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The End

A little less than four years ago, I was gearing up for the annual Comotto family reunion in Ocean City.

I had a month before heading to JHU. And a day before heading to the beach.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that frenzied, flustered Saturday turned out to be my first blogging deadline.

You see, I had every intention of submitting a post to Hopkins’ Summer Blogging Contest. I had struck a deal with my parents. I could write the optional essay (lol no) or send something to the bloggers at Hopkins Interactive, the gods of the admitted students Facebook group. Lit crit or personal narrative? An easy choice for this creative writing fanatic.

But despite my best intentions, I found myself procrastinating. Hard. Given my admittedly Type A (read: high-strung) personality, this was wildly out of character. I had so much to say! Too much to say. My thoughts and feelings about starting college were one big ball of nerves and excitement, and it took me the better part of that Saturday to unravel it all. I just barely made the deadline. But thank goodness I did, or perhaps you’d be reading the ramblings of a more well-adjusted person, and I’d be channeling my angst on Tumblr or something.

Pre-frosh Allison looks all too well-suited for Tumblr.
Pre-frosh Allison looks all too well-suited for Tumblr.

This memory feels fresh because it is. I’m four years older, arguably four years wiser, and here I am, waiting until the very last minute to submit a blog because there’s just too much to say, and I’m scared I’m not wise enough to say it.

This, dear reader, is the end. My final post as JHU_Allison.

Classes ended weeks ago. I sped through my last final and have spent the past seven days squeezing every remaining memory out of my time at Hopkins. I graduate tomorrow. I type it, and it feels just as surreal. Because that 17-year-old girl racing against the clock and musing about her future is still more me than this graduated, employed person. It’s like putting on a pair of shoes that are just the slightest bit too big. They look good. But I can assure you I’m one misstep away from shattering that pretty illusion (and probably my ankle in the process).

The truth? I’m not ready. But perhaps you’d already guessed that.

There’s a platitude people pull out at times like this: “It’s not goodbye; it’s see you later!” But let’s not sugarcoat it. I’m saying goodbye to Hopkins. Saying goodbye to being a student, something I’ve spent my whole life perfecting. Saying goodbye to the best people, the best memories, the best four years I’ve lived.

In a fit of nostalgia, I went back and read everything I’ve ever posted on Hopkins Interactive. I relived the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, the big things (dropping Pre-Law), and the small (reviewing Baltimore weather for you West Coast/Best Coast fools). With my four years laid out before me, I decided that while I will be wallowing in withdrawal for months to come, I still have a heck of a lot to celebrate. And maybe one more ounce of wisdom to impart before I go.

To all you crazy kids embarking on a college journey:

There will be disappointment. Freshman Allison cried in her dorm room after not getting into her ~dream~ a cappella group. The plans you make before you begin seem so important, but rarely do things go the way you intended. See those letdowns as the thorny opportunities they truly are. The day after that rejection, I was invited to join Hopkins Interactive. The next weekend? Cast in the Freshmen One Acts. Look at me now, a blogging, acting fool who wasted zero hours learning how to beatbox.

Precious HI freshmen babies.
Precious HI freshmen babies.

 There will be uncertainty. Remember when I told everyone and their mother that I was destined to be a lawyer? Lol. Once again, you think you know exactly what you want. You don’t. And that’s okay! I experimented with different major and minor combos for two semesters before landing in marketing and never looking back. Now I have a copywriter job lined up, the perfect blend of my Writing Sems major and Marketing & Comms minor. It all works out. Enjoy the freedom to explore. It’s a limited resource.

 There will be loss. You’re going to get knocked down over the course of your four years. And it will be a hard fall. There were days during my junior year when I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make it to graduation. But getting rid of the dead stuff makes room for lovely, living things. Whether you fail an exam, explode a relationship, or get rocked by something out of your control, accept that loss is a fundamental growing pain. You may not end up better for it, but you’ll certainly be tougher.

 There will be victory. And the victories will outnumber the losses, ten to one. On Monday, during Phi Beta Kappa induction, I experienced that indescribable moment of recognition when someone is saying nice things—and the nice things are about you. I listened as the legendary Professor Macksey read excerpts of my faculty nomination, written by none other than the man who has had the most influence on my academic life, Greg Williamson. Stepping up to that podium and receiving the Richard A. Macksey award was as surreal as it gets. As my dad always says, “This is why you lift all them weights.” Hard work will go rewarded. And sometimes in a matter of minutes, it will all feel completely worth it.

