Category Archives: Baltimore

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
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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

3. Friends Who Get You

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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.

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Hunter’s proposal ft. my Birkenstocks.

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

4. Favorite Places on Campus

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Arrivals and Departures (But Mostly Arrivals)

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

On Summer and Independence

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Kicking off the summer with excessive Charmery scoops (Thai tea and mint chip)

I’m closing in on upperclassmen territory and I don’t know how I feel about it. My friends a year older than me are now rising seniors and my friends two years older have left campus altogether. I don’t know how the past two years have gone by so quickly, but they most certainly have; now, even the summer is close to half over and I’m just kind of dumbfounded. Inevitably, time is going by, but at least I’m running out the clock on this summer in the best ways I can think of.

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So many bubbles

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At the vigil for Orlando in Station North

This summer has primarily been spent in the basement of Krieger working in the Schulman lab, which is in the ChemBE department. I’ve spent 25+ hours there each week working with a graduate student in addition to taking Organic Chemistry Lab, which I know sounds horrible, but it’s actually been one of my favorite classes at Hopkins to date. I forged an alliance with a group of people at my lab table and made new friends where I didn’t expect to. We even have a GroupMe, so if that doesn’t scream friendship, I don’t know what does. I might even miss capping off my day in the UTL now that the class is over, but I definitely won’t miss the lab reports.

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My sister even came to visit, and we went to Woodberry Kitchen for the first time! (Not pictured: fabulous breakfast potatoes)

During the weekends, you can find me at my friends’ house, delightfully nicknamed “The Alamo” because three of its five residents are Texans, walking around Hampden, at the Waverly Farmers Market, goading my friends into eating off campus with me, or watching the newest season of Orange Is The New Black. I’ve said goodbye to the remaining Octopodes graduates and learned how to successfully finish a round of Mario Kart without coming in last. I’ve also finally learned how some of organic chemistry works (I use “some” very loosely, because I’m about to take Orgo II), and best of all, my Grignard didn’t explode.

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The acclaimed pizza of Johnny Rad’s

I’m still working my way down a list of restaurants and events, but spending summer in Baltimore has definitely not been disappointing. I’ve gone to concerts, found pizza almost as good as New York pizza, and successfully learned how to make bubble tea en masse.

Best of all, I’ve gotten to live almost like an adult (despite the free housing and meal plan), and even though I miss my mom, my sisters, and my cat, I’m loving my summer in Baltimore. I even have a Spotify playlist to prove it.

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The Tallest Man on Earth (@ Rams Head Live) is in fact only 5’7”.

A Charmed Summer

Even though my last final was under a week ago, it feels as though it’s been an eternity. Half of my suite’s doors are locked and closed for the summer, and there are only a handful of people on campus right now. Over the summer, there’s a variety of things that students can do; among them are going home, staying at Hopkins, going to other universities to take classes or do research, and studying abroad. It’s going to be pretty sleepy in Charles Village until next week when the first session of summer classes begins, because a lot of people are taking the opportunity to be home for a week or two before it gets busy again. Still, despite what you might think, the summer is a great time to be on campus and there’s a lot to do!

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We survived.

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Date nights with Kate (and Izzy and Jasmine)

During my freshman spring, I remember someone said, “Take this summer to recuperate and rejuvenate, because it’s the last summer you’ll have to yourself.” In retrospect, I took this way too seriously, and I don’t think I should have taken their advice to heart quite in the way that I did, because it’s totally not true. Last year, I went home, put my head down, and worked a 9-to-5 job. I had some time to myself; I figured out what progress I had made my freshman year and made goals for my sophomore year because I had so much free time — but it was boring! My freshman year, I figured out how to study, where the coolest places on campus were, and I learned how to say no (although I’ve learned this year, that I still don’t take advantage of that all too much, because I still don’t want to). Sophomore year was undoubtedly more rewarding: harder lessons to learn but bigger payoff.

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Octopodes music geniuses ft. Drake.

