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.
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.
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.
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.