Gilman Girl

The Life & Rhymes of Molly Y., English Major

Tag: Academics

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The End (For Now)

When you go abroad for half the year, coming back for spring semester kind of feels like the third semester of sophomore year. This is exacerbated further by the fact that a. the semester is shorter and b. the idea of being a senior still feels very, very fall off. My good friend JHU_Emily is technically graduating in about a week, and yes, technically I’ll be doing the same in a year. But all of those facts are still a vague, ambient mist in the background of finals; for now, an affectionate list of small spots of joy at Hopkins that have provided meaningful solace as I truck through papers and projects.

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Seeing as I work a bit in Gilman everyday, my entrance to and from the building is a pivotal, vibe-determining moment. This lilac bush grows in the back, which is how I usually walk into Gilman these days. As it turns out, morning smells are VERY important to the cadence of the rest of your day; the lilacs are a small corner of campus that get me out of my head for just a moment, before I park myself indoors for most of the daylight hours.

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Because JHU_Emily is a ridiculous person with no qualms about said ridiculousness, she had a birthday celebration in which she a. made all of her friends waffles for dinner and b. made all of her friends wear party hats that had her face taped onto them. It was right at the end of the semester before the full push of finals had officially begun, and it reminded me to make sure I stayed balanced amidst the barrage of essays, to get out of the mindset of ‘academic overload’ for a minute and give myself time to have some good, old-fashioned, Ebo-style fun. She even had the party start at 7pm, so we could all be in bed by 10; this night was a good one.

pc: Wikipedia, the truest friend

pc: Wikipedia, the truest friend

And finally, there’s George — George Eliot, the woman I’ve been talking about incessantly for the last semester because of the seminar I took on her. As it turns out, ya girl really enjoys writing and thinking about her works, so much so that I’ll be writing a year-long senior thesis about her. I’ll be in Baltimore for the summer, and plan to get a good amount of research done; the thought of this, oddly enough, motivates me to get through the last bit of finals. The English department here doesn’t have a formal thesis program, like the History or Philosophy departments. Rather, I’m basically doing a full-year “Independent Study”, and, according to the interim Director of Undergraduate Studies, am a “trailblazer” for doing so — it’s not the most common path for senior English majors. Which is equal parts exciting and terrifying, but I’m going to let both of those emotions fuel my work ethic for the next week.

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My Life as a Cheesegrater Artist

As JHU_Ebo mentioned in her blog today, we’re in a class together called “Visual Rhetoric”. It’s a graphic design class for beginners that’s specifically oriented around creating visuals for marketing purposes: logos, flyers, et cetera. There’s just one problem: you’ve gotta keep a sketchbook, make copies of your sketches, and print them out for the entire class to observe and critique. THIS IS A BIG NO-NO FOR A HUMAN PERSON WHO GOT A ‘B’ IN MIDDLE SCHOOL ART. And yet, here I am!

I’ve been wanting to take a graphic design class for quite a while, but I could never gather the courage to sign up for some basic Photoshop class at MICA or pop into the Digital Media Center for a tutorial or two. Why? Because, as I’m sure you can guess from my middle school ‘B’, I have just enough drawing talent to sketch basic shapes in a fairly recognizable manner: squares, triangles, rectangles, even ovalish circles. Beyond this, however, I’d consider myself wholly devoid of the artistic gene that seems to have been bestowed on all of my siblings AND on JHU_Ebo. Still, when some schedule reshuffling left my Tuesday afternoon open AND a spot opened up in VR, it was clearly fate: I was destined to put all my petty pride aside and finally learn about this thing called “graphic design”.

Our first assignment was to make 50 thumbnail-sized sketches of potential logo material related to a catering company, a library, and/or a cell phone company. Despite my initial trepidation at such an undertaking, I did my sketches, brought copies to class, and hung them on the board. Lo and behold, THIS CHEESE GRATER caught my professor’s eye:

IMG_3118She said, and I quote, “I find this cheesegrater sketch charming — it’s a funky kitchen instrument, and the roughness of the lines adds personality to it.” I almost wept with joy.

It’s only the third week, but VR is unlike any other class I’ve ever taken, at Hopkins or even in high school. The pressure is less on the perfection of your form and more on your ability to creatively problem solve in a visual way, which requires me to poke and nudge at a side of my brain I’m not used to using. Given my generally abhorrent drawing style, I don’t exactly casually doodle as I daydream. But somehow, VR enabled me to sketch a “”””‘charming””””” cheesegrater that stood out from the wash of forks, knives, and mini chefs on the class board.

