Beating the Blues

So you’re stuck in a rut.

A rut? you ask. Like being bored? How could anyone ever feel bored on a college campus? There’s a thousand things going on every second–club meetings, theatre productions, intramural sports–really, anything you can name. And that’s totally true. There’s never a lack of anything to do at Hopkins; it’s just that sometimes, you might have a hard time realizing that fact.

Quick fix for a rut: take a weird jumping picture

Quick fix for a rut: take a weird jumping picture

Generally, it goes like this. About halfway through the semester, you realize you’ve settled into a bit of a routine. You’re no longer clutching a map and scrambling to find your classes, but are instead walking across campus confidently while cramming to read the last few pages of your American Lit homework. You’ve stopped going to the FFC in a huge pack with your entire floor, and instead grab meals with a small group of friends. You go to the Recreation Center and work out a few times a week, and then after you shower off and head to a club meeting or two. You study from Monday-Friday in the same cubicle on B-level, and then on the weekends you throw on some random themed attire and traipse across Charles Village to your favorite frat houses. After spending your Sunday feeling miserable in bed and watching Netflix, you dust yourself off and do it over again.

And is there anything wrong with that? Nope! Life is built on routines, and hey, that’s a pretty sweet schedule in anyone’s book. But sometimes, the prospect of doing the same thing over and over for the entire semester seems a little…well, boring.

Ah yes, Hopkins fleece and ripped jeans. What a classy combo, Grace.

Ah yes, Hopkins fleece and ripped jeans. What a classy combo, Grace.

Luckily, you don’t have to resign yourself to a mundane existence. The first, and often the most important, step to getting yourself out of a rut is to pretend that you’re not in one. It’s easy. Set your alarm for twenty minutes earlier than usual (it stinks, but it won’t kill you, I promise) and take a cold shower. When it’s time to get dressed, ignore the lure of the hoodie. It may be comfortable, but remember, we’re faking it here, and nothing screams “put-together” like an actual outfit. Here, I’ve even figured it out for you: dark jeans, white t-shirt, dark blazer, comfortable shoes. You’d be surprised with how many people will instantly be more impressed with you if you look like you’re putting a little effort into your appearance.

I’ll keep it short and easy and just tell you to get your butt to class; even if you’re not wow-ing your section with thought-provoking questions, the professors and TA’s notice who shows up, and a lot of the time that may be the deciding factor in determining whether you get a B+ or an A-. After class, don’t head back to your dorm and take a nap (this is tempting, I know, I did it like every day last year). This is probably the single biggest potential time-sucker in your daily schedule. Instead, march yourself over to Brody, order a  Dirty Chai Latte (Grace-Endorsed), and wait in the cafe for about ten minutes listening to peoples’ conversations until it kicks in.

Oh Dirty Chai, how would I ever survive without you?

Oh Dirty Chai, how would I ever survive without you?

Then, take another second to think about where you usually study. If you find you’re doing well with the routine you currently have, then stick with it. But if you find you’re wasting hours talking to your friends on A-level or feeling depressed from the silence and the fluorescent lights on C, it’s probably time for a change. A weird thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to exclusively study in Brody and MSE (the library, for the uninitiated). It’s like no one has any clue there are tons of other study spots on campus, ones which are often quieter and cozier. The Hut in Gilman is almost silent, has awesome leather chairs that are perfect for sinking into, and is flanked on either side by the Writing Center and the Learning Den. Levering is similarly cozy, and it also has the delicious Daily Grind coffeeshop to help you stay awake.

Not that you should be staying up too late. Seriously, try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, or your sleeping schedule is going to get majorly thrown off. And if you’re one of those people who feels guilty about leaving the library when there’s still more work for next week to be done? Sign up for a Rec Center fitness class at night. That way, you’ll be forced to get out of the study zone, and you’ll head home feeling contentedly exhausted instead of wired and weary.

This advice seems like common sense, but you’ll be surprised at how many people don’t take it. I’ve gotten to points (midterm week comes to mind) where I actually had to remind myself to sleep because I was so caught up in the constant cycle of class-homework-party. And when I let my body finally rest, I was totally thrown by how worn-down I really was.

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My puppy is ready for sleep. Why aren’t you?

Speaking of partying and other social activities, there is fun outside Homewood Campus. I assure you, friends, the world will not stop just because you missed some frat’s “Bolshevik Babes and Freedom Fighters” party, even though I’m totally proud of coming up with that because it sounds like a lot of fun. College is the last place where your social life should feel limited, but it often does, especially as an underclassman. My solution is to get on the JHMI shuttle or hail down a cab and explore other parts of Bmore. In my opinion, the easiest way to do so is through food. Trust me, you will be ravenous after eating for the FFC for too long, and there are few things more fun than going out for dinner with a group of friends. Some of my favorites are RA and Sotto Sopra, and I’ve heard great things about The Ambassador, Woodberry Kitchen, Miss Shirley’s, and Dogwood. Too expensive? Here’s a secret: Baltimore food is actually way cheaper than that of other major cities. I’m from near Philly, and I was astounded at how inexpensive everything is in Charm City. If you’re still ballin’ on a budget (I am so sorry for that reference) you can hit up Baltimore Restaurant Week, which happens once during the summer and once over Intersession.

If you’re not obsessed with food like I am, there’s still plenty to do. The Orioles tickets are dirt cheap, and they’re always having student discount nights. Walk around Hampden and oogle at thrift shops or stop in Fells Point for gelato or just drop in on a random night at the Baltimore Soundstage and watch whatever band is playing. Chow down on great hummus at one of our fifty hookah bars. Stroll through the Inner Harbor, eat at a really cheesy chain restaurant, and try to guess where the tourists are from. Get yourself out of bed early and go to Pete’s Grille for freakishly-good breakfast and a potential Michael Phelps sighting. God, I just realized I’m still writing about food. Whatever–the best bonding moments happen when you’re pigging out anyway. And, wherever you go, invite some friends. They’re probably stuck in some sort of rut too, and they’ll likely appreciate the gesture.

Pete's is so yummy that it's kind of weird

Pete’s is so yummy that it’s kind of weird.

Of course, some ruts can’t be cured with taking a shower and eating Italian food. If you suspect you’re feeling crappy because of illness, I urge you to go to the JHU Health Center. It’s not my favorite place in the world, but the sooner you figure out what’s wrong, the sooner you can feel like yourself again. And if you’re seriously down, or just want to talk to someone, hit up the JHU Counseling Center. There’s no shame in going; in fact, I think it’s really cool that we go to a school with such extensive resources available to help us out.

But I digress. This is long, and you guys deserve a medal for getting through this one. Just remember: Hopkins is an awesome, awesome place, but everyone feels like their life is a little “eh” sometimes. Luckily, I can’t think of anywhere else where it’s so easy to get back on track and feel excited again.

