Class of 2020 Blog

Posts from the Johns Hopkins Class of 2020

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January 3, 2017
by Kaylee Z.
Comments Off on My New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

My New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

My New Year’s Resolutions every year sound pretty much the same: get good grades, eat healthier, go to the gym more, sleep earlier, stop procrastinating…you know, those typical goals that everyone has. But I feel different about my resolutions for 2017. Ever since coming to Hopkins, I’ve found that my goals have started to become less generic and more specific and focused.

So without further ado, here are my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Explore Baltimore more. I’m in a great, charming city for school and I really need to start taking better advantage of that and go on more adventures in the city!
  2. Eat breakfast. Eat breakfast over putting on eyeliner. For first semester, breakfast was my last priority and I think that contributed a lot to me feeling tired throughout the day.
  3. Write a poem a day. As a Writing Sems major, sometimes I find myself forgetting to write on my own for my own enjoyment and just completing all my writing assignments for school. But I want to get back into the habit of working on my personal poetry every day.
  4. Call my grandparents every week. My grandparents are super important to me and I want to stay up to date in their lives more and I want them to know what I’m up to too.
  5. Take more pictures. I’m only ever going to have one freshmen year of college and I want to have lots of pictures to look back on later.
  6. Brainstorm and plan Hopkins Interactive posts at least a week in advance of each post deadline so that every post can be tip top quality.
  7. Stop comparing myself to others. This is something that I never used to do in high school, but ever since coming to college, I just feel like I’m surrounded by so many people that are so incredibly smart with tons of achievements that I lost some faith in my own abilities. I hope that from now on I can just focus on myself and my own goals and not feel let down because someone else is doing better in a class than me.
  8. Clean my side of the room more (sorry Erika for being the messier roommate this past semester) and work on de-cluttering my living space.
  9. Get involved with research at Hopkins. I’ve been a Humanities student my whole life and I still consider myself to be one at Hopkins (with an added Computer Science aspect now) and one of the coolest things about Hopkins is that there are so many opportunities for research in any field, including for the Humanities. I am taking a class called Chinese Cultural Revolution next semester and this is an era in history that I have been fascinated by for an extremely long time, so maybe I could work on some research for this class.

New Year’s Resolutions get bad rep for rarely being achieved and I find that to be because at the beginning of the year people have all these extremely high expectations of how much they are going to change and people tend to think that they can wake up and become new people. I realized that I don’t want to be a “new me.” I just want to accomplish my specific list of goals this year and improve myself while still being who I am. Hopefully it will all work out! Happy New Year, everyone!

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Love,

Kaylee

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December 31, 2016
by Kaylee Z.
Comments Off on On the Most Glorious B- of My Life

On the Most Glorious B- of My Life

It was 6 pm. It was the second day of my winter break internship at the National Institutes of Health. I was just getting ready to pack up and go home when it happened–my computer beeped and I got the notification to an email that said another grade got uploaded to my SIS account.

My heart dropped. I knew what class this grade was for, Intro Chem 1, because it was the last one left. I had been waiting for what felt like a year for this grade (it was actually less than a week). I started to feel sick. I had been struggling with Chem this entire semester. I considered dropping the first few weeks in after I failed the first midterm. I told myself to push through. Then, I considered dropping again, after the initial drop period ended and when dropping a class would mean I would get a ‘W’ for “withdrew” on my transcript. I told myself to push through again.

But then I failed another midterm.

For the rest of the semester, I literally would get dreams, no, NIGHTMARES, about Chem all the time. (This happens to me a lot. Whenever I get stressed about something, it doesn’t leave me alone, even when I’m sleeping.) I would dream that I failed Chem and then would have to drop out of Hopkins. Or I would dream that I would just implode in the middle of Chem class. Or I would dream that I would accidentally set myself on fire in Chem Lab class.

Of course, none of these things happened. I have a wild imagination when I am unconscious.

But, you can gather just how nervous I was about Chem.

After the second drop period was over, I felt like I had made a big mistake. I had already failed two midterms and dropping the class was not even an option anymore. However, I knew that if I could just do slightly better on the third midterm, that would put me in a good enough situation where if I just did well on the final I could manage to clutch a C in the class.

Somehow, I managed to get a C on the third midterm. I had hope again.

