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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slightly-older (yet not taller) Grace