10 Oct One Short Semester

Last week when I talked to my brother, I asked him how his classes were going. He didn’t think it was very valid question–I’d forgotten how late quarter system schools started, and he’d only had about two days of class. Here’s it’s completely different. We’re in the middle of Week 6, meaning most people are done with the first round of midterms in classes with several midterms, and just getting ready for the first round of one-midterm-only classes. Some version or another of a cold seems to be sweeping campus, and we had a few days of coat-worthy weather this weekend

With all of that going on, it should be a pretty bleak week/month. October’s never that much fun, I’ve been living on apple juice, bread, matzoh ball soup, and cold medicine for the last three days, I’ve got deadlines ahead and tests to worry about, but this October’s still managing to turn itself around and still be full of happier moments. Here are some of the things keeping this month happier!

1) WICKED. Prior to last week, I’d never seen a Broadway play or a touring Broadway play. Wicked is currently playing at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, and I had the chance to go last Friday night with some friends for my friend Abby’s 21st birthday. The show was absolutely amazing–I’ve had the soundtrack memorized since middle school, but seeing it live was incredible. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I’m so glad that I finally got the chance to see it! To make things even better, Kate, who volunteers at the Hippodrome was our usher!

Not enough camera battery left for flash, but that's us at the Hippodrome!

2) The Young Alumni return! This past weekend was Young Alumni Weekend, meaning that (most of) my friends who had graduated last year/the year before were back in Baltimore! It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone and being able to pretend that no time has passed.

3) Fall Fest. It’s definitely not the same as Spring Fair, but Fall Fest has grown considerably since my freshman year, and this year had a variety of fun events (and free t-shirts!) including a Haunted House (which I worked in and enjoyed scaring people in!).

4) Fall Break Adventure! I’m going on a road trip through the Shenandoah Valley with two of my friends this upcoming weekend. We’ve been researching fun/ridiculous things to do, and the contenders currently include a potato chip factory (with free samples), Luray Caverns (there’s also a maze there!), every single waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, and canoeing. It’ll be a much-deserved escape from school work, and we’re all incredibly excited for it.

5) Room decorations. I’ve been adding to my room decorations, and my living room decorations are approaching completion. Highlights include strings of lights EVERYWHERE and hundreds of pictures from old calendars and a printing frenzy the summer after freshman year.

Not-completely-fnished wall collage encouraging me to spend time working at my desk!

6) My pot of fresh matzoh ball soup just finished cooking right now. And hot soup makes everything better.

7) Political Science nerdiness in the form of Supreme Court obsessing and thesis planning. This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, which deals with affirmative action and precedents like Grutter v. Bollinger. I’ve been following this issue for a while now, and I’m very much waiting the Court’s opinion (and definitely considering going to the Supreme Court again when they announce the decision!). I’ve also been enjoying initial thesis research and planning–so far I’m very satisfied with my choice to write one!

8) Working with my new mock trial team! I’m captaining one of the development teams this year, and so far I’m really happy with this decision and experience. It’s really fun working with people who are new to the program (which I didn’t do last year on a team with returners), and I love our new set of freshman (and a few upperclassmen!) who are joining us this year. Our first tournament is pushed back this time too, which gives us more time to prepare (and be ready to WIN).

9) Getting to know all of the new SAABabies! We have ten wonderful new freshmen, and it’s been fun getting to know them in person at the meetings/Open House and through their blogs!

10) I’m really enjoying all of my classes this semester. I was genuinely sad that I couldn’t go to class for the past two days, and I’m interested in all of the reading. I’ve got an amazing mix of professors, which makes the class time enjoyable and interesting, but I’m also really interested in the subject material (even for political theory, more on that later!).



25 Sep On “Lasts” and Senior Year

I’m always keeping track of when things are in the future, how long it’s been something important (or weirdly memorable) happened, and noting the “lasts:” the last time I’ll move into a dorm, the last time I’ll be able to walk down Charles Street, the last time I’ll get excited for the Mock Trial case being released. I like knowing about the environment I’m living in, and how to best take advantage of that. I know how to get from Schaffer to Mudd in the rain without getting wet. I know where all of the buildings (even ones like Jenkins and Levi) on campus are. I know which time of day you shouldn’t go to the FFC or Nolan’s because it’s just too crowded.