But the night before the final exam had me feeling despondent again. I had spent most of the reading period going over all the past midterms for Chem and reviewing old information from before instead of looking over the final chapter the professor taught during the last week of class. That’s how I’ve always been with studying. I always have to go in order. I can’t review the second chapter until after I’ve reviewed the first chapter first, even if I already know the first chapter really well.

So come 11 pm the night before the final, I realized I still had not went over any of chapter 13, the final chapter, yet. I did not know the material at all. I called my mom and cried into the phone, saying that I was done for sure. I was going to fail Chem.

After I calmed down, I decided to ask my good friend, Jihoon, if he knew chapter 13 well enough to explain it to me. Luckily, he did. He lives on the floor right above mine so he came right down to my room and started helping me. He taught me all of chapter 13 in two hours. I was and still am so grateful to Jihoon for helping me out like that.

I went to bed around 1:30 am, feeling extremely uneasy about the next day’s exam. I had more nightmares that night.

The actual final went as difficultly as I had dreamed it would. I walked out feeling like all was lost. I could not solve about 3 entire problems. I had written down answers, but I really was so unsure about them that I considered those questions as unanswered.

I tried not to think about Chem anymore and went home after all my finals were over.

When I logged into SIS and clicked on “view transcript,” I really thought I might throw up.

Then I saw that I had received a B- in Intro Chem.

Instantly, I started bawling. There were still people in cubicles next to me so I had no idea what they thought was happening, but I was so happy. It was probably one of the happiest, most surprising moments of my entire life.

Even though Chem was extremely stressful for me, I am glad I took the class and I feel that it taught me how to be more prepared for next semester. Looking back, there are definitely ways I could have worked smarter during Chem. Maybe not harder, because I worked extremely hard, but smarter. A lot of times I just stared at the Chem slides not understanding anything, when I should have went to Office Hours. I should have joined PILOT earlier. I should have made more Learning Den tutoring appointments.

But I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself for sticking with Chem, even when it got so hard. And I am even prouder of the fact that I managed to get a whopping B-.

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Love,

Kaylee

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December 30, 2016
by Jenna M.
Comments Off on 2016.

2016.

New Year’s is around the corner and, you’ve guessed it: that makes it that special time of year to be oddly reflective and introspective. Around the world, people are opening a journal for the first time, or reminiscing through iPhone photographs longingly, quickly swiping past the highly unflattering Snapchat screenshots that don’t fit into their nostalgic mental montage.

As much as I’d like to be, I am not an exception to this romanticized “New Year’s Mindset”. When I start to reminisce, however, I tend to get stuck on the numbers. It’s quite strange to me that a year isn’t so long anymore. When I was five, one year composed of 20% of my whole experience on earth. Now, one year is merely 5% of my 18 years of life. As I grow older, years shrink and begin to feel so minuscule, so insignificant. But this year, my 18th year on earth, felt strangely long. It was a year of transitioning, a year of change – a year that sticks out from the rest.

January-February:

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Most college applications were due on the 1st, which meant, of course, that I spent last New Year’s Eve finishing college essays literally the day before they were due. At least 16 breakdowns later, I finally submitted all of my applications. Unlike what I expected, relief did not wash over me on New Year’s Day. I did not feel accomplished or calm. Throughout January and February, I had this awful pit in my stomach – this intense longing to just hear back from my schools and for my future to be set in stone.

I wish I could go back and tell myself to calm down, that it all works out, and that everyone ends up where they’re supposed to be. I wish I had more faith in the college process, but more importantly, I wish I had more faith in myself. And that is a lesson that does not lose meaning with the end of 2016.

 

March:

My sister and cousins celebrating my cousin's bat mitzvah, and me smiling big to hide my undeniable stress

March, 2016: My cousin’s bat mitzvah

Over spring break, my family went to South Africa for my cousin’s bat mitzvah. I was excited to go back to my father’s home, and especially excited to see my family there. Unfortunately, college was keeping me on edge. I got weirdly emotional and sensitive about the most irrelevant things, and had a hard time fully enjoying my trip when I constantly felt like there was something I should be doing for my college applications, even though they were completely out of my control.