Alas, most of my drawings are NOT cheesegrater grade. They mostly just look something like this:

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Yup! That’s a star with a chef’s hat, a spatula, a knife, a cleaver, tongs, and a pan with “heat lines” coming out of it. Clearly a winner!

Admist the crappy drawings and self conscious sketching, I find myself having a weird amount of fun, considering that this is essentially an art class — I still retain some traces of my middle school traumas as I start each assignment, but by the fifth or sixth sketch, I really do get into a groove. THIS WAS MY BOOK GROOVE.

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Visual Rhetoric has made the start of my spring semester funky and frightening but ALSO fresh, PLUS it’s the first (and only) class JHU_Ebo and I will ever take together at Hopkins. Something about that feels appropriate. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here, staring at this other book sketch I made that may or may not be the greatest work of art I’ve ever produced. This is what creative problem solving looks like, people!

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All I need in this life of sin are rental textbooks with obscure 19th century paintings on them

An Afternoon (or 12) with George Eliot

Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to take a class that reminds you how much you love your major. Don’t get me wrong: on a general baseline level, I’ve liked — and sometimes loved — my English courses at Hopkins thus far. Still, to have my first class back on campus be one that re-engaged me with so many of the reasons why I do what I do here felt like such a lucky thing, especially after having been away for so long. I’ve felt more trepidation than excitement in the days leading up to this week, mostly spurred by overthinking my capability (or potential lack thereof) to adapt to the Hopkins workflow again. How could I possibly just stroll back into an upper-level English class and analytically riff for several hours each week while also plowing away at a 777 page book with a fine-tooth comb? In a stress spiral that is very on-brand for me, I woke up this morning with quietly mediocre expectations of myself and, in turn, of my class. Which is ridiculous to think about after today’s lecture.  Each Monday for the next 12 weeks, from 1:30-3:50, I’ll be sitting in Gilman 186 deconstructing the many facets of George Eliot’s final two works, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, with about 11 other students in a classically small Hopkins humanities course. It’s only syllabus week, but our introductory lecture was enough to show me exactly how much I’ve missed the quality of professor & class content here, & how happy I am to be back.

All I need in this life of sin are rental textbooks with obscure 19th century paintings on them

All I need in this life of sin are rental textbooks with obscure 19th century paintings on them

I know that this basically looks like Just Another English Class, one in which you read novels set in the Victorian era about unrequited love and the class system. But, as my professor so eloquently explained today, the work of George Eliot is in a class of its own. She was a massively intelligent young woman who was largely self-taught, outside of a provincial education through secondary school. Her passion for being well read in everything from Darwinism to sociology and psychology had a profound influence on the format of her fictional works. Middlemarch in itself makes an argument for the novel as “the technology best-suited to capture our lives,” as my professor put it, in a manner that manages to supersede other ways of thinking about the world (like anthropology, sociology, etc). She used her version of a novel to create a natural history of provincial life that has stood the test of time through the many challenges it poses to readers, not only intellectually but also morally, and even memory-wise: in her work, significance is cumulative, so something she writes on page 774 could refer all the way back (and only) to something a character joked about on page 129.

George Eliot managed to perfect the art of the novel by the end of Middlemarch, but then chose to disrupt much of what she had used in her previous works to write Daniel Deronda. It is not a perfect book like Middlemarch, but it is still a great book in how challenging it was to craft & how markedly different it was from the structures she became comfortable with and known for. We’ll be reading Deronda second, which feels apt.

Despite my professor’s quick disclaimer that he is an especially tough essay grader and the spectres of “suggested” secondary reading looming in the near future on my syllabus, “George Eliot” was an unexpectedly invigorating 2 hours of my 3rd-to-last first day. It put me back in touch with what I love so much about my major and, more specifically, being that major at Hopkins. I’m in a small class with plenty of space to test out my ideas about this body of work in all its multifaceted glory, under the guidance of an engaging professor whose passion for the content balances out its intellectual heftiness. It’s about the power of the novel as an art form and a way to reconcile myriad human problems into something palpable and ageless. It’s about the importance of studying English lit as a discipline, and the gift of being able to do so at all. And somehow, it’s only day one.

