Post Pre-Orientation

Appalachian backpacking uno; best preo ever!

I cannot help it: I call them babies. Though most of them are only a year younger than me, the new freshman class has swarmed the campus with positivity, orientation commitments, and lanyards around their necks. And some of them are lucky (or unlucky…) to be my friends specifically, as we just finished a week in the woods and are bonded like superglue. And perhaps I call them babies because I just finished 11 months of being a baby myself, and I am full of enthusiasm for these kids and the great year they have to expect.

My freshman year was wonderful and unexpected in every way, and it is strange to think that 365 days ago I was just becoming friends with the girls I now live with. While last year we were asking each other questions like where are you from? and what’s your major?, this year we attempt to schedule Target runs and spend hours in our common room goofing off and reminiscing about all the crazy things that have happened. The transition is unbelievable. And while it produces some nostalgia to think that my time as a freshman is over, I am mostly looking forward to the next three years and the growth of these friendships that literally get me up in the morning.

Some of the multi5 fam

Pre-orientation last August was where I met many of my best friends (Multi 5 lives on!), so leading a trip this year provided an entirely new perspective. I remember the anxieties and tensions that come along with being a freshman, so watching my group develop into a tight knit circle of buds was awesome to see. Not to mention that backpacking is one of the coolest and most intense things you can do, and though poison ivy got the best of me this time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the trip.

So now, wrapping up my year of blogging for the Class of 2015 freshmen page, I struggle to find any meaningful way to end it. If this summer taught me one thing, it is that there is more meaning in the journey than in the destination. I am so fortunate to be attending this university, living in this beautiful building (Charles Commons!) with these beautiful people, and even having the opportunity to continue chronicling my adventures in my own sophomore blog starting this fall. Hopkins has provided me with more lessons and experiences than I ever could have imagined last year, and one piece of advice for the babies? Hold onto your hats; your next 11 months will be quite unexpected, but in the end, your freshman year will truly be a wonderful thing.

 

Missing Crickets

One of the valley dudes who changed my life this summer

It has taken me exactly 29 hours, 3 minutes, and 46 seconds to adjust to life back in the city. The moment of realization? Enjoying my first sip of a banana chai freeze in a vegan cafe while writing this blog and listening to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out. (Incoming freshman: where can you find this experience? One World Cafe! A short walk from the freshman quad).

I’m not going to lie, my first few hours back in Baltimore yesterday made my head spin. I have spent the past three months climbing trees and playing with kids, where the loudest noise I encountered was the hum of the weed-wacker by a field of grazing cows. When I laid down for a nap after work in my friend’s apartment my first day back, a few questions began looming: how had I forgotten how noisy the city is? How long would it take me to exchange crickets and quiet nights for the jazz music and sharp laughter the city sidewalk produces?

Not to mention a few other things: my time at the valley is over. And this doesn’t only mean my time forty feet in the air surrounded by leaves and spiders and fields, this also means my time part of a loving community with many people who made this summer the best one of my life. (Not to get TOO sappy…). Of course, it is not really over. I will be working odd weekends during the fall as a facilitator for Genesee and will stay in touch with many of these great people. Plus, as cheesy as it may sound, what they have taught me will carry through into my life at Hopkins.

My last day hanging out at the valley (with my family!)

And speaking of my life at Hopkins, the creeping feeling of “it is great to be back!” did in fact overcome me in fewer than thirty hours, for there is something about Hopkins kids and this city that is undeniably unique. I am working my job as a pre-orientation director for the next eight-ish days (can’t wait to meet all you pre-o kids!), and it is hard to explain the value of a Hopkins-nerd in an office setting. Computer problem? You can bet there’s a dude next to you who speaks Mac better than the Apple Store folks themselves. On top of that, I have missed the random idiosyncracies of Baltimore-ians and the convenience of the city itself. Starbucks within a block? This is always a pro.

Though it has been a crazy turnaround, I can say these past hours have left me happy with where I am now. I get to wake up every morning, walk through a city I know and love, and hang out with some pretty awesome people all day. This upcoming semester is looking better all the time, and who knows? Maybe I’ll hear crickets outside of Charles Commons sooner than I know.