Most victorious moment of my academic career.
Most victorious moment of my academic career.

 There will be legacy. There’s a common fear among prospective and current students alike: feeling small. Inconsequential. One of many. A face in the crowd. But this is hardly your destiny. Your capacity to leave your community better than you found it is endless. I didn’t contribute to any medical research, didn’t serve in student government, didn’t save a life. There are plenty of Hopkins students who can put those items on their resumes. But I did change Hopkins’ theatre culture by (somehow) pulling off the first Orientation Theatre Showcase. Now it’s an O-Week staple. And when I see all of the crossover between theatre groups—something that barely existed when I was a freshman—I see my legacy.

 There will be joy. Unparalleled, unmitigated joy. The kind that makes you stay up until three in the morning when you have a 9am. The kind that pulls your heart all across the country, because now you love people from places you’ve never even seen. The kind that makes saying goodbye so hard. I will miss many of my classmates. They have filled my time at Hopkins with joy. But my roommates have given me the gift of a joyful life. You will meet people who redefine your perception of the word “soulmate.” And in four short years, you won’t get to walk out of your bedroom, and sit on their floor, and convince them to get Chipotle with you. I can’t tell you exactly what that feels like, but I’m about to find out. So measure your life in love, baby. Revel in everyday joy. Let it take your breath away.

use this one instead

 

We've come a long, long way.
We’ve come a long, long way.

Tl;dr?

You will survive and love and laugh and despair and wish you had infinite time to do it all over again.

I’ll leave you—really, truly leave you—with the most practical advice I can offer.

Document your time at college. Biweekly blogging deadlines forced me to do the most recording and processing I’ve done in my life, and I’m ten times better for it. My memories are safe, preserved, active. Even if it’s just a collection of photos, capture every moment you can. I know it’s painfully cliché, but college is so temporary, so fleeting. Make it last past the numbered days.

Take courage. Embrace uncertainty, and chase joy. Be the person you’ll be proud to read about in thirty years.

Leave something behind.

leave something behind

 

 

Fun fact: Her favorite Insta filter is Nashville.

Dancing Through Life

Before coming to Hopkins, I considered myself a dancer.

Not like a “tap-dancing-in-diapers” kind of dancer, but I’m not without experience. I’ve been doing musical theatre since I was seven, and have subsequently dabbled in all sorts of pseudo-dance. I salsa’d my feet off as Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie. I earned special recognition at a theatre competition for my tapping in Thoroughly Modern Millie. I’ve been the focus of one too many dream ballets. Did I execute any jaw-dropping feat of the human body? Nope. But I still thought of myself as dance-inclined.

Speaking of feats of the human body...
Friendly reminder that I can’t even touch my toes.

Until I saw my roommate, the beautiful Lauren Francati, dance for the first time. Within weeks of coming to Hopkins, Lauren joined the Ladybirds, JHU’s official dance team, and I got to watch in real time as one of my best friends found her home away from home. (It’s a beautiful process; 10/10 would recommend.) There have been tons of opportunities to watch her over the past four years, so my memory is foggy, but I do remember the gorgeous contemporary numbers, the flowing costumes, the INSANE leg extensions. And Lauren was up on that stage, spinning around like a top and telling gravity who’s boss. It was the first time I had ever seen dancing in a non-theatrical context. And it was the first time that I understood what it truly meant to be a dancer who lived to dance, not just fake her way through Fame.

Cringe-worthy photo evidence of me faking my way through Fame in 11th grade.
Cringe-worthy photo evidence of me faking my way through Fame in 11th grade.

This matters. I’ve been saying since day one, from personal experience, that the arts are alive and well at Hopkins. But so are artists, and so is artistry. You would never know from a Hopkins brochure or tour that there is a strong community of dancers pirouetting around campus, but here they are, doing tap choreography in my living room and teaching me how to spin across a stage without swan-diving into the orchestra pit.

And from this secondhand experience, I’ve learned that dance at Hopkins isn’t just an extra-curricular—it’s a lifestyle. The girls on the Ladybirds team seize any and all opportunities to do what they love. They dance on the literal field/court during lacrosse and basketball games, produce and perform their own shows, and STILL manage to make time to travel to an annual competition. Don’t ask me how they do it, guys. Lauren doesn’t even drink coffee.

