenge and/or reinforce a previous set of beliefs. For what it’s worth, I think that having a buffer between all of the old and new in the form of your dorm room makes adjusting to college much easier. At the very least, it’s nice to have your own space (or, in most cases, your own side of the room) to return to at the end of the day that provides some of the same comfort as your room back home does. When everything is constantly changing, it’s nice to return to something familiar.

That being said, your freshman living experience should be as fun and carefree as possible, and creating a home environment is the first step. Enjoy the videos and photos, and…

 Welcome to my CRIB(S)!

Feel free to look through the photo gallery below – the first half of the pictures are of my side of the room in Wolman, and the last half are of my room at home. A few things I’d like to point out first:

  • Coordinate with your roommates/suitemates. To minimize all of the junk in the room/suite, make sure only one person brings a microwave/vacuum/printer/etc. because the amount of extra stuff you accumulate over the course of the semester will astound you.
  • Things you won’t think to bring but should: Bathmats. Lysol wipes. First aid kit. A drying rack (for those living in McCoy/Wolman with kitchenettes). Can opener. School supplies (this may seem like a no-brainer, but I legitimately forgot to bring new school supplies with me when I came back from winter break, soo…). Sewing kit/needle and thread. Ziploc bags. An ice tray (if you have a mini-fridge). Costumes (people get really into themed events…and by “people” I just mean me). Extension cords/power strips.
  • Things you think you’ll need but won’t: A bed caddy (Yes, these exist. No, they don’t really help at all). T-shirts (You get so many free T-shirts, and they pile up really quickly). Quarters (The laundry machines take J-Cash, or money put on your J-Card). Alarm clock (your cell phone works just as well).
  • Disclaimer: Wolman rooms aren’t usually as small as mine.  As I stated in the video, my room is much smaller than a typical room in Wolman. When my roommate Jane and I first moved into our room, there was the infamous “Wall of Hate” (the armoires and desks pushed together in the middle of the room to divide it in half), which left no space to walk/sit/breathe, so we rearranged the furniture to create more open space, and I’m so glad that we did. Even if our room is small, though, the suite itself is definitely more spacious. Our suite, like each suite in Wolman, has two rooms, a kitchenette (which comes with a stove, sink, and mini-fridge), and a bathroom. All of the suites are arranged by floor, and each floor has a common room with a T.V., couches, and tables.
  • Storage bins are lifesavers. Enough said.
  • Don’t try to move the furniture out of your room. Apparently the Housing office gets really feisty.
  • Get creative! I bought wrapping paper from the dollar section in Target on a whim, and ended up using it to cover my desk/drawers. I used old shopping bags from boutiques and stores to organize things, and continued the tradition of making artwork to hang above my bed.