 

Wendy and the Lost Boys

Last Friday afternoon after work, I meandered to my mailbox and examined my camper list for the following week. My jaw almost hit the floor as I scanned the page: the list consisted of eleven adolescent boys. A lump of anxiety grew in my stomach as I considered the assortment of braces, acne, bad attitudes and raging testosterone that would approach me in two short days… How could I ever handle these  ”young men”? As far as I was concerned, 14-year old males were an entirely different species.

My younger campers completing nitro

It turns out that I wasn’t entirely wrong. The boys arrived on Monday morning, and after explaining some rules I took them to their first activity: a low element called “nitro.” The younger campers generally love nitro because of its simplicity; the goal is to get the entire group standing on a 3×3 ft wooden box by swinging over to it on a rope swing. When they are all on the box, they have to sing me a song to complete the element. Sounds easy, right? Nitro takes the younger kids about 30 minutes to complete, depending on their coordination. My boys were a different story. After half an hour of fruitless attempts (mostly because of their larger size), I aided them by allowing three hands to be on the ground in order to get everyone on the box. It wasn’t a pretty picture, but at least the boys were able to sing me a rendition of Call Me Maybe before we moved on.

Our first few moments as a group, I definitely felt like Wendy watching over a group of foreign lost boys. Yet as the days went on, our attitudes started changing. Inappropriate stories and cuss words began making their way into every conversation. Our schedule for each day soon became more like fluid guidelines for me and the boys. By Wednesday, I found myself rocking skater shorts and a backwards baseball cap while sprinting around the property playing an intense round of capture the flag. After the game, with my shirt soaked through with sweat, I came to a startling realization: Wendy had officially become one of the lost boys.

My boys' aided completion of nitro

There is something fascinating about the adjustability of leadership. On Friday, my sister came by to hang out with my group and commented: “How can you put up with them? They’re so crazy!” to which I responded “I actually think they’re pretty cool.” Though leadership is sometimes composed of strict enforcement and rules, it is more often than not reliant on fostering subtle connections so that people can have a good time. In other words, I think the week was more successful for me and the campers because we were buddies just playing around. After all, isn’t that the goal?

So, a couple of things I’ve learned in the past week: 1) adolescent men love Taco Bell more than anything on the planet, 2) high school nap time should definitely become a reality and 3) apparently I look like Justin Beiber when I wear a backwards baseball cap. I’d just like to thank those dudes for a really fun week and all of you readers too! I’ll be back in the fall with some more posts, but for now I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

Tan Lines

Showing off our Teva/Keen tans

My skin tone is officially the darkest it has been in my almost-20 years on the planet. How do I know? Well for starters, my foundation that used to match my complexion effortlessly now makes me look like a ghost. Secondly, I have discovered a birth mark on my thigh that has only become apparent now that the skin around it is darker. And finally, I have the most insane tan lines I have ever experienced in my life.

Tan lines are strange things. Over the past few days, I have wondered whether they are badges of embarrassment or pride. On the one hand, they mark hours of sun exposure in this 100 degree northern Baltimore heat, which should be an accomplishment for anyone. However, they are also somewhat awkward, as my stomach and my forearm look like they are parts of two different organisms. So on this lovely morning reclining in my air-conditioned home, I cannot help but question: what should we think about these melanin-induced patterns that appear on our bodies?

Being a summer camp counselor is a much more demanding job than one would think. Apart from wrestling through the post-lunch haze brought on by dehydration and too much peanut butter, other challenges must be met on a day-to-day basis. For example, the feared “break down” of your 6th and 7th graders when they will absolutely refuse to get into a canoe with one another. Or the panic that your camper’s harness is just slightly out of place and they will somehow hurt themselves on the element you are climbing. Such are typical worries in a neurotic brain like mine. However, just like every obstacle, these concerns are just opportunities for great accomplishments (both for me and for my campers).

A few of my campers with their winning raft

Just the other day I had one of these moments. It was my first time ever doing archery at camp, and those of you who know me understand that I do not do hand-eye coordination sports for a reason. My fellow counselor and I went to practice before the day started (so I could at least marginally brief the activity), and with the scowling eye of an experienced archer on me, I was ecstatic to have at least hit the target (at 10 yards away…). With a sheepish amount of confidence under my belt, later in the day I went back to the field with my campers so they could try their hand at the sport. One of the kids was struggling, but with 15 minutes of patient focus and coaching he was finally able to hit the target. What a satisfying situation to have turned my diminished skill at an activity into a child’s greatest triumph.

