Sweet Caroline

Neither a Kennedy nor a Princess of Monaco

Reading Room, I Love You

There’s a spot on campus that I don’t give enough love: the Brody Reading Room. To be sure, Hopkins students give it plenty of love. The Reading Room is always crowded, and people often leave their bags if they have a class in order to claim a coveted spot. The Reading Room is a part of the Brody Learning Commons, opened in 2012, and named after our previous president, William R Brody. Brody as a whole is seriously one of the best places to be: it’s got dozens of study rooms for small groups to work, floor-to-ceiling windows to let the sunshine in, whiteboards abound, a fabulous outdoor patio, and my personal favorite cafe on campus.

Views from the RR today <3
Views from the RR today <3

Brody as a whole is all about collaboration on campus: I’ve had countless study sessions, club meetings, and hangouts there. But on the other hand, sometimes you’ve got to hunker down and just get to work. The Reading Room is the very place to do that! It’s a quiet study space to do individual work. I like it because I’m surrounded by other people, and often I’ll give a wave to folks I know, but there’s no pressure to sit and talk with anyone. Sometimes you need those times.

Brody Learning Commons - big windows and open study spaces (taken from my spot in the RR!)
Brody Learning Commons – big windows and open study spaces (taken from my spot in the RR!)

Today, I got lucky, and I snagged a spot at the far end of the room, at the table closest to the windows. It being a glorious fall day on campus, with a chill in the air and a hint of rain on the way, I was extremely fortunate. I had a full view of the Beach and the other parts of Brody, as well as the entire room and wall of Hopkins-related knick-knacks. After admiring the view for a bit, I settled in with my International Trade problem set and got to work.

The Beach from my spot in the RR!
The Beach from my spot in the RR!

I ended up being much more productive than I anticipated! Even though this week’s problem set was a it shorter than last week’s, I ended up finishing the entire thing. The Reading Room has this beautiful element of calmness that really settles me. Everyone is working, and there aren’t any distractions. It’s serene, it’s gentle, it has a soft lighting that doesn’t make you tired. I have the fondest memories of settling in with a hot cup of coffee from the Daily Grind to get into my latest essay or studying for an upcoming midterm. The Reading Room makes studying beautiful and makes writing a pleasure.

~Study aesthetic~
~Study aesthetic~

Sometimes people can give Hopkins crap for being too studious, but don’t we all have to get down to work at some point? Why not be totally silent in one of the most beautiful places on campus?

Let your mother make your bed at move-in

my dad and I at our house before the 13-hour drive!

Time definitely moves quickly when you’re having fun! In four days, I board a plane at O’Hare airport to go back for my last year at Homewood. I’m all prepared: I’ve hired movers to help get my and my roommates’ things from the basement storage unit to our apartment on the third floor, made an appointment to install wifi, turn on the electricity, and drafted a shopping list of what I’ll need to buy at CVS when I arrive on Friday (not to mention dreaming about my Peko Peko order for my first dinner back in Balti).

RAMEN
RAMEN

But I’m also thinking about my mother’s favorite Onion article, titled “Mom’s Fears About Daughter Leaving For College Channeled Into Fight About Storage Bins.” During my freshman year, my whole family – mom, dad, and brother – all came out to help me move in. We made the 13-hour drive from Chicago with all of my stuff in one day (my advice: think carefully about what you really want/need to bring). And, predictably, there was some sniping at each other on the trip and during move-in, but it was all out of love. I’m the oldest kid and so of course it was hard to watch their daughter move out of the house. I can’t imagine what it’s like for my little brother, with only three people living back in Chicago – my entire, since I was 5 years old, I’ve known these three people around me all the time.

my dad and I at our house before the 13-hour drive!
my dad and I at our house before the 13-hour drive!

So my advice to you is, let your parents baby you a little bit during move-in: let your mom make your bed, let your dad build the shelves, and remember that if you get a little irritated now, in a few hours, you’ll be on your own in a whole new place! Soak up the time you have with your family now.