On the 18th, everything changed, though I didn’t expect it to at all. I knew I would be hearing back from Hopkins on that day, but I didn’t really think anything of it. Hopkins was a reach school for me, and I truly had no expectation of getting in. I was at a huge family Shabbat dinner when I left the room to check my application status. I had not told anyone except my sister and mom that I would be hearing back that day, and even prefaced it with “I can’t wait for my first rejection!”. Thus, when I came back into the room crying after checking my application, my mom came over to comfort me. Instead, I showed her the screen on my phone which read “Welcome to Hopkins!”, and whispered, half-laughing half-crying, “Mom, this can’t be right, I think they screwed up.”

After logging out and back in at least 4 times, I finally decided that it wasn’t a mistake – I really got in. And then I cried harder (joyfully, of course) and finally got that wave of relief that I so desperately craved. My family celebrated, and I beamed all the way back to America.

 

April-June:

Senioritis is so real. Once you know that you will in fact be going to college and will not be living in your parent’s basement next year, it’s super easy to slack off of the remainder of senior year. The one thing stopping me from becoming a total lazy blob was the fact that the end of senior year has a ton of exciting events.

College t-shirt day, prom, and graduation all summed up my senior year, and all emulated the same theme. Clad in college spirit wear, long fancy dresses, or graduation caps stifling our freshly-styled hair – we played dress-up like when we were younger, pretending to be ready for the world ahead of us. We had nostalgia for the future, as we looked at it dreamily with wistful eyes.

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May 2nd, 2016: College T-shirt day

 

May 14th, 2016: Prom with Joe

May 14th, 2016: Prom

 

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June 8th, 2016: Graduation

July-August:

The summer went by slowly after the rush of senior year died down. I was lucky enough to still have some friends home to spend my days with, but we were all anxious to begin college. We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know quite what to expect.

In August, after far too many trips to Bed Bath and Beyond and Target and far too much fuss over comforters, I finally was ready (in a material sense, I suppose). I constantly worried about what college would be like, who I would meet, and embarrassingly, what I would wear on the first day (for future anxiety-ridden students: you’re literally moving in. Wear athletic clothes and call it a day).

August 26th was move-in day, and it went surprisingly smoothly. I set up my room just how I liked it, met tons of new people, and began orientation. And just like that, after all the worry and stress that had consumed my life for most of the past year, I was there. I was at college. And it felt so normal, like I had been there forever, like all of my anticipation and fear never actually existed, but had just been a recurring dream. Something that was supposed to be this huge climax in my life, this major defining milestone, was really just, well, normal.

August 26th, 2016: Move-in Day

August 26th, 2016: Move-in Day

September-December:

One semester of college: completed. With the knowledge of 5 classes, with new friends, and with lots of stories, I am finally home for winter break. Without much occupying my time at home, I’ve been given plenty of time to think. It’s truly crazy how much has physically changed in 2016, yet one thing has utterly stayed the same; I started out the year completely uncertain of my future, and I ended it looking towards a new future, yet equally uncertain.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m definitely not going to stop eating chocolate at midnight no matter how many times I promise myself that I won’t, and you really couldn’t pay me enough money to quit drinking coffee. After reflecting on my year in that oh-so-nostalgic way, however, I do believe there is one resolution that I would like to make this year, and I hope you, dear reader, can make it too:

Remember to cherish the present – never let yourself believe that your future is bigger than you are.

December 8, 2016: Lighting of the Quads

December 8, 2016: Lighting of the Quads

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December 28, 2016
by Katie D.
Comments Off on A Not So White Christmas

A Not So White Christmas

After a long week of finals, it was an amazing feeling to get off the plane at PBI and feel the heat and humidity of home hit me as I walked out to short term parking with my parents last Thursday morning. There is no place like South Florida. It is always consistently oppressively hot year round, and always so green with life no matter what the season is. We get our breeze from the ocean, it whispers through the palms and breaks through the heat of the day. I couldn’t wait to be back home and indulge in everything that I had been missing out on while studying.

On the 23rd
Sam and I met up with our long lost friends, another set of twins: Sam and Lucy. We’re both off to college in two other states and it was amazing to catch up, first by a bonfire on the beach and second over tapas, which is one of the best ways to consume food. The sand between my toes, my inability to stop laughing at their stories, and our obsession with candid group shots made for one amazing comeback night. I won’t say that things haven’t changed, but for me they have changed for the better. We have this wealth of different experiences to discuss, to learn from each other, and to really grow closer. I was afraid that the distance between us would create a distance in our friendship. If anything it has strengthened it, and has made me cherish our time together even more.

