Monsoon Adventures

1075728_10201740462142069_1833954458_n

This is my view from my home almost 8,000 miles away from my home in Baltimore.

The rainy season in India lasts for the majority of the summer, but this trip is my first

experience with it.

 

Initially, I thought the rain would destroy any plans to go outside and explore the cities I

have been to this month. During the long drive to my home from the airport, the scenery

was absolutely gorgeous. We traveled through a mountain valley to the city of Poona

after arriving in Mumbai’s international airport. Despite the rain, families had somehow

stacked themselves onto an old motorcycle, even smiling at the tiny monkeys that were

playing on the side of the road. It was like we were in a tropical rainforest, with

waterfalls on either side of us.

 

The beautiful village of Lavassa!

The beautiful village of Lavassa!

Once we reached the city, traffic was incredible, and the monsoon didn’t help. The rain

had created and filled deep potholes in the dirt roads. They say if you can drive in India,

you can drive anywhere. Drivers have incredible reaction times to the rikshaws’ crazy

maneuvers, the stray dogs lining the sides of the streets, and the luxury SUVs and cars

weaving through the congested cities (think of it like mountain biking through a city).

 

This system appears inefficient in comparison to the structured roads and cross-walks

we are used to. However, to the people accustomed to this chaos, anything more

organized would just be weird. Nothing seems to stop anyone from going about their

daily lives. Drenched in the rain and bitten by mosquitoes, people are busy chatting on

their cellphones waiting to get onto a crowded bus.

The result of the monsoon in Pune, India.

The result of the monsoon in Pune, India.

 

Without a raincoat or an umbrella, I got grumpy just thinking about the state of my hair

in this humidity. However, the Indian mentality is contagious. I found myself unaffected

by the constant drizzle and the sticky heat, even in pants and a shirt. It became fun

watching the traffic, like a tired cyclist being towed on the street by a friendly motorist (in

fact, it was a distraction from the nauseating bumps along the way).

Not grumpy in the least!

Not grumpy in the least!

1012222_10201753510588272_1555106306_n

 

India is a crazy place. It has also taught me a lot: that chai can be just the thing you

need after being in the heat, that spice and flavor are food’s best friends, that rain

should be enjoyed, and that you can find peace in insanity. I was able to make the most

of this trip, and was fortunate to have seen some amazing sites here.

 

15054_10201740237336449_2105754213_n

 

Hopefully, I can bring the unaffected attitude of the people here back to Baltimore, and

make the most not only of my final month of summer, but also to my final semester at

Hopkins. Just like this trip, my experience in Charm City has gone by entirely too fast.

This fall will be my best yet! Enjoy the pictures!

 

Stop Playin’, Im Fresher than a Degree Stick

Dun. Dun. Dun. College Application Season. Certainly lacking the tinsel and the cinnamon associated with the more exciting holidays on the calendar, the college application process seems like it was two months ago- not two YEARS ago. Woah. It is one of the most daunting periods of your high school career. Or so you think. There’s no getting around the pressure you feel during fall of your senior year, but there are simple ways to alleviate the stress of the process.
1. Be organized- try to finish up your Applications a couple of weeks early so that you can proofread and perfect them. If you are applying ED somewhere, try to begin your essays (or at least brainstorming for them) during the summer when you are relaxing. It might make it easier to handle your schoolwork AND Applications. I remember finishing my application one week before it was due, and was incredibly nervous about submitting it early. I made sure I had everything I needed 1243039412243 times! But once it was over, and I knew I had done everything I could to make sure it was the best I could do, the stress actually went away!
2. Make Lists- I make lists for EVERYTHING. I have Post-Its everywhere with my to-do lists. When you first decide on applying to a college, write down exactly what they require so you don’t miss anything. Familiarize yourself with Common Application or whatever other online Application system the college uses. I had list ranking the schools I wanted to go to, a list ranking their programs, a list of their majors, a list of their tuition and clubs and….well you get the idea.
3. Take Advantage of Opportunities- if you really like a school, but aren’t sure whether it is your top choice, explore your options. Does the school have a non-binding Early Action process? Apply there so you can say that you got into a school of your choice earlier than regular decision! Having one school under your belt will definitely reduce the stress. I am so happy that I fell in love with Hopkins when I did (when I went for a visit during the Spring)- I applied ED and was set for the next four years of my life by December 15th! Additionally, see what sort of scholarship or Research opportunities you can apply to if you are interested! Many times, the application is really easy! Lastly, take advantage of your high school teachers- many of my teachers helped me with my essay and really helped me mold it into a great essay! I had a bunch of drafts that were very stream of consciousness that my teachers helped me clean up and improve. The essay I used was initially me just writing random observations while I was on vacation. I ended up loving my essay- which really is the most important thing!

