Six and the City

Drained by the hustle and bustle of the internship applications cycle, I was tickled pink about how perfect of a timing spring break had arrived. By then, I was mentally worn down from rewriting cover letters over and over and blasting my resume on every job posting I could latch on to for days on days. I was over the moon to unplug and recharge, no matter where that was going to be – frankly, all I needed and wanted was a bed, Netflix, and food to keep me happy as a clam.

So once spring break heralded its arrival, I buckled up on the bed, with two fuzzy blankets wrapped around me like a burrito and my macbook perched on a pillow with Netflix playing on the screen indefinitely.

Soon after, the overwhelming levity in my days satiated my need for a break and my boyfriend and I decided to pack our bags and head to New York.

Though only two nights, the trip to New York was beyond fruitful. We stayed within the vicinity of a patch of Midtown New York, an area packed with an intense aliveness like no other. Though I had been to the Big Apple before, this time around, I was immediately struck by the internal rhythm of the city. The city buzzed with an eccentric mixture of lively ambition, nervous anxiety, unbridled hope, and comfortable anonymity.  The palpable vibrations – a stark contrast from that of Baltimore – allowed us to freshly reside in a frenzy that was, ironically, calming. 

During our stay, we invested our full trust on our handy dandy Google Maps and Yelp to guide us through the labyrinth of New York. Indeed, with their help, we hit the most highly rated restaurants and shops in vogue in the shortest amount of time. To top it all off, we spontaneously decided to buy tickets to a Broadway show, to which we now are finding it very difficult to stop the constant replay of the electrifying music of the show from our heads.

The old adage ringing true more so now than ever – “A picture is worth a thousand words”, it is with spirit that I invite you to see the six places and dishes that have stolen my heart in this eccentric slice of NYC.

 

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It was revitalizing how present I was at every moment. During my stay in New York, for a short while, I was able to rid society’s obsession of productivity and absorb the essence of time, the surrounding, and the people I was with, regardless how many things I was able to cross off my to-do list. It was singularly musical to be at a state of mind where I was aware of the syncing of my internal rhythm with that of the person I was traveling with, amidst a grander underlying rhythm of the city. The coexistent of multiple flows of time running parallel and divergently within and amongst the people and the city was at once cathartic and unifying.

Living in Baltimore, I am privy to the access of such metropolitan cities like New York in just a two and a half hour train ride. With these place at my fingertips, I am eager to visit them more often whenever I get the chance, for travel serves as an antidote for students stuck in the rigmarole of the college grind.

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Ink and Paper

      Growing up in a family of artists, I was considered the anomaly of the bunch. My father, an architect; my mother, an interior designer; my aunt, a fashion designer; my grandfather, a movie director; my brother, architecture graduate. And then, there was me, a lowly girl wanting to study brains. Whether my choice to pursue anything but art was a byproduct of wishing to be “different” from the rest or the consequence of my disillusionment of the artist life, my drive towards a non-artsy pursuit was something I took pride in. Though my coursework and extracurriculars in brain sciences were intriguing and continually inspiring(to say the least), given the background I grew up in, the inclination to crave for art was acutely present. At multiple points, I felt that there was a lack of creative outlet amidst the stultifying toil of college life and a sense of deprivation of the artistic spirit that used to inundate my daily life. 

      So, to take matters into my own hand, since the beginning of my sophomore year, I set out to bring art back into my life. I sang with the Peabody choir, applied for research examining color perception, and, perhaps most rewarding of all, enrolled in a visual arts class. As it being my first ever art class at a college setting, Introduction to Printmaking seemed daunting and unfeasible – an airy-fairy pursuit. Contrary to belief, it has proven to be one of the most inclusive and supportive environments I have ever been in. Cathartic yet stimulating, the class is full of people of diverse majors (ranging from Writing Sems to Computer Science) and of diverse ages who encourage each other, regardless of previous artistic experience, and help one another when things get out of control. On top of the support system within the student body, the physical nature of the studio – a sun-lit room where canvases lay astray in the room with paint-stained desks & chairs scattered all over- naturally elicits and calls forth a sense of relaxed creativity within all of us. In addition, because we are now people of a digital and pixelated age, the hands-on, paper & ink art class has become a necessary respite from the numbing illumination of a computer screen.

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      This class reminds me of a saying that has always stuck with me: “Bernstein’s greatest point of enthusiasm was his lifelong devotion to enamoring young people with [art]. He understood that love and learning are inextricably linked, that learning is a kind of love and love a kind of learning.” 

