Name: Alexa Mechanic
Year: Class of 2014
Hometown: Somers, NY
Program of Study: Writing Seminars
You don’t realize you’re actually going to college until you see all of your belongings sitting on the garage floor waiting to be loaded into a 4×8 U-Haul trailer. And then, bam, it hits you – you’re no longer a kid. You’ve completed the first major period of your life: childhood. I left my hometown – Somers, NY – on August 24th 2010, and moved in to Wolman Hall (the best freshman dorm on campus, in my opinion) on August 26th. As I watched my family drive away after saying goodbye, a surge of independence shot up my spine. Hopkins instantly became my new home, as there is something indescribably great about this place. Of course, I do miss my dog… and my mom and dad and brother, but everything about freshmen year here is so exciting that there is little time for homesickness. For me, the biggest changes have been the degree of freedom I have and the responsibility that accompanies this newfound autonomy.
One of the decisive factors in my decision to attend Johns Hopkins University was the fact that I would never have to take a math class ever again (along with other important decisive factors like the hot chocolate machine in the FFC, the beautiful brick walkways, and the fact that Mayor Bloomberg is an alumni). As a writing seminars major, knowing I would never have to struggle through derivatives again didn’t just make my day; it made my life. Instead, I’m taking classes I’m genuinely interested in like abnormal psychology and a seminar on evil. Not having a core curriculum only adds to the amount of freedom I have in shaping my life at Hopkins.
There are a few aspects of this freedom that have required a bit of adjustment and a bit of “I need my mom” panicking. After I proudly did my laundry for the first time, I realized one of my favorite shirts was in the dryer for too long and now could fit an infant. When I accidentally turned my alarm clock off instead of hitting snooze on a Friday morning, I missed a class for the first time. Following a few weeks of eating whatever I wanted at the FFC, I realized even an infinite amount of time spent at the gym could not counteract the fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies or surprisingly delicious pizza or bowls of yogurt and granola I had become addicted to. However, all of these challenges have only augmented my sense of independence – I’m a firm believer in learning from mistakes.
As my senior year in high school came to a close, I grew tired of the monotony of my lifestyle. The best part of freshman year at Hopkins thus far has been the opportunity to start with a blank slate. Although I really miss my friends from home, I already know the friends I have made at Hopkins so far will be in my life forever. Everyone here is unique, smart, and appreciates both education and having fun (yes, Hopkins students do have fun). I’m currently involved in club swimming, and I’m marketing and publicity co-chair for Relay For Life (the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society). It’s so easy to get involved both on campus and off campus around Baltimore.
For fall break, I went home via Amtrak for the weekend. I returned to a hometown that I now felt distant from. I was no longer a kid growing up in Somers – I was a young adult traveling back to the place I spent the first era of my life, and I saw everything from a very different perspective. The high school that once seemed colossal now looked little, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at thenew seniors who thought they were the kings and queens of the world. I drove around town reminiscently, pondering how different my life would be had I chosen a school other than Hopkins. Going home was a weird but satisfying experience, and it was the first time I recognized that Somers is no longer the central place in my life – I can always go back to it, but Baltimore is now where my heart belongs. I have four years at Hopkins ahead of me, and then who knows where I’ll wind up. All I’m sure of is that no matter where life takes me and no matter how many different places I will call home in the future, there are certain people, memories and knowledge from Hopkins that I will always carry with me (figuratively, of course – I’m not that strong).
Hopkins is full of surprises. One morning I woke up to a giant pirate ship on the “beach.” Another day I found a huge flock of pink flamingos on the quad. Last weekend I watched an amazing A Cappella concert on the library stairs (my roommate, Zoe, is in the Vocal Chords)! Tonight, I decorated a cookie at the FFC. You will never be bored here, and I could not be happier with my experience at Hopkins so far.