A little while back, I wrote a blog about JHU’s formal sorority recruitment process in January. I still 100% feel #noragrets about joining Pi Beta Phi, and this week is a great week to talk about even more benefits of it – because this week is Secret Week!
Secret Week is an absolutely magical week in which your Big (a sister in the pledge class above you – and in my case, TWO Bigs!) gives you gifts every day in order to welcome you to the sorority. This week, your Big is a secret, hence the name Secret Week. She sneaks around your dorm leaving you things, messaging you over a fake Facebook page, or, in my case, texting me with a burner phone to make sure I get my gifts. You can’t really miss them though…. my entire bed is covered in stuff every day.
Of course, this week is more than just getting tons of sorority t-shirts and candy (though it is a major plus). This is the introduction to your Big! This is the sister that will be the first person to congratulate you for acing a midterm and the shoulder you will cry on during a rough patch. She will mentor you throughout your college experience, and she is one of the first people to welcome you once you are initiated into the sorority.
My secret week has been amazing, and I’ve gotten so many gifts that I don’t know what I will do with everything. I came back from Spring Break last Sunday to an overflowing bed – I got wall signs, a Pi Phi blanket, tons of t-shirts, and more candy and baked goods than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. That was only Day 1. Day 2 was generally pop culture themed – I got stuff from Disney, Harry Potter, and Star Wars (as well as more candy and Pi Phi shirts!) Day 3 was Treat Yo’Self Day – probably my favorite day out of all of them. I got spa supplies, nail polish, makeup, AND a giant Insomnia Cookie was delivered to me. That day was also incredibly well-chosen, because it was also Pi Phi’s date party! I got to wear my new lipstick and eyeliner to the venue. Yesterday – day 4 – was Spring Break Forever: I got a giant inflatable shark and tons of tropical-themed candy and clothes. As I write this here at 2:20pm, I know I still have a delivery coming at 3:30, so we will see what is in store for me this afternoon!
Tonight, my Bigs will be revealed to me at our Revelation Ceremony, and I can say that I love them so much already. They absolutely spoiled me this week and I am so so thankful for them. Can’t wait to see you tonight, Biggies!!!
Spring is finally (!!!) upon us here at Hopkins! With the warm weather comes the ability to get a tan while you study for Orgo. Here’s the best places to take advantage of the warm, fresh air.
7. The Beach
Before you argue with me about this, I do recognize that the Beach is great fun. It is perfect for Ultimate Frisbee, having a concert (like when we had We the Kings during Hoptoberfest!), and sunbathing – but studying? No way. There are no chairs, so you have to sit hunched over on the ground to accomplish anything. I love you, the Beach, but don’t ask me to study on your beautiful, wide open space.
6. Freshman Quad
The Freshman Quad is…alright. Upsides: often, there are chairs here, and it’s an expansive place. Downsides: far away from everything that isn’t the AMRs (especially for upperclassmen), can get loud with music coming from the dorms and the FFC. If you live in the AMRs and need some fresh air for your European history studying, the Freshman Quad will do you just fine.
5. Shriver Quad
Shriver is a reliable spot on which to get something done here at Homewood. Sometimes there aren’t any chairs, and sometimes you find yourself in the middle of construction or a kickball game, but you pretty regularly can work here in a quiet area. Plus, it’s very close to some of the farther-away buildings like Hodson or Shaffer.
4. President’s Garden
Right next to our very own President Ron Daniels’ place of residence is the President’s Garden. The garden is in a hidden little spot by the Greenhouses at the back on campus, but still very easy to find from Gilman Hall. It is a quiet and underrated gem of this campus. Though there’s no chairs back here, you can go Canterbury Tales-style and indulge your intellectual hunger in the grass of this little meadow-like nook.
3. Brody/MSE Terrace
A great option for any studying need! Chairs and tables with umbrellas make this a comfy spot whether cloudy or sunny. More tables and chairs would be great to seat more people, but the vicinity to the library and ~amazing~ Brody Cafe (the Daily Grind) make this a solid space to socialize and study alike.
2. Latrobe Terrace
UNDERRATED! UNDERRATED! The terrace of Latrobe hall is the perfect intersection of a quiet back-corner of campus with tons of seating and table space. You feel like you can accomplish something here because of how comfortable you are while studying. Latrobe is almost the best spot to study on campus, except for…
1. Gilman Quad
Like I’ve written earlier, Gilman Hall is bae. Almost better than the hall itself is the quad, where there are dozens of chairs to study alone or in a group. Typically no one is obnoxious or loud, and you will often find people practicing their tightrope-walking skills or bringing their dogs on campus for some exercise. Not only is there the ability to accomplish a lot in this space, but you feel incredibly integrated with the hubbub of school life. It’s quintessential Hopkins, and my favorite spot.
