Hopkins Pro Tips

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Name: Stephanie Huie

Class Year: Class of 2015

Major/Minor: History and Entrepreneurship & Management

Hometown: Hamilton, NJ

Hopkins Pro Tips

The best two bits of advice I can ever give can be summarized in five words: Say yes and be adventurous. Try something new, take chances, and enjoy life. This applies to not only life at Hopkins, but always. However, if you want a little more substance than just five words, here’s a few life hacks on how to ace your classes, save money, maximize your calorie intake, and really be a superstar on the Homewood campus.

  • Borrow books from the MSE Reserves collection
    • Before you buy any textbooks for class, check to see if they’re available at the library for you for free. Almost every professor will have at least one copy of every book needed for the semester available on hold for students to use. You can search the print Reserves on the MSE website through the instructor’s name or the course. There are three caveats to be aware of though. Usually, you can only check out two Reserves books at a time, the books have a very limited borrowing period, and they may not always be available since they are open to everyone to use. Some books can be reserved for four hours and some can be reserved for up to twenty-four hours. You can return the book, wait a while, and then check them out again if you still need it for longer. This system is not as convenient as owning the textbooks but you save a lot of money and the short loan period forced me to study in the library, making me more productive. Rarely, the professor will not have a text on Reserves, so I would recommend renting books for the semester instead. More often than not, you will never read the textbooks again, so renting is another inexpensive option.
  • Study that Syllabus
    • The first week of class you’ll be getting a lot of paperwork from all of your professors about what your semester will entail. Definitely take an hour or so to actually read through everything and mark it down in a calendar. I used iCal and typed in every single assignment, reading, exam, essay, presentation, anything. Yes, it’s tedious and it does take a significant amount of time but I found putting in some effort in the beginning of the semester to get organized really useful. By doing this early on, I was able to identify the especially crazy weeks where my workload would be intense, like if I had an exam, 2 papers, presentation, and homework due in the same week. So the first week of school, I knew way in advance when I needed to start preparing for projects or when I could take it easy. I never forgot about anything for any class. Staying very organized was so critical because some professors would not remind the class about deadlines or exam dates.
  • Be everywhere on campus
    • GO TO EVERYTHING. Acapella shows, dance showcases, musical productions, sports games, Homecoming, Dance Marathon, the President’s Day of Service, Commemoration Ball, The Hop’s Events, the MSE or FAS Speaker events, employer information sessions, Relay for Life, career workshops, networking events, anything and everything. Go experience everything at least once. Meet new people, entertain yourself for a while, maybe have some food, just a short walk away from wherever you are.
  • Accept you will overindulge during Spring Fair
    • You’ll eat few too many calories when you’re caught up in the delicious smells of food truck central. Deciding whether to eat a funnel cake, fried oreos, a corn dog, fried alligator, Thai Sweet Sticky Rice with mango, a gyro, chicken on a stick, butterfly fries, a bloomin’ onion, a twelve inch tall smoothie, or chicken tikka masala will be the hardest decision of your life. Once you’re 21, your stomach will be even fuller as you can imbibe in the Beer Garden as well. For the shopaholics, you’ll likely buy one too many beautifully unique pieces from the art vendors. There’s always a diverse mix of artwork, jewelry, clothing, home goods, decorative pieces, just to scratch the surface. You’ll spend an hour too long stretched out on the beach, tanning in the spring sunlight, listening to the awesome lineup of bands. It’s just impossible to do anything else but relax on a blanket with great live music. BRING CASH! A lot of the food trucks and vendors won’t accept credit cards so save up for the end of April!
  • Fall in love with Baltimore
    • Baltimore truly is Charm City. The eclectic diversity of the neighborhoods really makes the city stand out from anywhere else. Baltimoreans are really proud of their sports teams. Even if you’re not a fan, go to an Orioles game and a Ravens game. You can still have a good view and a great time in the nosebleeds section. The atmosphere is electric and festive. Go to the different festivals, parades, oddities that Baltimore has to offer. Attend Artscape, Hampdenfest, the Lighted Boat Parade in the Harbor. Please, please GO EAT. Baltimore Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try different high-quality restaurants, but go explore new places too! Pick a neighborhood or cuisine and try something new. Since I’ve been in Baltimore, I have eaten super delicious Cuban pulled pork, Ethiopian injera, pho, fried chicken, hearty breakfasts, Korean BBQ, Indian buffets, Turkish pides, Nepalese curries, Mexican empanadas. If you’re a foodie, Baltimore is the place for you.

