Category Archives: Reflection

Support

When I was ten years old, I broke my pinky finger. I was sitting at the bottom of a slide with my arm out behind me trying to hoist myself out when my sister came careening down. Crack. That was it; I screamed out in pain, ate a piece of pizza, and went to sleep. When I woke up, my finger was black and blue, and without a doubt, broken. I had never contemplated breaking a bone up until that point, and after the cast was removed from my hand six weeks later, I never thought about it again.

It was not until this past Friday that I had any need to recall the feeling of breaking a bone, because I broke another. Breaking bones feels like a childhood pastime; you fall out of a tree and break your arm, or you break a leg playing soccer or roughhousing. By no means do you break an ankle tripping over a chair, but that is exactly what I did on Friday evening, much to my dismay.

Immediately after my lab class, I hustled over to Bloomberg — a building in the farthest corner of campus — for my a cappella show. I got there just in time to help unloading sound equipment and then quickly went back to the room where the group was hanging out. The door was propped open with a chair and I went to step over it (in platform shoes) to no avail. My ankle twisted and buckled, and with a singular but very crunchy pop, I went down.

IMG_2368

Trying to laugh in a very unfortunate situation

You may be wondering what this unfortunate event could have anything to do with Hopkins and the experience of going here, and that’s where this part comes in. From the moment I went down, right up until now, I have received nothing but support.

My friend Mellissa, who was with me at the time, quickly ran out of the room to get anyone who could be remotely helpful. She arrived back with our friend and fellow group member, Isabel, who also happens to be a wilderness first responder (WFR). She assessed my foot, told me that she thought it was sprained, and helped me to keep it elevated and iced. Mellissa let me borrow her significantly lower-heeled shoes for the concert, and my friend Ben let me hold on to him when I couldn’t support myself on my own ankles during the show.

17991558_10155106848037088_688630147638643_o

Post-standing on my broken ankle for over an hour in our concert

When we all met up afterward, my friend Ramya made sure not to forget an ankle brace, and I thought my ankle was sitting pretty until the next morning when I woke up and couldn’t move. Past just my friends, Hopkins’ resources have been extremely supportive. I took an Uber to the hospital (in my frenzy, forgetting that security could have gotten me there for free) and the hospital took me right away. After two surveys of my x-rays, my doctors told me that I had suffered an avulsion fracture, meaning that a ligament in my ankle pulled a piece of bone from my ankle, causing a fracture.

Security drove me back to my room, and has been extremely accommodating whenever I’m in a little bit of extra pain and feel like I need a ride. I’ve had lots of friends offer to carry my stuff for me, my friend Paige rides the elevator with me whenever I’m feeling lonely, and the AD I work with in Residential Life has offered to come up with some alternatives to my rounds when I’m on call for the night. I’ve even been contacted my Case Management, which means that I am not only being supported by my friends, but I also have backing from the school administration if I need help.

A broken ankle may seem run-of-the-mill, but in the middle of my last round of midterms as a junior, right before Homecoming and Spring Fair, and on a campus where the ramps are surprisingly out of the way, all of these things combined go a long way. No matter where I turn, I am supported, and that’s pretty stellar, even though the boot I’m wearing on my foot is not.

IMG_2376

Boot.

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.

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.

Lost In The Sauce

In a largely unoriginal theme, and in the spirit of this past Thanksgiving, there is one thing for which I am thankful above all else. As I sit on the Bolt Bus departing New York City for Baltimore in T-minus four minutes, I’m going home. At a similar time last week, I would have been writing the same thing as I waited for the bus in the opposite direction. I’ve always had a home; to me, the place I called home was never not New York City. I’ve written about it countless times — my wacky, rude, eccentric, lovable family and friends have always been from here, and it wasn’t until I arrived at Hopkins last autumn that it became a possibility for these people to be from any other place.

When it comes to a hometown, I’m a bit elitist. I know it’s a flaw, and I’m putting it here in writing to let people know that I’m aware of this. Still, I know that I’m from the best place on Earth, crumbling subways, potholes, and all. I talk about New York like nobody else knows its majesty, but it’s much more than a tourist destination filled with skyscrapers and cement. After more than three months without coming home, more than anything else on this good Earth, I missed my sisters. I think I’ve finally debunked why I’m so defensive about New York’s perfection, and the reason is my sisters.

