‘Cause a Little Bit of Summer’s What the Whole Year’s All About

Today marks the one year anniversary of my last day at home before heading to Hopkins for my freshman year.  At this time last summer, I had a huge stack of boxes piled neatly just outside of my room, ready for my parents to drive to Baltimore when I got back from my pre-orientation kayaking trip.

The Pre-O shirt is made for mountaintop pictures like this.

The Pre-O shirt is made for mountaintop pictures like this.

This year I’ve barely gotten the suitcases from the attic, let alone considered what I might want to bring to school, even though I again only have a day left in Massachusetts. While on August 22 last year I was shopping for twin XL sheets and shower caddies, this year I spent the day at the beach.

The joys of living near Cape Cod

The joys of living near Cape Cod

The title of this blog, “‘Cause a Little Bit of Summer’s What the Whole Year’s All About”, is a lyric from a new John Mayer song that’s been my summer jam (sorry Buzzfeed, “Blurred Lines” didn’t exactly make my personal list).  In the past, I’ve spent my summers just as busy as I am during the school year, but (after finishing my programming class in June) this summer has been a balance of working part-time and hanging out with my friends at the beach or river.

The railroad bridge by our house in New Hampshire is one of the most gorgeous places to swim and tube.

The railroad bridge by our house in New Hampshire is one of the most gorgeous places in the world.


Friends with boats are the best kind of friends

On Sunday I’ll be moving into my new room in McCoy early so that I can help the freshmen move in.  I’m glad for the extra week to adjust back to the more demanding atmosphere of Hopkins, because right now I am still completely checked out and trying to work a half-day more of beach time into my schedule tomorrow.  And while I hold summer close to my heart, I absolutely cannot wait to see what my sophomore year brings.

Jackie Does Spain: A Photoblog

I’ve been lucky enough to visit  a few different parts of Europe, and one of the things I admire the most is the architecture.  I love old buildings.  They have so much character and seem so grand, especially when you consider the skill that must have been required to construct them without modern technology.  Thus, when I was recently in Spain with my family, I took a lot of pictures of buildings.  Here are some of my favorites from the trip!











I’m home this summer, but that doesn’t mean I’m not in school– I’ve been taking a Computer Science class at a college in Boston.  And while I love the course and being in the city, I still have a not-as-enthusiastic-as-it-could-be response when people ask me “How do you like XYZ school?”  I can’t help but answering, “It’s good!  …but it’s not Hopkins.”  Granted, I’m extremely biased, but it’s just not the same.

Boston Commons

Boston Commons in the sun!

I think that the biggest difference in my experience at each school is that, because it’s summer, I’m not living on campus.  I have about a two hour commute (with the endless amounts of traffic) and I wake up at 5:45 on the mornings I need to go in.  And while I guess I could study or read or something because I ride in with my mom part of the way and take the train for the rest, most of those two hours (and two hours back) are spent wasted.  It’s a huge difference to Hopkins, where I live on campus and my longest commute is the ten minute walk to Bloomberg. I really miss living near my classmates, too.  If I need help on a homework problem while at Hopkins, I only need to walk down the hall and knock on someone’s door, or walk across the street and to a professor’s office, or to the Math Help Room, or the Writing Center, etc.

I mean you just can't beat the cherry blossoms in the Spring.

I mean you just can’t beat the cherry blossoms in the Spring.

Something that really makes Hopkins special is the Homewood campus.  I love having a little spot of Baltimore that is completely inhabited by us.  We have all of the perks of living in a city while being in our own oasis of green quads.  You can sense the community as you walk through the marble archways and past the brick buildings.  And, as I mentioned before, to walk across campus really only takes like ten minutes– everything is readily accessible.  The relatively small Homewood campus gives Hopkins the feel of a smaller school, but we still have the opportunities offered by a large university, in part because of the resources available at places like Peabody and the Med School.

Hopkins is just really pretty.

Hopkins is just really pretty.

While I do miss being at Hopkins, I have loved my summer class so far, and it’s been a great opportunity to attend another university.  Next week it’ll be time for my real summer to start, and I’m hoping that it will include lots of time at the beach.

