A Comprehensive Californian’s Guide to Packing for College (Now with Ridiculous Featured Image!)

(What does featured image mean? Go to the Hopkins Interactive page and you’ll see what I mean. No, go ahead. I’ll wait.

Worth it, right? I’m ridiculous and have too much free time on my hands.)

Less than two months until you guys arrive on campus!

I’m starting to see more and more packing-for-college-anxiety on the Johns Hopkins Class of ’17 page, asking about how to take care of bedding and other miscellaneous items. I was planning on answering all of these questions on the page itself in comments, but after getting approximately 77857649063 of these questions, I figured it would be a good idea to write up a post (like I did for the people who were anxious about going to SOHOP) about what to pack for Baltimore weather, and really, just college in general.

The goal is to prevent you from coming to campus like this.

The idea for this post came from a question asked by one of your fellow classmates (Deborah C. to be exact) whose question started:

I’m from Cali and I don’t know what a real winter is like. Do you think I should buy my winter clothes at Baltimore or try to buy something in LA and take it over there?

JHU_Grace responded, as a true east-coaster would, by telling her that there was absolutely no need for cold weather clothes in October:

i’m from southern new jersey, so i’m pretty used to the climate on the east coast, but one of the biggest mistakes i made was bringing and buying too many winter clothes too early. what a lot of people do (and what i’ve found works best) is bring mostly summer and early fall clothes when they get to campus and then swap out those clothes with warmer, more winter-appropriate options when they go home for thanksgiving break.

…just bring maybe one heavy-duty jacket for any unexpected weather.

And while I always respect a fellow SAABabe’s advice, I proceeded to dismantle what Grace said about packing. Not because I’m jealous of her ability to handle cold so well or anything (although… you know what we’re not going to discuss that right now) I promise!

All I know is that if I hadn’t brought my peacoat and fluffy fleece jacket, the “mild autumn” weather (as the east coasters describe it) would have killed this poor west coast kid.

I know how hard it is to try to figure out what you’re going to need- I was there a year ago, and I’m still there now. (I recently had an argument with myself about how much use I was going to get out of a french press coffeemaker.)

Here are a couple of important things to keep in mind as you pack for college.

NOTE: This is called “A Californian’s Guide” for a reason. Maybe someone will write the “An East Coast Kid’s Guide to Stuffing All of Your Belongings in Your Car Efficiently” guide one day…

Let’s address the reason why this post exists in the first place: don’t trust what anyone says about Baltimore being “not bad” in terms of weather. Ever. EVER. Now, obviously, your experience with the weather differences are going to be different than mine because I’m literally allergic to the cold but I’m pretty sure I paid a dollar in shipping over warm clothes for every time I was told, “Hey, just bring a hoodie and you’ll be fine! It doesn’t even get cold here until December.”

Let's compare weather between Sunny SoCal and Bleh Baltimore during the month of November, shall we?

Let’s compare weather between Sunny SoCal and Bleh Baltimore during the month of November, shall we?

Yeah. Twenty degree differences in highs alone. I rest my case.

Yeah. Twenty degree differences. I’m not even going to show you the disparity for January. Sigh. I rest my case.

This is especially applicable if you’re not going to be able to go home for Thanksgiving, like me; it is crucial that you pack for the entire fall/winter semester, and not just the parts of it you’re excited about, like the humid, sunny, August weather.

Photo on 11-26-12 at 5.39 PM

Don’t end up like me. Sigh.

What I’d suggest: Bring a wide variety of coats, in varying, and layer-able thicknesses. If you are worried about being an outfit repeater, either 1. hide from the evil outfit rememberers, or, 2. just bring a couple of variations.

Oh, what? You want to hear specific items? Oh. Uh… Here’s a disclaimer.

Fashion advice from a SAABlogger- this is probably a first. BOYS, if I’m losing you, scroll down to the next point. This is going to be a doozy. That being said, this is pretty much a unisex guide to fashion for warmth, so don’t scroll past, keep reading! Man, I’m bossy.

Remember also that I have a more Californian, laid-back style (AKA, less J. Crew and more Goodwill, less Vineyard Vines and more Free People) but hopefully this helps.

  • A peacoat can be easily obtained at low and high price points, is super layerable (the hoodie-peacoat layering technique is a favorite of mine), isn’t too warm (for that, go fleecy, fluffy, and/or downy), and is a really cute item for fall in general.
  • I’m all about the classic hoodie- it’s a super layerable, super comfortable, warm-when-you-need-it-to-be kind of clothing item. Get one with a Hopkins logo if that makes you happy.
  • Cardigans and Sweaters are a good idea- they can be worn by themselves during chilly summer nights, and with other clothing items during colder fall nights.
  • Boots! Or other warm footwear. Warm footwear is, really, an all-year-round necessity; you can pair it with warm spring-ish clothes for, I don’t know, a rugged look (?) and with warm, fluffy clothes for the “help i’m from california and it’s snowing” kinda look.
  • SCARVES! These are also awesome multitasking items- I started wearing my giant, fluffy, blanket-like scarf from late September and I didn’t stop wearing it until late March.

You can see the pattern here though- layering and multi-tasking items.That’s the key to not bringing every clothing item that you own, while not repeating outfits too much or getting too cold.

...and this is me in early October...

I’m not kidding, this is me in early October. Look at that scarf. It’s practically a blanket.

This, in comparison, is me on Voting day. Yes, in the span of two months, I went from summer babe to bundled bunny.

And this is me in early November. (Voting day, to be exact.) I’m wearing a button down, a sweater, a hoodie, and a coat. With jeans that have leggings under them. And wool socks. And boots. Do you see what I mean about the layering?

Related to the cold, but not quite about the cold- I made the terrible decision of deciding not to buy rain boots and was s*** out of luck when Hurricane Sandy hit Baltimore. Don’t forget that it rains a LOT in Baltimore.

This picture needs no clever caption to make it funny. just look at my face.

This picture needs no clever caption. Just look at my face.

WAITWAITWAIT. Everyone download a trustworthy weather app to their preferred electrical devices because oh my god, i’m overlooking something HUGE right now, which is this:

DON’T FORGET IT GETS GROSS AND HUMID, THOUGH. I know I’ve been harping on the “bring warm clothes” front, so let me take this opportunity to tell you that it will be VERY HOT when you come over to move-in. And not just hot. It’s not like California, where it’s hot, but dry, so not gross. It’s humid. 

This is a picture of my mother and I on move-in day. Do you see the shorts and crop top? What a difference a month makes.