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A windy night on Lake Worth Beach.

On the 24th
I celebrated Noche Buena with my family. This is basically the lit version of Christmas. Many different Latin cultures have variations of this tradition, but this is how ours goes down. Mi abuelo cook the lechon outside in a homemade cinderblock oven in between two pieces of chain link fence until the skin is crispy and the meet inside is tender and soft. Mi abuela works inside on the traditional Cuban sides: arroz, frijoles, and yucca. The food is the main attraction, definitely a change from the beloved ffc. Still, it was great to see family again, especially after such a long time away and a distance that seems impossible to cross. The beats of salsa music and the next door neighbor’s bachata are a background to endless conversations about school, life, etc. Even some gifts were exchanged at the end of the night, for those we wouldn’t see on Christmas day.

Mi abuela carving out the pig at the end of an hours long process.

Mi abuela carving out the pig at the end of an hours long process.

On the 25th

My mom made croissants for the family, a Christmas breakfast tradition. Afterwards we opened gifts from each other. It was a bit like an exchange between Baltimore and Palm Beach Gardens. Sam and I bought the origin story comic books of Silver Surfer for my dad at Atomic Books in Hampden and a blue glazed bowl from Wild Yam Pottery. My parents bought me warm weather accessories to make up for my lack of preparedness for the cold, as well as many long sleeves items and even a leather jacket. Surprise! I even got a new laptop to replace my dinosaur on its last limb. So now my blogs will be written with the typing of my fingers on a new, sleeker, most importantly, more reliable laptop. Can’t promise anything beyond that though. There’ll most likely still be a lot of stylistic/unintentional repetition and rambling on and on and on. We watched Rouge One with the family and honestly it should be a government mandate to watch it. It is the best movie I have seen in the longest time, and for Star Wars nerds it blows The Force Awakens out of the water.

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I can’t wait for the rest of break, to hang out with friends, and relax in the deepest way possible, watching Netflix in bed while eating Tostitos. At the same time I already miss Hopkins. It is a completely different type of place, that after this rest, I can’t wait to start getting back to work into.

Home :)

Home, with an actual beach!

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December 27, 2016
by Lauren P.
Comments Off on To Training Trip and Beyond

To Training Trip and Beyond

In terms of finals, I was one of the lucky ones on campus. I only had two real finals during finals week, as my Spanish class had its exam the week before, and they were both during the first week, which meant I was done December 16th! Though I was happy to be back in Richmond, Virginia (we’ll call it RVA from now on!) it was strange being apart from my Hopkins friends while they stayed to finish up finals. However, I didn’t have much time to be too homesick for Hopkins, as I made sure my week off was jam packed with swimming, working a little bit, catching up with old friends, and Christmas festivities!

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RVA’s finest

Before writing this, I just finished packing my ~barely under 50 lbs~ suitcase for my training trip to Florida. Basically, training trip is when most college swim teams travel to some warm, tropical location during winter break to do some really hard, high quality training. In the swim world, winter training is used as an opportunity to make massive gains that we’ll see not only at our championship meets, but even into the summer. However, as I like to see it, the real reasoning for a training trip is because the workouts are so demanding and grueling, that to do them in cold, wintry Baltimore would be borderline cruel.

Though I know it will be tough, I truly couldn’t be more excited. We’ll be going to West Palm Beach, and between workouts, we’ll get to lounge on the beach and simply enjoy great weather with great friends. Fun fact: My lane (lane 6!!) will be donning matching friendship bracelets, so let’s hope for some sick tan lines.

HELLO

HELLO

After training trip, I’ll be going straight back to Baltimore, where I’ll spend intersession swimming, and training at my research lab next semester! That’s right, your girl has officially secured a research position! I’ll be using my time off during intersession to learn the skills I’ll be expected to do next semester, and I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before on my blogs, but I am a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship, which means the school provides me $10,000 to dedicate towards completing a research project, which I am hoping to eventually do at this particular lab. It is a really awesome program, and if you have any interest whatsoever in doing research on a particular topic, you should definitely apply!

But now I’m getting ahead of myself. In the interim between now and when I board my 5:15 AM flight tomorrow, I can actually take the time to reflect on what my first semester at Hopkins has meant to me. I’ve had more opportunities than I can imagine, like blogging for Hopkins Interactive, teaching adult swim lessons at the Rec Center, and to representing my university as a college athlete, I truly couldn’t be more fulfilled.

