The Hardest Thing They Never Told You


Name: Pava LaPere

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Intended Path of Study: Cognitive Science

The Hardest Thing They Never Told You

At first, they told us it was the high school workload that would be the hardest part of getting into elite schools. Then they told us it was the standardized testing. Then it was the essays. Then it was the interviews. Finally, it was the wait.

At each step in the process, guidance counselors, parents, family friends, regular friends, and anyone with an opinion would chime in on what the hardest part of college admissions is. Though varied, the answers stayed mostly the same: the grades, the tests, the resumé. And for the most part, they were right. Seven AP’s classes sucked the soul out of me, president-ing a club while working a part-time job chipped away at my sanity, and sitting down for that awful 3 hour SAT pretty much threw me over the edge.

Me when my AP World teacher gave us a 15 minute break. Actually pretty much me, always.

Me when my AP World teacher gave us a 15 minute break. Actually pretty much me, always.

But while their advice was sound, it was also a lie. I didn’t realize this until after it was all done: until after the acceptances (eh, rejections) were opened, the enrollment deposit was payed, and my closet became 1/5 Blue Jay gear. Because the hardest part of going to college they never tell you about is, well, the going.



Maybe (probably) (hopefully) everyone was less oblivious than me; I thought that once all the college admissions stuff was over, it was a high-tide, good-time ride right up to the first day of classes at Hopkins. This summer was supposed to be the first in many years that lacked worrying about getting into college. But instead, I’ve spent the better part of the summer worrying about getting to college.

Oddly enough, the first time it hit me was when I was sitting on the ledge in my shower and realized that in four months, I would no longer have my trusty shower ledge. The Hopkins’ dorms won’t have a nice butt-shaped nook to collapse onto when I’m just too tired. Hopkins also won’t have the same squeak of my bed when I fall onto it just right, nor will Hopkins have my cat to wake me up at 3am because he wants a belly rub.

The infamous give-me-all-your-attention-at-3am cat

The infamous give-me-all-your-attention-at-3am cat

Hopkins won’t have the smell of our homes, it won’t have the greetings of our parents and siblings and pets as we get back from school. It won’t have our rooms, it won’t have our desks, or our fridges, or our plates, our glasses or spoons. And for some reason, it seemed like this information was new to me.

It’s not that I was blind to the fact that to go to college, I had to leave home (What? You can’t be in two places at the same time?) Rather, it was the realization of how much I would actually miss from home. The tiny things we never care to notice everyday are going to change, and only then will we notice them: the bounce of your bed, the knobs on your cabinets, the darn door that refuses not to squeak. No matter how you grew up, how your family was structured, how big or tall or old or small your house was, there is one thing that you can be sure about: Hopkins won’t be the same.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Soon, all of the things you love about home will have to share your heart with all of the things you love about Hopkins. Hopkins will become a new home, your dorm will become a new room, you will make new friends, new relationships, and learn to use new spoons. Replacing your old home with your new home and learning how to love both of those places is not a bad thing at all; it’s just a hard thing.

But I guess we’re used to hard. We made it through the AP and IB tests, the drafting and redrafting of essays, the uncomfortable college interviews in uncomfortable interview clothes. We did make it through the hard stuff to stake our claim at Hopkins, and that’s a feat to be proud of. Now, in these last few weeks before we start our journey there, the very last obstacle we have to conquer is saying goodbye— at least temporarily—to our old lives. (Well, that’s what I tell myself in order to sleep at night.)

I sincerely hope my fellow Class of 2019 Blue Jays are faring better than me, seeing I’m still at the point where I get teary-eyed (understatement) when Southwest sends me an email regarding my flight in August. But if not, all the better; we’re really in this together then. This is the growing up we were all-too-eager to face, and it’s time to face it. And while it’s new, exciting, overwhelming, and beautiful, it’s also hard. And that’s okay. We know how to do hard.


The Devil Wears Hopkins


Name: Lauren Padilla

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: Longmeadow, MA

Intended Path of Study: International Studies

The Devil Wears Hopkins

Yesterday, my mom and I got into a fight. The catalyst, as usual, was my excessive packing habits. Staring at the heaps of boxes destined for Hopkins, my mom informed me not so subtly that I needed to leave some belongings behind. She gestured at the stack of sketchbooks piled on top of a suitcase. I resisted. She pointed to the box of vintage dresses I had stacked in the corner. I protested. Finally, she waved an arm at my sewing machine. I informed her it was essential to my existence. She then gave up and left my room.