Everyone gets homesick, it’s just a fact of college life. I am eternally thankful for the families I have at Hopkins that make these moments few and far between. The Octopodes, Alpha Phi Omega, and all of the friends I made last year make it difficult to feel lonely; leaving them makes me feel like I’m leaving a piece of myself behind, but when I’m at school I feel that same small twinge of hollowness because of my sisters.

IMG_4928

I’m a triplet; both of my sisters are identical and I’m fraternal, and maybe to some people that means that my sisters are closer to each other than they are to me, but being fraternal means that I love both of my identical sisters equally and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Felicia is at American University in Washington, D.C. studying Public Health and minoring in International Studies while Emily is about seven hours in the opposite direction, studying Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology at SUNY Albany. To say the least, seeing each other is difficult. Over the course of a semester, I’ll see Felicia once or twice but seeing Emily is next to impossible.

Needless to say, three months without my flesh and blood had me practically sprinting to the bus last Saturday. My sisters are my best friends, my lifeline, and we have multiple group chats (titled Potato, Thumb, & Muffin, and Extraneous Bae Group Chat #2, respectively). Even from our courses of study, it is immediately apparent that we are very different people. I think that’s what keeps us grounded. We’re engaged and confused by the knowledge that the other two possess, and I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone more than I love my sisters.

IMG_5122

My sisters make coming home special. It’s evident to me now that I have more than one home, the one I was given in New York and the one that I made for myself in Baltimore. I’m caught up in a whirlwind of homes and happiness, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the tumult.

I guess you could say I’m lost in the sauce, so to speak.  And that’s not referring to the snack ’n’ go applesauce I have stashed in my backpack for my my refrigerator at school.

IMG_4934

Only At Hopkins

It is a rarity to find a large group of people in the same place who are all dedicated to the same cause. I’ve often told people that my favorite thing about Hopkins is the collaborative nature of the student body. The willingness of my peers to help one another when problem sets are tough and when classes don’t make sense always brings a sense of comfort, so when something much more urgent came up a few weeks ago, I called upon my friends to help me.

This pressing issue was the Rubik’s cube.

Way back in August during orientation week, a group of my friends was sitting in a Commons living room trying to pass the time. We had all arrived on campus well before classes started, and we were beginning to realize that we had little to do in the days leading up to the beginning of the semester. It was then that somebody brought out the six-colored cube and one by one, I watched the majority of my friends solve it, most of them in two minutes or less.

My friend Katie was immediately intrigued, and she spent one of the final days of orientation holed up in her room mastering the cube. Within a day or so, she had added herself to my list of people that knows how to solve the Rubik’s cube.

I tried not to let it bother me; it was just a silly set of algorithms that my friends and sisters tried (and for the most part, failed) to learn in middle school. But now here I was, sitting in a room full of people who would toss each other the cube.

“So Hopkins,” I thought to myself.

But it taunted me. With exams, problem sets, and other extracurriculars, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t important.

“Cube me,” they would say.

I pushed down my feelings of jealousy and inadequacy for weeks, until finally in mid-October, I decided to surrender to the cube. Without one of my own, my friend Jose handed me his first Rubik’s cube and said “Don’t give it back until you can solve it.”

I enlisted Jose, Katie, and my friend Izzy to teach me how to solve it. I probably could have learned how to solve it by myself, but why do things the hard way when there are people at every avenue to help you figure it out?

For three days, during study breaks and between classes, at meals and before I went to bed, I practiced. I mastered the first layer and the second, and then one day, on a bus to Towson, I completed the cube. All by myself. Now on lazy Friday nights when my friends are tossing around the cube, I can join in the chorus of “Cube me”.

It’s a simple thing to do, and unimportant as it may be in the scheme of life skills, this is one of many things that I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do without my friends. Hopkins is special in the collaborative nature of its student body; I’ve never cherished this sense of collaboration quite the way I do here. So if anybody needs help solving the Rubik’s cube, I’m glad to help.

IMG_3976

Cube in my bag, always ready to be solved wherever I go

Sophomore Surge

The cluelessness, uncertainty, and confusion of freshman year are over, so it seems to be time to get ready for the sophomore…slump? I don’t think so. It’s commonly said that sophomore year is more difficult than freshman year; the adjustment is mostly over and most of us have found our niches, know our way around campus, and have gotten involved in a few new activities, but we still manage to get worried and overwhelmed. As I sit here in Brody café with my chai latte and a stack of biochemistry practice exams, I am saying no more! Being overwhelmed is reasonable. Classes are harder, and more is expected of us because the freshman excuse doesn’t stick anymore. Still, I’m trying to coin a new motto, and I’m calling it the sophomore surge.