 

The Write Stuff

So, I’m a big fan of stalking myself. Not like, hiding-inside-the-bushes stalking, don’t worry. I just occasionally like to go back on my Facebook and look at pictures and posts from a few months back, because sometimes I’m a nostalgic brat and other times I just want to see how I wore my hair for a party. Whatever. Anyway, one of my favorite ways to do this is to go back and read my old SAAB blogs. In fact, I was doing this just the other day when I realized something.

I never really talk about my major.

I mean, sure, I talk a bit about academics at Hopkins. And I sometimes write about specific classes. And I definitely don’t shut up about how much of a pain in the butt it is to study for finals. But honestly, if you took a quick look through my blog, you could be forgiven for thinking that my major is blogging about my social life with a minor in self-depricating jokes and cheddar popcorn (cheddar popcorn: soon to be Hopkins’ most popular concentration). Which is fine and dandy, and all, except for the fact that a big reason I’m here is, you know, to do some writing and stuff.

IMAGINATION

And to use my IMAGINAAAAAAATION

So yeah, I’m a Writing Seminars major. You can call it Writing Sems for short, or you can act like an Engineering student and call it “preparing you for unemployment”. Okay, all kidding aside, Writing Sems majors do get some flak for not sticking to the “hard sciences”. I’ve heard quite a few jokes about how students come in as Neuroscience majors and graduate with a degree in Writing Sems because they “couldn’t handle the pressure”. And yes, sometimes a friend will look up from her Orgo notes and sigh over how “easy” I have it.

But with all due respect to mis amigos in other disciplines, Writing Sems is no cakewalk. In fact, our department is consistently ranked in the top 5 of its kind in the country. I applied E.D. here largely because of the program’s excellence, and, unlike the urban legend of the Neuroscience dropout, I haven’t even thought about changing my major since.

Look. While I would likely do okay in an introductory Chem course, there’s no doubt that I would perform miserably in most of the upper-level science classes here. Similarly, I think a lot of the kids who mock Writing Sems would have a pretty tough time with the department’s more advanced offerings. I believe that a lot of the judgment about Writing Sems (and similar Humanities majors) is due to a lack of understanding as to what we actually do. So let me talk about that a little.

And how can you knock Writing Sems when you get to have classes in a building this pretty?!

And how can you knock Writing Sems when you get to have classes in a building this pretty?!

The most common misconception is that we only take classes in “writing about our feelings,” rather than being exposed to a comprehensive list of courses that’ll prepare us for the real world. Wrong! Actually, Writing Sems has a TON of distribution requirements, which are basically classes you have to take outside your major in order to graduate with a degree in the major itself. I want to say we have the most distribution requirements of any major, but knowing my luck that’s probably wrong and then I’ll get yelled at for publishing misinformation. Whatever. Anyway, the reason the department has so many requirements is that Hopkins doesn’t want Writing Sems kids to graduate only knowing how to analyze Faulkner. Instead, we have to take courses in philosophy, history, and yes, even science, so we can be prepared for THE REAL WORLD (all caps to emphasize how REAL it is, brah). And, believe me, knowing how to write a decent sentence comes in handy when you’re composing a 17-page paper on the philosopher-king in Plato’s Republic.

Reading is fun and magical and you'll do a lot of it here at Hopkins, yo.

Reading is fun and magical and you’ll do a lot of it here at Hopkins, yo.

Another thing I really love about the department is how willing all of the faculty is to go out of their way and actually support students. Personal anecdote time: when registering for the fall 2013 semester, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to enroll in two Writing Sems courses I needed due to a bit of a scheduling mix-up. If I didn’t get into them, my degree could potentially be delayed. Instead of handling the situation like a calm and collected college student, I freaked out and ran to the Writing Sems office in Gilman at like, eight in the morning.The faculty member I found there not only calmed me down, but approached her colleagues on my behalf, vouching for me and ultimately securing me a spot in both of the classes I needed. She even gave me her contact information in case I needed help in the future. I was stunned. This woman was not my advisor, nor was she my professor, but she was still insistent on going above and beyond for a (panic-attack stricken, probably extremely annoying) person she barely knew. But this generosity was not an anomaly. It was just another example of the compassion and consideration I’ve seen on almost a daily basis from the Writing Sems faculty.

As a quiet little kid who read everywhere, even in the bathtub, all I wanted to do was grow up and write. I may be a bit older and a lot louder now, and fortunately I’ve grown out of that Play-Doh eating phase, but my goals still haven’t changed. Five-year-old me would probably think it was crazy that her older self could do what she loved at one of the best colleges in the country, but I also like to think that she’d be pretty proud of me. I’ll deal with a few more jokes from engineers at my expense, because they’re a small price to pay for the quality of my education. Thank you, Writing Sems, for so much.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: How I’m Going to Make Next Semester Rule, Darn It

As your average obsessive-compulsive child, I developed a love of making lists, one that has followed me through my many years of bad haircuts and speech therapy and has inspired this blog post regarding fall semester resolutions! Of course, it is entirely too early to be thinking about the new semester, which is of course why I’m already thinking about it (besides the fact that home is boring and my best friends aren’t around the corner and therefore I have little else to do). So, for the sake of this post and my dwindling credulity, imagine that it’s not currently 98 degrees (he he) and muggy and that instead it’s a perfectly-acceptable time to be wearing an oversized sweater and ugly boots and brainstorming how I’m going to make my sophomore fall the best semester ever.

1. Take care of yourself, you idiot. Stop taking a ton of naps and then staying up until 3 AM doing nothing! Start running or do something vaguely athletic! And for God’s sake, eat right. In fact, I like to call my unique eating habits this past year the “Junk Food Diet”. Sounds glamorous, I know. Anyway, due in part to sheer laziness and also to the constant availability of processed food in college, I discovered that if I ate nothing but middling quantities of junk, I could actually stave off the freshman 15. And sure enough, it actually worked (science was never my strong suit–someone explain this to me?). Unfortunately, side effects of the “Junk Food Diet” include being constantly exhausted and developing a skin pigmentation that can affectionately be described as “jaundiced”. And “jaundiced” is really difficult to edit out with an Instagram filter. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Eat ALL of the cake! Except don't do that. Seriously, don't.

Eat ALL of the cake! Except don’t do that. Seriously, don’t.

2. Be late (sometimes!) I know I’ve just made myself sound like an exhausted yellow-eyed freakazoid, but besides the slight skin pallor I actually pride myself on being relatively organized and put-together. I’m also always punctual, and by punctual I mean 15-30 minutes early to everything. Really. At the end of the year, I showed up to an interview 45 minutes before my scheduled time, and the guy who was supposed to be interviewing me genuinely didn’t know what to do about it because normal people do not arrive that early to stuff. Conversely, it actually weirds me out when people are late, and I’ll reluctantly admit I’m kind of a jerk to my friends when they don’t show up on time. So yes, next semester, I’d like to be late to some stuff. Maybe not class (baby steps here, people), but like fashionably late to a party? That sounds do-able. I can just watch re-runs of Game of Thrones until it’s time to go.