Yet she can make flying look effortless??
Yet she can make flying look effortless??

What I find most exciting about the dance scene at Hopkins is that there really is something for everyone. Every culture, genre, and style is represented, with options for dancers of all different experience and time-commitment levels. At Lauren’s most recent performance, there were four guest groups: a co-ed Latin dance group, a step team, a Caribbean dance troupe, and a co-ed Bollywood fusion dance team.

Lauren’s final Ladybirds showcase was this past weekend, and my other two roommates and I were taken aback by our own emotional attachment to watching her perform. That’s how strong the Ladybirds are, in both talent and passion. They understand and accomplish the whole point of the performing arts—they make you feel something. And that’s a feeling I plan to chase all the way to D.C., where Lauren will undoubtedly dust off her dancing shoes once again.

Fun fact: Her favorite Insta filter is Nashville.
Fun fact: Her favorite Insta filter is Nashville.

So the next time someone asks you if Hopkins is only for premeds and lacrosse players, kindly direct them to this video. Lauren’s choreography will answer for you.

 

Don't I just SCREAM "cool"?

The Rookie

Aggressive. Young. Fearless.

I got off of the elevator on my first day at Under Armour, and those were the words proudly displayed right outside of my office, jutting out from a gorgeous, wooden wall. My first glimpse of all of the wonder and madness that was to come.

I was nervous. Star-of-a-deodorant-commercial nervous. And I had been for weeks. When I got the call that I’d be joining Under Armour’s Global Communications team for the spring semester, I could barely wait to hang up the phone before screaming in my apartment. Tens of thousands of college students around the WORLD apply for UA’s internship programs, and they rarely have openings during the school year. Yet there I was, by some combination of luck and over-edited writing samples, about to jump headfirst into the biggest brand in Baltimore. For the first time in a long time, my seven-year-old self thought I was the coolest gal in town.

Don't I just SCREAM "cool"?
Don’t I just SCREAM “cool”?

I prepared in typical, type-A, Hopkins kid fashion. I spent Christmas break poring over UA’s 2016 triumphs, star athletes, and product launches. UA apparel was at the top of my Christmas list. With several Google alerts and my brand-new coffee machine (Thanks, Mom and Dad) in place, I felt as ready as I was going to be for my plunge into UA’s intense, fast-paced world, where sports and fashion somehow perfectly align. My last employer was a fraction of a fraction of the size of UA. It felt like starting college all over again, first-day outfit and all.

And I was right. Nothing ultimately could prepare me for the unprecedented, nearly indescribable, Under Armour experience. I’m only three months in, and I’m already hooked, from my head to my UA-clad toes. When people ask me just how incredible it is to be a teammate (because duh, of course it is), I know the information they think they’re looking for. Yes, I get free stuff. Yes, I’ve met KP (He asked me where my boss was once; it was THRILLING). Yes, the view is the best in Baltimore. Yes, Port Covington is even more amazing than it sounds. Yes, yes, and yes.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit B

These standouts and perks are fun. And they make for good stories to tell my grandparents, who have followed this company since it was barely even a blip on the radar. But they aren’t the real reason to love Under Armour.

It’s been the experience of a lifetime because of the culture. These people really do. Not. Stop. The relentless pursuit of excellence and inexhaustible work ethic you hear about in all of the press aren’t just empty words creating an illusion of UA being as tough as its products. That picture is the real deal. The atmosphere isn’t just one of happy employees loving their jobs, but also one of 10,000% commitment. Nobody is working for a paycheck. Every single teammate that I’ve collaborated with, or even seen going about their business on campus, gives it their all, every single minute of the day, because they believe in their brand. They feel ownership towards it. Going to work every day is a lesson in intrinsic motivation at its finest.

Within weeks, I was shocked by just how much the culture of Under Armour mirrors that of Hopkins. Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen in love with UA; it reminds me of home. I often take for granted that I’m surrounded by extraordinary peers who are driven by no other force than a bone-deep desire to be great. Perhaps that’s what I’ll miss the most. It’s a relief to know that this level of commitment and passion can exist outside of JHU and in the corporate world. My new home.

