Everything You’ll Forget to Bring to College

Moving in last year, I was confident I had stuffed my mom’s car, window-to-window, with everything I could possibly need. I was prepared, not a packrat.

As the days wore on during my freshman year, I realized I had missed some essential items.

  • A Fluffy Carpet

For my brother, this meant a mangy brown-colored shag rug that was likely home to countless nasty critters. But when I got around to getting a rug, mine was a delightfully comfy, fauxriental carpet. It was glorious and my favorite sitting spot in my room (space was limited, iight?).

Ok, so my room was fabulous for many other reasons besides the carpet, but it's a nice touch.

Ok, so my room was fabulous for many other reasons besides the carpet, but it’s a nice touch.

  • Attractive PJs

At home, I am notorious for wearing the most hideous garments to sleep in …which I affectionately refer to as “my little old man outfit.” But as I wandered the halls in the wee hours of the morning, I realized I was the only one wearing a tye-dye butterfly patterned XXL t-shirt. For some reason, even in the dorms, I gave up vanity (and maybe my social life?) for my beloved little old man outfit…

This is more or less what I look like when I go to bed.

This is more or less what I look like when I go to bed.

  • A candy bowl

Do you want friends or not?

I would be friends with anyone for one of these babies.

I would be friends with anyone for one of these babies.

  • Socks

So, you’re not actually going to forget to pack socks, but as many of you probably know, washing machines eat socks, and the ones at Hopkins are no different.

My favorite pair of sock less shoes was viciously attacked by a wild bear (or a Macy's escalator).

My favorite pair of sock-less shoes was viciously attacked by a wild bear (*cough* a Macy’s escalator).

  • A noise-maker machine

Ok, we live in dorms, it’s not always quiet. My genius plan to make a YouTube playlist of mellow music (hello Enya!) failed miserably when my soothing tunes were so rudely interrupted by a car or shampoo ad. Stick to the basics, a good ol’ noise-making machine.

This is someone you don't want to mess with.

This is someone you don’t want to mess with.


Tips for Trips

Hi! I’ve decided to become your resident travel agent here on Hopkins Interactive. Besides my expert Expedia-ing skills and obsession with Travel & Leisure, I feel like a pretty seasoned adventurer at this point.

If you need me to scope out any exotic locales, I'm there.

If you need me to scope out any exotic locales, I’m there.

I am saying this after my great cross-country road trip. With nothing more that a Toyota Solara packed full of the bare necessities (a wok, the Terminator, sriracha sauce, a tent, and Jalapeno chips), I make the great trek across the US.

Since they are kettle chips, they're totally healthy and gluten-free. Isn't everything gluten-free healthy too?! Pshh, yeah.

Since they are kettle chips, they’re totally healthy and gluten-free. Isn’t everything gluten-free healthy too?! Pshh, yeah.


I learned a few things from my time cruising along highway forty.

  1. Never leave the windows open: Early on in the trip, I was convinced that our darling car was on the verge of breaking down since there was water in the seat one morning. After an exhaustive investigation, I can assure you that Toyotas are indeed solid cars, and not prone to leaking. Just make sure to double-check the windows before a storm.
  2. Don’t go to Nashville without cowboy boots. It’s rather alienating and you can’t help but feel left out, or judged since you’ll stick out like a sore thumb without them.

    The famous Nashville skyline.

    The famous Nashville skyline.

  3. Steak is never a mistake. Okay, while I was seriously contemplating eating a raw piece of steak when the strong winds made lighting the charcoal difficult, in the end, my determination for dinner triumphed and I was able to have my steak perfectly rare and not raw. It was definitely worth the struggle.

    So it may look barely seared, but I swear it's perfectly rare and delicious.

    So it may look barely seared, but I swear it’s perfectly rare and delicious.

  4. Fat squirrels. The oversized squirrels with bushy tails may look endearing. But watch out. Their girth is because they furtively lie in wait for any opportunity to snatch food from an unsuspecting homo sapien. No Cheez-it is too stale and no marshmallow is too scorched.