3. Do Fun Things With My Friends!™ that don’t involve going to a party. This is tricky. At Hopkins, everyone is pretty intense about schoolwork and extracurricular involvement (I won’t lie to you), so naturally everyone wants to spend their free time blowing off a little steam. This means that, unless you want to invade their Orgo study group, the easiest way to hang out with your hombres is to go out for the night together. I’m not saying this is bad; honestly, I’m usually one of the first ones up for such activities. But I do admittedly get jealous when I hear other people talking about their awesome brunches at The Ambassador or their trips to Orioles games. I want to do stuff like that, yo! And not just so I can send my mom pictures of me Having Fun™ that don’t include me looking washed out in club lighting. I think I’m going to start by having Sunday night dinners at my apartment in Bradford (eek!), provided I can bribe everyone with access to my HBO subscription. Remember, guys: bribery with cable television is the key to everlasting friendships.

4. Convert more people to my cult of the Uni Mini hummus and falafel sandwich. Things this blog has taught me: I can’t spell falafel (writing major whassup?). But seriously, whether you’re returning from a wild night or a late study sesh, there is nothing better than a bite of this crunchy, warm sandwich from Hopkins’ favorite somewhat-shady convenience store. A lot of my friends here like the special with egg, and darn it I respect that lifestyle choice, but you haven’t LIVED unless you’ve tried the hummus and falafel. I actually spent a lot of time this past semester looking for a better such sandwich in Baltimore, and I’m not lying when I say I haven’t found one. Uni Mini may seem questionable, but I was brave enough to try it in the daytime, kids, and it can’t be beat.

Well, we can rule "food photographer" out as a future career.

Well, we can rule “food photographer” out as a future career.

5. Be able to chill confidently in the Gilman cafe. I don’t know what it is about this place, but it is so intimidating! Don’t get me wrong, the Gilman cafe is gorgeous–all high ceilings, eco-friendly design fixtures, weird paper lantern things that hang from the ceiling–but every time I walk through there I feel like like an awkward ninth grader debuting her new chunky caramel highlights. This is the Humanities building, so I should feel comfortable, but everyone there is so stylish and perfect and looks suspiciously like they stepped out of a street fashion blog. I feel like a schlub in my Hopkins fleece and too-baggy pants (thanks, “Junk Food Diet”!). But no more. Next semester, I will be a strong, assured sophomore, and I will sit right down in that cafe and read my book for my Psych class, darn it. Well, maybe. I’ll work on it.

6. Stop doing this face. This face:

LOL JK CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP

LOL JK CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP LOOKIN’ LIKE A CHIPMUNK

7. Care less. Not about my grades, mom and dad (my parents just both had heart attacks reading this)!!! No, but really, I worry quite a bit. A lot of it is because I’m nineteen (and still inexplicably look like a fourth grader–thanks genetics?) and I’m in college and I’m just generally inexperienced and dumb. But I worry about being dumb. I worry about what it says about me that I care about what people think. I feel guilty that I spend a fair amount of my time at this expensive school going out, that I sleep through stuff and devote lots of effort to falafel, that sometimes I sit in Brody worrying more about who didn’t reply to my group text than what war I should be studying for my history class. I think it’s been difficult for me to lose the mentality I had in high school, which was that when I wasn’t working, I should feel bad. It’s been weird realizing that sometimes, I can just relax–that I don’t have to constantly stress about bettering myself. I blogged about these specific goals–lighthearted stuff, mostly–for a reason. I don’t want to make a list about how I should develop stricter study habits and attend more review sessions and become involved in more clubs, because I already think about that stuff so much. I am not perfect–ask anyone, seriously–but I’m trying to let go of the feeling that I have to be. I want small goals to make my life feel better, not to make it look better on paper, because I’ve finally realized the latter is not what makes me happy. So I am giving myself permission, next semester, to be dumb. To occasionally oversleep. To skip an Important Seminar because I’m reheating my Easy Mac. To do the things I want to do because they are vaguely idiotic and may be a waste of time but there’s an off chance that they might turn out to be really freakin’ worth it. So that is my last goal, the one I want to accomplish most of all. As some stereotypical surfer dude would say in a movie, “Chillllll ouuuuut, dude”. And so I guess I’ll try.

How I aspire to look at all times

The attitude I aspire to at all times.

It’s Summer!

Hey guys! It’s hard to believe, but it’s been just over two weeks since I packed up the contents of my tiny Wolman double, shoved what seemed like a billion trash bags into the back of my mom’s car, and said (a temporary) goodbye to the Homewood campus. While many Hopkins students choose to stay past the end of spring semester and take additional classes, I decided that I wanted one last full summer at home before I permanently settle in Baltimore. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve just been watching movies and lounging by the pool (though I’ve been doing my fair share of the latter). In fact, even I’m only a few weeks into vacation, my summer’s already proved to be both super busy and fun.

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Soakin’ up those rays. My pale leg makes a guest appearance at the bottom of the frame.

Okay, so remember how I said just a short paragraph ago that I left Hopkins itself behind for the summer? Well, I guess I just couldn’t stay away from other parts of Baltimore. Two days after moving out of our dorms, my best friend Ali and I headed back to the city for the 138th Preakness Stakes! For those of you who don’t know, the Preakness is a part of the Triple Crown series of horse races (along with the Belmont and, of course, the Kentucky Derby). Though the main race itself is around dusk, the rest of the day is perhaps the furthest thing from boring. There’s shopping stalls, food vendors, beer gardens for the 21 and up crowd, and even a bikini contest (yes, really). And you can’t forget the incredibly diverse musical acts: Florida Georgia Line, Macklemore, and even Pitbull performed! While the Preakness is definitely a tradition for Hopkins kids, most students don’t go until they’re juniors or seniors. Ali and I didn’t want to wait that long to experience the fun, and believe me, we weren’t disappointed. It was a terrific way to experience more Baltimore culture, have some fun in the sun, listen to some great music, and hang out with awesome friends. It’s also a perfect excuse to wear a ridiculous floppy hat, which alone would’ve made going worthwhile. I can’t imagine any way I would’ve rather finished off the semester, and I definitely plan on attending for the next three years!

Ali and I at the Preakness! Note the floppy hats.