      At the onset of my sophomore year, my zest for art has been jolted through the resources that Hopkins offered and I can say, with ease, that I am enamored by it. Through the vessel of art, I hope I can love to learn, and learn to love. 

Research at the Med Campus

While many moan and groan the grueling rigmarole of college, one of the many things that people laud about the college life is the experience they get from research. Surely, the lessons taught through research is not only practical but also inspirational due to its showing nature of our personality and our qualities as a teammate and a critical thinker. Over the past few years, I have been a part of various research across a wide gamut of topics that taught me invaluable things: ranging from educational research to child development research to vision research to stroke patient research (which I am currently participating in). I could easily say that my research experience played a huge role in securing my pursuits of becoming a doctor. 

I first got in contact with my research PI by simply cold-emailing him of my interest. Before emailing him, I did a brief research on his past projects and the medical trajectory he was leading. After confirming my meeting time with him, we had a brief discussion about how my passion align with the current projects that are transpiring in his department (namely, the neurology department) and what I seek to gain from the research experience. 

He, being a such a supportive and welcoming research PI, invited me to come to his clinical rounds and shadow him during his patient viewings. While I tagged along behind him like a dog’s tail, it was one of the most moving experiences that showed me the gravity of the responsibility this position holds and how the dedication of becoming a doctor could be so rewarding both for the doctor and for the patient. Being surrounded by principled people in an amicable environment filled with people who are simply trying to help was the assurance I needed to confirm my passion and to get a taste of what it is like in the real-world. 

Not to mention, the experience of research urged me to challenge myself as a critical thinker in the projects we pursued and the papers we were publishing. I was able to have countless detailed and constructive discussion with my research PI about how to analyze MRI scans and deduce crucial information from patient notes and their bloodwork data. Being privy to this opportunity to get a hands-on experience on actual patients and what it is like to put our heads together to analyze the patients current state and how we can address the problem at hand was simply motivating. 

Through my time spent at the medical hospital, I have grown and learned more about myself than the couple of years spent in class. It is these applicable experiences that shape my values and guide my passion – a place no other than Hopkins can provide. 

Intersession Course: In depth

     At once liberating and challenging, this intersession period has proven to be, single-handedly, one of the most rewarding time spent at the university. By pure coincidence, the class that I had originally signed up for had cancelled two days before the session began and I was left but to hurriedly choose a class among the few courses that were still available. I stumbled upon a course titled Expanding Time, Space, and Meaning in Visual Art and Music and frivolously registered for it, hoping that I would still be able to get in the class in spite of the late registration. Thankfully, the class had enough room for me and I have been loving it ever since.
     The class description goes like:
“This course tracks evolving concepts and perceptions of time and space throughout the 20th century and the implications of such concepts on notions of meaning and beauty in both visual and musical contexts. Specifically, this course will consider the performances and recordings of pianist Ivo Pogorelich and the abstract expressionist paintings of Gerhard Richter as contemporary traces of a more sweeping historical gesture embodied in the work Paul Cezanne, beginning near the turn of the 20th century.”

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     The course, to me, goes beyond strictly the visual arts and musical realms and invites a dialogue with the philosophy of our holistic perception of the world and our interaction with different dimensions of our senses – time, space, sound, sensation, etc. Through the vehicle we deem art, we are able to introspect about the ways we live life and absorb the reality unfolding before us with a heightened sense of sensory acuity. What was strikingly relevant to me was that the class bridged the gap between the cognitive psychology of the human body – the physiological sciences behind our actions – and the more abstract, intangible ideologies art and beauty. In class, our discussions revolved around how certain artists challenged the trajectory of the industry by introducing new ways of perceiving, breaking fixed molds of thinking, and ultimately (and most importantly) redefining – and expanding – the phenomenology of beauty.

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To have a taste of the material that we attempt to digest in class, we can take a look at the artwork of Cezanne. His artwork is truly pivotal in the painting industry because of the innovative way he presents reality. Working with backdrop of impressionism, Cezanne introduced a novel way of representing what existed before his eyes by manifesting the natural experience of the optics into brushstrokes.