This one's one of the best one's I got. Maybe midterm season is just getting to people.

4. Visit the schools- once you decide which schools you want to apply to, check them out- the campus can be one of the MOST important features of a school. You are obviously applying to a school because you like their academic programs, but try to explore campuses, talk to people, and get a feel for how your life would be if you went to that school. Visiting Hopkins sealed the deal for me. I was absolutely determined to go there after I set foot on campus- it completely changed my choice for Early Decision school. Two years later- I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
5. HAVE FUN- I mean, I’m going to be honest. There isn’t really a way to make these things fun, but don’t let it get you down. It’s really just the beginning! The most important thing in college Applications is to make sure that you present yourself in the best light. You can’t do that if you are really stressed out. It just makes sense to calm down. Consider yoga. Or meditation. Incense even. I’m serious.


I haven’t really talked about deciding WHICH schools to apply to yet for a reason. I found this to be one of the hardest decisions I made. Since the 10th grade, I had my heart set of a school that was near where I lived, had a great reputation, my major, a great campus- everything. Midway through the summer, I completely changed my list of schools and decided that Hopkins was my number 1. Why? I still have no idea. Visiting Hopkins was one of the things that really helped me realize how much I liked a school, but comparing my original number one with Hopkins was really difficult. I think you just have to go with your gut. I think that’s the only advice I can give when deciding which schools to apply to (or ranking them if you plan on applying ED anywhere). Because ED is binding, it really is a difficult decision, to make. There are so many things to consider!

I do have to say, after I got into Hopkins ED, it was smooth sailing. I cannot believe how amazing it felt to not have to worry about another college application.

I think that’s all the advice I can give you for the college application process- I really think these tips would have made my journey in the college application process much smoother! Good Luck!

You probably deserve an explanation for the pictures. I have become quite the spy. I am not really sure why. If you are confused, when I say spy, I actually mean that I have become a pro-creepy-photo-taker. You know, when you take pictures of people without them knowing because you don’t know them and if they saw you taking a picture of them it would be really awkward because you are in the library or Gilman or some other public place? Yeah. I have started to notice a bunch of people falling asleep in public- which I find weird. So clearly, my first impulse was to take a picture. Here you go. I hope you enjoy looking at these as much I enjoyed taking them. Hopefully none of the people in the photos read my blogs. Cuz that would be awkward.

 

P.S- In case you were wondering about the title…I thought that Lil Wayne quote would be inspiring for all you people getting ready to apply for college! As long as you show that you are in fact fresher than a Degree stick, admissions will accept you. That’s a fact- they want to see you in your best form. And smelling fresh is a plus too.

Stumbling Upon Life

Let’s be real. Most people think summertime is a chance to be unrelentingly lazy. I completely support this ideology. As such, I have become an avid “stumbler” in my spare time. For those of you who don’t know, stumbleupon.com is just about the coolest site in the world. After choosing some basic interests, stumbling allows one to explore the internet and arrive at random sites. Stumbleupon is essentially the force of fate connecting you to the coolest websites ever. It has completely changed my life…sort of. After stumbling across (it sounds more sophisticating than it actually is) an 8-track of Kid Cudi mashups, I have decided to go to his concert for The Cud Life Tour in Baltimore!

On a smaller scale, stumbleupon allows you to like or dislike websites so your browsing experience can be tailored to exactly what you want to look at. Over the course of the summer, my stumbleupon consists of blogs, shoe websites, and dessert recipes…(you can take what you want from that). Anyways, yesterday I stumbled to a blog called The Burning House. It asks people to send in pictures of around 10 things they would take with them if their house was burning down. I loved seeing the differences among peoples’ posts: age, gender, nationality, etc all determined what items a person would bring. Most of them were far from practical, like taking your entire collection of Harry Potter paraphernalia. I started to collect of all the things that were sentimentally important to me: photos of family, the fam itself, the dog, my phone, some clothes, etc.

I stopped when I saw the one response by a man whose house had actually burned down, and he decided to take only 3 things: tekite (a rock) , his parrot, and laptop with a hard drive. He went on to say that he would even just take the parrot if he didn’t have any time. So that’s when I decided to completely change my perspective. Choosing what is truly important to you is extremely difficult. Assuming EVERYTHING you own, besides around 10 items, is completely destroyed, it is hardly an easy task to decide what you want to keep and what to leave behind. So I had to filter down my immense collection of random crap.