 

 

 

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December 23, 2016
by Alyssa W.
Comments Off on On Going Home for the Holidays

On Going Home for the Holidays

It was while I was packing my suitcase the Friday before Thanksgiving, a few hours before I had to leave for the airport, that it hit me: this was the first time in my life that I would be going home for the holidays. Home had always been the place I returned to after a vacation; never before had I packed a bag with the intention of heading home, staying a few days, packing up again, and leaving. This was the way it would be for the next four years, I realized, if not the rest of my life. Like most every aspect of college so far, the thought of it was equally strange and exciting. I spent the short plane ride wondering what it would be like; if anything about my hometown had changed in the three months I’d been gone.

When I finally arrived home, I was pleased to discover that my dog and my turtle were still alive, albeit less so to find that my brother had taken over my room and hung Red Sox pennants on the walls. When I opened the fridge, there was a noticeable lack of all my favorite foods. When I went to Trader Joe’s to get my almond butter and cheese fix, I found they had reorganized. The store was small, so it wasn’t hard to figure out the new organization, but it was yet another reminder that I was no longer a full-time resident of this town.

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                       Fall in MA > Fall in MD

Over the next few days, I noticed several more reminders: I didn’t get a student discount for the Thanksgiving football game, the Town Hall had a fresh coat of paint, my favorite frozen yogurt place had permanently closed. And yet, as I walked my dog in the biting November air, went for a run past the farms on Carlisle Road, and got takeout from my favorite pizza place, I felt as though nothing had changed at all. I saw my friends from high school, and we talked and laughed at inside jokes like we’d never been apart. It was comforting to know that no matter how much college had changed me, no matter how far I traveled or how long I stayed away, Acton, Massachusetts would always have a place for me. As much as I’ve come to love Baltimore, I remain equally in love with the breathtaking autumn foliage and bitterly cold weather of New England.

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    It doesn’t snow like this in Baltimore (at least,                      not yet).

Now, I’m back home again for Christmas, finally done with an incredible first semester. I’ve already had a Bollywood movie night with my friends, visited old teachers at my high school, and (again) gotten takeout from Sorrento’s. It still felt strange packing my bag to go home–although it was more frustrating than strange, since I had to fit three weeks worth of clothes into a carry-on suitcase–but waking up in my own bed in my own bedroom the next morning felt like the most normal thing in the world. And when Christmas break is over, I’m sure it’ll be just as easy to transition back to life at Hopkins.

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December 23, 2016
by Varun K.
Comments Off on BasketBALLERS

BasketBALLERS

One of my favorite activities to do when I get some free time at good ol’ Johnny Hop is going to the Rec Center and playing basketball with my friends. It’s a great way to just relax and have fun, and whenever I feel like the Freshman 15 is getting all too real, going down and shooting hoops is a fantastic remedy.

Playing at the Rec Center for 4 months now I’ve gotten pretty used to how everything works, (and how hard I have to play in order to not get yelled at) and I’ve also gotten very accustomed to the kind of people I play against on a night-to-night basis. Even though I’ll usually find 3-4 new people who I’ve never hooped against before, I can usually categorize them by their playing style, mannerisms, and general demeanor.

And so without further ado, let’s get into the list of people you’ll find in a typical night of basketball the Ralph O’Connor Rec Center:

