When I wrote my last blog entry, I was a fresh graduate from Hopkins and didn’t quite “feel” like an alumna. (On a slightly tangential note: if you’re curious, here’s my first blog entry for Hopkins Interactive as an undergraduate: CLICK HERE.) Two months later, several events and trends have helped me get accustomed to my new phase in life: getting adjusted to my new role as full-time research technologist in the same neuroscience lab where I did undergraduate research, saying farewell to several of my friends from the Class of ’10 as they left Baltimore, moving from my senior year apartment at Homewood Apartments to a new apartment in a different building, and more. Thus, it’s now time for me to say a formal farewell on the Internet to my undergraduate life at Hopkins, as well as blogging as a student for Hopkins Interactive.
As cliché as it might sound, my young 20-plus self has come to learn in life that saying goodbye is always difficult to some degree. You can say many different kinds of goodbyes in your life: from saying goodbye to someone who has passed away, to saying goodbye to someone who’s moving to another town/state/country, to a community where you lived and had many wonderful memories, and so on. Still, after forming an emotional connection with someone or a community, there’s some kind of “tugging of the heart strings” when you have to part ways and say goodbye.
Given that I’ve spent four years living, studying, working, socializing, and growing (in many ways–except physically) as an undergraduate at Hopkins, saying goodbye to my college days is definitely a tough farewell. Yes, I’m still a part of the Johns Hopkins community not only as an alumna but also as an employee, but I’m at the East Baltimore Campus (where the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions are located) for the majority of my waking hours. To an extent, two months of full-time work here have made me feel almost as though I might as well have moved on to a new city besides Baltimore.
There are so many things that I miss (and will continue to miss) about my college life–back during the last month of my senior year, I even wrote a blog entry detailing some of those things. Now that I’m a two-month alumna, I can say that I was right in my speculations three months ago! I think what I miss most, though, is something that I didn’t write in that entry: the relative sense of innocence and youth that I had during my college years compared to now.
Of course, I wasn’t as innocent when I was 18, 19, 20, and 21 years old as I was when I was five years old! Still, as you grow older, you learn more things about life and become wiser–so, in a sense, you’re more innocent now to some extent than you will be in the future. And, what I mean about missing the sense of innocence and youth that I had in college is that I’ll miss the experience of learning what I learned for the first time in college: from ways to study a lot more efficiently, to dealing with living with non-relative roommates, to navigating a new city (i.e., Baltimore) on my own, and more.
What do I miss the second-most? The sense that “the real world” is something in the future–but, now, I’m right in the middle of it as a full-time employee. Sure, I plan to pursue a master’s degree, and eventually a medical degree, but paying for graduate and professional school are entirely students’ responsibilities (instead of jointly between students and their parents); thus, in my view, graduate and professional school are as much as part of “the real world” as working full-time.
Around the time of final exams in the first week of May, someone from Hopkins sent a postcard to PostSecret: CLICK HERE. At the time, I, too, was nervous about going out into the real world–and, I, too, was hoping that my four years at Hopkins were worth it. I thus found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with the postcard. Hopkins wasn’t a state school. It wasn’t inexpensive to attend, and it wasn’t a place where I could party whenever I wanted. If I wasn’t studying or participating in an extracurricular activity, I was working to cover the expenses that my financial aid couldn’t.
Now that I’m working full-time, I’m doing a lot of budgeting; I try to have as few daily and monthly expenses as possible in order to save money for paying off my undergraduate loans and paying for graduate and medical school. Do I find myself wondering every now and then whether it might have been better off to take an easier route and attend state school? Definitely. Still, in just two months after graduation, I’ve realized that I learned two very valuable lessons in my four years at Hopkins: how to speak up for myself and how to question everything around me, instead of simply accepting what I was told.
So, was it worth it? For me, it was.
With that said, I bid a fond farewell to my college days–and to sharing my college experiences via Hopkins Interactive for four years. I hope my four years’ worth of blogging, as well as answering prospective college students’ and parents’ questions on online forums and in person at open houses, have been helpful to families trying to make a decision on where to send their college students to study. My parting advice to the next generation of prospective students? Take a good, thorough look at the colleges you consider–including Hopkins. Thus, hopefully once you’re at that said college (especially at an institution such as Hopkins, where opportunities abound), take advantage of everything you can: academic resources, extracurricular resources, social resources, etc. Make the most out of your experience, because it’s ultimately up to you whether you enjoy your college years or not. It might sound cliché, but it really does boil down to perspective at the end of the day.
Take care, readers.
Photo Captions: (1) My freshman year housemates and me by the entrance of Wood House of AMR I in September 2006. (2) Three other freshmen girls in the Filipino Students Association (FSA) and me after Culture Show in November 2006. (3) Some members of the OLÉ Dance Group and me following a salsa performance in April 2007. (4) My sophomore (and junior) year roommates and me in January 2008. (5) Some JHU Classical Ballet Company members and me backstage during a performance in April 2009. (6) Three other senior members of FSA and me after Culture Show in November 2009. (7) Some members of the Hopkins Catholic Community and me at an off-campus retreat in April 2010. (8) Members of the ballet company and me in May 2010. (9) My mom and me (with my dad in the background) immediately after Commencement in May 2010.