Thank you

In almost a hundred different posts, I have discussed why Johns Hopkins has been the perfect home for me over these past four years. In my last blog ever for Hopkins Interactive, I would like to say thank you to the people who made it happen. It is with a heart full of immense gratitude and love that I tip my graduation cap off to you.

Thank you to my professors. You were the people who made it easy to get out of bed every morning. You were the ones who provided me with the opportunity to study subjects as eclectic as my interests, allowing me to go from the world of the ancient Egyptians to the world of homeless in Baltimore all in the span of two classes. Although sometimes my papers were bloodied with red marks, you pushed me to my limits as a writer, researcher and thinker. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude for what Professor Walkowitz, my thesis advisor, did for me. The hours I spent in her office, pouring over her comments on my Research and fiercely debating sections of my thesis were some of my favorite moments as an undergraduate, and it was because of my work with her that I am going to graduate school in the fall.

Thank you to my classmates. There times you made me feel incredibly inept, but more often than not you were inspiring me to reach my full potential as a student. Your comments in class awed me, and your commitment to academia made me feel at home. Never before have I been in such a concentration of intelligent and passionate people, and I doubt I will ever experience it again.

Thank you to the History department. From the very first History class I took freshman fall to every History class since then, you’ve affirmed time and again why I chose to study this subject. Filling my major requirements was easy, as there were multiple History classes a semester I was desperate to take. The green-eyed monster in me enviously already checked out the course selection for fall 2014, and they’re spectacular.

Thank you to my SAAB family. Hopkins Interactive provided my first community on campus, and it is probably the community I’m saddest to say goodbye to. Daniel, you took a chance on me as a freshman and hired me to the position I still occupy in the Admissions office today. Shelly, you took me in after Daniel left and filled my time in Mason with laughter and warmth. Chelsea, there were times in the past two years where I feared for the future of my beloved SAAB, but I know the group’s future is only bright with you in charge and I’m only sad I won’t be there to witness it. Thank you to my co-workers Joe, Jackie, Genevieve, Nick and Kate for making this the best job on campus. Baby G, going into my senior year I thought I was all done making life long friendships at JHU, but then you came along and we clicked like Slytherin and snakes. Nick, you have frustrated me more than any other person in Mason, but you’ve also made me laugh more than anyone else too. Hoboken summer 2014! Kate, I miss you every single time I sit down at our desks. Mason hasn’t been the same without your sense of humor, awesome fashion, crazy intelligence and wonderful heart. And thank you to SAAB for bringing JHU_Kevin into my life. I didn’t know my kindred spirit was out there being a more fabulous and sassy version of myself, but I’m so grateful to have found him.

Thank you to my friends. Dana, Amanda, Annie, Ruthie, Steph, Hannah and Rory: you were the ones who’s shoulders I leaned on when the going got tough. You dealt with my incessant bitching, my constant stressing and general moodiness, and somehow still want to spend time with me. My best memories of college have been with you, and I cannot wait for the adventures to come. Meeting you all was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you to the Wilson Fellowship. Participating in undergraduate Research was truly a life altering experience for me, and I have the Wilson Fellowship to thank for that. Entrusting me to work on an independent project of such magnitude helped to inspire my love of Research and empowered me with the experience necessary to attend graduate school in the fall. Ami, your support and kindness makes you one of Homewood’s true gems.

Thank you to my family. You were the ones who have been there every step of the way. With encouraging words, funny texts, frequent visits and above all, overwhelmingly love, you kept me motivated and kept me happy. It’s hard to imagine a closer group than us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The greatest blessing in my life has always and will always be you guys.

Thank you to Johns Hopkins. It’s hard to articulate how many doors this school has opened for me. I knew coming in that I would have a lot of opportunities coming into JHU, but I never imagined I would have accomplished this much upon graduation. I’ve posted almost 100 blogs, served as a vice president of my sorority, worked 3 summer internships, wrote a senior honors thesis, studied abroad three different times and did independent Research all while holding an on-campus job and keeping a Dean’s List GPA. Yes I worked hard for all these things, but not many environments would have been able to facilitate them happening. Johns Hopkins is one of a kind, and I am honored to have been a student here. Anything I achieve in my future will be because of the foundations I built here at JHU.