I think I have finally started to recover from a two-week-long Model United Nations-induced haze. I spent both this past weekend and the weekend previous at a Model UN conference, and I was reminded of how much I love Model UN and why it inspired me to pursue International Studies as a major here at Hopkins.
First, for those of you that don’t know, Model UN is the single greatest activity that has ever been created. Participants, called delegates, are assigned a position and a committee – typically a nation in a UN body, but could be a real person in a cabinet, and it could be in the present day or a historical time period. The main “goal” of a conference is to eventually produce a resolution, which outlines what the UN will do about a particular problem we are discussing. This process is, of course, a lot more complicated than just that. You not only have to make formal speeches on the topic, responding to points made by previous delegates and offering possible solutions, but also navigate group dynamics when you actually sit down to write the resolution with your bloc of allied nations. The work you’re doing over those four days feels so real, and sometimes you have to take a step back and say, “chill out.” But that’s probably because I am a very hype person (#nochill).
Two weekends ago, JHU’s traveling competition MUN team, HopMUN, went up to Boston to compete at Harvard’s college conference. I was with a partner, Sophie, and we were representing Japan in the UN’s Human Rights Council. We discussed the right to health worldwide and how to most effectively bring that right to the most people. We, as always, had an amazing time doing the actual committee work, but also hanging out with each other. As is MUN tradition, the delegate dance was a bit of a mess, but great all the same.
Even though the ~9-hour Greyhound ride~ up to Boston was probably the most stressful experience of my life, and even though we didn’t win an award for our work, it was completely worth it. The debate, writing, and interaction between everyone is a truly rewarding experience that sharpens so much more than just knowledge of global affairs. The other students I see at MUN conferences are probably going to be the people I work with for the rest of my life – I want to get to know them and their interests, too, not just their country’s policy.
THIS weekend, however, was a whole different Model UN ballgame. In addition to the competition team, Hopkins also has a group that runs a weekend conference for high schoolers, JHUMUNC. I did Model UN all four years of high school and it was so much fun to plan and prepare for a conference from the other side of the lens.
I was a dais member – like an assistant moderator – for the Papal States Committee, which was a committee with members of the College of Cardinals in 1450. Another amazing component to this was that the Papal States was one of four Italian Renaissance committees in JHUMUNC (which included dozens of other committees, too). So not only did our delegates have to handle Papal States-related issues (like the Pope being poisoned!), but also crises that concerned the entire Italian peninsula, like an invasion by the Ottoman Empire or possible alliances with the other three city-states, Florence, Venice, and Milan.
I love Model UN in all its forms – when I compete, when I moderate, when I’m winning, and when I’m stressed. Every minute counts in committee and I am building my speaking and interaction skills along the way. This activity has shaped my life in so many ways. I can’t tell you why I signed up for it my freshman year of high school: I basically just remember showing up at a meeting and going, “okay.” Over my high school career, I fell in love with the quirks and frustrations of this activity and I decided that I wanted to do it – or as close to it as I could get – for the rest of my life.
When I came to Hopkins, I tried to tell myself that I only wanted to help with the JHUMUNC conference, not actually compete myself. It would be too stressful, too much work. I could just do the research without the competition. But I decided to apply to HopMUN at the last minute because, despite my brain’s protests, my heart was still all in. And then, to my surprise, I made the cut and got into HopMUN. Now having had two weekends in a row to compare the two clubs, I am not going to decided which I like better, because I honestly can’t. I honest-to-god-no-shame love this activity in all its forms, and I’m so happy I still have three more years of my MUN career.
It has been officially one week since I received my bid to my sorority, Pi Beta Phi (ΠΒΦ), here at Hopkins, and what a week it has been! I’ve added probably one hundred new friends on Facebook and found dozens of newly recognizable faces on campus. It is wonderful to have someone wave you over to sit with them in a giant lecture class that you didn’t know one week before.
Fraternity and sorority life at Hopkins is smaller compared to most schools: we have just thirteen frats and five sororities (not counting the co-ed service, multicultural, and professional frats and sororities). Only three frats and none of the sororities have official houses on campus, yet over a quarter of undergrads here have membership in a Greek organization. It is a great balance of strong Greek participation by the students without it overbearing the social scene. In my close friend group, only my friend R and I decided to go through formal sorority recruitment, but we certainly don’t plan on leaving our other friends behind. R and I aren’t even in the same sorority (she is a ΦΜ) but we are still going to be close friends. I am most excited to simply know more people on campus. The Monday after I got my bid (formal invitation to join the sorority), one of the Vice Presidents of Pi Phi waved me over to sit with her in our giant Microeconomics lecture. Other sisters have asked me out to lunch and dinner to get to know me better (since I’ll soon be getting a Big!)
