April

Dear Me – three years ago,

Hey, what’s up? We’re going to go on a little journey, and, spoiler alert, I’m about to give away the whole month of April for you, particularly college decisions. Don’t worry – in the end it’s going to be worth it.

Here you are, April 2011! Judging by the fact that you're covered in paint, I'm going to go ahead and say that picking a college is starting to take a toll on you

Here you are, April 2011! Judging by the fact that you’re covered in paint, I’m going to go ahead and say that picking a college is starting to take a toll on you

So, about three years ago from today – by ‘today’ I mean ‘the future’ – you get home from work and lay down on the ground. The usual. You remember that there’s something important going on today, but what it is you can’t quite remember. You roll over to the computer and check your email.

“Congratulations from Johns Hopkins University” reads your unread messages.

“Oh yeah, that’s what was going on today. Oh wow, I got into JHU? Wow, that’s pretty cool.”

You stand up, pace around the apartment kind of giddily and call your parents. Yay for acceptances! But especially for having received your last admissions decision. As much as you despised the process of waiting to know which colleges would accept (or that other, not-so-fun thing – reject) you, here’s what you weren’t expecting: now it’s time to choose.

Easy, right? Wrong. There are a lot of factors to think through before you can make this pretty major, at times intimidating choice. Art school or liberal arts school? BFA or BA? Missouri or elsewhere? Rural college town, living in a city? Big school, small school, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. You’re right, no time for jokes – we’ve got a decision to make.

Sometimes insomnia pays off

Sometimes insomnia pays off

Late one mid-April night you won’t be having much luck falling asleep. You’ll recall that place you got into a few weeks ago and grab your laptop to have a look. John Hopkins was it?

“Did you mean: Johns Hopkins University

Oh, right. Sorry Google.

You’ll pull up the school’s website and start looking around for a bit. First stop: the art history department. “Oh, that’s pretty cool” you’ll think, looking at the accomplished professors, cultural resources in Baltimore and the many courses that exceed your previous expectations. “Oh, now that’s really cool” you’ll realize as you click a link and discover that there’s a whole minor devoted to studying museums and lets you apply those skills in practical settings. You’ve been thinking about curating – maybe this is the way to go about it? Looking around for ‘a bit’ becomes a handful of hours. After all, there are tons of resources: student blogs, a database of course offerings, videos and more. You’ll ultimately fall asleep with your computer as a pillow and wake up feeling tired, of course, but also a little less bogged down by this dreadful decision. In fact, you may have already made up your mind.

However, our dad, after noticing that you’ve kind of been losing said mind the past few weeks, will attempt to expedite the process. He decides that waiting until the end of April to make this decision will take far too long and suggests (insists) that he, you and mom meet up at Starbucks one night to finally get this over with. I know, I know, how ridiculous, right? I mean, you don’t even like Starbucks. But, you’ll give in, arriving to the land of overpriced coffee an hour before closing, grasping tightly at a folder of various acceptance letters. You”ll spread them out on a table scattered with crumbs and one by one go through the options. Some simply don’t feel right anymore. Other, it turns out, just aren’t feasible. Some are extremely solid schools but, by simple comparison, don’t live up to the opportunities available at others. You’ll narrow yourself down to two and, with a sigh of relief, pick of the acceptance letter from Johns Hopkins University.

“Is that it?”

“Yeah,” you’ll respond, thrilled to not only be done with the college admissions process but also because you’ll be attending such an incredible school in only a handful of months. You’ve made your decision, and more importantly, you’ve made a great one.

The parents may or may not cry a bit, but one thing is sure: one of the Starbucks baristas will give you a free cake pop to congratulate you, and it’ll be great and delicious. Yes of course, you’ll wonder why someone would ever want a smaller version of a full-size cake, but let’s not be picky.

I would say that everything goes back to normal, but here you are just two months later, again covered in paint. On second thought, keep doin' what you do.

I would say that everything goes back to normal, but here you are just two months later, again covered in paint. On second thought, keep doin’ what you do.

So that’s how it goes. Sorry to spoil it for you, but then again that’s just the inciting incident that will bring about countless, amazing experiences at Hopkins. I’d hate to give away how great the next few years will be, but if you really have to know, you can always read this blog that we write about our times at JHU or even ask your future-self (me) a question on the Hopkins Forums. Also, if you have some cool friends in the future class of 2018 (hi guys – congratulations!), let them know they’re more than welcome to take advantage of these resources as well.

In the next few years, you’ll come to answer the question “why Hopkins?” time and time again, but it’s this April when you ask yourself “why not Hopkins?” that will change everything for the better.

Keep it real and eat lots of Steak ‘n Shake this summer – trust me,

You/Me/Joseph, 2014

Final spoiler! Here you are just a few weeks ago. Are we in Paris??? Why yes, yes we are.

Final spoiler! Here you are just a few weeks ago. Are we in Paris??? Why yes, yes we are.

The ‘study’ in ‘study abroad’

Oh, study abroad. Thanks to you I’ve travelled places that I at one time could have only imagined, eaten foods that deserve their own cult followings, seen enough art to fill a new edition of Stokstad and have experienced things that will be hard to forget. All of these aspects, though, seem to fit into the abroad category much more than the one labeled study. In fact, I’d say that all of my blogs so far have documented the amazing times spent living in a new country rather than recounting the first half of our beloved term study abroad.