This is a picture of my mother and I on move-in day. Do you see the shorts and crop top? What a difference a month makes. Note also that I was STILL SWEATING in this outfit. AUGH.

Not humid like you think, like after a rainy day when the air gets a little bit thick. Like, “Oh come on, I showered five minutes ago and now that I come outside I’m just sweating again? ugh” kind of humid.

So don’t forget to bring tank tops and shorts and skirts and dresses and light cotton tshirts. I’m just putting that out there.

What I’d recommend: Multitaskers. (You’re going to hear this a lot. Sorry. Don’t hate me.) Dresses that will look nice with tights when it gets warm, shorts that can be worn with tshirts and sweaters alike, etc. Jeans are always great.

Also, don’t forget your fan at home. Get a fan, either through the bookstore, at Towson which has all sorts of stores, including Marshalls/TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and Walmart, and is accessible via rent-a-car from campus, or, if you please, through the Amazon Prime service which you’re eligible for a six month free trial for with your shiny new @jhu.edu account.

Speaking of Bed Bath and Beyond, Freshmen, meet your new best friend. “That doesn’t make sense,” I hear you guys say. “You just said they had Walmart, and who can resist a blue light special?” (Wait. Is that Kmart? Oops.)

Bed Bath and Beyond will allow you to choose the things you want at your hometown store, and then pick up whatever you choose at the Bed Bath and Beyond nearest your school campus. In your case, this means that you’ll be picking up things in the aforementioned Towson, which is pretty close. This is an AWESOME option for people who can’t bring everything they’re going to need because of luggage and/or laziness factors.

You're already going to have a lot of baggage to deal with; you don't want to also have to wrestle with appliances.

You’re already going to have a lot of baggage to deal with; you don’t want to also have to wrestle with appliances.

I don’t know if this is how it works for every store, but for the one nearest me, I went to the wedding registry area, and asked for the college student registry option (they’ll definitely know what you’re talking about, because it’s an option that a TON of students use).

This cut down on a lot of time when actually in Baltimore, because I didn’t have to run around the store and dig through shelves that had already been torn through due to the whole college registry thing.

Here are some really awesome and important facets of this program that I think make it great:

  • You aren’t officially buying anything until you get to Baltimore. This means that if you think you may need something but you’re not sure, you can put it in your cart, have the people in Baltimore pick it out for you, and then take it out of your cart if you decide you don’t want it. For example, I was going to buy a vacuum, and had it in my cart, but after talking to my roommate and realizing she had bought one already, I returned it in Baltimore.
  • If the store in Baltimore doesn’t have what you want, your store will ship it for you. This means that if something is on mega clearance at your store but not available in Baltimore, you can ship it, no problem. It also means that if you want something that isn’t available at either store, they’ll ship whatever you want to the store in Baltimore from whatever store has what you need.
  • Bed Bath and Beyond loves sending out 20% coupons. Just saying.
  • This means you don’t have to ship/pack your fan/coffee maker/storage shelves/other bulky items!

Even if you don’t end up using this program for whatever reason, it’s just a great store to get whatever you want. Did I mention that the mall that the store is in has a Panera? Yeah. Just saying.

Online Shopping also just became your new best friend. Whether you take advantage of the aforementioned Amazon Prime deal or not, you’re going to have to become acquainted with the world of online shopping. If you love a store, track down what size you tend to be in that store, and when you’re cruising through a mall or something, track down what things look interesting. I know you have time. I didn’t do anything during my pre-college summer.

Amazon has everything, from ramen noodles (a college staple), to clothing items, to all of the textbooks you’re ever going to need, to electronics in case something dies and/or explodes.

You can also sell back textbooks using Amazon and make money that way. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Don’t ruin your favorite purse by toting around a laptop, notebooks, and textbooks in it. Many a favorite purse has been torn apart by the wear and tear of daily use. I see girls with those Longchamps bags all the time, and I’ve seen girls carry leather purses and other cute bags. By the end of the year, though, they’ll probably look a little worse for wear.

Just get a backpack or a sturdy messenger bag. You won’t have to replace your purse every year, and there are some really cute backpack options out there. This is the backpack I use; during the holiday season, the bags go on sale! Click here to be taken to a reddit thread with about 89234729 options for good looking, but functional backpacks.

If you haven’t used it in six months, don’t bother bringing it. One of the biggest packing mistakes I made was trying to bring my entire life with me to college. This meant that even if I had a certain gadget or gizmo that I hadn’t used in forever, I thought, “hey, I’ll be able to use it in college, right?” I’d come up with convoluted excuses and wierd reasons as to why I would need these things, bring them to school, and… never use them.

A good example of a bulky thing you think you’ll need but will never actually use: an iron.

(Plus, people in your hall who are from the east coast who just threw it in at the last minute will definitely have one, and if not, hang up your clothes by the shower and the steam will take the wrinkles right out. I promise.)

Another good example of a bulky thing you think you’ll need: A Brita filter.

(That may be AMR specific, but because we had a water fountain that was closer to my room than the bathroom sink, I ended up filling the brita, sans filter, with water from the water fountain. It was kind of useless. Also, I just drink the tap in Baltimore. Relevant:

One of my good friends at school, Mike, got these made as part of an environmental awareness campaign? I think? I’m not sure, but either way, this sticker is hilarious. I have one on my water bottle right now.

There are things you’re going to forget you need, but you will need. This is a long list of things, but here are the absolute basics.

  • Clorox Wipes: handy for cleaning up college dorm room sized messes. Meaning, when you’re making coffee in your room and you spill half of it on your desk. Also good for things like dusting gross surfaces, cleaning the microwave when food residue gets stuck everywhere, wiping a markerboard, and, in a pinch, washing your hands.
  • Utensils: Whether you have the unlimited meal plan or the 14 meal a week plan, you’re bound to eventually eat in your room. If you’re like me, you’re going to eat in your room a lot. This means that you either need to buy a box of “assorted utensils” at char mar for five dollars (and end up with a ton of plastic knives) OR  just bring a couple of forks/spoons/chopsticks/whatever preferred eating utensil. They don’t take up too much space and they save money in the long run.
  • On that note, Tupperware/other food containers: You’re going to need somewhere to make your crappy college ramen, aren’t you?
  • A water boiler: This may be Jackie specific, but I drink a lot of tea, eat a lot of soup, and drink a lot of coffee. These all require hot water. I didn’t bring a hot water boiler, my roommate did- but I ended up using it more than she did and I felt bad.
  • Duct tape: Just bring it. seriously. It doesn’t take up any room and it’s SUCH A LIFESAVER.
  • First Aid Kit: Because I was the only person in my hall who brought a first aid kit, people used my neosporin (antibacterial ointment) a lot. You’re going to cut and/or hurt yourself, and clorox won’t solve this mess.
  • Scissors: Pack scissors in your checked luggage, obviously. For some reason, neither my roommate nor I thought to bring scissors and for the rest of the year we used the dinky scissors that came with the sewing kit that I bought.