Most importantly, I solidified my love for this school, and I learned that taking a break smart though it was, didn’t necessarily have to happen in New York. I came back earlier than most of my friends to help coordinate freshman move-in, and was thrilled to be living in my fancy new dorm, which is bigger than my family’s New York apartment. At this realization, I decided about half way through sophomore year that I was going to stay in Baltimore for the summer preceding my junior year, and I made that decision for a few reasons.

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Im going to miss this room so much though.

I started doing research in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department this spring and was offered a position to stay over the summer and work on an extension of the project I began this year. Since I really enjoyed the freedom of going into the lab by myself and figuring out the best way to run experiments, I was really excited at the prospect of staying to further my knowledge. I also figured that while I was here, I could get ahead on some schoolwork. I’m still currently on a pre-med track and felt that it might be smart to take a load off of my junior spring by taking Organic Chemistry Lab and Organic Chemistry II during each session of the summer. On top of all of it, I’m going to be an RA during my junior year, so I applied and was offered a position as a summer RA in the same building where I’ll be working in the fall.

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Hey, Georgetown.

Not only do I get to experience a small bit of what my future job will entail, but I get to move in without any of the chaos of move-in during August. I’ll also get to be really fully immersed in my research, and I’ll have the luxury of only focusing on one class at a time. That means more trips to Washington DC to visit my sister, more time to explore Baltimore, and more free time to spend with my friends, a lot of whom also decided that staying here for the summer would be productive, rewarding, and fun. None of these things are in full swing yet, so until Monday, I’ll just be moving into my new room a little bit at a time, and sneaking in a few episodes of Lost while I track down my lab goggles and decide on my floor theme for next year.

Inter(ests) 2.0

After visiting my high school for the first time since I graduated, catching up with my friends back at home, and hibernating for two and a half weeks, I’m back at Hopkins for round two of Intersession. Now that I’m well rested and on campus, I’m ready to go and start next semester, but not before having a little bit of fun first. This year, I’ve opted to take one class called Vaccines: Past, Present, and Future. It only meets twice a week from 6:30PM to 9:30PM, and it leaves all of my days free. This year, I’m lucky enough to be taking a class with my roommate, Jenn, and my friends from my a cappella group (and SAAB), JHU_Jonathan, and Ramya. In addition to my class, I’m trying to take on a greater role in my lab on Hopkins’s medical campus and spend more time with my friends before the semester gets hectic again.

Often when I’m asked what advice I would give to freshmen preparing to come to Hopkins in the fall, the first thing I say is “Do Intersession!”. It provides a much needed change of scenery about half way through the five week winter break, you get to see your friends, and if you’re me, you get to have your own room again (so really, there’s really nothing better). I’ve only been back for a few days, so I have yet to experience most of my adventures in the weeks to come, but from my experience last year and the beginning of this year, there are a few things about Intersession that make it special and worth coming back for.

You get to take classes with your friends that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to take during the semester.

When else can a Political Science major take a class with a Neuroscience major? Trust me, the crossover is minimal during the regular academic year.

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Thanks for taking a class with me, buddy.

There are no lines in the FFC.

I may possibly be the biggest FFC enthusiast on this campus, but there is nothing better than being able to find a table that fits you and all of your friends and not have to wait on line for food. It’s an unlimited buffet without the lines — there are no cons to this setup.

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The FFC also has a geotag. Thank you.

Empty campus means empty gym, empty Brody café, and actual seats in Mudd if you’re looking for a quite place to read.

There’s nothing better than snapchatting on the elliptical or ordering a dirty chai in peace. Plus reading for pleasure is a rare commodity during the semester.

The weekend becomes a time for trips to Washington D.C., dinner in Hampden and the Inner Harbor, and endless movie marathons.

My friend Rachel and I have already watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, my sister has visited from school in D.C., and I’m going up to Rochester next weekend to record an album with my a cappella group because there’s no homework to hold me back!

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Bae goes back to school.