In the interest of doing just that, here’s a few recommendations of where to visit with your family before they leave you 🙂 (below are all placed I’ve eaten in Balti with my family – we haven’t gotten one wrong yet!!)

hanging around the inner harbor the night we arrived :)
hanging around the inner harbor the night we arrived 🙂

My mom and I went to Tamber’s for dinner the night before I left for my pre-O program, as it’s a Hopkins classic. It’s an American-Indian fusion diner, good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and just a block from campus!

Since move-in is in August, ice cream at the Charmery in nearby Hampden is crucial! Honestly the Hampden neighborhood as a whole is a fantastic, fun, artsy place to walk around in the summer, and it also is home to….

Golden West Cafe – for me it’s particularly special because when I first visited as a prospective applicant, it’s where my mom, brother, and I went to lunch after my tour! I remember us talking about everything I would do here at Hopkins, and even if we were mostly incorrect, I’ve gotten to do pretty cool stuff all the same.

Also a fantastic neighborhood that you’ll hear a lot about it Mount Vernon, home to our beautiful Peabody campus, and the amazing Ryleigh’s Oyster Bar – their crab pretzels are to die for, and they have sweet oyster deals!

me @ Zaatar
me @ Zaatar

Finally, my favorite restaurant in Baltimore (and probably the whole world): the incomparable, delicious, amazing, fantastic Zaatar. Hummus? Yes. Falafel? Yes. Schwarma? Yes. Baklavah? Yes. IT IS ALL SO DELICIOUS. And the owners are an amazingly kind family to boot (and will probably remember you if you come back!).

So, in conclusion, indulge your parents, incoming freshmen. It’ll be a long two months before you see them again at Parents’ Weekend.

A Day in the Life of an Intern

Another picture from the Rome pride parade! The Canadian delegation lowkey upstaged us...

I can’t believe it, but three weeks from today is my last day at the office! For those of you that don’t know, I am working at the U.S. Embassy to Italy in Rome this summer as a public affairs intern. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I am learning so much both about Italy and Italian politics, but also how the State Department actually works and the many paths people take to decide to become a Foreign Service Officer. I get to do a little bit of everything in my position, as the Public Affairs section encompasses both Cultural Affairs and the Press Office; I have worked with the Fulbright program, the Congressional Research Office, and the Italian press in general. Here’s a look into what a day looks like in my position!

7:30 – wake up and get ready for work. I usually pack a lunch of a sandwich, yogurt and some fruit. I take either the Rome metro or the bus to my apartment. I love taking the #492 bus, which drives me right by the Vittoriano, the giant monument/museum in honor of the Italian unification and Italy’s first monarch, Victor Emmanuel II.

Me and Franco Harris, who caught the Immaculate Reception! A delegation of NFL Hall of Famers visited the Embassy - a little random but a ton of fun, and I got to watch his TV interview.
Me and Franco Harris, who caught the Immaculate Reception! A delegation of NFL Hall of Famers visited the Embassy – a little random but a ton of fun, and I got to watch his TV interview.

 

8:30-9am – I arrive at the Embassy. I start off by aiding in what we call press capsules, which are a summary and often direct translation of articles in the major Italian newspapers about American politics and topics of interest to the government to be released to Washington and the entire Embassy. This is one of my favorite parts of my day, as I get to use my Italian and get a great overview of what’s going on in the world today.

The rest of the morning, I may assist in short projects – for example, I went through our archive to find events we hosted or sponsored on LGBTQ topics and analyzed the audience reach we achieved in each event.

12:30-1pm – I usually eat lunch on our outdoor terrace with colleagues or other interns, or I might buy something from the “Elephant Bar” (our cafeteria), or head to one of the great restaurants in the neighborhood. One of my favorites is Pinsere, a great cheap pizza joint a block from the Embassy.

On the weekends, I sometimes travel, sometimes hang around the city of Rome - this picture is from my favorite place on the Aventine hill.
On the weekends, I sometimes travel, sometimes hang around the city of Rome – this picture is from my favorite place on the Aventine hill.

