As a high school student, I toured Hopkins twice. Both times it was bright and sunny and the grass on the quads was freshly cut. I sat through two info sessions and learned all about the university. I knew that there were 4 main quads, over 30 academic buildings, 8 university-owned residence buildings (and a handful of other on-campus residence buildings not owned by JHU), over 5 exercise/athletic facilities, and countless food courts and restaurants on and around campus.
Still, even with all of this knowledge, I spent the summer before my freshman year of college just wondering. What would being in college actually be like? I vividly remember a strange image that would come to mind each time I thought about what life would be like as a college student. In this image, it’s dark out. I’m walking next to a building, down a path lined with lampposts. I’m alone. This was my idea of ‘college’ before I arrived. The weirdest part is that I can still visualize this image, and the path that I envisioned as comprising all of ‘college’ is a real place on campus—it’s the path behind AMR1. What’s even weirder is that I didn’t live in AMR1 as a freshman and I must have walked this path only once during my entire time at Hopkins thus far.
Now, halfway through the first semester of my sophomore year, I’ve had ample time away from Hopkins (last intersession, last summer, and right now—since I’m currently at home in New York for fall break) to reflect on my time here, and I’ve come to a conclusion: when I think of Hopkins and what ‘college’ is like for me, my mind flies right past the quads, the academic buildings, the residence buildings, the exercise/athletic facilities, and the campus’ restaurants and eateries. I hate to undermine all that a campus tour or info session can teach a person about Hopkins (and I recognize that both are very important for prospective students during the college admissions process), but the actual ‘Hopkins experience’ cannot be fully understood through either of the two.
When I think of Hopkins, I don’t think of a quad or a building or a path. Instead, I think of moments. The time my friends and I played Secret Santa and all bought each other Pillow Pets. When my “Learn More, See More, B’More” co-host Noah called my big big big sister from Phi Mu and pretended to be me (she believed him). The day my friend, Rose, and I wrote a 4-page story together that we planned on sending to Fox TV’s Bones as a script suggestion (still in progress). The night my friend, Andrew, and I woke my twin sister up at 2AM by having a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” Whobiliation in her room (Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze!)
I absolutely appreciate the campus’ beauty; walking from class to class on a typical day, I feel so lucky that the quaint brick and marble buildings and paths around me belong to my university. The beautiful campus, however, has been around since 1876 and will be safely tucked away in Baltimore’s Charles Village long after my friends and I graduate. We’re the ones who won’t be here anymore—our memories, our moments, our friendships.
When I’m older, I may forget which building my Art History class met in or which quad the admissions building sat on. I’ll probably even forget the game of Secret Santa that my friends and I played, and the Whobilation that Andrew and I had in my sister’s room. It’s the people I’ve met and the bonds that we’ve created through the moments we’ve shared that I will carry with me forever. To me, Hopkins isn’t just a campus with quads and buildings; it’s friends, emotions, a feeling—a combination of security, warmth, and camaraderie.