Hayley-Go-Lucky

Thoughts from a neuroscience pre-med journeying through JHU.

College Drop-Out (Kinda)

This week marks the end of the first “midterm” week at Hopkins. My friends are cramming for upper-level classes and writing papers. Freshmen I’ve talked to are extremely scared for their first “college” exams. Meanwhile, I’ve forgotten what its like to stay up till 3 am in the library. This semester I’m not enrolled in any classes. I realized last spring that I only needed two more classes to graduate. Instead of graduating a semester early, which is fairly common at Hopkins, I’ve decided to take this semester off and instead come back for one final semester in the spring. This past summer I worked full-time as a research assistant at a multiple sclerosis lab at the hospital and I decided to continue working this fall to finish up my projects.

I still get to take pretty pictures at work: Astrocytes forming the blood-brain-barrier

I still get to take pretty pictures at work: Astrocytes forming the blood-brain-barrier

Although every semester at Hopkins has been unique, this fall has truly been a change. I think the biggest adjustment for me was being off-campus all day. I didn’t realize how much I saw my friends throughout the day! I’ve been missing spontaneous coffee hangouts and strolls around the quads. I do miss lying out on the beach in-between classes and soaking up some sun. On the other hand, it’s been really nice spending so much time with my lab. We all go to the Northeast Market together a few blocks from the hospital every day for lunch, and we take turns bringing in bags of candy for afternoon sugar breaks.

Our beautiful campus

Our beautiful campus

I also didn’t realize how much I would miss classes. I almost burst into tears at the beginning of the semester when Julia, my roommate, went to Barnes and Noble to stock up on fresh notebooks and mechanical pencils. I’ve loved the first day of school every since my first as a kindergartener. It was pretty sad realizing I was missing out on my last “first” day of school ever. Alternatively, I’ve been exposed to a whole new side of learning at research. Each Tuesday afternoon, the neuroimmunology department has a guest speaker talk about his/her work. Last week I listened to Dr. Rangaramanujam Kannan share his work in nanoparticles. He has designed PAMAM dendrimers onto which he can attach drugs. The dendrimer nanoparticles deliver drugs to specific subtypes of glia in the brain. I love how I am exposed to exciting new research everyday at work.

It’s also extremely nice to be able to work on my research projects without the stress of homework. I can stay at work as long as I like, and I can spend whole weekends working without thinking about studying for upcoming tests. In the past, it has been difficult to carve out the time to make the trek all the way to the hospital when I have so many hours of class every day and homework assignments and readings.

Exciting research day: finding brain tumors in mice!

Exciting research day: finding brain tumors in mice!

In addition to research, this semester I am in the middle of applying to graduate school. I have decided to pursue a PhD in neuroscience! I realized that scientific research is something I have always been passionate about. I am extremely excited to be able to spend 5+ years working in a lab towards my doctorate. I have compiled my long list of schools and I am now writing the many personal statements and research statements necessary for the applications. So far it’s been a lot of work, and I’m not nearly close to being finished, but it has been a reflective process. I have been thinking back to how my research career started. I was so young when I walked into my first neuroJAYS (neuroscience journal club) meeting. I knew nothing when I walked into my first science class, Introduction to Neuroscience. I can’t believe where I am now.

Although I may not be a student, that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying senior year with my friends. We enjoyed a beautiful evening watching the Orioles beat the Yankees, and have been going to all our favorite restaurants.

Friday night at Camden yards

Friday night at Camden yards

It has also been amazing to watch my friends be so successful! Julia just took the MCAT, a monstrous test that she spent all summer studying for. Farhan presented his senior honors thesis on a framework for predicting tissue-specific effects on rare variants. JHU_Dan is simultaneously studying for the GRE, applying to grad school, and obtaining his masters in philosophy this year! So many of us are applying for jobs, and making decisions about what we want to do with our lives. We were confused, naïve, and more like children than adults when we all met freshman year. We have all come so far.

Julia at 7am pre-MCAT!!!

Julia at 7am pre-MCAT!!!

Farhan presenting his fancy model

Farhan presenting his fancy model

Further Adventures as a Hopkins Pre-Med

Being pre-med at Hopkins comes with a lot of advantages. We have amazing faculty who support us through the horrors of organic chemistry and physics. Our pre-professional office assigns every student with his/her own personal advisor. We have the Johns Hopkins Hospital right down the road from us for any research, shadowing, or clinical position we could image. Although I am grateful everyday for the opportunities and guidance that has helped me along this (sometimes terribly arduous) path, my involvement with the Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society (WPHLS) has been responsible for some of the best experiences I’ve had as a pre-med.