     Our optics are facilitated by fast muscles that move incredibly rapidly and take snapshots of the scene, piece by piece. These patches of information that our eyes pick up are merely data about the reflection of light. Once our eyes collect these raw fragments of data about our reality, they send the information to our cortical brain areas, which processes the information and nicely provides us with a complete, unified scene of our world. What we “see” – the scene that occurs in front of us – is not what the eye sees but what the mind actually creates. Here’s where Cezanne comes in. Cezanne aimed to capture the process that occurs before all the processing happens, before all the mechanisms and filters in our brain (that are culturally and socially imbued) create what we “see.”
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     Thus, in Cezanne’s work, one can easily notice that his painting seem like multiple patches of areas synthesized together in ways that seems peculiar and not right. This visceral discomfort that we experience when we look at Cezanne’s artwork allows us to realize that what we see is actually not the objectively true reality. Our cultural filters that are ingrained in our mechanisms of processing the world influence how we see the world – even how we perceive the length of a line. Cezanne’s attempt in constructing art that is closer to how the nature of the body works introduces a refreshing way to encode our reality. His art is of a unified amalgamation of multiple frames of snapshots taken from many different angles at different times. At once, we are able to experience a beauty that emanates from the coalescence of different perspectives. Thus, embodied in Cezanne’s paintings is this sense of simultaneity of multiplicity. The vessel of art, as exemplified through Cezanne’s work, indeed, becomes not simply of a form of sensational entertainment but a way of thinking about the world.
     By making sense of our reality with the help of the arts and sciences, the class has challenged me to perceive the world with slight skepticism and a renewed sense of finding what is the truth. In addition to the intellectual stimulation that this intersession has prodded me with, this break has also tested me in my culinary skills. My boyfriend and I have been able to explore our cooking abilities because of the ample time we have to cook elaborate meals that aren’t simply a readymade or instant. To end the blog off on a cheerful note, here are some of the platters that we have made over the break and have gorged on in the Baltimore’s food scene!
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Stumbling

Upon stumbling on a website that my friend concocted in his own spare time, I was inspired to do something of the like. Not necessarily programming a website from scratch per se, but creating a mental version of the similar content of the website. What he created was a daily log of gratitude for each day. He claimed that he “[plans] to continue this until the last day of [his] life because today could very well be.” So today begins my first.

 

Especially in an area where we are forced to climb the ladders of the academic hierarchy through blood and sweat, its all too easy to become blind to what we are actually provided with and surround ourselves with. We simply “don’t have time” to attend to certain aspects of our lives, that in actuality are constituent of the elements of the beings we are and have become. Granted, gratitude must not be mistaken with blissful ignorance of actual problems. Within our vicinity, there are, indeed, a lot of problems that can and should be addressed. However, we first need to acknowledge what has brought us thus far and embrace the shortcomings for their merit.

 

With that being said, I am thankful for the people who have walked into my life ever since Hopkins happened (to mention a few: my mentor back in Seoul, my researcher here at Hopkins, my boyfriend, my roommates, and the random strangers I meet on the street). My mentor, for always giving me the courage to be vulnerable; my researcher, for challenging and enlightening me with ideas that my country has been battling for centuries; my boyfriend, for inadvertently reminding me the importance of art and instilling within me, unbeknownst to him, the passion to pursue art; my roommates, for taking up the responsibility to stitch back the tears and wears of me; and the strangers I meet in passing, for making Baltimore not a distant, “out of the bubble” society, but a raw, real, and intimate community in which now I am a part of.

Food for Thought

An aficionado for words and phrases, I keep with me a book – a pride possession, frankly – where I jot down novel words that I encounter throughout the day, phrases that I want to hold on to, and puny one liners that fulfill my daily dose of cringeworthy angst. To me, collecting these forms of expression (most of which happen in passing) has always had an empowering and cathartic element to it. With every additional word, the arsenal of phrases within the book becomes thicker with emotions and, in fact, forms something of its own character. This book holds within its layers of papers, in between each line, the values that I uphold, the the the dreams that i have for the future, the poignant sweet spots of my soul, the motivation behind my actions, sobering wisdom of aphorisms, and the ideas that I fail to express with my own words. Unfortunately, as with most unrequited love, words never seem to reciprocate the same feelings I do: I am neither an eloquent writer nor a silver-tongued elocutionist. I stumble with my words when someone challenges me against my idea, and I take an absurdly long time reading. This oil and water relationship between words and me has been rather a bane than a boon, especially in a college setting where mastering self-expression is deemed to be the holy grail of many students. Though frustrating at times, this chasm lying between us continues a drive, a crave for words that I don’t want to ever satiate. 

On that note, and with thanksgiving looming, I’d take this time to express my gratitude for those around me by sharing with you the joy and knowledge they’ve given me through these soundbites from my book:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

306401_1754734688175_977555_n1. “Seek out what magnifies your spirit – It’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.”