But next year, none of that really matters anymore. The four (almost five, if I count my time obsessively reading Hopkins Interactive during my senior year of high school) years of worth of weird pieces of knowledge about this school and my time here aren’t going to be hugely relevant. Remembering which place at UPenn is best for grabbing a quick lunch at a tournament? Knowing which chairs on B-level are the most comfortable? Figuring out which vegetarian Meals in a Minute comes closest to providing a real lunch? All pretty useful to have this year, but they’ll all have little to no use next year.

Memories, May 2012: Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

I think that’s why I’m treasuring these “lasts” so much. They’re still things that are predictable, things that I know I’m going to be able to complete this year. If you talk to most seniors on campus right now, the common feeling is “WaitthisisthefirstunplannedyearofmylifeHELPwhatdoIdo?” and/or the classic ostrich move of sticking our heads in the sand and pretending we don’t have to face any of this life planning. Lasts still have that bittersweet quality about them–they’re not lasting forever, and labeling them as “last” really makes that hit home–but “last” also indicates earlier occurrences, and a reminder of past good memories. It’s harder to realize the “lasts” after they’ve happened. It’s hard ending anything, but it’s even harder if you didn’t know something was ending.

But there’s also a lot to be said for just enjoying the time I have left here without making sure I’ve remembered each tiny “last.” Some are much more important than others–I’m sure I’ll remember big ones like my last week of undergraduate classes and I know that I’m already going to remember certain things from this year. Making memories is something that’s been incredibly important for me during my time here, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this year takes me!

Memories, August 2012: 2 1/2 miles into the Zion Narrows! (Photo credits to my dad!)


20 Aug Dear 2016,

Dear 2016,

Most of you are still at home at this point, eagerly (and/or nervously) waiting for move-in next week. Some of you are here in the dorms already for early move-in, and waiting for your roommate/suitemates/floormates. You might have already met your roommate, or you might still be trying to figure out if they’re one of the few teenagers left without a facebook. You’re trying to figure out how to fit everything you need for college into two checked bags and a carry-on, or you’re trying to figure out if the car that was big enough to hold you, your carseat, and your diaper bag is big enough to hold you, your entire wardrobe, and your schoolbag. You’re excited for classes to start, but you’re also worrying about taking too many writing/math/lab classes.

You’re excited to live in the AMRs, but still can’t imagine why there isn’t AC there. You’re excited to live in Building A/B, but you’re still wondering if all of the unsociable rumors about them are true. You’re excited to live in Wolman, but can’t figure out how you’ll get any work done in a building that has its own movie theater. You’re excited to live in Hopkins Inn, but still can’t figure out how exactly Hopkins has managed to convert a bed and breakfast into your dorm room.

You’ve heard mixed things about the FFC, and you’re wondering how people still manage to gain the Freshman Fifteen, or you’re excited for the FFC, and brag to all of your friends about your unlimited meal plan. You’ve seen pictures of Brody Learning Commons, and are excited about getting to choose between there and Gilman to study (and you pity 2013-ers like me, who only had the library freshman year). You’re excited for SAC Fair, because you’ve already made a list of twenty different activities you’re interested in, and you’re still holding out hope that part of the Orientation packet contains a Timeturner.

You’ve figured out that you want to start doing research, and you’ve already spent hours looking at research that different professors are doing. You’ve spent time trying to figure out how to get to the Med School using public transportation before realizing that the JHMI will take you there for free. You’ve already planned out your post-college plans, even though part of you knows deep down that you’ll probably change majors and career plans at least once.

You’re sad to leave behind your pets, but you’re also hopeful that you’ll find the elusive squabbit, and you’re also heard rumors of puppies on the Beach at the end of the semester.

You’ve already gotten excited when you found out Hopkins had a beach, and already experienced the letdown that comes when you realize that it’s made of grass, and not sand, that people play Frisbee and not beach volleyball on it, and that the biggest noise there is from traffic, not waves breaking on the shore. You’ve already got plans to visit friends at schools in New York, and Philadelphia, and Washington DC, or you’re the only one from your high school in this region and you’re braving this new adventure alone. You’ve got plans to learn a new language, or several. You have a shortlist of ten countries where you would like to study abroad, and twenty different internships you’d like to hold during the summer after your freshman year.