Pretending that it's the Fourth of July early because I'll be in Spain when it actually happens. Good trade!

Pretending that it’s the Fourth of July early because I’ll be in Spain when it actually happens. Good trade!

It’s Summer?!

I’ve only been home from Hopkins for about three days, but it already feels like it’s been summer for at least a month.  I’ve definitely tried to distance myself from the stress of finals and last-minute packing.

We made sure to get pictures on the sign before we left for the year!

We made sure to get pictures on the sign before we left for the year!

My last final was in the latest possible time slot, which only gave me from five Thursday night (when my final ended) until nine-ish the next morning (the dorm closed at noon, but my flight was also at noon) to move all of my stuff out.  You wouldn’t think that there would be a lot of stuff in a small dorm room.  There is.  While some kids from Boston choose to drive back home, I always opt to fly, because why drive for eight hours when you can take a 90 minute flight for less than gas money?  What I didn’t realize when I made this decision is how difficult it might be to empty out my room without the help of my parents.  Three of my friends and I decided to split a storage unit a few blocks away, which ended up being a great idea, and pretty cheap.

Our storage unit!  We split it four ways to be cautious, but definitely could have fit more stuff in there.

Our storage unit! We split it four ways to be cautious, but definitely could have fit more stuff in there.

However, none of us had cars, so it took a little bit more effort to transport our plastic bins.  We ended up using a combination of taxis, the cars of older friends, and ZipCars to move everything over. (Pro Tip: If you plan on storing your stuff in the summer or like to go places a decent distance away, sign up for ZipCar sooner rather than later!  I didn’t do this but wish I had.  There’s a registration fee, but after that it only costs like $10 an hour and it’s really easy to reserve cars.)  I also mailed some boxes home with miscellaneous clothes and DVDs and stuff because I knew I’d want them over the summer but didn’t have enough room in my baggage.  This was more expensive than storing, but really convenient because the Wolman mailroom sold boxes, tape, and shipped right from the ground floor of the building.

Somehow, we were able to get everything settled in time, and my friend Carrie and I enjoyed an absolutely delicious last dinner at Donna’s.  (Read more about Donna’s here!)  A highlight was the lemonade–I’m pretty sure it was the best lemonade I’ve ever had.  Not too sweet, but not sour, either.  Simply perfect.

By four the next afternoon, I was pulling into my friend’s driveway to pick her up, as if I had never left home.

Dreaming of the beach (the actual beach, as great as the Hopkins Beach is) got me through finals.

Dreaming of the beach (the actual beach, as great as the Hopkins Beach is) got me through finals.

I’m definitely going to miss Hopkins this summer, but I’m excited for what’s in store.  I’m going to be taking an Intro Computer Programming course at Boston University, and it feels weird to be going to a different school, even if it is for just one class.

I will definitely be hanging out in the city a lot this summer.

I will definitely be hanging out in the city a lot this summer.

I’ll also be working at a local grocery store, where I worked all through high school and over Christmas break.  In early July, my family will be taking a trip to Spain for a week, which I’m sure I’ll have tons of pictures from in my next blog.

This summer is going to be great!


Tomorrow is the last day of Spring semester classes, and I cannot believe my first year of college is almost done!  It seems like we just started.  As the title “smorgasbord” suggests, this blog is going to be about all of the fun/random things that have been going on for the past few weeks!  Classes are always best at the end because you can really get into the material, and there has been a lot happening on campus in general.

After months and months of no visitors, the last few weeks have been full of old faces.  My sister is a junior in high school, so all of her friends are embarking on their grand East coast college tours.

Me and Eve.  Eve is not only one of my sister's friends, but the sister of one of my best friends, Tess.  Her whole family, minus Tess, had lunch with me at Carma's!

Me and Eve. Our families are close–Eve is not only one of my sister’s friends, but the sister of one of my best friends, Tess. And our brothers are friends.. and our dogs.. and Grace, her youngest sister (who, sadly, doesn’t get a direct match but we still love her).  Her whole family, minus Tess, had lunch with me at Carma’s!