2. “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living – for as Annie Dilalrd memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, who we spend our lives.’”

3. “There’s a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively try to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. “1148842_4717885045082_845984708_n

4. “Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?”

5. “No regrets… sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

6. “Bernstein’s greatest point of enthusiasm was his lifelong devotion to enamoring young people with music. He understood that love and learning are inextricably linked, that learning is a kind of love and love a kind of learning, and he used his robust and radiant enthusiasm as a force of illumination.

A Day in a Life

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Nabbing a seat at Carma’s cafe in the morning since class is canceled!

9:30am: On a typical Monday, I attempt to wake up 30 minutes before my class starts..only to hit the snooze button 5 times before I’m physically out of bed.

9:45am: I stare at the pile of clothes on the beanbag chair in a groggy haze and decide to grab the first clothes that I see on top of the heap to slip into. This beginning-of-November weather has been very fickle lately so my wardrobe has been all over the place with its seasons.

10:00am: My first Monday class is Introduction to Developmental Psychology, taught by Lisa Feignson. This class is well known to be a very all-encompassing class that uncovers the age-old debate of nature and nurture on the topic of our psycho-social development from day 1 in this world. Learning about copious amounts of previous experimental studies on child development, the class tracks how our constantly changing environment turns on/off our given genetic blueprint and how the two interact in morphing us into the beings we are today. Although the coursework is not too loaded, the course material is

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The only order I get from Brody Cafe: Vanilla Latte

robustly built around her lectures so it’s crucial to attend class because a) the bulk of the midterms are contingent upon her lecture info and b) her lectures are not a resource available online.

 

10:50am: End of class (a.k.a. time for food). I usually head to Levering to grab a quick meal because it’s the closest to my class but these days, I have been gravitating towards deli sandwiches at CharMar more frequently to satisfy my voracious appetite.

11:40am: After a full meal, I mosey on over to the Brody Café to whet my whistle with a vanilla latte and use this layover time in between classes to complete small busy tasks, like replying back to emails and making appointments. Fun fact about Brody Café: if you’re lucky and talk to the right baristas, they will give you a free drink on your birthday!

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Oh Gilman 🙂

1:15pm: For my next class, I tend to go a little bit earlier just because I love the walk to Gilman. This time of the day is when the sun shining on the quad in front of the Gilman and it’s a placid walk to one of my favorite buildings on campus.

1:30pm: My next seminar class is called Illusion of Perception, in which we learn about the daunting yet fascinating notion that what we see and feel may not actually be the truth. This class explores the countless failures of the brain to truly represent the reality that is presented before us – to some which may seem as a curse but to others a blessing.

2:45pm: After class, I catch myself popping in my earphones and putting my Apple Music on random to hear a new song on my way to my next class.

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What’s currently on my playlist right now

 

 

3:00pm: My last class of the day is Introduction to Computing. In this class, we learn a variety of new programing languages like UNIX, Python, MATLAB, R, etc. As it is my first programming class, the fast paced class has thrown me off my guard multiple times but I find this class very useful and helpful in adding more flavor to my skill sets.


4:00pm:
Once class ends, I head back to my dorm to have a post-hoc hang out sesh with my roommates and watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother. After two consecutive class, I run out of gas and need to decompress, which is what my lovable roomies (Sarah, Indira, and Yasmin) help me do.

 

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The squad


5:30pm:
As my stomach starts orchestrating its own symphony of hunger, I usually meet up with my boyfriend to grab dinner. We wrestle with the dilemma of choosing our platter for quite a while but our choices often range from Potbelly, UberEats, Nolan’s, to home-cooked Asian food.

 

7:00pm: Upon our return from our dining, we head to the library to study. We love the atrium and the reading room because of its openness and the comfortable chatter noise in the backdrop of the area. As several articles like this one (http://99u.com/articles/17437/the-perfect-workspace-according-to-science) cited, having high ceilings is optimal to a workplace and the atrium & reading room satisfy that preference.

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Pork Back Bone soup made by Chef Yao

8:30pm: This is the time when I try to be the most flexible in my schedule because most of my extracurricular set meetings around this time.

10:00pm: Starting right about 10 pm, my circadian rhythm begins its usual signaling of its zoning in and focusing. Around 10pm ~ 1am is my prime time when I work most productively and most efficiently. Though, every day I try my best to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.