I wonder if tan lines represent just that– the curious magic of mixing embarrassment and pride. In other words, recognizing your shortcomings but being able to use them for the betterment of others. Because though tan lines are strange, they do represent where we have come from and the things we have done with our lives. And also, just like my birthmark, they reveal parts of ourselves we weren’t sure existed.

Maybe this metaphor is a little too-extended, but all I know is that I am quite proud of these marks and have been showing them off to everyone. After all, as soon as the summer is over I will pale-up pretty quickly back at Hopkins, so why not live it up now? The moral of the story: I may be awkwardly tanned, but at least I am tan!

 

Adventures at the Valley

Me and some fellow counselors (after showering...)

Imagine this: you are on a lacrosse field overlooking a beautiful valley at dusk, armed with a pool noodle. Your group of campers is behind you eagerly (and rather unsuccessfully…) erecting a tent. Soon, you see a few silhouettes crest the hill on the opposite side of the field. Their faces are stained with mulberry juice as they approach you and  your campers– arms outstretched and moaning like zombies. Your fellow counselors are honing in on your campers quickly, and your heart rate increases as you chase after them and whack them with your noodle.

Such is a typical experience at the valley. My first week of counseling summer camp is over, and though my legs are bumpy with mosquito bites and I have reached a level of exhaustion unknown to me, I cannot wait for Monday to come again. For though we are “in charge” of these kids, it is quite the opposite that makes me come back each morning with a smile on my face. As evidenced by my enthusiasm running all over the property reenacting a zombie apocalypse, I am just as much of a kid as the campers I am watching over.

But there is more to this job than playing games and goofing off, which I have learned from how much I have grown as a leader over the past five days. Most of you know I am a ferocious planner and a perfectionist. However, this past Monday I began co-leading with a counselor who is the polar opposite of me: in the moment, willing to bend the rules, and completely free in spirit. As the days went on, his style of leadership wore off on me and culminated in one specific moment: the day when I pushed a kid off the big zip and dip.

The big Zip and Dip; the red circle is the sending platform!

I waited on a platform 40 feet in the air as one of my campers ascended the tree staples to join me. His anxiety was apparent as he sat down next to me and I explained some rules of zipping into the water. I unclipped him from the tree and told him he was free to scoot off whenever he was ready. No movement. I crouched next to him and tried to coax him into going for it. Still nothing. Minutes turned into more minutes, and the kids on the ground awaiting their turn began chanting his name. Soon my co-lead shouted up to the platform, “Just tell Zoe she has permission to give you some help!” I knew what it meant. Everyone knew what it meant. The camper’s wide eyes looked at me in fear. A few minutes later, with one hand on his tether and the other death-gripping the platform, the camper closed his eyes and said in the shakiest voice I have ever heard, “I give you permission, Zoe.” And that was that. I pushed the kid off the platform, and he had the best ride of his life.

Last week, chances are that I would have had that camper belayed back down the tree and he wouldn’t have conquered his fear. And neither would I! For though this child went rushing down a zip line from a tree two stories in the air, I also did something crazy: I adjusted my outlook on leadership and learned so much in the process.

I cannot wait for next week because of the fun games, the challenges, and the beautiful outdoors. As my fellow staff members and I constantly say, we have the best job in the world. But maybe the real lesson here is to not feel that I “cannot wait,” but rather to enjoy this cup of coffee in my breakfast room as I write this blog. Because maybe what the valley is really teaching me is about truly being present while calmly moving on to whatever life’s next adventures will be.

In the mean time while I learn this lesson, I am thrilled for my next foray into zombie survival or opportunity to help someone (or myself!) out of their comfort zone. I hope you are all enjoying whatever adventures this summer is throwing your way. Until next time!

 

People are wonderful.

HOLTing it up!

Hello again! I will start out this out by apologizing for my wrap-up blog from a month ago (I wasn’t aware at the time that we would be writing throughout the summer!). But at the same time, no apology is necessary because I get to chronicle my summer for you wonderful readers! In fact, that brings me to my next point and my main appreciation from the past month: people are wonderful.

I know you won’t believe me if a) you just got off of the highway at rush hour, b) you couldn’t get a refund for a product you were convinced would work or c) your child got a meager role in the school play. However, I will remind you of something that I am sure you already know: on the whole, people are generally quite amazing.

You may be wondering, “what brings you to this conclusion, Zoe?” and I will happily answer this question by detailing the following four experiences that have occurred in the past month. I hope your admiration for other people will be rejuvenated as you travel with me through my first month of summer.