Two weekends ago, my cousin Lily came to visit!  It was really fun to show her what Hopkins was all about.  We ate at some classic Hopkins restaurants (Donna’s, Tambers), went to a lacrosse game, hung out in Wolman, and, of course, hit up the library for a while.  I tried to persuade Lily to get a room with me in Brody, but for some reason she preferred B-level?  I think by the end of the weekend I had her convinced to join us in the Class of 2019.

At the lax game--Go Hopkins!

At the lax game–Go Hopkins!

Academically, I’ve been able to do some really cool stuff this spring.  While for some classes this might mean lots of papers, for MechE lab, this means taking apart and then putting back together and internal combustion engine (think go-carts, lawn-mowers).  You might remember me mentioning us dissecting bikes in an earlier blog.  It’s been an awesome year of hands-on work, and it’s been one of my favorite academic experiences yet.engine3

This totally wasn't posed.

This totally wasn’t posed.

engine2 And, finally, last weekend my friend Carrie and I went to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for college night!  Tickets were only ten dollars and the concert hall is only a short shuttle ride away.  The program was Midori and Brahms.  While I’ve played the flute since fourth grade, I have never actually been to a real concert before, and it was an awesome experience.  This summer I’m seeing John Williams conduct the Boston Pops for a movie night (something that’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember), and now I’m even more excited.

Now, time to start focusing on finals, and to enjoy the last two weeks of my freshman year!

Favorite Hopkins Memories

As you’ve probably noticed, this month we’ve all been blogging about the same topics; this week, we’re taking on our favorite memory at Hopkins.  As I was considering what to write about, I could not choose one single memory to define my first year at Hopkins because every day presents a new opportunity and every weekend contains a new experience.  So, I decided to fall back on my old standby: a list!  But then I realized that  I’ve already written about a lot of these things in previous blogs, so I’ve also included links to my other blogs that talk about the times more in depth.  So, without further ado…


Blog: It’s a Party in an Unknown Statepre-o 4

Pre-O stands for Pre-Orientation, and is an opportunity to experience the outdoors during your last week of summer, before you head to Hopkins for Freshmen Orientation.  Outdoor Pursuits runs a variety of trips, including hiking, climbing, and, the best choice (Biased?  nah..) whitewater kayaking.  Or, you can work with Habitat for Humanity for the week! (Which, while not as cool as kayaking, I am also a fan of.  See my blog about habitat here!)  It’s hard to explain the experience of Pre-O, other than it’s a lot of fun and a great way to make friends and learn about Hopkins before actually stepping foot on campus.

General Fall Festivities

Blog: Sweaters, Apples, and Leavespumpkin

I still cannot get over the weather in Baltimore.  Don’t get me wrong: I love New England’s spectrum of seasons and general snow-y-ness in the winter.  But Maryland is so much milder.  You don’t really have to worry so much about freezing to death, but you still get perks like pretty leaves.  By the fall, I was also into the swing of school, but we still had covered grades, so stress levels were low.  October/November were great months to relax and enjoy Hopkins.

Hurricane Sandy

Blog: Mentioned in Let It Snow!

While obviously having a hurricane probably wasn’t the best thing to happen, the consequences of the storm worked out to be pretty nice.  We had classes cancelled and had to bunker up for a few days.  So, what do college kids with minimal work to finish and time to kill do?  Build a fort in the common room, of course!

The common room fort!

The common room fort!

MechE Mousetrap Project

Blog: Mentioned in Fall Class Wrap-Up

meche4While this memory was probably one of the more stressful times I’ve had at Hopkins, it was one of the most rewarding.  For our first semester Mechanical Engineering class our final project was to build a vehicle that could move down a rope and drop a weight onto a target.  The catch?  It could only be powered by rubber bands and mousetraps.  Designing the vehicle and building it took a lot of time and energy, but it was amazing to be able to apply the skills in the lab that we’d been studying in class.


Spring Fair!