Obviously, there are more items you may need, but those are the things that ended up being the most useful in my room.

Also, if you’re going to be in the AMRs, bring thumbtacks and things to hang on your wall! I had a ton of pictures and things up on my wall, and it made things feel more homey. Just don’t keep your windows open during a windy spell, or you’re going to end up with photos everywhere.

My wall never had a chance, between Kappa, my friends sending me things, and all of the things I brought over with me from home.

My wall never had a chance, between Kappa, my friends sending me things, and all of the things I brought over with me from home.

Lastly, don’t forget that your mother still loves you. Or father, or aunt, or other gendered supervising parental unit. By that, I mean, if you really need something and you’re kicking yourself because you forgot your favorite boots or your favorite coat or whatever else, she’ll (or, he’ll, or they’ll) be perfectly happy to send you a package.

…after lecturing you about how you should have thought about the fact that you would have needed whatever item.

And all I can say is, uh, apologize, and nod and smile and tell them that they’re right, and, in a week, sign for the package full of warm clothes or summer clothes or appliances or towels or whatever else.

Bonus picture of my mom. Hi umma.

Bonus picture of my mom. Hi umma.

Okay. That’s it. I’m out of tips. I hope this helped at least one of you, because otherwise, I spent like seven hours writing this post and amalgamating pictures and tips and links for nothing.

I'm using this photo to show you guys how much I love you guys. This was originally taken to prove to JHU_Jordan that the :3 face can be done in real life.

I’m using this photo to show you guys how much I love you guys. This was originally taken to prove to JHU_Jordan that the :3 face can be done in real life.

Just kidding. I love you pre-frosh! Even if I don’t know any of you. Is this getting creepy? sigh. This is why I can’t have nice things.

I’m going to end with Life According to Jimmy, because, hey, if you suffered through this post, you deserve a few laughs.

Back in ‘nam, or how I taught kids how to take selfies

In my last post, which was from the lovely San Francisco airport, I talked about how I was going on a tour de force of sorts this summer, starting in Da Nang, Vietnam, going to Dong Ha, Vietnam, back to Da Nang, and then to Seoul, South Korea for the rest of the summer! I’m now in Seoul, sitting comfortably in my new apartment-style dorm- a far cry from last week, when I almost got bit by a snake outside of the medical clinic I was volunteering at.

(I guess if you’re going to be bit by a snake, though, do it outside of a clinic that houses four med students and an ER doctor, amirite?)

But yes. I was in Vietnam for two weeks volunteering at a medical clinic in a small rural village about an hour from Dong Ha, a small city. I didn’t know what to expect, coming in; the program was run by University of Wisconsin-Madison, so I didn’t really know anyone on the trip, and I had never traveled by myself on that scale before. (of course, I fly across the country every couple of months for school, but that’s pretty different from flying to Vietnam.) I was pretty anxious about making friends, the language barrier, and about actually being useful at the clinic.

I ended up having an amazing time! I became the clinic’s unofficial pharmacist, because there were no actual pre-pharmacy students who came on the trip who came on the trip with us.

The cord next to me leads to the fan which blew cold air on me at all times. Ahh, the life of the pharmacist is pretty sweet.

My job as unofficial pharmacist was great for a couple of reasons:

1. It gave me a job to do.
2. I organized all of the pills we were giving out and recorded everything we gave out, which became convenient for the med students from UW.
3. Above all, there was a fan in the pharmacy, which made the unbearable heat and overwhelming humidity a little bit more bearable and a little less overwhelming.

Anyway, the clinic was run by four med students and one ER doctor, as I said before. It was the job of the undergraduate students to help the med students- write stuff down for them, grab medications, or take blood pressures. (They were forced to use the wonky blood pressure cuff that said my blood pressure was 180/120. My arm didn’t fall off, so I think it may just have been wrong.) It was the med students’ jobs to perform physicals, come up with a couple of reasons why a patient might be sick, and basically have everything figured out before the Doctor came in and confirmed, or denied their hypotheses.

It was a really connected system, in which everyone in the group was forced to depend on each other to make sure things were going well.

Next door to the clinic was a school, and every day the kids came over to play with us because we loved hanging out with the little kids. By the end of the two weeks, we had taught them handshakes, hand signals, and American games like thumb war and slide.

I spent a lot of lunchtimes with these kiddiewinks- they loved taking pictures and being in pictures, so I have a lot of pictures with them, too.

The students from UW even taught them how to do the Wisconsin sign- an act that was just a little bit too midwest for my liking.

A lot of these kids just ended up making rectangular shapes with their hands. Close enough, kiddos, close enough.

I even taught a couple of them the fine and subtle art of the selfie.

 

I can hear the criticism now- “you went to Vietnam to make a difference and you taught kids how to take selfies?” I know, I know. No need to thank me.

When I wasn’t at the clinic, I spent my time exploring the city. Here are some of my discoveries:

One of my favorite discoveries of the trip was sugarcane water- it’s super sweet, obviously, but has a hint of tang from some sort of citrus fruit that they also put in there. It’s pretty much impossible to describe, but it’s absolutely delicious and wonderfully refreshing.

On the last night I was in Dong Ha, I, along with a couple of med students and the doctor, asked for a picture with the sugarcane water lady. She thought this was hilarious.

The Vietnamese straw hat is the quintessential form of Asian headwear, and several people informed me that it was my duty to get myself one of these hats. I thought they were being racist, but no, every single one of the old women who came to visit the clinic had one of these hats.

Here I am modeling the Asian straw hat, complete with the peace sign.

I can’t forget about all of the…er…fascinating wildlife that showed up in the clinic and, once, in my hotel. Who doesn’t love waking up to your roommate running into your room and screaming about the fact that she kicked a dead bat because it looked like a flip flop?

I could keep talking about all of my ‘nam shenanigans, like the one time we rode mopeds in the rain for two hours to see a Vietnam war museum full of Vietnamese propaganda, or the time a search for massages turned sour, or the time I got to watch two grown men scream like little girls about a cockroach in their room.

Instead, I’m going to talk about a kid with asthma.