This year I have been on the executive board for WPHLS as the programming co-chair, specifically I was in charge of planning our annual spring conference. Every spring we host a conference where we invite many physicians and scientists as guest speakers so students can learn about their careers and experiences in the health profession. The theme of this years conference was “Shaping The Future: The 21st Century Physician.” I wanted the conference to highlight the advancements and discoveries being made in medicine that will affect healthcare. What we learned from the physicians at the conference could someday affect our own medical careers!

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Although this year’s theme of the conference focused on changes in technology and medical education, every the WPHLS conference is based in the importance of equality between males and females in medicine. To this day, women are still underrepresented in medicine, and even less represented in science. I wanted the conference to open a dialogue about how men and women can both address and amend these issues in healthcare.

Introducing our lovely WPHLS Co-Presidents!

Introducing our lovely WPHLS Co-Presidents!

Although the night before I was so nervous I don’t think I slept, the conference went on without any major hiccups! Our opening speaker, Dr. Tammy Brady, a pediatric nephrologist, spoke about how technology has improved her relationship with patients, and how it has helped her work from home, allowing her to keep a full time job and also be a mother of three.

I wanted the conference to be less formal and more interactive, so I decided to include 4 roundtable discussions. We had 16 physicians and scientists sit at a different table while students rotated around to speak intimately with the guests. During one of the breakout sessions I had an amazing conversation with Dr. Shukti Chakravarti. She told me how she started off her research by discovering a specific protein, and has since followed its function and role from the extracellular matrix to roles in immune regulation!

My roommate, Julia, came to support me and connected with a physician during the breakout sessions!

My roommate (and fellow pre-med), Julia, came to support me and connected with a physician during the breakout sessions!

Our closing speaker, Dr. Sharon Bord, told us about the gender stereotypes she faces everyday in the office. She said many patients don’t recognize or acknowledge that she is a doctor instead of a nurse. She ended her talk about how she has been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors who encouraged her to look past any inequalities to become an emergency medicine physician.

Dr. Sharon Bord, our closing speaker

Dr. Sharon Bord, our closing speaker

I left the conference that day feeling extremely grateful and inspired. The members of WPHLS were so helpful the entire day. Their hard work made the conference run as smoothly as it did.

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I was also so inspired by all of the guest speakers. Hearing about their struggles and achievements in medicine was an experience I will never forget, and has given me the courage to go forward and follow their footsteps.

I never would have thought that coming to Hopkins would give me opportunities like I had at this WPHLS conference. It was equal parts scary and rewarding trying to put together this conference, but it was a valuable learning process!

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Leaving the “Hopkins Bubble”

Life as a Hopkins student is busy. Our days are packed with classes, clubs, and spontaneous social events that keep us fully occupied and entertained within our campus. The “Hopkins Bubble,” as students affectionately refer to it, is real and very consuming. But we live in Baltimore! When you look past the beautiful brick and marble buildings of Homewood you discover an amazing city. This past semester I’ve already found new restaurants and events definitely worth sharing!

Early this semester my friend, Farhan, took me rock-climbing only ten minutes away. On weekends the prices are discounted, and the couple of hours we spent climbing left me sore for days. Although the gym on campus is great, it was nice to experience a new workout!

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Okay while there are definitely no ski slopes in Baltimore, one of the very first weekends of the semester a group of my friends decided to take a day trip to Pennsylvania to go skiing. The drive was only an hour but after 20 minutes we were out of the city and felt like we were hours away from city-life. Our mini-vacation left us feeling refreshed and ready to take on the semester!

On top of Liberty Mountain with Julia!

On top of Liberty Mountain with Julia!

A few weekends ago my parents came to visit to celebrate the completion of my first round of midterms. We decided to check out the Lexington Market for lunch. The massive indoor market was established in 1782! There was live music and the place was packed. We decided to try Faidley’s Seafood for their famous crab cakes, which did not disappoint. I also sampled amazing fried chicken and a few Berger cookies, a fudge cookie unique to Baltimore.

My lovely parents enjoying the BEST crabcake in B'more

My lovely parents enjoying the BEST crabcake in B’more

This past Friday I went to Alloverstreet, an art walk that showcases many galleries in Station North. Many MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) students showcased their talents. Alloverstreet happens every first Friday of the month, and I plan on going every month! I can’t believe that such a unique event is happening just one stop away on the Johns Hopkins shuttle!

