A Kameo Appearance

Just a third culture kid's musings on Baltimore, Biomedical Engineering, burgers, and everything in between. *Disclaimer: Not everything discussed within these blogs begins with the letter B.

Author: Kamran S. (page 1 of 2)

JHUMUNC 2017

The past four days I was a chair for the Johns Hopkins Model UN Conference (JHUMUNC) (pronounced: Jhoo-monk).  It was my second year participating in the conference, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. For those who don’t know, Model United Nations emulates the United Nations, with numerous committees all discussing different topics. As an individual, you are a delegate of a country representing that country in your respective committee. This year, I was the chair (chair = in charge of running) the Formula 1 committee.

If this weekend has taught me one thing, it’s that this conference is definitely worth attending, whether you’ve experienced Model UN before or not. First and foremost, it’s a 4 day getaway from the stress of academics at Hopkins, not to mention a free stay at the Hilton hotel. It’s also enlightening getting to meet people from all over the country coming together to participate.

As fun as I’m sure the conference was for the delegates, I think I might have enjoyed it even more. The responsibility of running an entire committee, and having the opportunity to mold things exactly to my liking was priceless. On top of that, nearly everyone else on the JHUMUNC staff was as passionate and interested in the conference as me.

To sum up, if you’re even considering applying for JHUMUNC, do it. I promise you won’t regret it.

Spring 2017

In the spirit of short and sweet blogs, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of the highlights of the spring semester, and the parts I’m most looking forward to.

1. Spring Fair!

First and foremost, I think I speak for a majority of the school when I say Spring Fair is the most hype weekend of the spring semester. It’s food, friends, and sunny weather for two days straight that everyone gets to spend *not* in the library.

2. Homecoming

Homecoming weekend is always fun. It’s a great chance to get out, watch some lacrosse, and enjoy the vibe around campus for a few days. Definitely a way relieve some stress and enjoy yourself.

3. SOHOP

With the spring semester comes the latest batch of new blue jays, which of course means SOHOP is right around the corner. Again, SOHOP serves as a time to take in the fresh air, look around at the fresh-faced incoming class and reminisce to a time that feels not so long ago.

4. My classes, believe it or not.

For the first time, I’m taking classes relevant to my major in a real sense. ModSim and SysCon are the first two real BME classes that serve a practical engineering purpose, and I’m excited to be able to learn what they have to offer. Aside from that, I’m taking my first programming class ever and doing awesome biomaterials research at the medical institute. Provided I can keep myself together, this semester should be one to remember.

The Hunt for an Internship

Hot off the heels of the fall semester, you’d think now would be the time I could sleep for 2 weeks straight, go out with friends, and enjoy life without a care in the world. Well, in a way, it definitely is.

But, just because classes are no longer at the forefront of my mind doesn’t mean there aren’t other important things that need to get done, namely: finding an internship. I’ve been at it for about a month and a half now, and it’s been quite the process. Going through and finding the internships to apply for alone isn’t too hard, but then making sure they suit your interests, qualifications, and parameters makes the task that much harder.

You might be asking, why do I need to get an internship? The answer is one that’s best summed up in two words: forward thinking. Internships are how you show to future employers and to graduate schools that you are passionate about what you’re studying and that you’ve actually had hands-on experience to back up that sentiment. Further, it emphasizes your abilities to do good work, making you a better candidate for future internships, and eventually, full time jobs.

At the moment, I’ve yet to land one, but I’m optimistic. I’ve had about a week to rest and recuperate from the landslide of work that was this past semester. Now, rejuvenated, I can get back into the search and burrow my head into my computer in search of the right internship.

I’ll keep y’all posted, but until then, happy new year!

How to Disrespect a Class

The other day a few friends and I were talking about classes over dinner. You know, normal stuff: finals, exams, grades, etc. During the conversation, one of my friends said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget – half because it was funny and half because it was incredibly accurate. He said: “You can’t disrespect the course. The course will do you dirty right back.”, and after laughing about it, I gave it some thought. The man had a point.

Then again, maybe you’re wondering what exactly disrespecting the class means. Well, good news, I’ve got a checklist just for you.

How to Disrespect a Class

  1. Skip all the lectures.

First and foremost, you’re not going to want to go to class. Like, at all. Sure, once and while you might wake up, hit your alarm clock and go “Man, I just really wanna go hear about partial differential equations today.”, but for the most part, skipping class is step one towards disrespecting a class.

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We all know sleep is more important than grades.

  1. Don’t do the homework. Ever.

One of the beautiful things about college is you don’t have to do anything. So, if you don’t have to do the homework, why do it? Honestly, it’s a waste of time more than anything else. Who learns from practicing the material taught in lecture, anyways? Trick question: you’re not supposed to be going to lectures.