The new members of the Class of 2021 got their acceptance letters a couple of weeks ago. (I’m still living in spring break time, so it feels like just yesterday.) And while I won’t get to meet most of them, I have faith that they will only add to the culture of excellence that has made my four years so unforgettable. So welcome home, Class of 2021. I challenge you to uphold that legacy of excellence. I challenge you to be aggressive, young, and fearless.

 

My first semester without my marketing buddy by my side :(

Round 8

Where did February go?! It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2017, and now March is merely days away. Soon spring break will be just around the corner! Do I even know where my flipflops are? These sweeping weather changes have me more scrambled than mood swings…

Anyway, with the semester nearing the halfway mark, it’s about that time for one last recap of my final four classes at Johns Hopkins University. Hold your applause.

Introduction to Social Psych

 I know what you’re thinking. Allison? In a Psych class? Her senior year? That’s gotta be a last-minute distribution requirement.

…and you’re not wrong. This girl needs one more S (social sciences) credit to graduate, so here I am, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone in the 11th hour. And I’m enjoying myself! I’ve already taken Intro Psych and Intro Sociology, so I’m a lot more prepared than I thought I was for this material. In a few weeks, I’ll go out into the wild and conduct a social experiment of my own. Stay tuned.

Oral Presentations

 Guys. Guys. It is with no exaggeration that I say this might be the best class I’ve taken at Hopkins. And that’s because, four weeks in, I have already learned SO MUCH. Every week, we tackle a new speech or discussion, so I’m constantly practicing and improving my public speaking skills. All of our performances are recorded, and I can literally see myself getting better with every new topic. It’s certainly fast-paced, and this class dominates my workload, but it’s more than worth it to master this invaluable skill. Tomorrow, I’ll be interviewed by two of my classmates in front of everyone. And I couldn’t be more nervous—or excited.

The centerpiece of one of my slidedecks. See? Public speaking can be fun!
The centerpiece of one of my slidedecks. See? Public speaking can be fun!

Copywriting and Creative Strategy

 This is one of the Center for Leadership Education newest elective’s, and I feel so lucky to have caught it before graduating. I’ve been dying for some copywriting experience—Mad Men style—and this course is pushing me toward my goal of Creative Director with every passing week. We’re just getting started on our semester-long project, which will culminate in a full ad campaign of an industry underdog of our choosing. In a month or so, I’ll have shot my first commercial…just call me Speilberg.

My first semester without my marketing buddy by my side :(
My first semester without my marketing buddy by my side 🙁

Independent Study

 Nothing makes me feel more senior-esque than this fancy, schmancy ~independent study~. It’s with Greg Williamson, the professor I credit with helping me discover my true creative writing passion—poetic forms. I attend class with him once a week and complete weekly readings and poem assignments, while also working on some specific side projects, based on my own interests. The end goal is some good old-fashioned publication. Gulp.

And when I’m not studying? I’m living the dream at Under Armour (more on that later), knocking items off of my Hopkins bucket list, and starting the rehearsal process for one last off-campus musical—Spring Awakening! With this handsome fella right here.

The Moritz to my Wendla <3
The Moritz to my Wendla <3

These classes are so aligned with my interests that they barely feel like work! And what more could I ask from spring semester, senior year?

 

 

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One Last Love Letter

Alright, ladies and…err…more ladies. This is it. The grand finale to every post I’ve written over my long, lettered four years.

We’re going to talk about Greek life. One. Last. Time.

Here’s the quick and dirty breakdown for those unfamiliar with Hopkins’ unique sorority recruitment process. It’s done in the spring, usually during the first week of classes. There are five Panhellenic sororities on campus, and each generally shares the same recruitment protocol. Freshmen and sophomores who wish to join Greek life (called Potential New Members <3) go through three rounds of recruitment over three days, bopping around from chapter to chapter, meeting sisters and eating yummy snacks. Selection is mutual; both the PNMs and the chapters make choices after each round of recruitment. All of the PNMs get their bids the morning after the final round and are whisked away to celebrate with their new sisters. Delicious food and friendships ensue. And they all live happily ever after.

See?
See?

Compared to other universities, I think us Hopkins chicks have it made. Recruitment is on your mind for a total of four days—we skip right over potential weeks or months of stress. The logistics are ironed out by the chapters, Panhel, and your recruitment leaders; all PNMs have to do is show up. And being a New Member is the most seamless, loving process of all. No pledging period. No hazing. 100% sisterhood and good times, all day, every day.