In the afternoon, I can attend events we are sponsoring around the city, sometimes assisting, or just learning from whatever presentation is being given. Other times, I assist with events at the Embassy, for example, a reception for recent Italian recipients of the Fulbright grants, as well as American grantees who were finishing their experience in Italy. Very often I will draft remarks or a speech for these events, often for a Cultural Affairs Officer or Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, but a few times, for our Chargé d’Affaires (who is the senior individual at the Embassy in lieu of an Ambassador, who has just been appointed but not yet approved by the Senate). I also have some longer-term projects, for example creating a network for alumni of a professional exchange for rising Italian political and business leaders that the Embassy runs.

5pm – I finish work each day – after that I may go to the gym inside the Embassy, a happy hour/mixer, or an evening event the Embassy is sponsoring. One of the things I enjoyed most was an Iftar dinner hosted at the Ambassador’s residence (a literal Roman villa!) for which I helped write the Chargé’s speech that she made there.

Another picture from the Rome pride parade! The Canadian delegation lowkey upstaged us...
Another picture from the Rome pride parade! The Canadian delegation lowkey upstaged us…

 

Overall, this job is a bit of everything, which is something I really enjoy. I get to interact with a lot of different people both within the Embassy, but also academics, Italian politicians, and other students. I’m so grateful both for the fact that I am learning a ton about Italy and Italian politics each day, but also the day-to-day goings-ons of our own government. It really gives me a sense of what type of work I might be interested as a career. My academic work back home at Hopkins confirmed to me that I want to work with international relations for the rest of my life, but this summer is really gearing me up towards entering the Foreign Service one day.

Rome: Magic and Mayhem

The same stop I use for work is the same to get to the Trevi Fountain!

Somehow I think I always seem to be writing about Italy – with good reason: this is now the second summer in a row I’ve found myself here. This time, I’m working at the US Embassy in Rome. (I was so blown away about getting this job, I wrote another blog about it!) I speak Italian fluently, and I’m passionate about Italian culture and politics. You’d be surprised how similar our own president is to former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, for example, or to former-comedian-turned-political-party-founder Beppe Grillo. I think that Italian politics shouldn’t be ignored in favor of those of the U.K., France, or Germany; they have as many implications for Europe, the EU, and Western democracies as the rest of these nations. Italy is an important place to me.

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Me at the Coliseum! Myself and the Embassy marched in the Rome Pride Parade

And speaking of the president, I met him. That’s right, he spent about a week and a half on his first overseas trip in late May, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican City to meet with religious leaders and discuss the war on terror. He also visited Taormina, Sicily for the G7 summit and Brussels for NATO talks. Well, during his 24 hours in Rome, President Trump managed to visit the Italian Ambassador’s residence (even though the ambassador position is still vacant…) in the ~very posh~ northern side of the city, and Embassy employees and their families were invited to a meet and greet. The President made a very gracious speech and did some hand shaking – my hand!!

There's the president. The gentleman behind him is Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni
There’s the president. The gentleman behind him is Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni

Safe to say my summer started off as a dream. Quickly, though, I started picking up the ropes of Rome that you must if you’re to actually live there. It’s actually quite a difficult city to get around if you don’t have a car – public transport is… iffy and nothing is really really that easy to walk to. I live by the Vatican City – literally three blocks from St. Peter’s Square. I work, however, near the Trevi Fountain on Via Veneto – a 40 minute walk away. Thus I take the Metro to work every day – the A Line towards Anagnina. My total trip takes about half an hour, with about 15 minutes of walking. The Metro, I will say, is fine. Not good or great, but fine. Twice now I’ve been standing on the platform only to hear an announcement saying “Public Ordinance, stations Ottaviano through Repubblica are out of service at this time.” AKA the stations I need to get from my apartment to pretty much any main site in the city center. On the other hand, it’s not bad either – it’s never stopped running like this when I needed to get to work, and is otherwise a speedy way to go about my business. Rather, the times it has stopped have been when I wanted to go into the city center for an Embassy happy hour, and other time when I wanted to get to the train station on a Saturday morning. Sometimes, it’s a little chaotic in the city, a bit of mayhem to start your day.