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Why Hopkins: A Spring Snapshots Blog

Somehow, I only have a little over a month left of sophomore year. While certain parts of me want to rejoice at this — after all, three months of no essays, exams, and/or 40 page readings are just around the corner — I can’t help but feel that spring semester went all too quickly, especially considering how much I’ve enjoyed myself both in and out of class. As I’ve said before, my classes this term are at their peak interest level for me. Never before have I had such a wide breadth of reading assignments, from Arundhati Roy’s novel (and my new favorite book) The God of Small Things to Michael Fried’s canonical treatise against Minimalism in art to, just recently, Eve Sedgwick’s essay on gender and sexuality. My brain is being stimulated from all directions, and I can feel myself evolving as a student in ways I couldn’t have imagined before coming here. Inevitably, it hasn’t always been a joyride — especially when I had two huge essays due on the Friday before spring break — but even that experience taught me more about my time management capabilities and capacity for critical thinking than I knew before.

In lieu of my class time enjoyment, though, has also come a sense of balance that manifests itself in smaller moments of repose, on and off campus, alone and with the homies. This, I’ve found, is what I truly love about my experience here. Despite however trying our academic times get, there is usually some outlet available to put things back into perspective and take a break from the seemingly constant stresses of our work. With as picturesque of a campus as Homewood and an accessible set of communities in and around Baltimore city,  a breath of fresh air and reminder of how grateful I am to be here, however brief, is close at hand.

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This is me, post-two-essay-completion (as mentioned before), arms raised in praise to the heavens and release of my worries. JHU_Ebo and I sat on the quad in front of Gilman for about an hour in the spring sunshine and simply basked: it was the Friday everyone was leaving for spring break, and our jobs were done (for the moment). At Hopkins, we’re blessed with an insanely beautiful campus almost year-round (aside from the gross slush-filled times in February), and this is a moment I’ll likely never forget — a moment of pure elation as I surveyed my surroundings and, even after a two-paper deadline had me nearly slain, felt truly, genuinely happy to be here. For more proof of just how gorgeous it was outside that day, here’s a rare JHU_Ebo selfie featuring Gilman and her forehead:

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And now, for something entirely different:

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For my Introduction to the Museum class, we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art to examine the architecture in each gallery and compare. I snapped this photo in the contemporary wing, and I can remember thinking two things: A, I love that these kids are making this ‘highbrow and impossible to understand contemporary art’ their personal playground and B, I love that I’m here for a class right now. It was definitely another ‘Why Hopkins’ moment: at least in my humanities courses, I’ve been able to do a considerable amount of off-campus traversing in the name of homework and class supplement. Baltimore is a place with so much to see, and with an art museum basically on campus and an abundance of free public transport coming in and out of campus, my courses and my love for this place have sometimes gone hand-in-hand, which I consider myself lucky to experience.

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This photo has more of an abstract Why Hopkins spin, but bear with me. About a month ago, Throat Culture (the sketch comedy group I’m in on campus) had a show, and I got to play the one and only Hillary Clinton. My friend, fellow gummy candy connoisseur and former SAAB star JHU_Joseph left work in D.C. early to come and see the show and promptly sent this extremely flattering Snapchat to me and an anonymous mass of other friends. I’m telling you this for several reasons: for one thing, though they aren’t the largest constituent on campus, the theater community and the arts in general are here, and they’re a joy to be in. In terms of theater, I’m only involved in TC, but even our group and the people who come to the shows have become such an integral part of my experience here, even if we don’t perform in the huge concert hall on campus. It’s a group of people you could only find at a place like Hopkins, and it continues to remind me why there are more reasons to come here than just the academics.

This is a cheesy blog, but a necessary one. Maybe it’s because of the gorgeous weather we’re having (typical to Baltimore in springtime) or the uncanny amount of enjoyment I’m getting out of almost all of my classes this semester. But Hopkins is truly a place like no other, and it’s even small moments like these that keep me grounded in how great of a privilege it is to go here.

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Calm Before the Storm

The next few weeks are going to be busy. “Hustle” doesn’t even begin to cover the kind of thing I’ll be doing in between now and spring break, a time I’ve been preparing for since yesterday. The second half of the year starts with a bang, and I love my classes this semester. Still, it takes about a hot second for the pace to pick up, and before you know it, you have 2 papers, an exam and a presentation due in the same week (or, in some cases, the same day). In the first chunk of the semester, I’ve had my fair share of work, but as I glance at the impending last weeks before break, filled with deadlines and reminders and due dates, I’m realizing that January and February have totally been Molly’s Time to Frolic: The Calm Before the Storm. In lieu of this, I’ll use this blog to present you with a few favorite carefree moments I’ve had, maybe to counteract the extreme nerdiness that was last week’s blog. I promise, I’m not always in Gilman writing down quotes old smart people have said! Not always!!