To all these people, and the many more not mentioned, thank you. I am not the same person or scholar who arrived on campus four years ago. You pushed me, you supported me, you inspired me. I am the graduate I am today because of you. Thank you.

The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

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My Olympic themed birthday party

Last night I presented my Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Research project at the annual Wilson poster session. Below is the transcript of my speech. I had planned to post the video of my talk, but unfortunately there was technical difficulties (ie my little brother put his hand over the iPad microphone…). I feel so grateful to have been apart of such an amazing program over the past four years, and being able to partake in independent undergraduate Research has truly transformed my academic career. Enjoy!

When I was trying to brainstorm a topic for my Wilson Research, my mom wisely told me to think of the things I love and go from there. My first thought was of my cats, but somehow that didn’t seem right. Then I thought of the Olympics. As you can see from the theme of my 5th birthday party, I’ve been infatuated with the Olympics from an early age. The Wilson Fellowship allowed me to translate this passion into a Research project that has largely defined my Hopkins academic career and one that I plan to continue next year in my graduate studies in the UK next year.

Me in front of my poster with Ruthie and Gen

Me in front of my poster with Ruthie and Gen

My Wilson Fellowship is in conjunction with my senior honors History thesis to study how the forces of nationalism and internationalism manifested themselves differently at the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics. To do this, I traveled to London three times using my Wilson funding, to work at the British Olympic Archive held at the University of East London and at the periodicals at the British Library.

It was these archival experiences that were truly the defining moment of my historical undergraduate education. I was afforded access to materials like the physical posters present at the 1908 London Games, telegraphs of gratitude from leaders of visiting nations and British Olympic Committee minutes not available anywhere else in the world. It was the first time I had ever done such comprehensive archival work, and it was truly an amazing experience as a budding historian to sift through such a wealth of primary materials.

Those weeks of archival Research translated into hundreds of pages of Research notes, which eventually took the shape of a 60-page thesis I finally completed this spring. I thought I would share a bit of my Research findings with you today.

My study aims to highlight the deeper political and cultural meanings of the 1908 and 1948 London Games by understanding the environments in which they occurred.

So first we will consider the 1908 Games. In 1900, the British Empire covered one-fifth of the globe. However at the start of the 20th century, other nations began to industrialize and Britain’s territory was under threat.

It was in this moment that London held the Olympics for the first time. My study argues that because of these external threats to its empire, the British Olympic Association and other officials used the 1908 Games as a vehicle to reaffirm the nation’s economic supremacy and cultural authority. These displays of British nationalism became the focus of the 1908 Games and overshadowed the Olympic ideals of international collaboration.

My study discusses several ways in which British nationalism manifested itself at the 1908 Games, a few of which I’ll share now. One notable example is the competitive relationship that developed between the British and American teams. This nationalist struggle became a focal point of the Games and impeded the development of goodwill between countries.

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1908 Olympic Posters

Another example of British nationalist display can be seen in the posters used to promote the 1908 Games. These two posters, shown on the left, represent the idealized male and female form and depict the strength and vitality of the British population. They help to represent the very specific image of Britain and its dominance presented by the 1908 Olympic officials.

Finally, the stadium in which the 1908 Games were held serves as visual manifestation of British imperialism to foreign visitors. As the largest stadium in the world at that time, its size confirmed Britain’s supremacy as world power and the gleaming white stucco of its outer walls acknowledged the nation’s racial supremacy.

All of these factors together help to show how the 1908 Games were an opportunity for the British Empire to assert its dominance, rather than an opportunity to uphold the ideals of the Olympic charter.

Forty years after this 1908 spectacle celebrating British nationalism and imperialism, a very different London played host to the Olympic Games once again. London was one of the few European cities viable to host the 1948 Games, although it was still facing severe housing shortages, food rationing and bomb damage at the time of the 1948 Games.

Subsequently, these Olympics also known as the “Austerity Games,” for the rationing that ensued. Sporting events took place at a hodgepodge of existing venues around the city. Instead of having an Olympic Village, athletes stayed at converted Royal Air Force war camps and schools. And finally, the Ministry of Food placed athletes on food rationing diets like the rest of the nation. More than half the competing countries donated food to the Games, including 15,000 bars of chocolate and 5,000 steaks from the American team.

