It’s Been One Week

CAUTION: This is my attempt at describing an entire Hopkins week in a single blog post. I am not responsible for any injuries.

Saturday, November 15

I was so close – less than a week away from home-cooked Vietnamese food. But I had an unshakeable craving for a big bowl of pho and Mekong Delta Cafe got 4 stars on Yelp and is only one JHMI stop away. So this happened.

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Diego, my HOP big, and I ventured into Mt. Vernon and stopped in for some pho dac biet (aka “special” pho – the king of all phos) and I went for a swim alongside some rice noodles in a delicious beef broth (yes it was that good). I even got a second meal – my favorite Vietnamese dish, com thit nuong, for lunch the next day.

Sunday, November 16

Equipped with my to-go box of Vietnamese food, I spent the majority of Sunday designing a Hopkins Christmas Sweater for Hopkins Creative Design that helped us with our business’s Facebook launch. It took a while, so I was super happy that we got a lot of love for it!

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Just doin’ my thing. (So. Many. Layers.)

Monday, November 17

Happy freshmen class registration day.

6:50am – I woke up.

6:51am – I opened up a world clock on my laptop.

6:54am – I logged onto ISIS on my phone and turned off the Wi-Fi. (Perhaps I would have a better chance at getting all my classes if I wasn’t on school Wi-Fi?)

6:58am – I hovered my thumb over the “Register” button and waited.

7:00:02am – I hit register.

7:00:10am – ISIS froze. Oh my God.

7:00:45am – I got all my classes. Yay.

7:01am – I went back to sleep.

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I’m definitely excited for Spring semester (maybe not Wednesdays, but definitely Thursdays), especially for “Race and Ethnicity in American Society” and “Self-Organizing Patterns in Nature”. Three cheers for no core curriculum!

Tuesday, November 18

The HOP had free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate tasting at Levering Lounge! Plus we had Carma’s cookies! Well, for about 20 minutes, until they all ran out. Here’s a picture of Jamie wearing a winter hat.

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Sorry Jamie.

Wednesday, November 19

This was the only picture on my phone I had for Wednesday. I snapchatted this to my friend. We were talking about graph theory in discrete math lecture!

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Fun fact: the author of the textbook we use in discrete math is Ed Scheinerman – a professor here in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics and the Vice Dean of Education for Whiting School of Engineering. He’s made some significant contributions to math – he even has his own conjecture! Scheinerman’s conjecture, “now a theorem, states that every planar graph is the intersection graph of a set of line segments in the plane”. Cool, right?

Thursday, November 20

Our first Friendsgiving! We had rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cheesy bread, green beans amandine, sparkling apple cider, sorbet, and Georgetown Cupcakes! Here are pictures for a vicarious experience.

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Friday, November 21

Our last day of classes before break! I somehow managed to pack all of my stuff in between classes and leave campus by 3:45. Next stop – Delaware!

That sad moment when you walk into your friend’s dorm and they already left to go home. I was a Good Samaritan and locked their door for them.

Saturday, November 22

Chipotle is good, but nothing will ever beat my favorite place to get burritos – El Diablo, back in the good ol’ Wilmington, DE. What a great way to start break!

A burrito bowl featuring pineapple salsa and chipotle ranch sauce. I missed you, old friend.

Now that I finished writing, I am actually quite amazed at all that I managed to fit into one short week. What did you do this week?


A Digital Gratitude Journal Entry

As the semester comes to a close and the holiday season approaches, I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment to express just a few of the things I am grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal (even in blog form) has been linked to “better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness” – all things us students definitely appreciate!

  • Autumn at Hopkins -- This is a given. Today, my Instagram feed is flooded with Hopkins kids posting pictures of our campus. There’s nothing better than walking out of class or leaving the library (when it’s still light out) and seeing this —>
  • Having one of the coolest jobs on campus -- I am lucky to be the assistant manager of Hopkins Creative Design, a student-run graphic design firm here on campus. HCD is one of the many businesses that got started through Hopkins Student Enterprises, the Center for Leadership Education’s very own student entrepreneurship organization. Through HSE, students can turn their ideas into their very own businesses. I have been interested in graphic design since middle school, so I love having this opportunity to keep up with it, improve my skills, learn about management, AND get paid for it!

    Designed by HCD manager, Mike Wang.
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    The HOP with B.J. Novak!

    Being a part of awesome groups that make others happy -- I love being a part of both the HOP and SAAB! The HOP, or the Hopkins Organization for Programming, plans fun events for our campus – for example, today is National Pizza Day, so we gave out free pizza at Levering, and just recently we co-sponsored an MSE Symposium featuring B.J. Novak from The Office! I love hearing that students enjoyed the events we spend a lot of time and effort planning. And as a SAAB member, I am extremely grateful I get to write these blog posts. Hopefully I am making some of you readers happy at the least! Plus I am already stoked for my “big boy” personal blog next year and am in the midst of coming up with witty titles for it…

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    Socks are fun.