I’ve never been more active on campus, attended more club meetings, spent more time in the library, or spent more time with my friends than I have in the past month. I’m ushering in a new era and being the optimistic, productive person I found myself finding and losing over and over last year. I’m trying not to overload myself with my classes. Yes, I’m taking Organic Chemistry with Biochemistry and Differential Equations, but I’m trying to get my brain working in a different way with Introduction to Digital Photography and hopefully find a new artistic outlet. I’m a happy camper in two chemistry classes, and if that isn’t enough to smile about, I live in Charles Commons, which has more bathrooms than my home in New York.

_DSC0058

Seen at the Mt. Vernon Flower Mart. Added one of these babies to my collection of succulent babies in Commons!

As far as new activities are concerned, I decided to pledge Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity. I’m earning two research credits for my work in the Hanes Lab at the Center for Nanomedicine, continuing to blog with SAAB, giving interviews as an Admissions Representative, and starting my job as a student worker in undergraduate admissions this month. I love all of these things; joining a community of people with greater goals to better the Baltimore community is exciting and the pledge process is fun! I love promoting my love for Hopkins, and going in to the lab every week constantly validates what I want to do with my life.

_DSC0250

I love Engineering Quad.

All of these things are great, but I have to say that the single most exciting thing that has happened to me this year has been joining Johns Hopkins’s oldest a cappella group, the Octopodes (founded in 1989, by the way). Transferring out of the double degree program last fall caused me to lose the chunk of freshman year that people usually use to find activities and clubs. I seized the opportunity at the beginning of this month to re-audition for the Octopodes, hoping to reclaim some lost time, and there are no words to describe how happy I am that I did. I have sixteen new best friends from all grades and majors, and I have a place to sing every week for the rest of my time here at Hopkins. I get to do what I love with people I already love, and I get goosebumps all over again every time I get to sing with the group. If there was a stronger word than love, I’d be using it.

IMG_3724IMG_3722

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I left here last spring, I was a little disappointed. I still found myself saying that Hopkins could potentially become my home, and I was frustrated that I hadn’t allowed that potential to become something tangible. I am ecstatic to say that no matter how difficult things may become in the future, that potential has manifested itself into something beautiful, and I can’t wait to see it in full bloom, because I’m finally home.

_DSC0083

I Remember

The last week of classes is upon us, and everyone is feeling it. The end of Spring Fair marks the final days that we spend together as freshmen, and pretty soon, we’ll have year one under our belts. In two and a half weeks, classes will be over, finals will be over, and we’ll all be headed our separate ways for the summer. Some will stay in Baltimore for classes, research, or work, and others will seek the same opportunities closer to home. Some will be headed to exotic locations for study abroad and others will head to the same places for vacation. As for me, I’m not quite sure what the summer holds.

IMG_3141

The infamous fried Oreos

IMG_3136

Unlimited soda + Jasmine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do know that I’ll be spending ten days in Israel just a few weeks after classes end, but past that, things are pretty open ended. I might be coming back to Baltimore for a month somewhere in between Israel and the fall semester to continue working on the med campus, and I might return to the real estate internship that I held last summer. I may take a trip to Florida, but nothing is guaranteed right now. Things are still pretty up in the air, and I only have a few weeks to figure it out, but for some reason I’m not worried.

IMG_2988

Selfie on the 6th floor of the Wilmer Eye Institute

 

For now, I’m just wrapping up my final projects and homework assignments, but I can’t help but think about how much has happened this year.

IMG_2726

Shriver Hall during Intersession

 

I remember when I got to this school, I was enrolled as a double degree student. I went through orientation and the first month of classes trying to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted.

IMG_2134

George Peabody Library at the Peabody Institute

 

I remember struggling to tell myself that I wasn’t a quitter and I remember all of the support my double degree friends gave me. As the weather cooled down and things started becoming more routine, I started really feeling like I belonged here. By fall break, I had made up my mind to leave the program and pursue my dreams on a slightly different path.

IMG_2200

Last 8AM commute for a physics exam

 

I remember sitting outside of Mudd Hall and calling my mom with the decision. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, and a relief that I could admit to myself what I truly wanted.

IMG_2936

Very close to the location where I made my decision

 

I remember celebrating Halloween with all of my Homewood friends at Peabody, and loving that everyone got along, whether they were studying French horn or mechanical engineering.