It’s just as lovely on the other side. For the past two years, I’ve adored coming together with my sisters and preparing to usher in a new class of Alpha Phis. We put in a lot of time and a whole lot of effort, but when our New Members come bursting through the doors on big day, in their gorgeous white dresses, it all becomes so very worth it. There’s nothing like growing your family. And I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to partake in that process every single year.

But I confess, throughout the months leading up to recruitment, I struggled with a phenomenon I believe to be common amongst all college seniors.

I was feeling, dare I say it, a bit…over it.

Without an ounce of negativity, I truly believed that I’d seen all there was to see and done all there was to do when it came to formal recruitment. I knew the drill. And while I was thrilled to carry on the Alpha Phi tradition, my senioritis had me convinced that my influence and contribution didn’t really matter anymore. I’m on my way out. And I was content to let my younger sisters take the torch and run with it.

So up until January, I thought I had a good idea of what my final recruitment experience was going to look like. (Read: Sneaking mini muffins in the corner with my fellow old ladies.)

Respect your elders.
Respect your elders.

Instead, I ended up having the most emotional, invested four days of my Hopkins career. Perhaps meeting all sorts of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed underclassmen catapulted me back in time. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

But I think the true reason behind my mushiness was that I was lucky enough to be Alpha Phi’s senior speaker. I’ll go easy on the details in order to preserve the ~magic~, but, to my admittedly limited knowledge, each chapter has a few sisters speak about their srat experiences during the final and most intimate round of recruitment, Preference. This year, it was me.

Writing the speech forced me to think long and hard about how much this social, potentially superfluous organization actually meant to me. How it had pushed and changed me. And what it had given me over the past four years.

I have never felt closer to my sisters than I did delivering that speech. It will go down as one of my most treasured Hopkins memories, and I know I’ll think of it often when I’m out in the real world, far from my fellow Phis.

:(
🙁

It’s corny and cliché, but sorority life really has been a defining chapter of my time in college. Before signing off on the srat life for good, I’ll leave you with the last few paragraphs of my speech. They really say it all.

“If you’re looking for a good time, there’s no better place to get it. These are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives, and above all else, Alpha Phi is fun. But Hopkins is not always the easiest place to be. And every single one of my sisters can tell you that when life comes in like a wrecking ball—whether it’s an exam, or a jerk who breaks or heart, or something that truly upends your whole world—this is the army you want behind you. These are the hands you want lifting you up.

They’ve lifted me up more times than I can count. When you take away the parties and the Instagram model shots and even the tote bags, your sisters remain, an incredible group of girls who will dance with you to your highest highs and drop everything to meet you at your lowest lows. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s exactly what I needed when I sat where you’re sitting today. My squad, my future bridesmaids, my girl’s girls, my sisters. They’re all around you. I found them and so much more in Alpha Phi. I hope you will too.”

Always lifting me up, figuratively and literally.
Always lifting me up, figuratively and literally.

 

 

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Writer’s Block

It is the eve before my last first day of classes. I sit very comfortably in the calm before the storm, cozied up with my boyfriend watching Criminal Minds reruns, doing one last load of laundry, and trying to muster the energy to make a dinner reservation. Tomorrow, the train starts its inevitable chug down the track, and there’s really no stopping it until graduation day. This is the most peaceful Sunday I’ll have for a long, long time. And I’m suffering from paralyzing writer’s block.

As a fourth-year Writing Seminars major, I am all-too familiar with this phenomenon and have tested a bunch of block-defying strategies, all with varying degrees of success. There’s the procrastination method, where you ignore that sick feeling in your gut and occupy yourself with other assignments until the pressure becomes great enough to FORCE your brain into gear. Would not recommend. I prefer healthier, stranger methods, like making crazy-person lists of rhyming words, explaining a concept to one of my patient roommates, or reading really good writing until something’s sparked within me as well. While writer’s block is a pain in the butt, I’ve been cranking out two or three poems/short stories a week since coming to Hopkins. It’ll darken my doorway for the rest of my life, but I’m more than prepared for battle.

Blogs, however, have always nearly written themselves. This is the most effortless, painless writing I get to do. I literally just talk about myself, in my natural voice, in 500-word increments every other week. It typically doesn’t get much tougher than sticking to one topic a post.