You’ve already looked up the classes you want to take at the Rec Center, or you’re celebrating the fact that you never have to take another mandatory PE class. You still have to remember to check your JHU email, or you figured out to forward it your Gmail back in May. You’re already wondering when they’re going to post spring semester classes, and if attempting 25 credits really is impossible. You know you’re going to miss your best friends from home, but you’re pretty confident you’ll also find other new friends at school.

You’re excited. You’re nervous. You’re the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2016, and you’ve got this.


12 Aug Summer (Program) Lovin’

Earlier this year in my education sociology class, we had an assignment where we discussed a few moments or factors that had had a significant impact on our education and attitude towards education. It was one of those assignments that you think you’ll be able to knock out in an hour or two, just talk about something basic that’s not wrong but not very probing or insightful either, turn in on blackboard, and then not think about until the professor announces that grades are up. That was my original plan. I was having a busy week between classes, an upcoming tournament, and other responsibilities, and I didn’t have a lot of interest in looking really intensely at this topic.

And then I started getting distracted, and brainstorming by hand (being a “grown-up” means that you can use as much printer paper as you want, and the markers whenever you want), and what had been a relatively within-length outline for my essay on my educational influences suddenly became a several page tribute to my summers in Virginia attending a summer program at UVA.

Those summers were undoubtedly the highlight of my academic life up until college. They were my first taste of college life, my first time being completely surrounded by other people who cared about being in an academic atmosphere, my first time appreciating how awesome a buffet-style meal plan can be (and these cafeterias had biscuits and tater tots and softserve machines!). Those summers showed me what college was like, and made me look forward to college even more.

Nerd Camp Love, July 2005

Summer 2010 and 2011 brought Pre-College. Pre-College 2010 was a last-minute decision--I didn’t sign the contract until the last possible minute because I was so conflicted--and one the best decisions I’ve made throughout college. Anyone who has read my blogs during the last two summers or has talked to me about those experiences knows how much they mean to me. Pre-College taught me so much, and I learned and got so much being on the other side of a summer residential academic program. Not being directly involved this summer has really made me appreciate it so much more--I truly love and value what these different programs have given me. There’s something about these types of environments--the people, the interests, the values, the spontaneity, the appreciation, and the people again. They’ve affected me for the better in more ways than they probably know.

PC Staff Love, July 2010

What does this relate to anything going on right now? For me, the summer programs have been illustrative of the types of environments I wanted to create for myself in college--full of people who cared about both academics and having fun. I like to think I’ve found that here--and that I’m still living my college years like I’m at nerd camp (or on a sleepover!)

And here’s one of my favorite PC memories: Upside Down, by the RA*Teens



20 Jul Sunnytime in the Summertime

Today, it hasn’t made it in the nineties, and the sun hasn’t come out. That’s been pretty much an anomaly for the rest of this summer…Mother Nature and climate change have blessed Baltimore with some heat and humidity, not to mention thunder storms knocking out a lot of the power in in the Mid-Atlantic. For the most part, however, the rain has stayed away, leaving some pretty beautiful days.

The Baltimore v. DC Food Truck Rally. Baltimore and DC each sent about 20 food trucks to Wesport, just south of the Inner Harbor and easily accessible via light rail, to let visitors decide which city had the better food truck. Food trucks tend to bring out niche vendors selling only popcorn or cupcakes or grilled cheese, but they do it well! Joe and I circled the entire event once just reading the menus, before buying different parts of our meals at different trucks. Lots of delicious food, and an adventure to a part of Baltimore that I'd never been before!


Reason #1 to buy lots of ripe fruit at the local farmer's market: you have a really good excuse to turn all of it into cobbler! I've gotten in the habit this summer of going to the Waverly Farmer's Market most weekends, and I wish I'd started sooner. At this point in the year, there's a great produce selection, and I've found that pretty much everything I want to buy is either cheaper than grocery store produce (or unavailable, hello fresh rhubarb!). There are also a variety of prepared food vendors, which make for a delicious breakfast/brunch (epanadas, samosas, croissants, etc!).