Intersession is a time for exploration, but it’s also a time for chilling. Intersession is designed to be fun and informative but it combines the best parts of college and break; it’s a great time to spend on campus with friends without the workload, so there’s really no reason not to come back. Unless you’re somewhere warm — in that case, I guess it’s still a good decision.

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I wish it was still 50 degrees.

Inter(ests)

I just can’t get enough of freshman year. Even my advisor looked at me like I was Fluffy from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I said I would be back for all three weeks of Intersession.

“Don’t you want a break?” he asked.

“Not really!”

I had decided long ago in October that I would be back for Intersession when I looked at the giant five-week-long winter break and realized that I would be incapable of sitting still for that long. It’s not like I wouldn’t have had anything to do, but the prospect of having no real goals over a period of time that long just felt wrong to me. After two weeks of visiting high school friends, indulging in an appropriate amount of New York pizza, and making my last angsty teenage choice (I got my nose pierced), I packed my suitcase and headed back down to Baltimore to move out of Peabody and into my new dorm at Homewood. (Decorating 2.0, am I right?) By the way, living in McCoy as a freshman is almost like living in a hotel.

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I think I’m becoming a pro at this.

After taking the obligatory post-move-in Target trip with my family and having dinner at Paper Moon Diner, I was on my own again. One thing about going to college that has been absolutely addictive is the independence. My choices are really my own, and Intersession allows me to make a whole lot more of them.

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Greetings from your favorite selfie ghost at Target. Can you spot the nose ring?

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The decor is crazy, and even a bit overwhelming, but it’s eccentric, cool, and the food is delicious.

The classes I decided to take are called Cancer and Immunology, and The Roaring Sixties: France’s Latest Revolution in Moving Images. I honestly don’t think I could have picked two better classes.

Since Cancer and Immunology meets at 8:30AM, it’s pretty clear that the people in that class are really there because they want to be. It truly feels like learning for the sake of learning. I chose the class hoping to get more of a biology-like perspective on a field in which I am extremely interested, and I have not been disappointed.

I chose the French film class because I’m a huge French nerd, and high school French focused so much on language and not enough on culture. In this class, we’re watching movies from the early sixties, an influential time in French film known as La Nouvelle Vague, or The New Wave. It is a highly discussion based class and it has been a great way to spend some of my weekday afternoons. I’ve even been contemplating a French minor, but I won’t get too ahead of myself for now.

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First day back featuring the sunset whose beauty I failed to capture.

The workload is light, most of the classes are graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory, and I still have loads of free time. I’ve had some of my high school friends visit, and I went on a weekend trip to visit one of my friends from home at the University of Delaware.

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Shoutout to Victoria and her adorable dorm at the University of Delaware! She obviously did not know I was taking this photo.

I also had Afghani food when I went to The Helmand for dinner for the first time (highly, highly recommend), visited the Baltimore Museum of Art, and went bouldering in the cave in the Rec Center yesterday. I’ve gotten a head start on a chemistry assignment for the spring term and I still have tons of other plans. I’m hoping to get Belay certified so I can try out the rock wall in the gym, and I’m going to Washington D.C. to see a Dr. Dog concert with my friend Cynthia on the 23rd.

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If you look closely, you can see the light between the trees. Gustav Klimt

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A painting from my favorite time, the Blue Period. Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intersession also provides a great opportunity to explore campus, and all of the fun and quirky things that Baltimore has to offer. I can honestly say that I think I made an excellent choice for me. Some people can spend endless time relaxing, but I’ve never been that way. Having a class or two a day provides me with just enough structure that I don’t feel bored, and leaves me plenty of free time to see my friends and relax. It’s all of the fun of college with none of the stress, and I’ve had plenty of time to ease back in to the Hopkins environment. With Intersession nearly half over, I know that I’ll be ready to take on the spring semester with fresh eyes, a bit more organization, and much more enthusiasm.

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Obligatory, hopeful winter photo of Wyman Quad and Shriver Hall