Author Archives: Joanna S.

My Semester in Proteins

mfcd00064401-medium

Asparagine (Asn, N)

My only exposure to the various studies on proteins was during my sophomore fall in Biochemistry. Every year, nearly 400 students at Johns Hopkins will memorize their amino acids, along with chemical structures and properties, three-letter codes, and one-letter codes. Now, I don’t know about the rest of those students, but I do know that as soon as that class was over, I promptly forgot all that I had learned about proteins and what makes them what they are. My inability to remember asparagine’s carbonyl and amide groups no longer seemed to matter and I let it all fade into the background of my academic studies.

Now, over a year after my amino acid flash cards, studied knowledge of peptide bonds, and in depth analysis of hemoglobin’s active sites, the amino acids are back and I have to kick the old biochemistry brain back in to overdrive. As I reach my final semesters in the bulk of my major, they become more and more specialized, and all of a sudden, two of my classes are strictly dedicated to the study of proteins.

Protein Engineering and Biochemistry Lab (PEBL, pronounce “pebble”) is a lab course in the Biophysics department in the School of Arts & Sciences. In this course, we will be working with a protein called SNase, or Staphylococcus aureus nuclease, learning about its properties using various analytical techniques, and changing one of the amino acids in its sequence to a different amino acid called proline.

Application of Molecular Evolution to Biotechnology (I wish there was an acronym for this class) is a bioengineering elective that I’m taking this semester in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department in the School of Engineering. This is another class entirely focused on proteins but takes a different approach from PEBL. This course meets two times a week, and the bulk of its work takes the form of reading journal articles and reviews, focusing on directed evolution.

To top it all off, I’ve applied to work in a lab overseas this summer working on a cell-free protein synthesis project. Needless to say, if someone had told me a year and a half ago as I pored over my amino acid flash cards that I would have a semester so heavily focused on the proteins they made, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Now I’m just trying to glean as much information as I can this semester before I (hopefully — I’m still in an application process) go abroad to experience it in a research lab for real.

Inter(ests) 3.0: Abroad Edition

One of my favorite things about Hopkins is Intersession. I have taken Intersession courses every year that I’ve been here because I love it and there’s no reason not to do it. My freshman and sophomore year, I took classes on campus and did research, always arriving on the first day that I was allowed to come back. Each time, it feels like a resurgence in my independence after spending several weeks at home. It’s all of the fun of college without any of the stress of classes (as most Intersession courses are 1 credit and graded S/U), and I look forward to it every year.

This year, I started to get a little restless, and I decided to do something a bit different. Since my trip to Israel last summer, I’ve been really anxious to go abroad more, but my coursework doesn’t lend itself to spending a semester abroad. This situation could be ameliorated in two ways — Intersession and summer. While I worked on applications for this summer, Intersession seemed fairly straightforward. There was a short application and a few pre-departure meetings, and before I knew it, I was on a plane to Germany on January 10th.

The class I took was called Collective Memory and Memorial Sites and was tough by Dr. Hanno Balz, a visiting professor through the German Academic Exchange Service. His research focus is on contemporary German history, particularly Nazi Germany and the persecution of Jewish Germans. Intersession classes abroad are quite different from those that happen on campus. For starters, this class was 3 credits and could not be taken S/U. We spent the first week in Bremen, where our professor is actually from, and then we traveled to Berlin for the second week. We spent all of our days taking historic guided tours, visiting memorial sites, important historical venues, and museums. We also got to explore the nightlife in Bremen and Berlin, and we ate incredible food every day.

Two weeks seems like a short amount of time, but it isn’t when every day is jam packed with activities, seminars, and incredible memories. It’s difficult to put into words everything we did and saw. As I write this blog jet lagged and wide awake at 7AM, I’m realizing that the only way to explain everything I experienced is through photos.

Jan. 11: Historic Tour of Bremen

IMG_1582

Bremen Town Hall

IMG_1598

Bremen Historic Cathedral

Jan. 12: Walking Tour and Wine Cellar Tour

IMG_1605

First “Stolpersteine” or stumbling stone I saw, used to memorialize the last place where a Holocaust victim willingly lived

IMG_1626

“Schatzkammer”, or treasure chest, of very old wine at Bremer Ratskeller, an old wine cellar