Druid Hill Park. Druid Hill is southwest of campus, and includes a reservoir, a conservatory, the Baltimore Zoo, a weekly farmer's market, a pool and rec center, and a lot of really nice land. My friend and I decided to go for the farmer's market, but discovered a lot more along the way!


The Rawlings Conservatory is in the background of this picture--we didn't have time to go inside before in closed, but from what we saw through the windows, it looked really interesting. The bench in front is actually also a planter; if you look closely you can see that there's grass growing in the seat, and the back of the bench is a tree!

One of the fun things about the Druid Hill Farmer's Market is the fact that they have so many events going on there. On the day we went, they had yoga, a storytime reading, hula hoops, sprinklers, and a hayride. We embraced our inner eight year old, and enjoyed the sprinklers, hula hoops, and the hayride (which goes on a tour of part of Druid Hill Park).

For the Fourth of July, my friend Carolyn and I decided to have an adventure day in Washington, DC. We both really wanted to see the fireworks there, and both share a taste in nerdy and awesome museums. We spent over four hours in the Spy Museum, reading every single part of every single exhibit, and succesfully passing the spy identity test at the end (they give you a spy identity and mission in the beginning, and there are tasks related to that throughout the museum). After dinner, we staked out our spot on the National Mall, and waited for about an hour and a half for the fireworks (during which time I also made friends with the four year old sitting next to me, which seems to be a recurring theme this summer). The fireworks show itself was AMAZING, and beautiful to watch. This is one of the few not-completely-blurry pictures from the night.


28 Jun I WAS THERE (Part II)

My list of reasons to put myself in situations that could require all-nighters or sleeping on concrete is pretty short. I added “seeing historical Supreme Court cases being argued” to it back in March, but I figured that was the end of that sort of adventure for the near future. As amazing as being at the Court is, the ten hours spent in sub-freezing temperatures, the lack of sleep, and the wide variety of cases the Supreme Court takes (we each have our interests, and cases involving banking are not included in my interests) are still pretty big deterrents from doing this on a regular basis.

Being the policy/politics nerd that I am, I had already spent time discussing my optimistic predictions (uphold, Roberts writing the opinion, with Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsberg joining), when the case would be decided (on the last day SCOTUS was meeting, which meant either this Monday, or later in the week, because Monday had its own exciting cases [“show your papers” section of the controversial Arizona immigration law upheld, Citizens United essentially affirmed because the Montana challenge wasn’t going to be heard, no life in prison without parole sentences for juveniles]), and the effects on the presidential campaign (hello attack ads galore). But I didn’t really consider going, until early this week, when I noticed that there weren’t any articles or mentions of lines to view Monday’s decisions.

Monday was seen as a potential decision day for healthcare, and although it wasn’t the actual decision day, it seemed to be the trial run for procedures on a day when a major decision like this would be released. But there weren’t articles about lines. In March, there was coverage of the lines, the people who’d spent days there, and how many people were let in each day. But that wasn’t present here, so I started getting interested in going.

And long story short, I went. Here’s my adventure through pictures!

The Supreme Court at night. I got there at about 11:30 that night, and met my neighbors. Practically everyone I talked to over the course of the night was an intern, a law student, or both, and people had very differing views on predictions/hopes for the next day.


The view from my "bed" (concrete mattress, my sleeping bag, and my sweatshirt as a pillow)

Things I wish I hadn't been awake to learn: the press starts setting up at 3:15 am. (Picture taken around 5:45am)

The Capitol in the morning (view from my sleeping bag)

The Tea Party arrives, c. 6am.

Me in front of even more press-related people, 7:15am.


A golden ticket! (this wouldn't be my blog without some bad puns, sorry I'm not sorry!). c. 7:45am.

In the building, waiting to be let into the courtroom. We had over an hour before we went in, so we could go to the fanciest cafeteria I've ever seen, as well as wait in the hallways with portraits and statues for 45 minutes longer than they said we were supposed to...

This part is where you use your imagination. The Supreme Court itself does not allow any electronics, so no pictures inside here!