Finally, here are some quick hits that you should take as extraordinarily solid ways to be a superstar at Hopkins:

  • Whenever there is a hint of precipitation, wear rain boots, a rain jacket, and bring an umbrella. When it rains in Baltimore, IT POURS.
  • If you have even the tiniest desire to study abroad, do it. But live in a dorm with nationals of the country you are living.
  • Get backrubs every week from Stressbusters. Twice a week actually.
  • The best 3 nap spots are: the club chairs facing the stain-glassed windows in the Hut in Gilman, the rocking chairs in Mudd Atrium, the blue couches in Mattin
  • Utilize your “free” gym membership at the Rec Center while you can. Actual gym memberships in the real world are crazy expensive!
  • Although, seemingly contradictory to the above point, be lazy and take the Blue Jay Shuttle wherever you need to go close to campus.
  • Go to the Career Fair every year, just to see what’s out there
  • Take the free classes from the DMC. Learn really practical and fun design, audio, video, photography skills
  • If there is an event with free food, go.

Why You Should Play A Club Sport

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Name: Gabe Kaptchuk

Year: Class of 2015

Majors: Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Math

Hometown: Cambridge, MA

Why You Should Play A Club Sport

You should play club ultimate frisbee. I don’t care if you’ve never thrown a frisbee before or never seen the sport played. Once you get to campus you should walk around campus, find some kids throwing around a disc, and introduce yourself.

If you really don’t want to play frisbee, I’ll forgive you. But you should join a club sport no matter what you do. It can be anything from soccer to equine sports, or you could just join frisbee.

Jerseys all nice and dirty. I’m the idiot with his arms up in the front.

Jerseys all nice and dirty. I’m the idiot with his arms up in the front.

On Hopkins campus we have nearly 30 club sports teams that organize themselves, practice, and compete each year. I started playing frisbee – could you guess that I was part of the frisbee team? – during my final year of high school. I would not have called high school Gabe “unathletic”, but calling him athletic would have probably been overly generous. Arriving at Hopkins, I joined a variety of clubs, including Dangerzone, Hopkins’ Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team. The benefits I have reaped from being on the team are numerous, but I’ll attempt to list just a few in order to encourage you, the reader, to join a club sport once you get to Hopkins campus.

The annual heart attack we lovingly call the “Thanksgiving Turducken”

The annual heart attack we lovingly call the “Thanksgiving Turducken”

1. The freshman 15 is a real struggle

Most club sports practice at least 3-5 times a week. Getting your heart rate up and burning some calories all while having fun will help keep you healthy as you adjust to a college lifestyle. While you won’t have the time commitment of a varsity athlete, playing a club sport makes sure that you are taking the time to get in your exercise, something that can often slip the mind of students suddenly exposed to a hundred new opportunities. Plus, you want to make sure you are looking good once the spring rolls around…

This is just a great picture… No relation to the next section

This is just a great picture… No relation to the next section

2. Meet new freshman

I met my current roommate early in my freshman year while attending my first Dangerzone practice. When you get to campus, it can sometimes be overwhelming meeting all these new people. With a club sport, you immediately have common ground with all the other freshman on the team, a foundation from which you can build a larger friendship.

Joe contemplating the existential nature of man… but mostly just eating chipotle

Joe contemplating the existential nature of man… but mostly just eating chipotle

3. Mess around and have fun

Club sports serve as social outlets beyond the field. On frisbee, we try to get together once a week at the captain’s house to hang out. Spending weekends away at tournaments has led to the development of a catch-phrase infused lingo that can hardly be understood by my best friends who are not on the team. All the students on the team are there to have fun and do their best to make it impossible to not have fun when you are around your teammates.

Rudy making some questionable photography decisions

Rudy making some questionable photography decisions

4. Don’t mess up the way we did

Everyone will make a mistake sometime during their time in college. It might be academic, social, or something completely different. Chances are, an upperclassman on your club sports team made the exact same mistake you will be on the precipice of making. Having regular access to upperclassman from the moment you get on campus helps you not make the same stupid decisions we did. Upperclassmen can help you navigate coursework, choose between housing options, or make social decisions.

passing the torch (or in this case frisbee) to the next generation of leaders

passing the torch (or in this case frisbee) to the next generation of leaders

5. Leadership opportunities

All the teams on our campus require massive effort to organize. Budgeting, scheduling, practice-planning, just to name a few, are all handled by students. Even more so than other clubs on campus, club sports expose students to real leadership positions where you learn to make decisions for an entire group of people. While these positions aren’t thrown at you freshman year, you can quickly find yourself leading the team. Even if you’re looking to work in a field where this type to experience won’t bump your resume above others, the practical experience you gain is invaluable.

If these reasons are enough to convince you to join a club sport, then I don’t know what will. My involvement with Dangerzone has been an invaluable part of my Hopkins experience and i really hope you chose to become part of a team once you get to our campus.

Also, in case you forgot, join Frisbee.