The studying part isn't all that bad when it happens in a place like this

The studying part isn’t all that bad when it happens in a place like this

While I’m here to reconcile that, I’m also here to say that this is a good thing. While study abroad isn’t a break from academia, it can definitely help you to re-prioritize the time spent taking care of school-things and dealing with life-things. As I explained in my last blog, there came a point during my sophomore year where I became unhappy with the ways that I was letting school take over my life. Coming to Paris has changed that. While I could have chosen to spend as much time studying here as I do at Hopkins, it didn’t take long to realize that I’d get a much better perspective on this new culture by exploring it incessantly rather than looking out from the windows of a library. As I’m currently amid finals – I finish up classes at the end of this week! – I now feel much better being cooped up in a library or cafe to review for exams with the knowledge that the past seven months were a nonstop exploration of France.

Then again, it’s worth noting that my school here is pretty cool. In fact, as its classes are all on a yearlong schedule, the school itself is one of the factors that encouraged me to study abroad for two consecutive semesters. Allow me to formally introduce you to the site of my studies this year:

This is the École du Louvre

Here's our "campus"

Here’s our “campus”

And here's our "quad"

And here’s our “quad”

This is one of our classrooms

This is one of our classrooms

But then again, so is this

But then again, so is this

Basically, I use lucky as an understatement when explaining that this is where I’ve been a student for my junior year.

We do have some quirks, though. Whereas my art history classes at Hopkins have ranged from 7 to maybe 40 people max, my classes here range from about 50 to 400 students/auditors. Yes, four hundred people in one huge amphitheater eager to learn about art. That was definitely something that I had never seen before and in its own way changes the nature of the time spent in class. Another particularity is that, as I’ve mentioned, our courses are yearlong, meaning that while I very gratefully didn’t have any finals to study for in the winter, I now find myself with seven exams on my plate – and for the actual students at the EdL, this number is much, much higher.

Le Musée Rodin, another magical place

Le Musée Rodin, another magical place

However, I want to emphasize the fact that I am unbelievably lucky to be doing my studies here this year. As it is a school devoted to art history, I’ve had the privilege to study exclusively that over the past handful of months. A curator from one of Paris’ contemporary art museums taught me about modes of figuration in the 1950s. One of the three curators charged with the restoration of the Victoire de Samothrace taught me about Greek art from Neolithic to Hellenistic times; he found time to hold my final exam yesterday despite a busy schedule, i.e. going to Greece this week to continue his research on one of the Museum’s most beloved artworks. I had a class that met in the Louvre’s galleries every week, took a German class in French, learned the custom of applauding the professor at the end of each and every one of his or her lectures (let’s bring this to the U.S., stat), and have been in an extremely encouraging environment when it comes to studying art history – this is not unlike Hopkins at all, but it’s on a scale that I didn’t know was possible.

In any case, it will definitely be nice to come back to Hopkins for my senior year. I’ve missed the intimate class sizes and challenging discussions, the collaborative nature of classes and getting to express myself intelligibly in my native tongue. It’s been a challenging year in more ways than one at the École du Louvre, but rewarding in every sense of the word. Directly enrolling in a foreign university increases the hurdles of the study aspect of study abroad tenfold, but in the end, it brought about the challenges and the discoveries that I was so eager to have in Paris.

(1. Un iceberg inversé. 2. La plus longue conversation du monde).

As of late, my focus has centered around my calendar like never before. I open up iCal and my eyes graze the month of March. Then I go forward to May with two quick clicks of the mouse and see a date of departure whose existence I still don’t like acknowledging. Six clicks to the left bring me to September, the month when I arrived in France and I realize that, wow, this is really happening. I’m actually here. I press ⌘+T and I’m back to Today; March 10, 2014. It’s unnerving to see each day compartmentalized into its own little box, filled with a list of events and obligations which are then done and over with – on to the next one. My awareness that – at some fixed point – I’ll be leaving Paris has gone from negligible to astute over the last few weeks. From the very beginning I put myself in a mindset that this experience doesn’t have an expiration date, but that way of thinking can’t last forever. Coming to terms with this is, of course, a good thing – with realism comes a certain peace of mind – but seeing these boxes, these singular days, pass by as weeks and as months has me wanting to slow things down.

In my quest for a sense of presentness in this crazy world of iCal, I’ve likewise discovered that I can go back – way back – to the beginning of Hopkins and see what each month; week; day was like.

Freshman fall was incessantly new.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.06.58 PM

I started my art history and museum studies coursework and quickly realized that a minor in global environmental change actually was not for me. I saw my French skills improving and balanced busy weeks of tests and papers — we’re not talking about the 4-page maximum ones that I had known in high school. I joined SAAB, Relay for Life and the Tutorial Project and started a job at the Baltimore Museum of Art which would come to completely shape my first two years at Hopkins. This particular week I made it to the BMA Late Night, a cool, off-campus trip that really just entailed a quick walk across campus. I met new people, discovered different perspectives, at times doubted myself and even a few choices, but ended the semester feeling, yes, worn-out, but also capable of this new world called college.