A great part of Hopkins’ recruitment process is that it happens officially in January. This way, everyone has gotten their feet under them at school and can take the time to decide whether they want to go through recruitment. At my mom’s college, she had to arrive a week before everyone else in August before school even started to go through sorority recruitment. Spring recruitment is great because it allows girls that are on the fence about the process to go to informal meet-the-sister events and see if they actually would like to be a part of a Greek organization.
I, however, knew that I wanted to be in a sorority since before I even applied to any colleges. Both of my parents were in Greek life (my mom is an ΑΓΔ and my dad is a ΤΚΕ) and they absolutely loved it, and their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are still the people with which they correspond from their college days. Hopkins’ Greek Life may seem small to outsiders, but the flexibility one has within a Greek organization is partly what attracted me to this school. Every member goes to chapter meetings, formals, date parties (for which you can take a friend or date of any gender), and philanthropy events, but you can even get more involved in committees and the Executive Board of your chapter.
I hope to make ΠΒΦ a home for me for my entire life. I am excited to enter the professional world and have colleagues and acquaintances recognize my Greek organization. Pi Phi, and Greek organizations in general, have national recognition for their philanthropy and leadership, and I will be proud to wear my letters for the rest of my life.
Today is Monday, January 4th and I have officially returned to campus for Intersession and second semester. Winter break was wonderful and much needed: in the just last week before break began, I had 3 exams and a final paper due. Needless to say, I slept on my plane home that Friday night, and then slept until noon on the Saturday after. Even though I was exhausted from almost nonstop studying, I couldn’t wait to come back to campus.
My family took a trip to Florida over break, drove 24 hours from Chicago both ways, and I spent my week swimming, lounging about the pool, and reading for pleasure. Funnily enough, the place we stayed in Florida – Siesta Key – was the same place we came for Spring Break right after I found out I was accepted into Hopkins!
Even though the beach was wonderful – in the 70’s and 80’s all week! – I couldn’t wait to come back to school, and not just because my dorm bed is more comfortable than my home bed. When I was first accepted to Hopkins, dreaming about my future life in Baltimore at the same beach on which I sat just last week, I never imagined the feeling of belonging that I do while at school. Hopkins students are really my type of people – dedicated to their work and passionate about their interests, but also the type of people who explore the (excellent) Baltimore food scene and go duckpin bowling with you on a Saturday night. For lack of a better word, Hopkins students are normal. We are all brilliant – I am studying alongside future doctors, lawyers, intellectuals, and innovators, but no one is haughty or condescending when they discuss their latest research or study abroad trip for the upcoming summer. I talk about the theories of international relations with the same people I discuss Star Wars.
And now I’m back on campus! I have made so many amazing memories with incredible people since I came in August, and I’m looking forward to so much more! Over Intersession – Hopkins’ optional January academic period – I am taking a class about International Relations and the Civil War and co-facilitating an alternative break through our Center for Social Concern, where I will spend the week learning, discussing, and doing service related to immigrant and refugee rights (and spend a day in DC!). My schedule for next semester is packed with fascinating classes, and I am especially excited for my class on Ancient Egypt where I will get to work with the objects in our Archeological Museum in Gilman. Outside of class, I am looking forward to Sorority Recruitment at the end of January and JHUMUNC, Hopkins’ high school Model United Nations conference, in the middle of February. Beyond that, Spring Fair and lacrosse season is still to come. All in all, if it’s supposed to get better from here, I can’t wait to see what other amazing things I will do here at Hopkins.
As finals week (and first semester!) comes to a close, I thought I would share a bit about my favorite building on campus: Gilman Hall. Gilman is home to the humanities department here at Hopkins and is named after JHU’s first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. I had my Intro to the Museum and Italian class in Gilman this semester, and my intersession class – International Relations and the American Civil War – will be in Gilman as well.
Gilman is basically the coolest place on campus for a couple of reasons. There is hella study space, between the very modern Atrium, the Hutzler Reading Room (which I am sitting in right now), and the cozy entranceway. Gilman is home to the Archeological Museum, where there are nearly 700 objects there (including a mummy). Gilman sits on the best quad on campus, Keyser Quad (sometimes called the Upper Quad) and is directly across from the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.