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Okay, deep (deep) down inside I’ll admit that my mom was right and that my reaction was a bit dramatic. With a full course load, I’m sure I won’t have much free time for sketching. While attending college I know I won’t have much occasion to wear a cocktail dress, let alone a 1950s taffeta gown. And, honestly, even though I tell myself I will, I probably won’t have the energy to create a collection of clothes in my spare time. Still, I can’t imagine making my journey without any of those items; it would be like leaving part of me behind. After all, it is essentially because of them that I’m attending Johns Hopkins this fall.

I know what you’re thinking. Fashion and Hopkins? But, just keep reading and I promise you, it will make sense eventually.

Since as long as I can remember, style has been an integral part of my life. To give you a better understanding of the extent of my fashion obsession, here’s a little anecdote. You know how most children have a comfort object? A blanket or teddy bear or stuffed unicorn (bonus points for those who understood my Despicable Me reference)? Well, my item of choice was a velvet jumper. Yes, my comfort object was an article of clothing.

Guess which one is me. Hint: the pink tutu

Guess which one is me. Hint: the pink tutu

I spent the first part of my childhood in Oahu. Although it’s not exactly the style capitol of the world, growing up in Hawaii did nurture my love of fashion; the diverse atmosphere truly helped foster my personal interests and identity. Unfortunately, after moving to my current hometown of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, I discovered the environment was entirely different. In Longmeadow, the vast majority of my new peers were the children of traditional, white, two-parent families; almost all were interested in either sports or music. As the adopted daughter of a multicultural single mother, I immediately felt myself an oddity; my interest in fashion only heightened my sense of isolation. So, for a while I pushed fashion aside where it remained, more or less, a hobby.

Then, in 2006, a wonderful thing happened: The Devil Wear Prada came to the silver screen. For months, I begged my mom to let me see the film. One fateful night, she gave in. From the first moment I saw Meryl Streep sauntering past those immaculate, never-ending closets in her oversize sunglasses and Chanel dresses, I was smitten. Immediately after the ending credits appeared, I turned to my mother and announced that I was going to become a fashion editor.

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It sounds ridiculous, but after that moment, something clicked. Seeing that movie made me realize that creative, unconventional jobs existed, and that, despite what other Longmeadow people said, working in the fashion industry could be a serious career. I finally recognized that if I was going to pursue fashion, I would have to make my own opportunities. I taught myself to sketch and sew and design; I traveled into the city and took summer classes in fashion. Eventually, I began writing my own fashion column and creating my own fabric prints and pieces. Through all of it, I looked forward to the day when I could leave my homogenous town and live somewhere diverse and interesting, surrounded by other aspiring fashion gurus. When it came time for me to start selecting colleges, I had all sights set on New York City.

Things I Do in My Spare Time: make dresses out of hot glue

Things I Do in My Spare Time: make dresses out of hot glue

Much to my dismay, five NYC college tours later, I found myself more confused than ever—none of the schools had “clicked”. For the past decade, I had imagined myself spending the next four years of my life in the Big Apple. The following Saturday, disheartened and more perplexed than ever, I dragged myself back to Massachusetts.

Whenever I’m feeling terrible, I find the best solution is to slip into a new outfit. I may feel awful on the inside, but at least I can look quasi pulled-together from the outside. So, the next morning, I woke up early, channeled my inner Edna Mode, and designed myself a new dress. Little did I know that said dress would ultimately lead me to Hopkins.

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On Monday, I sported my finished creation to school. Usually, when I whip up a new garment, I feel immediately refreshed. That morning, however, something was different. I was still distressed. Had my method finally failed? What was happening to the world? At the end of the day, I felt even more anxious; I wanted to crawl into a hole. Not only was my life plan crumbling to pieces, but my foolproof method of uplifting myself was flawed. Apparently, I was so deep in reflection that I didn’t hear the clicking of high heels behind me. All of a sudden, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Ms. K. For those of you (most of you) who never attended Longmeadow High School, Ms. K is a sort of urban legend. She’s absolutely crazy (her personality matches that of High School Musical’s Ms. Darbus perfectly), but regardless, everyone loves her.

An accurate representation of Ms. K

An accurate representation of Ms. K

With her signature smile and theatrical laugh, Ms. K proceeded to compliment my design. She then looked me up and down once and asserted without any semblance of hesitation that she knew exactly who I wanted to be (I had never interacted with her up until this point). Ms. K proclaimed that she knew a woman in the fashion industry who had gone to school with her daughter. Like a crazed squirrel, she then darted across the hall, scribbled the name “Eva Chen” onto a piece of paper, and told me to google her when I got home.