My favorite painting from Alloverstreet

My favorite painting from Alloverstreet

Although there is ALWAYS something to do on campus every day of the week and at all hours, I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent this semester exploring Baltimore and the surrounding area. I had no idea that my decision to come to Hopkins meant I’d also fall in love with a new city.

My Favorite Hobby

I’ve always loved to read. My strongest memories from middle school were of my favorite young adult novels. In high school, with sports, extracurriculars, and lots of A.P classes, my reading time dwindled. Then when I came to Hopkins and decided to delve deep into a neuroscience major, I thought my reading days were over. I was so, so wrong.

Freshman year I was influenced by the great (now alumnus) JHU_Noah, to join NeuroJAYS (The JHU Neuroscience Association For Young Scientists). Once a week NeuroJAYS meets for about an hour to discuss a neuroscience journal paper. At this point in my life (and this is embarrassing) I barely knew what a research journal was! I had never actually read a scientific paper. The first paper we read had a long and complicated name…in which I didn’t understand a single word. My knowledge of neuroscience at that point was pitiful. But I absolutely loved each Wednesday night meeting. I loved spending a solid couple of hours trying to digest what the paper was actually saying, asking questions, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses.

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Research papers are like stories. In fact, my PI is fond of saying at lab meetings “what story is the data telling us?” Every paper has an introduction where the main players (the molecules/proteins/cells) are introduced, and a methods section which details how the story was created. Next come the results—the main storyline, complete with colorful figures (diagrams, beautiful cells, and graphs). At the end of the paper comes the discussion section, the conclusion in which the story comes to an end. Like in every good essay or novel, the theme even broadens to global importance.

At the end of my freshman year I started working in a lab. The faculty member I worked under handed me a packet of papers to read to gain some background knowledge. It took me weeks to get through them. I was googling almost every word, and I couldn’t understand any of the protocols used in the paper.

I now have two years of research under my belt, and reading papers has become much easier and so much more enjoyable. This summer while I was working in lab full time, I became enamored with a new project. Along with Leslie, a grad student in the lab, we developed a potential new mechanism for transdifferentiation of a progenitor cell. I spent an entire week reading papers related to the topic. I’d get into work at 9 am and still be reading at 5pm. Call me crazy, but that was the most fun week of the summer. I just love to read.

This semester I’m taking two upper-level Neuroscience electives called the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Sensation, and Emerging Strategies in Biomedical Research. Although the semester has just begun, I already know that I am going to love them.

In Emerging Strategies in Biomedical Research we are learning about some of the amazing, cutting-edge techniques being used in the lab today. Today we learned about optogenetics, a crazy method of activating and depressing specific cells in vivo using a specific wavelength of light. Last week we learned about Brainbow mice, a complex transgenic model in which the neurons fluoresce all the colors of the rainbow! The assignments for the class are to read related papers to the research method and write analyses of the papers.

Brainbow = Rainbow Brain

Brainbow = Rainbow Brain

Cellular and Molecular Biology of Sensation is a class that focuses on the research being done in molecular neuroscience on all of the sensory systems. Our first lecture was on the discovery of electrical tuning in turtles. Although turtles don’t have cochlea, they hear just as well as humans!! Every week we have to read a related paper on the subject.

Next week NeuroJAYS will start up again. Instead of being the freshman with zero experience and a thousand questions, I’m excited to pick out the papers and help explain them. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in just three years at Hopkins.

Although during the semester I can barely fit in any pleasure reading, I’m still reading for hours every day. Somehow I was lucky enough to keep reading, my favorite hobby, as an integral part of my life.

Intersession Bucket List 2016

Its winter break and I’m home, happily sleeping 12 hours a night in my own bed and stuffing my face with cookies. Finals seem like a distant memory, but spring semester is still weeks away.

I’m looking forward to my favorite time at Hopkins: Intersession! I found out about it when I was touring Johns Hopkins for the first time.

Our tour guide explained that intersession is a month-long term where students can take classes for pass-fail credit. The classes are free, the dorms are open, and the meal-plan is included in your fall tuition! I immediately loved the idea of allowing students to explore new academic fields stress-free! Freshman year I took a biochemistry lab called “Foreign Gene Expression Lab” where my partner, JHU_Dan, and I spent three weeks trying to insert a gene into E.coli.

Ice Bucket Forever

Ice Bucket Forever

Sophomore year I again stayed in Baltimore for intersession. I’ve always been oddly fascinated with Greek Mythology, so I decided to take a 1-credit course about the heroes and monsters of the Pantheon.