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Studying at home sweet home

 

2:00am: By the end of my study time, I head to bed by 2:00am and usually fall asleep after a good thirty minutes. Sleep and I have had an oil and water relationship: we never really reconciled.
It creeps up on me during the daytime in class while it never allows me to peacefully rest at night. Hopefully, this will change after the midterms week subsides.

reSEARCH

jhucampus            “What is your passion in life?” A svelte researcher from Berlin, Germany, posed this daunting question to me the day I went in the Vision and Cognition lab for a brief meeting. He was a man of elegance who radiated a sense of sage and intellect. You could already notice this ambient aura from the way he presented himself in his choice of outfit (a velvet grey striped suit with a black turtleneck) and his gesticulations as he talked (smooth motion of the hand with purposeful accents). At once eccentric and graceful, I found his vibe very interesting. I was curious as to what thoughts his mind harbored, what values he upheld, and what his background comprised of. He was a man of color with a European upbringing with the passion to study the human experience of color to complement his likening of painting. Indeed, a sentence fails to encapsulate the extraordinarily dense character of the man. But, what I can express that such a multidimensional persona was so electrifying that I focused my efforts on working with him rather than for the research topic itself.

 

As a research assistant at Hopkins, there are various roles that one can play in the research process. The responsibilities can range from menial tasks like categorizing video tapes into boxes to complex jobs like computing programing algorithms of data from hundreds of participants. More often than not, the research assistant position entails helping the researcher expedite the research process by setting up experimental tasks, conducting the tests, or researching about the topic of interest. Admittedly, it is difficult to sum in one sentence the entire scope of the all the possible roles of research assistants among and within departments. But, mostly, it is to assist the researcher attain their objective in their respective research.

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With the work that I am doing with my researcher, however, the tables are turned. Instead of selfishly imposing his visions of his projects on me, my researcher has constantly sought for my input in his experimental questions, incessantly suggested possible works that I can pursue in the future that relate to my passion, and relentlessly challenged me to construct my own opinions around complex issues. Although we haven been researching about a topic so closely integrated in the visual system – how we see color – he has encouraged me to find ways to draw connections of the subject matter to the interests that I gravitate towards. We have gabbed on for hours about how our sensory modalities can converge to create color vision whilst hearing music. Topics like these that engage both the informative research subjects as well as my intrinsic amusement are hard to come by in a day to day conversation with friends or professors. My talks with my researcher has motivated me to think of innovative artistic ways to musically and visually stimulate the mind in ways that can affect the emotional state of students here at Hopkins.

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I have been extremely lucky to have someone who can provide the scaffolding of intellectual instruction to me out of volition. The chances that I get to meet someone who is willing to see the growth of my intellect and help me create my own brainchild are very infinitesimal. I can not wait to see how my passions will strengthen or change throughout the next couple of months spent with my researcher.

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The moment he asked me the question about passion, my mind halted to an absolute stop. I did not know where to start and if anything, I didn’t even have a starting point. I ended up fishing for empty words that could fill the awkward gap. The gut feeling I felt at this moment is so vividly ingrained my memory, because it magnified the lack of clarity I have in my mission here at Hopkins. It was the much needed slap in the face for me to not only localizes which arenas my interest lies in but also search for practical steps that I can take to bring me closer to the fore of my passion. My researcher concluded today’s meeting with a commonly said but beautifully hopeful remark that reinforces the optimism that the society needs more of, “The sky is the limit.”

 

Hymns of Hopkins

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When a slew of midterms rush in and heaps of responsibilities from extracurriculars seem endless, the only way that I find a sense of refuge is through the vessel of music. There’s something so visceral about it that makes an experience not only void of anchoring thoughts but also so full in its dimensions of feeling. Something about it brings you to the forefront of the moment, instilling within you the power of feeling the fluidity of the past, present, and future. To me, music is the most abstract yet pure mechanism to digest time. 

What fascinates me the most about music is that it is a felt language that goes beyond what is just heard through the ear – it involves the subjective creation (and recreation) of visualization in our minds both for the listener and the artist. Our minds can, in fact, “see ” music. Though music is essentially just a compression of the pressures of molecules traveling through the medium of air, music has the capacity to take hold of the hidden crevices of the heart by communicating what is the ineffable. 

This semester, I’ve tried something new and joined the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus. We meet bi-weekly at the Peabody Institute to prepare our concert for the winter and this semester’s focus is on R.Vaughan Williams piece of Dona Nobis Pacem. Along with the technical choral skills that we rehearse, each practice teaches us how to listen to others to find balance as a choir and challenges us to grow a deeper sense of understanding for the purpose of each component of the music, imagining what Vaughan Williams had in mind while composing the song. I walk out of most practices with a newfound sense of inspiration and the urge to improve.

