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?

Why I Chose JHU


So you got into Hopkins – congratulations!


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.

 movies indiana jones GIF

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.

 dance party the office party hard dance moves GIF

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

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.”

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.~

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.

#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.

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.

Drama @ the Met. XOXO, gossip girl

Only 3 weeks until Thanksgiving Break!