Stepping onto campus was weird—there, I said it. It had been more than a year since the last time I crossed North Charles and saw the words “THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY” carved into marble and stretching across the Beach. Hopkins was a place that had been on my mental back burner while I galavanted around France for nine months, and now here I was. At first, it was weird. Little had changed but at the same time, so much had. However, slowly but surely and following a quick campus refresher tour, I began to feel at home once again. I began to remember why I chose Hopkins in the first place. And while at times my qualms with the school pervaded my thoughts, this time things were different. This time, I was, and continue to be, genuinely happy to be here.
Post-study abroad can be difficult, but this year has given me so much to look forward to that there’s little time to dwell on the negative. Senior year feels different in the best way possible. Sure, it’s the beginning of the end of my time at Hopkins, but if I learned anything from Paris, it’s that a lot can be done in just one year.
The first thing that’s made the year so great is off-campus living. My friends and I have a rowhouse in Waverly and, in short, it rocks. There have been plenty of untimely misadventures that I’m sure we could have done without, but it’s still a place that I look forward to returning to everyday. It comes complete with a backyard, porch and is situated just a block from the weekly farmer’s market. It’s definitely become my happy place and has made all the difference in my enthusiasm about the year.
Then, there’s my schedule. In the past I tried to take on as much as I could, but this semester I chose to focus on quality rather than quantity. I’m taking 13 credits and have no classes on Mondays or Fridays, so my schedule is much more balanced than it has been in previous years—I’m looking at you, sophomore spring. I’m most excited about my Honors Thesis in the History of Art department which explores the art of Pierre Huyghe through his engagement of the spectator at his 2013 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. As a class with no set class time, writing a thesis requires no shortage of self-control, but with the mentorship of my advisor, I’m looking forward to seeing where this endeavor goes. I’m also taking a graduate-level course called Problems in Theory and Method: Reception, Response, Reflexivity, a Museums & Society course exploring the history of Hopkins called Twenty-First Century Approaches to Material Culture and a cognitive science course for distribution requirements called Bilingualism. Although I was apprehensive about my one non-humanities course and felt nauseous when we talked about the physical makeup of a brain yesterday, it’s turned out to be one of my most intriguing courses and rounds out a really rad schedule for the semester.
This past week I started a yearlong internship at The Contemporary. Founded in 1989, The Contemporary redefines the museum as a non-collecting and nomadic entity. Whereas a conventional museum is bound by the presentation of a permanent collection in a fixed space, we at The Contemporary are unlimited when it comes to which artists to work with and where to show their work. The organization aims to bridge the gap between art, artists and audiences and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team. A major part of the internship will be producing the second edition of Scroll, a publication conceived of and created by the intern staff—you can read about issues of tastemaking and access in Baltimore in the inaugural issue here.
In addition to the aforementioned slew of activities that fill up my calendar, I’ve simply been enjoying living in Baltimore. It felt great to reunite with the things I love—friends, pot pie at the Bun Shop, the sounds of the city at night—and to discover new things as well—bulgogi nachos at The Crown, ALLOVERSTREET in Station North, the sanctity of Gilman on a Sunday night. I truly feel refreshed and ready for whatever the year will inevitably throw my way.
This morning, I met with my academic advisor and applied for graduation. College was never a given for me, so the fact that I’m preparing to graduate from this university is mind-blowing. However, until the emotion-filled day of May 21, 2015 arrives, I plan on taking full advantage of life here at Hopkins and in Baltimore as much as I can.