Despite these restrains, overall the Games were heralded as a massive success in promoting goodwill and internationalism among participants. Empire was not part of the British Olympic Association’s 1948 self-presentation as the nation had lost most of its colonies after the war. Thus, the 1948 Games seemed to celebrate this humbled position and Britain was proud to welcome visitors to the recovering city.

1948 American advertisements

1948 American advertisements

However the world peace celebrated at the 1948 Games was very limited in nature. Nations like Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union were all excluded from these Games. These American Olympic advertisements, shown on the right, were featured in the Official Souvenir of the 1948 Games highlight the potent Cold War presence at the supposedly conflict-free event.

Both of these advertisements focus on American capitalism and internationalism. My particular favorite is the Coca-Cola ad which features a totalitarian giant hand imposing onto the globe and a type of homogenization of the world under Coca-Cola and American commerce. I argue that these ads point to the tensions present at the 1948 Olympics, and how the international peace fostered at the Games was not extended to all nations and all ideologies.

So in conclusion, this project shows how the 1908 and 1948 Olympics bookend the early moments and final stages of British imperial decline, but they also highlight the adaptation of this role by the host to reflect the cultural and political needs of the nation at that time. Peaceful collaboration may be have been an end goal, but it remains only one of many priorities for the hosting country. As the 1908 and 1948 Olympics demonstrate, tensions between nationalism and internationalism constantly impeded that objective.

There’s no way this project would have been completed without the help of a couple individuals. First of thanks to my family for their support. My mom and dad and little brother are here today. Shout out to my mom for her amazing skills as a reference librarian. Then thanks to my mentor, Professor Walkowitz. I honestly don’t think that I would have been able to complete this project without her direction, support and advice. I don’t know how I got so lucky that she took me on as an advisee. And finally I want to thank the Wilson Fellowship and Ami Cox. Every time I entered Ami’s office with an idea or proposal, her first reaction was always – how can we make this happen for you? And I am so grateful for her support. Being able to visit the archives in Britain and work with primary sources transcended my studies to the level of true historians and I am so grateful for that opportunity.

For the longest (and last) time: Why Hopkins

SONY DSCAs graduation looms just over a month a way, I have become rather reflective about my time here on Homewood. Although I’m eagerly anticipating the next stage of my life, I’m sorry to say goodbye the place that has been my home for the past four years and more convinced than ever that coming to Hopkins was the best decision I ever made.

Over the course of my blogging career, I’ve written several Why Hopkins blogs, (see here, here and here). But each new semester brought new reasons why I love this school, so I decided to compile a full list of why Hopkins has been the perfect place for my undergraduate education. From the silly to the serious, this list spans all the factors that have made these the best four years of my life.

  • Enjoying SOHOP with Ruthie and Gen

    Enjoying SOHOP with Ruthie and Gen

    Baltimore’s awesome neighborhoods – exploring Hampden, Harbor East, Fell’s Point and Mount Vernon has been incredible. The Baltimore food scene is amazing!

  • The emphasis placed on encouraging undergraduate Research – not many other universities offer $10,000 to students to use on any kind of Research project. See how I used my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship here!
  • My beautiful off-campus apartment (it’s a 10 minute walk from anywhere on campus). My building has it’s own gym, a pool on the roof and a movie theater. HEAVEN.
  • The federal style architecture of the Homewood campus – all The Buildings are a matching brick and it’s perfection.
  • The small sizes of my Humanities classes – from my very first semester at Hopkins I was talking seminars of 15 people or less.
  • There are so many different ways to study abroad – I interned for a summer abroad, studied at a foreign university for a semester and took an Intersession three-week abroad course through Hopkins.
  • The light distribution requirements have made it easy for me to take a wide variety of subjects outside my major but still classes I love to be in.
  • My wonderful thesis advisor Professor Walkowitz who could not have been a more attentive and supportive mentor.
  • I love my apartment

    I love my apartment

    My part-time job in the Admissions Office – I’ve been doing Admissions work since August of my freshman year and I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten to share my experience and passion for JHU with so many prospective students. Having a little extra cash flow from my job helps too!