Flattered (and slightly concerned), I did as I was told. After seeing her picture online, I immediately recognized Eva Chen; I had read several of her articles in Teen Vogue years ago. Now, however, she was serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Lucky Magazine. Intrigued, I decided to read further. A few minutes later, I stumbled upon one of her recent interviews and began reading. About midway through, the interviewer asked the editor to elaborate on her educational background. FIT. Maybe NYU. Every editor goes to one of the two. Both my guesses were wrong. Eva Chen had attended Johns Hopkins University. And, according to the interview, she had loved every second of it. Hmmm…..Johns Hopkins? But, that’s a med school…isn’t it? One google led to another, and pretty soon I had discovered that Johns Hopkins had far more to offer than just its medical programs. Writing Seminars? Creative Marketing? Internships at Vogue and The New York Times?

Eva Chen

Eva Chen

That night, I “temporarily” added Hopkins to my list of potential schools. I never took it off.

About a week before the release of JHU decisions, I had attended a conference called Teen Vogue Fashion University at the Condé Nast Headquarters in New York City. The entire experience was surreal—I had the chance to breathe and walk and talk in the building that I had dreamed about my whole life. At the end of one of the seminars, I had the opportunity to speak with one of Teen Vogue’s senior editors. I explained my predicament. Fashion school or traditional school? Understandingly, he told me to choose whichever option was better for me, assuring that either background could make a great editor.

“Everything will fall into place,” he stated. I tried to suppress my laughter. Okay, I know it sounds awful—one of my heroes is trying to give me a piece of heartfelt advice, and I’m standing there laughing. But, I promise that it’s not as bad as it seems. It’s just that his words really reminded me a Carrie Bradshaw quote I had seen a few weeks ago….

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Before I knew it, March 27 had arrived. Anxiously, I sat at my computer, Hopkins decision site up and ready, waiting for the clock to strike three. As I sat there, I repeated the editor’s words to myself. Everything will fall into place. Despite my attempt to pacify my nerves, thoughts continued to race through my mind. The preceding weeks had held nothing but increasing disappointment; internally I was preparing myself for yet another. Will Hopkins, out of all schools, really accept some girl who wrote an admissions essay comparing her life to her closet? Your scores aren’t nearly as good as they should be. You have B’s on your transcript. Suddenly, I looked down. It was three o’clock. Hesitantly, I logged into the portal, shut my eyes, and held my breath. YES! What?! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Immediately, I jumped out of my seat.

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One month later, I found myself on campus for an admitted students day. I was in absolute awe—the campus was beautiful, the other students were fantastic, and the educational opportunities were amazing. At the end of the day, I was ready to commit to life as a Blue Jay. And that, my friends, is how fashion met the Hopkins.

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Tyrannosaurus Wrecks


Name: Jonathan Mo

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Intended Path of Study: Neuroscience and Saxophone Performance

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks

“So why’d you bring your calculus textbook to Haiti?!”

As I’m helplessly sifting through long forgotten methods and rules of limits and optimization, I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the question. The truth is, I have a math placement exam coming up before I leave back to California, and there’s NO way that I’m taking first year calculus ever again.

It was the middle of June, and I was with a group of my friends on a medical trip to Jacmel, Haiti. Whenever we weren’t working at the clinic, we had a lot of down time so everyone usually just socialized, hung around, or played with cards. But of course there was killjoy me, trying to frantically study in the corner with pencil and paper in hand, hopelessly mulling over mathematical gibberish.

Three days later, the day the placement exam is due, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. It’s 9 PM (the only time at which I’ll have an undisturbed 3-hour block to take the test), and I’m in a rundown outdoor lobby with a fully charged laptop and an alert mind. I open up Blackboard and suddenly:

Screw you, T-Rex.

Screw you, T-Rex.

Screw you, T-Rex.

I close Chrome and retry.

Unable to connect to the Internet.

Ok, fine. Let’s try again. And again. And again.

That night, I had the most wonderful time playing T-Rex Runner for hours on end. And as I watched the test deadline slowly slip away, I falsely reassure myself that I’m okay, because at least I had a damn good time playing T-Rex Runner for the past three hours.

Where is Chris Pratt to ward off the dinosaurs when you need him?

Where is Chris Pratt to ward off the dinosaurs when you need him?

So the next morning, I e-mail my academic counselor (who, by the way, is amazingly helpful and all-around awesome) and I’m told that June 22nd isn’t a hard deadline.

