They say you only take seven seconds to form a first impression, but my first impression of Hopkins – as an enrolled student, that is – crystalized the very first moment I stepped on campus.
Man, this place is warm.
It was 10 30 AM on a bright August morning, and the sweat was already pouring down my back. The two duffel bags I was carrying only made matters worse, as my mom, my brother, and I trudged under the blazing sun and through the north gate of campus – a whopping 50 feet from our hotel. With every Hopkins student that we came across, however, we experienced a completely different kind of warmth.
Everybody was so darn nice.
From the tall junior who chatted with us as we walked to my dorm, to the two sophomores who helped us carry my bags to my room, everybody greeted us with a bright smile and genuine kindness.
One interaction stands out most in my mind. As my family and I walked down the cobblestone road towards my dorm, a cheery girl clad in a blue t-shirt ran – and I do mean ran – up to me and breathlessly introduced herself. “Hi! I’m Rebecca, what’s your name?!”
“Hey!” I responded, impressed with the enthusiasm of this particular move-in volunteer, “I’m Jonah.”
After a few more pleasantries, perhaps a word or two about the weather, Rebecca asked me what seemed like a very strange question.
“So, what year are you?”
Odd, I thought – if I wasn’t a freshman, why would a move-in volunteer be so interested in talking to me? Nonplussed, I played along – “I’m a freshman, and you?”
“Awesome!” she exclaimed, “I’m also a freshman!”
Rebecca wasn’t a move-in volunteer; she was a new student, just like me. She had no obligations to talk to me – let alone to be so aggressively nice – she was just plain-ole’ friendly.
After my first few weeks at Hopkins, my interaction with Rebecca seemed like less and less of an anomaly. Everywhere I go, I’m met with nothing but kindness – from floor meetings with my dorm house, to quick study breaks at Charles Market, to pick up basketball games at the Rec Center. I never have to worry about sitting through awkward club meetings or eating lunch alone, because no matter where I go, I know there will be a friendly face to talk to.
Putting aside my fellow first-year students, I have been most appreciative of the acceptance that the upperclassmen here at Hopkins have shown me. Not once have I felt like an outsider, nor heard a group of students whisper disparagingly about “freshmen.” Ask a student where Hodson Hall is, and get directions, dining-hall recommendations, and studying tips -that’s been my experience here at Hopkins, nearly without fail, for more than three weeks (O.K maybe I exaggerated a bit, but I guarantee you at least directions and a smile).
So here I am, nearly a month after walking through the North Gate of Homewood Campus, being welcomed by the tall junior, helped by the two sophomores, and yes, greeted by Rebecca. I’ve gotten in the swing of classes, joined clubs, and gotten lost in library not once, but three times. I don’t know what the next month will have in store for me, let alone the next year or four, but I do know that wherever I go, I’ll be helped along with nothing but smiles on the way.