  • Donna’s sweet potato fries and Tamber’s chicken tiki masala
  • If you come to Hopkins and don’t take a History class during your time here, you’re doing something wrong. In my opinion, there is no better department or set of professors.
  •  The incredible professional opportunities I’ve had by being a Hopkins student – I’ve interned at three different publishing companies in New York and London during my time here.
  • JHU is an environment where students are so passionate, driven and excited to be here. It’s so inspirational to be around and you won’t find a community as wonderful, diverse or rich anywhere else.
  • Hopkins has a three-week January term called Intersession that’s perfect for travel, Research, classes or relaxation!
  • One of the great things about Baltimore is that you get to experience all types of seasons. You’ll see the autumn leaves falling, get emails about classes canceled for a snow day, watch the flowers blossom and tan out in the hot Baltimore Sun.
  • Another aspect of Baltimore I love is it’s accessibility to other places – Washington, D.C., NYC and Philadelphia are all a train or bus ride away.
  • During the Admitted Student Open Houses, I am always asked about safety on campus. With blue lights located all over the Homewood campus, shuttles to off-campus locations and Security guards visible at every step of my walk to my apartment building, there’s never been a time where I’ve felt unsafe in my four years here.
  • No matter what subject you’re studying here, you’re almost guaranteed that it is one of the topic departments of its field in the country, so even if you’re coming in to JHU undecided, you really can’t go wrong.

Insider Q&A

Gilman at night!

Gilman at night!

I’ve been giving a couple tours of campus this semester to family friends who have visited and wanted an “insider’s look” at Hopkins. I found that a couple questions keep coming up on my tours, and I thought posting my answers here might be helpful to you prospective students, especially those of you accepted RD students who find out tomorrow. Congratulations and enjoy!

Do you ever explore Baltimore?

My freshman fall, I don’t think I left campus once. There was so much going on on Homewood, there wasn’t a need. As I got older, I started hearing about different gems in Baltimore – Iggie’s pizza, Miss Shirley’s breakfast, the running routes around Rolland Park. I love having all these different options, whether it’s fun on-campus events like the Friday Night Film series or exploring Baltimore with my friends. If you want to stay on-campus for your entire Hopkins career, you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy. But I don’t recommend it. Baltimore is a fantastic city to be a college student in and explore.

Three cheers for RD applicants!

Three cheers for RD applicants!

Is science Research the only type of Research available to undergraduates?

Absolutely not! This is a myth that really bugs me, because Hopkins works really hard to support Research in all academic fields. I suggest checking out the JHU Undergraduate Research page for all the amazing projects Hopkins students partake in. I’m a History major and used the funds from my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship to visit Olympic archives in London for my historical Research on the 1908 and 1948 London Games. As the first Research university in America, Research is a critical part of the Hopkins experience, no matter what subject you’re studying.

Why do juniors and seniors live off-campus?

I have to be honest. When I first visited Hopkins as a senior in high school, I was extremely put off by the idea that juniors and seniors lived off-campus. I thought that living off-campus would cause a disjointed campus community, and I resented the idea of having to cook for myself. Now that I’m a JHU senior having lived off-campus for the past two years I can say that living off-campus is one of my favorite things about the university. Off-campus living is hardly any farther from the campus than the dorms, and I love the space afforded to me by an off-campus apartment. Having learned to pay my monthly bills and handle the responsibility of living in a real apartment building, I feel much better equipped to go out into the real world. It’s also not too shabby that my apartment building has a pool on the roof, its own indoor gym and movie theater.

I'm going to miss this!

I’m going to miss this!

Do you take large classes as a freshman?

In the fall of my freshman year, the largest class I took had 30 students in it, the smallest had 10. So if you want to, you can take small classes from the moment you step onto campus. This might be slightly different for those in the sciences, where you’re required to take larger lectures classes as major requirements, but in the Humanities, your classes will be intimate from the beginning. That being said, large lecture classes unfairly get a bad rep. One of my favorite classes at Hopkins, Intro to Sociology, was a larger lecture. Keep an open mind when choosing classes – both in terms of size and subject. You never know what fascinating professor or subject you might stumble upon.