The same stop I use for work is the same to get to the Trevi Fountain!
The same stop I use for work is the same to get to the Trevi Fountain!

Another thing about Rome – it’s a dirty city. Seriously. When you’re a tourist, it’s easy to overlook all the garbage on the street, but it’s really there. A lot of Romans themselves say this is the worst thing about the city; they wish the local government would do something about the garbage that litters most curbs. Italians are also a pretty inefficient group. I hang my clothes out to dry on my roof, and once while my clothes were still up there, the a key got stuck inside the lock! So four of my eight work outfits were stuck on the roof for about a week…. the door to the roof didn’t even get property fixed, but the lock just got broken off and now we fasten the door closed with some wire. It’s not perfect, but I really can’t complain about the view from the roof.

From the roof of my apartment at night - St. Peter's Basilica. No zoom on this pic
From the roof of my apartment at night – St. Peter’s Basilica. No zoom on this pic

In the five weeks – exactly five weeks today – that I have been in Rome, I’ve been frustrated a lot. And yet, this city has a special quality that can’t be compared to any other place in the world. Some places can be compared to others; Turin, a wonderful city in northern Italy I visited in early June, is sometimes called the Paris of Italy for its French-looking style.

The Mole Antoniella in Turin - a weird-looking spot that houses the AMAZING National Museum of Cinema. For more cool Italian spots, peep my travel Instagram.
The Mole Antoniella in Turin – a weird-looking spot that houses the AMAZING National Museum of Cinema. For more cool Italian spots, peep my travel Instagram.

Rome, however, is its own being. No other city can really contain such unimaginable treasures from Catholicism, the Renaissance, and the Ancient World, and hold all of the incredible history that it does. Even though I’ve broken through a bit of this magic – I would much rather be a proper American expat in Rome than an actual Roman – Rome is one of the most amazing cities in the entire world, and I am so grateful to be here for another six weeks.

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Hopkins in the Rain

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Spring has sprung, April showers bring May flowers, and all that.

The rain is in fine form today with showers making our hundreds of SOHOP visitors all wet. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful – 70 degrees, sunny, just the right amount of breeze, tons of people on the Beach. Today is the opposite: a little chilly and absolutely pouring down, with the water gushing down Charles Street and creating inches deep puddles.

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Here are some pro-tips for managing the rain here in Baltimore (now entering mom-mode):

  • Have an umbrella. Seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you come to campus with a big, wide umbrella. Probably be willing to spend a few bucks on a nice one – I know the bookstore has these giant Hopkins umbrellas with nice wood handles.
  • Rain boots! So so so useful especially when you’re in a rush to class. You don’t have to worry about water getting in your shoes when you splash in a puddle two minutes before your 9am class
  • A good rain slicker. Could be as easy as picking up a $2 poncho from CVS but you’ll be so much happier when you don’t have to sit in class slightly damp and very very cold
  • Stock up on a few plastic bags. Why? Protect your notes and laptop from the rain! wrap your notebooks and laptop in the bag and stick it in your backpack for an extra layer to keep everything dry
  • Find the best indoor routes to and from places. For example – to get from Commons to Gilman Hall, you can usually walk across the Beach and onto the Quad. But in the rain, you can poke through the library, go into Krieger Hall, then into Ames Hall, and then into the side door of Gilman. You’ll learn by doing it a lot. A lot.
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members of the JHU community brave the rain to pay respects at the real Johns Hopkins’ grave every year

On the other hand though, the rain is my absolutely favorite weather. Hopkins is so nice because it has so many giant windows and you can see the entire campus with it coming down. I remember I was in the Brody reading room – which has amazing floor to ceiling windows – and it started just coming down in buckets. And everyone for a moment looked up outside at the rain for a few minutes. It was a weird moment of universal connection where some people even stood up by the windows for a while. The rain is calming and a nice change – and it means that spring and flowers are on the way. Just make sure you have all the resources to enjoy it!