Spring Fair was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had yet at Hopkins.  I walked past the Freshman Quad on a Friday morning and everything was as it normally is.  Then, I came back a few hours later to a fair…. in the Freshman Quad.  There were food vendors, and over by Gilman, a craft sale.  Good vibes pervaded the campus.  All weekend the Beach was crowded with people listening to live music and hanging out. As always, the weather was gorgeous on Saturday and Sunday and it was a great weekend to be outside and  take a break.

Spring Fair fireworks!

Fried oreos might sound gross, but they are delicious.

Fried oreos might sound gross, but they are delicious.

Carrie enjoying a turkey leg.

Carrie enjoying a turkey leg.


Minor Holidays and Minor Surgeries: The Beginning of Jackie R.’s Spring Break

At the time this blog is posted, I will be enjoying my Spring Break by sitting on the couch post-wisdom teeth extraction.  What can ya do.  But while the middle of the week will be full of pudding, mashed potatoes, and old episodes of Lost (that actually doesn’t sound too bad?), the weekends are sure to be amazing.

Two weeks ago, Spring arrived in Baltimore.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  It was so warm outside that I took my Sperry’s out from the storage bin under my bed, which was pretty crazy seeing as it’s only March.  I spent that Sunday afternoon lying on the Beach reading a book, which I had just picked up at the Book Thing.  I know that other bloggers have talked about the Book Thing before, but it’s this amazing warehouse only a few blocks from campus where you can literally just walk in and take books for free!  Check out their website here.

The view of the library from my reading spot on the Beach.

While it did get a little chillier for the rest of the week, Homewood was still abuzz with anticipation for Break.  Thursday was Pi Day, which is arguably my favorite holiday of the whole year.  While I was too lazy to make my own pie this year, there was free pie in Levering all afternoon!  When my friends and I arrived there was even a pie-eating contest going on.  While I didn’t have a math lecture that day, I made sure to work on my Calculus homework to celebrate (also it was due the next day, but that’s beside the point).

Hopkins students go through a lot of pie.

My sophomore room selection day was Thursday, too.  While JHU_Brian does a great job explaining the process here, I was not as lucky as him in the lottery: we got number 326 out of 407.  The only dorm with rooms left by the time it was our turn was McCoy, but my suitemate and I managed to snag what I’m pretty sure were the last two singles in the whole school, which was extremely lucky (Pi Day miracle?).  While McCoy wasn’t my first choice dorm, it’s a lot like Wolman, where I live now, so it will still be a great place to live!

Back in Boston!

Friday was also a very important holiday: the Ides of March.  While I didn’t see as much excitement amongst my engineering-oriented classmates for this particular nerdy holiday, I still celebrated by reading the second half of Julius Caesar on the plane ride home and going out to eat at an Italian restaurant in the North End when I got back to Boston.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Then, of course, Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day!  The town next-door to mine is considered “The Most Irish Town in America” (for real: here’s an article about it), so it’s a pretty big deal for us.  We dressed up in our green and our cable-knit sweaters, and my cousins came over to my house for pot roast, potatoes, and soda bread.

Gorgeous walk on St. Patrick's Day morning.

Now, it’s time for sleeping and hanging out before classes start up again.  While the upcoming weekend isn’t full of minor holidays, I’m sure it will still be great!  We’re even supposed to get some snow in New England, so maybe I’ll be able to get in some Spring skiing?  Either way, it’s great to be home and recovering/relaxing before the final push of second semester!

Let It Snow!

Yesterday, when I heard that people were preparing for a potential Snow Day, I laughed at them.  It was barely under forty degrees, wouldn’t it just rain?  Besides, even if it did snow, it wouldn’t even be half a foot.  By the time we woke up it would be cleared away, and business would resume as usual.

Then I remembered: we’re in Baltimore.  In New England, moderate amounts of snow are kind of a normal thing.  We have the infrastructure to deal with storms; plows are always ready to roll.  In fifth grade, there was a rumor going around school that the superintendent was from Alaska because school was never cancelled.  While this story ended up being a hoax, it was true that in the six years we had been enrolled, school had not been cancelled once.  Of course, in high school, “Snowpocolypse” happened and we had seven snow days in one year, but that’s another story.

My dog likes Snow Days too.