Recruitment was the first weekend of the semester, and while it was just a tad tiring, I got to see some of my favorite ladies for four days straight and, after a long day of events, kick back at a diner wearing the same huge sweatshirt and scarfing down chicken tikka masala. I’d say this is probably as accurate of a personality pic as you could possibly get.

pie me to the moon

pie me to the moon

Not long after Recruitment, JHU_Emily may or may not have gone on an extremely romantic date to Dangerously Delicious Pies, a small but mighty pie place about fifteen minutes from campus. Yes, it was a weeknight, and yes, we deserved it. They have a Date Night Special — $20 for a duo, I believe — and we took full advantage of it with smiles on our faces, which isn’t really our style for photos, so here we are scowling per usual. Just focus on the pies.

Right after this, we knocked over all of the boxes~

This past weekend, I took a spontaneous evening trip to D.C. to see SAAB (and Hopkins) alumnus JHU_Joseph at his Real Person Job at Hamiltonian Gallery. That night was the opening for their latest show with artists Nara Park and Dane Winkler, and after a day spent working on school stuff with JHU_Emily, I decided to take advantage of my free evening/minimal(ish) leftover homework to see the final product of the install he’d been working on all week. One of the attendees brought in a small beagle puppy named Sherman, and Joseph let me share his Potbelly sandwich on the train back: not a bad night, to say the least.

Alas, it’s comin’ on crunch time, and despite the past few weekends’ festivities, I have a two-part Spanish exam this Friday and Monday and a Throat Culture show sandwiched in between, among other academic shenanigans to prepare for (so many essays!!!!!). It’s time, as Shang from Mulan would say, to get down to business.

 

Clockwise rom bottom left: Introduction to The Museum, Performance Art in America, and Intro to Literary Studies

Fragments of a Serial Note Taker

If you know me in a class-setting or have ever seen me doing homework, then you know I’m kind of an adamant note taker. The ‘kind of’ is to make that last part sound more casual and moderate than it actually is: essentially, to lead you to think that I’m not as much of a note taking fiend as the title of this blog suggests. Hyperbole always hooks people in, but as the following pictorial evidence will show, I’m not hyperbolizing in the slightest.

Clockwise rom bottom left: Introduction to The Museum, Performance Art in America, and Intro to Literary Studies

Clockwise from bottom left: Introduction to The Museum, Performance Art in America, and Intro to Literary Studies. The hand cramps have made me a stronger person, inside and out.

I’ve mentioned in several previous blogs how much I love note-taking, and I think I once attributed it to a weird enjoyment from the feel of a smooth-writing pen to paper. This is totally still the case, but I also have the continuous need to quote any well-worded fragment of a professor’s lecture, an assigned 40 page article on JSTOR, or pretty much anywhere language is involved. Something about taking the time to write a complexly-worded phrase or series of sentences demystifies whatever jargon is at play, and it keeps me focused in times when I could just as easily open an iMessage tab to text JHU_Ebo about some ridiculous internet find.

Case in point

Case in point

Nothing about this whole “waxing poetic about note taking” thing is new, and for the sake of time management and not getting premature arthritis, I’ve been trying to do it in a bit more moderation. Still, it can be especially difficult when you’re an English major taking five humanities classes, all of which require reading and writing about various texts in a way that breaks down the upper echelons of literary and artistic works to a solid level of understanding. Hence, the barrage of notes and the rare removal of pen from paper. Now that I’ve given you the proper introduction to my note taking philosophy, here are a few hallmarks of my notes from spring semester thus far.

“The school brings the written text into contact with the spoken                language, and this contact produces friction.”

 -John Guillory, “Canon”

This quote comes from an anthology of essays about literary criticism that we use for my Intro to Literary Studies class. Guillory’s essay, “Canon”, analyzes the various hypotheses about how the literary canon was formed, as well as the multitude of socioeconomic and historical factors that went into its creation. The aforementioned quote caught me off guard, as I had never considered the way texts and spoken language engage in this malleable point of contention in school. I love his choice of the word ‘friction’ to epitomize this phenomenon. It reminded me of the distaste with which so many of us first confronted the language in Shakespearean plays in high school, as two very distinct forms of speaking — 17th and 21st century lexicons — clashed. Ultimately, my example is an extreme simplification of what he’s trying to say in this section — that schools teach you not only how to read and write, but also how to speak — but regardless, this quote made the cut for notes.