    At Yosemite, the squirrels were obviously used to some junk food. Please not the essential sriracha sauce in the background.

    At Yosemite, dinner was tough. The squirrels were obviously used to human food. Also, please note the essential sriracha sauce in the background.

  5. Act like a local, but eat a lot earlier. In Santa Fe, there was an awesome restaurant where I wanted to eat. And so did everyone else. But if you’re willing to dine with the old and wise crew who eat at 5pm, you’ll get right in.

    Christmas-style blue corn enchiladas in Santa Fe. Best decision of the day.

    Christmas-style blue corn enchiladas in Santa Fe. Best decision of the day.

  6. Get a Parks Pass! You’ll be driving past so many National Parks; it’s a must to invest a pass so you can get in without racking up the entry fees. Believe me, the parks are worth your time and the pass is worth your money.
    Tent Rocks in New Mexico. If you're near Santa Fe, it's worth the less than 1 hour drive!

    Tent Rocks in New Mexico. If you’re near Santa Fe, it’s worth the less-than-1 hour drive!


  7. El Morro National Monument. Besides the giant flies that were swarming, it was great. Just make sure to have some Deet. Like an entire can ;)

    El Morro National Monument. Besides the giant flies that were swarming, it was great. Just make sure to have some Deet. Like an entire can 😉

    7. Go ahead and do all the embarrassingly touristy things. Otherwise, you’ll regret it later.


Walking along the Las Vegas Strip.

Walking along the Las Vegas Strip.

The famous water show at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.

The famous water show at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.


Camping isn't complete without marshmallows by a roaring fire (cause you shouldn't have 'em otherwise since quite frankly they are nasty).

Camping isn’t complete without marshmallows by a roaring fire (cause you shouldn’t have ’em otherwise since quite frankly they are nasty).


Do I even need a caption? It’s a must to take too many pictures of the Grand Canyon, just because you feel like you might capture some angle of it (even though there are probably at least 1,000 people who have the same shot).


Celebrating California.

Celebrating California.

How you know I am a seasoned Hopkins student

Classes are over. So for all intents and purposes, I’m not a freshman anymore. And here’s how you can tell . . .

  • I know where to find the free stuff: As the year has progressed, I’ve become fabulous at  tracking down free falafels, pizza, t-shirts and cups. While I love collecting all the free goodies, my brother, who is going to help me move out, is less than pleased with my piles of new-found treasures.

    Too much to resist.

    Too much to resist.

  • I know what to order at Tamber’s. Don’t’ miss out on the Chicken Badaam Pasanda. And do bring me leftovers (no cold french fries, though-I have standards).

    I call dibs.

    People say that portions are really big . . . but I had no problem polishing this off.

  • I’ve staked out the best chair in the Brody Learning Commons. I know where I can create the illusion that I am studying while I actually am enjoying the sun and surreptitiously watching other people on Facebook.

    These chairs could only be improved if they had wheels on the bottom. Just imagine the possibilities for procrastinating. Chair races in the BLC.

    These chairs could only be improved if they had wheels on the bottom. Just imagine the possibilities for procrastinating. Chair races in the BLC.

  • I don’t wear my lanyard around my neck (anymore). When I was first on campus, I was convinced that unless I had my keys around my neck, I would immediately lose them.

    Please note that I don't have my lanyard around my neck. Instead, I am gripping them in my hand.

    Please note that I don’t have my lanyard around my neck. Instead, I am gripping them in my hand.

  • I know where to get the good crabcakes. While I won’t say that I’ve become a crabcake connoisseur yet, I can tell you all about Faidley’s famous softball-sized bundles of lump crab.

    So tempted to steal the one across from me.

    So tempted to steal the one across from me.

  • I think that waking up for a 9am class is painful. Oh wait, remember high school, when 6am was the norm, Madeline?

    Good job having 9am classes every day. You can really pick 'em Madeline.

    Good job having 9am classes every day. You can really pick ’em Madeline.