Me and Ali at the Preakness! Note the floppy hats.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay at the Preakness forever, so I dropped Ali back at the airport and headed home to NJ. Once I got back, my focus almost immediately shifted back to work–this time not to writing analytical essays, but instead to getting some real-world experience. I was lucky enough to be able to snag a really cool summer job working for an ice cream company, where I do everything from scheduling events to processing sales to building up our social media presence. You might think that it’s a little sudden to jump right into working just after the end of the semester, but I disagree. I’m one of those people who hates to be bored, and I’m much happier working on a project and making an impact than sitting around watching Toddlers and Tiaras all day (is this only because I’ve already watched all of the Toddlers and Tiaras episodes available OnDemand? Um, perhaps). Besides, it’ll be nice to have a little spending money of my own for next semester. After all, someone has to fund my all-too-frequent trips to Donna’s.

Of course, I still make time for fun on the weekends! Here's a shot of me, my dad, and my brother at the NCAA lax championship in Philly.

Of course, I still make time for fun on the weekends! Here’s a shot of me, my dad, and my brother at the NCAA lax championship in Philly.

But no matter how much I work, my life at home is admittedly a lot slower-paced than it is at Hopkins. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I definitely miss all the exciting things to do at school. When I’m on campus, even the most seemingly-mundane of Wednesdays can yield so many possibilities, like going out for sushi at RA in Harbor East or even pulling an all-nighter watching stupid movies with friends. Part of the reason I love Hopkins so much is its intensity. We may complain about the sometimes-stressful workload or the bevy of assignments, but in the end we’re all there because we enjoy pushing ourselves. I like nothing better than a good challenge, and that’s a big part of why I miss Hopkins so much already. However, everyone needs to take a step back and just chill out once in a while, and I think my break came at just the right time. The school year is great, but I need a few months to rest my brain, eat some delicious home-cooked food, and just generally de-stress. I want to get some writing done, read some books for leisure (finally!) and even watch Game of Thrones on my very own TV instead of some puny computer screen. I may not be going out every night of the weekend or having revelatory moments at 3 AM on C level, but I’ll be relaxing, eating ice cream, and sleeping in my own bed. Hopefully, I’ll finish this summer with added work experience, a killer tan, and good health (shout out to my upcoming tonsil removal in August!). That way, when I return to campus in August, I’ll be all ready for the craziness I crave to begin once again.

Your reward for reading through the whole blog: a picture of my puppy doing his best "Whatchu talkin' 'bout Willis?" face.

Your reward for reading through the whole blog: a picture of my puppy doing his best “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” face.

Grace Writes a Letter…To Herself

Dear Beginning-of-Freshman-Year Grace,

Hi slightly-younger me! From what I remember, you’re significantly tanner than I am now, but that’s okay, because I’m much, much wiser than you are. Kidding, of course, but not completely. While you may be sporting a sun-kissed glow as a result of frying yourself to a crisp by the pool for three months, you’re also incredibly nervous about starting your first year at college. You’re wondering if you’ve overpacked (you have), if you’ll like your roommate (you will), and if you’ll turn all your clothes pink in the wash (you won’t, but you’ll also discover in May that you’ve accidentally been shrinking everything, not just getting significantly taller like you’d hoped). You’re freaking out in a million different ways, and even though I know I can’t really do anything to help, I’d like to give some advice I wished that I’d had at the beginning of freshman year. Because everything will be okay. Really.

Ugh, look at that healthy summer glow, even with the freaky flash.

Ugh, look at that healthy summer glow, even with the freaky flash.

First of all, you’re not going to fail out of Hopkins. No, really; say it with me. You are not going to fail out of Hopkins. YouarenotgoingtofailoutofHopkins. We’re good, alright? Seriously, you are not going to bomb everything. You have solid study habits from high school, and even though the classes here are way harder, you’re going to be fine. In fact–and try not to gasp–you’re actually going to do pretty well. You probably wouldn’t be doing that well if you had to take a math class, but hey, that’s another story. You should also probably stop being super paranoid that you’re going to miss some sort of vital information and showing up 15 minutes early to class. It’s weird, dude. The professor isn’t even there that early. (And hey, if you accidentally sleep through class one day or have to skip to study for another exam, it’s honestly not the end of the world. Everybody does it. You will do it a lot as the weather gets warmer. I mean, what?)

One of my more academic moments

One of my more academic moments.

Okay, academics are boring, blah blah blah (they’re not, but this is a Fun Blog™, and we’re going to talk about Fun™). Look, slightly-younger-Grace, I know you’re scared that you’re not going to make friends. You think that everyone is going to walk in on the first day of Orientation relaxed and self-assured, and you’re going to be that one big sweaty ball of nerves that no one wants to talk to. Good news! Everyone is that one big sweaty ball of nerves (also: ew). People are going to be so eager to be buddy-buddy that they’re practically going to tackle each other looking for someone to eat lunch with. Now, I want to give you some props on one point. You do know–probably because your oh-so-wise mother has told you this on many occasions–that you’re not going to meet your best friends the first week of college. Probably not the first month, either. Or maybe not even the first two months. That’s okay! You’re going to spend a bit of time floating between groups, but in the end, you’ll be incredibly glad you had that experience. As a result, you’ll find the people you really click with, the ones with whom you have shared interests, the ones who you can call at 1:30 in the morning when you’re miserable and who will cheer you up over Papa John’s cheesy bread and honey BBQ wings (extra bleu cheese, thanks). Also, make friends with upperclassmen. Yes, this is my standard piece of advice I give pre-frosh, but hey, slightly-younger-Grace, you’re technically a pre-frosh too, and besides, this is legit. Just because upperclassmen seem super intimidating and really cool with their impressive GPAs and their own apartments and their slight height advantages (I have short person insecurity, FYI) doesn’t mean that they don’t want anything to do with you! In fact, some of my best friends are upperclassmen, and I can credit them with so many of my best times here. They also know all the most delicious places to eat around campus, which is a huge bonus because I’m obsessed with food.

Me staring at food, and just generally being weird as usual.

Me staring at food, and just generally being weird as usual.

Alright, slightly-younger-Grace, now that we’ve covered friends, we should probably shift to social life. First off, YES HOPKINS IS FUN. It really is. It is so fun that, at times, your parents will send you awkward “shouldn’t you be studying?” texts when you tell them you’re headed to a party. And okay, maybe you should’ve been. But you know what? It’s okay to go out on a Wednesday night. It’s okay to go out on a Tuesday night. Sometimes it’s even okay to go out on a Monday night (not that I’ve done this ha ha ha um). Sometimes when it’s 11 PM in the library and you feel like tearing your hair out and your paper that’s due the next week is just not getting written, it’s way better to go out and let loose a little (I said a little, okay? Don’t go crazy on me here!) than to mope around all depressed and overworked. And, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s going to be some Saturday nights where there’s an absolutelycrazyawesomeparty that everyone’s going to, but that you’d just feel better about skipping because you have a test on Monday. Is it going to be really fun sitting in the library on the weekend? Probably not (hint hint: Colbert Report study breaks). But are you a nerd for doing it? No. Is it okay to do so? Absolutely. Some of the best advice I can give you is not to get so caught up in your GPA that you forget what college is all about. Yes, it’s about getting good grades and scoring a great job or a grad school acceptance and all that jazz. But it’s also about the memories. The fun stuff. The 2 AM Uni Mini on a Thursday night (order the hummus and falafel, and I promise you won’t regret it). Just don’t go out when you’re sick. That’s a bad idea, dude. No one likes the sniffly, wheezy person at the party.