But today, I struggled. So much so that this is the third or fourth time I’ve returned to this Word doc since dragging myself out of bed. It’s not that my life is running low on exciting things. I could write a ten-blog series on my internship at Under Armour. Within a week, I’ll be waxing poetic on my senior spring class lineup. And sorority recruitment is going down this weekend, which is sure to give me enough photos and inspiration to last all semester.

I started those posts. But by the end of the first paragraph, I could tell they were just going to turn out…well. Blah.

And I think that’s because I, too, am a little blah. I can’t seem to see past the very unavoidable reality hovering over me like the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. I’ve really, truly arrived at my last semester. After returning to campus and going through class prep, recruitment training, and all that jazz, I feel more like a senior and less than prepared for that truth than ever before. Once tomorrow hits, the clock starts. This little Blue Jay is running out of time.

In the coming weeks, I’ll return to regularly scheduled programming. Despite its finality, I’m confident that this is going to actually be the best semester to date. But for now, I’m content to have you join me in the in-between, wondering how to make the next four months last another four years.

If I could do it all over, I'd still do it all over with them.
If I could do it all over, I’d still do it all over with them.
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Resolved

All things considered, I had a pretty good year.

2016 may be widely regarded as one giant dumpster fire, but for me, at least personally, it was the year that so many things fell into place. It ran circles around 2015, its evil predecessor, and with the plunge into the post-grad world looming in 2017, I think I’m one of the few who’s a little sad to see 2016 go. Whoops, unpopular opinion alert.

Almost definitely his fault.
Almost definitely his fault.

But, as they say, the show must go on. Me. I say that. Sometimes when I royally botch a line onstage, other times when I’ve spilled crumbs in my bed but am too lazy to clean them up. Tomato, tomahto. The show must go on.

And I intend to make 2017 quite the production. With one semester left at the place I’ve called home for four years, there’s no time for false starts or do-overs. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda but also very probably Alexander Hamilton, “I’m not throwing away my shot.” So here are the ten New Year’s resolutions of a Hopkins senior, determined to have one unforgettable spring on her way out the door.

I, JHU_Allison, hereby resolve to:

Clean up my sleep schedule. We covered sleep patterns in Intro Psych, so yes, I know consistency is key. But here I am, treating my body like garbage with heinously haphazard bedtimes and wakeup calls. While this sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is doable in college, the real-world 9-5 grind is going to destroy me if I don’t make better habits now.

 Study at the Peabody Library. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Hopkins student who hasn’t taken advantage of this gorgeous venue. I want my Belle moment. I want my Instagram photo. I’ve earned it.

 Enjoy every dang minute of Spring Fair. I’ve spent the past two Spring Fairs rehearsing musicals instead of getting the most out of this beloved Hopkins tradition. Not this year. From sunup to sundown, my butt will be lounging on the Beach, eating a Bloomin’ Onion and sipping on a Strawberry Smoothie.

Take risks. A big item on my 2017 to-do list is to iron out the details of my post-graduation plans. I want to continue to push myself way out of my comfort zone and pursue any and all opportunities that excite me.

 But be kind to myself. At the same time, I find that a lot of graduating college students put tons of pressure on themselves to start the “perfect” job, graduate program, etc. the week after they’re handed their degree. It’s important to remind myself that this strategy is a recipe for disappointment. I resolve not to burden myself by frantically searching for my “dream job.” Instead, I’ll network. Apply to everything. And continue to take chances.

Get invested in Baltimore sportsball. One of those new and exciting chances is a winter/spring internship in the Global Communications department of Under Armour. While being a varsity athlete is hardly an application requirement, I’m determined to crank up my allegiance to the Baltimore birds. Unfortunately for this diehard Ravens fan, we’re nearing baseball season…so how bout them O’s?

Publish a poem or two. One of the classes in my final semester lineup is an independent study with my favorite poetry professor, Greg Williamson. With his guidance, I plan to polish up my portfolio and send some pieces out. Never again will I be surrounded by so many prolific writers, so I need to take advantage of their genius. Plus, it’s the only thing Mama Comotto wants for Mother’s Day.

Learn to say no. Up until this semester, I’ve regularly committed to (amazing!) off-campus opportunities that took me away from Hopkins for months on end. With only one semester left, I’m going to have to say no to these opportunities. Senior spring is all about living it up at Homewood, one last time.