Brief recap: There are still several other cases besides healthcare, and of course they start with those other cases. Luckily, they aren’t as exciting or complex (although I was proud of myself for following the First Amendment arguments in the Stolen Valor Act discussion), and Chief Justice Roberts began the announcement at 10:05. The fact that Roberts was writing the opinion wasn’t a huge surprise. The CJ gets to claim or assign opinions, and it’s only natural that he would want it in a case this big and defining for his court. The only surprise was which was this opinion would go. He certainly didn’t make it easy for people to figure out. Although his discussion was clearly laid out, his tone and language seemed to indicate that he (and the majority) would strike it down. After announcing that the individual mandate was not constitutional under the commerce clause, a lot of people (and by people I also mean CNN and Fox News!) thought that the entire law had been struck down.

BUT THEY WERE WRONG. Roberts and the majority held that this was an allowable exercise of federal power under Congress’ ability to tax, aka INDIVIDUAL MANDATE UPHELD (it’s still exciting, and fully deserve capslock). They also held that the Medicare expansion plan as written was unconstitutional, but the opinion was written in a way that makes other plans acceptable.

All in all, a solid day at the SCOTUS.

What we saw while leaving the Court!

The other fun thing to do at the Court is people-watch. It’s a good place to see big names in the legal world/political world, and we ended up sitting two rows (about five feet) from Michele Bachmann, who left hurriedly after Roberts announced that the mandate was upheld. When we exited the building we found her again, in the middle of the happy crowds/protesters/counter-protesters.

People everywhere!

Beautiful Day


20 Jun SAILabration!

This time I’m not responsible for the pun.

Sailabration was a week long festival this past week in the Inner Harbor and general Baltimore-ish area, in commemoration of the War of 1812 bicentenniel. The War of 1812 is a big historical event; Fort McHenry was one of the major locations, Francis Scott Key and what would become the National Anthem, etc. The Sailabration was Baltimore’s way of commemorating this event while also providing a huge event for the city.

War of 1812 illustrated through sand

I had initially heard about the Sailabration a few weeks ago, but hadn’t thought about it until I went down to the Inner Harbor area last Wednesday to meet a friend for dinner. We had dinner in Canton, and decided to walk back along the edge of the Harbor. Along the way, we started seeing more and more of the ships. This was the first day of Sailabration, so they weren’t as crowded as on the weekend (when the lines to go on the ships were longer than the ships), so we had a chance to go on the Indonesian, Ecuadorian, and Mexican boats.

The Mexican ship (this picture was taken on Sunday, which is why there are so many people in it!)

All of the ships that we went on are used as teaching/goodwill mission ships. They all had maps showing where they had been in recent years (all over the world). I went back on Sunday to see more ships, and at this point, there were more smaller ships, as well as several research and battle ships from the US.

US ships at the end of the Pier 6 Pavillion

The weekends also had more than just entertainment on land. The Blue Angels, the display team for the US Navy were also doing demonstrations over the southern Baltimore area. The planes were being displayed at Martin State Airport, a small local airport serving private and corporate traffic, and on Saturday and Sunday afternoon were doing in-air displays, along with a variety of other helicopters and planes.

One of the early flyovers on Sunday

High-speed airplanes performing stunts are one of the harder things to photograph (especially with a point and shoot!), but here’s proof I saw them!

proof, albeit blurry

I was talking to someone this week about Baltimore in the summer, and we agreed that there’s at least one festival or major event going on every weekend, in addition to other weekly events or smaller events during the week. I’m definitely taking advantage of my last guaranteed summer in the mid-Atlantic by taking advantage of all of this (as well as the easy travel opportunities) so check back for more updates on Baltimore summer fun!


05 Jun 36 Hours in Baltimore, Part II

If you’re just reading this blog now, I highly recommend you go back first and read part I of our whirlwind weekend in Baltimore! When we left off, Saturday had drawn to a close and Sunday was just beginning……..


10:00 a.m.

Kevin: Ugh. Mornings. Not gonna happen.

Miranda: Mornings. Gonna happen.


Kevin: Okay, time to get up. We call Miranda to see if she wants to do brunch. She’s up to cook! She comes over and we make small pancakes with syrup and these baked apples things. And by cook, I mean that Miranda cooks while I remain comatose on the couch. Love my life.