Gabe
jhudangerzone@gmail.com

A Day in the Life

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Name: Ashley Emery

Year: Class of 2015

Majors: International Studies and Spanish, History

Hometown: Woodbridge, CT

A Day in the Life

8:45am: Good morning, Baltimore! Wake up, get ready for the day, listen to country music, and review my notes for my two upcoming presentations today. My living room, complete with the most comfortable couches you could ever imagine.guest1

9:45am: Apple in hand, head to the library. I print out my notes in my favorite study spot, B level, and meet up with my friend Erica in Brody Learning Commons to do some work and chat. I rehearse my presentation for my Women in Modern Chinese History class.guest2

11:00am: Head to the Undergraduate Admissions Office for work as part of my senior internship! As a senior intern, I help out in the office in various ways, whether that be delivering information sessions or writing blogs!

The intern corner. Gabe, Kaitlyn, and Maura are clearly hard at work.

The intern corner. Gabe, Kaitlyn, and Maura are clearly hard at work.

1pm: JiGL ticket sales. I am a part of JiGL, a Jewish organization on campus that plans social events around different Jewish holidays. Tomorrow night, we have an event to celebrate Purim, so I head to the Gilman Atrium to help with ticket sales.

On Purim, part of the celebration includes wearing costumes, so the Executive Board of JiGL decided to dress up in onesies.

On Purim, part of the celebration includes wearing costumes, so the Executive Board of JiGL decided to dress up in onesies.

Amir, Hopkins Hillel’s Jewish Agency Israel fellow, and I ended up having matching onesies!

Amir, Hopkins Hillel’s Jewish Agency Israel fellow, and I ended up having matching onesies!

1:30pm- 3:50pm: Women in Modern Chinese History. This course focuses on the experiences of Chinese women in the twentieth century and on how writers and politicians have portrayed women’s experiences for their own political and social agendas. Today, I have a presentation on my final paper topic, which centers on femininity in Chinese Cultural Revolution memoirs intended for an Anglo-American audience. Through an East-West comparative framework, female authors of externally published memoirs embrace this demarcation and freedom of expression to expose their experience as a woman, their oppression, and their sexuality.

4:00pm- 5:30pm: Brody Learning Commons to review for my next presentation in my United States Intelligence Community class. I meet up with my roommate, Nina, so that we can walk over to class together.

6:00pm- 8:30pm: United States Intelligence Community: Theory and Practice. This course is held in the ROTC building through the military science department, and focuses on examining the strategic functions of the intelligence community, the intelligence cycle and collection methods, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, and special operations. My friends Nina, Hannah, and Sydney are in the class with me. Every class, we discuss regional events that are currently affecting domestic national security. I am presenting on tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle ISIS, which came to the forefront this past Tuesday as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight ISIS on their own timetable with or without American help. This decision follows the lack of involvement on the part of the United States in the Iraqi counteroffensive in Tikrit.

Nina and I in the ROTC building.

Nina and I in the ROTC building.

8:45pm: Nina and I decided to have a very late dinner and make zoodles with our friend Emily. We used a spiralizer to make noodles out of zucchini, and roasted tons of vegetables for a delicious dinner. Sofi and Erica, who live in the same apartment building as me and Nina, come to relax, hang out after a long day, and debate the likelihood of having a snow day tomorrow. (We did!!)guest7

11:45pm: Watch an episode of House of Cards before bed… Good night!!

A Day in the Life

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Name: Maura Kanter

Year: Class of 2017

Majors: History, Theatre Studies minor

Hometown: San Diego, CA

A Day in the Life

Most of my days begin after pressing snooze at least 3 times on my alarm before finally getting out of bed. As I am entirely addicted to caffeine, my morning routine must include some form of coffee. On this particular day of the week, Tuesday, I am headed to my first class, Myth in Classical Art which begins at 10:30. This class is a wonderful amalgam of Greek mythology, archaeology, and the classics. Most of our discussions center around Professor Shapiro’s powerpoint of Classical vases which depict mythological scenes. At 11:45 I usually head to lunch with my friend who is in that class with me. Thankfully, the Chowhound food truck is in it’s customary position on 33rd St. which means we are getting burgers and splitting truffle fries. These burgers refuel your soul as much as your stomach.

Seeing as I don’t have class or work until 3:00, I let my food-baby relax while I try to get in some research for my Sophomore thesis. I am arguing that Lady Macbeth’s identity as a thoroughly Medieval Scottish Queen, paired with the decidedly Early Modern figures surrounding her, allow for the abstruse nature of her character. There are so many elements to my thesis that I have to spend a great deal of my time reading. Thankfully I like my topic so I don’t mind all the reading I have assigned for myself. By 2:45 I am on my way to my second class of the day, Perspectives on the Evolution of Structures. This class is one of my distribution classes. It’s taught through the Civil Engineering Department, but is heavily influenced by Art History and History, which makes it particularly well suited for a History and Theater person such as myself. On this class I am turning in our fifth homework assignment. We were made to examine the structural elements, and integrity, of some bridges using this computer program called Mastan. After studying the three given bridges, we created our own individual bridges, ran the same analyses on our design, and saw how it stood up to elemental forces. My bridge actually fared pretty well, which is exciting for someone who had just learned how to use the software.