Old Hollywood Films dance rain musicals gene kelly GIF

Why I Chose JHU

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So you got into Hopkins – congratulations!

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575 of you already know you’re coming to Baltimore to begin the best 4 years of your life, but for the 2,542 of you who have until May 1 to decide if you’ll call Baltimore home, I hope you’ll listen to my humble opinion and strongly consider Hopkins as the college you attend.

If you can, I’d strongly strongly recommend you attend SOHOP. If you can afford to get there, it’s the best possible way to really get a feel for campus. If you get there early enough, you can sit in on a class; I listened to a lecture about Tess of the D’Urbervilles in a class about 19th Century British Literature. Once you check in at SOHOP, there’s literally tons of programming to answer your every question about Hopkins. I took a campus tour, a tour of the surrounding neighborhood (Charles Village), and attended another mock class just for SOHOP students. I’ve talked before a little bit about my interest in archaeology and Ancient Egypt. How convenient that SOHOP offered one of these mock courses on religion in Ancient Egypt taught by one of the top archeologists at Hopkins.

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After dinner with your fellow admits and current students, there’s an amazing show with a ton of different cultural dance and a cappella groups, and then you get matched up with your host! The rest of that night is honestly nothing but fun, and I’ll leave it up to you all to find out why.

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The second day is filled with presentations by your possible future major and minor departments, a Q&A with the advising services, and a giant student activities fair! Catch me at the Pi Phi or Model UN tables this year 😎

SOHOP was wonderful and the programming was immensely helpful in answering all of my questions about life in and out of the classroom at Hopkins. However, it was my brief explorations after the official programming that really confirmed why I wanted to attend Hopkins. Whilst I was walking around Gilman Hall, I peeked around the first floor, and ran into Dr. Betsey Bryan, who ran that one-off class on Ancient Egypt the day before. She immediately remembered who I was and made sure to tell me to check out the Archeology Museum.

After that brief but pretty cool interaction, I went up to the fourth floor where the German and Romance Languages are housed. I went in with a few questions about how I could continue my Italian studies in college. As I was chatting with the administrative assistant up front, one of the professors overheard me, and invited me into her office. We ended up chatting for over half an hour about all of the opportunities at Hopkins. life water day travel city GIF

My experience at SOHOP was really why I chose Hopkins. That I was individually met to answer all my questions made me feel welcome and valued as a student. I really do believe that professors and faculty here deeply value each student’s interests and goals. Every time – and I mean every single time – I meet with my advisor for my independent study, he asks me my plans for after college, and offers me advice on it. I go out for coffee or brunch with the professors or TA with which I am particularly close. Your experience at Hopkins will be deeply personal, and all the better for it.IMG_4600

Let the Committee Reject You

I'm really good at maintaining US-Italy relations

Of all the advice I’ve been given over the years, I often think about one in particular, especially when I’m applying for something new: “Let the committee reject you.” It sounds kind of negative at first – the word “reject” is in there pretty prominently – but if you think a little more about what it means, it’s pretty encouraging.

Rejection. It’s a scary word.

Often, when I would think about applying to something – an internship, a club, grad school – one of this first things that came to mind was doubt. “There are so many more qualified people than me.” “Everyone else has an inside connection.” “Everybody else has advantage X, Y, and Z.” By doubting yourself, you basically reject your own application before the thing you’re applying to ever has a chance to read it.

The truth is, you never really know what they’re looking for. The worst possible outcome is that it may not be you, and you go on to apply for the next thing. However, you might be surprised. Now I have a personal story in which I have surprised myself, as it was because I didn’t reject myself before I sent in my application.

nervous suspicious chewing thats so raven old disney
Approximation of my face right before clicking any “submit” button

Each October, the general call for summer interns at the State Department comes out. As a student of international studies, it’s pretty much a given that you apply, because it’s the holy grail of summer internships, and who knows? You very well might get it. At first, I disagreed with this notion, because I didn’t really want to spend time writing an application for which I thought I was going to get rejected. How could some random sophomore with no inside connections to the State Department and extremely minimal experience be chosen over the thousands of other enthusiastic IS majors from around the country?