Jan. 13: Bremerhaven Immigration Museum

IMG_1649

Willy Brandt Platz, Bremerhaven Harbor

IMG_1672

Julia holding hands with a mannequin in the immigration museum

Jan. 14: Town Hall and Colonial Heritage Tour

IMG_1699

Cookie the size of my face and I loved it so much

IMG_1702

Me and Riley at the colonial heritage monument

IMG_1720

Stained glass in Bremen Town Hall

 Jan. 15: Bunker Valentin

IMG_1741

Bunker Valentin

IMG_1751

Snowy beach, adjacent to the bunker

Jan. 16: Arrival in Berlin and Reichstag Tour

IMG_1788

Brandenburg Gate

IMG_1780

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

IMG_1792

Candid shot of Riley in the air in front of the Reichstag building

IMG_1818

Parliament Room

Jan. 17: Topography fo Terror Museum

IMG_1849

First Käsespätzle

Jan. 18: Tour of Olympia Stadium

IMG_1874

Home of the 1936 Olympics

IMG_1877

Seats over 70,000 people

Jan. 19: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

IMG_1899

Sachsenhausen is an hour outside of Berlin

IMG_1905

Extremely popular kebab stand that also has vegetarian food

Jan. 20: Exploring Berlin

IMG_1934

Riley and Christine in a very heavily graffitied building

IMG_1939

Graffitied door that I loved

IMG_1942

Large bison stuffed animal in a Berlin mall

Jan. 21: Last night out and about in Berlin

IMG_1950

The squad ready to roll out

IMG_1960

Gave up on the night out for falafel, didn’t get a picture before half of it was already eaten

Jan. 22: East Side Gallery

IMG_2017

Retro photo booths all over Berlin, we failed miserably

IMG_2008

Thierry Noir’s Berlin wall masterpiece and the squad

Jan. 23: Last seminar and Checkpoint Charlie

IMG_2081

There is a museum for currywurst, which was the theme of our trip.

IMG_2088

Last Käsespätzle

Jan. 24: Flight home

IMG_2094

No person in the middle seat on our 7 hour flight!

IMG_2090

Get me home please.

More Firsts

Now that I have been firmly planted in my apartment in New York for a week and a half, it feels like a good time to reflect on all of this semester’s happenings. As my junior spring rapidly approaches, I’ve been forced to face the reality that I’m more than half way done, and I need to start coming up with a game plan for my life, or at least post-graduation plans. Each month of this semester was exciting, scary, stressful, and wonderful in different ways. Even two years later, Hopkins can still throw a curveball, and this was still a semester of firsts for me. Without further ado, here’s my list of junior fall firsts:

  1. Octopodes auditions: I was accepted into the JHU Octopodes my sophomore year, so this fall I got to experience my first round of auditions from the other side of the table. It’s all fun and games until you’ve been sitting in Hodson 216 for more than 12 hours, you haven’t eaten a meal that you didn’t purchase at Brody in 3 days, and you’ve got 4 problem sets due at the beginning of the week following the grueling 3 days audition process. I thought auditioning was hard, but evaluating 80+ auditions is much harder. Going into delirium with your friends takes the friendship to a whole new level.
  2. All-nighter: As a direct result of auditions, I also pulled my very first college all-nighter. I’m sure this might come as a shock to my Hopkins peers, but I’ve never had to watch the sun rise in Brody. My first all night homework session was this September, for a paper written with a partner. We gravely mistook the amount of time it would take us, and our original estimate was doubled in real time.
  3. Semester as an RA: I closed out my first semester as an RA and I absolutely loved it. While most of my friends live off-campus, and it’s nice to walk in to a house and feel independent sometimes, I wouldn’t change my experience as an RA in Homewood for the world. It’s been an incredible semester, and I’ve been really lucky to have such fabulous residents with strong, smart opinions and tons of motivation to make an impact on campus.
  4. Independent research project: Some time during the middle of the semester, I realized that the project I’m working on in lab is my own! I consult with a PhD student about a lot of what I’m doing and I always get tons of great advice and direction, but the project is my own, and it’s been really thrilling to be trusted with that kind of responsibility.
  5. Voting in person: I changed my voter registration to the state of Maryland so I could go and physically vote in the presidential election. It was truly an incredible experience. Even though I waited in line for two hours and it was crowded and loud and hot, I got to exercise my right to vote, and I actually got to hand in my ballot instead of mailing it out.
  6. School trip: Several of my friends and I “skipped class” to go to a pharmaceutical facility tour at Bristol Myers Squibb in New Jersey. We spent our Tuesday learning about the responsibilities of different engineers at the company, and it was a great introduction to a career in industry.
  7. Intersession Abroad application: After spending two Intersessions in Baltimore, I decided to change it up and apply for an Intersession Abroad program. I applied to a course called Collective Memory and Memorial Sites which will be held in Germany, and I got accepted to the program. We leave January 9th, and there have been a few pre-departure meetings that have made me really excited for the trip.
  8. Executive board election: In November, Theta Tau had elections for executive board for the calendar year of 2017 and I got elected Treasurer, which was super exciting. Now I get to work with four other awesome members of executive board to make 2017 a great year for Theta Tau.
  9. Sleepover: Since everyone lives within walking distance of one another, it seems silly, but my friend Paige and I had two sleepovers this semester. One of them was the day I left for winter break, so it made me really happy that I got to say goodbye to one of my best friends at 4:30 in the morning.
  10. Being away: This is the first time I won’t be in Baltimore for Intersession, so it’s the first time I really won’t see my friends for over a month. I already miss them, and it hasn’t even been two weeks, but I know that I’m going to have an incredible adventure in just ten days, and all of my friends will be where I left them when I get back.