  1. The Fitness Fanatic – That one person who is just way stronger and more muscular that everyone else on the court, and can bully their way to the basket and get easy shots, because frankly, nobody wants to, or has the ability to, guard them. This person usually spends their time in the weight room instead of the basketball court, and while they may not have much skill, they can still dominate due to their size, strength, and a little thing that I like to call the intimidation factor.
  2. The Built Baller – The same as above, only now this person actually plays basketball regularly and in addition to having size and strength, they also have skill. Guarding this person is next to impossible, and if in addition to being able to play defense, get to the basket, finish layups, and grab rebounds, if they can shoot jumpers its game over…leave before the game starts.
  3. The Smack Talker – This one’s pretty self-explanatory; they’re always talking and making sure everyone knows that they’re better than you. Whether this is true or not is often debatable, but regardless they’ll always make the game fun, or at least more interesting, and if you end up beating them it’s always an amazing feeling. If you let them win, however, you’ll never hear the end of it.
  4. The Crossover King – The crossover king is the person who does a bunch of fancy dribble moves and shows off their “handles” with many elaborate combinations of behind the back, through the legs, and crossover dribbles. Even if they can’t pass, shoot, or do anything else productive on the court, simply their ballhandling skills are quite astounding and they’re sure to evoke a fair number of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd
  5. Deadeye Shooter – DO NOT leave this person open behind the three-point line. They’re only good at one thing, shooting the basketball, but my goodness are they good at it. Defending them is an absolute chore, as it involves running around the court glued to their hip so as to make sure they don’t even get an inch of open space to shoot the basketball, and when they make one on you it’s the most defeating feeling.
  6. The Baseball Player – This applies to any other sport really, but it’s that person who plays some sport other than bball, but has decided to spend the evening hooping it up. These are the matchups you want to exploit, as usually the “baseball players” have spent most of their time working on their respective sport, and their lack of basketball skill shows on the court.
  7. The Hustler – What they lack in skill they make up for in sheer speed, heart, and hustle. They’ll always go after every rebound, and they’re more than willing to dive on the floor in pursuit of steals and loose balls. They’re the kind of player you love having on your team.
  8. The Helping Hand – The person who always has their head up and is looking to make a pass. They have excellent vision and a feel for the game, and they’ll usually defer on taking shots in order to get good shots for their teammates and get everyone involved
  9. The Seven Foot Assassin – The one token tall person that gobbles up all the rebounds, and towers over everyone while shooting hook shots and getting easy layups. Having someone like this to throw the ball to when the offense isn’t working is honestly godsend.
  10. The Slip and Slide – This is arguably the most dangerous of everyone on this list. The Slip and Slide is the person who is just so quick and elusive that they manage to slip and slide right past everyone on their way to the basket. Beating their defenders with a combination of speed, quickness, and guile is their specialty, and they are usually incredible finishers at the rim. Much like the “Built Ballers” if this group of people can shoot jump shots well its game over.
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December 22, 2016
by Jonah K.
Comments Off on How I Failed My Calc Final

How I Failed My Calc Final

November 15, 2016 – damn. I just got a 57% on my second calc midterm. Well, technically, it’s a 56.6, but I’m taking any confidence boost I can get and giving myself the liberty of 0.4 percentage points. I didn’t expect much from this exam – I had just come back from a weekend-long Model U.N. conference the night before the exam and it had been a crazy (election) week, so I didn’t do a whole lot in the way of studying – but I wasn’t exactly anticipating anything in the D-range.


After the requisite amount of time for moping and self-pity, I get my wits about me and resolve to learn from my mistake. “It’s alright Jonah, this just means you have to do well on the final”, I say to myself, “That’s nearly a month away – you have plenty of time to start studying. You’ll start soon and give yourself all the time you need. You’ll know calculus like the back of your hand! You got this!” Famous last words.

November 22, 2016 – Chapter one, here we go. I’m sitting in my cousin’s apartment in New York City, chugging through logarithmic functions and exponential growth. I’m right on schedule, and I feel good – I’ve already stared studying, and the exam is more than three weeks away! Sure, maybe it’s taking me a little longer than I had hoped to review the first problem set, but I’m not worried in the slightest. When will he learn?

December 6, 2016 – So I haven’t gotten quite as much done on the calculus front as I would have hoped, but it’s nothing to fret over. It’s not that I’m completely shunning calc, it’s just that Arabic is taking a bit longer to study for than I anticipated. 200 vocab words, conversational skills, verb conjugation, possessive nouns, adverbs, plurals – oy. Regardless, I should still be fine. I’m reviewing the two midterms and I pretty much have all the questions on them down. Some sticky points are tripping me up – such as the mathmatical equivalent of root canals they call optimization problems – but I’m confident that I can conquer them. Now, how do you say purple in Arabic again? Let the onslaught begin.

December 9, 2016 – Alright, I’ve got four days to study five chapters of calculus, let’s get cracking. I have to go through functions and inverse functions, continuity and discontinuity, limits and asymptotes, Mean Value Theorem and Intermediate Value Theorem, related rates and optimization (blech), inflection points and extrema of functions, L’Hospital’s Rule and Leibnitz’s Rule, differentiation and integration and integration by parts and integration by substitution – and those are just the highlights. No biggie, though, four days is plenty and I’ve taken calculus before, so I’m sure I know this stuff. I’ll be fine. He said, not fine at all.