 Learn to say yes. But when it comes to opportunities at Hopkins, yes is going to be my middle name. Whether it’s spontaneously going out on a weeknight, auditioning for the spring musical, or dressing up in wacky outfits with my fellow Alpha Phis, I’m going to push myself to get the most out of spring 2017.

 Never wish time away. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. No matter how much I adore being here, I can’t help but dream of summer vacation when I’m mired down in midterms. But this year, there’s no more summer vacation to dream of. Just graduation, the real world, and the great unknown. So above all else, no matter what spring 2017 has in store, I resolve to experience and enjoy every single moment. Because they’re numbered.

 

Wouldn't wish away a single second with these two.
Wouldn’t wish away a single second with these two.
Some of my fav helpers. <3 (And a penguin made of ice.)

The Secret to Surviving Hopkins

I think it was my freshman spring when I first heard the ~Hopkins myth~ that people don’t really work together on schoolwork. Like there’s some imaginary percentage of the JHU population that barricades themselves away in secluded corners of D Level (whoops, never been) to hiss at anyone who wants to tackle a problem set together.

See? I can’t even come up with a good imaginary scenario. Because if there’s one thing you’ll do every dang semester for your four years at Hopkins, it’s collaborate. Live it, love it. It’s the key to your survival.

Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.
Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.

You see evidence of collaboration everywhere. If I had a dollar for every time I walked into a Brody study room and saw the whiteboard walls covered in five different handwritings, I’d buy out CharMar. A Level of the library is a sea of study groups, with students flitting from table to table like the whole scene’s a caffeinated, finals-ready coral reef. (Pardon all the ocean imagery; I’ve spent half the day planning this year’s spring break getaway.) My roommate Lauren, an Applied Math and Statistics major, has had a semester filled with group math projects and presentations, which I didn’t even know existed. And Liz just finished up “Leading Teams,” a course with one of the coolest final projects I’ve ever heard of: a Leadership Summit, beautifully planned and executed by the entire class.

I’ve had two final group presentations just this past week alone, each the product of an entire semester of collaborative work. The first was in Social Media Marketing, where we presented a pretty darn incredible social media plan for Trader Joe’s, complete with an integrated contest, mock posts for every social platform, and three boxes of Cookie Butter Cheesecake. It was a hit. The other was for my PR & Corporate Communications class. We presented months of research and strategizing to the Office of Study Abroad, this year’s real-world client. Not only did I get to invest my time and energy in a program relevant to any and all Hopkins students, but I also got to talk this baby up in a job interview. Real marketing experience? Check.

But just because collaboration isn’t mandated by the syllabus doesn’t mean you’re left to shoulder classwork all by yourself. One of my 15-person Writing Seminars classes had a Facebook group for brainstorming and editing. In lecture classes of 100+ students, I’ve been in dozens of small group work sessions to prepare for midterms and finals. Just this semester in my Visual Rhetoric class, we’ve all gone out of our way to help each other in the photography studio, holding lights, providing feedback, and messing around with finicky cameras.

JHU isn’t just a place where people work together; I’d argue there’s a culture of collaboration. Everyone on campus comes to Hopkins knowing that the academic rigor is going to challenge, push, and (ultimately) reward them. Helping and being helped is integral to the best undergrad experience you can have. So consider that silly myth officially busted. Give me something hard next time.

Some of my fav helpers. <3 (And a penguin made of ice.)

 

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Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, Interwebz! Yeah yeah, I know 1) nobody says interwebz anymore (showing my advanced age here), and 2) I’m a little early to be sending you some Turkey Day well-wishes. But the Comotto family is a festive bunch, and we’re alllll about extending holiday cheer for as long as we can—particularly when it comes to feasting. So I’ll probably be in a food coma by Wednesday anyway. For all intents and purposes, today’s the perfect time to start giving thanks where thanks is due. And this senior citizen has a lot to be thankful for.

 

Week-long Thanksgiving break. Bless. You. Hopkins.

 

The leftover birthday Reeses cups still chilling in my freezer.

 

Boot/Sweater/Cranberry-colored lipstick weather (Oh autumn temperatures, how I’ve missed you.)

 

The Something Rotten tickets my father so incredibly purchased to celebrate the end of fall semester (CHRISTMAS IN NYC BABY).

 

Watching my dreamy boyfriend star in not one, but TWO amazing musicals over the course of the next two weeks.