This class Professor Shaffer began class by showing us a hysterical video of John Oliver ranting about the state of the United States’ infrastructure. After that, we talked about the evolution of engineering and architectural styles in Chicago from the World Exhibition in the 30’s, to the building of the John Hancock Center in the 60’s. This class ends at 4:15, after which I run back home to eat some dinner quickly before heading out at 5:00 to meet my friend to warm up for our Musical Theater class which meets at 6:00. In this class we are given songs and characters to explore and perform. This class I am singing “A New Life” from Jekyll and Hyde, “Freddy My Love” from Grease, and I am singing smaller parts in two songs from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. After everyone in our class sings their songs, and all the group songs are performed, I run right to rehearsal at 8:30 for the Barnstormer’s musical.

This year we are putting on Stephen Sondheim’s Company. It is such an extraordinary show and I am very excited to be playing Joanne. Tonight I am running through one of my songs, “Ladies Who Lunch,” and the cast rehearses some of our group songs and blocking. Rehearsal doesn’t last terribly long, only until 10 which means I have plenty of time to get in some more research for my thesis. On Wednesdays I only have one class, the Undergraduate Seminar in History, which is the class in which we work on our theses, so I don’t have to do any additional work the night before. I do have to get up early to give an Information Session for Undergraduate Admissions, so I don’t want to go to sleep too late, and after such a long day, I easily relax into reading a book for fun before going to bed.

 

Baltimore Knows How To Do Its Sports

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Name: Michelle Edelson

Year: Class of 2015

Majors: Psychology/Entrepreneurship & Management

Hometown: New York, NY

Baltimore Knows How To Do Its Sports

When I began my undergraduate career, I created a bucket list. It included quintessential Hopkins experiences such as attending a lacrosse game, studying on D level (just to say I did), eating fried Oreos at Spring Fair and hanging out on the beach in front of MSE Library. However, my bucket list didn’t just include on campus activities. It extended beyond the Homewood campus and forced me to experience Charm City, a city I have gotten to know over the past four years and come to love.IMG_4017

At the top of my bucket list were two items – attending a Baltimore Orioles game and attending a Baltimore Ravens game. Growing up in New York, I have always been an avid New York Yankees and New York Giants fan, but after attending Baltimore sporting events this past fall, courtesy of my Woodrow Wilson Fellowship research project, I must say Baltimore knows how to do its sports! From the beginning of the game to the final play, Baltimoreans are on their feet, cheering for their favorite player and always finding a way to make the event a spectacle. The Ravens have their own Under Armour defensive cheer that gets the entire stadium on its feet to “Protect This House”. When the Ravens score a touchdown, confetti immediately comes pouring down on you (and this is just for regular season games). IMG_4015The Orioles have the Oriole Bird who gets on top of the Orioles dugout and dances to “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”, which will make you want to dance like no one is watching all while laughing.IMG_3896

These games are always a guaranteed fun time, but part of this is due to the avid Baltimore fans that come to every single game and cheer on their birds! I was lucky to be in Baltimore during the last Super Bowl win for the Ravens and let me say, this city is crazy for their teams. I have been in New York for the Yankees World Series where they beat the Red Sox, I have heard the chanting on the streets for the Giants as they won the Super Bowl back in the 2007 season, but nothing compares to Baltimore. Baltimoreans love their sports and have a distinct passion that as a student at Hopkins, you learn to adapt no matter what team is your #1. I love cheering on Big Blue and the Pinstripes, but if Joe Flacco is playing on the screen, I need to watch the game and will continue to do so when I leave Baltimore and return back home to New York. In case you haven’t figured it out, my perfect Super Bowl is the Giants versus the Ravens (and yes it happened, but I was too young to understand what Hopkins even was at that age).IMG_4016

After all, part of living in a city means getting to know the culture, the people and what matters most, which some would argue for Baltimore means crabs and sports. Four years may seem like a long time right now, but as someone who has been here for almost four years, I can tell you it flies by! So if you get the chance, whether it is college nights at Camden Yards, Ravens raffle tickets or just want to splurge on some sporting fun, seeing these teams play will be completely worth it. I know I am already planning my next trip to Camden Yards this spring for some baseball one last time.IMG_3863

Jewish Life At Hopkins

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Name: Gabe Kaptchuk

Year: Class of 2015

Majors: Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Math

Hometown: Cambridge, MA

Jewish Life at Hopkins

Before you continue reading, I should let you know that this blog entry will not reveal any of the secrets from our campus chapter of the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion.
The particulars of Jewish life on the Johns Hopkins campus changes from year to year – some years the orthodox contingent swells while in other years the group of cultural Jews becomes more prominent.

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I will attempt to relay the common threads from each year the have bound my Jewish experience at Hopkins together. Nominally, Hopkins’ Jewish student population hovers around 15%, although the ways in which that population engages with their Judaism varies- something which never incurs judgment among any sector of the community.