    Fun socks -- Patterned socks brighten my day. There’s something about having palm trees adorned on my ankles that makes me more enthusiastic about going to class.

  • Miss Gladys -- If I don’t see Miss Gladys at the FFC at least once, my day sucks. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and I always see her smiling and talking to students, asking how their days are going. Shout out to you Miss Gladys, you rock. I tried to take a creeper shot of her but it felt weird.
  • Tuesday specials at Gertrude’s -- Gertrude’s is a restaurant inside the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is right next to campus; it’s in a very convenient spot. Coming on Tuesdays is great because they have specials -- $12 salmon? I’ll take it. The marketing committee for the HOP had our meeting over dinner yesterday at Gertrude’s. I would have taken a picture, but I ate my food too fast.
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    Hopefully no one saw me take this picture.

    Playing piano in the Mattin Center to de-stress -- After a long homework marathon at Brody, I decided I needed a mental break… that didn’t involve coffee. The rec center is quite a walk away, but the Mattin Center is right near Brody! I signed out a key to one of the practice rooms and just played some piano for a good hour. It was awesome.

  • Friends-giving -- I am so excited for my first Hopkins Thanksgiving with friends. We intend to overtake the AMR II common kitchen and feast. On the menu so far: sweet potato casserole, dirty rice, maybe a store-bought rotisserie chicken? I have been reading “easy Thanksgiving recipes” Buzzfeed articles on the daily. Expect a blog post about this later.
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    Gilman Reading Room -- Hands down, one of my favorite places to study on campus. (JHU_Molly totally judged me when she saw me take this picture)

  • Post-workout euphoria -- I like going to the rec center pretty late at night, so working out is the perfect way to end the day. Plus, you can justify getting Late Night and get a nice no-caffeine-required pump to finish homework!
  • Listening to this Alex & Sierra album while I study -- Usually listening to music while I study makes me less productive, but I have actually been really digging this Alex & Sierra album while tackling my expos papers and discrete and calc problem sets. There’s a song for every mood you’re feeling and if you followed Alex & Sierra on The X Factor… you would know they’re pretty much adorable. If Alex & Sierra don’t get married, I want Sierra & I to.

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Here’s a cute picture of my great-aunt taking a picture of our Thanksgiving 2k13 dinner with her iPad.

As grateful as I am for all of these awesome things and to even go to school here at Hopkins, with less than two weeks until Thanksgiving Break starts, I am so excited to come back to Delaware. Even though I just came home for fall break and my parents and sisters came to visit for family weekend, I can’t wait to get to study for my calc exam relax for a week, see friends and family, and eat some turkey. Plus, who doesn’t love the holidays?




Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

(Unfortunately, this isn’t a post about Halloween, but it’s fitting, I promise!)

Over fall break, I visited a couple of friends at their school. It was so great seeing them and catching up; I loved hearing all of their college stories and sharing mine.

Some great high school friends and I #socollege

I was curious – I wanted to know all about how classes were going, meet all their new friends, try out their dining hall food (which wasn’t exactly the highlight of my trip – I didn’t know that it was actually possible to miss FFC food). One of my friends was telling me about how at their school, it’s pretty tough to double major and that sometimes it’s even discouraged.

That was total culture shock.

Lucky for me, double majoring or adding a minor (or minors) here at Hopkins isn’t like that at all. I’m an intended Applied Mathematics and Statistics & Public Health Studies double major and life is good. Here, it’s not uncommon to find double majors – off the top of my head I know multiple Writing Seminars and Film & Media Studies, three International Studies & East Asian Studies, and a Computer Science & Applied Math! One of the best things about Hopkins is that we have no core curriculum; we are only required to fulfill certain distribution requirements in different academic areas, dependent on major. With this, you get a lot of freedom to explore different areas of interest and if you want, add another major or maybe a minor.

A lot of people double major in similar departments. Many of the major requirements have overlap, making it relatively easy to do so. You could also double major in departments that aren’t as related. (If you’re like me, you can even double major across both Whiting School of Engineering and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, which is definitely possible). The beauty of double majoring in this way is that the major requirements for one major fulfill the distribution requirements of the other and vice versa.

Double majoring is almost always possible, as long as you plan, keep in touch with your advisors, meet upperclassmen with all the scheduling tips and tricks, and utilize your online resources.

Departmental requirements are nicely laid out here. “Gotta make my mind up, which class should I take??”

Last spring, when I was deciding where I would be attending school this fall, the ease at which students can double major and the distribution requirement system were two of the many aspects about Hopkins that led me here today. It only being my very first semester here at Hopkins, it’s hard to say with certainty that I’ll definitely be double majoring in Applied Math and Public Health (or that I’ll be majoring in either of them at all, frankly), but that’s okay. On that note, my meeting with my faculty advisor is coming up next week so it’s time for me to try and figure out my schedule for spring semester, wish me luck!