At Hopkins, we’ve already gotten classes cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.  Those days were some of my favorite yet at school.  When you’re at home and school is cancelled, you basically have to hide in your house with your family and wait it out.  Cabin fever sets in pretty fast.  At school, you’re holed up in your dorm with all of your friends; it’s a blast.  We built a fort in our common room, watched movies, and played Apples to Apples.  It was a chance to relax and hang out without feeling guilty for procrastinating work.

Our Hurricane Sandy fort.

This morning, I woke up to a fantastic text.

Snow Day!

While we probably won’t be re-building that fort today and instead will be catching up on homework and sleep, Snow Days are always fun.  Even if there isn’t even snow on the ground to play in?  (I guess the cancellations were for road conditions, and slush is often worse than snow for driving.)  It’s a day for pajamas and hot chocolate, taking a break and taking a nap.

When I was looking at colleges, one of the top items on my checklist was a real winter.  Baltimore made the cut because it snowed, but I was still nervous about missing out on skiing.  As I’ve mentioned in my blogs before, I love to ski!  I was on my high school’s Alpine Race Team and skied two or three times a week during the season.  While I knew that I could never go as often as that in college, I still wanted an opportunity to ski other than during Winter Break when I was home.  Two weekends ago, I visited Roundtop Mountain, which is only about an hour away in Pennsylvania.  While Bretton Woods in New Hampshire will always be my favorite, Roundtop offered great skiing, especially for this far south.  I was not expecting the number of trails or quality of snow!  The mountain has a College Discount on Wednesdays and tickets (with rentals) are only $35.  Those who have been skiing before know that this is extremely cheap.  Every year the RA’s organize a trip on one of these days, and while I couldn’t go this year, it’s a great way to get on the slopes.

Those of you from warmer climes, don’t worry.  It’s not that cold, you’ll survive!  The weather here is pretty moderate and winters aren’t too long.  But I love snow, and I’m glad that I can still experience all of the fun of winter in Baltimore!

Spring Semester Classes

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in our fourth week of Spring Semester!  It was easy to get into the swing of classes again with Intersession as an intermediary, and February has flown by.

Last semester, I posted a blog about all of my classes during Finals (you can find the blog here), but this semester I decided to write it a little earlier.  I’m only taking 15 credits, which is a pretty light load for an engineer.  A lot of my classes are similar to last semester, too, which makes for a relatively easy workload.  (Key word: relatively. Don’t worry, I still have plenty going on!)

So, without further ado…

The Nineteenth Century British Novel

I chose to take this class because of the awesome reading list.  So far we have read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, and soon we’ll move on to Great Expectations, Tess D’Urbervilles, Middlemarch, and The Woman in White.  I read the first three books in high school and was excited to read them again because I count them all among my favorites.  The class is structured differently than any English class that I’ve taken before—it’s a lecture with about fifty people in it.  We break into smaller sections once a week to discuss the books, though, which is more familiar to me.  The class also has a final exam instead of a final paper, which is something that I really appreciate (essays are not my friend).  I’m glad I chose to round out my schedule with this English class; I find myself using the reading as an enjoyable break from problem sets!

Calculus III

Calc III is very similar to Calc II; I even take it in the same exact lecture hall.  Like last semester, there is a section each week to ask questions and review material, and my TA is really helpful.  I’ve found the homework load for this class pretty manageable so far, with the hardest work being 3-D graphing.  That being said, we’re just getting into the actual calculus (as opposed to graphing vectors, cross products, etc.), so we’ll see if that holds true!

Mechanics II

This class is exactly the same as last semester: same professor, same students.  It is essentially the second half of Physics I.  It’s been nice to have something familiar to start the semester with!

Expository Writing: Fairy Tales

While I probably wouldn’t have chosen to take a writing class unless it was required by my major, Expos is really interesting.  Hopkins has a great writing program, and a variety of introductory writing courses (you can learn about them here!).  We have to write four papers over the semester, and the writing is broken up into different homework assignments so it is manageable.  We started the semester interpreting Bluebeard, and we’re just beginning to work on Snow White.  I love fairy tales, and it’s fun to revisit them and compare the written versions to what I’ve seen via Disney.