I was born into a Conservative Jewish household that grew to be Modern Orthodox as I aged. I attended pluralistic Jewish schools, a phenomenon I now understand to be strongest in the Boston area, from kindergarten all through high school. My family was part of the rare class of Jews who showed-up to Shul on time each Saturday. In high school, I increasingly identified with the Modern Orthodox movement; I became the leader of the prayer group in which men and women sat separately and was unique among my friends in that I continued to wear a Kippah throughout the day. While looking at colleges, Jewish life was an important part of my search, but I never allowed it to overshadow my academic interests.

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The relatively small size of the Hopkins Jewish community does not impede a rich, easily individualized experience. The community is centered around our beautiful 4-story Hillel building which plays host to events most nights of the week. Friday night dinners, proceeded with multiple options for prayer, with the classic allure of matzo ball soup and hemish meals draw crowds of up to 150 members of the community. The menu, prepared by a local kosher eatery, varies from the crowd pleasing chicken dishes to delectable meatballs. Culinarily talented members of the community recently started preparing the vegetarian options each friday afternoon, giving the vegetarians in the room, of which I am one, direct control over their own menu. Saturday lunch features cholent of both the vegetarian and meatlovers varieties made by current students, the recipes passed down dor le’dor. As with any Jewish Community, food serves as backbone around which our community has grown and strengthened.Image3 (1)

If political activism, particularly around the issues facing Jews across the world and in the land of Israel, is important to you, Hopkins offers a plethora of advocacy opportunities. No matter where you identify on the political spectrum, Hopkins has a organization for you: Hopkins American Partnership for Israel (HAPI), JStreet, Coalition of Hopkins Advocacy for Israel (CHAI), JHUTAMID (an Israeli business partnership organization), Cafe Evrit (where students practice their hebrew language skills with native speakers) – we really have everything you could want. Together they run dozens of events on our campus throughout the year including the Annual Israel Fair, Challah for Humanity, and multiple lecture series. Additionally, for the past couple years there has been enough interest to have a Birthright trip comprised entirely of Hopkins Students.
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Perhaps the most wonderful part of the Hopkins Jewish community is that I can know the names of virtually every member while never feeling forced into being everyone’s best friend. Hopkins Jews are not isolated in their own community; they participate in virtually every student group on our campus. Being a member of the Jewish community as a freshman lets you learn about all aspects of Hopkins life, from Greek life to academics to off-campus housing options to community service. Hillel can serve as a home-away-from-home, a solid foundation from which you can explore the rest of college life.

Theatre with the Barnstormers’

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Name: Maura Kanter

Year: Class of 2017

Majors: History, Theatre Studies minor

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Theatre with the Barnstormers’

There are so many amazing clubs and organizations here at Hopkins. And though I would say my primary activity here on campus is acting in Barnstormers’ productions, I split my time between working in Undergraduate Admissions, giving tours for Blue Key Society, and dancing with Listen-Up Tap. I have been a performer all my life. I started tap dancing when I was two years old and have intermittently done so since then. I’ve acted in school and community theater productions since I was in first grade and I was a figure skater for five years in middle and high schools. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to do theater and dance in college. I am so glad I changed my mind! I spend a lot of my time preparing for Barnstormers’ productions. The Barnstormers’ put on a total of 6 shows a year here on campus. We have two main-stage productions, the Fall play and the Spring musical. For these shows we hire a professional director. I had never worked with a professional director in any capacity before being cast in my first Barnstormers’ production, last year’s musical Carousel. The experience that the cast and crew gains from working with actual members of the professional theater community is invaluable. I was not expecting such a vibrant theater community at Hopkins. Though we aren’t the most prominent group on campus, we are always excited when new people join our casts and crews.DSC_1203

This year I have been lucky enough to have been cast in three of our Barnstormers’s productions this year, the Fall play, the Intersession play, and the Spring musical. In the Fall, we put up a production of Is He Dead?, a comedy by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, for our Fall play. It is a very entertaining show, very loosely based on the life of the French painter Jean-Francois Millet, filled with hoop skirts, cross-dressing, and mistaken identities. I played Madame Caron, one half of the comedy duo, The Mesdames, two fairly ridiculous women who are friends with Millet. To say I had fun being one of the Mesdames would be a gross understatement. My partner in crime was Kathleen Lewis. We decided to do our hair in such a fashion as to invoke thoughts of poodles and other dogs. Our eccentrics and bizarre synchronized lines were so much fun to play. The Intersession show was of a slightly different nature. We put up a production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. I played Kate Jerome, the matriarch of Jewish household in Brooklyn in the 1930’s. The show is a somewhat intense Dramadey about this struggling household and their relationships. The more emotional moments are helpfully pocketed by Eugene’s, the protagonist, lines about his struggles with puberty. Our Spring musical this year is Company, by Stephen Sondheim. It is a fantastic musical all about a group of married couples and their mutual, and perpetually commitment-phobic, friend Bobby. I am playing Joanne, a very acerbic and drunk woman who is, needless to say, fairly unhappy by the way her life has turned out. I’m so excited to be able to play Joanne. She’s the kind of character I can just sink my teeth into. I don’t think there are any limits to her. I could do pretty much anything and it would be acceptable within the range of her possible character actions.  DSC_1046