This year I’m going to do research full-time in the lab I’ve been in for the past couple of years. I’m particularly excited because we will be analyzing some in vivo experiments that were started all the way back in August!

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Many of my friends are coming back this year to take classes ranging from stand-up comedy, to the chemistry of chocolate. I even have a friend taking a class abroad spending three weeks in Africa!

One of the main reasons why I love intersession, though, is that you have time without the stress of a full class schedule or homework to explore Baltimore! While I’ve been home relaxing, I’ve compiled a list of things I want to do and accomplish this January.

 

  1. Explore the BMA and the Walters Museum: The Baltimore Museum of Art is free for students, and the Walters is free for the public! While I’ve gone to both before, I haven’t spent extensive time viewing all the exhibits. I’m looking forward to spending a Sunday afternoon at the Walters, and then getting a cup of coffee at the nearby Dooby’s.

    Still Life with Oranges at the BMA

    Still Life with Oranges at the BMA

  1. Get In Shape: Okay I guess I could do this one anywhere, but during intersession fitness classes at the rec center are free. I’m looking forward to relaxing at yoga and maybe learning how to finally bike properly at a few spin classes.
  1. Explore New Restaurants: I’ve spent three years searching and finding amazing restaurants all over the city. Grano is the place for pesto; the Helmand serves incredible Afghan cuisine, and Yama Sushi has the freshest (and cheapest) rainbow roll in Baltimore. But I’ve become comfortable in my favorites. Zagat just listed Baltimore second in a list of the top 17 food cities! I’ll be trolling baltimoremagazine.net for new and exciting food stops.
  1. Tackle New Recipes: With all my free time I’m excited to get exotic in the kitchen. I have all the ingredients to make Tom Kha Gai in my pantry and I’m going to finally make my favorite soup. I have a google doc full of recipes I’m going to attempt.

    Rosemary lamb chops with creamed swiss chard, one of my favorite meals we make!

    Rosemary lamb chops with creamed swiss chard, one of my favorite meals we make!

  1. Go Hiking: Since I was little, my family has been taking me on hiking vacations and adventures. During the school year, though, it’s hard to justify taking an entire day off from work to hike. I plan on taking advantage of this insanely warm weather (sans snow) to explore Maryland’s state parks with my friends!

    The view from Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park!

    The view from Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park!

Three Years Ago

I spent my last night of break with one of my closest friends from high school. In the small Connecticut town in which I live, nothing is open after 8 pm so we ended up just driving around town and catching up. Somehow we ended up in the parking lot of out high school. Memories came flooding back. It’s been almost three years since I graduated. Today in our weekly SAAB (student advisory admissions board) meeting, I realized that we will soon be welcoming in the class of 2020! Suffice it to say, I’ve been feeling old.

In the three years since high school my life has changed a lot. But after seeing Dan, my friend from home, I realized how much we had both changed as individuals. I’m a different person today.

This time three years ago I was a nervous wreck. I applied early decision to Hopkins and was terrified I wasn’t going to get in.

I’ve thought a lot about the one piece of advice I would want to give graduating seniors. I would say, don’t be afraid of what’s to come. Accept the changes in your life, and maybe let them change you. We grow up in our parent’s households. We are our parent’s children. We absorb their values and rules without hesitation. But at some point we all have to leave home.

I came in to Hopkins as a history major, but I decided to take classes in all different departments my freshman fall. Introduction to Neuroscience stood out from the rest. Although I had loved my history classes the most all throughout high school, I realized I was ready to explore a new field. I’ve since spent every semester taking core required science classes and upper level neuroscience courses. The way I think is different now. I have a different perspective on life.

I’m not sure if I would have observed the changes I see in myself today if I hadn’t come to college with a truly open mind. I urge every somewhat shy, nervous and naïve graduating high school seniors to take risks and do things you have never done before. After getting a good education, isn’t that what college is really about?

 

What I’m Grateful For

Its almost thanksgiving, which means I’m taking time to pause and appreciate everything that I’m grateful for. Hopkins has given me life-long friends, a community, amazing opportunities, and a home. But after finishing my very last biochemistry lab last Monday, I would like to openly thank the Undergraduate Teaching Labs. The UTL, as it is commonly called, was completed just in time for the class of 2017. My freshman year I had chemistry lab on the top floor of the UTL. While a four-hour lab bright and early every Friday may sound like a college kid’s nightmare, the beauty and modernity of the lab made it difficult to complain.

