I’m currently sitting on a beach 8,055 miles away from that of Hopkins. Except this beach actually has sand. And water. Yesterday was my last day as a Community Management Intern for Concejal Daniel Morales in Valparaíso, Chile. With the sun in my face, the calming sound of waves crashing upon the shore and sand seeping between my toes, it’s hard to believe that my time here is coming to a close. I’ll miss buying sopapillas on the streets, walking up the cerros (hills) of Valparaíso, befriending steet dogs, hearing the mixture of laughter, English and Spanish over the dinner table, my host family – to whom I am forever grateful for showering me with their hospitality and love – the list goes on and on. Heck, I’ll even miss the Santiago Metro during peak hours. But oddly enough (or is it?), I miss Hopkins. I’m excited for my classes this semester, to move into my new apartment, to see my friends, and to see new faces on campus this year.
The Class of 2021 will be moving to Homewood in 16 short days. I still remember the mixture of feelings I felt as I stepped onto campus for the first time two years ago after packing my suitcases and saying goodbye to friends and family in Colorado. Who are my suitemates? Who will I hang out with? Will I like my classes? Where are my classes, anyways? As a third-year student, I compiled another list of tips that I hope will alleviate some of these worries and help the incoming first-year students adjust to life in the Nest. Welcome, Class of 2021, and I’m so excited for what these next four years have in store for you!
Establish a Routine/Be Smart About Time. One of the things that clearly differentiates the college experience from that of high school is the concept of time. In college, most of your classes only meet 2-3 times per week and you may be done by 12pm or have 2-3 hour breaks in between them. You’re going to have a lot of free time in your schedule to pursue extracurriculars, take naps (and lots of them!), eat, hit the gym, hang out with friends, explore Charm City, and more. What I’ve found to be the most helpful in time management and the transition to college has been the establishment of a routine. For example, let’s say you had an hour break between afternoon classes. You can fill that time with activities that’ll take an hour to complete, like replying to emails, reviewing notes from the class before, doing a reading for class, taking a nap (my personal favorite – the couches in Levering are v comfortable), etc.
Find a study spot. Finding a good study spot where you can concentrate is a crucial part to leading a successful academic career here at Hopkins. Luckily, campus is chock-full of study spaces. From the many levels of the MSE Library to the numerous outdoor study spots, every kind of student will be able to find a spot that aligns with his or her study habits and personal preferences. Be sure to check out what JHU_Quan, JHU_Alexis, JHU_Girija, and I have to share about our favorite study spots throughout the school year. If in need of a change of scenery, there are plenty of cafés that you can explore around Baltimore!
Talk to upperclassmen. We’re not as scary as we seem! I personally love interacting with freshmen and sharing my experiences (that’s why I love being a part of Hopkins Interactive!). We can give you some helpful study tips, advice on what classes/professors to take, get you plugged into cool clubs/jobs/internships, etc.
*Also, it just dawned on me that I used the collective “we” when I wrote that. Wow. I’m an upperclassman now. Gotta let that sink in a little more.
Know the Academic Handbook. Know your major requirements. You can look on the academic advising website for the exact dates. Know what the retake policy is for general courses. Know when the last day is to add/drop a class, withdraw from a class, and change a class to pass/fail (pay attention to the signs they post around the FFC to alert you). This is to avoid a situation in which your GPA just misses the cutoff for an internship/job/honors society/Dean’s List/university honors because of the econ class that you thought was going to be curved but (surprise!) wasn’t.
Coordinate with your roommates/suitemates. Make sure only one person brings a microwave/printer/etc. to minimize all the clutter in the room/suite. Trust me, all the stuff you accumulate over the course of the year will astound you.
What you should really bring. Rain Gear (rain jacket, rain boots, umbrella). Bath mats. First Aid Kit. Lysol Wipes. Ziploc Bags. School supplies – you can take the free collegetown shuttle to Walmart/target to buy your school supplies because the campus bookstore is a little too pricey for my taste. Costumes/Fun Things that you probably will (never) wear, but one can never be too prepared imo! JHU_Girija also compiled a helpful list of things to bring!
Getting around Baltimore for FREE.
Where do you want to go?
How to get there
Johns Hopkins Hospital/School of Medicine/Public Health
|The JHMI (pronounced “jimmy”)
(Stop located in front of B&N on St. Paul St.)
(Stop located on St. Paul and 33rd, in front of Peko Peko Ramen)
Penn Station/Station North/Peabody Institute in Mt. Vernon
|JHMI, Purple Charm City Circulator|
|Towson (Towson Mall, Cinemark Theater, Towson Town Center (Walmart, Target, Marshalls, BB&B, DSW, Michaels, etc.)||
(Stop located in front of the N. Charles side of Charles Commons/sidewalk with the circle scupltures)
|Giant (local grocery store) and Hampden|
Free week of classes at rec center. The Ralph O’Connor Recreation Center provides a wide array of group fitness classes ranging from yoga to CrossFit. The Fitness Class Passes cost $50; however, the first week of classes for the semester are always free! The Rec Center also has a climbing wall – I’d suggest getting belay-certified during orientation week, but you can do that anytime!