Oh, and if you do choose to do the homework every now and again, make sure you wait until the last possible minute.

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Just keep running. I’m sure it’ll disappear.

  1. Never read ahead.

Let’s be real, what good is going ahead of the material going to do? We both know it’s a much better use of your time to sit back in bed, throw on some Netflix and eat unhealthy amounts of food for hours on end. Right? Right.

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All the more reason not to read.

  1. Snapchat your professors while they lecture.

Okay, okay – so you managed to drag yourself to class. Now what? Take notes? Yeah, no. Correct answer: send Snapchats of your professor to everyone. I mean c’mon, who doesn’t want to see a dog filter on an esteemed professor while they try to teach you material that will inevitably decide your grade. I’ll tell you who does: your fans.

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Well, you’re wrong.

Do all four of these things, and you’re well on your way to complete disrespect of a class. Go for it and let me know how it turns out.

On the other hand, avoid all four of these things and you’re well on your way to an A. Trust me, don’t disrespect a class. It never turns out well.

 

Dear Prospective Student

Dear Prospective Student

I’m not going to lie to you: my brain feels a little like mush right now. It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break and I just finished a round of 3 midterms (and a quiz) this morning. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this or what the purpose of this little letter is. As a member of Hopkins Interactive (HI), we’re told from day one that HI is designed to give you, the prospective student, a real insight into the world of a Hopkins student. Whether it be fun activities, classes, grades, majors, or whatever, we strive to make these posts so you can read them and paint an imaginary picture of the world at Hopkins and in Baltimore. Today I want to touch on the topic of exhaustion, because I don’t think it’s discussed nearly enough on here – and it is an ever-present part of life, not exclusively at Hopkins, but any college anywhere.

This exhaustion is by no means a bad thing – honestly, I feel incredibly accomplished after making it through a round of exams or a pile of work and into the weekend (or, in this case, Thanksgiving break). What is important is for you to realize and understand that it exists. There will be days or weeks that utterly drain you, and if there aren’t, then that’s probably a good sign of needing to re-evaluate the amount of work being put in. Believe me, I’ve been there. There will be times you’ll get back to your room, collapse on your bed, and sleep for longer than you’ve ever slept. There will be times that you’ll spend multiple days, weeks even, either in the library or in class and nowhere else* (if you’re like me, you’ll be in the Brody Reading Room). It’s both humbling and difficult. The difficulty though, is the kind that you push through to reap the rewards, because every time they’re absolutely worth it.

*I’d like to add a disclaimer that I’m taking a heavy course load this semester, and that this level of studying is by no means a (very) regular occurrence for other people.

I wanted to take a second to tell you this, because just as all the fun, friends, clubs, and independence is a fundamental part of college life, so are the exhaustion, work, and long nights of reading your textbook.

I’m out. Be back in a week.

Kamran

Organic Chemistry: Debunking the Myths

It’s November 1 – which is absolutely insane. This means three great things:

  1. Thanksgiving break is less than three weeks away and I finally get to go home.
  2. It’s fall and the weather is cooling down, which is awesome.
  3. I’m a solid ¾ of the way through my Sophomore fall semester.

Now, as a pre-med (and for my BME requirements), this is the semester I was required to take the class that everyone seems to dread: Organic Chemistry. I just took my 2nd of the 3 midterms for Orgo last week. In the midst of the course right now, I thought I’d be in a prime position to layout myths perpetuated about the class and tell you if it really does live up to it’s insane reputation.

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That right there is 6,7-dichloro-hept-2-ene. And people told me I’d never use Orgo…

Myth 1: It’s the hardest class you’ll have to take.

False.

Don’t get me wrong, Orgo is a difficult class. It’s inherent difficulty comes in the fact that there’s just so much material that needs to be studied. In terms of actual concepts, though, the class isn’t significantly harder than anything else you’ll have to take. If anything, it’s easier than what’s to come as you move towards upper levels.

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Myth 2: It’s all about memorization.

False. 

A lot of people try skating through Orgo purely off of memorization alone, and a lot of the time, those are the same people that call it the hardest class ever. The fact is, memorization will only get you so far. Where in Bio memorization worked because it was straight facts, Orgo is rooted in concepts that need understanding to be applied.

If only I was, Aunt May...

If only I was, Aunt May…

Myth 3: It takes a lot of time.

True.

This is the one truth about Organic Chemistry that everyone agrees on. If you don’t dedicate the time this class warrants, you will fall behind. Personally, the class has completely changed the way I study, and I’m actually all the more grateful for it. Its the first real wake up call of college that shows you how you need to work to do well.

At the end of the day, Orgo is a class we all inevitably have to go through. I can tell you one thing about it with certainty though: it’s made out to be much harder than it actually is.