Thus, in hopes to share with you my deep-running love for music and its significance, here is a list of tunes handpicked by Hopkins students that you can vibe to at your leisure.  

Intro / Stronger Than MeAmy Winehouse

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aycP2KV1Mls)

For those want a little bit of soul and funk by Amy Winehouse

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What You Don’t Do – Lianne La Havas

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWDw3O6yvac)

For those who want a contemporary groove with many musical elements and a voice-like-honey

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Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Joseph Vincent Cover

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIG38MD_l3k)

For those of you want someone to warm the cockle’s of your heart, Joseph Vincent is your man.

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Cranes in the Sky – Solange Knowles

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnUV4cz0gv8)

For those who seek an ambient sound for the perfect backdrop while studying

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Cold Water ft. Justin Bieber – Major Lazer

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMvIARf_SUU)

For those who want to stay ahead of the curve in the music scene, here’s a cool, vibe-y tune that is on our radar

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In The Name Of Love – Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeGfss2vsZg)

For those who crave the jittery feeling of hearing a loud, clear, and fun song

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Perspiration and Inspiration

     While the blazing sun had me helplessly wrapped around its finger for two months, this summer has been a pivotal juncture for me – it was the first time my college experience came into contact with the reputed “real world.” I have been extremely lucky enough to land a project this summer and work in tandem with a collaborative team that relentlessly motivates me to grow. With one year of college under my belt, I have been able to apply the social and occupational skills that I’ve accrued through college in a different atmosphere of professionalism. Here, my team encouraged me to explore my role as a Marketing Intern, giving me a flexibility that allowed me to be unapologetically creative and innovative with the material that I produce. Thus, I’ve forayed into various arenas of marketing: coding a blogging website for a startup, overlooking the activity of four different social media platforms, compiling information for project pitches, assembling a press kit, constructing a storyboard for the promotional video, and much more. Indeed, as stimulating as the experience was, it was no walk in the park. At the end of the day, however, each member supported me by giving constructive criticism on the product being made. Perhaps more importantly than crystallizing my career skills, I have found valuable relationships with my team beyond the mere coworker status. Nabbing a seat in the crowded cafes of Korea, we grabbed coffee on the weekends and had long tete-a-tete about movies, marriage, clothes, and relationships. Granted, the “real world” experience that I encountered this summer does not come close to what “real world” actually entails. In regards to working in a professional setting, however, I certainly got a taste of what the 9-to-5 grind feels like and what it is like to publish work that actually matters and can make a difference.
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The team that learns together, stays together

     Along with the growth of my skills as a teammate, this summer has been a time of self-reflection and inspiration. Being surrounded by people of great ambition induced me to constantly gauge where my aspirations lie and what contributions I would like to offer to the table. How can I combine my passion for the human brain and my skills to accomplish a feat that can hopefully serve as a boon to the community? What can I do to leave the world a better place than I have found it? Fortunately, I have been blessed with the gift of having amazing people around me who help me strive for the better. My friends (s/o to Suite 600, Sarah, Indira and Yasmin) and family keep me grounded, motivate me to put on my A game at all times, and constantly push me to never settle for anything less. My mentors have taught me countless of lessons that run the gamut from tiny tidbits of wardrobe advices to sage life counsel that I will carry with me throughout my lifetime – like how to be frugal at a convenient store and how loyalty can be a double-edge sword in the work arena.
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With the team that has given me an invaluable summer experience…much love 🙂

     At the onset of summer, a standout woman once asked me, “Can I tell you something?” to which I replied, “Sure thing.” She, then, told me, “I would absolutely love for you to be my one person for whom I would do anything to help you grow.” The feeling that I felt when I received that message is ineffable and unforgettable. Little did she know, at the moment, she planted a small sprout of inspiration in me that gave me the assurance that someone out there was rooting for me and supporting my growth as a student, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a woman. I owe it to her to do the best I can to be the best possible version of who I am. (Oddly enough, this incredible lady is a JHU alum and everyone needs to find a way to meet this amazing person!)
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Andddd the Esquire Squad! My seoul sister and my mentor

     Now, as I am sitting here, typing away at my computer about the unbridled hopes and dreams that I have, I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to ignite a similar spark of motivation in someone else and ask him/her the same question: “Can I tell you something?”
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Home is where the heart is <3