“Museums are a significant antidote to the globalized homogenization that is the byproduct of hyper-capitalism.”

-Robert Janes, “Museums and the End of Materialism”

While Janes’s verbiage may not roll off the tongue in the traditional sense (and take two or three more read-throughs to fully comprehend), this equal parts optimistic and defiant sentence is one of the best I’ve read in my Intro to The Museum course thus far. Janes spends his essay talking about the myriad of ways a museum has the potential to impact society on political, global and environmental levels, not simply within the context of its walls as a ‘cultural institution’. He calls for all museums to recognize this potential and wield it accordingly, to take advantaged of the multitude of forms in which a museum can exist and combat said “globalized homogenization” for the greater good of localities and international relations alike. His piece, while providing few concrete avenues of achieving this realized potential, was an inspiring one, but after some intense deliberation over myriad articulate one-liners, this one took the cake.

“Just as a spectator mimics the actions of the performer, the latter initiates its spectators, reflecting contemporaneous conceptions of what it means to be human.”

-Juliet Koss, “Bauhaus Theater of Human Dolls”

As a performance art history novice and lover of broad conceptual statements, I can safely say that I wrote this in my notebook before I realized what I was doing. This week in my Performance Art in America and Europe course, we’ve been learning about the Bauhaus in Germany during the 1920’s. Essentially, it was a movement that prioritized a unity of artists and craftsmen, of both technical and artistic training in one school of production. Part of this movement was the Bauhaus Theater, a main component of which was the creation of these massive (sometimes bulbous, sometimes more angular, sometimes very difficult to describe) doll costumes that performers wore in various shows and ballets. This quote is, perhaps, a more broad statement about performance art, but in relation to the Bauhaus, it applies tenfold. Also, the word ‘contemporaneous’ is worth noting.

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Schedule Swatch

My brain did a strange thing a few moments ago: amidst its usual ponderings of “What will I have for breakfast?” and “I should be wearing warmer socks right now,” it meandered to a contemplation of where I was and how I was feeling last year at this same time. I don’t have an exact date on my mind, but more of a season of quiet change that started with Intersession and continued through my spring semester. Memories of equal parts carefree frolicking and stressful indecision came rushing back as I settled on a breakfast of peanut butter toast and tea and realized exactly how much had changed.

A year ago today, I was having quite a lovely time being back in Baltimore early. I used the open days to hang out with people whose schedules and mine never matched up during the school year, who I only saw once or twice a week at a club meeting or in class. My spring schedule looked like it was going to be an interesting mixture of creative writing, history and marketing classes that would keep me on my toes. But I was still dealing with a lot of self-doubt: I didn’t mind my major, but I also didn’t love it. It just seemed like the most obvious choice for so many people with my kind of skillset (on paper, at least), and the department’s prestige added a degree of clout that seemed foolish to turn down until I’d given it a thorough try. After two semesters of doing just that — and of doing a great deal of exploration in other areas of interest — I can safely say I’ve finally arrived at what is potentially my favorite schedule yet.

Best Schedule, Worst Color Scheme

Best Schedule, Worst Color Scheme//click-to-enlarge

I hardcore frontloaded my Mondays, but frankly, I’m pretty okay with it. I get to start off the morning with my first ever Official History of Art class here, called Performance Art in America and Europe: 1909 to Present. I can still remember seeing the title in the course catalogue and clicking “Add to Cart” before I even realized what my fickle hand was doing. I’m going to include the full description here, because the wording is fabulous (it includes one of my favorite words, “ephemeral”) and explains it far more concisely than my overexcited brain ever could. Ahem: “This course surveys the development of performance art in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. We will explore the evolution of performance as a medium; the ways performance artists have engaged questions of race, gender, and sexuality; shifting relationships between performance and work in other media; and theories of performance. We will also examine the special challenges that attend the study of ephemeral and time-based art.” I’m coming into this class with little to no background on the subject matter but a scary amount of enthusiasm that I’ll try to keep in check. Sounds about right.