This kid was carried into the clinic by his mother on one of the first days we were there. His mother was worried about the wheezing sounds that her son made when she breathed, and his constant coughing. The doctor diagnosed him with bronchitis, but commented that he had a possible developmental delay and probably would never quite breathe normally. He told the child’s mother to come back, and told her we would try to find something for him at the pharmacy in Dong Ha.

He and his mother came in every day for the next few days. On the first day, we gave him a steroid that made a substantial difference in his breathing, even after one dose. The next day, the doctor showed his mother how to help her child use an inhaler to help him breathe whenever he got a little too wheezy. After that, she just came in to make sure he was doing okay. Every day, they came back, and every day, his breathing sounded stronger and, more importantly, he looked happier.

I find that a case like this is bittersweet; while the doctor and the med students helped the child to breathe much more easily, they were never going to be able to solve his developmental delay or whatever the structural damage in his trachea was. Every day they came, when I walked out of the pharmacy with some kind of medication or inhaler, his mother thanked me with a genuine smile, but I felt like I wasn’t doing anything.

On the last day we were at the clinic, this child and his mother arrived at the clinic, and I ran to get the doctor and the med students. She had come the day before for one last checkup, and they, because they were so moved by this case, had offered to give her more medicine if she came back.

I gave her the medicine her kid required, then sat with her for a little while. We couldn’t speak to each other, because she spoke no English, but I sat playing with her son and just smiling. It was impossible to be angry or unhappy around this kid, who was always smiling and so happy, and his mom, who was so full of love for her son. Finally, the doctor came up to them to say goodbye; he kissed her son on the forehead, bowed to her, and said goodbye.

I spent two weeks in Vietnam enjoying the country, distributing medicine and vitamins, and making friends, but not sure if I was actually making a difference. How could giving someone a week’s worth of ibuprofen save someone’s life?

I realized, though, as I hugged this mother and her son goodbye, that it wasn’t about saving lives, or even about giving medicine. It was about giving a mother with an ill son the tools to make him healthy again, and it was about forging a bond with someone I had no common language with simply based on smiling and caring.

As they walked away, she turned to wave one last time. She raised her son’s hand and waved it for him, kissing his forehead as she did so. There were tears in her eyes, and tears in mine.

SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER, and how I pulled packed my room up in one night

Finals week is such a misnomer, because it implies that after one week, you’ll be done with finals. Nay nay, soon to be freshmen, finals at Hopkins take, if you’re unlucky like me and have a final on the last day, two weeks.

Two weeks of constantly pushing my brain (and body, because I got sick) to the limit. Two weeks of late nights and early mornings. The people at the brody cafe started trying to monitor my caffeine consumption.

And, of course, two weeks of not packing up my room.

Yeap. That’s right. In what might just be the biggest freshman move I’ve ever pulled, I left half of the packing up and clearing out my room that I needed to do for after my last final exam, which ended twelve hours before I would be leaving campus.

Good job, Jackie.

Eventually, my room went from this:

My room, beautifully decorated, at the beginning of the year.

My room, beautifully decorated, at the beginning of the year.

to this:

 

...and this is after five hours of packing.

…and this is after five hours of packing, or where I started.

to this.

my room at 7 am on friday, fifty minutes before I left campus.

my room at 7 am on friday, fifty minutes before I left campus.

All packing horror stories aside, I managed to get everything done, get on my plane, and land in home sweet California without too much trouble.

I’ve been home for almost four weeks now, and I’ve found myself getting nostalgic for the things I didn’t think I would miss- long hours spent at the library giggling with friends about my inability to understand calculus, the textbooks I juggled on the way down to the pit of doom that is c-level, the cafeteria food and the fact that they started running out of utensils at the end of the year, the non-air-conditioned AMR dorms…

I love you, Hopkins, but who am I kidding? It’s great being home!

My mom took a picture as soon as I got home. Go figure.

My mom took a picture of me in front of my house as soon as I got home. Go figure.

So, what does the average freshman back from college for the first time in six months do?

I have no idea. Come on, guys, if you’ve read any of my posts over the past year, you must know by now that I am not even close to the average college freshman.

Here is a quick guided tour of how I’ve spent my summer:

My friend Josh got a bunch of adorable kittens to foster, and I spent a couple hours bonding with them. I figured that since I have a history of posting cat pictures to the blog, it would be appropriate to post a picture:

ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodness I love me some cats. The kittens were all named after great leaders, including Catherine the Great, Napoleon, and my personal favorite, Megatron.

I also have been trying to work on my fitness! I’ve been running and walking (mostly walking) every other day, approximately, which has been great. I feel great and I’m sure that eventually, I’ll look great, too!

This whole fitness thing is a lot easier when you have this to look forward to.

This whole fitness thing is a lot easier when you have this to look forward to. Not pictured: the sweaty, blubbering mess that I turn into when I i run.

It’s been a month of relaxing and enjoying some time at home, hanging out with friends and family, and slowly getting ready for the rest of my summer.

This is my friend Gracie and I. We love each other, but in this picture we were grumpy because we were accidentally matching. oops.

 

Whats the rest of your summer? is probably what you’re thinking right now.

Well, thanks to a couple of lucky connections and a very friendly Johns Hopkins alumnus, I’ve been given the opportunity to go to Vietnam through a program run by the University of Wisconsin, and volunteer at a medical clinic there! I’ll be there until June 29th, and I’m so, so excited about the opportunity to travel, as well as volunteer and work with people there.

I’ll be documenting my trip and my experience in Vietnam using my iPhone camera (as always) and a set of disposable cameras! I’ll definitely be writing all about the trip- this is an amazing opportunity!

After I go to Vietnam, I’ll be going to Korea to do some research at a university in Seoul, along with taking a 3-week crash-course in Korean, because I want to spend some time relearning Korean. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be settled in to my new home for seven weeks!

I’m really excited for what the rest of the summer has in store for me- it’s going to be a blast exploring, volunteering, learning about unfamiliar (and familiar) cultures, and all the while, eating good food. (Let’s get real, guys, Asian food is the best ever.)

Right now, though, ‘m at the gate, waiting for my flight, which departs in approximately fifty minutes. There’s a baby crying to my left, and an alarm going off at the gate to my right. There are sleepy people draped over multiple uncomfortable airport gate chairs, and I think the family sitting near me just started arguing about who got to draw with the last crayons.

Traveling is exciting, and is an adventure, but man, flying is… always an experience.

Let’s get real, though- I’m just being cranky. I’m so lucky to be having such an amazing summer, and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!