Experiences in Mechanical Engineering (w/ Lab)

Again, this is a class that is a continuation of last semester.  All of the students are the same, but we do have a different professor.  Our focus so far has been on the mechanisms in bicycles; our first four labs were devoted to the dissection of bikes.  I love getting to pull apart all of the gears and chains—and great hands-on experience.  For the first lab we even got to take the bikes outside for a spin to test them and to measure RPM.  While I might have had to leap onto our bike from the curb because it was too big for me, what other lab has you playing outside for the experiment?  (In retrospect, I should have realized how many years’ worth of freshmen MechEs had worked on these bikes.  The fact that they didn’t fall apart underneath us is a testament to the quality of student here at Hopkins.  Or luck.)  In class, we’ve also continued our work in MATLAB.  About every other week we have a guest speaker from a list which includes a representative from the Career Center, a professor to discuss ethics, and a lawyer to teach us about product liability and patent law.  Experiences is a great overview of the different aspects of engineering and each class offers something different.

The semester seems to be shaping up pretty nicely, but midterms are around the corner, so the stress is sure to set in soon enough!  Overall, though, I love all of my courses and my major.  It’s hard to believe that Spring is almost here!

Santa, Shakespeare, Sherlock

My Intersession and Winter Break have both been fantastic!  My three weeks at home were wicked busy but I managed to work almost everything in that I wanted to.  I had some pretty late finals so I flew back to Boston on December 21st (what was supposed to be the Mayan Apocalypse) and started off my vacation that night by attending an End of the World Party at my friend’s house!  What does one do at an End of the World Party, exactly?   Catch up with old friends while watching I Am Legend, of course.

After that I was thrust right into the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Unfortunately I missed the annual cookie baking for the neighbors, but I was still able to make some cookies for Santa with my brother and sister on Christmas Eve.  After a great holiday with my family, we headed up to New Hampshire to get some skiing in (that’s where I wrote my last blog from!).

Christmas with the cousins! My cousin Matt, my sister Katie, my cousin Lily, me, and my brother James!

Just because we're all teenagers doesn't mean we can't leave cookies for Santa.


My brother and sister went back to school after New Year’s so I went back to work.  I’ve been a cashier at a local grocery store since I was fifteen, and am lucky enough to be able to return to it whenever I have the time.  In between shifts at the store I was able to hang out with friends and enjoy my time at home.

For my last night at home my friend Gabby invited me and our friend Tess to stay over at her dorm in Boston.  It was really interesting to see how her school’s housing worked, and while I envied her spacious single, I still hold that Wolman is the best dorm ever.  Hanging out with some of my best friends was the perfect way to cap off a great vacation, and before I knew it, it was time to head back to Baltimore.

The view on my first night back. Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Upon returning to Hopkins I was greeted with gorgeous weather and a great Intersession class, Inheriting Hamlet.  This is my first chance at taking an English class at Hopkins, and while I had always hoped that I could leave close reading behind in AP English Lit, I’m really enjoying it.  Intersession is the perfect time to try new things because it’s a more casual setting, and I’m glad I branched out of my usual Physics/Calc/etc. to study English again.  Next semester I’ll be taking both Expository Writing: Fairy Tales and The Nineteenth Century British Novel, so hopefully this will get my head in the right spot!

However, because I only have 9 hours of class a week, I have a lot of free time.  More free time than I’ve probably had since, like, middle school.  I planned on being constructive: I got Italian Rosetta Stone last year for Christmas and finally had some time to commit to it, and I haven’t practiced my flute in months.  But, to quote Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go often awry”.  Free time turned into Netflix time.  What can you do.  I’ve turned into a major Sherlock Holmes fan: it started with the British TV series Sherlock, but now I’m reading the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I love it.

My Spring Schedule!

Classes start next week, and while it’s sure to be a lot of work, I’m still excited.  A lot of mine are similar to the ones I took last semester (Calc II to Calc III, etc.) so I feel pretty comfortable and know what to expect with the workload.  But, for now, I’ll enjoy the few days of vacation I have left!