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December 11, 2016 – We’re in the red zone baby. The exam is tomorrow, and I have to math hard. It’s midnight, and I’ve been studying all day, but there’s a whole bunch to go over. Cumulative change, derivative of arcsin, logarithmic differention? Where was I when we went over this stuff in lecture? I blame this one on math for being so boring. How can I be expected to pay attention to a lecture on implicit differentiation when UCLA beat Kentucky by five in Lexington and Lonzo Ball highlights are up on YouTube? I should still be good though, I really do know most of the material, and I’m confident that I’ll get the rest done by the end of the night. Anyway, it’s time to drink some coffee and get down to business – I can do this! No you can’t.

December 12, 2016 – Wow. That exam was hard. It wasn’t that I didn’t know my stuff – by 3 AM last night, I had actually reached a point where I comfortable enough to say that I was well prepared – the problems were just difficult. I’m pretty sure I got 925/45 for one answer and that optimization problem – where the heck was I supposed to go with that? I knew optimization would do me in! It wasn’t just me though; everybody I asked thought it was tough as well. Oh well, now its just time to sit back and hope that the curve saves me – I don’t think my grade will be too bad. Just you wait buddy.

December 14, 2016 – Well, that didn’t go as planned After nearly a month of studying, countless of pages of review, and too many Brody Café coffees to count, I managed to get a whopping 71 on my calc final…out of 125…I got a another 57. On the bight side, though, I actually got a 56.8% this time, so I improved by a whole 0.2% percent! Despite my improved performance, though, a 57 wasn’t exactly what I needed on this exam. With my impressive 65% midterm average, this score puts me at right about a fail without the curve. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for college anyways, I was always more of a tradesman myself. Maybe vocational school would be exactly what I need, I’m thinking welding. But suddenly, a glimmer of hope!


December 15, 2016 – WHAAAAAAAATTTTT!?!?!?!?!?! I got a C in calc! I cannot fathom how this happened in any way that does not involve the gods, black magic, or both. This is the kind of thing you dream about, the scenario you never imagine would actually come true, the curve that you would give your left foot for. This is madness. But I’m not complaining, I passed calc! I really did it! Nobody can stop me, I am invincible, and I can enjoy my break in peace. And on that note, see you next semester! All is well that ends well.

 

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December 19, 2016
by Jenna M.
Comments Off on What I Learned in My First Semester (besides actual academic types of things)

What I Learned in My First Semester (besides actual academic types of things)

115 days, 5 classes, and 1 new city later, and I am finally finished with my first semester at Hopkins. It is truly amazing how much a life can change in such short period of time. In some respects I often felt like my whole life was leading up to college, like college was more of an endpoint or destination than a simple milestone. I was so focused on getting there, on getting in where I wanted and finishing out high school, that I never really pictured the act of being at college. So, dear reader, I would like to give you some insight into the ambiguous noun that is “college”. While I am no expert on the topic, I do think that these 115 days have taught me a few things:

  1. You’re kinda sorta grown up, but not really.

Freshman year is weird. It’s this awkward stage between being largely dependent on your parents, and being entirely independent (like paying rent and taxes and owning an iron and all that way-too-real stuff). You’re on your own for the most part, but you still have your meals made for you, guaranteed housing, and RAs available just in case there’s a bug in your room that you’re still a little too scared to squish. You feel like a total grown-up when you do your laundry, remember to set your alarm, and “take out the trash” a.k.a. move it from the bin in your room to the one two feet away in the hallway. You swear you’re at least 46-years-old when you make a to-do list and actually follow it, especially because it even included changing your sheets (which you really didn’t think you could do because the fitted one is super hard to get over the last corner). And remember that one time you Lysol Wipe’d your desk? Yeah, we all remember, because you told your mom 4 times on the phone just to make sure she heard you the first 3 times.