Of course this blog post is late: Finals week and Facebook backstalking

It’s finals week(s?).

“Hey,” I hear you guys saying cheerfully. “You’re almost there, Jackie! Hang in there! I’m sure you’re going to do great! Just one more week until you get to go home to sunny California and enjoy the beach!

Fair enough, and I will say that I definitely felt like that at the beginning of reading period.

“I’m so ready!” I told myself, trying to pretend that I wasn’t totally scared out of my mind for the finals that were to ensue.

Photo on 5-9-13 at 4.27 PM #5

Here: a representation of my emotions at the beginning of the week.

 

But now that I’m two days into actual finals week, and I took my Calculus III final, and I’ve started studying for my next final, which is on Saturday (Physics) I feel more like this.

Here: a representation of my feelings now.

Here: a representation of my feelings now.

And after Physics I’ll be feeling more like this.

A representation of my feelings on Saturday afternoon, aka the post-physics-depression.

A representation of my feelings on Saturday afternoon, aka the post-physics-depression.

And by next thursday, which is when my process final, aka my final for (insert deep breath here) introductiontochemicalandbiomolecularprocessesandanalysis.

Awh. Poor Jackie.

Awh. Poor Jackie.

Sidenote: I love being an engineer, and I really do think that the subject I’m studying is really interesting (yay Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering!) but you’d think they could cut down on the class name a little bit. Anyways, back to your normally scheduled programming.

Because I was procrastinating, though, I backstalked myself on Facebook (#embarrassing) and looked through all of my photos from freshman year. I’ve spent so much time complaining about Hopkins recently- looking through the pictures reminded me of the awesome times I’ve had so far this year.

There’s that one time I saw Macklemore and Ryan Lewis live in concert.

IMG_6137

I totally should have been studying for tests and other things that night, but I refused to give this opportunity up. Macklemore, obviously, was absolutely amazing and I had so much fun.

There’s Mental Notes Fall tour, when we got to go all over the east coast and sing!

The girl I'm picking up is Sarah, who is in the Mental Notes with me!

The girl I’m picking up is Sarah, who is in the Mental Notes with me!

I can’t forget about going to President Obama’s Inauguration:

As you can see, we were pretty excited and pretty patriotic.

As you can see, we were pretty excited and pretty patriotic.

and getting interviewed for a relatively popular Youtube channel about my views on politics, gay marriage, and Beyonce.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.53.32 AM

The guy who interviewed me was actually pretty cool. fun fact: my friend also got interviewed, but wasn’t placed in the video because he totally lost his cool on camera. It’s okay, Dan, we still love you.

Speaking of Youtube, there’s that one time I got 20,000 + views on a video of me singing a cover of Adele’s “Skyfall” in an acappella group that we threw together called Major7:

We didn't think we were going to be as big of a hit as we ended up becoming; we were just a group of 7 friends who liked to arrange and have fun singing!

We didn’t think we were going to be as big of a hit as we ended up becoming; we were just a group of 7 friends who liked to arrange and have fun singing!

…and the ridiculous amount of concerts I’ve had with my actually a cappella group, the Mental Notes, over the course of the year.

The Mental Notes aren't just my a cappella group; they're also my family.

The Mental Notes aren’t just my a cappella group; they’re also my family.

And so

Spring fair was a blast. Seriously, I spent four or five hours just listening to really good music and eating really fatty (but delicious) food.

Spring fair was a blast. Seriously, I spent four or five hours just listening to really good music and eating really fatty (but delicious) food. The two goons sitting next to me are my good friends Mike and Dan, who I met in the beginning of the year but became close with towards the middle of the year.

much

This was taken during the Kappa Kappa Gamma (my sorority) Spring Formal! The dashing guy standing next to me is my friend Ben (who was not my date for the night). He's one of the first people I met during SOHOP!

This was taken during the Kappa Kappa Gamma (my sorority) Spring Formal! The dashing guy standing next to me is my friend Ben (who was not my date for the night). He’s one of the first people I met during SOHOP!

 

more.

To be honest, I forget that orientation and the first week of school happened; this taken was the very first day of school, right after we saw Seth Meyer speak!

To be honest, I forget that orientation and the first week of school happened; this taken was the very first day of school, right after we saw Seth Meyer speak!

Finals are, undoubtedly, going to suck (for you, when you get here, for me, now, for everyone else who’s going to have to take finals). You’re not going to want to study, and you’re going to pretend you’re being productive by doing other things you procrastinated on that were supposed to be done yesterday that the admissions department is probably not happy about you being late for (cough…cough…).

I backstalked myself to procrastinate, though, and got really really nostalgic about all of the fun times I’ve had this year. I’ve met so many awesome people, who I hope are going to be a part of my life for the rest of my time at Hopkins and onwards, and I’ve become part of groups I didn’t even know existed. I’ve become even more interested in my current major, and, without realizing it, I’ve gained more of an engineering mindset. I became famous on youtube, and prominent in the college blogosphere.

I’ve had a great year, and I’m looking forward to spending three more years here. I know that I’ll miss Hopkins over the summer, and I’ll be ready to come back come August.

Even if I feel like this right now.

._.

I was just told by the health and wellness center that I’m basically too sick to function. That’s always good news to hear…

 

SOHOP for newbs, or how to enjoy SOHOP, from that one girl on SAAB who’s allergic to the cold*

*(It’s called cold urticaria. Yes, it is a real thing, no, I don’t carry an epipen, yes, I can wear shorts, and yes, I can go swimming. It makes me sensitive to temperature in general, though.)

One of your admitted 2017 students recently asked:
Sorry if this has already been asked, but what is the temperature (average/predicted) going to be like during SOHOP?

As a follow-up, this was asked:
And if there are any more suggestions on what to bring/wear and what not to bring/wear for SOHOP that would be great as well.

If I, as a wierd, allergic-to-the-cold-tend-to-get-heatstroke-weather-problem-child, could have fun at SOHOP, not pack too much, and still have fun, you can too.

Here I am with my friend Brady, who I knew from before SOHOP. He didn't end up coming here, but both of us had a great time at SOHOP!

See?

Here are some suggestions:

Bring some sort of waterproof outerwear, or a jacket you don’t mind getting wet/rained on. The weather’s unpredictable here, and you don’t want to be caught in rain with a cardigan or a tank top or something. If it ends up just being windy, and not raining, then you’re protected against the cold of the wind!