Here’s lookin’ at you, 2021

In the spirit of Early Decision release being just under a week ago, I wanted to share a few things that Hopkins has for the Class of 2021 to look forward to. Here is a list of amazing things that you’ll definitely find, learn, or experience when you arrive this fall, from people and events to places, and just general Hopkins things.

  1. Neighborhoods of Baltimore
img_0856

View from the roof of The Academy on Charles (located on N. Charles St and E. University Pkwy, Charles Village)

Before you venture to Federal Hill, Fell’s Point, Mt. Vernon, and a variety of other neighborhoods that Baltimore has to offer, you have to experience the basics. The two easiest neighborhoods to see when you arrive on campus are Charles Village, which is where Homewood campus is located, and Hampden, just north of campus and within walking distance. Charles Village is popular with students for its accessibility, food, and upperclassmen housing — after all, you’re already there. Hampden isn’t much further and is popular for Hon Fest, Miracle on 34th Street, all of the fantastic food options, window shopping, and most importantly, its love of flamingoes.

img_1354

Photo of Miracle on 34th Street courtesy of the fabulous photography skills of my friend RJ (located on 34th St, Hampden)

If you’re feeling a little bit more adventurous (or it’s already October and Parents’ Weekend is around the corner), get your parents to take you to lunch or dinner in the Inner Harbor. Seafood is
fabulous, there’s tons of shopping, in addition to the National Aquarium, and attractions like the dragon boats.

img_0820

Dark view of the Inner Harbor, photo taken from the dragon boats (located somewhere in the Harbor)

2. People Excited to Get Involved with the City

img_1090

My friend Greg pulled this tire out of the sand it was embedded in while we were cleaning up this beach

There are endless opportunities to get more acquainted with Baltimore. If getting acquainted with a city means experiencing its food, museums, or concert venues, Baltimore has plenty of those, but I think that the best thing to do is to get to know a city’s people, and the best way to do that is by giving back. There are tons of community service groups on campus, and the university itself has plenty of goals for student involvement within the city. There are opportunities to clean up the city and surrounding areas, tutor students of any age, and so much more. On top of that, there are people who will want to take part in all of that with you, which has been truly motivational.

img_1054

At Hopkins, we like to commend our friends for awesome things and also embarrass them with bad pictures.

3. Friends Who Get You

img_1364

We capitalized on the hot chocolate (and the free foliage?)

You’ll find friends who are willing to ask adults why there’s free hot chocolate sitting in Levering courtyard and capitalize on the free things, because the 10:30AM struggle is real and when you need to sit through a class that’s an hour long, you might want a warm beverage to keep you company. You’ll find friends who also want to do the bare minimum when it requires getting dressed up for a picture on a hot August day, and they’ll even stay friends with you when you show up in Birkenstocks and just ask for the picture to be waist-up. Even when you have a bad day, you’ll find friends to wallow with you, or to do everything they can to cheer you up, if that’s what you’re in to.

img_0844

Hunter’s proposal ft. my Birkenstocks.

img_1153

Me and Ramya being very, very sad. We were just having a bad day — it happens.

4. Favorite Places on Campus

img_1149

The ever majestic Gilman Hall

Everyone’s favorite place on campus is different, but the aesthetic of Gilman Hall is unparalleled at sunrise, sunset, and anywhere in between. As an engineer, I hardly find myself in Gilman (sadly) but I can still revel at its beauty and roam its halls searching for empty classrooms to use as group study rooms on the weekends. Beauty can be found everywhere and anywhere on campus during all seasons. I never get tired of strolling campus and taking photos like it’s still my first week. There’s no shame in it!

img_1429

Every branch was icy so I stopped my walk to class and snapped a picture.