Some recent Saturday-night shenanigans.

Some recent Saturday-night shenanigans.

Speaking of sick, you will get sick. A lot. You will, in fact, get a total of five (5!!) sinus infections over the course of your freshman year. That will not be fun one bit. You will also have days where you feel so overworked you consider dropping out of school, capitalizing on your talent for imitating cartoon characters, and going into voice acting. There will be nights when the bathroom is dirty and you have to clean it even though you have a test in the morning, or a whole week where you’re so upset about some stupid thing that you’ll be snarky and annoy everyone around you. There will also be this one really gross time where you cut your foot several inches deep with the sharp part of your sandal and trail blood all down North Charles Street (I’ll spare you the pictures). So yes, bad stuff will happen. But will you get over your sinus infections? Yup (hello tonsils out this summer!). Will the workload let up? Yes. Will your roommate help you clean the bathroom? She will. Will you stop being upset over that stupid thing? Yes, and quicker than you thought. Will your lovely friends walk your bleeding self all the way to their apartment, sit you on the counter, and bandage your foot right up? Indeed they will, and hey, thanks again guys. Freshman year will not be perfect, certainly, but the good stuff will outweigh the bad by such an enormous margin that you will actually have to struggle to think of examples to list above.

Michelle, who's on the right, also doubles as an amateur foot surgeon.

Michelle, who’s on the left, also doubles as an amateur foot surgeon.

In the end, you won’t remember one bad grade or one rude remark. (Warning: Cheesiness ahead) You’ll remember friends and formals and falafel, Late Night in the FFC and some really crazy late night parties. You’ll remember dancing to Hey Porshe as well as all of your favorite hits of 2004, because Nelly is really under-appreciated and you want everyone to realize it. You’ll remember lying out on the Beach in that hopes of getting the perfect tan you had at the start of the year, only to discover that your left shoulder is fried and your right shoulder is still inexplicably pasty. You’ll remember being stupid and immature and sometimes less stupid and less immature, and you’ll know that no matter how stupid or immature you are that particular day or week, you’ll still never be able to figure out why the Baltimore water keeps turning your hair blue. But it’ll be hilarious, and it will be worth it. Promise, yo. Really.

This is my friend Eva. She has perfect hair. It is not blue in the slightest and I'm jealous.

This is my friend Eva. She has perfect hair. It is not blue in the slightest and I’m jealous.

So I’ll stop being annoying and nostalgic, because I know you have a billion people to meet and six thousand Orientation activities to go to (read: sleep through), and I should be finishing up my last essay of the year. I’ll end with a few random snippets of advice that I couldn’t find a place for, but that are still super super important. First off, study and chill with friends in Brody, and write essays on C level. I’m mad that I just figured out this formula, because it really works. Also, make friends in your classes. Take classes with your friends. Study groups rule! Your parents are also probably going to hate you for slacking on your meal plan, but going out to eat is a great way to explore Baltimore, bond over delicious food, and relieve stress. Next, Fells Point. Halloween. Go! Who cares if it’s on a Wednesday–it’s awesome! Also, you’re going to sleep through the Ravens winning the Super Bowl; you’re stupid. Study-wise, go to Quizlet.com and you’ll never waste your money on flashcards. Spring Fair weekend will also be the best weekend of your life thus far, and joining SAAB will be the best decision you make at Hopkins. And yes, yes, I know my freshman year was fantastic and all, but I am going to give you one last piece of advice to keep you from being as cynical as I am: the free t-shirt thing is a lie. You will not get one free t-shirt. Try not to think about it, because it makes you mad. Think about how amazing Hopkins is, and how lucky you are to go to school there, and how you honestly, genuinely do not know what you’re going to do this summer without the zany and crazy and spectacular and fun people you’ve met there. Because yes, you’re excited to go home, but you know it’ll be about a week before you can’t wait to go back. And trust me, you will be so, so eager to see what sophomore year has in store.

Best,

Slightly-older (yet not taller) Grace

Friends on Halloween!

Friends on Halloween!

 

SAAB friends!

SAAB friends!

More friends!

More photographic proof that sometimes people like me!

Adventures in Academia

Hey, guys! This week at Hopkins Interactive, we’re highlighting our favorite academic experiences here at JHU. I’m not going to lie–when I first received my assignment, I was pretty stumped. Not because I didn’t have a ton of awesome scholastic experiences (I totally do), but because I felt like I’d already written a lot in my other blogs about specific academic highlights, and I didn’t want to repeat myself. Luckily, after a few minutes of contemplation (and a few episodes of Colbert, natch), I came up with an awesome topic–in fact, I can’t believe I haven’t written about it already! So, without further rambling on my part, here’s Grace’s Favorite Academic Experience Blog™, starring Hopkins’ open curriculum!

With Hopkins' open curriculum, you can take a course in fireworks! Edit: no you cannot.

First off, I think I need to start out with a disclaimer. I know that I want to be a writer. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a writer. That’s a huge part of the reason why I’m at Hopkins; I wanted a school that would prepare me for a writing career, and there’s really no better place to hone your creative skills than JHU. That said, I didn’t want to sacrifice the opportunity to take a super awesome writing class just because I had to fill my schedule with standard intro-level courses on topics I was sure I would never be interested in (math!! physics!!). Needless to say, then, little prospective-student Grace was absolutely thrilled when she discovered that Hopkins had an open curriculum. What’s that, you say? Well, at JHU, you don’t have to take those intro-level courses. Sure, each major has its own requirements, but there aren’t any classes everyone in the school has to take. That means someone’s who’s dead-set on BME won’t have to sit through a composition course, just as an English major isn’t forced to take General Biology. And I never have to take a math class again in my life! Sounds awesome, right?

But wait! you cry (and by “you”, I mean invisible readers that I like to imagine exist). What if a student isn’t sure what they want to major in? Don’t they need exposure to all sides of academia in order to find their passion? That’s totally right, and it’s also yet another reason why Hopkins’ open curriculum is great. Since students aren’t pigeonholed into a set schedule, undecided (or even just curious) undergrads can choose a variety of classes from all over the spectrum, just because they think the courses sound interesting! One may be fairly sure they’re interested in science, but, just because they dabbled in an Archeology class one semester, could decide to add Archeology as a minor! And the best part is, you’re not even penalized or set back for taking classes outside your major! All fields have a certain number of credit requirements to be fulfilled outside one’s major (Engineering majors have to take a certain number of Humanities credits, ect.), so taking cool classes in another academic area actually helps you complete your degree!

