On Being 57% Done College

When it’s this time of year, the campus is buzzing with talk of summer plans, semesters abroad, internships, and job placements. And all of the talk had me feeling way too introspective and I remembered that I’m through 4/7 semesters here at Hopkins, meaning that I’m roughly 57% done college. During Spring Fair, I asked one of my friends who’s a senior:

“Have you done everything you’ve wanted to do at Hopkins? What’s left?”

That got me thinking — I’ve covered a lot in my first 57%. I’ve learned about the world through numbers and data and functions and models. I’ve read countless papers about health policy and epidemiological surveillance data. I’ve written poems and short stories, forming narratives I never thought I had the creative capacity for. I’ve designed graphics upon graphics for way too many clubs than I can handle. I’ve found myself in one of the most close-knit group of friends I could ever ask for. I’ve gotten my hands dirty with some research, and an internship (or two, hopefully). I’ve learned about the real world — the history, the injustices, the changes we need. I’ve eaten my weight in UniMini steak, egg, and cheese hoagies, Brody Cafe veggie burgers, and Alkimia banana bread.

I feel things ending and changing.


I look at the courses I need to take to graduate — there’s not many more. Two more classes for AMS, four more Homewood classes for PHS. I remember that I won’t see some of my friends going abroad until junior spring — for some, not until senior year. I think about the clubs and organizations that I’m in — how soon enough, I’ll be the oldest, the most experienced. It’s scary to me to think that in about a year, none of my fraternity brothers will be ones that I knew before joining myself.


But there’s still more. In these next two years, I’ll hit more milestones. This summer, I’m moving into a house on St. Paul with five of my best friends. By senior year, I’ll be taking classes at Bloomberg to finish up my public health major. Hopefully, I’ll have spent one summer interning somewhere on the West Coast. I’ll have two more Spring Fairs, two more homecoming games, two more opportunities to welcome the incoming freshmen classes. I’ll have some sort of plan for life after college. And when I graduate I’m going to take the most savage picture jumping on the Gilman Seal.



A Couple of Moments…

It’s hard to believe that midterms have already begun and we’re about a week away from spring break. As I procrastinate on studying for my exams this Friday and next Monday, enjoy some GIF-worthy moments of these past few weeks:


On the night of the blizzard a few weeks ago, my friend Jill and I trek back to our dorms after hanging out at a friend’s apartment. Don’t fall Jill!


Piper Kerman, prison reform activist, writer of Orange is the New Black, which the Netflix series is based off of, came to speak at Hopkins as a part of the Foreign Affairs Symposium (FAS) this spring! I wasn’t able to get a video — but FAS also Skyped in Edward Snowden for a virtual discussion a week later, and that was pretty incredible.


Enjoying a sirloin panino at Carma’s Cafe, a popular eatery just a block away from campus, as a study break. A much needed change of pace from dining hall food.


A picturesque Gilman Hall on a snow day this semester. There’s nothing much better.


My buddies Frank and Andrew join me for an excursion to Hampden for fresh fades at Old Bank Barbers and dinner at Grano Pasta Bar. The walk to Hampden from campus takes only about 20 minutes, especially when you cut around back of Mason Hall on the south end of Homewood.


A great view of Baltimore from the rooftop of the Telephone Building, an apartment building near campus. The weather’s been super nice recently, and when the wind calms down, you get nights like these.


Ah, the first game of KanJam on the Beach this spring. Spring at Hopkins is the best because the weather gets so much nicer, the campus looks green again, and of course -Spring Fair and Homecoming. I enjoy three things above all else: 1) nice weather, 2) good food, 3) live music. And we got all three.


And of course, my favorite round, marble table in Gilman Atrium, gettin’ some good study time in. Sometimes, I think that if I write my poetry assignment here, at the center for humanities, it’ll turn out better.


I’ve been happy.

I’m satisfying my urge to create.

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to make time to really create something during the semester. Other than designing graphics for various student activities, and my pseudo-hobby of curating Spotify and Soundcloud playlists, I’ve unfairly pushed my creative side away recently. So first off, I’ve decided to take on a yearlong project: film 1 second of every day of the year, and at the end of 2016, piece together a 366-second documentary of everything that happened in the last 12 months for my own personal enjoyment.

I’ve started playing piano again. Listening to some contemporary works have inspired me to explore a part of piano repertoire I haven’t ever before in my 11 years of playing. Right now, I’ve been working on this piece by Ludovico Einaudi (arguably his most famous piece), and also just messing around with a radio-hit medley composed of “Sorry”, “Hands to Myself”, and “Hotline Bling”.