This is a pretty good representation of what I looked like for most of SOHOP. Note the hoodie/denim layering for added warmth/dryness. (note: this was not taken during sohop)

What I brought: a hoodie, a cardigan, a heavy denim overshirt, and a North Face waterproof jacket that I had lying around from when I went hiking this one time.

Bring a sleeping bag. (and if you want, other sleeping things.) The problem with us being college students in tiny beds is that we don’t have a lot of extra sleeping gear. If you’re lucky, we can bum you a pillow and maybe a blanket, or maybe a foam pad if we know any of the outdoor kids, but really, it’s in your best interest to bring something you can sleep on or sleep in.

What I brought: A sleeping bag. I stuffed the top with my hoodie and jacket (multitasking!) to use as a pillow. I slept like a baby.

Wear closed Toed Shoes (or some form of comfortable walking shoe.) It makes a difference, trust me. They’re going to tell you that Hopkins is a walkable campus, and that’s true enough, but it’s not walkable in your brand spankin new leather flats (blisters… yum…) or your flip flops. People, wear sneakers, boat shoes, toms, boots… whatever will be comfortable. (Bonus upside: then you get to be protected from the rain!)

JHU_Kevin is rockin the lion slippers, but these are not ideal footwear for your SOHOP adventures.

What I brought: I wore my gold, glittery toms (and got glitter everywhere) and also brought my trusty birkenstocks. Don’t hate on the birk, people.

Fit your life into a duffel-sized bag or smaller. Backpacks are ideal. Because I ended up staying a few extra days to go visit other colleges, I ended up packing more than I would have needed for SOHOP. Still, don’t pack too much stuff! You should be able to fit what you need for one night in a backpack. Don’t forget toiletries.

What I brought: A duffel bag with a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a dress, two tops, a tshirt, and a pair of leggings to sleep in, along with the aforementioned jackets/shoes, and a bag of toiletries, and a bag of makeup wipes (which cuts down on having to bring facial cleanser.)

Don’t forget your phone charger. Seriously. Don’t do it. I’m lucky that I have an iPhone, so I had the ability to just ask my host for her iPod charger. You need your phone for taking people’s numbers, taking pictures, finding other people on facebook, and keeping yourself occupied during boring moments in the day (walking around, etc).

What I brought: nothing. I screwed up with this one. meep.

Speaking of meeting people, definitely talk to strangers.  Some of my good friends are campus are people who I know from meeting at SOHOP.

Arianne, the other girl in the front, is someone that I met at SOHOP during one of the engineering seminars! The kid behind us is Mike, someone I met during Orientation... that's another story for another day.

 

This wonderfully silly boy is Matt, who I met because he forgot to get a knife for his bagel during SOHOP breakfast in Shriver. We made awkward conversation, laughed about an obsession with theatre, and we've been friends ever since!

What I did: I made friends, met people, and added people on facebook. Don’t worry about being that kid- people would rather have talkative, outgoing people around than people who sit around and smile awkwardly.

If you guys have any other questions about SOHOP, feel free to ask them on the 2017 admitted students page, or comment on this page!

seriously. I spend most of my time waiting around on my computer for questions on my forum post and my blog posts.

On Getting Rejected From 8 Colleges and Still Being Happy

This post is not for the folks who just got in and are ecstatic and coming here for sure. This isn’t for the EDs, or for the students whose first choice was Hopkins from the start.

To you guys: Congratulations! It’s all over for you guys. Throw your textbooks and homework to the ground for one night, celebrate with your family and friends, and start shopping for blue jay gear. You did it!

This is instead for the folks who just went through a rough day of college admissions and are now looking at their depleted list of colleges and thinking, “What do I do?”

Before you take out a romcom and snuggle up to some Ben and Jerry’s, and before you successfully convince yourself that you’re doomed and that the college process is terrible, listen to what I have to say.

But uh, it’s gonna be a long one.

I wrote this post for another college blog, The Collegiate Blog. If you’ve read it before, I apologize.

jackie.dorm

A year ago, I was sitting in my AP English class, my last class on Thursdays, after a long day of college admissions decisions. I got rejection after rejection, waitlist after waitlist, and it looked like all was over for me. The last one I was waiting on was a school called Johns Hopkins University, which I had disregarded because it was in Baltimore, a city I had heard terrible things about (in hindsight, I shouldn’t have based my opinion of a city on a TV show, but I digress.)

I’m not going to lie and say that Hopkins was first on my list, or even second, or even fifth. It was a school I had disregarded because my mother had, for twelve years, trained me to believe that I wanted to be part of a league named after a vine plant without realizing what that actually meant. I applied because I had gone to a summer program run by Hopkins that had changed my life. I didn’t want to go to school in Baltimore, because my cousin had gone to MICA, and told me all sorts of awful things about the school and about how terrible it was.

I found out about the last college rejection at the end of AP English, and it was too much. I burst into tears when my tea-equipped, snarky, not-prepared-for-a-teenage-girl-to-burst-into-tears teacher, after class, asked me offhandedly how the college process was going for me.

A couple hours later, I got the e-mail from Johns Hopkins. Congratulations in the subject, no “We regret to inform you” in the first paragraph, and a “buy a 2016 t-shirt!” quip at the bottom.

In the end, my choice came down to two schools, UC Berkeley, and Johns Hopkins; a university with a great Chemistry program that was an hour and a half from home in a city that I loved with people that I loved, or a university with a great engineering program that was across the country in a city about which I knew nothing.

I tried talking to my advisers, my parents, my friends, and my teachers. I visited Cal and stayed with one of my best friends, Abby, who I would have loved to gone to school with. I talked to people in the chem department, the engineering department, and members of an a cappella group. I visited Hopkins during SOHOP, and it was rainy and dreary, and I knew nobody. I talked to professors who talked about things that I didn’t understand, talked to current and admitted students, and members of an a cappella group.

And I did this begrudgingly, frankly, because I was still banking on getting off of waitlists at schools I was SURE I wanted to attend. I sent letters of recommendation, updated resumes, letters about why I wanted to attend to those schools, and put off my decision as long as I could.

I realized I’d have to make some sort of decision, so I tried the cheesy “flip a coin” trick. It landed on Cal, my heart sank and my stomach turned, and with a shaky smile, I told my friend “I guess I’m going to Cal?”

That night, after dinner, I accepted my admittance to Hopkins.

And here I am.

First day of college!