So here’s to my (small victories): Never being locked out of my dorm, staying well-fed, and not sleeping through any of my classes. I can only imagine the great things to come.

Consuming Knowledge: Best of Academics


One of the reasons I chose Hopkins was to avoid anonymity. I like walking out of my dorm and seeing so many familiar faces. It’s nice walking into a class and having the professor greet me by name. This type of connection among students, and between students and faculty is essential and has distinguished Hopkins as a community rather than institutions that have a more corporate feel.

Hopkins' Freshman Quad

For all these reasons, it’s probably not surprising that most of my favorite academic experiences actually have not been in the classroom, but instead in my interactions with students and professors in a different setting. This semester, the director of the International Studies program, Julia Galan, organized a festive series of dinners where a small group of International Studies students have the opportunity to dine with two professors and Julia. Most recently, I had dinner with Professor Silver from the Sociology department and Political Scientist Anatoli Ignatov.

The group after dinner!

While I value my interactions with professors that are focused on purely academic matters—research, assignments, theories or readings, in a different venue, these interactions are transformed. Over crab cakes, Caesar salads, and sorbet, I talked to the professors about themselves as individuals — I asked Professor Ignatov about living in Ghana, how Professor Silver has seen Hopkins evolve over the years, and Julia’s experience studying abroad in Paris as an undergraduate. But the interaction goes both ways– Julia also ensures that she gets to know us as individuals and goes out of her way to maximize the Hopkins experience for International Studies students.

The restaurant, Gertrude's, is such a nice setting for the occasion!

In a time when my life has such a focus on academics, seeing another side to professors when they share their own, personal experiences and learn about us helps make students  feel valued as individuals in the broader Hopkins community.


Tourist Time

Though I love to travel, I always hated being called a tourist. It sounded harsh, derisive and incredibly patronizing. I could feel the invisible fanny pack being fastened to my hips, an oversized sun hat, and of course an obnoxiously large camera with a blinding flash.

But this spring break, I returned to visit my hometown of Berkeley, and decided that I was entirely resigned…to being a tourist.

I can't help but think I look like one of these bumbling folks . . .

Oh yes. While I (hopefully) didn’t dress the part, I definitely acted like the quintessential tourist.

I …

Went up to the Campanile, or Sather Tower on Berkeley’s campus. I wish I could say that I hiked up countless flights of stairs, but I took the elevator, and was quickly delivered to the top of the tower, where I enjoyed the stunning view on a clear Bay Area afternoon.

On a clear day, the view is unbeatable.

Biked Across the Golden Gate

As some may recall, I rediscovered my love for biking this winter, and was thrilled to be back on a bike this break. I had my own bike this time around though, so my tourist state was slightly less obvious than my BLAZING SADDLES rented bike this January… a blatant sign of a being a tourist.

Pausing for the necessary tourist shot.

Ate Mexican food in the Mission District.

Okay, so apparently there are endless fine dining destinations in the Mission district of San Francisco, like fabulous Italian and gourmet French. But the scent of tortillas wafting through the air from countless Mexican eateries drew me in. I’m glad I caved and yielded to my craving. Definitely a worthy decision.

The quesadilla suddenly made being a tourist feel okay after all 😉

While I was still staying with family, and didn’t indulge in a hotel stay (trying to be somewhat economically efficient), my adventures weren’t the norm for a local.

But what I discovered is that I loved every moment of my adventure as a full-fledged tourist, and truly experienced the Bay Area in a new way.

Now, upon my return to Hopkins, I realize that there’s so much I’m missing right on campus. Sure, it may seem ridiculous to go peek in different buildings on campus, or to visit the medical center or Peabody. So, I’m going to once again don an imaginary visor, get out a map, and take an official tour of campus.

If I was willing to stuff my bike in the back of a PT Cruiser to cross the Golden Gate, I will definitely be willing to meander over to Mason Hall for a tour!

If you’re just about to find out about your acceptances to college, I can only proffer one piece of advice: before you take the plunge anywhere, you too may want to resign yourself to becoming a “tourist” and take full advantage of exploring every campus.