Freshman spring I found a stride.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.16.49 PM

I took the second half of my beloved humanities classes and added on some creative outlets: a class in digital photography and days spent doing crafts with Baltimore elementary students through Art Brigade. I was doing the things I wanted to do with the people I wanted to be with. I was working hard and apparently even had time for a weekend trip to New York. I finished up the year on a high note, finally feeling confident in my decision to attend Hopkins.

Sophomore fall it was time to get serious.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.24.03 PM

Or so I thought. I added a business minor that I would soon discover simply wasn’t for me. I was working harder – according to this particular week – to the extent that I had to schedule “NAPTIME” into my agenda. More excitingly though, I delved into more specialized classes, added an on-campus job and got an internship that would allow me to spend the semester galavanting around Baltimore and its arts scene. I started seeing the city in new ways and my time at Hopkins changed completely thanks to that new perspective.

Sophomore spring I cracked.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.26.47 PM

I took far too many classes while my extracurriculars didn’t provide any relief in my constant search for free time. I struggled in some courses and succeeded in others. I absorbed myself in my work and sacrificed many a weekend night just trying to keep my head above the water. I opened an exhibition and secured an internship for the summer, which is to say that the work ultimately paid off, but at this point I was ready to get away, or more aptly-put, abroad.

And now here I am. My calendar is light on classes and filled with travel plans. First semester there was a gallery job, now there’s a stint as a babysitter. There are good days and days that pass as blurs. There was a fall semester where I’ve never been happier, and then the departure of friends whose time here ended in December, and now I have three weeks of class left, wondering what happened between now and then. As I’m on the plane back, I’ll probably be asking myself the same question on an even greater scale.

I can envision a day, now back at Hopkins for my senior year, when I’m sitting in class; my thoughts will drift back to the past six months and the three to come and my mouse will drift towards iCal, opening up the application. I’ll go who-knows-how-many months backwards and look at my time spent in France. I don’t know if I’ll remember every day or every week. Today I played Obélix with a four-year-old and gave an exposé oral on the Relief dit de Domitius Ahenobarbus at the Louvre. Will I remember that?

My hope is to transition into my final year at Hopkins as the student and the person that I want to be. I’ve seen myself change during my first two years at Hopkins and my third year abroad. It can be tough to reconcile a time in your life that exists in a flux – exhausting, even. But I am where I am right now, today, and I can certainly be happy with that.

2014-03-03 15.33.14

Joseph Kosuth at the Louvre

24 (Fictive) Hours in Baltimore

My name is JHU_Joseph and I miss Baltimore.

There, I said it. You may remember a particularly compelling blog in which I repetitively explained that “Paris is amazing,” and while I assure you that this is still very, very true, there remains a void that can only be filled by Baltimore. The people, the community, the arts, the food; it’s a city like none that I’ve encountered before. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been running into constant reminders of Baltimore while abroad…

... like this book of Mallarmé poetry illustrated with prints by Ellsworth Kelly — you can either see it behind glass at the Pompidou or go to JHU Special Collections and hold it in your own hands

… like this book of Mallarmé poetry illustrated with prints by Ellsworth Kelly — you can either see it behind glass at the Pompidou or go to JHU Special Collections and hold it in your own hands …

... or this portrait of writer Edgar Allen Poe (who spent a good part of his life in Baltimore) at the Vallotton retrospective at the Grand Palais ...

… or this portrait of writer Edgar Allen Poe (who spent a good part of his life in Baltimore) at the Vallotton retrospective at the Grand Palais …

… but most of all, seeing Future Islands – an awesome, Baltimore-based group – perform live in Brussels.

So understandably, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I want to do when Baltimore and I reunite once again. But why wait? I’ve instead compiled my ideal (yet imagined) greatest day ever in Baltimore  — for now it will be but a dream of mine, but for you, it’s something you could make happen as a [prospective] Hopkins student living in the greatest city in America.

P.S. I’ve linked you to the Facebook pages of some cool places throughout this post which you can like and then always be up to date with what’s going down in B’More.

First person to bring this to me wins … and GO!

I awake with one thing on my mind: breakfast. To start off this perfect day, it’s off to Pete’s Grille, a favorite among Hopkins students and the Charles Village community as well. It’s been a while since I’ve had a classic, American diner-style meal, so in this imaginary world where money and calories don’t exist, I’m going all out. Pancakes on pancakes, egg sandwiches, waffles, side of bacon and home fries. Yes, that’ll do.

I want to go to there

A short walk later and I’m at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It’s been an adjustment not being there 3+ days each week, so it’s obviously good to back. The Morris Louis exhibit has sadly departed, but the show on German Expressionism and the Front Room exhibition of contemporary photography look too good to pass up. Head’s up: we (the French, because I’m declaring myself as one of them now) are sending the work of local artist Camille Henrot to be shown in the BMA Black Box and consequently for her first show in the US. It’s running from March to June and you should definitely check that out!

The subject of most of my daydreams

Museum-going makes the heart grow fonder, but it also works up an appetite. I hop on the JHMI to Mount Vernon and find myself at the greatest eatery in the world: The Bun Shop. This place is the definition of swanky but at the same time very budget-friendly. Serving made-from-scratch sweet and savory pastries – we’re talking pot pies, boreks, empanadas, curry puffs, pumpkin-y, caramel-y, delicious things  … I’ll take one of each – you can’t pass this place up. Plus it’s open ’til 3am because sometimes your hunger just never quits.