It’s difficult, to say the least.I joke about hanging out in the library, but I’m pretty sure I spend upwards of four hours here a night, and have fears of losing friends once I stop being in classes with them. I’m a member of an a cappella group, which sucks up time I didn’t think I would miss. After a spur of the moment decision to rush, and going through the rush process, I joined a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and that takes up more time. I feel like I’m constantly working to make up for work I didn’t get done before, and weekends are spent, for the most part, sleeping and making up for the late nights during the week.

No really though, I'm seriously there way too much.

Kappa may take up time, but I’ve made invaluable bonds with girls I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and my big, bigbig, bigbigbigs, and so on are people I will be in contact with for the rest of my life. I have met people whose intelligence surpasses mine to such a degree that I am past jealousy and straight to admiration. I’m taking my first Chemical Engineering class this semester, and it’s genuinely interesting, even if it’s hard. The Mental Notes, my a cappella group, is my family, and I’ve made so many friends in other groups because of my involvement with singing. I may hang out in the library a lot to study, but I’ve also made friends because of the time I’ve spent studying on M level.
And you know what? Even though Ivy Day, aka the day I got rejected from 4 schools in a row, felt like the end of the world, I don’t even remember all the colleges I applied to. I was one of those people who swore that nobody understood, and it was the end of the world, and I wouldn’t be happy at any other schools. I was sure that if I wasn’t a student at A college, or B university, I was going to be miserable. Here I am at Johns Hopkins University, loving it. I like it so much that I’m even a member of the Student Admissions Advisory Board- basically, it’s my job to tell people why they should come to my school.

Come on. Look at my shirt. I freaking love it here now.

So take it from me folks- It’s gonna be okay. no matter what happens. If you get into your dream school? Congrats. If you don’t? You’ll be happy at your eventual school I promise.

“Worst SAABer Ever”- a microblog

Because I was keeping busy with spring break:

This is from when I almost got run over by a taxi in New York City.

This is two pictures of me that my friend Hunt took of me at his house/farm when I wouldn't take the phone back from him because I wanted a nice picture. Sigh.

Friends making pictures of me silly seems to be a trend. This is my friend victoria and I in philly.

I was late on the SAABlog this week.

JHU_Nick , SAAB’s resident tech-lord, has set up a mailing system that tells you when you’re late for a blog post. It’s pretty convenient because it tells you when you should be posting a SAAB blog, but it makes you feel awful and guilty because the last sentence reads as follows:

“You are officially the worst SAABer ever.”

Just thought you guys would enjoy knowing that we, too, are busy people who procrastinate sometimes. I would wax poetic on procrastination and how awful it is and how everyone should always get things done early but let’s get real, I don’t always get things done on time.

I figured that you guys would enjoy that little insight into what it’s like to be a SAABer, and what it’s like to juggle activities and spring break and everything else. Especially after seeing this post in the 2017 group regarding an all-too-familiar disease that hits most people hard during this time of year by the name of senioritis:

Reminds me of me, circa spring 2012. I hope Andy Panda Kim, Class of '17, doesn't mind me using his post in my blog.

My favorite response came from a certain Elena H., also class of ’17, who said:

It seems to be endemic to my particular high school. There seems to be no cure for the disease, but symptoms such as inability to do homework at home can be treated with multiple study halls and a healthy dose of BS.

Don’t end up like JHU_Noah, whose solution to senioritis was simply:

Euthanasia.

And don’t let the senioritis hit too hard, folks, or else it’ll turn into freshman-fall-itis, then freshman-who-just-got-back-from-spring-break-is-in-the-library-itis. What? Is that too long to catch on? oh well.

I’ll see you folks soon.

 

Spring Classes, or how to take 18 credits without being overwhelmed

Readers, let me tell you:

The SAAB overlords are going to kill me for posting this blog a week late… But such is the life of a SAABabe…

Dear SAAB Overlords: If it helps, I've been sick for like the last week and a half :(

Here’s a quick minute update on my life as a sweet 16′er-

Ms. “i’m-never-going-to-rush-there’s-no-way-do-i-look-blonde-to-you”(That’s me) is now a proud member of Kappa Kappa Gamma!

Yeah. I'm so happy (and so surprised) that i amma kappa kappa gamma!

But yes. Now that the Class of 2017 Facebook group is up, I’ve been answering some of your (or your peers’) questions. There have been some odd ones, (no, I don’t believe there is a my little pony fan club at Hopkins, but you can definitely try starting one, and yes, there are people who like (insert your favorite type of music here) in your future college class) but for the most part, everyone’s been really cool and I can’t wait to meet everyone!

See? Look at me, reppin the Admissions Department swag... hashtag throw-back-monday?

Here’s a question that I get a lot though-

“How do you handle being an engineer and taking all those credits? Isn’t it terrifying? OMG I’m so scared I want to do a major and a minor and activities and everything, and I’m so terrified I can’t balance it!!!!”

Hey. Hey you, the future Hopkins student who is terrified that they won’t be able to balance everything- don’t worry about it. I’m balancing a humanities minor (music) with an engineering major (chemical and biomolecular engineering) with only a few problems.

This is a representation of the hypotehtical student who would be asking this question.

Let me tell you about my spring schedule, and give you a rundown of how they fit into my major, my minor, or my interests in general.

  • Fiction and Poetry I (known to most under IFP, which is an abbreviation of the course’s old name, Introduction to Fiction and Poetry): This course is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The class balances working on literature analysis skills while also honing writing skills in the context of fiction. I’ve written four stories so far, and I’ve gotten to read a really cool mix of “professional” writing and peer writing.
  • Calculus III (the class I was supposed to take last semester but switched out for Linear Algebra at the last minute): I took AP Calculus BC at home, which covers Calc I and Calc II. Calc III is an interesting challenge because it takes the concepts I learned in high school and puts them in a vector/multivariable/multi-dimensional context. It’s pretty hard, I’m not gonna lie (I just took an exam in the class), but I’ve always liked math because of the joy you get when you finally solve an impossible problem.
  • Introduction to Chemical and Biological Process Analysis (I promise it’s not as pretentious as it sounds!): One of the awesome things about being an Engineer at Hopkins is that you get to jump right into classes that are pertinent to your major. This is typically a class designated for sophomores, but I wanted to jump right into classes for my major, and had the opportunity to because I came in with tons of credits. It’s challenging, of course; still, the class is really interesting and is an introduction to the heart of the ChemBE courses I’ll be taking later on.
  • Western Classical Music (for my music minor!): This class consists of listening to classical music and learning the history behind all the different styles, starting from Baroque and going all the way through the present. The professor for this class is, right now, my favorite of the professors I’ve had so far; he’s engaging, super into the music, and makes quirky jokes that make me giggle (even if i’m the only one laughing).
  • Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism): Finally, my last class is a continuation of the Physics I class I took last semester. We’re learning about circuits and other electricty stuff right now, which is cool becaues all of those concepts are applied every day, all over my life.