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The building was constructed as an extension of Mudd Hall. Mudd is one of the many classic red brick buildings on campus. It houses the biology department and various lecture halls. The UTL was built right next to Mudd. While half the building is brick, the back wall is four stories of complete glass.

This year, I took biochemistry lab in the UTL. My partner and I purposefully chose the lab bench nearest the full glass window. Sunlight pours in and keeps us sane while we try to finish four-hour lab protocols.

Joe, my lab partner!

Joe, my lab partner!

In addition, the equipment in the new labs is amazingly advanced for undergraduate students. We each get our own set of micropipettes, a personal spectrophotometer, and a set of endless glass test tubes.IMG_1542

My freshman year of intersession, I took a lab called Foreign Gene Expression Lab. I spent everyday in the UTL, but I didn’t mind.

First Gel: a monumental moment in any scientist's life

First Gel: a monumental moment in any scientist’s life

Right now I’m sitting at my desk at my research lab at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. There are zero windows. Thank you, Hopkins, for the Undergraduate Teaching Labs.

The Month of the Pumpkin

Halloween may seem like a holiday for children. And yes, maybe trick-or-treating door to door is something (almost) all of us have outgrown, but this October I fully immersed myself in fall-related activities.

A few weeks ago some friends and I went pumpkin picking at a nearby farm. Just fifteen minutes away from the city we found ourselves in at a small apple farm complete with a corn maze and hayride. After a few apple cider donuts dipped in hot cider, I felt like I was back home in Connecticut.IMG_0989

After picking out the most perfect pumpkin I could find, I attempted to carve it. I went with a classic jack-o-lantern. Although everyone agreed it was a cop-out, I really didn’t care. I was just excited about roasting the pumpkin seeds I had scooped out.IMG_1139

I’ve also gone a little crazy on including pumpkin in everything I cook. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pasta, Julia and I even made pumpkin mac and cheese on Halloween.IMG_1009IMG_0898

Every year for Halloween, my group of friends has gone down to Fells Point, one of the largest Halloween festivals in the country. To this day my all-time favorite costume was freshman year when we dressed up as the cast of Grease. This year we spent considerably less effort on our costume (me as a scientist, Julia as a lab mouse). I basically wore what I wear every weekday in lab.

RIP Sandra Dee

RIP Sandra Dee

Just drugging my mouse

Just drugging my mouse

Instead of going to Fells this year, we decided to invite some friends over. I had so much fun decorating cupcakes and putting up a few decorations.

Hey JHU_Dan, JHU_Molly and JHU_Emily!!!

Hey JHU_Dan, JHU_Molly and JHU_Emily!!!

It’s November already (how did the semester go by so fast?!) but I’m not ready to give up pumpkin muffins or this spirit of fall.

On Being Happy

It’s my junior year and I have absolutely no idea what I what to do with my life. I’m still too busy to ever dream about getting eight hours of sleep most nights. When I go to the grocery store I never have a list. Sometimes I even consider my daily run to catch the shuttle for research a cardio workout. I’m a junior, an upperclassman, but I definitely don’t have it all figured out. Even still, this semester I’ve been overwhelmingly, ridiculously happy.

My friends have noticed a marked change in my demeanor. I smile constantly. Even my parents comment on the upbeat tone in my voice. But why the transformation? What has changed?

For one thing, I’m in love with my classes this semester. For the first time I feel like I’m getting to fully experience the neuroscience major. Done with all the required courses, I can explore specific topics in depth. I’m taking Great Discoveries in Neuroscience and Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System.

Great Discoveries meets twice a week and is a small class of 25 people. Each week covers a different breakthrough in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Baraban gives a lecture on Tuesdays to give background on specific scientists and their research, and then on Thursdays one or two students will present two relevant papers on the discovery. For example, last week we learned how Rita Levi-Montalcini avoided capture during WWII by hiding out in the countryside. She performed her experiments in a bathtub! Montalcini discovered the first neurotrophin and eventually won the 1986 Nobel Prize for her work on the Nerve Growth Factor. Right now I’m reading her paper “Destruction of the Sympathetic Ganglia in Mammals By An Antiserum to a Nerve-Growth Protein.”

Just a chart of all the factors necessary to keep our neurons alive

Just a chart of all the factors necessary to keep our neurons alive-thanks Rita!