I ended up applying on the last day before the deadline. It turns out the application didn’t take that long – although the fact that they forgot our infamous “S” in JohnSSSSSS Hopkins University irked me a bit. When it came down to the essay, I just wrote about what I was interested in. I wrote about how I think Americans should be keeping an eye on Italian politics – I think there’s a lot to be seen there as Europe is growing and changing, possibly in a direction away from the European Union. As someone whose family has strong Italian roots, I also think it is massively important that the US maintain its strong friendly relations with Italy.

I'm really good at maintaining US-Italy relations
I’m really good at maintaining US-Italy relations

I sent my application out into the void and it was then radio silence. In fact, there were no emails indicating any sort of process for how they looked at applications, who saw them, or when they would respond, and following the confirmation that my application was received, I heard nothing. After a while, I sort of forgot about even sending it out. Between midterms and final papers and Thanksgiving and life, I said I would put off applying to any other internships until Intersession (which is a pretty common strategy tbh).

However, in early December – December 9th, I think – I checked my email, as one does. As I was clicking the delete button on the many emails from Sephora and Forever 21 (#InboxZeroLife), I noticed some important-looking subject lines from email addresses. They said things like “Summer Internship Opportunity” and “State Department” and “US Consulate.” Turns out I had four offers from various US offices in Italy: the US Mission to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, the Consulates in Florence and Milan, and, finally, the US Embassy in Rome.

audrey hepburn gregory peck roman holiday movie lover

 

I was overwhelmed, and I collapsed onto the floor. I ended up calling each of the offices and asking what each job entailed, and ultimately decided on the Embassy in Rome, where I will be working in the Public Affairs section. So, yes, I will be back in Italy this summer!!

Moral of the story, folks, is that you let the committee reject you. Don’t limit yourself based on some perceived notion of your competition or your experience or what you think they are looking for. You very well might be perfect for the job they are looking to fill. Talk about your interests and what you want to do. Often, your passion for a subject is just what they are looking for. By no means is success inevitable, but neither is rejection. Be your best enthusiastic self, and typically, people will respond well to it.

smart dj khaled compliment you smart you very smart

Trying Something New

women in the dark

After two extremely busy weekends this semester – sorority Recruitment and the JHUMUNC Conference – I am finally back with a semi-normal schedule. Good thing, too, since last weekend was a great weekend to spend time with friends and see some amazing performances by Hopkins Groups!

One of the classes I’m in this semester, called “Drama Queens” is all about women represented on the opera stage, and part of the requirements for the course is going to see several live productions. On Friday, we all went to Theatre Project in the Station North neighborhood to see the Peabody Chamber Orchestra’s production of three one-act operettas. Entitled Women in the Dark, the three pieces all concerned women – sisters, mothers, mad women, marginalized women, and everything in between.

women in the dark
From Peabody Chamber Orchestra’s Women in the Dark

The most interesting piece was the third and final performance of the night, called Anon, written and composed by Errollyn Wallen, and it was actually the American premiere of the piece. Based off of the novel Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost, it is a blending of tales about the current struggles women face today, from prostitution, abuse, online dating, honor killing, and gender politics. In my class, a question always on our minds is, “why does the woman always die at the end of the opera?” It’s a challenging question, because the stories are different, but always end the same. Anon asks that very same question, and finally sums it up: “for a lot of reasons… but always because she is a woman.”

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A scene from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut – very different from what I saw last Friday

On Saturday night, I attended a very different performance, this time by JHU’s own South Asian Students at Hopkins (SASH) club. Two of my close friends are in SASH, and one in particular was the MC, and so I wanted to be Dil Se, meaning “From the Heart,” is the premiere showcase of South Asian talent held each year in Shriver Hall. SASH invites a dozen or so South Asian performance groups from other universities like UChicago, William and Mary, and Rutgers to campus to perform.