Whew! The key to taking on a stressful load is to take classes in a variety of subjects, and to take classes you have a genuine interest in! 18 credits of classes that I’m interested in doesn’t sound too bad, but 14 credits of classes I didnt’ think were cool would have been awful. That makes sense, right?

I leave you with this, because I have a serious procrastination problem... Ah yes. Back to physics. Sigh.

 

Intersession 2013: the inauguration, SNOW!!!!, and so many pictures

As a responsible SAABabe, I should have an insightful, provocative, interactive, yet silly post for you, the reader, about the upsides of taking intersession classes, and how mine (“I want to be Humphrey Bogart”) was really interesting and a great opportunity to take a class I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise.

Or, maybe, this post should be a reflection upon the surreality of the fact that I got to watch President Obama get sworn in to his second term; how his words resonated with me and made me feel strangely patriotic for a Korean girl from California for whom english is a second language, how I almost missed my train to DC from Penn Station in Baltimore because I was waiting for a cup of coffee that just wasn’t worth it, and how positive the experience was for me as both a student and as a US citizen.

The thing is, though, that I moved from New York to California when I was 8 years old, and the weather in Monterey, CA floats in the 50 to 80 degree range. I lived in a town where school got canceled for heavy rain, and if the temperature ever floated below 60 degrees, people dressed like this:

Yes, this is a picture of my friends and I circa sophomore year of high school. Don't worry about it, 2009 was pretty great...

So when I was walking down St. Paul Street and saw this:

SNOWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!

I was a little bit excited.

And so, for the past week or whenever it started snowing, I’ve been walking around like a child, basking in the snow and attempting to pack the fluffy new snow into pathetic snowballs. I’ve made my friends take pictures of me in what I’ve been calling my “cool east coast snow gear” in the new snow:

I sent this to all my california friends. One in particular (Anna) responded by calling me a snow bunny.

I took pictures of my already accustomed friends looking adorable in the snow:

This is Matt! He once wrote a blog about Lindsay Lohan for the blogging contest on the guest blog over the summer. Read it here http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/guest/2012/08/lindsay-lohan/ , and submit posts!

as well as the snow newbies like me:

This is Cecilia! She's from Florida, and was one of the few people who understood my excitement.

I even considered making a snowman, but realized that it would be a little much.

I’ve changed and learned so much over fall semester; I’ve gotten my first job, I’ve exercised my right to vote, I’ve grown better at living by myself, and I’ve even basked in the snow. I sang in my first college acappella concert, and gotten 17,000+ views on youtube with another group.

(see:  )

It’s been a great semester and it was a terrific, snowy, intersession. I’m mildly terrified to start being at actual class again (as a normal college student should be) but I’m also excited to start a new, exciting, snowy semester.

All I need to do is get used to the whole "it's really really really cold outside" thing.

2013: ‘another chance to turn it all around’

I can’t believe that the year is over.

I spent some time reflecting at the beach, so let me wax poetic for a sec. I promise the kitty pictures and silly gifs will be back soon.

Let me take you, readers, back in time approximately three-hundred-sixty-seven days to January 1, 2012. I could pretend that I was busy making up resolutions that I would break 48 hours later, or that I was singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at a holiday party with my closest friends, feasting upon cheese fondue and drinking a family-friendly glass of Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Cider, talking about how excited I was for the new year, and basking in the aftermath of an extraordinary year.

Instead, I was trying to cope with the end of the college application process, as I’m guessing a bunch of you are now. I cared not about the significance of the end of my high school experience and the beginning of my collegiate life. The fact that life as I knew it was going to end didn’t matter. I couldn’t have cared less about the fact that 2012 would or would not bring the end of the world (spoiler alert: it didn’t).

College apps were Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Over the course of the next several months, I got hit with a wave of rejections and waitlists that shook how I viewed myself and my abilities. I was rejected from what I thought was my all-out-perfect school, accepted to one of my dream schools along with a school many of my friends were heading off to, and chose neither in favor of a college far far away from my hometown of Pacific Grove, California called Johns Hopkins University.

And it’s hard, when the process is putting you through the wringer, to remember that there exists a world outside of college! But, when I take a step back, and look at the end of my senior year, and the rest of 2012, I have to remember that things were pretty great. I rounded out my senior year with a leading role in our production of Legally Blonde, The Musical:

Obviously, I was not the titular blonde. My character's name was Paulette, and she was, without a doubt, the sassiest hairdresser in Boston.

recieved a standing ovation for my senior solo at my final music concert:

This was taken during the standing ovation, which explains the shadowy figures in the foreground.

and graduated on a sunny day in late May, smiling and ready for the tears to come with waterproof makeup.

Not pictured: the leopard print, 5-inch platform wedges that I was rocking. Theme of the year: go big or go home.

And that wasn’t even half of 2012! I spent my summer doing really cool things, like singing with the Monterey Jazz Festival:

I always make silly faces when I sing.

This was taken while I was on tour, at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, a ridiculously hip jazz club in Seattle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and I got settled into a university that I love, even with its seemingly impossible course work and endless study nights.

This picture was taken on the first day of class. Note: it is not even close to this sunny in the winter. Don't be fooled.

I even got to spend my New Years Eve countdown singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at a holiday party with my closest friends, feasting upon cheese fondue and drinking a family-friendly glass of Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Cider, talking about how excited I was for the new year, and basking in the aftermath of an extraordinary year.

That's my friend Cole, pouring sparking apple cider into an assortment of champagne flutes, 20 seconds before midnight. It was, quite literally, a race against the clock.

And, in three-hundred-sixty-four days, I know that I’ll have an equally amazing year to talk about. I don’t know what will happen in 2013, or what ups and downs will come my way. I’m going to do my best, though, to make it a good one; I’m going to keep on enjoying my time at a great university, to keep drinking that FFC coffee, keep on spending unnecessary amounts of time playing tetris and instagramming photos, and know that it’s going to be a good one, spent at a great place, spent with the best people.

Maybe that’ll be my new years resolution: to have a good year, at a great place, with the best people- one that even I can’t sheepishly fail at in 48 hours.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite New-Years-themed songs, a song I discovered during my junior year called “This is the New Year” by Ian Axel and featuring Chad Vaccharino:

“Say everything you’ve always wanted; be not afraid of who you really are”