What a relief.

The next time I open up Blackboard is another four days later in the comfort of my own home and with stable Internet at 4:45 PM. No dinosaurs? Good. You’ve done your job, Chris Pratt.

A series of mathematical questions pop up before my eyes, and I’m feeling pretty good! The answer to this one’s C, and this one’s E.

I have no words. (I started the test at 7:45 EDT...)

I have no words.
(I started the test at 7:45 EDT…)

But after about three minutes later, the above screen pops up and I’m stunned out of my mind.

What. just. happened.

To this day, I still don’t know what happened after those short three minutes. All I know is that I must have gotten those two lone questions I answered wrong, because I ended up getting a solid 0/45. But despite my anticlimactic failures and over-the-top anxiety, everything still ended up being okay because I finally found out that the test score was just a ‘recommendation’.

Moving forward from this seemingly petty experience has told me a little bit more about how I should be approaching all the new things to come in the Fall:

Most importantly, I need to relax. There’s no need to obsess over every little thing, because there are way too many little things to obsess over. And if I do, I’ll overwhelm and tear myself apart. (I think this particularly applies to frantically checking every single notification I get from the Class of 2019 group, but they end up being pictures of memes or Nicholas Cage.) There’s no doubt that everyone is feeling at least a little antsy, because after all, none of us know what we’re really doing. We’re all just a bunch of upcoming adults struggling to figure it out along the way, right?

Second, while I should probably have a better plan of action before I dive head-first into the unknown, it might be better to take some things as they come. It’s interesting how we know that some things are completely out of our control, yet we still beat ourselves up over it. Things (usually) have a way of working themselves out, and while hardships are temporary, the habits we create when we face them are near permanent. Sometimes we can only do all we can do and accept that that’s our best.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to learn that it’s all about the perception of our actions, and how we take them to be. So to the many T-Rex’s I’m sure I’ll come to encounter in the near and far future, let’s go for a run.

The Art of Moving On


Name: Indu Radhakrishnan

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: Ashburn, VA

Intended Path of Study: Public Health

The Art of Moving On

“Here,” my mother says, tearing the plastic wrap off a pack of flattened cardboard boxes. She hands me one before unceremoniously shoving a bundle of heavy-duty trash bags under my other arm, looking me up and down, and sighing exasperatedly. Noting my bewildered expression, she knocks on my forehead with force, as if trying to get through my thick skull.

“Ah!” I rub my forehead and pout. “Amma, why are you mad? I didn’t do anything…”

“Exactly! You never do anything I ask you to do!” Her voice is tinged with frustration as she admonishes me. “You haven’t cleaned your room in weeks! Are you a pig? How can you live in such a mess?”

The box, she says, is for any mementos from high school that I want to keep. The trash bags are for everything else.

“If your room isn’t spotless by the time you leave for college, I will be the one to clean it.” I glance up at her and I know that she means it. I shudder at the thought of my mother tampering with my sanctuary and hang my head, defeated by her persistence, as always.

“Okay, okay, fiiiiiiiiiine, I’ll do it.”

Once I’m safe, hidden behind my bedroom door, I exhale and survey my room. It truly is in shambles, books and clothes strewn about, stacks of school work and notes scattered on the floor.

How exactly am I supposed to do this?

I start with the school work and the notes, figuring that they would be the easiest to part with. BC Calculus was the first to go, then biology, then government – all of it (except for a few pages with particularly stellar doodles, withering asides, and useful notes scrawled on them), I drop into the recycling bin with relish.

Maybe cleaning isn’t so hard, after all.

I handle the laundry next, bleaching my karate gi and sorting the rest of the clothes into piles – this is for donation, that’s coming with me to Hopkins next year, this is going to be torn up and used as rags by my mother, surely…

Sorting through the clothes is tougher than sifting through my old homework assignments – the logos and designs on the shirts are like little time capsules: a gray shirt with “Enshin Karate” down the side is from a summer wrangling unruly summer camp kids, a maroon and gold “Class of 2015” shirt is from my high school orientation, a sweatshirt with “iykwim” emblazoned across the front harkens back to an out-of-use inside joke, a striped dress shirt is part of my favorite debate outfit. That striped shirt is what I wore to my Johns Hopkins alumni interview, too – it has the uncanny ability to make me feel powerful and confident. Incidentally, it’s white and blue. Maybe it had some subconscious influence on my interviewer. I hold it up in front of me and chuckle, recalling the clammy palms before the interview and the immense sigh of relief afterwards. I put it in the Hopkins pile, of course.