You’ll also find your favorite place to study, which is a process that takes many semesters. I’ve gone through phases of studying in the Brody and Mudd Atria, on MSE M and A Levels, and in various campus cafes and the Reading Room, but my current favorite place is MSE C Level. This might still just be me coming off of finals talking, but when I need to work alone, C Level has always had my back.

img_1405

This is my favorite cube and when other people sit in it, I hiss at them.

5. Making the Best Out of Everything

The last and most important thing to know about Hopkins is that the experience that comes from it is entirely determined by what you want. So my advice to you, Class of 2021, is this: join all of the clubs, do all of the things you think you might even have the tiniest interest in doing, and then choose what you want to spend your time on what you enjoy most. College is about you and nobody else; the people you choose to surround yourself with will make everything worth it. Late nights of homework are made better by trips to FFC late night, and weekends are made better by spending your Saturdays exploring.

img_1065

I’m all for graffiti if it’s going to be inspirational like this.

So get excited to come to Baltimore in about 9 months, because the best four years of your life are fast approaching. Don’t forget to savor the rest of your senior year, pore over the bedspread you’re going to buy to match your college aesthetic, and read all of the blogs. Before you know it, you’ll be living it, and you’re going to find a brand new family.

img_0915

As excited to meet all of you as I was to meet Octopodes’ new freshmen just a few months ago!

A Pode’s Journey to Hopkins

Auditioning for an a cappella group was without a doubt one of the best choices I made at Hopkins. I love my graph paper and pencils, understand the necessity of my Transport II homework, and study weekly for my Probability and Statistics quizzes, but there’s nothing quite like singing in a group. What makes it particularly special is that I get to sing with my best friends. I often think, how did I get so lucky to meet such phenomenal people? The answer to that question now seems obvious. We all chose Hopkins and we all chose it for a reason.

The a cappella group I’m fortunate enough to be a part of is called Octopodes. No matter how many times we go over the story, I can’t really say exactly how the group got its name, but I love the people and I love the quality of music we produce, so I’ve never bothered to remember the group’s origins.

Octopodes allows me to spend time away from academics and the work grind to sing with incredible, fun, kooky people who I undoubtedly would never have met if not for Octopodes. So now here’s the question: how did all of these true Podes arrive at Hopkins? Below are five brief introductions to some of my Pode friends, and the reasons we all wound up together are somewhere between the lines.

P.S. We just released a really dope album called Oceanborn, and it’s available on Loudr and iTunes.

14570343_1334881809858047_4181239453766914349_n

Katrina Estep is a senior Molecular and Cellular Biology major with a minor in Spanish for the Professions from Boise, Idaho

Campus activities: Octopodes

How did you get to Hopkins? I worked very hard in high school and knew I wanted to pursue a major in biology, so Hopkins made a lot of sense! Most people from my high school went to college in-state but I knew I wanted to branch out and go somewhere on the east coast for a change of scenery. I visited Hopkins and fell in love with the campus and the people, and the rest is history!

What’s your favorite Hopkins memory? My favorite hopkins memory is winning ICCA Quarterfinals with my best friends! My other favorite memory would have to be the epic snowball fight showdown of  Snowpocalypse 2015.

What are your post graduation plans? I will be pursuing a PhD in Molecular Biology, but I’m not sure where yet!

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus or around Baltimore? I love exploring all the cool street festivals Baltimore has to offer and checking out all the restaurants in Hampden.

14612571_1404338489594707_2204652121051298647_o

Sophia Porter is a sophomore Physics and Applied Mathematics & Statistics double major from Leawood, Kansas

Campus activities: Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, JHU Octopodes, Research at Space Telescope Science Institute

How did you get to Hopkins? A car ride, a 2.5-hour flight, and an Uber.

What’s your favorite Hopkins memory? Early in my freshman year, when I was still getting to know my fellow physics majors, our Classical Mechanics teacher dropped a whopper of an assignment on us. Several of us went straight from Bloomberg to the FFC, grabbed to-go boxes, and discussed homework questions over a picnic on the Freshman Quad. It was one of those unbelievably gorgeous fall days, with a bit of a breeze and dappled sunlight. We couldn’t stop laughing. I felt like I was living the college dream.

What are your post graduation plans? I’m planning to either stick around for a master’s in Applied Math, or hunt for a job in the aerospace field.

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus or around Baltimore? I can’t get enough of Hampden! Whether I need ice cream at The Charmery, a new quirky antique centerpiece, or am just experiencing a sudden pang of puppy withdrawal, Hampden always provides a wonderful break from the homework hamster wheel.