I love Gilman because it embodies to me the epitome of university life. There is a certain hustle-and-bustle in the Atrium: professors are discussing their latest research and students are collaborating for clubs and projects. The Atrium is bright and spacious, and I can look up and see the bell tower. It’s actually a goal of mine to go up into the bell tower – even though students “aren’t allowed up there.” I can even hear the chimes from my shower in AMR II, which often tell me that I need to hurry up or I’ll be late for class. If you’re looking for a quieter area, the Hutzler Reading Room has comfortable couches and desks to work at, and has large windows to let in the light.
Gilman is almost my home away from home. Not only am I here for class and meeting professors, I love to study and meet people here, either to work on something for class or just to chat. Gilman is this amazing synthesis of old and new: it was recently renovated in 2007, which gave us the Atrium with its glass ceiling, but the floor plan and classroom spaces are undoubtedly old-style university. This building was one of the things I fell in love with when I visited Hopkins my first time, and I think President Gilman and I are pretty tight now. You could say I am a Gilmore Gilman Girl.
I feel that I am in a special place, here in Baltimore. I feel incredibly lucky to live in a city that, despite being the center of the Uprising last April, has responded with relative grace. Certainly groups and institutions within the city have put forth a legitimate effort to improve race relations in Baltimore. This week, by coincidence, Hopkins not only hosted two activist speakers, but also saw the Black Student Union speak with President Ron Daniels on race relations at our school.
Last weekend, the Black Student Union stood in solidarity with students at universities like the University of Missouri, and presented President Daniels with a list of requests for increasing diversity and cultural sensitivity on campus. President Daniels spoke directly with the BSU, and later that day sent a university-wide email in which he detailed the steps the university will take going forward to realize the university’s ideal of true equality.
I think that President Daniels responded beautifully; his respect in discussing with the BSU solidified to me that he truly holds the students’ well being at his heart, and that he is accountable to the student body. He noted that, while the land on which the Homewood campus sits was once slave-holding land, Johns Hopkins (the man for which our university was named) was a lifelong abolitionist. Daniels has committed to further discussions on race before the end of the year, and the class of 2019 – my class – is the most diverse Hopkins has ever had.
During the week, just by coincidence, Hopkins also hosted two incredible black individuals to discuss their experiences as a person of color, and I was, frankly, in awe. On Tuesday, the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium (a student-run speaker series of which I am privileged to be a part) hosted Ava DuVernay, the director of the Oscar-nominated Selma. She was moderated by D Watkins, a Baltimore writer and alumnus of the Hopkins School of Education and former speaker at MSE (I wrote an article about his speech in October here), and discussed her experiences as a director and a woman of color.
I also had the opportunity to ask her a question about the representation of women and people of color in films. I love going to the movies, but is it enough to be aware of the problems in certain films? DuVernay encouraged me to see problematic films and start a discussion about why they are problematic. She also complemented my skirt.
Last Thursday, author Ta-Nehisi Coates also came to speak at Hopkins. The Class of 2019 was assigned to read his book The Beautiful Struggle over the summer before we matriculated, and it was truly incredible to hear him discuss his work, his experience with police brutality, and the lessons he would like to impart on his teenage son in his book Between the World and Me. Hearing a Baltimore native talk about Baltimore is an enriching experience and I am so happy that I attended the talk. I hope it starts a discussion campus-wide. At both Coates’ event and DuVernay’s, Shriver Hall was filled with not only students, but members of the Baltimore community that are unaffiliated with Hopkins.
Based on this past week alone, I really feel like I am living and learning in a unique school and city. Passionate students are met with respectful and responsive faculty. The school truly puts forth an effort to engage the community with speaking events, and Hopkins is not stopping there.
Autumn seemed to fall upon us here at Hopkins (pun absolutely intended). I’ve been noticing some changes lately, and here’s what I see at the top five biggest changes about autumn at Hopkins. All of the photos have been taken by fellow members of the Class of 2019.
1.) Iced coffee turning into hot coffee. The café in Brody Learning Commons has a truly incredible selection of drinks with and without caffeine. The Ferrero Roche mocha has me like *heart eyes emoji*. People have seemed to switch over from the clear cold cups at the Brody Café to warm ones to keep out the light Baltimore chill.
2.) EVENTS. EVERYWHERE. Now that the semester is at full speed, clubs and groups are organizing their shows, meet & greets, food tastings, and concerts. The Class of 2019 Facebook group is full of student’s sharing their club’s events. I have been going to a lot of sororities’ “Meet the Sisters” events, as I plan to go through the Recruitment process and join a sorority here on campus.