Other articles are not quite as fortunate. The donation pile, by far the largest mound, is full of my older sister’s hand-me-downs and clothes that my mother bought for me before she gave up on making me dress prettily. The rag pile is mostly just clothes that are in terrible condition, worn out from overuse or from too many rounds of sparring and grappling.

This is going much better than I expected…

I take out any trash and other miscellaneous items that have found their way into my room before turning to face the dreaded enemy, the reason why I avoided cleaning in the first place.

The cardboard box sits in the center of room and mocks me. More than the box itself, the questions that it poses me are overwhelming.

How much life can you live in four years, it asks. And how do you fit it all into a 16’’ x 16’’ x 15’’ box?

I have never been attached to material things in the way that people tend to be – the price of something, the prestige of something, none of that matters. The sentimental value of something is what I prize above all else. Alain Ducasse might be one of the world’s greatest chefs, but my mother will always have an impossible four Michelin stars in my book. Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” may be one of the world’s most acclaimed pieces of music, but I will always think that my sister’s off-key rendition of “The Rainbow Connection” from the Muppets is infinitely sweeter. Despite the fact that I can appreciate the technical excellence that lends Rembrandt’s “Portrait of Jan Six” its value, my favorite painting hangs on the wall beside my bed. It’s an authentic Sreenivas Radhakrishnan, circa 2001, a painting of a winter sunset. I still remember sitting cross-legged on my parents’ bed on summer mornings, watching my father painstakingly blend the colors, wondering how he could be so sure of the strokes.

Looking around my room, I see memories rather than possessions, and I find that my eyes are watering. These things, material as they may be, mean so much to me. My room, a place where I laughed and cried and grew for so many years… My room has to be packed into a cardboard box.

This is not a new feeling, by any means. I remember when my family relocated from my birthplace in New Jersey to India. I was five at the time; it was my first move and I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of moving. I figured that I’d be able to go back to Scotch Plains whenever I felt like having a playdate with my friend Markie, or that Sneha’s parents would call my parents and put her on a plane to India whenever I felt like missed her. I remember playing with packing tape and carelessly putting things in boxes, not realizing that everything that wasn’t going in a box was going to be donated, given to a friend, or thrown away.

When, after a year in India, we packed for our return to the States, I was older and wiser. I knew that my friends and I would never see each other again. I knew that I couldn’t bring Pooja or Anju with me. I knew that someone else would soon inhabit the flat that I had lived in, someone else would stand on that balcony and watch the Diwali fireworks, someone else would make domino effects and block towers on the marble floors. I knew that the things I put in the boxes had to be my most important and treasured toys and books.

After that, we moved three more times, and each time was a lesson in space maximization and material minimization. In one apartment, we never even bothered to buy beds or chairs, eating all of our meals cross-legged around a small coffee table, the one piece of furniture that we owned. In another townhouse, we didn’t get around to unpacking all of our boxes (the few we had left) because we were off to the next city within months.

We finally settled here, in Northern Virginia, where I went through all of middle school and high school. Boxes were no longer omnipresent, save for a few storage bins in the garage. My older sister went off to college, my little brother entered elementary school, we put down some roots, we even got a dog. We started calling our little townhouse “home.” I thought that my itinerant days were behind me.

And yet, here I am, confronting my old nemesis once again. I realize that I have been staring at it for close to twenty minutes and that it is still empty. I start with the debate trophies and the assorted plaques and certificates that have been gathering dust, quietly reliving the sense of pride that I felt swelling in my chest when I received each one. Mementos and birthday cards from my closest friends are tucked into one corner; my cap and gown are placed in the other. Copies of my graduation speech and various school newspapers featuring my articles are thrown in.

There is a sense of catharsis to all of it, and I savor the fleeting moments of nostalgia. I am surprised when I am done – the box is not nearly as full as I expected it to be. Everything looks bigger outside of the box, my mind subconsciously seeing feelings, memories, adding weight. But once they are in the box, I see that they are not quite as big as I thought.

They fit neatly together, these years of life. As I tape the top, I find that I have changed my mind about the box. Now that it carries such precious cargo, I cannot help but look upon it more fondly.

With the past sealed away, I survey my mostly empty room and imagine its next occupant – perhaps my brother will claim it, or my father will make it into an office, or it will be turned into a guest room.