I’m excited for my classes this semester.

I’m taking 17 credits: Intro to Optimization IIIntroduction to ProbabilityData Visualization for Individualized HealthGlobal Health Principles and Practices, and Fiction Poetry Writing I.

“Opti II” is the second part of the optimization class I raved about last semester, and it’s taught by Dr. Fishkind again, which I’m really excited about. “Prob” is a required AMS class, and I hear it’s tough, but that the topics covered are really interesting. “Data Viz” is a class basically about what I want to do with my life – combining data/statistics with healthcare – and it’s a miracle I got in, considering I was 12th on the waitlist for what was originally a 12-person class. “Global Health” (I’m still working on a good abbreviation) is supposed to be one of the best public health offered at Hopkins, and “IFP” will help with the whole needing-a-creative-outlet thing.

Spring semester is one of my favorite times of the year.

Besides classes, springtime at Hopkins is just the best. First of all, the warmer weather will already make life better (but I’m not complaining about this blizzard giving us two snow days at the start of the semester). I’m going to Iceland over spring break in a group of 7 guys, which will be, to be quite frank, absolutely heinous. Then there’s homecoming weekend, and Spring Fair. Plus, a lot of grilling with my fraternity brothers, Beach lounging in the afternoons, and overall more happy-sighing.

Being productive has increased my sense of comfort.

My future housemates and I are in the process of signing a lease for our house next year. Mainly, it’s nice to know that I won’t be homeless next year. But better yet, I’m going to be living in a great house, with the greatest friends, with old-people responsibilities like paying bills and making sure the lawn is mowed. The last part probably won’t be fun, but right now it’s just exciting to feel like an adult.

And I’ve applied to different summer internships, crossing my fingers that someone will find me employable. I’ve also been in the midst of applications and interviews for a couple different part-time opportunities on campus to make some extra money and save up for that Iceland trip!

We just got 30 inches of snow, and it’s melting into that brown, slushy mess in the streets. I’m about to have my toughest semester workload wise since coming to Hopkins. I’ve been spending way too much money on food. I didn’t get to travel over break. I didn’t really do anything exciting at all over Intersession. But I’ve been enjoying the sense of normality that comes with being at Hopkins. I’ve been happy.



Coming Home

In an attempt to make my break a little more productive, I went to the public library to borrow some books (on big data and data-driven decision making, but that’s not the point).

When I was getting my library card renewed, the librarian asked me if my “home” address was still the same and I had to pause and think about which one she was talking about.

Later, I asked my mom whether I should buy a train ticket for Wednesday or if she could drive me back “home”, to Baltimore. And then I realized —

The little suburbs of North Wilmington don’t feel very much like home anymore. This is what it’s like:

There’s the cozy coffeeshop on Marsh and Silverside, but I only just discovered it recently. There’s my go-to burrito place in the same shopping center, but I haven’t eaten there enough to be a regular. There’s the movie theater I’ve gone to for as long as I can remember, but I was surprised to learn they installed new recliner seats.

The people I went to high school with are all off doing their own thing. My little cousins seem so much older than when I last saw them a couple of months ago. Once both my older sister and I moved out, my younger sister claimed territory in all three rooms – so now I kind of just wander between the three to figure out where I’m sleeping for the night.

So I suppose every not-kid-almost-adult has to have that moment where “home” becomes “my parents’ home”. A friend of mine mentioned it a couple of days ago:

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It’s a little sad to accept the fact that the place where I grew up doesn’t feel the same anymore. That some old friendships have been reduced to catching up over coffee and lunch. That calling it home feels strangely wrong. But it just means that I have a new home, one that feels so important to me that calling somewhere else home feels like I’m betraying something. JHU_Genevieve articulated this feeling of home better than I ever could.

And I’m ready to go home. At my parents’ place, I am fed extraordinarily well, I get to lounge in the living room for hours at a time, I started playing piano again and began to read a book just because. But there’s a lot more waiting for me, and it’s not here. I think I’m having a delayed freshman-moving-to-college feeling. I feel like I’m finally leaving. Wilmington will become a comforting reminder of my growing up, of my family, and Baltimore will be my home. For spring break, I won’t be coming back, I’ll be chasing the aurora borealis with my friends in Iceland, finally and really going abroad. In the summer, I’ll be in Baltimore, or if not I’ll be somewhere else, maybe D.C. or New York. And for the rest of my time at Hopkins, I’ll come back to Delaware, always for the holidays, and maybe for a wedding, or a birthday, but then like clockwork I’ll return home, to Baltimore.