He tries. <3
He tries. <3

 

Online library resources, so I can write this final Social Media Marketing paper from the comfort of my own bed.

 

Liz’s candles, which make the apartment smell like cinnamon.

 

My favorite Writing Sems professor of all time, Greg Williamson, who solved my spring semester scheduling crisis AND still made it possible for me to take his classes.

 

Mama Comotto. Because, ya know. Moms are objectively the best.

 

Alpha Phi’s upcoming holiday party, which will hopefully feature Caroline in a Santa suit.

 

Impromptu theatre family reunions.

When you're an Addams, you're an Addams for LIFE.
When you’re an Addams, you’re an Addams for LIFE.

Finishing out my marketing minor with Lauren, who makes group project dynamics way more bearable.

 

Fluffy penguin PJ pants.

 

Seeing my cousin Carly in T-minus THREE DAYS holy moly.

Slowly dying without her.
Slowly dying without her.

 

My pups.

The face of a pup who climbed on the dining room table last year.
The face of a pup who climbed on the dining room table last year.

Taking zero Writing Sems classes this semester and realizing I love poetry so much that I’m giving sonnets as Christmas presents.

 

The pounds of stuffing I’ll be consuming this week.

 

The Comotto family’s annual Pumpkin Pie contest.

 

Seeing people I love over the holidays.

 

Seeing people I love when I get back.

peopleilove

 

 

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Most Things Change

I feel the truth of that now more than ever. Last week, my roommates and I headed to late night at the freshmen dining hall (FFC, for those in the know) for the 10pm bowls of cereal and breakfast food that got us through our first year at Hopkins. For me, it was the first time I’ve even entered that building since sophomore year. It was like being hit by a tidal wave of nostalgia. When you’re a freshman, you can’t help but be entrenched in campus life—I lived in the heart of the freshman quad, surrounded by a thick blanket of classic, undergraduate life. It was awesome and totally unlike anything I’d ever experienced. And as I sat there over my third bowl of Lucky Charms, I realized I’d never experience it again.

Hopkins does this whole “transition” thing really well. It’s like that morbid metaphor about a frog calmly boiling in a pot of water that’s gradually heating up. With every passing year, you become a little less dependent on Hopkins and a little more prepared for the real world. Freshman year, there was no world outside of Hopkins. But as a senior, I can’t tell if I’m a student pretending to be an adult or an adult impersonating a student. I’m no longer in a dorm, but an apartment that feels more a part of Baltimore than campus. My days of eating at the FFC, Levering, or CharMar are far behind me; now I cook (kinda) and grocery shop (horrifying, I know). I spend just as much time at my real-person job in Fells Point as I do in class. And as a new member of the 21 club, I celebrate my weekend nights at the quirky Baltimore bars I’ve been dreaming about since I was an Old-Bay-loving teen.

Hopkins has done its job and cranked out a person who is prepared (as she’s gonna be) to face the post-grad world. And I’m grateful. But after realizing just how much things have changed since I moved all of my color-coded crap into AMR II Clark, I’m also sad. On my first night of orientation, an upperclassman told me she would kill to be in my shoes, at the very beginning of the best four years of her life. As a nervous nelly with zero friends, I figured she was just trying to make me feel better. But I get it now. There’s nothing like your first year of college. And there’s no way of knowing that until it’s already passed you by.

bloggoofyfreshmanyear

Three years ago, just two months into my freshman year, my parents took me and my new best friends to The Melting Pot for my 18th birthday. Here’s an unfortunate photo to prove it.

...we've come a long way.
…we’ve come a long way.

This past weekend, my parents brought us full circle and took us out to the same restaurant to celebrate my 21st birthday. Melted cheese and chocolate are close to my heart, so suffice it to say it was an incredible night. But what was more incredible was looking around at the friends and family surrounding me. The invite list has changed a little, but Lauren, Caroline, and Liz were present and perfect, just as they’ve been for every moment over the past three years, big and small. It was a powerful, much-need reminder that while most things change, the important things don’t.

Told you!
Told you!

Hopkins will end—it has to. College is designed to serve as the springboard to bigger and better things. But nothing can ever be bigger and better than these girls and the incredible life we’ve created together over four short years. I have Hopkins to thank for that. So even if I’m not living the same life I did when I was a freshman, that doesn’t make me any less of a Hopkins girl. I’m saving the nostalgia for another day. Today is for the now.