Is it easy to study abroad?

If you want to study abroad, the JHU study abroad office will make it happen for you. As a History major, it was easy for me to translate my classes abroad to JHU credits. But even if your major isn’t as flexible, Hopkins affords tons of other opportunities to study abroad other than during the semester. Programs like the Vredenburg Summer Engineering Travel Scholarship funds engineers traveling abroad in the summer months, and the Intersession Abroad Programs also provide amazing opportunities to take classes in other countries in our January term. Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding college experiences and it’s an opportunity I think every student should try to take advantage of.

The one where I wrote my thesis

My blogging deadline was this Thursday, but for the first time in my Hopkins Interactive career, I missed that deadline. The truth is I haven’t really felt like writing since I handed in my thesis this Wednesday. It seems my brain went on strike until this morning, I think in efforts to recover from the herculan effort it took to write my 65-page thesis. I’m sure I will detail more about this journey in a later blog but for now, I thought I would share a section from my conclusion so you can get a sense of what I’ve been slaving over for nearly a year. Enjoy!

As the only host nation to have held the Games three times, London holds a unique position in Olympic History. However, a historical gap exists in Olympic education regarding the first two London Games. Studying the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics together highlights how the forces of nationalism and internationalism manifested themselves differently in these two unique moments of British History: a weakened Edwardian Britain attempting to reaffirm its declining empire and a post-war Britain seeking to embrace a lasting, albeit limited, post-war internationalism. In understanding the complexities of these moments, we can see their influence on the decisions of the BOA, the conduct of participating nations and the reception of the press. In 1908, the nationalist sentiment of the moment overshadowed the collaborative ideals of the Olympics and allowed London’s first Games to be a vehicle through which nations promoted their own interests. In 1948, an expanded London hosted the first peacetime Olympics since the end of WWII, emphasizing the difficulties of post-war reality and the limited nature of post-war peace. These two moments not only bookend almost perfectly the beginning and ending stages of British imperial decline, but also highlight how the role of host nation adapts to suit the needs of each historical moment. Peaceful collaboration may be the end goal, but it is only one of many priorities for the hosting country. As the 1908 and 1948 Olympics show, contentions between nationalism and internationalism constantly impede that objective.
 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

A lot about Hopkins Interactive has changed since I first joined the team as a freshman in August 2010. While our blogs are still going strong, and more extensive than ever, the site has grown to encompass all the fabulous forms of social media that have developed over the past four years. It has been a really exciting time to be a part of Hopkins Interactive, and I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. I’ve highlighted some of my favorites below!

One of my favorite pictures that I took for the Hopkins Insider Instagram!

One of my favorite pictures that I took for the Hopkins Insider Instagram!

Hopkins Insider Instagram

The credit for our awesome Instagram account really goes to JHU_Kate, who was the one who got it up and running, and helped develop a following. This account, featuring pictures from Hopkins students who use the hashtag #instajhu, allows prospective students a closer look at the Homewood campus and what it means to be a JHU student. Since JHU_Kate graduated early (WAHHHH), I’ve taken over the account and I’ve had such a blast taking pictures of all my favorite Hopkins things.

 

A recent pin from the "Happenings on Homewood" board.

A recent pin from the “Happenings on Homewood” board.

Hopkins Interactive Pinterest

The Hopkins Interactive Pinterest account is an amazing conglomeration of links to all the different resources we’ve put out there. Separated onto boards with hilarious category names (ok I think they’re hilarious because I helped make them), every aspect of life at Hopkins is covered. A recent idea I had was to create this board called “Happenings on Homewood” which features event flyers from on-campus events. I think it’s a great way to give prospective students even

The Insider’s Guide

Being editor-in-chief of The Insider’s Guide for the past three years has been perhaps my most rewarding Hopkins Interactive experience. It’s an annual 32-page publication that is handed out to all admitted students at their SOHOP visitation in the spring. It aims to these potential blue jays a realistic idea of what life on Homewood is really like. Because it is produced by current students for perspective students, I think The Insider’s Guide is an unparalled resource for accepted students like no other. It is extensive, candid and practical. It was actually one of the reasons I chose JHU in the first place. As a prospective student, being handed The Insider’s Guide had a profound impact on me. It made me realize just how much Hopkins students love the school and love what they do here. I knew then that Homewood was an environment I wanted to be apart of, a

community I wanted to join. Coming full-circle and becoming editor of the publication that made me come to Hopkins has really been an incredible experience. This year’s Guide is hands down the best yet, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Check out the link to last year’s.