Until next time, Madeline

Surfing through Channels

Hopkins: College really is like TV

60 Minutes = Foreign Affairs Symposium

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Symposium, I helped coordinate bringing Stanley McChyrstal to campus. Being part of the event was so 60 Minutes. While I didn’t get to channel my inner-Leslie Stahl and interview him onstage, I was involved in the Q&A session!

Me and Rosie preparing (posing) for the event!

Law and Order = Psychology and the Law Class

“No, I don’t want to talk to you. You don’t understaaaaaand. You’re just some stupid doctor.”

No, that’s not actually a line from a suspect in a Law and Order episode (I would know. I’ve seen them all). Rather, it’s a quote from my professor, Dr. Raifman, doing his impression of a recalcitrant patient. As both a clinical psychologist and a lawyer, Dr. Raifman shares with the class the most interesting legal cases studies in Psychology and the Law: Clinical Application.

Gordan Ramsay = FFC

When I’m in the FFC, I can see some people morph into Gordan Ramsay. Because of the abundance of carnivores in college, the vegan sloppy joe and vegan chicken marsala are often subject to more criticism than any restaurateur in a Gordan Ramsay show.

Apparently, grilled mushrooms just aren't enough for some carnivores.

American Idol =  A cappella Shows

We have countless a cappella groups on campus and they often have shows that showcase all the talented singers at Hopkins. Because I fall more on the tone-deaf spectrum of the singing scale, I’m not in any of the groups. However, since watching them is like American Idol, couldn’t I say I’m Paula Abdul? female, actress, tv star, model,  super positive “critic.”

Hoarders = Dorm Rooms

Simply put, it’s not uncommon to begin stockpiling everything and packing it into your dorm room. Free plastic bowl? There could be a time when that one bowl is essential. For a while, I realized I was collecting empty Starbucks cups… Well, at least I can proudly claim my room is entirely easy mac and ramen-free.

I so badly wanted to keep this newspaper for the bizarre cover. But I knew that would put me on the path to hoarding, so I settled for a picture.

Stay tuned! –Madeline



Links not Shackles

How to Stay Fully Connected and not Constrained in College . . .

Share on Facebook

Obviously, Facebook is one of the most frequently used methods of staying on top of what’s happening and sharing upcoming events. You can even find out who is going to which events without resorting to stalking. Also, if I’m ever feeling a little lonely, I resort to going on and “poking” my friends. Mostly my “pokes” go unreciprocated.

Attend events

This past Sunday, I starred in the Hopkins Harlem Shake video. By that, I mean that if you see a giant banana, I take full responsibility for spastically swinging and tossing it. Though you can’t see my face, I promise it’s really me. As one of my friends commented, “I’ve never seen a banana waved so beautifully before.” I happen to agree (writes a beaming Madeline).

What do you see in the upper-right corner? Yeah, that's right (my legacy).


I love letters. There’s something that really sets them apart from an email or text. I’ve been writing and receiving letters this semester. It’s pretty obvious when I have gotten a letter because you’ll see me prancing back from the mail office barely not containing my elation. It’s always neat to think about how a letter makes a cross-country journey as humans do…I can’t imagine I’ll ever be zipping through cyberspace like my Yahoo emails.

I carefully positioned the letter so it looks like I tore it open with more composure than I actually did.


I discovered this awesome application for my phone that allows me to text international cell phone numbers for free. Well, that’s my basic understanding of it and my cell phone bill hasn’t gone up… So if you have friends studying abroad, or plan to come to Hopkins from abroad, this is definitely something to check out.

Get involved with your major!

This semester, I am trying to take full advantage of all the opportunities that my major offers. This past Wednesday, I went to an amazing dinner discussion with two professors, Dr. Koposov and Deudney, while enjoying a delectable crab cake at Gertrude’s. This was a wonderful and memorable evening …I definitely hope I can attend another.

Fine company and a feast.

