To Writing Sems, or Not to Writing Sems

Name: Andrea Fields

Year: Class of 2015

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Majors: Molecular and Cellular Biology and Writing Seminars


One of the scariest parts of the college process was writing application essays.  Between in depth descriptions of my deep appreciation for digital photography and neatly worded paragraphs about my summer in the neonatal unit, I was beyond overwhelmed.  It wasn’t that I disliked writing, I actually secretly really enjoyed it, but summing myself up in a few hundred words was both daunting and slightly demeaning.  I liked to think my seventeen years of life extended much further than a few double-spaced pages but, in mid October of last year, I sent the Microsoft Word version of myself to Johns Hopkins.

On the Hopkins application I was asked to write down what I intended on majoring in.   Unlike most of my friends from home (and most seventeen-year-olds), I was very strongly set on what I was going to do with my life.  At family functions and graduations gatherings when asked what I was thinking of studying, I would proudly declare that I was going to major in molecular and cellular biology without any hesitation.  This was a dream come true to my father who majored in Chemistry in college, but my mother, who earned a degree in English Literature, constantly questioned whether or not I was really her daughter.

Signing up for classes in July was easy: I knew I wanted to fulfill some of the biology requirements early on and also take a couple of classes that were completely irrelevant to my major.   Chemistry and calculus filled my cart within seconds but I decided to sign up for Fiction and Poetry Writing 1, otherwise known as IFP, on a whim, figuring I probably would get sick of so much science.  After adding Introduction to Neuroscience and a freshman seminar my slightly unbalanced schedule was set and I was ready for Hopkins.

My schedule for this semester

Choosing IFP wasn’t as random as I make it seem though.  In high school I didn’t have the chance to take a class focused specifically on fiction or poetry but in English class we were sporadically assigned creative writing.  Upon the announcement of the assignments, buried between the moans of anguish and annoyance from my classmates, was my excitement; I was always one of the few who truly enjoyed these assignments, and found myself beginning to write on the side for fun.  When browsing through Hopkins’ class list I knew immediately that I needed to see what it was like to write in a class and IFP was the perfect opportunity to do so.  Unlike my large neuroscience and chemistry lectures, there were only 15 students in my class and our majors ranged from cognitive science to classics.  After we introduced ourselves we immediately started analyzing poetry.  As the weeks went on, we got further into fiction and began writing and work shopping our own short stories.  It was something I’d never experienced before and while I still loved my calculus and chemistry classes there was something special about being able to sit in a circle and discuss the differences between Welty and Woolf.  I started to look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 and not just because it was the latest I got to sleep during the week; I knew I was starting to change my mind about my major.

About a month into school I had my first slip up.  Upon introducing myself to someone, I smiled and said that I was Andrea from Brooklyn majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and, uh, maybe Writing Seminars.  I paused and despite a few confused looks from my close friends I realized that what I said wasn’t wrong.  I spent all day mulling over the idea of double majoring in two totally disparate areas of study and realized that I really did want to study those two things for my next four years.

Right now, even though it’s only half way through first semester, I’m already starting look forward to second semester classes and figuring out how to fit calculus 2 and English Lit among many other classes into my schedule.  Every so often I can’t help but think back to this time last year and how different I was: instead of Chemistry, college applications were ruling my life and I thought I had my future mapped out perfectly.  Even though I thought I knew myself better than anyone, I now realize there’s nothing wrong with not knowing exactly what I want to do with my year or my life.   College is for self-exploration and while getting to know myself better I’ve met so many amazing friends and accomplished professors who manage to teach classes while still periodically publishing papers. I also know that I’m in for many more fiction classes and creative writing than I expected when arriving on campus in August and I truly can’t wait.

Me and some of my best friends here at Hopkins!

Oh and before I go, let me introduce myself.  I’m Andrea, I’m from Brooklyn and I’m double majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Writing Seminars.

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  1. Except now you’re doubling in Neuroscience & Writing Sems…
    Great post, Andrea! :)

  2. This is so great! Good luck with everything :)

  3. Chipotleeeeeeee

  4. GREAT blog!!! I can’t wait to hear what you’re planning on doing this time next year! Also, I’m glad someone else is in the same boat : )

  5. P.S. I wish my friends were that good looking!!

  6. You are such a talented writer! As a prospective student, I found this extremely helpful. It’s great to know that I don’t have to make up my mind about my major right away :) Please write more blogs!!

  7. Hi,

    I’m a prospective student, and I am also interested in studying behavioral biology or cognitive science and writing seminars. I don’t think I can choose between science and writing, as well. :)

  8. Andrea this is awesome! You’re absolutely adorable.

  9. This blog is fabulous, and so are you!

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