Miranda: Remember the story of the Little Red Hen? The one who does all of the work and no one wants to help her but then everyone wants to help her eat? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Little Red Rob and Miranda, and Kevin trying (and succeeding) to share in our wonderful cooking (aka pumpkin pancakes and stuffed apples).

summertime, and the living is easy


Kevin: Pool time! The water was super-cold so I didn’t go in but it was nice to sit out in the sun and look gorgeous.

Miranda: As anyone in my family can attest to, whenever I visit anywhere with a pool I really want to go in it, and act like I’m approximately 8 years old. This morning was no exception, and I persuaded them that we should play.

12:30 p.m.

Kevin: Miranda has work to do, Emily is at a wedding, and my Rob and I are a little bored. We decide to check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, located at the southern edge of the Hopkins campus. They had a huge casting of Rodin’s The Thinker, a big collection of Matisse paintings, and other great collections from around the globe. I like it!

Miranda: After walking the mile or so home from Rob’s apartment, I take care of some things I need to get ready before I start my internship (!!!) on Tuesday, and try to convince myself to walk to the grocery store.


Kevin: A side of North Charles street is blocked off from cars and I can hear music in the background – what could it be? Turns out that today is the Charles village festival, where vendors set up shops, musicians play free outdoor concerts, and I bask in the sunshine of this beautiful Baltimore day. I bought a little puppy marionette doll and named him Avery!

Welcome to the family, Avery!

Miranda: I’m staying this summer in Homewood, which is right across the street from Charles Village Festival! I briefly stopped by to check it out earlier in the day, but I still get to enjoy the music and the not swelteringly hot nice weather through my window!


Kevin: Reunited with Miranda! We walk down Charles street to a supermarket so we can get ingredients for dinner – Pierogies! Walking back to her summer lodgings in the Homewood apartment building seems daunting with these bags, so we call the Blue Jay shuttle to pick us up and bring us home. It’s a really great service that will send a van to pick students up during the evenings and take them where they need to get to, as long as everything is within a 1-mile radius of the campus.

Miranda: Kevin gives me the initiative to go to the grocery store, so we go to Safeway, which is at 25th and Charles. I would go here two summers ago when I was living in Homewood, but it’s pretty far away from where I was living during the last two years, so I went elsewhere instead. However, Safeway is awesome because it reminds me of my supermarket from home and because it’s got the biggest produce section of the local stores. Kevin had to deal with my slightly disorganized shopping plan and me bemoaning everything English I wanted that they didn’t sell (“There’s at least ten things they don’t have here!” “Ten? Really, Miranda?” “Yes! I’ll name them!” And I did!), but we ended up with some pretty good food anyway (including the last eggplant in the whole store).


Kevin: Cooking in Homewood! I’m in charge of sauté-ing the pierogies while Miranda makes salad. She’s low on plates, so we decide to go a little rustic/hipster with our meal. I think it turned out great and it tasted absolutely delicious. Rob came over after we sent tantalizing pictures of our food and we all had a great laugh over the gigantic sunburn I acquired through my exploits outside for the day. I’m unhappy, I currently look like a tomato. A pretty tomato, but that’s still not okay.

Miranda: Dinner time! We decide to make things interesting, and eat dinner off of baking sheets, which are useful because nothing will fall off of them! Our dinner is delicious, Rob is jealous and joins us (which was our plan the whole time!) and we all try to take pictures of Kevin. He might actually return to Baltimore and inflict bodily harm if I post a picture of him, so I’ll be nice! He did resemble a pretty tomato though :)

the salad server fork was only for the picture, don't worry


Kevin: Emily left her wedding, which was held in the sculpture garden here on campus (aww!) and we all went together to her humble abode, a row house a few blocks from campus where she rents out a room and capped off the dinner with an always classy favorite, mac and cheese, and chocolate croissants. They were amazing.

Miranda: Emily’s house is amazing. She’s also amazing, because she made us mac and cheese. We also made croissants from a can (keeping it classy), some of which weren’t chocolate, because some of us don’t like chocolate!