Since I’m in Mount Vernon, I might as well follow West Franklin down to some of the city’s coolest art spaces. Current Space, sophiajacobNudashank and Gallery Four are all on the same block, making it easy to take advantage of Baltimore’s always-expanding arts scene. These galleries in particular take advantage of some pretty interesting spaces and show some of the greatest new art around.

sophiajacob

Where dreams come true

I know we only went to four of the many galleries around, but I’m going to assume that we did some deep, critical thinking about each and every artwork and by now it’s time to indulge in America’s greatest pastime: dinner. Without a question I’m hopping back on the JHMI over to Penn Station and making the strenuous 2-minute walk straight to The Chesapeake. Having just reopened last summer, this place is definitely on the rise. It doesn’t take long to decide to start with some raw oysters and, although the shrimp and grits I had last time blew my mind, I’ll switch it up and try the crab cake – when in Baltimore.

Milkshakes change lives

Happily stuffed with delicious seafood, vowing to never eat again, the neon lights just down the block are too enticing. As it always seems to go, I find myself at Lost City Diner, another recent addition to the Baltimore food scene with a super cool vibe. I whiz past the pages of re-invented diner food and go straight for their dessert menu. Homemade bread pudding of the day? Hand-dipped milk shake? Oh hello, waffles with ice cream and apple compote – let’s be friends.

It’s so … beautiful

Lucky for me – or us rather, you’re on this journey too, right? – we find ourselves already in Station North, Baltimore’s Arts & Entertainment District, to finish off the night. How lucky are we? The choices are endless: catch a movie at Charles Theatre or a comedy show at Single Carrot; see what parties are going on at the Copycat; sangria at Tapas Teatro or grab some beers at Joe Squared. Ultimately, the funky vibe of the Windup Space can’t be turned down. With events ranging from their monthly “4 Hours of Funk” party to concerts of all kinds to more themed happy hours than you could imagine (Brews & Board Games, JJAM PPONG (jams and ping pong), etc.), there’s never a dull moment, or a dull night, spent at the Windup.

Well there you have my ideal day in Baltimore. Not to worry though – in just a few months, all of these things will once again be under my belt. In the meantime, definitely check out some (or all) of these places if you haven’t already. Whether we realize it or not, Hopkins students are beyond lucky to live in Baltimore, a city that’s accessible, exciting and downright fun. À bientôt, Balti !

All ‘Hands-On’ Deck: Curating in the Classroom

Fancy class photo shoot? Check.

Fancy class photo shoot? Check.

We all know that museums are pretty cool – if you feel otherwise we may not get along, but bear with me in any case. Now, has anyone out there had the chance to help curate a show in a museum, to contribute your own ideas and passions to one of these arguably very cool places? If you’re a Museums & Society minor at Hopkins, your answer to that question is probably ‘yes.’ Not only does JHU offer undergraduates the chance to study museums and museum practice – something fairly rare at the majority of colleges across the country – but it does it like no other school out there. Interdisciplinary in its nature, the Program in Museums & Society brings together a diverse group of students to study cultural institutions from a variety of perspectives. In order to provide hands-on experiences to its student, the Program offers practicum courses (one of which is required if you’re an M&S minor but they’re open to everyone) and the opportunity of collaborating with a major museum, developing real life skills in the organization of an original exhibition, is truly invaluable.

Past courses have resulted in the exhibitions Mapping the Cosmos at the Walters Art Museum, At Your Fingertips at the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the extremely well received show Print by Print at the Baltimore Museum of Art, among many others. With such an impressive and established legacy, I eagerly signed up for the M&S practicum course “Photos on the Edge” for the Spring of 2013. What resulted was a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

A one-of-a-kind opportunity, of course, and THIS

A one-of-a-kind opportunity, that is … and THIS (cue sound of singing angels)

Looking good

Looking good

Once a week, our group of eleven students – coming from backgrounds in History, History of Art, International Studies, Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, etc. – met up with Dr. Nancy Micklewright, head of scholarly programs and publications at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, with one goal in mind: to conceptualize and take on the initial steps for an exhibition of photographs by renowned photographer Ara Güler that capture views of Anatolia in the early 60s, photos that now find themselves in the archives of the Museum. With no small task ahead of us, Dr. Micklewright led our class through meaningful discussions and several eye-opening visits at the F|S in D.C. in order to help us through the process. While on-campus we discussed everything from Ara Güler’s journalistic career, the political context of the photographs and contemporary issues in museum theory and practice, the visits to the museum itself were critical to the project. Allowing us to see our two-gallery exhibition space and work with the archival photographs, as well as meet with F|S staff in departments ranging from exhibition design to coordination, conservation to marketing, we were nothing if not well-advised to tackle the execution of this show.