3.) Midterm cramming. Because Hopkins is, y’know, a school, midterms are a necessary part of life here on campus. The upside is that there is an environment for any type of studying, from your dorm room, to the silent D-Level in the library, to the hustle-and-bustle of the Gilman Atrium or Brody Café. There are also tons of study resources if you need help! I often use the Learning Den for my Elements of Macroeconomics class.
4.) Planning for Next Semester. Already? Already. Freshmen register for next semester’s classes on November 16th this year, and I’ve been excitedly arranging and re-arranging possible courses, picking backups and making sure that I’ll enjoy my studies while they fulfill requirements for my major, International Studies, or my minor, Italian.
5.) Campus being too beautiful for words. I’m originally from Chicago, so the seasons changing isn’t really a big surprise to me, but orange and yellow leaves against a backdrop of Gilman Hall is breathtaking. The sun is setting at about 5pm nowadays, so I can sometimes walk out of class and see a gorgeous sunset. This is quintessential Hopkins and I wouldn’t want to spend my first fall away from home anywhere else.
Hopkins was hoppin’ this weekend because it was ~FAMILY WEEKEND~
My parents came all the way from Chicago on Friday afternoon and met me after my last class. We walked a bit around campus, check in and got my mom a sweet Family Weekend tote bag, and decided to attend a one-off class taught by my Elements of Macroeconomics professor, Dr. Robert Barbera.
Turns out my father is a huge fan of Professor Barbera and we got a cool and not-at-all weird picture with him.
The class was actually very interesting, even if I was one of the only students there. Dr. Barbera discussed the Great Recession, and I actually learned a lot to supplement what I was already learning in class about government involvement in the economy.
After that, we went to one of the my favorite neighborhoods in Baltimore, Hampden. We actually went to the same restaurant that we ate at after I toured Hopkins the first time my junior year of high school, the Golden West Cafe (#fullcircle). I had an amazing quesadilla and my dad had one of their more famous dishes, Elvis pancakes.
After dinner was ice cream at the Charmery, just down the street from Golden West. I had the chocolatey goodness of Maryland Mud.
On Saturday, we hung around campus and had lunch at a lovely picnic, at which President Ronnnie D spoke and unveiled a new Blue Jay statue outside of the FFC. It’s… something. Regardless, it was a lovely day to be out and about.
Saturday evening, we went with my friends and their families to another amazing restaurant in the Federal Hill neighborhood, another amazing and fun spot in Baltimore. The restaurant was a Mediterranean place called Zaatar, and it’s in walking distance of the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards – and it’s amazingly good!
All in all, I had a wonderful time with my parents, and not just because they bought me a lot of food. I miss them more now than I did at the beginning of the semester. It’s alright, though, because there’s only a few weeks until I see them again at Thanksgiving!
While I was applying to college, I took a grand tour of the East Coast: nine schools in nine days over my junior year spring break. After I went to the fourth or fifth information session, I started hearing a lot of the same phrases over and over again. So, I decided to make a Bingo card for what I kept seeing and hearing.
I’ll now decode what some of the most important phrases mean—and how they relate to Hopkins.
“We review your application within the context of your high school” the admissions committee will receive information about your high school: what classes are offered, how you are graded, and the general environment of your school. If your school only offers one AP class, the fact that you only took one—and not five—won’t be held against you.
“There are TONS of ways to get involved in research!” This is the most true at Hopkins. Hopkins is the world’s first research university, and there are several monetary grants to create your own research project, even as an incoming freshman (check out the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship). An oft-quoted fact about Hopkins is that there are more research-assistant positions than students demand. The Hopkins network of schools and research centers stationed throughout the city is a huge advantage in this respect. I know fellow freshman already assisting at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“Make sure you go to your professor’s office hours” This is crucial once you enter your freshman year. Office hours are when you can ask questions to your professor about your problem sets, the readings, ask about their research, or just chat. Especially when you are in an introductory lecture of 200 people (though the average class at Hopkins is about 25 students, there are always a few large lecture classes), this is a great time to get to know your professor on a personal level.
“We have a holistic approach to admissions” This is the most commonly said sentence at any college admissions information session. There is no magic combination of test scores, GPA, essay topic, and extracurriculars that will get you admitted to a certain school.
Though seemingly random, the admissions process is deliberate. I firmly believe that applicants will attend the college that best fits them. For me, I was really not expecting to be admitted to Hopkins, but I am a Blue Jay and I absolutely adore it. My high school friends at other colleges love where they are attending as well. My best advice for the admissions cycle is to trust the process. In my experience, it works out for everyone.