An early mock up I had for the new Hopkins Interactive homepage.

An early mock up I had for the new Hopkins Interactive homepage.

Hopkins Interactive Redesign

Over the past two semesters, one of my main Hopkins Interactive projects was working on a new redesign for the site with JHU_Nick. I can’t even begin to explain how much effort goes into creating a brand new site from square one, and so JHU_Nick (who does the tech side of everything) deserves a gold medal for this herculean effort. My role in this process has been a lot of the visual side, so basically it consists of me designing a mock-up of a webpage on Adobe InDesign, sending it to Nick, and then harassing him until he can make my design a technical reality. It’s a long slow process, but the redesign will be launched this spring and I can’t wait. It features all the amazing things Hopkins Interactive does in a much more accessible way, so I know prospective students are going to love it.

Who am I? 24601

Did you know I loved cats? Me at my first cat show!

Did you know I loved cats? Me at my first cat show!

It’s strange to think that in a few months time, I will cease to be JHU_Tess and instead become a JHU graduate. While I can’t wait to begin this next stage of my life, I also don’t want to rush my remaining 14 weeks as an undergraduate. Like an archeologist preserving a fossil, I decided to take a snapshot of myself exactly as I am on this snowy February afternoon so for years to come, we will always know what it looked like to be a second semester senior History major at Hopkins, (because obviously people will care about this for years to come). Also I couldn’t resist the Les Mis reference in the otherwise unrelated title.

Name: JHU_Tess

Year: Senior

Major: History

Post-graduate plans: Graduate school (Oxford or LSE – please someone decide for me, the choice is too tough!)

Job: Part-time job in the Admissions office – it’s so easy to get an on-campus job at JHU. I find the mental break from my schoolwork relaxing and helps me to focus better when it’s actually time to do my homework. Plus it’s a great way to build up your resume and portfolio and make a little extra cash!

Alpha Phi during rush!

Alpha Phi during rush!

Residence: The Halstead – I looove off-campus living! My apartment building has its own gym, a pool on the roof and is a 10 minute walk from everywhere on campus.

Favorite Professor: Hands down my thesis advisor, Professor Walkowitz. Her direction has been invaluable as I work to finish this capstone of my JHU education, and I’ve grown so much as a student through her guidance.

Embarrassing habits: I have an inability to stay up past 10PM so even as a college senior, I stick pretty religiously to a pre-10 bedtime.

Guilty pleasures: My primary news outlets are People Magazine and the celebrity news site LaineyGossip. Also I love candy corn so much it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

On-campus activities: My main activities are the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB), which is the group that brings you Hopkins Interactive, my on-campus job, my sorority Alpha Phi and my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship.

My girls

My girls

Pet Peeves: I really hate when people shake their legs or foot during class, I find that super distracting.

Places I’ve lived: Ridgewood (my hometown), Baltimore (obviously), London (for 7 months during my study abroad – the most amazing experience ever), Hoboken (my family’s new residence)

Best gifts ever received: Well technically I don’t know if they count as gifts, because I think of them as daughters, but my cats Jane and Charlotte were undoubtedly the best gift I’ve ever received. More practically, I got a rice maker and a kindle last year as Christmas/birthday presents and I love/use them on a daily basis.

Favorite Restaurants: Around campus I love, Donna’s for sweet potato fries and turkey burgers, and Tamber’s for Indian food. For something special, I think I had the best meal of my life at the Thames Street Oyster House near the Inner Harbor.

Why JHU: I honestly think that JHU has allowed me to reach my full undergraduate potential. The school has offered me so many different kinds of opportunities – in the classroom, in my internships, in my Research – that I am graduating without any regrets or any interests unexplored. I don’t think I would be as proud of the soon-to-be graduate that I am if I hadn’t had all the resources of JHU at my disposal.