We're talking really, really good looking

We’re talking really, really good looking

Our next step, with the class now divided into three groups, was to develop proposals for what form the exhibition would take. While two of the groups looked at the materials historically, my group decided to think about the photographs theoretically; Güler sees himself as a definite photojournalist, yet his work is collected by museums across the world. How do these photos exist within this (supposedly) dichotomous photographic-photojournalistic relationship, and does this particular series of photographs support [by capturing the architecture and landscapes of Anatolia objectively] or challenge [by capturing a certain aesthetic or creating a visual narrative] his claim. Ultimately, our class chose my group’s concept to follow through with for the exhibition(!!!) and after working on public programs, web and marketing and wall and label text, the end of the semester came and it was time to bid adieu to our project. Two summer interns chosen from our class along with the staff at the F|S went on this past summer to realize In Focus: Ara Güler’s Anatolia which opened in December and has so far been met with much success.

I'M SORRY BUT THIS IS SUPER COOL

I’M SORRY BUT THIS IS SUPER COOL

So photogenic – both the class AND Gilman Hall, of course

So photogenic – both the class AND Gilman Hall, of course

Hopkins certainly stresses the hands-on nature of its engineering and science programs, but don’t be fooled – this same type of highly-involved learning is taking place all around the university. The field of the public humanities is extremely pertinent today, and the Program in Museums & Society is taking advantage of this fact to offer classes that are beyond meaningful to anyone interested in a career working with cultural institutions. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a program that recognizes the importance of collaboration, both among students and among universities/museums, as well as the value of real world experience. The faculty works tirelessly to provide these opportunities for us and for that, my fellow students and I are certainly grateful.


In Focus: Ara Güler’s Anatolia is on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington DC from December 14, 2013 – May 4, 2014.

A Week in Morocco, or Compensating for that time I fell asleep during ‘Casablanca’

Sometimes all you need is a break.

Three weeks ago my classes started up again at the École du Louvre. My body felt out of line with my mind and all I wanted to do that first week was either sleep or sit in bed and watch French reality shows. I wanted to take advantage of everything happening in Paris because, as you could guess, there’s more to this city than sitting wrapped up in blankets, but my energy was at an all time low.

Enter Morocco.

Hello, you

Hello, you

The good thing about my classes being on a yearlong schedule is that I was able to foresee a magical four day lapse in my courses right before a weekend all the way back in the beginning of the first semester of school. With six days of foreseen freedom, I decided to spend the week in Morocco and the timing couldn’t have been any better.

Solace summed up

Solace summed up

My first stop in Rabat brought about the peace I was looking for. The capital of Morocco, it’s a fairly tourist-less city, especially in the month of January. This made me feel like a bit of an outsider right off the bat, and while I may be a big proponent of ‘tweens’ back in the United States, the kids here had no hesitation pestering me as tweens do best. So finally, after a day of exploring the various sites, I stopped to grab a tea on a terrace right outside the Old Medina. As I sat watching the city go by while enjoying one of the best teas in recent memory, I came to the realization that while it’s true that I’m different from those living their lives around me, that doesn’t mean that I too can’t make Morocco my own as well.

2014-01-15 11.11.47What followed were days in Rabat, Marrakech and Casablanca spent exploring Roman ruins and tucked away gardens, drinking all the fresh-squeezed orange juice I could get my hands on and socializing with the abundance of stray cats that line the bustling streets. I went surfing in the Atlantic, had an emotional connection with a bowl of couscous and potentially ate dinner in a soup kitchen – this is still TBD, but the free soup and great company definitely made for a memorable meal. I likewise learned to enjoy traveling alone – I think exploring a foreign place with no one but yourself to rely on can be a very eye-opening experience – so the trip was a time of much reflection and realization.

Ultimately, it was nice to simply take a break from the hectic place that Paris can be and selfishly focus on my own happiness for the entirety of a week.

Curating and clementines, what more could you want?

Curating and clementines, what more could you want?

Being at a school as academically-strenuous as Hopkins, sometimes all you need is a break as well. And this is normal and good, especially when you have the foresight to recognize that your body can’t go 100 miles per hour for a semester at a time and that sometimes the only way to finish that endless to-do list is to take some time for yourself. Luckily, Baltimore is full of places to escape and get back into a place where your body and your mind can both feel at ease. Maybe this means walking next door to the Sculpture Garden at the Baltimore Museum of Art for some relaxing contemplation of taking the Charm City Circulator across the city to explore Patterson Park. Maybe this means heading into Station North and checking out an exhibit and a concert at the Copycat Building or catching a movie at the Charles Theater followed by some Nutella crepes. Maybe this means a crazy dance party at the H&H building or 4 Hours of Funk – yes, four – at the Windup Space. Whatever it may be, it’s important to understand the value of time spent doing new things, especially amid the monotony that weeks and weeks of class can bring. I can’t help but say that I’m eager to come back for my Senior year and continue in the endless journey that is exploring Baltimore — thankfully, Morocco definitely taught me to appreciate novelty and to take advantage of different opportunities whenever and however they may present themselves.

Finally embracing the selfie, because look at all those cats!

Finally embracing the selfie, because look at all those cats!

Expect the unexpected

As I near the halfway point of my time abroad, I’m met with feelings both expected and new. While I reject the idea that my time in France necessitates a halfway point in that this alone implies that I won’t be here forever, it doesn’t hurt to have this moment to reflect on my first four months here. As expected, I feel infinitely better about my French; I feel connected to this city, this culture; and I feel ready for the months to come. There are, though, a few sentiments that I either hadn’t anticipated or at least not to the magnitude that I do now.

