Name: Jessie Koljonen
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
After being abroad in Madrid for the past semester, it’s been kind of weird being back here at Hopkins and getting right back into the swing of things and my busy life here on campus. No more traveling to foreign countries every weekend, no more free afternoons exploring Retiro Park or Plaza del Sol, and no more speaking Spanish 24/7. One good thing is that I don’t have to commute to school anymore (here at Hopkins, my apartment is about a 2 minute walk from campus – nothing compared to my hour-long commute to school in Madrid). It’s nice being back and seeing everyone again, but it’s still taking some time to get used to everything and back into the Hopkins way of life.
This week is the first week of classes, and walking on campus the other day felt oddly strange – a combination of feeling like I should be here but also like I should be back in Madrid. As I was walking around campus, I noticed that in the time that I was gone, there are lots of new faces (hello freshmen class!), the Brody Learning Commons is almost done and not just a plot of dirt, and there’s construction going on behind Mudd Hall for a new research building. A lot has been happening! That being said, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed as well. Most of the buildings are still where I remember them, Char Mar still sells the candy that I love to snack on while I’m studying, and there’s still a shortcut through campus in the Gilman Tunnel that makes going to class a little easier.
The good thing about getting back into my normal routine here at Hopkins is that I’m keeping myself busy so I don’t have to worry about getting bored or too sad about not being in Madrid anymore. I’ve moved off campus into a cozy little apartment, and I’ve been busy setting it up, making it feel like home, and learning how to cook. All those trips to Ikea, Target, Home Depot, and Bed Bath and Beyond are fun but definitely time consuming. Sorority rush is coming up this weekend, and I’ve been busy with my sorority, Phi Mu, getting ready for going through rush and preparing to get our newest members. I’ve started back up working in the admissions office and working for Shannon, helping out with different projects and admissions relate d fun. I’ve even made my way down to the Hopkins Med Campus and re-started working in the neuroscience research lab I have been a part of since my sophomore year. Next week, I’ll be continuing my shadowing at the Hopkins Hospital, shadowing a neurosurgeon – definitely one of the coolest things I’ve been involved in here at Hopkins!
And of course, my classes are keeping me on my toes as well. Everything from my 8am Physics Section to having a quiz on the second day of class has been a small shock to my system compared to my not-so-intense 4 day school weeks back in Madrid (so convenient for 3 day weekends of traveling!). But being an upperclassman, I am now able to take more upper-level classes which focus more on my specific interests.
For example, I’m taking a class called “Cognitive Neuropsychology of Visual Perception: The Malfunctioning Visual Brain”, where we are going to learn about various functional specializations and disorders. Cool!
Overall, even though I had the time of my life in Madrid last semester, it’s good being back. One semester is just the right amount of time for me to be abroad, I don’t know if I could have spent the whole year abroad and away from my “normal” life. It was nice being able to relax at home in Arizona after getting back from Madrid, where I spent all of winter break and intersession sitting on my couch and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy with my mom. And now I’m looking forward to the Spring and enjoying my semester here back in Baltimore. From my classes to all the clubs and extracurriculars I’m involved in, plus the great events we have here in the Spring – Rush, Spring Fair, Homecoming– I’ve got lots to keep me busy!