Constructing the fountain (with trash bag pants)

1) HOLT: Picture this: You are about to begin a 10 day backpacking trip through West Virginia. You will be reliant on and isolated with 10 other people. They told you to bring 3 pairs of underwear. You will not have access to a shower. Egads! The fear! However, HOLT (Hopkins Outdoor Leadership Training) was a wild and wonderful ride. There is nothing like being in the middle of nowhere with others and reaching the point of woods crazy. Never been there? Woods crazy is like fifteen Diet Cokes (each!) and a surreal lack of inhibition. When people start crying with laughter while discussing the burial of pre-packaged chicken, you know you have connected with some funky and awesome people.

2) The Fountain: A few days after returning from HOLT, I went to the Jersey shore to visit some friends and observed a feat of epic strength: the assembling of a great fountain in my friend’s front yard. Not only was the determination and teamwork something to marvel at, but my friends’ ingenuity of using trash bags to avoid the fountain muck was something else entirely. The scene made a hilarious memory and photo simultaneously.

3) The Valley: My newest adventure brings me to Genesee Valley– a ropes course and outdoor learning center just two miles from my house. During training, I have encountered a wonderfully strange assortment of characters who are all committed to learning as much as possible while having fun (easier said than done!). In four days, our group of nine trainees and two leaders have climbed a twenty foot cargo net, robbed a bank, escaped from a chicken nugget farm and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (in the same morning!), and zip-lined a hundred feet in the air (to mention a few…). How can you not see the good in people after all of that?! (Though I suppose robbing a bank could detract from your opinion of someone…)

Chilling in the valley

4) Returning to Roland Park: Finally, this morning I was invited back to my high school to participate in a college search panel. When I returned, my friends at the valley asked me how it was and I had trouble conveying the amazingness of the moment. I ran cross country and track with some of these girls; I sang complex choral arrangements with some of these girls; I studied with some of these girls. Hopefully, some of them looked up to me, and there is nothing like returning to the place that truly made you who you are. I will give a shout out to them now (since they did say they stalk my blog!) and let them know that they have changed me and instructed me as much as I have (hopefully!) inspired them.

So that’s it for now! This summer is shaping up beautifully, and I can honestly say I have never felt more free and confident in my life. What’s the secret? I guess a few more months of reflection and experience will help me find out.

Some of my XC buddies (and coach on the right!) after the panel

A Summer of Experiential Education

Classic Experiential Ed-- Pre-O 2011

It was the end of classes yesterday, and in a short week and a half (after finals) my freshman year will be over. I debated for a while whether I should write a sappy reflection on my year, or stay positive and upbeat about what’s to come for me at JHU. I’ve decided to take the middle road by discussing my exciting summer and how what I’ve learned this year will affect it.

Experiential Education. What a strange phrase! Part of me thinks, isn’t all education experiential? But after this summer, I’m pretty sure I won’t be thinking that anymore. In the second round of interviews for a summer counselor position at Genesee Valley, an outdoor learning center 1.5 miles from my house, they asked me what I think experiential education is really about. I said it is learning about yourself in combination with others through group activities and challenges (which are usually outdoors). I’m excited to see whether my opinion of this changes over the next few months.

To start out my summer, I will be going on a ten day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail for HOLT (Hopkins Outdoor Leadership Training). If you’ve been following my blogs, you know I’m part of Outdoor Pursuits as a hiking leader, and part of being a leader is to go on this trip preferably at the end of your freshman year. I’m not going to lie–  I’m really nervous. I don’t think I’ve ever not showered or not been in contact with my family and friends for ten days in a row, so it will be a challenge. At the same time, something tells me that I will really appreciate this trip for my own personal growth. Ringing any bells? :)

When I get back, I’ll have a few days off before starting my training as a summer camp counselor for Genesee Valley. I’m so psyched to have gotten this position! I used to be a camper at the Valley and always thought the counselors were amazingly cool. It’ll be fun to work with those kids and be outside all day, not to mention I can run or bike to work every morning.

Enjoying the outdoors with a buddy from high school

Finally, I’ll end the summer by leading a pre-orientation trip for the class of 2016! I have no doubt I will love getting to know the incoming freshman while enjoying the last few weeks of summer.