Read into it

One of my least favorite aspects of my academic career has been my inability to balance my class-required readings with my recreational reading. During summers and winter breaks I would inhale book after book, but come school time the pleasure reading would inevitably give way to purely academic texts. I decided at the beginning of my senior year that I would finally rectify this problem. To do so, I ended up cutting out some of my aimless hours trolling Netflix, and used my down time instead to read for fun. I have to say, as much as I love Netflix, the result was pretty successful.

Not only did I manage to read all of these titles, but I also applied/was accepted to graduate school, got the highest grades of my Hopkins career and kept a 10PM bedtime (I know, I’m 80 year old trapped in a 21 year old body). It’s so frustrating to hear the myths from uninformed prospective students that at Hopkins you never have time for anything fun.

So, I thought it would be cool to share with you all what I’ve been up to with my free time last semester – my reading list(s) from Fall 2013!

Recreational Reading

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girl by Anton DiSclafini
  • Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
  • This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Academic Reading

  • The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain by Bernard Porter
  • An Empire on Display: English, Indian and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War by Peter H. Hoffenberg
  • Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation by Ronald Hyam
  • British Imperialism by Robert Johnson
  • The Lion’s Share: A short History of British imperialism by Bernard Porter
  • Austerity Britain by David Kynaston
  • Ephemeral vistas: The expositions universelles, great exhibitions and world’s fairs by Paul Greenhalgh
  • The First London Olympics 1908 by Rebecca Jenkins
  • The Austerity Olympics by Janie Hampton
  • London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis by Jonathan Schneer

I be up in the gym

The start of the New Year brings a new set of resolutions for those eager to self-improve. I’ve jumped on board with the “2014 New Year, New Me” bandwagon and have made a pact with my mom to run a half-marathon in Oslo after my graduation – which I’m massively excited and a little nervous about. I have a couple more weeks until I head back to school, but I’ve been planning my training regime for spring semester. As I was brainstorming the ways in which I will prepare for our big race, I was struck by all the resources JHU has available for those eager to stay healthy and fit. To help you stick to your own exercise resolution, here is a list of all the fun ways Hopkins promotes a life of fitness:

Spring fitness classes at the Rec Center

Spring fitness classes at the Rec Center

Fitness Classes: One of the many cool things the Rec Center offers are weekly fitness classes, including Zumba, spin, yoga and Turbo kick. You buy a $45 pass for the semester, which allows you to go to as many fitness classes as you want a week – a pretty amazing deal if I do say so myself. They’re a really great way to mix up your exercise routine, making your work out a little more social and a little more fun. Check out the complete schedule to the left!

Rock Wall: The Rec Center at JHU is a fantastic place, and one of the reasons it is so unique is because we have our very own indoor rock wall! At the insistance of my boyfriend this summer, we tried it out and it was awesome. For those of you who have never climbed before, do not fear! They give you a lesson in climbing (which involves how to tie knots, how to put on your harness, how to belay another person), and then you have to pass a test to be able to climb. I failed it the first time I took it (whoops), so don’t worry about seeming stupid! Once you pass, you’re free to climb away! They have all the equipment there (harnesses, ropes, climbing shoes) so all you have to do is go and not look down.

JHU Rec Center

JHU Rec Center

Running Routes: The area around Hopkins provides some excellent off-campus running routes. I like to do these routes when I’m in the mood for some fresh air and challenging hills. Although I have never been a part of one (I run at a glacial pace) there are even JHU jogging clubs you can join that meet weekly to help you stick to your regime.

Tennis/Squash Courts: Hopkins has great outdoor tennis courts that I love to use when the weather is nice, and indoor squash courts to use when it isn’t! I had never played squash before I came to Hopkins, but as a tennis-lover, I quickly took a liking to the game. You don’t have to own your own squash racquet or ball– you can rent them (for free!) at the Rec Center equipment room.

To quote the ever fabulous Fergie – I be up in the gym this semester training for my race – see you there?