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Zanir (the show’s MC!) and Neha on stage. My friends are so amazing 💙

Though I’ve seen a few short performances by some of JHU’s Indian dance and a cappella groups, I was so excited to see an entire showcase dedicated to an art form I know little about. Dil Se completely blew me away! I learned about so many different types of dance and singing style from Bhangra (check out JHU’s AMAZING Blue Jay Bhangra below) to Bollywood to Raas, and it was so amazing to see such a large community of South Asians and South Asian Americans come together to celebrate their diverse cultures.

I think what I enjoyed most about last weekend was going out to see and try something new. I had never been to Theatre Project before, and I hope to visit it again for more intimate blackbox theater. And even though I’ve watched a few Bollywood movies, it’s nothing compared watching live Bhangra dance. That’s one of the most beautiful things about college – when else would you have the time and ability to go out and watch something totally new?

Getting Involved Politically On Campus

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Today is January 26, 2017, six days into an new presidency and administration in this nation. The peaceful transition of power is one of the most beautiful traditions of our democracy, but we as citizens still have a responsibility to stay politically involved in the four years between presidential elections – and, honestly, in the two years between Congressional elections.

After this election, I’ve personally been galvanized into getting more vocal about my values and beliefs, and in speaking about what I feel is right and just. In that personal resolution, I’ve done a lot of research into what organizations and opportunities exist on campus to get students talking about politics and staying informed on current events.

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I and some other Hopkins friends marched in the Women’s March last Saturday afternoon.

The good news is that there are tons of clubs for just about every political interest! Here are some of the most active on campus (and a very small sample of a large community of student advocates):

College Republicans and Dems – the bread and butter of your political experience on any college campus. Affiliated with their respective national organizations, Repubs and Dems actually team up pretty often for debate and speech watch parties. They also host voter registration drives, canvass for their respective candidates, and comment on current events.

Young Americans for Liberty – This is an organization that promotes libertarian values on campus. If the mainstream two-party system doesn’t work for you, consider a third way. After Gary Johnson’s relative success in the presidential election this past year, I imagine libertarianism will continue to grow in the face of frustration with the Democratic Party and the GOP.

IDEAL – IDEAL, which stands for Inform, Discuss, Enlighten, Acknowledge, and Learn, seeks to change the way we talk and think about politics in this country. Instead of talking about the issues from one narrative, IDEAL encourages us to develop our own opinions and, more importantly in this day and age, encourage us to listen to each other. IDEAL at JHU often publishes and shares articles, holds speaker panels and events, and has often co-hosted speech and debate watch parties with Repubs and Dems.

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A packed crowd at an IDEAL/College Republicans/College Democrats co-sponsored debate watch party.

 

Voice for Choice and Voice for Life – Both sides of the abortion debate are represented at Hopkins, and you can often find these organizations giving out buttons, chalking on campus, and holding events on the Quads, as well as participating in some advocacy and lobbying work off campus.

FAS and MSE Symposium – FAS and MSE are JHU’s two student run speaker series on campus, bringing names like Bernie Sanders, Edward Snowden (via Skype), Ava DuVernay, and Joe Lieberman. MSE runs in the fall and FAS in the spring, making the entire year full of incredible visitors to campus speaking for free to students and members of the Hopkins and Baltimore community.

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Senator Bernie Sanders and JHU President Ron Daniels this November at MSE Symposium.

Students for Environmental Action – SEA members are dedicated to environmental advocacy and making campus a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly place.

Students for a Democratic Society – Hopkins SDS is a combination undergrad and graduate student organization focused on creating a more just and democratic society through demonstration and protest. They seek to make Hopkins a community of activists and make Hopkins students catalysts for social change on campus and in the outside community.

Model UN and Debate – Get behind a microphone and talk about current events with other college students from around the country and the world.

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The JHU Model UN team (HopMUN). You’ll notice a young woman in a pink blazer in the front… I hear she writes blogs sometimes.