My second elective, Diseases and Disorders, is probably the most unique class I’ve taken at Hopkins. Instead of having one or two lecturers, each week we get to hear from leading experts in a specific field. One of the first speakers was Dr. Bryan Traynor, a genomics expert from the NIH. His research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of neuromuscular disorders. It was incredibly inspiring to hear him describe “the eureka moment” when he realized that C90rf72 was the gene causing a toxic hexanucleotide expansion that was responsible for 40% of all familial cases of ALS. How amazing it must have felt to be the first person in all the world’s history to understand something so monumental.

The Eureka! Moment

The Eureka! Moment

Another change this year was moving into an apartment with my best friend, Julia. We live in a gorgeous apartment right on North Charles Street. There are three glass doors that open up to a balcony facing the West, and every afternoon the setting sunlight pours in and paints the entire place a soft gold. I love having a place I can call home.

I painted it the brightest blue I could find

I painted my room the brightest blue I could find

I get to see this every night cooking dinner

View from the balcony 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although these changes in my life have greatly influenced my mood, I think for the first time I am making a conscious effort to remove negative stress from my life.

Just a few minutes ago, JHU_Dan and I got back from our favorite tradition: Monday night massages. Stressbusters is an awesome club on campus that gives out free five-minute massages to students in the library once a week.

JHU_Dan post-massage

JHU_Dan post-massage

This year I was also introduced by a friend to the Baltimore Shambhala Center. Every weeknight from 6-7 there is a free open meditation sitting. The center is only a block away from my apartment! After just fifteen minutes of meditation my mind is clear and superficial worries disappear. One evening before a particularly stressful biochem test I decided to take a quick meditation break. For the rest of the evening I was so much more productive and focused. My change in attitude was everything.

So I may no longer be set in the path of pre-med, and I am definitely not done learning about myself, but I am in a great state of mind. I haven’t been sick once this year (knock on wood) and the dark circles under my eyes are a less mottled purple. Junior year has been an amazing adventure thus far and I cannot wait to see what is ahead.

Just being happy with my favorite people

Just being happy with my favorite people

So Long Sophomore Year

It hasn’t hit me yet. Not really. In less than two weeks I will be officially halfway through college. I’m waiting for my brain to catch up to me and I know the freak-out is coming, but for now I’m going to pretend my time at Hopkins will last forever. I’m going to pretend that in a few months I will not be turning 20. I’m going to pretend that my younger brother is still shorter than me and will not be leaving for college next fall.

Even though my years as an underclassman flew by, I did learn a lot. I can draw organic chemistry mechanisms, my chicken piccata is (almost) as good as my mom’s, and I can navigate my way through Baltimore without calling an Uber. Although I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined, it has only made me realize how much more there is to know.

In the next two years, I have a lot of work I have to do. The first major thing to figure out: what do I want to do with my life?! My experience with neuroscience research has completely changed my mind about being pre-med. Do I want to pursue an MD? A Ph.D? Or even an MD/Ph.D? Although right now I am still on the pre-med track, I decided to take a gap year. This means that I will not be applying for medical school my junior year, and will instead wait until my senior year to begin the application process.

Another aspect of life I am continuously working at is how to balance everything. Last fall I spent way too many hours in the library or at lab, and by the end of the semester I was stressed and slightly burnt out. This semester I am spending more time on the Beach just relaxing with friends. I’ve also been a lot better about trying to exercise everyday!

Although I’m slowly improving, next fall I want to balance all of the diverse groups of people in my life. I want to go on random coffee dates and lunches with friends I rarely see, and attend more on-campus student events. It’s hard not to become bogged down in assignments and stressed about tests, but I’m so fortunate to have a supportive family. My parents are constantly reminding me what’s really important in life. IMG_4483

The other day I went for a run, but it was such a beautiful spring day that I literally stopped to smell the roses cherry blossoms (and take some pictures). That’s when it hit me that this beautiful campus and city is my home. I’ve spent another year making so many memories here outside of school.

 

 

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I know I’m never going to forget the many “family dinners” from this year. If my friends and I have had particularly stressful weeks or haven’t had the chance to hang out in a while we all come together and cook dinner. Just the other night I made homemade marinara sauce for the first time! Instead of just a few hours eating and talking, we spent five hours laughing about this year and reflecting on the recent events in Baltimore. I don’t remember various physics test from this year, but I can recall every meal we have all cooked together.

We take our family dinners seriously

We take our family dinners seriously

These past two years I’ve been busier than I have ever been in my life. Weekends are packed with social events and jaunts around Baltimore. My weeks fly by with research work and classes. Reflecting now it is simple to see why two years passed by in a blink of an eye. I have no idea what the next two years will bring, but I am excited to move forward.IMG_4488

 

 

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