14681079_1404338319594724_9181437201266206821_o

Isabel Evans is a senior Public Health and East Asian Studies double major from Lexington, Massachusetts

Campus activities: Octopodes, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Outdoor Pursuits (Sea Kayaking), Public Health in Asia Symposium, Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship

How did you get to Hopkins? I toured a bunch of schools that were in urban areas that had good Chinese programs, and then ended up applying to a handful of them. I got into Hopkins, but still didn’t know much about it. I came to SOHOP and fell in love. I knew immediately, from the people that I met, to the activities fair, to the arts showcase, to the class I took on public health (my first intro to what would become my primary major!), to my SOHOP host, that this was the school for me.

What’s your favorite Hopkins memory? All of the memories I can think of that I could say are my “favorite” are about the incredible people I’ve met here. Whether it’s lying on the beach or spontaneous jaunts into Baltimore or C-level study sessions filled with coffee and chocolate, this place is important because of the people.

What are your post graduation plans? Finding a job in public health!

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus or around Baltimore? Outdoors trips! Eating at various places! Lounging on the beach! Being a total nerd in the Gilman Hut or a C-level table! Food trucks at Spring Fair! Drinking an obscene amount of coffee from Brody Cafe! Performing with Octopodes!

kahler

Kahler Suzuki is a sophomore Cello Performance major at the Peabody Institute from Aiea, Hawaii

Campus activities: Octopodes

How did you get to Hopkins? I was admitted to the Peabody Conservatory of Music after auditioning in Manhattan in the Spring of 2015. It’s a terribly inconvenient (and expensive) chore to fly from Hawaii to New York with a large instrument — I buy a seat for my cello!

What’s your favorite Hopkins memory? I cherish the memory of trying my first deep fried Oreo at Spring Fair last year. It’s probably one of my favorite things in the world.

What are your post graduation plans? I plan to attend graduate school as an orchestral conducting major.

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus or around Baltimore? I love hanging out with my Homewood buddies! Somehow I feel the need to relieve them from the intensity of the Hopkins study environment, and if I can do that over lunch or on a trip to the mall, I’m more than excited to do my part in helping them smile or laugh a little more.

14707945_1404338326261390_8118938774810861878_o

Mellissa Picker is a freshman Molecular and Cellular Biology major from Brookline, Massachusetts

Campus activities: Octopodes, ECCO, Thread

How did you get to Hopkins? Car, train and plane.

What’s your favorite Hopkins memory? Gathering with friends in the TV room of AMR I and watching shows or football.

What are your post graduation plans? Travel? Medical school?

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus or around Baltimore? Try new foods!

The Journey to Bernie

Just two days ago, the student-run Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium (MSE) and Foreign Affairs Symposium (FAS) brought one of the biggest names in recent news to Shriver Hall to talk students at Hopkins about the current state of the American government and economy. This person was Bernie Sanders, and it was truly a life-changing experience. The journey to Bernie all started about two months ago, when MSE and FAS announced that they would be collaborating to bring this final guest to Hopkins to speak. When I heard that this esteemed guest was Bernie Sanders, I knew that I needed to do everything in my power to try and land a seat in Shriver somewhere near Bernie.

After the initial announcement, the excitement died down for a while. Then, the day that (free) tickets were to go on sale was announced, and campus was abuzz once more. It was decided that tickets would be made available on Sunday, November 6th at 5PM. I immediately made a calendar event and set an alarm for it. The day couldn’t come soon enough, and I opened my laptop at 4:56PM to log in to my Hopkins account and try to claim a ticket. At 5:00PM, the server — for lack of a better word — exploded. I clicked to add that ticket to my cart and after a series of failed attempts, empty cart notifications, and a whirlwind of emotions, the ticket was in my possession. I had made it, and it had only been about six of the most stressful minutes of my life.

With the tumultuous election night on November 8th and all of the spotlight on the Oval Office in the week leading up to Bernie’s talk, I was eager to hear what he had to say about all that had happened. I moved my research schedule around, made sure that I didn’t have any meetings on Thursday after my class ended at 10:15AM, and I tried to prepare myself to hear my idol talk. I sat in front of Shriver at 1:15PM and waited until the doors opened 4 hours later, and it was worth every second of the wait.