 

The Politik – The Politik is a weekly undergraduate political opinions magazine that publishes editorials on Hopkins, Baltimore, the US, and International current events. Permanent positions as editor and staff writer exist, but also the Politik takes guest-written articles every week to get a wide range of opinion from the Hopkins community.

This, of course, does not discuss all of the clubs at Hopkins that do political work on campus. Certainly, it is encouraging to see so many varied interests represented on campus, including other advocacy related to the Israel-Palestine conflict, North Korea, and various culture clubs that represent the massive amounts of diversity in the student body. No matter what you want to fight for, you’ll find a similarly-minded group of students here at Hopkins.

Take a Break

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Hey all – some of you may have noticed it’s been a while since I last posted. Indeed, sophomore year basically hit me like a brick wall, but it’s a wall for which I am always grateful.

When I returned from Italy, I spent four days at home with my family, and returned to Baltimore on August 11th, in order to train for the Pre-Orientation program I would be co-facilitating! This program was actually the one that I attended last year, before I entered my freshman year here at JHU. We spent the week developing and refining our facilitation and leadership skills, and then decided to try something completely new: we went to West Virginia to go climbing with the incredible Outdoor Pursuits Pre-O leaders.

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in front of the Center for Social Concern before we left for WV! Dorothy, Osiris, Anna, and I were student leaders on our Pre-O. In our arms is Caroline Ouwerkerk, the assistant director of the CSC, who was our coordinator and dear leader

It essentially was a little exchange of training and ideas; we got to teach them some group-building skills, while they got to practice teaching people to climb. Since we all had never done anything like this at all, OP had a great set of guinea pigs. It was of course one of the most physically difficult things I’ve ever done, and it was so worth it.

Pre-O itself was absolutely wonderful. It was so taxing of course, since as leaders we were the first ones up and the last ones to sleep, but it was so amazing to watch the participants go from strangers to close friends in one week. We did some amazing service, went to an Orioles game, played Baltimore trivia, went to an outdoor movie, and made ~some gr8 friends along the way.~

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Pre-O students are wonderful

Starting classes proved that I was in for quite a lot this semester. I’m trying a lot of new things: I started Russian language courses, upper-level political science courses, and a class that requires me to read the entirety of War and Peace. It is all incredible – absolutely fascinating and I love every minute I am in class. It is just a whole lot, and in combination with my clubs, it proved to be almost too much.

I do a lot here at Hopkins, mostly because I love it so much here. Hopkins has been incredibly kind to me. Right off the bat, the Hodson Trust has given me an extremely generous scholarship, and when I visited during SOHOP, everyone was so kind and generous in taking the time to answer my millions of questions. It’s really part of why I applied to Hopkins Interactive – this very blog! – because I wanted to share my incredible experiences at Hopkins.

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#tbt to baby freshman me with my dad, the morning that we left for Baltimore

Outside of class, I do a lot lot lot. I’m the Treasurer of HopMUN, our Model United Nations team, a committee chair of the International Studies Leadership Committee, the Vice President of Member Development in my sorority, a chair in JHUMUNC (our conference for high schoolers), I write for the Politik (our political newspaper), a member of the Milton S Eisenhower Symposium, an Intern at the Center for Social Concern, and this! So I was very busy right at the start of the year recruiting and interviewing for all my clubs and getting started in the year.

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Model UN (including 3 freshmen!) at our first conference of the year at Columbia

Basically, I needed to take a break from Hopkins Interactive for a while. Sometimes, we all need a break, and I really do thank the HI team for letting me take one. Some advice for college: chill. It is really really important that breaks are taken every now and again because you’re going to die otherwise. Clubs and classes are fun and amazing, but sometimes, we all need to take a break.

What was great is that I took my break over our very own Fall Break last weekend, when I met my family in New York City. My roommate and I went up on Friday night and saw Aladdin, did some shopping, and I met my parents Saturday morning. We spend the weekend together and it was exactly what I needed, and I am back at school totally refreshed.

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Drama @ the Met. XOXO, gossip girl

Only 3 weeks until Thanksgiving Break!