Reuse, Recycle

I was reading an article the other day on ways for you and your wallet to survive the holiday gift-giving season. One of their suggestions was to reuse gifts, and while I don’t think I re-giving presents is for me, it did inspire me to re-use a former blog idea. In a flash of genius my sophomore year (there haven’t been many since then), I wrote about the contents of my dorm room trashcan, called “From Trash to Treasure.” Now at face value, I know, this topic seems boring and probably a little gross. But I what I was trying to do was highlight some unique aspects of campus life through an unconventional medium. Still hanging onto my glory days/former genius, I decided to reuse the topic for a senior year edition. Enjoy!

Cupcakes for Kate!

Cupcakes for Kate!

Empty sprinkle box. Last Monday was our last SAAB meeting of the semester (SAAB is the student group that brings your Hopkins Interactive). It also meant that it was JHU_Kate’s last SAAB meeting ever, as she’s graduating Hopkins early and leaving us for the real world. While obviously we are all so proud of Kate for getting her dream job in SAN FRANCISCO, I am selfishly pouting to lose my SAABestie. Kate is an integral part to keeping this site running and our group focused, and I am going to miss her company so much. To mourn celebrate Kate’s departure, JHU_Nick and I made her farewell cupcakes, thus the empty sprinkle container!

One of my favorite aspects of JHU is all the different communities that I’m apart of. From my SAAB family to my Alpha Phi sisters to my fellow History majors, I really feel at home here on Homewood. I’m so sad to say goodbye to Kate, but I’m so grateful that Hopkins brought us together and can’t wait to visit her in California.

Draft of Ottoman and European Regional Reactions to New Commodities. This was a draft of a paper I recently wrote for my Early Modern Mediterranean History class. This period and geographical area, particularly in respect to the Ottoman Empire, was a huge gap in my historical education. I really knew nothing about it, other than that at one point the Ottomans were really powerful and then all of a sudden they were gone. Needless to say I had a lot to learn. This class has been really enlightening and interesting. In this paper, I wrote about the introduction of caffeinated beverages in Western Europe and the reception of the Ottomans to the new tobacco usage. In this paper, I argued that you could see a growing culture of pleasure emerging across all of the Mediterranean at this time, and I comment on the Islamic acceptance of these new commodities despite intense initial resistance. Such a cool paper topic!

Alpha Phi Family Weekend Social

Alpha Phi Family Weekend Social

Deflated balloons. These balloons are left over from Alpha Phi’s first ever Family Weekend Social, an event that I organized/executed! The idea came from my mother actually, who once complained to me that her friends get to go to events for their daughter’s sororities but my JHU Alpha Phi never does any of the sort. I realized she was right, and that it was completely wrong for us not to host the parents in some form, so as Vice President of Programming and Education, I hosted our first Family Weekend Social over Family Weekend last month. It was so much fun to meet my friend’s parents, and have my mom enjoy all of my hard work. A local cafe called Carma’s catered, and so the food was delicious. I loved the experience of organizing and executing such a large-scale event, and am grateful for the opportunity to have a leadership position in such a wonderful organization.

My new NYPL card!

My new NYPL card!

Amtrak ticket. A great aspect of Hopkins is its accessibility to the rest of the East Coast, New York in particular. Three weekends ago I traveled up to the city to do Research for my thesis the New York Public Library. Even though I’ve lived outside of New York my whole life, I had never been inside the building! Needless to say, I was awed. I spent the day working with primary sources, in particular, editions of the British periodical, Picture Post, in order to help contextualize the period I am studying. It was amazing to hold pages that were literally (almost) crumbling in my hands, and slightly scary I was being trusted with them. Such a cool experience for me as a budding historian.

Wrapping paper. The holiday season had me feeling all happy and festive so I got a jump start on my Christmas present wrapping. But after remembering that I am quite possibly the worst gift wrapper ever, my mood was slightly dampened. Since, I have watched several Martha Stewart videos online, and think I have got the handle on wrapping a present that doesn’t look like a three year-old did it, but no promises. Thanks to my many failed attempts, my garbage can is now stuffed with unsuccessful paper. I was, however, greatly cheered up by all the Hopkins holiday spirit with Lighting of the Quads (JHU_Sydney wrote about it here) and other festive events!

I hope this post, though initially questionable in topic, has actually proved somewhat useful in helping to gain better insight into campus life!