Take a screen shot of your class schedule and plan your route. Trust me, it’ll save you a lot of time when you’re running late for your class in – wait, where’s Olin Hall again?
Ditch the lanyard. It’s how we automatically know that you’re a freshman. But hey, if that’s how you roll, don’t let me cramp your style!
Get Spotify Premium. I held out for too long. It is WORTH IT. Especially when you’re in the back tile section of C-Level with no wifi to play your Youtube playlists. GET IT.
Learn to say yes. And no. It’s your first year in college! I encourage you to sign up for whatever interests you, whether it be for a club at the Student Activities Fair, as a lab assistant at the Med Campus, or an on-campus job in your department. Attend a couple of meetings and events and determine which ones you’d like to stick with. I know from experience that investing your time in a couple of activities instead of spreading yourself thin over many is a much more rewarding experience.
Learn about the city in which you live. I came across one of my old blogs in which I wrote “… never have I been so intrigued, amazed, and enamored with a city. Baltimore is truly a dynamic, growing place where one block is as different as the next.” If anything, my love for this city has multiplied. In addition to the global tastes, world-class art, hip shops, unique neighborhoods, and a dynamic cultural life the city has to offer, Baltimore is also rich in history and is no stranger to discrimination and plight. Here are a couple suggestions that I have in order to get to know the city outside of Charles Village:
– Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse. A radical worker-collective bookstore, vegetarian restaurant, coffee roaster, and event space dedicated to “autonomy, sustainability, participatory democracy, and solidarity.” Every week, Red Emma’s hosts speakers and panels and showcases writers that cover topics that range from Baltimore’s water affordability crisis, jailcare, to the foster care system during the current administration. Location: 30 W. North Ave. How to get there: JHMI, Purple Charm City Circulator (get off at Station North stop)
– Baltimore’s Hip Hop Scene. Baltimore’s underground hip-hop scene is brimming with up-and-coming artists and it’s well worth the time to attend monthly events in which they display their talent, ranging from rap battles to open-mics.
Be Civil Battles: Features a capella rap battles, spontaneous singalongs, ciphers, and energetic dance competitions. Battles take place at 9pm on the 2nd Friday of each month on 208 S. Pulaski St.
Baltimore Boom Bap Society: Founded by music producers Erik Spangler and Wendel Patrick, musician and instructor at the Peabody Conservatory. Events from 9:30pm-12:30am on the 1st Wednesday of every month at the Windup Space (12 W. North Ave.)
Bolton Hill Open Mic Series: Cipher and drum circle held in a speakeasy-type setting that showcases the talents of comedians, actors, poets, musicians, and emcees. Occurs 7pm-10:30pm on the 3rd Friday of each month at 1111 Park Ave.
Good Websites to Bookmark. JHU login. JHMI Schedule. Google Scholar. New York Times/NPR/Wherever else you get your news (Fb doesn’t count). Yelp. Your Bank’s website. Reading List (fun/interesting/thought-provoking articles that you may come across during your time on the web). Folders with links to internship opportunities that you missed the deadline for/want to apply to when the application opens.
You’re going to fail. And it’s totally okay. Hopkins is hard. It is, after all, a top 10 university. Classes are rigorous and getting used to different professors’ teaching styles takes time. As a high-achieving high school student who may have never failed a test or class, there is a possibility that it’ll happen at least once in your college career. And you know what? It’s okay. That one quiz/test does not define you. College is about learning from your mistakes, picking yourself up again and persevering, surrounding yourself with people who will constantly encourage and build you up, going on spontaenous trips with friends, creating new dishes with whatever’s left in your fridge, and so much more. So live a little. Have fun. Study what’s on the syllabus, take practice tests and do assigned homework problems because the test will be more or less similar to problems you have already encountered. If you have questions, ask!
Reach out if and when you need it. Professors and TAs have office hours where you can ask questions on something you didn’t get in class, get help with homework problems or research topic advice, etc. Study groups are also very common – sometimes the person with the answer to your question is sitting right next to you! Hopkins also provides students with various academic support resources, including the Learning Den (tutoring services), PILOT (peer-led team learning), and Study Consulting (student-consultant pair).
So to the class of 2021, there are so many great experiences in store for you these next four years. You’ll take the JHMI bound for the Med Campus instead of the one headed for the Homewood campus, you’ll complain about the FFC but still look forward to chicken tenders at Late Night, and you’ll quickly learn not to wear your new white shoes when you go out on the weekends. You’ll survive your first college all-nighter, change your major, your group of friends, and your favorite study spaces. You’ll get jobs, internships, research opportunities, papers published, attend poster presentations, and other brilliant things you’re bound to accomplish. So take a deep breath, relax, and get excited for the next chapter in your life.