IMG_2415

Halloween at Peabody

 

I remember leaving for Thanksgiving and finally getting to see both of my sisters for the first time in what felt like eternities, but I also remember being ecstatic to see my friends when I got back.

IMG_2520

Brunch with my sisters

 

I remember my last voice lesson the day after my last final, and excitedly packing my bags to go home for a few weeks, but I also remember willing winter break to pass faster so I could see my friends again.

IMG_2576

Reunited and all making the exact same face

 

I remember having my friends from home visit during Intersession, and I remember taking weekend trips to see them too.

IMG_2747

Two of my best friends at the University of Delaware

 

I remember the stress of trying to make new friends after moving in to my new dorm on Homewood campus, and I remember the amazing friends that continued to be amazing from first semester, and the new friends that I found during the second.

10565225_10205455574009612_7174628488881809297_n

The hall, no explanation required.

 

I remember the month of February, where every weekend seemed to be an adventure, and I remember March, where the semester really seemed to take off.

IMG_2909

When someone added this to the bulletin board . . .

 

I remember getting my wisdom teeth out over spring break, and I remember sitting in Brody the day I came back, grateful to return to Baltimore on a sunny day.

IMG_2970

Spring Break with Gloriana when the wisdom tooth swelling finally went down

 

I remember, even more recently, getting terribly sunburnt on an unseasonably hot day during the homecoming lacrosse game.

IMG_3122

Homecoming!

 

I remember eating all of the Spring Fair food, finding a hidden gem in a pile of records being sold on Keyser Quad, and I remember laying on the Beach listening to music all weekend.

IMG_3154

A beautiful day to end Spring Fair

 

Right now, I remember all of these things, but if there’s one thing I’ll remember as this year gets further and further away, it’ll be the ups and downs. Sometimes you have to go through a difficult time to get to a good one. Behind a bad grade, there’s more motivation. Behind confusion, there’s clarity. Behind heartbreak, there’s love. Behind a stumble, there’s a chance to pick yourself up. This year has been almost every adjective I can think of. As it draws to a close, not only am I shocked about how fast it’s gone, but I’m shocked by how much I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was when I got here. I’ve learned what it means to seize an opportunity, but I’ve also learned that it’s okay to say your plate is full for the time being.

Over the next three years, I’m looking forward to new adventures, new friends, and new stories to tell, but even with finals right around the corner, I’m going to savor my last few weeks, because as eager as I am to go home, I know I’ll be eager to come back to this home too.

Words of Wisdom

The week before spring break marked ten straight weeks that I spent at Hopkins without going home. That’s almost three months, and I couldn’t imagine spending that much time anywhere else and genuinely enjoying it. Still, there is a time and place for everything, and much like I was ready for fall break last semester, I needed this break now more than anything. I realize that my blogs haven’t been extremely cheerful recently. I’ll be the first to admit that things haven’t been fantastic, but the best lessons are often learned through difficult times and I’m looking forward to taking this week to reorganize and reevaluate.

IMG_2936

It’s finally getting warm enough for me to sit in my favorite place again! 🙂

 

Spring break is strange. Most schools aren’t on the same schedule, and spring break doesn’t coincide with a holiday to center the break around. Every school has a different break; some of my friends have been back at school for two weeks already, some of them were returning as I was leaving, and some of them won’t be on break until a week after I’ve been back. Friday night was the only night that I got to spend with my whole family, and I knew it might be my only opportunity for an adventure this week, so my sister Felicia and I picked a place on our list of food places to try and made our way to midtown for cereal-milk at Momofuku Milk Bar. As if that wasn’t enough, a few hours later, my entire family was reunited and we went to dinner at an amazing French restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen called Marseille. This kind of functioned as a last supper; I knew I wouldn’t be going on vacation or visiting any friends this week, so I let my mom schedule my wisdom teeth removal for the day after I got home, Saturday, March 14.

IMG_2944

One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten

IMG_2945

I also bought these. No shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On paper, it made sense. I don’t really have that many people to see or things to do this week, and the last few weeks at school have been exhausting, with several of my classes giving another round of midterms and tying up some loose ends before break. Getting my wisdom teeth removed forced me to take down time, which I generally avoid pretty vehemently. When I have time to myself, I usually like to fill it with activities because I get bored extremely easily. However, both anesthesia and pain medication were entirely new experiences for me and I haven’t been able to get bored because I’ve been so tired. I don’t think that there was a period longer than three hours that I spent awake this weekend, so I definitely caught up on sleep whether I wanted to or not.