There are a lot of wonderful aspects to the theater community here at Hopkins. The Barnstormers’ are such a huge part of my Hopkins experience in general, and I have been so fortunate to be a part of this community. I love how we constantly strive for excellence, whether it be in our sets, costumes, lighting, sound, or acting. The people in the theater community are what really make it special. Audiences never realize what people are doing backstage, most of the time right before they step onstage. Often we are adjusting our costume pieces, hoop skirts always present a rather interesting challenge, or drinking as much water as we can before we go on stage. Someone almost always realizes that they forgot they had to use the restroom, and they don’t have another break until intermission. Quick changes are hysterical backstage, and the source of a great deal of our laughter backstage. There is often a group of cast and crew members interpretive dancing to the songs being performed on the stage. I always think the best parts of the show are happening backstage. I would not trade my theatrical experiences here at Hopkins for anything. I was not expecting to be involved with theater to this extent in college, but without it, my experience at Hopkins would be woefully lacking.DSC_0004

JHUMUNC

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Name: Stephan Capriles

Year: Class of 2016

Major: History and International Relations

Hometown: Willemstad, Curaçao Dutch Caribbean

 

JHUMUNC (pronounced jōōmŭngk) is the Johns Hopkins Model United Nation Conference. Who are we? We are one of biggest groups on campus and we organize an annual conference for high school students, right here in Baltimore. High schoolers, or rather delegates, are tasked with solving some of the world’s most pressing problems with innovative solutions. Most of the time the delegates debate in committees that feel and act very much like the United Nations. There’s a legal council, a security council, and a historic general assembly committee, but we also have had some committees like FIFA and the Game of Thrones joint committees that show that we’re pretty original. With over 30 committees, there’s a lot to choose from.

Figure 1 - A picture of the staff of JHUMUNC 2014

Figure 1 – A picture of the staff of JHUMUNC 2014

Like most people in JHUMUNC I joined because I was a MUNer in high school. My school took us to conferences all over and I met some of my best friends because of it. It is a great bonding experience and also a great way to meet other high schoolers from all over the country and the world. You learn a lot about how international politics works and how the UN functions. And who doesn’t love winning prizes?

Figure 2 As a chair you get a really cool gavel with your name on it

Figure 2 – As a chair you get a really cool gavel with your name on it

JHUMUNC is completely run by Hopkins students. I’ve met some of the coolest people at Hopkins because of it. The entire organization headed by two Secretary-Generals, and a fantastic administrative team known as the Secretariat and Directorate. Chairs and dais members run all the debates and are also Hopkins students. Most delegates forget that the secretariat and directorate even exist because they only ever really interact with their chairs, but trust me without our chief of staff, school relations team, undersecretary generals, and other directors we would all be lost. The staff is always great and diverse. Some of us are engineers; a couple of us study international relations, while others study biology and public health.

The conference begins on a Thursday and spans the length of four days. Thursday is always an exciting time; because it’s the first time chairs meet their delegates. The secretariat and directorate is always busy answering the questions and concerns of high school advisors and making sure that everything is running smoothly. The pomp and circumstance really begins with the opening ceremonies. Day two and three ends up being a bit of a blur as most committees are in session pretty much all day. I’m always surprised by the eloquence and teambuilding skills the delegates demonstrate.

Figure 3 This is what a committee room looks like

Figure 3 – This is what a committee room looks like

One of the favorite staff traditions is the midnight crisis. Some committees experience a crisis that requires the delegates’ immediate attention. It could be anything from a natural disaster to a foreign invasion that messes up peace accords. Since most of the delegates stay in the hotel the conference is hosted at, it is our job to wake them up and bring them to committee. The confused look on their faces is priceless.

The last day of the conference is always bittersweet. You feel exhausted, accomplished, and excited to go to closing ceremonies. As you pack up your committee room and dismiss your delegates, you can’t help feel sorry that all those months of work and planning have come to such a sudden close.

Figure 4 - A Comittee in Crisis! AAAAAhhhhhh

Figure 4 – A Comittee in Crisis! AAAAAhhhhhh

It has been a wild ride, but the staff this year has put tons of work into it to make sure that this conference will be better and bigger than ever. If you end up coming down to Baltimore and competing we look forward to seeing you. If you’re thinking of joining our staff, be sure to look us up at the next Student Activities Fair next fall. The eighteenth session of JHUMUNC will take place from February 5 to February 8th at the Baltimore Hilton Hotel.

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What Really Is Engineering?