Kevin: Movie night – Rent! It was a great way to cap off such a wonderful day!

Miranda: Rent with my mock trial family (minus Nissa, who’s off in Alabama!). Emily and I keep getting excited and starting to sing, and Rob and Kevin give us blank looks. They’ll sing along next time though!

Kevin: Voilà my 36 Hours in Baltimore! I was sad to leave the next morning but apparently there’s this weird thing called the “real world” and we all needed to get back to it. Pfft.

Miranda: Summer is awesome because did you notice how many times we talked about homework? NONE. Anyway, we had a lovely weekend and we hope you enjoy reading about it!


27 Apr Addendum

(You can read my original Why Hopkins post here.)

I was talking to an admitted student today, and she asked me about my favorite thing at Hopkins. It’s undoubtedly the people. They’re what make me excited to go to class, excited to go to a mock trial meeting or tutorial or out to dinner, excited to be here at Hopkins. It’s a network of people that includes people like my professors who show that they care and make extra office hours so that you can stop panicking about your paper, the security guard in the library who does rounds so that she can “check on her babies,” the FFC workers whose smiles make you happy got decided to get up for breakfast, my friends who are constantly there for me, and the people who create an atmosphere that’s welcoming, friendly, and distinctly nerdy and academic at the same time. Here’s what I’d tell myself, c. August 2009.

They’ll pick you up when you fall down. It’s not just literal (although they’ll done that for you too, maybe even post photographic evidence on facebook). They’ll be there for you when you fail a test, or don’t get the internship you wanted, or just have a rough day. They’ll be the ones looking out for you, and make sure you don’t stay down. They’ll be able to tell just from how you say “I’m fine” (even over a text message) if you’re actually fine, or if you’re just pretending you are. You’ll even have professors notice too, and make sure that you’re able to deal with whatever you’re going through.

They'll give you a chance to reenact prom.

They’ll let you enjoy being a nerd, but make you have fun as well. They’ll give you that academic atmosphere you looked forward to. They’ll make an environment where you can get excited about what cases the Supreme Court was hearing, or make a chemistry joke, or mention an article you’ve read and have other people know exactly what you’re talking about.

They’ll let you  discover that it’s not just all work or all play. It’s a healthy mix of both, and people here will help you remember that. You’ll find somewhere where academics are valued, and where you can get excited and talk about our papers or potential research or your upcoming internship.

They'll plan dorm room picnic Hanukkah celebrations.

They’ll make you wonder how you could have lived without these people for so long, and how you’re going to deal without seeing them on a semi-regular basis after you (or they!) graduate.

They’ll show you how to balance meticulous planning and complete spontaneity. They’ll be the ones urging you to start your giant paper early, and they’ll also be the ones persuading you to take an impromptu study break to do karaoke.

They'll go on adventures with you.

They’ll push you to explore your dreams, and interests. They’ll be your biggest fan and your harshest critic at the same time, and you’ll thank them for it at the end.

They’ll convince you to take a class with them, because they didn’t want to take it alone, and you’ll end up adding a new minor as a result.

They'll help you try out the recipes you found when you were supposed to be doing homework.

They’ll fill your inbox with news articles, restaurant reviews, and funny pictures of kittens, and you’ll do the same to them.

They’ll figure out how to get you home when you miss the collegetown shuttle, and they’ll show you that you don’t need to take a cab to the airport.

They'll give you one of the best team experiences you've ever had.

They’ll read over applications and cover letters for you at the last minute, and you’ll do the same for them.

They’ll make you a surprise birthday cake and take you out to dinner.

They'll come visit you, and you'll go visit them.

They’ll be the people who you bring you medicine and make you soup when you’re sick.

They’ll share their care packages and notes from class when you’re sick and dresses and hair straighteners and advice and curly fries and umbrellas and memories.

They'll help you find your way.

They’ll remind you, on a daily basis, why Hopkins.














15 Apr Why Hopkins? It’ll make a (wo)man out of you.

(Edit: You can read the addendum to this post here).