Gilman Hall! I have most of my writing classes in this lovely building.

Of course, this all sounds awesome on paper, but if you’re like me, you probably want some real-world evidence to prove that the open curriculum is as good of an idea as it seems. As proof, I offer my own open curriculum experience. Even though not having to take a ton of science credits is cool, my favorite part of the policy is that it allows me to jump right in to upper-level classes. Because there aren’t three trillion standardized prerequisites, I’ve been able to take 300 and 400-level courses as a freshman. Yes, it’s difficult, but I’m willing to put in the work, and I’d much rather toil away a little longer for a class that’s genuinely interesting than slog through a course because I have to take it. Taking a ton of writing classes also makes me much more prepared for my future career than sitting through an Orgo lecture would. And do I still get exposure to other disciplines? Absolutely! Right now, I’m taking courses on Spanish, Philosophy, and International Politics–not exactly a schedule with a singular focus, right? As someone who came into Hopkins really excited about the open curriculum, I can truthfully say that it absolutely did not disappoint.

Anyway, I would love to gush more about the OC (making up an acronym for “open curriculum” is cool, right? Right?), it’s Spring Fair weekend, and there’s a crepe stand on the Beach that’s calling my name. But in summation, the open curriculum an amazing opportunity for decided and undecided undergrads alike, and I’m incredibly lucky to attend an institution that allows us so much academic freedom. And, just to finish, I know this isn’t academic, but I’m also so lucky to go to a school that JUST BEAT #1 RANKED MARYLAND IN LACROSSE TO AVENGE LAST YEAR’S LOSSES!! Okay, I’m still pretty over-excited. Time to get some crepes, y’all. Enjoy the weather!

Is Hopkins Cutthroat?

As a member of SAAB, one of my duties (besides being consistently awesome) is answering questions in the Facebook groups for Hopkins admitted students. I actually think this one of the more interesting parts of the job, as I get a sort of “sneak peek” at the Class of 2017. But yesterday, a series of posts in the group caught my attention, and, unfortunately, not in a good way. I won’t go too much into detail, but basically the posts claimed that Hopkins was a cutthroat, joyless institution devoid of any school spirit or the slightest hint of fun. Apparently, as I was delighted to learn, the Hopkins student body is comprised of pre-med drones who will readily smash your laptop to prevent you from setting the curve. Not only that, but going to Hopkins is like arsenic for your health, both physical and mental; you’ll go crazy from lack of sleep and start dying of the flu during your Orgo exam (okay, no one actually said anything that dramatic, but you get my point). It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. And rationally, I knew that.

Not having ANY fun.

But I was still annoyed. Really annoyed. And do you know why? Because, despite the fact that Hopkins has quite a few peers in terms of academic rigor, it’s pretty much the only school which is consistently plagued with the “cutthroat” rumor. The “no fun” rumor. The “crazy student body” rumor. And it’s not true. That’s the most honest way I can put it: it is simply just not true. It’s like hearing a ridiculous story about yourself that seems to spring out of nowhere but refuses to go away. You have no idea why the rumor started, but everyone somehow believes it. And yet, you go on sites like College Confidential and there it is, plastered all over the Internet: “Hopkins is terrible/awful/the reason I can’t sleep at night/the monster under my bed”. It’s like somewhere along the way, one disgruntled undergrad decided that JHU was hell on earth because he got a bad grade on an exam and decided to do everything he could to slander the name of the university. The rumor could’ve stuck to any school with highly-motivated students, but for some strange reason, it was slapped onto Hopkins. And I honestly don’t understand it.

Do you want the truth, prospective and admitted students? Hopkins is hard. Hopkins is really, reallyhard. The professors don’t baby you. The assignments are tough. You have to study weeks in advance for the exams. Some students really want that A. We don’t have crazy fraternity parties on Monday nights. We can’t pack 20,000 students into a football stadium. Most weekdays, I’m in the library past midnight. If you come here, you’re going to have to work, and you’re going to have to work to your full potential. And I don’t see why this is a bad thing.

Exhibiting ZERO school spirit.

Look, you applied to Hopkins, or are considering applying to Hopkins, because of its academic rigor. I said it in the admitted students group, and I’ll say it again; Hopkins is not cutthroat, it is rigorous. Prospective students know this. Admissions counselors know this. Everyone knows this; we’re one of the top universities in the world, and you don’t get that reputation by assigning busywork. You guys know that it isn’t a cakewalk. The type of student who applies to Hopkins doesn’t want a cakewalk. What they want is a challenging academic experience, and that is one of the things Hopkins definitely delivers. Each and every member of the student body is incredibly passionate about something, whether it’s sports or writing or cancer research. They’re committed, they’re driven, and they know what they want. And they’re in the perfect place to achieve it.

But what I find frustrating is that no one telling all those horror stories ever talks about all of the other things Hopkins offers. Like incredible freedom to take whatever classes you want (and to skip what you may consider the tedious ones) because we don’t have a core curriculum. Like spring afternoons on the Beach, enjoying the sun with all of your classmates and friends. Like going out to a party and and being able to have a real conversation with the kid dancing next to you. Like randomly deciding to go to an a cappella show and leaving dazzled by the incredible amount of talent you just witnessed. Like not only packing the stands for a lacrosse matchup, but also being able to watch one of your best friends kick butt in a volleyball game. Like going out to a fraternity formal on a random Tuesday night at one of the many awesome clubs in Baltimore. Like late-night Uni Mini. Like discussing various tales of your weekend over coffee in the Brody Learning Commons. Like being able to get free tutoring whenever you want in the Writing Center and the Learning Den. Like staying up late cramming for a History midterm and making friendships over increasingly-delirious jokes. Like dancing to 90s classics (shoutout to TLC’s No Scrubs) in your friend’s apartment on a Thursday. Like being able to go to a school that cured HIV in a baby. Like sitting in Philosophy class having no idea what the professor is talking about, and then having that amazing moment of realization where all of a sudden it’s HolylordI’vegotit! Like a million things more I could go on and on about, but Game of Thrones is coming on and I don’t have all day. Because really, Hopkins is special. And it is spectacular.

So, is Hopkins difficult? Yeah, it is. Is it cutthroat? No. I can say, without reservation, absolutely not. I’ve never heard a story of anyone, regardless of whether they’re a Writing Sems major or a BME, falling victim to excess competition. Is it a ‘party school’ of 50,000 undergrads? No. Do I usually manage to go out Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays? Yes. Can I stay in and work on a paper when I need to? Of course. Have I already, as a second-semester freshman, made friendships that I think will last for years and years? Definitely. Am I only saying this because Admissions is forcing/bribing me too? No (I do this voluntarily and no one pays me ha ha help me I’m a poor college student). Is Hopkins fantastic? Yes. Will it give you opportunities you’ve never dreamed of? Yes. Am I glad I came here? Every single day. And do I love it? Absolutely.