As you can see, I will essentially be outdoors for the next three months! And what does this have to do with my freshman  year at JHU? Well, this past year has opened my eyes to many things that make me happy. For example, I love getting to know new people and pushing my limits (I learned this through the many great students already at JHU, and the fact that I worked really hard in my academics this past semester). I also love training my body by exercising (I learned this from the past few weeks before finals, where my exercise and diet have kept me calm in the face of a heavy academic load). In lieu of this, I have decided to train for the Baltimore Marathon during the summer. (It’s October 13 2012, so come cheer me on!) This summer will be fantastic in so many ways, and I can’t wait to see how far I can push myself and what I will learn.

In conclusion, thanks to JHU for a great freshman year, and thanks to Hopkins Interactive for giving me the opportunity to chronicle it! Be sure to check out my blog next year, where I will talk about my adventures as a sophomore. (Literally meaning, “wise fool.”) I can’t wait to see how wise and foolish I will be! Have a great summer everyone!

 

Winding “Up”

Me and some friends at a party

 

So, we have two more weeks of full classes. Then, two (ish) weeks of review and exams. Then, I have a ten day backpacking excursion on the Appalachian trail, and finally it will be summer. The general feeling around campus is that things are winding down, but for some reason, I can’t make that phrase mesh with where I am. I keep thinking, I’m not winding down, so I must be winding up! But where is this feeling coming from? I guess the past couple of weeks have just instilled some sort of excitement in me.

 

 

So what has been going on? A few things. For once in my blogging career, I will be using a list!

1) Formals and Date Parties. A great thing about Hopkins? Even if you choose not to join a sorority or fraternity,  you can always check out some of the fun parties they throw with your friends! In the past few weeks, I have joined many of my friends at their fraternity and sorority events though I didn’t rush this semester. It’s a great way to get to know new people and relax, and some of the parties are even during the week which is a fun way to break up your routine. I definitely recommend checking out what Greek life has to offer when you get on campus!

Kappa Date Party

Theta Tau Formal

2) Hopkins Lacrosse Games. Two weekends ago, my group of friends and I went to the Hopkins lax game vs. Maryland. Before hand we went to a tailgate sponsored by the university where they had free things like spray tattoos and noisemakers. Though the game was an unfortunate loss for Hopkins, we had a great time!

Hopkins Lax Game!

3) Spring Fair! This three day event is one of Hopkins greatest charms, and this past weekend I got to experience it for the first time! I spent my time tanning on “the beach”, eating chicken on a stick, looking at the many vendors, and hanging out in the kids section doing some arts and crafts! It was a blast and definitely something you should look forward to during your years at Hopkins.

At the kids' section at the fair!

Spring is a very active time at Hopkins! I guess my enthusiasm must come from my fellow students who are also excited for summer and enjoying the many events around campus like I am! Though it is strange to think my freshman year will be over in a few short weeks, at this point I’m thrilled about my time at Hopkins now and the many fun things to look forward to in the future!

 

 

 

Why Hopkins: the Challenge

The challenge of being apart from your family

Because I live so close to home (about 25 minutes away to be exact…), I have the luxury of being home for Easter this weekend. This also means I have the luxury of going grocery shopping, which in my family means aimlessly wandering aisles and stopping at every (I mean every) free sample station. So, whilst I was getting my free lunch today at Sam’s club (composed of a sample of ham, blood-red oranges, and four different assortments of cheesecake) I ran into a familiar face: my high school college counselor. After briefly catching up on my life at Hopkins and how I am now volunteering for admissions, she asked me if I would visit my high school and talk to the current seniors about my experience in college. I have decided to center this post around what I would say to those seniors, and hopefully you will walk away with a firmer grasp of “Why Hopkins?”

The first thing I want to say about college is that it is exactly what you expect and exactly the opposite of what you expect at the same time. Do you plan to stay up late with your friends in your dorm hallway or cafeteria and make inappropriate jokes? Probably. And that will most likely happen. Do you expect to completely change your life and academic plan? Probably not. But, there is a good chance this might happen also. However, in both the expected and the unexpected, Hopkins is the ideal undergraduate institution for your studies.

The challenge of being a nerd

But I guess no matter what I say about college as a broad topic, the question of the hour is why Hopkins? I’ve been struggling with how to answer this question all week (and I promise it’s not cause I secretly hate Hopkins!). Instead, I feel like all the convincing reasons for you prospective students are right there as facts: we are ranked highly, we have many activities on campus, we have the support necessary to succeed… But I guess all of those facts culminate into one essential element I have found students needing as undergraduates: challenge.