Below is a walk-through of my day on the journey to Bernie:

img_1196

Sitting in the library before preparing to brave the cold

img_1208

Arrival at Shriver

 

img_1209

Happy as a clam but getting cold after about an hour

img_1221

The line grows marginally, this is at about 3:00PM

img_1212

This kid became my idol when I saw he had brought a life-size Bernie cutout with him.

img_1225

3:30PM — the end draws nearer

img_1226

One of my best friends, Atlas, and I with only 20 more minutes outside. Who looks cold?

img_1230

After getting inside and falling asleep in our (4th row!) seats for about 30 minutes. 6:30PM and 30 minutes to Bernie!

img_1243

The man himself. Truly inspirational.

img_1244

I love you Bernie!

My Campus Playlist

Over the past few years, I’ve compiled various genres of music into one glorious and cohesive Spotify account. Each significant part of my college experience is well documented in its own playlist, each reflecting a different phase in my Hopkins career. For each study space, class type, exam type, mood, and season, I listen to different kinds of music. The albums and songs featured below are my current top ten favorite songs, which accommodate my various campus activities, from early morning trips into my research lab, afternoon study sessions, and late walks home from the library.

Disclaimer: If Spotify is constantly trying to convince you to listen to playlists with descriptors like “Alternative” or “Indie”, these will probably be songs that you like. Most of the music I listen to is more mellow, so if you’re looking for bangers, they will probably not be on this list.

657b1b8d097f482fb5f6a63a494af70e

The Weatherman (Gregory Alan Isakov)

10. She Always Takes It Black: Gregory Alan Isakov

I found this song the summer after my freshman year while I was working at home.

My favorite location to listen to this song is anywhere outside during the fall.

I listen to this song when I want to listen to something a little bit repetitive and quiet if I need a little bit more zen in my life. This song helps me to calm down if I’m a little bit on edge.

I like this song because some of the lyrics are about a girl who drinks her coffee black. I like that, because I like to drink coffee black like my soul.

alt-j_-_an_awesome_wave

An Awesome Wave (alt-J)

9. Ms: alt-J

I found this song when one of my friends showed it to me my freshman year.

My favorite location to listen to this song is on a late night when I’m walking home from the library or my friends’ houses.

I listen to this song when I actually feel like a college student and not an adult.

I like this song because of the lyric “The nights of all my youth pressed into one glass of water” reminds me to seize the day and be spontaneous every once in a while.

lazaretto-1100

Lazaretto (Jack White)

8. That Black Bat Licorice: Jack White

I found this song when one of my friends from high school showed it to me when I went to go visit him at Vanderbilt during spring break my sophomore year.

My favorite location to listen to this song is on A-level, when I’ve gone there even though I knew I needed a quieter space.

I listen to this song when I’m angry at the world or I want to feel angsty.

I like this song because it’s the perfect song to turn up to full volume and be the adversarial teenager I’ve always wanted to be.

cat-power-moon-pix

Moon Pix (Cat Power)

7. Sea of Love: Cat Power

I found this song eight days ago on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

My favorite location to listen to this song is when I’m walking somewhere by myself on a cloudy day.

I listen to this song when I’m feeling pensive.

I like this song because it’s almost enchanting. This song sounds like a lullaby.

16664-weird-little-birthday

Weird Little Birthday (Happyness)

6. Montreal Rock Band Somewhere: Happyness

I found this song this summer while I was putting some of my lab data together.

My favorite location to listen to this song is in lab because phone service is spotty in the Krieger basement and I have this song downloaded.

I listen to this song any time because most of it is instrumental, but it’s mellow enough that I can pay attention to my experiments and still listen to it.

I like this song because it’s calming and it always makes me feel like things are going to be okay. I can be productive and listen to this song at the same time.

cleopatra_album_cover

Cleopatra (The Lumineers)

5. Ophelia: The Lumineers

I found this song the day it came out, on April 8, 2016, during my sophomore spring.

My favorite location to listen to this song is on my walk to class, specifically when I’m walking through the BMA Sculpture Garden.

I listen to this song during my six-minute “morning commute” — also known as my walk — to class.

I like this song because it’s fun, my friends actually know this one, and I love everything by the Lumineers.

foremmaforeverago

For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver)

4. Re: Stacks: Bon Iver

I found this song during the winter of my freshman year.

My favorite location to listen to this song is in Brody café.

I listen to this song when I want to listen to something soothing with an acoustic guitar.

I like this song because Bon Iver is a musical genius and his lyrics make me want to sob.

da91e562

Dark Bird Is Home (The Tallest Man on Earth)

3. Little Nowhere Towns: The Tallest Man on Earth

I found this song this past summer while I was preparing to go to The Tallest Man on Earth concert at Rams Head Live.

My favorite location to listen to this song is live in downtown Baltimore, performed by The Tallest Man on Earth himself.