2. You are never alone.

The whole friend thing can seem super daunting. There are tons of new people to meet, but at first it can feel a little lonely. Your high school friends may be all over the country or even all over the world, and that can feel really isolating. But instead of curling up in bed and watching the Food Network while you scarf down microwave popcorn, remember that the best thing you can do is put yourself out there. One of the most important things I’ve learned so far is that loneliness is just a mindset. You are totally capable of changing it – it’s just a matter of walking out of your dorm. The more you sit in your room, the more you miss out on opportunities. And no, I don’t mean opportunities for internships or job offers or whatever someone once made you think college was all about. I mean opportunities for connections with people you never thought you would have something in common with, or for seeing a new part of the city with someone you only met twice, or for simply making a friend by sitting next to them in the dining hall and commenting on how pretty they made their omelette (you are basically a Food Network judge, after all).

3. You have so much time to figure things out.

I feel like I need to repeat this one just to make sure it gets through: you have so much time to figure things out. Like I previously mentioned, I used to feel like college was some sort of endpoint. I thought I would have my whole life all decided, and then all I would have to do was attend college and that’s it. I’m done. The end. But fortunately, that is not the case. I applied to Hopkins with the full intent of being a Writing Seminars major. Somewhere between applying and getting in, however, I realized that I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. It takes me at least 16 minutes to choose a shirt in the morning. I spend 234% more time than the average person trying to choose what I want at a restaurant. In basically every aspect of my life, I may as well have “undecided” stamped across my forehead. So when I glanced at the list of majors yet again after I decided to go to Hopkins, I realized that only one major was my true calling: Undecided.

It took me awhile to become comfortable with my fate; “undecided” was so against everything I ever associated with college. But after attending college for one semester, I can safely say that being undecided is totally okay, and if anything, it is pretty awesome. Because of the open curriculum at Hopkins, I was able to take the strangest assortment of classes known to man, including Intro to Fiction and Poetry, Brain Behavior and Cognition, and Principles of Marketing. Do these courses make any sense together? Maybe by some weird long shot (which I have tried desperately to justify and failed, needless to say). But did I love the variety? Absolutely, and taking this random schedule really did give me a better understanding of many different fields. Most importantly, however, it helped me realize just how much time I have to figure things out. I may not know what I want to be when I grow up, but how can I? I don’t even know what I want for breakfast tomorrow! And that’s okay, because college isn’t an endpoint or a destination – college is a journey. It’s a strange combination of learning how to be independent, connecting with people, and becoming comfortable with the unknown… but that sounds a lot like life.

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December 14, 2016
by Katie D.
2 Comments

Home

What does home mean? Home for college students is something that we are waiting to go to over winter break. It’s a certain feeling of comfort that is unmatched by anything else. There’s a feeling of belonging at home that is completely unparalleled. You have your own bed, homemade cooking, and old friends that you can automatically jump back into old stories with. Home always has a history, a past interwoven with every childhood memory, from the very beginning to the moment you back out of the driveway at six in the morning, and driving to Baltimore non-stop towards something else, something different and uncertain.

I’ve found out now that home can have more than one place and have more than one meaning than just my literal place of origin. It is anywhere that we feel comfortable, that we feel part of a whole. It can be any place where we have a history. Through the stress of midterms and now finals, along with the joy of late night talks with my sister, grabbing dinner with friends, or getting and giving secret santa gifts, I feel like I’ve really began to have something here. I won’t say that it’s perfect; nothing really is. There has been moments this year where I have doubted everything, moments of utter devastation, like in early November at three in the morning, sitting in the dorm hallway, holding a friend, staring blankly up at the ceiling tiles wondering how such a president could get elected. There has been mornings where I’ve slept through a lecture and wasted the first few hours of the day. There has been nights that feel never-ending, but at the same time, not composed of enough hours to get everything done.

Yet, there are also so many moments of joy and happiness too. There has been moments of elation, like when I finally get that one concept in stats, that moment when all the lingo starts to make sense and just becomes math. There has been breakthrough moments in an expos essay, where I finally gain momentum and find what I want to say within my own words, instead of as a lingering, intangible idea in my mind. There has been moments of thankfulness, as I embrace a friend after a long day and feel this mutual sense of relief of finding one another at the end of it. There has been Saturday mornings where I chow down into another delicious brunch and fall more in love with this city with every bite. There has been days of wandering around the BMA and soaking in all the Matisse I can before the museum closes. There has been many late night talks with the coolest RA anyone can ask for filled with wise words and pretty decent life advice. And there has been moments, surrounded by people that I truly care for, and even love, that I feel at home.

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Oh! And Happy Holidays Everyone!!