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Name: Anthony Karahalios

Year: Class of 2018

Major: Applied Mathematics & Statistics

Hometown: Wheaton, IL

What Really Is Engineering?

            Like a regular goal-oriented student, I took a career aptitude test in high school. It seemed that this test would provide guidance and insight into what I may want my major to be in college. My results sucked. They were awful. My top ten choices were filled with nine types of engineering and mortician coming out of the grave for tenth. I could only think to myself that, “I was supposed to get physician or teacher, something I actually might enjoy.” For a moment I seriously considered mortician… But then I began to research engineering.Mortician Job

Dictionary.com defines the word engineering as follows: the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry, as in the construction of engines, bridges, buildings, mines, ships, and chemical plants. What the hell does that mean? At least I know I don’t want to be an etymologist. However, one part of the definition really stuck out to me: “practical application of [the] knowledge.” All of high school, I had felt as if I were learning arbitrary ideas and concepts without ever being able to truly apply them. Applying what I had learned in school would make that seemingly dull time spent in the classroom worthwhile. So, sign me up bro.Check Mark

Not so fast. The final portion of the definition lists various areas of study in which I could apply my knowledge. I had to think about which area would suit me the best, and more importantly, which area would make me the happiest. I pondered each possibility. Two of my favorites: I could use physics to help build bridges to connect people, or I could use chemistry to synthesize chemicals that might be used in bombing bridges. I wasn’t getting anywhere, but I did notice something as I pondered.Bridge Image

It didn’t matter to me what project I was working on, or what I was applying my knowledge to. My primary concern was the methods used in these applications. What equations would I need to solve these problems? How could I optimize the conditions of my application? And then it hit me, as if I was standing underneath a crumbling bridge. I mainly cared about math. My passion was for mathematics.Light Bulb Math

Currently, my major is applied mathematics and statistics here at Hopkins. I am building an arsenal of mathematical tools such that I will be fully equipped to solve any engineering problem. So far I have taken two courses aiding in this goal of a filled arsenal: Calculus III and Discrete Math. I am amazed by how quickly I was able to further my love of applied math. Calculus III taught me various ways of analyzing functions that could be in any dimension, and Discrete Math taught me various ways to explain my reasoning behind these analyses. It feels amazing to me that I am already discovering the true purposes of my work in the classroom.

This is why Hopkins is a perfect fit for me. The institution appreciates this process of self-discovery through passionately following an important question. For me, I had to figure out what engineering was, and Hopkins did the rest. My advisors and professors here could not have been more helpful in guiding me to find what I truly love. As proof, professors from both previously mentioned classes have sat down with me one-on-one to help define my purpose in learning math. Of course, I am still growing and still learning more and more about myself as an engineer at heart. I am so grateful to have such knowledgeable connections at an institution that recognizes and encourages my passions and academic curiosity. Now, don’t take my understanding of the word engineering as the final say. Rather, take a look at the question yourself and see where it takes you.

Hopkins Blue Jay

Super Audio: One Student’s Quest for the Perfect Listening Experience

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Name: Chris Coughlan

Year: Class of 2016

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Kennett Square, PA

Super Audio: One Student’s Quest for the Perfect Listening Experience

It all started when I got a pair of Bose headphones over six years ago. Growing up without cable television, music had always been one of my favorite hobbies. Up until that point, though, I had always listened to my favorite tunes on stock computer speakers and cheap earbuds. The Bose headphones changed that. They weren’t even the highly touted, over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones everyone talks about; they were the cheaper in-ear version, similar to many earbuds. But boy-oh-boy were they different. Right off the bat, the bass response and overall music clarity struck me; it was a whole new way to experience the music I loved. I probably listened to them at least three or four hours a day for the first week I had them, and still use them today whenever I travel or work out. But I’ve since learned that the headphones I once thought were otherworldly are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-fidelity (or hi-fi) audio.

Until sophomore year, I had always wanted to explore the hi-fi world more, but never really had the means nor the space to make that dream a reality. But coming into my second year at Hopkins, I had made some money over the summer and finally had a place of my own big enough to put some real speakers in (it was a 2 BR apartment in Homewood). So I started by asking my Dad about the two old speakers he was storing in our basement. He said he thought they still worked and that I could have them if I wanted. I did some research and found out they were Polk Monitor 10s, from the 70s, one of the first speakers made by Polk Audio. Coincidentally, the company’s founders, Matthew Polk, George Klopfer, and Sandy Gross, all earned their degrees from Johns Hopkins, and the company’s headquarters is still located only a couple miles from campus. Proud of my discovery, I lugged the Monitor 10s down to school with me for move-in and bought a starter Yamaha receiver/amplifier to power them.

Quick aside: For any audio system, you need some basic components: the actual audio source, a receiver/processor, an amplifier, and speakers of some sort. Sometimes all of these are combined into one device, and sometimes they’re separate; it all depends. I’m mainly interested in home audio, which usually involves a source, such as an ipod/CD/DVD/blu-ray player, a receiver and an amplifier (often combined), and speakers.