Me, when I literally WAS Performance Art *brushes small speck of dirt off of shoulder*

Me, when I literally WAS Performance Art *brushes small speck of dirt off of shoulder*

After 50 minutes of Spanish and a hot second to grab some lunchtime nourishment, I’ll be spending the rest of the afternoon in this upper-level English class that I’m admittedly a tad bit intimidated by. In Forms of Moral Community: The Contemporary World Novel, we’ll be discussing literary and philosophical imaginations of moral community in the post-WWII period (1950-2001). We’re reading everything from Ian McEwan’s Atonement to Toni Morrison’s Beloved to essays by Simone de Beauvoir and factoring questions like “What does it mean to acknowledge another person’s humanity?” and “How fundamental are moral emotions?” into the mix. There are only about ten of us in the class, so I’m excited to have ample opportunity to sort through these ideas in discussion and to read such a diverse array of classic contemporary literature for homework.

Tuesdays and Thursday are stiff competition to the glory of Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as the open-endedness of Fridays. Introduction to Literary Study is a pre-requisite for the English major, a beginner level class on the basics of critical study of literature. Maybe feeling hyped about that sort of description has me at my peak nerdiness, but frankly, I’ve missed writing analytically about literature for so long. Writing Seminars was an often times fun and interesting foray into the world of fiction and poetry writing, but my AP English Lit loving self is very, very happy to be back in the land of structured essays and critical approaches to literary study. We’re reading Jane Eyre — one of my favorite novels ever — and various other pillars of English literature, and you could say I’m sufficiently geeked about it.

English Lit: Almost as good as having three tacos all to myself on my birthday. This picture has no actual relevance to anything

English Lit: Almost as good as having three tacos all to myself on my birthday. This picture has no actual relevance to anything in this blog, I just needed a photo synonymous with joyfulness

At the well-timed denouement of my alpha schedule is Introduction to Museums: Issues and Ideas, another necessary pre-req, but this time for the Museums & Society minor I plan to pursue after the surreal classroom experience I had during GhostFood last semester. The course focuses on the plethora of external factors affecting the way museums exist today, taking into account not only the ownership of the institution’s contents itself, but also the political and socioeconomic factors surrounding it. Yes, it’s another “beginner level” introductory course, which made me feel like I was late to the game when I first registered for it and ILS. But I’m planning to make this semester my tabula rasa, the term when I’m finally doing what feels as close to what I genuinely love learning as a swatch of classes can get. I’m willing to start from square one and work my way up from there. A year ago today, I wasn’t feeling nearly this sure of myself, of what I wanted out of my education here or of what my actual interests were, despite my attempts to convince myself and others of something different. The anxiety I felt back then has definitely left its mark — hence the weird breakfast time flashback I described at the start of this blog — but as of now, I feel that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing for the first time in quite a while. This feels right.

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Me, giving my past one last look and journeying into my future / my future estate

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At My Own Pace

Scheduling for spring semester is always a nerve wracking ordeal (‘always’ referring to my year of knowledge on the matter), but this time around, it sort of unleashed a spooky side of myself I like to call “Molly Psyching Herself Out and Paralyzing Herself and Making It Impossible To Do Anything Productive For A Few Hours.” I went back and forth between three different iterations of my schedule, ended up being waitlisted for two of the necessities (one of which is actually a requirement for my major) upon registration, and commenced to overthink my entire path at Hopkins before 10am.

I want to go abroad for (hopefully) the entire year next year; this will drastically affect the way I get the credits I need to graduate, to go for an art history minor, and ultimately, to come out of Hopkins knowing that I made the most of the amazing courses and resources it has to offer. Something about scheduling for next semester — theoretically my third-to-last semester here — brought all of these thoughts together in one scary explosion, and the rest of my Friday was spent not being able to focus on, you know, finishing up homework and relaxing like a boss.

In addition, the extra-curricular load has been sort of light this semester. In lieu of a not-so-great spring semester GPA, I decided to devote the majority of my efforts to getting my grades up and keeping them there to ensure that I had the qualifying GPA for my study abroad applications. I still do things outside of homework and breathing, but less of my focus has been on getting an internship and thinking about career prospects and ‘networking’ and all of these kind of terrifying buzzwords that I’m reading in my daily emails from the Career Center. I’m only just feeling like I have time to seek out spring/summer internships, to email people and be like, “Hello! I am a Young Enthusiastic Student with a Passion For Writing and ‘The Arts’! Here Are My Qualifications.” JHU_Ebo and I had a quick, semi-stressed out exchange about this via text, and it was nice to know that someone else — a BME, no less — was kind of sort of feeling the same way.