The Five Stages of Preparing for Two Midterms

Last semester, I wrote a blog post entitled “The Five Stages of Preparing for a Midterm”, where I outlined my process for studying in the days leading up to a singular midterm. I left a little disclaimer at the end that said multiple midterms are an issue for another day.

Today is that day.

I like stay optimistic.

Optimism when the semester started.

More accurately, October 7 was that day. I had a Linear Algebra midterm at 9:30 in the morning followed by a Molecules and Cells midterm at 10:50. Let me tell you – the week leading up to that day was probably one of my most stressful at Hopkins so far. I managed to pull through the day though, and now’s the part where I get to sit in my post-midterms bliss and tell you all about it.

Stage 0: The Beginning of the Semester

While this stage doesn’t occur during the week before the midterms, it is important because it’s during the week following syllabus week. Picture this: you’re planning out your exam schedule, and as you note down dates, you look at your calendar and realize that on October 7, you have two back-to-back midterms.

What do you do?

Sit down and wallow for a bit? Cry profusely? Try and accept the fact that this is a reality? Move on? Dread the day until it arrives?

Answer: all of the above

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Optimism quickly rushing away.

Stage 1: Friday, September 30th

Here we are: the Friday before. Seven days until October 7. These midterms are close enough to be a pressing concern. Professors are announcing them during lecture and informing you of material that will be tested. The reality that you’d been hiding away has finally peeked back around. It’s the weekend, but we both know you’re not going to be doing anything but working. Looks like it’s time to start sleeping in the library.

Maggie Smith always knows.

Maggie Smith always knows.

Stage 2: Sunday, October 2nd

The weekend is over and Friday is only five days away. Friday and Saturday were hardly spent doing anything relaxing; instead, they were spent in Brody frantically switching between your two courses’ material, trying to ingest as much information as possible. Forget trying to sleep tonight.

sleep

Stage 3: Wednesday, October 5th

The middle of the week. Everyone around you is preparing for their first round of midterms too, but only a select few are in the same boat as you. You envy everyone who has the luxury of preparing for one midterm at a time. Your friends sympathize, but they don’t really understand your struggle. Coffee? You’ve already had too much, but one more cup can’t hurt, right? Keep going, keep going. Don’t panic.

Look at the clock: how did it get to be 2 AM already?

I'm not the only one seeing this, right?

I’m not the only one seeing this, right?

Stage 4: Thursday, October 6th

You may have had an hour or two of free time the past couple of days. Not today. From morning until night, all that time is going to be spent taking practice tests, reading the textbook, and feeling as if you’ve forgotten the first course’s material as you study for the second. Get to sleep early today. You’ve done all you can, and it’s been an incredibly long day.

Sorry, but that feeling sticks with you until after the midterms.

Sorry, but this feeling sticks with you until after the midterms.

Stage 5: Friday, October 7th

Wake up an hour early and shut off the 17 backup alarms you’ve set. Wash your face, brush your teeth, throw on your midterm sweatpants, and mentally prep for the next two hours of your life. Two hours. That’s it. That’s all you’ve got to get through. Hopefully you’ve studied enough, and these midterms will be a total breeze.

Like I said, a total breeze.

Like I said, a total breeze.

And finally, once you’re done, sleep – sleep for as long as humanly possible. Then sleep for a few more hours. And take some Advil for that stress-induced cold you’ve inevitably come down with over the course of the week.

 

Now What?

It’s been 365 days…plus or minus 4 weeks, since my first blog. That means it’s been entire year since I got to Johns Hopkins – I’m a quarter of the way through college and officially a sophomore, which is absolutely insane. With all this in mind, I figured I’d take a second out of my day to break down what that means, and share with you all the wisdom of a man who’s made it through a full year at college.

1. First and foremost, I’m not wise.

It’s funny, you know. Coming into Hopkins, I remember everyone who welcomed me and all the first-year mentors (FYMs )I knew were sophomores; and as a freshman coming in during O-week knowing nobody, I looked to them as the end all be all of advice. To me, these were people who knew Hopkins inside and out, and had their lives completely figured out.

Wrong.

The truth? As a sophomore now, I feel like I know less than I did last year, and so does everyone I talk to. Sure, I’m taking more advanced classes, but it’s true what they say: the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. It’s humbling, but terrifying at the same time.

It’s times like these advice like this is necessary:

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2. I’ve learned. A lot.

In only a year, I’ve managed to get involved in activities I enjoy, help launch a start up company, win business plan competitions, get a research position, and get most of my prerequisite classes out of the way (not to say I did it without a bump in the road here or there). It’s astonishing, really. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about the opportunity that Hopkins as a school provides, but there’s no good way to articulate it until you’re actually here and in the middle of it all. Everything is there. All you have to do is reach for it.