I listen to this song on my record player in my room.

I like this song because The Tallest Man on Earth said that he plays piano badly. If this is badly, I really, really want to be bad at playing the piano.

tmr322_sunseeker_georgiadust_frontcover_550

Georgia Dust (Sunseeker)

2. Georgia Dust: Sunseeker

I found this song during early March of my sophomore year.

My favorite location to listen to this song is outside when it’s warm and sunny.

I listen to this song because the guys in the band are college students and the song mix is incredible. I’m baffled by the talent of people my own age.

I like this song because it’s so happy, but it isn’t over the top. It’s about looking fr what makes you happy and not being upset if you haven’t found it.

c362f631

Before the World Was Big (Girlpool)

1. Chinatown: Girlpool

I found this song during spring break my sophomore year.

My favorite location to listen to this song is anywhere and everywhere.

I listen to this song because it makes me feel okay to have doubts and insecurities.

I like this song because it has helped me to learn that it’s okay to listen to sad music in order to make yourself happy.

To Paige, With Love

Taking inspiration from JHU_Genevieve, I have decided to dedicate this post to a fantastic human being and an extraordinary friend. Though she has never been my roommate, or suite mate, or housemate of any sort, Paige is my soulmate in every sense of the word, and the truest friend I never knew I was missing.

img_1045

My bed, Paige napping.

The first week of classes my freshman year, I was early to everything. I was eager, unassuming, and ready to learn, but that didn’t mean that I wanted to be the first person to arrive to a class. Naturally, I took this time to appreciate the view of Keyser Quad and the breezeway by sitting on a bench between Ames and Krieger, probably at about 2:40PM on that first Thursday. At the other end of the bench was Paige. She asked me if I was in the 3PM Calc III discussion section, which I was, and I found out that she was also going to the same class.

IMG_0295 2

Finals feels

The interesting thing about life is that nobody tells what you need to spend time trying to remember until you’ve already forgotten it. I’m sure we chatted, but the details of that day are hazy after that; we probably sat next to each other in class, but a dazzling, out-of-this-world friendship wasn’t spontaneously formed. Paige became a familiar face. I found out that she was also ChemBE and we bonded over a mutual love of a shared professor. We both sat in the first row of our shared classes freshman year, but never together.

But then sophomore year started. Maybe something just clicked, or maybe it was gradual. Maybe we realized that we both sit in the first row a lot, we were both ChemBE, and we were both taking a lot of the same courses at the same time, but we finally sat in the first row together during Differential Equations that fall. From that point, the seed of the best friendship I have ever had was planted.

img_1011

Carrying 2 x 4s through Waverly

It’s difficult to articulate exactly what happened, but we moved from one class to the next from that point forward, sitting together in the first row, studying with one another, and staying up until 3:30AM trying to wrap our brains around Thermodynamics. Paige introduced me to snow cream (stick a bowl outside when it’s snowing, add sugar, milk and some vanilla and life is great), showed me that we could be productive outside of the library, taught me her favorite ways to dance, and never listened to me when I told her to get a Spotify account.

We listen to Cher when we need motivation, watch The History of Japan when we need a break, and sometimes we dance with a disco ball during finals. We are both RAs, living on opposite sides of campus, but we still stay in each other’s rooms until the wee hours of the morning. We nap in one another’s room when it’s convenient, we send images of Gudetama back and forth, and we live in a friendship completely free of judgement.

img_1021

Thought I lost her but she was just on the floor.

Paige doesn’t like blankets that are too soft, she doesn’t like Brody, and she pronounces the L in “walk” and “talk”. Her work ethic is inspiring, her intelligence unbounded, and her friendship unparalleled. When I think all the way back to my very first days here, I realized that Paige has been there through it all, and my Hopkins experience here would be nowhere near what it’s been without her.

Declarative

img_0856

Closing out the summer with views from the 410

In the past month, I’ve begun to feel restless. My days are jam packed with classes, rehearsals, meetings, and events, but my mind has been yearning for something different. With the constant activities, I’ve started to realize that all I want is a day in the library. It sounds weird, but I really feel like that’s what’s missing. To sit in the naturally sunlit atrium, the coffee charged cafe at the upper entrance of Brody, or even a quiet table on C level is the only thing that could possibly bring me solace in this whirlwind of my junior year.

img_0914

We also got new Pode babies!

With this newfound love for the occasional sedentary afternoon, I found myself looking at the remainder of my coursework for my degree and realized that my senior year was looking pretty light. Most people would jump at the opportunity to take an easier semester and do something for themselves, but a few weeks ago, I made a choice.