Giving thanks, especially for people putting birds on things

Giving thanks, especially for people putting birds on things

Hopkins does Paris

Hopkins does Paris, pt. 2

First and foremost is gratitude. I’ve witnessed so much selflessness over the last few months that I could have never imagined. A perfect example is Thanksgiving, a time when I wasn’t expecting much in the way of this American holiday but a series of days that ended up being filled with really meaningful events. First there was dinner with one of my friends’ family who was in town for their Thanksgiving breaks. Instead of dining as a family as most would, they warmly invited a group us into their home for a full-on Thanksgiving dinner. Only a few days later, Vio — my French Hopkins pal — invited a big group of us Hopkids-in-Paris over for yet another Thanksgiving feast. Gratitude came in other forms, too: spending Christmas with Vio and her family in Normandy; Vincent inviting Bianca and I over for a day in Versailles; a lunch of saumon fumé and foie gras with my host mom to celebrate the holidays; my sister coming all the way to Paris to spend her winter break, bringing with her Sour Patch Watermelons, Reese’s  AND Annie’s White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, along with a week and a half of great memories which were made.

LA SŒUR à Paris

LA SŒUR à Paris

Future art historians of the world, kickin' it old school at Versailles

Future art historians of the world, kickin’ it old school at Versailles

Next comes certitude. I’ve never felt so right that I’m where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing. The École du Louvre has made me 100% assured in my studies in the history of art. The art I’ve seen so far all throughout the city, at cornerstone museums and tucked-away galleries, has completely changed my conception of contemporary art. These two make me even more excited to return to Hopkins, write my senior thesis and plan out the next steps in this field that I love oh so much. There’s also certainty that my first four months here have been filled with worthwhile and excitingly new experiences — il faut profiter de Paris — where not a minute was wasted, so this makes me even more eager to see how these next handful of months end up playing out. Perhaps above all, I’m certain that deciding to do two semesters abroad was hands down the right decision for me.

Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou

Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou

What follows is a feeling that I am able, capable. Just yesterday I met up with my advisor (whose greatness I’ve written about before) for lunch here in Paris. She’s teaching an Intersession course abroad called Surveying Paris: Museums, Monuments, Memory which means that she’ll be in France for the next three weeks, giving us the chance to catch up on all that’s gone on lately. Discussing projects that I want to take on, exhibitions that I want to curate and plans for after college brings about a certain comfort, especially in knowing that there are plenty of opportunities out there. I’ve had no shortage of reassuring talks with Hopkins faculty and this time was no exception, leaving me to feel that whatever I want to pursue, I can and will.

Sometimes you throw yourself into a new experience and what you end up getting back is more than you could have ever anticipated. I’m very lucky to say that my time so far in Paris has been exactly that.

La Tour, after-hours on NYE

La Tour, after-hours on NYE

One second everyday

I’ve never really been one to “stick with it.” My lacrosse career was cut short six months in when I got kind of bored and I think I once sat through 3/4 of a football game. There are, of course, things that I will follow through with — learning French, curating shows, graduating college (fingers crossed), etc. — but when I’m not into something (e.g. sports, apparently), it doesn’t take long for me to let it go. Despite this, I’m happy to say that as of today, I’ve successfully stuck through with my latest endeavor.

Over a year ago I saw a Kickstarter campaign for a developing app called 1 Second Everyday. The guy behind the project had been recording a one-second clip everyday for a handful of years and compiled them into a continuous video — almost like a “greatest hits,” but taken from his life. On December 10th I started to follow in his footsteps, downloading the app and taking a moment everyday to record a bit of what was going on. Now, 365 days later, I’ve successfully acquired a year’s worth of memories in the form a a six-minute video.

As our goal at Hopkins Interactive is to explore what it’s truly like to be a student at Johns Hopkins, I thought that I’d share this video with you all; what better way to show the day-to-day experience as a Hopkins student than to literally show that experience day-by-day? Below you’ll find both the finished video as well as some Hopkins-related highlights that are (debatably) more relevant than videos of hamburgers and doughnuts back home in St. Louis.

As the always reliable Ferris Bueller once explained, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Each second brings back memories of what that day was like, and certain collections of seconds recall both high points and low points from the last twelve months. I’m glad to have a record of what has overall been a really, really great year — a year where things I had only imagined actually became a reality — so I’m happy to share that with all of you. Enjoy!

December 15, 2012: Baltimore's 'Miracle on 34th Street'

December 15, 2012: Baltimore’s ‘Miracle on 34th Street’

January 19, 2013: Seeing the Rosemarie Trockel retrospective at the New Museum in NYC

January 19, 2013: Seeing the Rosemarie Trockel retrospective at the New Museum in NYC

February 3, 2013: The Ravens win the Superbowl and Baltimore goes wild

February 3, 2013: The Ravens win the Superbowl and Baltimore goes wild

February 19, 2013: Installing for 'Stranger Self'

February 19, 2013: Installing for ‘Stranger Self’