Also, many people have become involved in Greek life on campus, as it’s sorority and fraternity rushing season.

I decided not to rush for a number of reasons, some of which include…

• I heard a rumor that the co-ed business fraternity has its pledges do stadiums. I am not capable of that.

• For sorority bid night, you have to wear a white dress. I just don’t look good in white. I’m pale, okay?!

• I was never recruited by the Engineering fraternity ☹ The fact that I am an International Studies major may have contributed to this … ?

• Telling apart Greek letters is not my forte. Couldn’t they sub in Arabic letters? Say it with me, not Kappa Delta, but Kaaf Daal!

• My best friend, Berna, is Turkish. If there ever were an occasion where I had to choose if Greek or Turkish baklava were superior, the dilemma would be too much.

My wonderful friend Berna (Note: you will not find palm trees on Hopkins' campus).

I still get to go to great events like Phi Mu’s fall show, Hopkins Most Eligible Bachelor. I was sitting next to a campus safety officer, and he seemed to be enjoying the show I much as I was ☺

Entirely academic.

Needless to say, beyond what I have mentioned above, between all the clubs on campus, and late-night bonding sessions with hall mates, I’ve been able to form new bonds at Homewood and beyond.

Has Spring Sprung?

I’ve always associated the winter with hibernation. It’s a time when we humans are meant to return to our primal roots and focus on the necessities of eating for thermogenesis and sleeping.

Well…that’s not so true at Homewood. We essentially skipped over much of the “winter” and ushered in the spring semester last week (despite the below-freezing temperatures).

Ignoring the weather, it’s pretty clear that the season isn’t really winter; there already have been many exciting developments this semester to put the spring in my step.

The Superbowl

Despite that I’m not a football fan, it’s still fun to be part of all the revelry that goes along with the big game. Being in Baltimore during the Ravens-49ers game was definitely intense, and I was alerted of the outcome of the game through various means … Firecrackers. Fireworks. Screaming. Cheering. Running through the halls. Mobbing Barnes and Noble (no, I don’t get that one either). I won’t deny my (now not-so) secret desire for the 49ers to win though.

Over break, my favorite part was biking "the wiggle" in San Francisco and going through the Presidio. I just couldn't bear to root for any other team than the 49ers.

Full disclosure: yes, this was actually taken after the Ravens' win. I think I was alone in my sadness.

While the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco seems serene, don't kid yourself. Those swans can be just as aggressive as Baltimore Football Fans. Watch your back.


Festivities with Friends

One of my close friends, Nirali, celebrated her 19thbirthday by throwing a party this past Saturday at a local arts studio. It was a really cute place to have an event, and no one knows how to throw a party like her. There were multi-colored lights, speakers blasting the Cha-Cha Slide (middle school throwback), a cake with sparklers, and dancing. I will definitely try to enlist her help the next time I plan a party.

Nirali preparing to blow out her candles!

The Dining Hall

I have recently discovered my love for eggplant. Well, I knew I was partial to eggplant, but recently, Juanita has been working at the grill at the FFC. When I see she’s there making eggplant, I have to restrain myself from mowing people down in my eagerness. Juanita is not only a wonderful cook, but she is also one of the kindest people, and has told me some neat things about her travels and the food in the Philippines!

Juanita is ALWAYS smiling and makes the most delicious food!

Back By Popular Demand

Students were devastated when they discovered that Tamber’s was likely to close for the spring in order to undergo some changes. But recently, Tamber’s posted on their site that they would remain open and students were overjoyed (no, I am actually entirely serious). However, it was nice to have an excuse to go there for dinner: “QUICK, we have to go before it closes!”

We can all breathe a sigh of relief now.

And to save the best for last perhaps…

Michael Bloomberg

While I could definitely talk about why I like Mayor Bloomberg for all the work he has done in New York City and his activism on issues like gun control he also …

gave $350 million dollars to Hopkins. This means that he has given over ONE BILLION dollars to this university in his lifetime, making him the most generous living donor to an educational institution of all time. To put things in perspective for college students, his donations would be the equivalent of buying well over 150 million Chipotle burritos. Yeah, see what I mean?