Gettin’ Classy

Hey guys! It’s Spring Break, and I’m currently at home wrapped up in two layers of blankets, alternating between idly browsing the Internet and petting my dogs. Naturally, a week of stress-free relaxation is the perfect time to talk about my classes, right? Jokes aside, I’m planning on spending the next three or four blogs detailing “Why Hopkins?” and highlighting spring campus activities, and I wanted to make sure I included a post about academia before the semester ended. However, I always like to include tons of pictures in my blog, and while my classes are anything but boring, snapshots of lecture halls and notebooks aren’t exactly exciting. So, keeping in the more laid-back spirit of Spring Break, I’m going to throw in some random pictures of my friends and I being goofy around campus, just to show that, even with a heavy course schedule, there’s still a ton of time for fun. Also, forgive me for the title; I’m really bad with puns.

Because nothing says fun like selfies!

Comparative International Politics: My thought process for selecting this class was somewhat along the lines of, “Politics? Hm, I like politics. Sounds cool,” which is pretty consistent with how I pick the rest of my courses. I was always really interested in American politics, but this course actually steers away from our country’s systems, an approach I’ve found I quite enjoy. As I never really knew much about the political mechanisms of other nations, it’s intriguing to get a sort of “whirlwind tour” of China, Mexico, France, and a host of other countries. Also, Professor Jabko always wears really nice sweaters. This is completely irrelevant, but I can always appreciate some cool style.

Spanish Elements II: Okay, confession time. At the end of my senior year, I gleefully tossed all of my Spanish notebooks in the trash, confident that I’d never have to take a language class in college. I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was a few weeks later when I found out that my Writing Seminars major requires I study a language through the Intermediate level. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was totally dreading this class come the start of the semester, but now, about halfway through, I’m truly enjoying it. I never really clicked with any of my Spanish teachers in high school, but my Elements II instructor, Lauren Judy, really tries her hardest to connect with students, and–bear with me, this sounds cheesy–she actually makes the lessons engaging and fun. I mean, I’ve pretty much accepted that (just like Math and Science) language will never come naturally to me, but so far, I’m really impressed with the Hopkins Spanish department.

Greek Philosophy–Plato and His Predecessors: I suppose the common theme of this blog is my complete lack of judgment, because it actually took me two weeks of attending this class to figure out it was a 400-level course. Whoops–probably should’ve looked at my ISIS a little more closely. However, I’m sort of glad I didn’t initially realize the listing, because had I known it was such a high-level course, I probably would’ve dropped, and then I would’ve missed out on what is one of my favorite classes of the semester! Even though I’ve never taken a philosophy class before, I’m finding Plato surprisingly readable. While it was initially hugely intimidating to have so many upperclassmen and graduate students in the course, I’m actually thankful for the difficulty and the class makeup, because successfully rising to such an academic challenge greatly boosted my confidence.

Introduction to Fiction and Poetry II: I took the first part of this course, Introduction to Fiction and Poetry (IFP) I, last fall, so this semester feels a lot like an extension of the previous semester. I even have the same instructor, Katherine Robinson! However, the grading in IFP II is significantly harder than in IFP I, and we’re also assigned a lot more reading. I always enjoy writing creatively (I mean, I am a Writing Seminars major…) and I’m glad to have the opportunity to continue in such a vein. That said, I’m really excited to start getting into the more specialized, upper-level writing classes next semester, when I’ll have completed both my IFP prerequisites!

Modern British Poetry: Unlike many of my other courses, I selected this class quite deliberately. I really enjoyed my Literature of the American South instructor, Beth Steedley, last semester, so when I found out that she was teaching Modern British Poetry, I immediately made plans to enroll. I’d actually never studied poetry that extensively in high school, and while I got a more general exposure to the form in IFP I, this is my first time thoroughly analyzing the specifics of style and form, both in oral discussion and argumentative essays. I have to say, even though “Modern British Poetry” may not exactly sound appealing to most of you, I’m wholly enjoying the class. Our focus on a specific time period allows us to examine the significant interactions between poets (and other luminaries of the day) and to get a real feel for how the themes of the shaped subject and form. Studying greats like Eliot and Yeats in such depth is awesome, and, while writing convincing poetic analysis is definitely a change from analyzing novels and short stories, I enjoy both the challenge and the class.

Charles Street Market, aka CharMar. I would never survive any of my homework without CharMar snack breaks in between assignments.

Alright, guys. I’m sure you’d love to read more about my assignments and analyses and all that jazz (wanna come over and do my homework for me? Seriously), I’ll wrap this up before I get too boring. But first, just a few miscellaneous things. Numero uno: for all of you anxiously awaiting your RD decisions, may the force be with you. I never went through the RD process, but I know that it’s an incredibly stressful time, and I wish each and every one of you the best of luck in the future. Second, for the ED kids, I know you’re anxious, but please don’t wish away your last few months of high school. Even if you feel like you’re totally ready to get out (which, full disclosure, is exactly how I felt), take this time to thank your teachers, discover a new favorite TV show (Game of Thrones!!!), or, at the very least, to get a tan. And finally, I know this is shameless self-promotion, but you should totally follow me on Twitter (it’s @JHU_Grace). Because, after all, there’s no better way to get a feel for what life is like as a Hopkins student than reading my debatably-annoying and breathlessly excited tweets! In the meantime, I’m going to snuggle up underneath the covers, eat some cookie dough ice cream, and enjoy Spring Break.

Grace’s Guide to Surviving Midterm Week™

Okay, let’s get one thing straight. I love Hopkins. I really do. Go back and read all my super-gushy past blog posts if you don’t believe me. And I’m pretty sure most of my fellow students are equally enthralled with JHU.

But then Midterm Week happens. And no one loves Midterm Week (and if you do, you’re a sick and deluded individual, and I don’t want to know you). We can only hope to survive it.

What’s Midterm Week? While there’s no such official week at Hopkins, from surveying my fellow students I’ve determined that, for the most part, the vast majority of our tests and papers seem fall on the same dates. This past week was a perfect example. Not only did I have two exams and a paper due, but apparently, everyone else was in the same boat; it was almost impossible to find a table in the library, and forget about scoring a seat in the Quiet Reading Room. Luckily, I think I handled the last seven days pretty well (though my grades aren’t back yet, so fingers crossed!) and I wanted to provide a guide for all of you prospective students who I’m sure are eagerly awaiting their first Midterm Week. So, without further ado, here’s my (totally not really trademarked) guide!

A shot of campus while walking to one of my midterms. Not too shabby, right?