This is what I ended up with.

Epic modeling by the dog.

Besides my family…
1. THE DOG
2. Phone- it contains almost my entire life.
3. Laptop- it ACTUALLY contains my entire life, but actually.
4. Keys to my 1999 Honda Accord (lovingly called Swaggerwheelz).
5. Wallet (with ID, $$, etc)
6. Watches- even though I would probably already be wearing one ‘cuz I loves me a watch.
7. Books- The Genius of Andy Warhol and Alfred Hitchcock’s Biography It’s Only a Movie (I’m really into biographies at the moment).
8. Running Shoes- DID YOU RUN ON NATIONAL RUNNING DAY (June 1st?!)
9. Purse- already holding a clip for ma hair, my fav shades, my magic wallet with train and Lax game stubs, and my all important gloss/ lip balm.
10. Moleskins and a pen- to write all the stuff that goes on in my mind.

I have never considered myself a very emotional person, but I have to say that this was rather difficult. However, I think that being a minimalist is one of the most valuable characteristics a person can have. Simplicity, in other words, is more practical and beautiful. Being able to confidently say that the 10 items I chose are a condensed version of me, was really satisfying. I am sure that my current collection of items would be starkly different from the items I would have chosen last summer (when I didn’t even have my license, and would probably forgo my book for a copy of Anchorman-which remains one of my favorite movies). I guess that means that I can safely go on in life and continue to add more to it. The premise of The Burning House is intriguing, and it made me think for the first time in a while since the beginning of this summer. Thank you stumbleupon.com.

For fun, I also asked my little brother to do the same thing. His 13 year-old self chose the following:

he clearly doesn't need ANYTHING else.

1. Laptop

2. Phone

3. Spikes

4. iPod

5. Soccer ball- he’s obsessed

6. Lax stick

7. Duck that he sewed in class

8. Xbox

9. Soccer Jersey (like I said, he’s obsessed)

10. Hat

 

ENJOY THE HEAT!

P.S: I got the first Daily Announcement email from Hopkins in a while and alls I can say is that: I MISS YOU JOHNNY HOP!

MISS YOU!!

Work Free America (at least over Winter Break)

I have about 25 days of Winter Break, and I have one simple goal: to sleep as much as my puppy. Along with eating HOMECOOKED food and watching as many movies as possible. I am 10 days into break, and I could definitely get used to this. I went to Whole Foods for the first time since I got back and I have found a new appreciation for grocery shopping there, especially on Tuesdays when they have all their free samples out (and it’s buy one pizza get one FREE).

The fruits of grocery shopping!

Next Monday, I am going to the Hard Rock Café to listen to Hoodie Allen!! And, I am pleased to report that I haven’t touched a notebook, textbook, or used Blackboard (except in the beginning when checking my final grades) at all.

Can I just say one thing? I HATE WINTER. It’s so cold- and it hasn’t even snowed in Lower Gwynedd yet so it’s like it’s just really cold without any reason.

I do miss Hopkins more than I thought I would. Even though I am slightly jaded from the snow (because of last year’s insane blizzard and the 4 years I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan), I was SO disappointed I missed campus’ first snow! When I came back and met some of my friends, we started talking about college, and it was nice to know that most everyone made the choice to go to a school that was uniquely right for them. After an entire term at Hopkins, I can’t say that I can imagine myself anywhere else. However, I am not looking forward to slipping and falling down the marble staircase when I get back for Intersession.

Instead, I am making a to-do list for Intersession. Besides looking up labs to Research in for next year and shadowing at JHMI-

1. Watch EVERY season of Mad Men, officially my favorite show
2. Go to the Super Mash Bro’s Concert (if you haven’t heard their stuff yet, get your head out from under a rock and go here: http://supermashbros.com/music/)
3. Sleep some more…duh
4. Get my head out from under a rock and watch the new Harry Potter
5. ACTUALLY READ A BOOK (including finally finishing The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I started over the summer and never finished)

It’s kind of short right now- I’m working on it.

I was looking at my earlier blogs and I realized that I said I would let you guys in on the weird nightmares I have…and I only did it once. NOT COOL.
So here goes-Latest Nightmare: I dreamt that I was in my yacht (as usual), when my buddy CatDog came aboard and starting telling me about his life.

Yeah…it was weird, but I think it was inspired by all the people who changed their profile pictures to cartoon characters for a while.

Well, I’m probably going to go take a nap now, so Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!! (And get super excited because new seasons of Modern Family and Jersey Shore start next month!!)

Goal: Sleep as much as the puppy