I don’t predict that the administration will acquiesce to any pleas to use the newly-acquried funds to give students the aforementioned burritos. But then again, why would you want them when you could have Juanita’s eggplant?

Please-trust me on this.

Best, Madeline


IMAGining Hopkins

Today was my first day back at Hopkins after a wholly wonderful winter break. While the time home was great, family bonding can only last so long . . .

Initially, my brother just LOVED my company.

But apparently, I wasn't his favorite study buddy. I can't imagine why.

So after leaving my brother in peace, I returned to Hopkins for the last part of intersession.

Many might be surprised that my week will be entirely consumed by photography.

I’m taking an all-day course designed solely for freshmen as a part of the B’More program. My class is on photography, and each day we first learn about various aspects of photography in the morning, then spend the afternoon out and about in Baltimore. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds.

Today we discussed famous Baltimore photographer Aubrey Bodine!

It’s funny to think how Hopkins can (wrongly) be perceived as home to pre-med students that want to focus only on their studies. This class was desirable for many students, which was evident when the class filled within ten minutes of registration (making it so worth my waking up before sunrise to snag a spot)!

I think that Hopkins is renowned partly due to this incredible baby on the medical campus.

Even though it’s just begun, this class has already proven to be one of my favorite parts of my Hopkins studies so far.

You can take a peek at some of today’s photos and let me know if I am indeed the next Ansel(etta) Adams or Steve(ana) McCurry in the making.

Our location for today was Fells Point.

A beautiful building in the outskirts of Fells Point.

Inside Joe's Bike Shop

Resigned to Resolutions

It’s now 2013. A new year, a new beginning and a new Madeline?

Well, not really.

I’ll confess that I have not made any New Year’s resolutions. I know myself and have no delusions that I’ll be able to relax more, or eat more broccoli.

I'll pass.

I’m thinking of how I have changed in the past year. The past 365 days have made an impact on me, as has transitioning into my life at Hopkins. Rather than transforming myself entirely, Hopkins has helped me highlight certain aspects of my personality.


1)   I can bake.

Since being back in California, I met up with my friend Leon from Hopkins. Not only is Leon a masterful breakdancer, but he can bake too! A few days ago, I went to visit Leon and we baked cream puffs and blueberry streusel muffins. Needless to say, they were delectable.

I'm so proud of these babies.

Leon (right) and I were assisted by his friend from high school (on the left) in devouring our baked goods. Not that we really needed the help.

2)   I don’t have a green thumb.

I was always so diligent about watering plants as a child, and only killed off a few cacti in my time. However, since I’ve come to Hopkins, I have managed to kill off more than my fair share of plants… a pepper plant. And a pink polka dot plant.

My pepper plant reassembled this one in its healthy days. RIP.

3)   I should not bring my laptop to class.

I actually never did this, but considering that I was transfixed by the laptops of others around me, it would be a bad idea. Also, I know that I could easily be tempted to surf the Internet at less-than-ideal times.

4)   I have tiny bit of artistic talent.

Forget modesty. I think my room is inarguably adorable. If International Studies doesn’t work out for me, I think I definitely have a possible future in interior design (Note: If you don’t agree-honesty is not the best policy in this case).

My sanctuary.

5) I’m obsessed with sweets. 

It’s bad. I am known to often skip dinner and go straight for the ice cream. Or race towards the dessert table in the FFC. If you see me get aggressive, it’s because you may be taking the last cookie which I was (somewhat frantically) galloping towards.

When I recently was in New York City, I had to have my ice cream fix. I hold the FFC responsible.

Though I wish I could  commit to reforming myself in particular ways (don’t spend 3 hours chatting in the dining hall, start doing yoga, read Tolstoy ) as part of a New Year’s goal, I’m eager to see how Hopkins will continue to surprise me about….myself.

While almost entirely irrelevant to this blog, I love holiday decor.