1. Plan. Plan Everything. I can’t stress this enough. What probably helped me the most during Midterm Week was budgeting almost every second of my time. No joke–I planned out what I’d study on each day, how long I’d study it for, and what particular area in that subject I’d focus on. I also made sure I had my club meeting and activities written down so I could leave sufficient time for my extracurricular involvements. Obviously you don’t have to go that overboard, but I’d definitely suggest buying a planner (JHU actually gives one to all incoming freshmen!) and using it regularly.

My planner. I have problems.

Because I’m a complete dork, I also find it super-satisfying to cross off every task I’ve completed (so what if it’s ‘eat dinner’? I still did it, didn’t I?). Another really useful thing is writing down all of your assignments and due dates when you first get your syllabuses. It’s sort of a pain to do it at the time, but that way you’ll have everything that’s due written down way in advance and you won’t have that awful “Oh my god, I have a test Wednesday?!” feeling on Tuesday night.

2. Caffeine! Lots of it. I’m probably not supposed to be advocating you drink massive amounts of caffeinated beverages, but whatever. Just don’t tell your parents. Anyway, the truth is, you’ll probably be staying up pretty late during Midterm Week, and unless you’re some kind of freakish superhuman who’s eternally buzzed and energetic (and if you are, I want you to know that I hate you), you’ll need something to keep you from crashing. I drink coffee, but my friends will tell you that my beverage of choice is absolutely Diet Peach Snapple.

SNAAAAAAAPPLE

It has just the right amount of caffeine to keep me awake, but it also tastes delicious and doesn’t give me the headaches too much coffee sometimes does.

3. Indulge, but not too much. I’m a big fan of junk food. Like, a really big fan. Especially cheddar popcorn. And believe me, when I’m stressed out, I crave the sort of quick and yummy snack that comes pre-packaged and loaded with calories and sodium. And that’s fine sometimes, especially when you’re pulling an all-nighter. But don’t succumb to the temptation and eat only junk food. That sounds ridiculous, but you probably won’t have that much time during Midterm Week, and running to CharMar for some chips will sound a heck of a lot easier than trudging over to the FFC for a salad (and, after you’ve been studying for seven hours, no one wants a salad). But if you do that, you’re only cheating yourself; too much junk food makes you lethargic and cranky, and lethargic and cranky people do not want to study. What’s my solution? Late Night at the FFC. They have the perfect mix of greasy food (fries!) and healthy choices (omelets!) that’ll both satisfy your junk cravings and keep you from crashing at three in the morning once your sugar high wears off.

4. Take breaks! This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. A couple of my friends told me that last week, around midnight, they saw someone walk into a glass window in Brody because he mistook it for a door. Obviously, that’s a sign someone’s been studying a liiiittle too much. While taking too many breaks can be deadly, and lead to a lot of lost time, you need to stop for a breather at some point, or you will go nuts and start walking into walls (apologies to the kid I’m using for this story. I’m sure you were just having a rough week). I suggest staying off Facebook, because more often than not it’s a black hole that’ll lead to you stalking your ex-camp counselor’s boyfriend’s vacation pictures. I like to giggle at the lists on Buzzfeed (I highly recommend this link if you think studying is super awful and you hate your life: http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/reminders-that-everything-could-be-a-whole-lot-worse). Or, if you’ve been staring at your laptop for ten billion hours and your paper is Just. Not. Getting. Written, go to sleep. Trust me. You’re far better off getting some much-needed rest than killing your eyes looking at a blank Microsoft Word document that isn’t going to magically produce a thesis on Plato’s Crito.

Maybe I should start taking myself MORE seriously...

5. Keep it in perspective. You’re in college! You’re most likely 18-22! And while you’re here to do work, that’s not the only thing that matters about the experience. You’re also here to meet new people, to expand your interests, and yes, more than occasionally, to have fun. One mediocre grade on an exam isn’t going to wreck your future prospects, destroy your relationships, or make your family stop loving you. Obviously doing well is important, but so is maintaining a balanced life. Don’t become one of those people who’s so focused on setting the curve that they forget about everything else. Because that usually ends with you walking into windows thinking they’re doors, and then your story will probably find its way into my blog. And you don’t want that, do you? Go look at some pictures of cats on the internet or something.

Spring Fever

Hey everybody! Spring Semester is in full swing, the Baltimore weather is doing its crazy thing and, once again, I’m taking a break from being up to my eyeballs in primary source readings to update you on what’s going on in Graceland. I barely had time to get used to the slow, easygoing pace of Intersession before I had to fire up all cylinders (am I using this metaphor correctly?) and get back into the groove of regular college life. Seriously, it feels like I’ve barely had time to sit down since the semester started, but honestly, that’s a good thing. I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride here at Hopkins–I’m involved in a million things, I’m surrounded by great friends, and I’ve finally perfected my carry-out order at Tambers. Now if only I could start getting more sleep!

Formal fun with some friends!

Anyway, I know the semester just started (despite the massive amounts of homework I already have), but I have a feeling it’s going to be awesome. Fall Semester helped me learn what I was looking for in a class, and with that experience, I was better able to choose courses this semester that I felt would really suit my interests. I’m thrilled that I managed to get into another course with my favorite instructor, Beth Steedley, who taught my Literature of the American South class last semester and who is now helping me explore the world of Modern British Poetry! I’m also enrolled in a 400-level (yikes!) course on Plato and His Predecessors. Despite the fact that the class is filled with grad students who read the texts in the original Greek, I think I’m up to the challenge, and it’s actually my favorite class so far! In addition to those two classes, I’m also taking Intro to Fiction and Poetry II, Spanish Elements II, and Comparative International Politics. It’s a busy schedule, but also super exciting!

Rocky Horror Picture Show Midnight Viewing!

I’m also pretty packed on the social and involvement front as well. I’m currently training to be a Blue Key Tour Guide (the official campus tour guides at Hopkins). I’ve wanted to be a tour guide ever since my first college visit–something about the walking backwards and screaming at large groups of people seemed cool, I guess?–and it’s going to be so surreal  guiding prospective students and their families across Hopkins! You should definitely come visit and see me. I’m also a Humanities tour guide for the new HOPS program–keep on the lookout for more on that later! Lacrosse season is also FINALLY here! JHU_Noah, JHU_Alexa and I braved the elements to watch Hopkins pummel Siena, 15-6, in the season opener. We also got on ESPNU, so we’re all officially SAAB superstars. This is also probably the highest level of fame I will ever achieve, so I’m pretty thrilled.

Free Build-A-Bears in the Glass Pav for Valentine's Day? Sign me up!

And as busy as these last few weeks have been, the next couple of months are definitely going to be a blur. I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer, for people to start hanging out on the Beach, to meet all of you lovely prospective students at SOHOP, for Spring Fair, for Homecoming, and for everything in between. Spring at Hopkins is an amazing time, and I intend to take full advantage of every second of it. I’ll keep you posted. Stay warm.