I will be honest, when I look back on my past semester and 3/4 of a semester, the biggest theme that sticks out for me is challenge. If you follow my blogs over the past six months, you will see a load of subtle questions that are asking: “what am I supposed to do with my life?” (These questions generally stem from my debate over what to study academically.) You also can see the amount of commitments I have outside of schoolwork, and how I was challenged to balance exercise with everything else I was doing. College brings a waterfall of unexpected challenges, and Hopkins is the best place to provide you with them. But before you freak out, let me tell you this is not a bad thing.

The challenge of having too many new amazing friends to hang out with

When you go to a school like Hopkins, the institution will look you square in the eyes, provide you with many opportunities, and expect the best from you. It is your choice whether to take this sentiment and run with it, or to be overwhelmed or scared of what you can accomplish. I think many philosophers have said something along the lines of “without challenge, there is no true success,” and I completely believe this. If you are looking to find your limits and find out your limits are completely arbitrary, there is no better place to do that than JHU.

My first year in college, I was challenged to spend less time with my family and friends from high school. But I soon become challenged to distribute my time evenly among all of the new students whom I found so fascinating. Because of our diverse student body from different geographical areas and backgrounds, each new person will express a different view of the world to you and push you to grow. You will find many fellow nerds and find yourself making jokes about neurons or syntax. Also, you will find yourself working harder than you ever did in high school and pushing yourself to achieve the grades which used to come easily. No matter what your specific challenge is when you arrive in the fall, just remember two things: 1) there is help for you around every corner if you need it and 2) the struggle is making you a better person.

The challenge of leaving your friends from high school

So, to you seniors at my high school and those all around the country considering Hopkins, I will leave you with an extended metaphor: stroll down the aisles of the grocery store, test out the sample trail mix, and be ready to make some tough choices. But always remember, at some point you will walk out of the store with a new bag of groceries. Just make sure you tried the cheesecake. :)

 

 

 

Wannabe Food Blogger

The most amazing desserts made by my friend's Mom

Sometime in the past six months, I’ve developed a rather unstoppable addiction: taking pictures of food I am about to consume. Be it the cookies my friend’s Mom made over winter break or my ice cream birthday cake from November, I almost have more pictures of food on my iPhone than anything else. People give me stumped looks when I whip out my phone as soon as the waiter brings us our order, to which I’ll respond: “Food is the greatest memory!” This usually prompts more confusion. Finally, after all these months, I will offer up an explanation.

I’ve come to find that the simple things jog your memory the most. When you think back on your life so far, you don’t remember the overpowering feeling of graduating from high school, you remember how your graduation speaker had a runny nose. You don’t remember all of the games you played on the playground in elementary school, but you do remember the feeling of the wood chips under your feet and the monkey bars on your palms. Same goes with food. When I’m able to look at my friend Andrew’s strangely crafted meal at the FFC, it spurs on all the fun memories of joking and hanging out with my friends.

Now that’s the deep psychological reasoning behind my recent addiction, but if you really cut down to it, I just love food! Who wouldn’t want to remember the taste of exquisitely crafted creme brulee oatmeal from a resort in Palm Springs? Or perhaps my mother’s eggs

My boyfriend's cooking!

benedict that she only makes once a year on Christmas? Or my boyfriend’s amazing pasta and broccoli dishes that he only makes for us on special occasions? All of these things not only taste fabulous, but they also connect to great memories in my life.

Whether you are a food lover or not, I urge you  to try being the weird one and take pictures of tiny things that are perfect in your life. You’ll have no idea how fun it is until you’re on a long plane ride, completely disconnected from Facebook or any other people you know, and you’re able to look back through those pictures and relive and appreciate the good details. What have I learned from all this? Maybe being a food blogger is in my future. But for now, I just enjoy taking pictures of the amazing meals that are a huge part of my life.

As per usual, I’ll leave you with a few pictures: some of my favorite foods, most of them from right around the Hopkins campus!

Lots of ice cream! You can get it at CharMar (Charles St. Market)

What is better than a home-cooked eggs benedict?

A honey cappuccino from Carma's

Great sushi from Niwana!

My birthday cake (Happy 19th!)Chicken tikka masala from Tamber's!

My friend Andrew's meal of shrimp and rice- very well balanced!