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3. Without a doubt, this is all going to be over before I know it.

Ever since I got here, I’ve been trying to work on an explanation as to why time moves so much faster in college. What feels like a week ago was really a month ago, and when looking forward to things so far in the future on my calendar, I blink and all of a sudden they’re here. I don’t know why this is the way it is, but I think it’s a bit of a double edged sword: on one hand, I don’t have nearly as much time as I think I do, but on another, everything worth looking forward to feels like it’s hardly a moment away.

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Closing out Freshman Year

Yes, you’re right, it’s time for the obligatory “freshman year is over” blog post. You may have read one, three, or even twenty posts from the past about this exact topic, and you might think that at some point the topic would become overused or outdated, but it doesn’t. And that’s what so strange about it. No matter what, everyone, anyone you talk to about the fact that freshman year has ended says virtually the exact same sentence: “Where has this year gone?” It’s an incredibly scary reflection to make. It feels like yesterday was O-week, and now here we are, about to close out our first year of college.

I’m a quarter done with college, and I’m dumbfounded. As I reflect though, I figured I’d go ahead and right out my thoughts. For all those coming in, here’s my few tidbits of advice:

  1. Take advantage of covered grades!

I really can’t stress this enough. Take advantage of the opportunity to take upper level courses under a pass/fail grading system. It pays off, trust me. Take advantage of the freedom that pass/fail grades provide you: go out and explore the city, join a bunch of extracurriculars, find your rhythm and figure out how to enjoy yourself here. Covered grades are a blessing, don’t waste them.

  1. Don’t slack off

Once covered grades are gone, slacking off is a hard, and I mean terribly hard, habit to break. Slacking off also has a habit of coming back to bite you. All of us were the kids in high school who could get by with procrastinating and not taking everything especially seriously all the time. That doesn’t work anymore. Once you start to slack, material piles up, and before you know it, the next midterm or final rolls around, and you’re filled with a bunch of regrets about those Netflix binge sessions.

  1. Get out of your comfort zone

This is another huge thing. College is a big change, and with big change comes new opportunities and new people. Everyone wants to meet people. Everyone is social. There’s always something new to do. Make the effort to step out of your comfort zone to try those things. You never know, it might become the thing you do for the rest of your life.

  1. Make mistakes

To clarify, this isn’t the same as being irresponsible, but you’re also in college now. Trying to meticulously plan out every aspect of how you want things to work will leave you without any excitement or spontaneity. This is a time to make mistakes and learn from them, to help you figure out how resilient you are without your family around to constantly back you up. Mistakes help you discover who you are as a person, and ultimately helps you mature in a way you never could back at home.

Finally, I’ll leave you with one final piece of advice as I write my final freshman blog: have no regrets. Regardless of what happens over the course of your freshman year, all these experiences are meant to shape you as a person. It’s far better to be able to sit down at the end of the year and laugh about some stupid thing you did than sit and wonder what could have happened if only you’d gotten up and done it.

The Five Stages of Preparing for a Midterm

Hot off the heels of my Chemistry midterm this morning, I figured I’d give you a look at my process of preparing for a midterm.

Phase 1: A Week in Advance

This is around the time that everyone starts to say “there’s a midterm coming up.” It’s also around the time that you start cracking open the books in your free time to get a glimpse of the material that’s going to be on the test. Is it time to go hard? No, we’ve still got a few phases to go.

Phase 2: Three Days in Advance

This is when crunch time starts. The midterm takes full priority, and its time to put all hands on deck. You’ve still got a fair amount of time until the midterm, but as a rule of thumb, it’s good to feel ready to take the test on the day before the test is given. That way you’ve got a whole extra day during which you feel fully prepared.

Phase 3: Two Days in Advance

Break out the practice tests, forget about socializing, and get all your food to-go. It’s time to head down to B-level (the really quiet one) in the library and drink ridiculous amount of coffee to make sure you’ve got a handle on the material. This is your last chance to stay up all hours of the night to study.

Phase 4: The Day Before

Today you shouldn’t be seeing the outside world unless you absolutely have to. This is the do or die time, and it’s all hands on deck with studying. This is the final push to get all the material understood. Is this the night you should be staying up until 3 in the morning studying? No. This is the night you should end early and get a good night’s rest. Make sure you set like 5 alarms just in case. Missing a midterm because you overslept = you’re screwed.

Phase 5: The Day Of

Panic that you might have woken up late but realize you actually woke up two hours early. Get some last minute review in, but for the most part, just go in and knock the test out of the park. You’ve spent all this time studying, now it’s time to put it to use.

*Disclaimer: This method only applies to one midterm. Multiple midterms are an issue for another day.

 

 

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