March 16, 2013: Myrtle Beach for Spring Break

March 16, 2013: Myrtle Beach for Spring Break

April 8, 2013: Spring at Hopkins means reading on the Beach

April 8, 2013: Spring at Hopkins means reading on the Beach

April 12, 2013: That time Bianca straight up rode a pony during Spring Fair

April 12, 2013: That time Bianca straight up rode a pony during Spring Fair

April 19, 2013: 'Time is a Milk Bowl' at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower

April 19, 2013: ‘Time is a Milk Bowl’ at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower

April 25, 2013: Wham City Comedy show at Area 405

April 25, 2013: Wham City Comedy show at Area 405

April 26, 2013: Power tool race at the opening of the Station North Tool Library

April 26, 2013: Power tool race at the opening of the Station North Tool Library

June 2, 2013: Back in Baltimore for the summer, just in time for the Charles Village Festival

June 2, 2013: Back in Baltimore for the summer, just in time for the Charles Village Festival

July 16, 2013: Visit to the French Consulate in DC

July 16, 2013: Visit to the French Consulate in DC

July 20, 2013: Baltimore Artscape

July 20, 2013: Baltimore Artscape

September 4, 2013: Au revoir, USA

September 4, 2013: Au revoir, USA

October 11, 2013: Contemplative times with Manet

October 11, 2013: Contemplative times with Manet

December 9, 2013: 365 days later — mission accomplished

December 9, 2013: 365 days later — mission accomplished

Winner, winner, family dinner

Starting off sophomore year with friends, salmon and (lots of) mashed potatoes. Nothing better.

Starting off sophomore year with friends, salmon and (lots of) mashed potatoes. Nothing better.

As we carried on to hour four of dinner, my host mom reminded me yet again that I was welcome to leave and head off to bed if I felt like doing so. As is the norm in Paris, dinners start around eight o’clock, so her invitation to go to my room, take off my shoes for the first time that day and fall asleep to a soundtrack of Philip Glass and Fleet Foxes was an offer I would ordinarily take her up on. However, as the clock neared midnight, sitting at the meticulously-set table for ten comprised of my host mom and her extended family, there was nowhere else I’d have rather been. I felt at home. At home in the sense that I could finally keep up with the family’s fast-paced sense of humor and stories (at least compared to two months ago when I idly smiled as I struggled to understand what was being said), and at home in the sense that this very type of humor, full of lighthearted jabs and facilitated by a few bottles of wine, brought me back to the feeling of family dinners back in St. Louis.

Pasta and antipasto, the duo of champions

Pasta and antipasto, the duo of champions

There’s something extremely comforting that comes with a day of cooking followed by a lengthy meal with those you care about. Extended family dinners are a commonplace for me in St. Louis with no shortage of good food and good company. The meals are the result of a highly-orchestrated week of planning — when you come from a family of foodies, the expectations are high (and the results tend to match). We’re likewise a family in which our dinner conversations tend to veer towards discussions of upcoming meals, all the while stuffing our faces with Korean pork tacos or pancetta brussels sprouts. Lucky for me, the French are also gourmandises, allowing me to feel very at home during elaborate meals of oysters from Bretagne or kougin-amann (a cake from the south of France that is literally just dough, butter and sugar. That’s it). Meals here are just as delicious as they are an occasion, and so being invited to my host mom’s family dinners is always something that I look forward too.

Afghani feast with the Gallery

Afghani feast with the Gallery

This Thanksgiving — or le 28 novembre, as the French call it, in that it’s just like any other day — I have a scheduled meeting with French immigration, class and then I’ll be taking a night bus to London for the weekend. It will be your average day — no spoonfuls of mashed potatoes or hogging the burnt parts of the stuffing for me. However, it in no way brings on feelings of homesickness. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t be happy to be at Thanksgiving dinner with my family — in fact, the opposite is true. It’s rather that I feel very at home right where I am.

A farewell Baltimore dinner of steak and ice cream

A farewell Baltimore dinner of steak and ice cream

And a farewell USA dinner — the many stripes, as I later learned, were meant prepare me for life in Paris

And a farewell USA dinner — the many stripes, as I later learned, were meant prepare me for life in Paris

Pasta and poached eggs in Marseille

Pasta and poached eggs in Marseille

On our Hopkins Forums recently (check it), we discussed our various remedies for homesickness, but being completely honest, this thankfully isn’t something that I’ve had to deal with. I’ve come to realize that when moving to a new city, my first priority is to acclimate myself before anything. To find a way to be at home. The best way to do this, as I’ve discovered, is the classic family dinner. Be it a feast of finds from the farmer’s market that morning, dinner with interns, or weekend potlucks, these meals quickly made me feel like I had my place in Baltimore. Now in Paris, big dinners with friends, croques madame and wine with the gallery after openings and the quintessential host family dinners have equally put me at ease in a foreign country many miles away from — when it comes down to it — home.

Homesickness is nobody’s friend, but if you set the table full of food and friends, there’s not even room for said unwanted visitor. Just don’t forget dessert.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go: East Coast & Abroad Edition

Growing up in the midwest, a cool day- or weekend-trip could be anything from driving to Kansas City to see a museum or trekking to Abraham Lincoln’s home in Illinois — and while this is part of a nice, wholesome midwest upbringing, I always knew that there was more out there in the world that I wanted to see.