Hopkins is tough. It’s not a place where people are going to guide you everywhere, show you what to do, and make your decisions for you. It’s a place where you’re going to figure out what you want, figure out how to make that happen, and learn more about yourself along the way. A lot of the time, the resources will be there for you. And sometimes, they won’t be. You might have to make your own resources, push boundaries, and work hard so that you can get yourself where you want to be.

This is a story about making my own way, and working with what I have to create what I want.

I entered Hopkins my freshman year as a very different person from who I am today. I was much more timid and shy, not hugely assertive or confident in my abilities to succeed at Hopkins, and I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do while at college, or afterwards. I entered as a history major, and first semester convinced me that that wasn’t the answer. I loved my political science class, I wasn’t as gung-ho about history as I thought I was, and I thought that there was more out there to try. And there was. By the end of my freshman year, I’d taken classes in History, French, Political Science, Applied Math, Economics, Anthropology, English, and Earth Science. When I was choosing classes for sophomore year, all the political science classes appealed to me, and I ended up taking three of them. I’d loved Mock Trial my freshman year, and very much enjoyed my role as an attorney there. I loved the fast-paced analytical thinking, the debate, the pressure. I was convinced law school was the right option for me.

I could have stopped right there. We’ve got a pre-professional advising office that helps prepare students for law school. J-connect, our internship/career database, has legal jobs posted all the time. Going to law school and becoming a lawyer is a good choice for many people. I still get excited about the law, I’m taking a class right now through Hopkins and the University of Maryland Law School, I camped out at the Supreme Court to see the ACA hearings, and I still like doing constitutional research. But I realized that this wasn’t all I liked, and this wasn’t necessarily all that I wanted to do with my life. Sophomore spring exposed the fields of education policy, and education in general to me. I realized again how much I cared about these topics and how much I wanted to end up in this field.

I also realized how little–and how much–I was being prepared for my future.

I’m going to be completely honest here. This isn’t the best school to go to if you’re just looking to become a teacher. There’s no traditional education major or minor. The vast majority of the education coursework I’ve done here has been the result of me taking an opportunity to write a paper on what I want to write about–something related to education law or policy. There’s no accelerated master’s program with the School of Education. It’s hard to meet grad school prereqs because Hopkins simply doesn’t offer all of the classes needed to apply to certain teaching programs.

But this is a school to go to if you’re looking to be prepared for the future and make the most of any situation. I’ve gained many transferable skills over the last two and a half years. My writing has improved, both in the quality of my writing, and in the quantity of writing I can produce. I’m much better at analysis, whether it’s academic (a primary source for my history class, a policy proposal, or a Supreme Court opinion) or in other forms, such as reading people or making decisions. My time management and organization have increased significantly. I’ve gained skills outside of the classroom. I’m much more assertive, and I’ve gotten much better at standing up for myself and others. I’ve taken on new responsibilities, I’ve learned how to plan events, and I’ve learned how to work in a team.

These are the skills I’m going to take with me into the future. These are the skills that I’m going to be able to take with me to grad school. These are the skills I’m going to take with me into the classroom. And these are the skills that I’ve developed during my time at Hopkins.

It’s been a tough semester mentally. This is the first semester I’ve had to focus a large amount of time on the future–I have a year left to complete prerequisites for grad school, which means that I needed to essentially plan out my senior year schedule this spring before registration. It means I needed to be making decisions about where I wanted to end up, what sorts of programs I favored, dealing with people questioning my decisions and the legitimacy of my career choice, and facing the question that’s dogged me throughout Hopkins: Am I prepared for this?

I came into Hopkins feeling under-prepared. Feeling like I was the kid who had slipped under the Admissions Office’s radar, and really wasn’t supposed to be there. Feeling like I was the kid who was being judged for not having the same SAT-word enriched vocabulary. Feeling like I wasn’t going to succeed. But I succeeded that first semester, and I’ve continued to succeed. Hopkins can bring that out in people. You’ll find yourself capable of things you never thought you could do, beating down limits you never thought you could reach.

I’ve grown so much over the last three years here. I’ve surpassed limits I thought I could never reach. I’ve become a better student, and much more importantly, a better person. That’s what I want to take with me when I leave college. It’s not a traditional “Why Hopkins” story, but it’s “Why Hopkins” for me.

Here's to making it! (photo creds Aunt Anne)