Despite the intense pain and the haziness, getting my prehistoric, pointless, wisdom teeth removed has allowed me to sit down and organize the rest of my week. The rest of it will likely be spent doing homework and studying (just to make my life easier and give myself a head start for the second half of the semester), making a tentative four year plan (yikes) for my advising meeting the week I get back, and drinking my meals until my face no longer looks like its own planet.

IMG_2947

Some much needed family time with my favorite ladies

 

As the weather gets warmer and March draws to a close, I’m looking forward to what April has in store. This spring is a time for second chances and a more positive perspective. With the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. and Spring Fair at Hopkins right around the corner, there are so many things to look forward to. Even though it is cloudy and cold right now, it won’t be forever, and I’m looking forward to a little less stress and a lot more fun.

IMG_2950

Up until now, my only spring break accomplishment (I know I’m late with this)

 

Week Four Woes

As the third week of the semester draws to a close, midterms are officially upon us. B-level and C-level are slowly beginning to fill up, and it is becoming more and more difficult to reserve a study room unless you decide you want it at least twelve hours in advance. Just as we were all beginning to settle into the spring semester, the tidal wave that is week four has hit. I learned this last semester, but the stress doesn’t dissipate regardless of how long you anticipate it. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t help that I got sick last week for the first time in over a year, and my coughs seem to reverberate across C-level for the entire Hopkins community to hear. Still, the world doesn’t stop for a cold; by 6PM on Monday the 23rd, I will have taken 3 midterms and handed in an essay. I’m not here to complain, and it’s not like I have it worse than anybody else, but this is usually about the time when things start getting difficult. There are high points and low points in every semester, and I hate to say it, but I’d be lying if I said this was a high.

Midterm exams often make you question your knowledge of the content in a class and your ability to study effectively. When they hit you all at once, you even find yourself questioning your major, your intelligence, and sometimes you’ll wonder if you even belong here if the stress is consuming enough. I am more than half way through my freshman year (extremely brief tangent: how?), and I’ve never doubted my belonging here, but there always seems to be someone who understands the material better, faster, and with more ease. Buckling down and doing the work doesn’t always seem to be enough, and for an ultra-perfectionist like me, sometimes that’s enough to bring me down. In high school it seemed fairly simple; do your homework, study for your tests, and start your papers early. It was a guaranteed recipe for success, but it doesn’t seem to work like that anymore. At the end of last semester, I wrote one of my blogs about finally figuring out the most effective ways to study, but even equipped with that knowledge, midterms can seem daunting (especially when all three are for science classes and one of them is physics).

My goal is not to discourage people from choosing a challenging major. I don’t intend to incite fear or create unnecessary worries, but with midterms on my mind, I’m almost unable to focus on anything else at the moment. Midterms are never fun; in my eighteen years, I’ve never seen anybody exhilarated by the thought of an exam, excited to wake up at 9AM on a Monday for a chemistry exam, or at 8AM on a Friday for physics.

But we do it.

It’s important to remember that no matter how many alternatives we as students feel could substitute exams, this is just the way it is. There is not a college in the country where exams don’t cause stress or anxiety. I have two sisters at universities that couldn’t be more different from this one, and we all bond over this distress. While I’m on the subject though, I’d like to bust a common myth: just because it’s Hopkins doesn’t mean our lives are infinitely more stressful. Is this a challenging university? Absolutely, but the opportunities granted to students here simply can’t be beat, and that’s what makes going here incredibly worth it.

So with that, I think it’s important to remember a few things. We are still freshmen, and that doesn’t give us the right to slack off or do poorly, but it’s okay to take a step back and remember that the learning process is really just beginning. We have to be organized and stay calm, because psyching ourselves out and finding that we can’t even hold a pen upright because our hands are shaking so badly will not help us finish on time. (I know about that one from personal experience — the first Calculus III midterm from last semester was not my proudest moment.) Professors here are more than willing to answer our questions, and love students who frequent their office hours. Take practice exams early, and figure out what you need help with before it’s too late.

There are a million lessons to learn from each round of midterms, and even though it is anything but a fun and carefree time, we are here to learn and master skills. Good stress relievers will save you (mine are blogging and sharing my physics woes with my friend Jasmine) and midterms don’t last forever. By my next blog, they will all be over, and even though it’s scary now, that is quite a comforting thought.

Picasso

Just to remind us that the blue period doesn’t last forever, and that pretty excellent things can come from it regardless.