Cue the decision to move to the East Coast (Baltimore) and more recently to Europe (Paris) for the year. Since then, I’ve seen so many new cities that I could have only imagined visiting in the past. While my love for Baltimore knows no end  — seriously, there’s this, this, this and this — the idea that I can get on a train and in one hour be in DC or hop on a bus and be in New York in four is very cool to me. Likewise, now being in Paris, the potential to travel has grown tenfold. So far, as I still wait for the go-ahead from French Immigration to voyage outside of a set region, my travels have all stayed within France; however, it’s still taken me to some really, really cool places, as any French person will tell you that “there’s more to France than Paris.”

So, without further ado, here are my favorite day/weekend trips so far, both back home and in my new home.

EAST COAST

ANNAPOLIS

Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and is situated along the Chesapeake Bay. It’s less than an hour drive away and boasts some pretty awesome views along the harbor.

Yes, please

Yes, please

PHILADELPHIA

My first trip to this historic city had all the makings of a great day, namely that is involved a lot of art and was completely free. The Hopkins Museum Club organized this trip which included transportation to Philly and admission to the recently-renovated Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Did I mention it was free?

First stop: The Barnes

First stop: The Barnes

Museums Club in action

Museums Club in action

Does this picture make me look artsy? Jasper Johns at the PMA

Does this picture make me look artsy? Jasper Johns at the PMA

WASHINGTON D.C.

I’ve made many a trip to D.C. in the past few years thanks to my good friend the MARC train. From a fall break trip with friends freshman year, to museum visits at the National Gallery for research, to working an internship there this summer, I’ve definitely grown to love our nation’s capital.

DC freshman year -- an appropriate flashback after our Paris meet-up this weekend !

DC freshman year — an appropriate flashback after our Paris meet-up this weekend !

The NGA is a great place to be, more specifically staniding in front of this early Picasso

The NGA is a great place to be, more specifically standing in front of this early Picasso

Business casual

Business casual

NEW YORK CITY

I’ve been lucky enough to make three trips to the city during my time at Hopkins; first for a weekend get-together with my sister, then for another go with both of my sisters, and most recently for a six-hour whirlwind tour for interviews at a few museums. It’s definitely somewhere I could some myself living at some point, so it’s always an exciting place to explore.

Trip 1: The only evidence I could find, but I'm not complaining. The Meatball Shop = everything

Trip 1: The only evidence I could find, but I’m not complaining. The Meatball Shop = everything

Trip 2: Siblings On Ice

Trip 2: Siblings On Ice

Trip 3: A brief moment of repose amid interviews

Trip 3: A brief moment of repose amid interviews

ITHACA

Visiting friends at their colleges is one of my favorite pastimes — getting to see them in their natural collegiate environments is always fun, so it’s a chance I never turn down.

*Pun about gorges that I still don't quite understand*

*Pun about gorges that I still don’t quite understand*

SPENCERTOWN

A few hours on the train this summer brought me to this city in Upstate New York for a weekend with my grandpa. Nearby larger towns with outdoor music venues and contemporary art spaces, Spencertown has its own rural appeal and is definitely somewhere worth visiting.

Bliss

Bliss

A quick side-trip to MASS MoCA

A quick side-trip to MASS MoCA

A long overdue visit made possible by some east coast serendipity

A long overdue visit made possible by some east coast serendipity

FRANCE

ALSACE

The Alsace region consists of the easternmost region of France and consequently shares a border with our neighbors in Germany. I had the chance to escape the city and visit Strasbourg and Obernai, both of which I would highly recommend for their small-town charm and delicious cuisine.

Seal of approval

Seal of approval

SEINE-EN-MARNE

This day trip included visits to two châteaux: Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte. Going around these enormous royal residencies and learning about the lives of those who inhabited the meticulously decorated rooms was very cool and gives a new way to think about French history.

Fontainebleau as seen from its gardens

Fontainebleau as seen from its gardens

Overlooking the gardens (that would later serve as a model for Verasilles) at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Is this real life?

Overlooking the gardens (that would later serve as a model for Verasilles) at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Is this real life?

GIVERNY

A day in Giverny is all you could imagine and then some. Monet’s house and gardens are amazing, and as we visited on the last possible weekend when the two are open, fall had began to change the esprit of this small town into something much more real. Definite props to Monet for spending the latter part of his life in such a remarkable place.

Imagine waking up every morning, strolling on over here, and painting. Not bad, huh?

Imagine waking up every morning, strolling on over here, and painting. Not bad, huh?

Oh, hello

Oh, hello

MARSEILLE

My favorite trip to date, Marseille is a very chill port city in the south of France. I spent the weekend here in the current European Culture Capital with three friends and had a great time exploring the Vieux Port, taking a boat out to the nearby Mediterranean islands, cooking, relaxing and going out.

Marseille from the hilltops

Marseille from the hilltops

L'archipel du Frioul

L’archipel du Frioul

I want to go to there (again)

I want to go to there (again)

I can’t wait for my travels to extend to all of Europe, but in the meantime I’ve really enjoyed my French adventures so far. In the same way that the east coast offers so much potential travel, France has likewise shown me a great time and an even cooler culture. I think that going to school on the east coast sets you up for four years of exploring new places, and I have no regrets in crossing that Mississippi River in return for such a great opportunity.