When I first hooked the 10’s up, I was very happy with how they sounded. The sound was smooth, clean, and warm; I couldn’t believe I was getting such great performance out of almost forty year old speakers. But I knew better sound was available, and after consulting with my buddy, who had been working with car audio systems for years, I decided to search for what I would soon discover is the driving force behind the entire audio industry: the upgrade.

Original Polk Monitor 10 speaker (Photo courtesy of hifiengine.com)

Original Polk Monitor 10 speaker
(Photo courtesy of hifiengine.com)

I started out with what I knew and perused through Polk’s website, but soon realized that what I wanted to purchase was way out of my budget (surprise surprise). I then turned to Ebay and Amazon to try and find lightly used equipment, but, especially with shipping costs, they weren’t much better. Finally, I decided to try Craigslist – I had always heard from friends that you could find some pretty good deals there – and was pleasantly surprised. I found a complete 7.1 system that was only a few years old at a very reasonable price. Although my living room wasn’t nearly big enough for even a 5.1 system, I knew I would eventually have room for them.

Another quick aside: When classifying an audio system, the number before the decimal point is the number of speakers in the system, whereas the number afterwards is the number of subwoofers. A typical “surround sound” system is a 5.1 system, containing two “fronts,” or front speakers, one center channel speaker, two “rears,” or satellite speakers, and one subwoofer (or “sub”).

Photo courtesy of mraudioandvideo.info

Photo courtesy of mraudioandvideo.info

It was around this time that I was introduced to my favorite audio discovery to date: SACDs, or Super Audio CDs. Back in 1999, Sony introduced them, coupled with the DVD-A (or DVD-audio) format, as the “next big thing” in audio. As we all know, mp3’s were, in fact, the actual “next big thing,” and SACDs are no longer manufactured on a large scale nor readily available in stores. One of the main reasons why SACDs never took off is cost – they require a 5.1 system, a special CD (or DVD) player, and a receiver/amplifier with special processing abilities. However, many collectors and audiophiles love them. Why? Because they are incredibly unique. The vast majority of music sources are recorded and encoded in stereo, or 2-channel, sound. Thus, even if you play music on a surround sound system, you’ll only hear variations of those 2 channels. In contrast, the audio encoding in SACDs sends a unique signal to each individual speaker, allowing the listener to experience multi-channel audio. Depending on the CD, each speaker can act as an individual instrument within the recorded ensemble. The result? High quality, enveloping, de-localized sound. A friend’s father had shown me his system and played a few SACDs on it for me, and the experience was nothing short of fantastic. I immediately told myself: “I have to have this.” So, I set out to build myself an SACD-compatible system.

Ideal SACD speaker setup with “sweet spot” (Photo courtesy of SA-CD.net)

Ideal SACD speaker setup with “sweet spot”
(Photo courtesy of SA-CD.net)

Having already purchased the speakers, I initially focused on finding an SACD player. Craigslist again came up clutch, and I wound up purchasing a Sony player designed specifically for SACDs (many later models were actually marketed as DVD players that merely supported the SACD format). Then, I focused on purchasing a receiver/amplifier that could handle the multi-channel processing, and once again found a solid deal via Craigslist. Fortunately for me but unfortunately for my wallet, I decided I wasn’t yet done with my audio purchases, and it wasn’t until this past August that I made my final purchase (at least for quite some time). When the dust cleared, I had set up 4 different systems inside my current home.

Over the past year or so, I’ve researched and purchased a number of speakers, amps, subwoofers, SACD players, and other various audio equipment. I’ve met a couple great people along the way, and gained a lot of new knowledge about hi-fi audio in the process. However, I have taken two pieces of advice in particular to heart. Firstly, great sound is all about the synergy of the audio equipment and the listening environment. In other words, your system is only as good as its weakest link. Top of the line speakers are useless without the proper amp to drive them, a killer SACD player doesn’t mean squat without the proper system to showcase its abilities, and the best sound system in the world will fall flat on its face in the wrong room. If you match the components correctly, a $500 system can blow the doors off one worth ten times as much. Secondly, as an audio enthusiast, great sound is all about what you want. You could be perfectly satisfied with a system that many audiophiles would scoff at, but if it’s enough for you, then that’s all that matters. My bedroom system lacks low-end punch, my living room system has high distortion, my dining room system is underpowered, and my basement system is a piecemeal of speakers from 4 different decades. I don’t have a pre-amp in any of my systems, and none of my setups are situated in an ideal listening environment. However, all of my systems are more than enough for me at this point in my life, and I am extremely satisfied whenever I power one of them up. Do I realize that there’s better equipment out there? Sure. Will I eventually sell off my current components in favor of better ones? Probably. But, for now, I look forward to listening to each and every one of them as often as I can.