And me? Well, I will be occupying a new space, will be making new memories. I will be at Johns Hopkins, my dream school. I will be laughing and crying and growing somewhere else, somewhere new. I will not be taking the box with me – it will find a place beside my sister’s high school box, somewhere in the garage. But I know that the box will be out there, that my room will find some use, and that moving on is not the same as leaving behind.

Acronyms, Brightbulbs, and Chocolate Cake


Name: Vivian Tsai

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: Holmdel, NJ

Intended Path of Study: Computer Science

Acronyms, Brightbulbs, and Chocolate Cake

When I accepted my place at Johns Hopkins, I imagined I’d be embarking on a new and wonderful adventure come September. Little did I know said adventure would actually start over the summer (well, sort of. Let’s call it a prequel adventure).

So, class registration.

I picked out my fall classes in a tiny, un-air-conditioned little room in an apartment that overlooked Taipei (my parents, brother, and I were visiting relatives in Taiwan). This meant that the computer I was using kept switching to Chinese whenever I wanted to type something… which meant that my Word document ended up being harassed by a bunch of foreign characters. This also meant I had to spend a good chunk of time reassuring my cousin, who hasn’t yet acquired the vocabulary to decipher “Integrated Student Information System” but knows enough English to recognize the acronym for an extremist group when she sees it.

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Anyway, I may have gone a little bit overboard with preparing for class registration. By this I mean (i) panicking because there were so many interesting classes! (ii) panicking that I wouldn’t get the classes I finally settled on, (iii) coming up with not only Plan B but also Plans C through Z* in case my schedule didn’t work out, (iv) panicking when I discovered my shopping cart had a space limit (what about the backup classes for Plan X?), and (v) just panicking in general. It did not help that my older cousin’s response to my perpetual panicking was:

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Then there was the process of actually registering for classes.

Fortunately for me, my family and I were vacationing in Japan at that time, which meant that my call time was 8:00pm and not some ungodly hour of the morning (sorry, Pacific Central kids. Please don’t kill me) – although for the record, I too have suffered my share of alarms set at five-minute intervals (ahem second semester senior year). Also fortunately for me, I snuck a preview peek at the itinerary and found that at the time of registration, we would not be riding on a tour bus or hiking in the mountains but instead enjoying “free time” at a hotel resort place with Wifi.

Unfortunately, my family then unexpectedly chose to attend a fancy dinner buffet thing at the resort at the same exact time.

Because I was already freaking out half an hour before registration, I refused to take my eyes off for even a second. This meant that I ended up hopping around trying to balance a laptop, an IQ-challenged phone, and a slippery wireless mouse while riding in an elevator with extremely polite but most definitely confused people.

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Side note: for those of you who are picturing a nice sleek MacBook Pro, let it be known that our family laptop is a dinosaur of a device whose (literal) thickness rivals that of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince* and who farts constantly.

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At any rate, I eventually found myself sitting at a fancy dinner table with my eyes still glued to the laptop screen and my head still knee-deep in panic mode.

I should probably mention that a large portion of the reason I was so hyped up about registration was because I had not actually decided what writing course to take yet. So I spent the twenty minutes prior to 7:00am EST frantically trying to weigh pros and cons on a very complex imaginary scale while people shoved food at me (food that looked delicious even from a peripheral point of view (or a daze. Ignoring food is difficult, but somehow I managed to block it all out)).

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And then my laptop clock, still set to Eastern Standard Time, struck 7:00am.

I clicked Register.

I waited.


…and then I got all the classes I’d picked. The end.

So class registration was ultimately one of the most anticlimactic experiences ever. And I may or may not have taken advantage of this situation.

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Except there is a very short epilogue to this prologue to my Hopkins adventures – because post-class registration, reality started to settle in.

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And so I started to get kind of nervous, particularly about the making friends part of college. See, I’ve lived in the same little suburban town for my entire life, and so starting off with zero friends has not been a problem for a very long while. This led me to the Whatifs, my least favorite friends.

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Fortunately, after a generous helping of worrisome thoughts, all these Whatifs were halted by a sudden lightbulb of a thought (an extremely bright lightbulb. A brightbulb, if you will) that said:

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It’s still pretty nerve-wracking to be going off to college and all that. But every time I get the teensiest bit uneasy, I try to remember this brightbulb of an idea and remind myself that I’ve already survived class registration, and I once again become excited for the real adventure.

Actual fin.

* I’m not actually that insane; I like hyperboles.

** Not figurative thickness; J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books are worlds more intellectual than that laptop.

Hopkins Pro Tips


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


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.


A Day in the Life


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


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


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