I’m also doing something for myself. I’m just taking a slightly different approach.

A common tour statistic boasts that 60% of Hopkins students declare a second major or a minor to accompany their primary major. For the past two years, I have proudly waved my single major flag high, but for the first time, I’m proud to be a statistic. At 2:45PM on Monday afternoon, I walked in to speak with the head of the Mathematics department and walked out with a second major 18 minutes later.

So why mathematics?

A video: See Professor Richard Brown’s response to this question to understand how I got interested in a math degree. I remember watching this late at night during my freshman fall and I’m pretty sure I teared up a little. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg2mOl042ng

A feeling: Barring my freshman spring, I have taken a course in the Mathematics or Applied Math & Statistics department every semester I’ve been at Hopkins. I have found that being in a math class helps me to stay motivated, because I always have a homework assignment that I’m eager to work through. Being able to come back to that math homework has always been comforting. Math is always something I can come back to and work through by myself, so it also gives me the alone time that I need in a world of engineering collaboration and teamwork.

A future: I don’t know what I want to do for grad school. I know I want to go, but I don’t know for where or for what. Maybe I want to go somewhere to continue studying chemical engineering or biological engineering, or maybe I want to change courses completely and study math. Either way, my coursework is set for the next two semesters, and it will be in my senior spring that I make the decision to take either Analysis II & Algebra II, or Partial Differential Equations & Dynamical Systems. The first route allows me to root myself in a purely mathematical world, where the second  will strengthen my knowledge of my current major and research.

A question: If I’ve enjoyed my courses in the math department this much in the past, why not?

Arrivals and Departures (But Mostly Arrivals)

IMG_0720

Trying to be a work of art

I’m excited and I’m exhausted. For those who don’t know, this summer I took Organic Chemistry lab during Session I of summer classes, held a paying lab job in the Chemical Engineering department where I worked between 25 and 40 hours a week, and got a taste of what it’s like to be an RA by working on summer staff. Needless to say, it was quite a busy summer. I split my time between living where I work and working close to where I live, and for that reason, I’m just the tiniest bit tired, but still far from drained.

Because . . .

IMG_0788

Thumb, muffin, and potato ft. reflection of feet in a work of art at the BMA (left to right)

At this time three days from now, I’ll be on a train back home to New York, and I couldn’t be more excited. This summer was so much more fun that I could have possibly anticipated. Organic Chemistry lab wound up being my favorite Hopkins course to date, and all of the graduate students in my lab treated me like an intelligent human being, not a pipetting machine (although there was a lot of pipetting to be done too). I made bubble tea for more than sixty people at least six times this summer, and I spent two weekends at home. I even got to take a trip up to Rochester to wrap up work on the Octopodes album, coordinate a weekend when both of my sisters could come to Baltimore, and spare just enough time to watch all six seasons of Game of Thrones.

IMG_0347

Horrified by Snapchat filters

It was a busy, productive, exciting, and fun summer, but even with everything going on, there was only one thing that fazed me, and it was that I got homesick last week. With friends from all over the country and the world, I almost felt a little guilty. I live three and a half hours away by bus and I went home twice this summer. When I took a step back to think about it, I stopped feeling guilty, because I realized that I haven’t been home for more than three days since December. I’ve never been away from home this long, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting the hours until I get on the train. The role that home has played has shifted pretty drastically in the two years I’ve been at Hopkins. It feels like vacation now, and I can’t wait to vacation at home.

IMG_0620

Looks a million times better than it tastes

I’m longing to put on my semi-angry “I-don’t-care-about-your-problems-I’m-going-somewhere-important-so-get-out-of-my-way” face and swipe my MetroCard to get on the subway. I want to visit my friends on the Upper West Side, the Village, Midwood, and Forest Hills. I want to eat in cafés that exclusively serve things covered in matcha. I want to pester my mom to let me drive short distances, and yell things to one another from across our apartment.

IMG_0295 2

Come back now so we can lay on the floor during finals.

Still, the most exciting things in life have also been arrivals. I’m excited to arrive home, but I’m also excited to arrive back in Baltimore on August 15th. RA training for the school year (with all 70+ staff members) is rapidly approaching. I’ll only be home for a week and a half, but for me, that will be enough. I’m looking forward to spending a few weeks with a big, new part of my Hopkins family before classes start because I’m hoping (praying) that I can find a floor theme that I love. I want to deck out the 3rd floor of Homewood. If you’ve read this far, make a suggestion! (Please send help.)