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I’m not sure what kind of success I’ll have next semester — academically, with internships, or otherwise — but I do know that I’m not the only one who feels the weight of the ‘young college student’ uncertainty, and I probably don’t need to have everything figured out at this stage in the game. It can be all too tempting to look around at some of my other classmates, with their sophomore fall internships or research projects, and assume that I’m the only one feeling unsure about what direction I’m taking here. As evinced by the aforementioned text conversation, I’m definitely not alone in my sentiments, and I also know more about what I want to do than I give myself credit for most of the time. I love to write, to get off campus and explore the arts community in Baltimore, and to talk to people about it/learn as much about it as a non-native Hopkins student could. I’m doing more of that than I realize most of the time, and while I still have a ways to go experience-wise, I’d say I’m off to a pretty okay start. As a parting note, here’s JHU_Ebo again, trying to decide of art imitates life or vice versa.

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A BaltiMidterms Narration

While I’m by no means a time management expert, I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two about how to navigate midterms season at Hopkins in a way that leaves me feeling (slightly) less frazzled than my freshman fall self. I haven’t yet achieved the perfect balance between the vigorously studious moments and the Fun Times with Friends, but thus far, this year’s stretch of midterms has gone markedly better, due in part to the routine I’ve slowly but surely adopted over the past year. It’s got a little bit of everything: some Baltimore goodness, some Gilman, and maybe some mid-2000’s R&B/hip-hop.

It’s Saturday morning. I wake up at approximately 7:30 am, because I, much like my dear homie JHU_Emily, kind of like being up early in the morning. I shower,  put on some attire, and look outside. The sun is streaming through the windows of my apartment, and I realize that going to Gilman today will probably make me kind of sad; I want to frolic in the sunshine, breathe the Balti air, and surround myself with the unpredictable mass of humans who exist outside of the Hopkins bubble. It’s Saturday. However, I still have work to do. There’s no getting around that. It’s a Saturday during midterms season, and I may or may not have a behemoth of a linguistics midterm coming just round the bend.

I put the essential study materials in my backpack, put on my playlist inexplicably entitled “hop-scotch” that starts with this song, and catch the 9 o’clock JHMI. I’m going to Red Emma’s in Station North, because I can comfortably sprawl out my work and maybe my limbs across one of its square tables and also get some “grub.” Here is the cheesy snapchat my friend took of me as I contemplated my workload/stomach’s needs:

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and here is the really bad panorama I tried and failed to subtly take of my surroundings for the sake of this blog:

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Maybe getting off campus to study sounds like a time-consuming/pointless/didImentiontimeconsuming endeavor. Maybe it is in certain situations, but it’s become a necessity for me during some of the most stressful parts of a typical Hopkins semester. We obviously have myriad study spots on campus, which you can get sufficient glimpses of in the H-I blogs or in various admissions pamphlets. Still, I’ve found that staying exclusively on campus to study can be more conducive to psyching me out than it is to approaching academic rigor with a sense of capability. All of a sudden, school becomes the end-all be-all, and my mind goes like this: There is no life after Hopkins, Hopkins is the final countdown, my hopes and dreams will be unattainable if these tests don’t go well for me, is there even a world outside of this big marble sign?

For the sake of maintaining my sanity in a place where the work load often feels insurmountable and campus sometimes gets a bit all-consuming, taking a free ten-minute shuttle ride to a different type of microcosm is rarely a bad idea. Older people and younger people and in-between people I don’t know sip their coffee and do their respective “thing”, and they’ve probably taken their fair share of stressful weeks as well. I look up from my work to creepily watch them for a moment and gain some perspective. I then continue to do my “thing”, i.e. tackle the day’s academic tasks, ideally whilst nestled at a table by the window overlooking W. North Ave.

*Transition to several hours and a JHMI ride home and a quick dinner later*

With a good portion of my weekend homework out of the way, I decide to spend the evening from 9pm onwards not thinking about passive transformations and syntax in linguistics or Jacques Ranciere’s dense (but very interesting) prose. I manage to catch a few gallery openings with the artist formerly known as JHU_Joseph and dance to the sounds of the sixties at The Crown, a Baltimore favorite for almost any kind of performance just down North Charles Street. Here is what all of that looks like:

Amanda Horowitz, I <3 My Emergency

Amanda Horowitz, I <3 My Emergency

JHU_Ebo and JHU_Grace, taking a chill pill mid-dance party

JHU_Ebo and JHU_Grace, taking a chill pill mid-dance party

*Approximately 8 hours of sleeping later*

Today is not quite as nice as the day and night before, and that’s okay. I’m in Gilman, and I look something like this:

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Today is for confronting the terrifying underbelly of my linguistics homework, starting to write a 15-page short story that will be read by everyone in my fiction class, and tackling some hefty portions of Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics. It’s for some coffee and a little bit of calming piano music, which will later change to a playlist comprised entirely of my and JHU_Emily’s tried and true pump-up jams, because I still haven’t finished my linguistics homework, and I need Drake to reassure me that I’m fully capable of doing so.

a glimpse

a glimpse

Today is the flow portion of the midterms “ebb and flow.” It requires a good bit of concentration and a reliable set of playlists to fit the 5 stages of focus I go through over the course of my work day. There are many days like this at Hopkins, and not just during midterms season. Still, I manage to make it through the wilderness with some iteration of what I wrote about here. It’s a delicate balance that I’m only just starting to adopt as my own, but that I’m hoping will keep me grounded in the months to come.

s/o to JHU_Aneek for the candid pc

What’s In a Name?

Hello friends! Welcome to “Gilman Girl,” my new and improved internet crib here on Hopkins Interactive. I’m back in Balti for Round 2 of college-ing, and with my superior sophomore status comes a whole new space on which to tell you about it. For those of you who are intrigued by the name of my blog, I’m taking the time today to give you its unabridged origin story, an epic tale that (eventually) makes its way to present times.

Gilman is the big humanities building on campus, a Hopkins cornerstone complete with a bell tower, red brick, and dangerously smooth marble steps leading to its interior. While there’s an official name for the quad it sits on, most students forget that name within several hours of learning it and simply say “the Gilman quad” from then on; if that isn’t baller, I don’t know what is.

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My first official encounter with Gilman happened during my Admitted Students Day tour, in which I slipped up the aforementioned marble steps, interrupting the silent social awkwardness of my tour group by inducing several gasps and one very loud “Are you okay?” from my tour guide. Months later, after many tense and unsuccessful study sessions in Brody Learning Commons, I tried again to make my way into Gilman. I went to the door of the Hutzler Reading Room, pulled a door that was only ever meant to be pushed, made a cracking sound that probably echoed throughout the entire building, and made intense eye contact with the twenty or so people on the other side of the glass before speed walking away in yet another fit of embarrassment.

***PUSH to enter***

***PUSH to enter***

Still, with a resilience I didn’t know I had, I tried again just a week or so later. I had learned from my mistake, I pushed the door open, found a table to casually snag, and the rest is history. Ya girl was home.

Maybe all of this sounds overhyped; maybe people shouldn’t really care about where they study. For me and for many, however, Gilman is a lot more than just your average work station with outlets and tables. It’s a place where studying, socializing, eating, and the humanities converge in distinct harmony, where homework sessions and homework breaks are both very close at hand. Moments of repose after a long stretch of homeworking in the Hut are only an empanada and a few steps away, thanks to the proximity of Alkimia (Gilman’s café) and the Atrium, a more open and naturally lit expanse in the center of the building.

this is where one comes to "chill"

when you’re a first semester freshman and can’t take touristy pictures correctly

Moreover, Gilman was the first place at Hopkins that felt conducive to my interests and natural inclinations as a Writing Seminars major who often felt swallowed up by the “science-y vibes” of campus upon initial impact. Philosophy majors intermingle with Sociology or Anthro homies, Writing Sems majors sit on those big leather couches to do some class readings, and graduate students abound with their quintessential canvas bags full of books to read for their dissertations. I’m giving a oversimplified, cheesy swatch of Gilman’s “local color,” but you get the idea. It’s an interesting — and, for freshman Molly, weirdly inspiring — mixture of Hopkins people.

HOWEVER, don’t get me wrong: plenty of science peeps wander into Gilman as well and feel right at home. Take our very own JHU_Emily, for example, a junior BME who is, I promise, a lot happier to be in Gilman than this picture implies:

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when ebo comes to visit

Just to clarify, I’m not the Gilman Girl (she’s an urban legend). I’m just a Gilman Girl, one of many (holla at my Gilman ladies, past and present) who made it a second home, who probably spends way too much time there, and who isn’t planning on changing those antics anytime soon. The stained glass windows, the flyer-covered walls, the diverse seating choices — it’s good to be back in my hood.

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omw in–>

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