Waking Up

Wake up. Even if it’s (the ungodly hour of) 9AM, wake up. Even if it involves getting out of your (admittedly more comfortable than expected) bed, wake up. Even when you don’t feel starting your day with a lecture, just wake up. It’s a struggle, but just do it, because the sooner the better.

I shouldn’t even complain. My earliest class is 10AM.

My first month two months (has it really almost been that long already?) here at Hopkins have been a series of wake ups.

1. Classes at Hopkins don’t mess around…

For me, I really had no idea what to expect from my classes. I took some APs in high school, but what was a college class really like? I kept on telling myself that Hopkins was indeed going to be academically challenging, but only until I actually started class did I really see that Hopkins is hard. A professor commented that my paper “sounded like high school”, on my calc exam I received zero credit for a part of a problem I had the correct answer for, and I’m still not 100% sure what anthropology even is. Compared to high school, the workload here is on another level. During midterms in high school, you somehow had enough time to study for all of your 6 or 7 exams and still do well. Here, I felt like I was struggling to find time to study for just 2 exams. Midterm week raised questions like, “What happened? I thought I was good at math!” and “How did I even get in here?”

Cue second wake up call.

2. …and you might not always get the grade you want… 

After getting my calc exam grade back, I was distraught. It was below the class average, and considering I left the exam thinking I did alright, my grade was a little lower than I expected. Getting the actual test back, I saw that I lost 15 points because I used a different process than what the question was asking to use, despite getting the right answer in the end. The first thing that came to mind was that maybe a regrade was possible. Did I really deserve to lose full credit for that problem? With encouragement from @JHU_Dan, I decided to visit my professor during office hours, and after a talk, I received no points back.

But I’m happy.

My professor told me that indeed, the main point of the question was to show my knowledge of that process I failed to use, resulting in my grade. He did, however, tell me that I have nothing to worry about, that my work was clear and showed understanding of important calculus topics, and that I would have no problem succeeding in the course if I take just a little more caution during future exams. He gave me tips on how not to freak out in the middle of an exam (aka my Achilles heel), and made me feel a lot better about myself, even without those points.

I think a huge problem with students, especially college applicants, these days is that we’re all obsessed with numbers. I admit that I’m one of these people. I’m an applied math major (and man, do I love numbers), but I just want to say, it’s not all about the numbers. Whether it’s your GPA, or your SAT/ACT scores, or your class rank, or how well you did on your calc exam – it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. In the case of my exam, the points lost are points lost and that’s really it. It’s that I understand the concepts, and that I work harder to do better next time that matters most.

Cue third wake up call.

3. …but it’s your choice how you handle your work.

When you’re down, there’s always a way up. You can choose either fight or flight.

Best surprise in the mail from my friend from back home.
Best surprise in the mail from my friend from back home.

Classes are hard – that’s something you cannot change. Whether or not you fail or succeed –  now that’s something you can change. (I thank the serenity prayer for that thought). So I won’t cry over spilled milk, I’ll just pour myself another glass.

Me literally pouring a new glass of milk. (Check out  @JHU_Emily‘s latest post for other awesomely photoshopped pictures)

My talk with my calc professor reinvigorated me, and I am determined to do better for my next exam. But this isn’t just for calc, or even just for my schoolwork. With Hopkins Interactive, planning campus-wide events with the HOP, and now working as assistant manager of Hopkins Creative Design for HSE, I don’t have time to mess around. Because even though it would be fun if my entire Hopkins experience was eating at the FFC, making friends, and exploring Baltimore’s neighborhoods, it’s time to get some work done.

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Me trying to get my life together. Stay tuned.




A Pictorial Chronicle of Hampdenfest 2014

Ever since I got to Hopkins, I have been hearing about this neighborhood in Baltimore – Hampden.

My first year mentor mentions it to our group on our first night at Hopkins and all during Orientation, I hear about this mysterious, magical land called “Hampden” where Old Bay flavored ice cream exists and everyone calls you “hon.” Today, I heard that even the barbers are super cool and friendly (thanks for the tip, JHU_Joshua). According to the Hampden Village Merchants Association, “Hampden” is defined as “In Baltimore, a most popular, lively neighborhood and destination, notable for great shopping, dining, services, and just plain living” and is “used often to describe a ‘best’ neighborhood in Baltimore.” So when Hampdenfest 2014 rolled around the corner this past Saturday, I decided to see for myself if there was any basis behind this self-aggrandizement.

Every year, Hampden hosts “Hampdenfest”, a neighborhood festival that features local merchants and artists, live music, and even a “Toilet Bowl Race.” What would give a better first impression of Hampden than this?

My friends and I took a short hike through Wyman Park…

Action shot featuring a slightly frightening “Run He’s Here” tagged tree. Not sure if this was the most direct way to get to Hampden… but it was a pretty short walk from Homewood Field!

…and we found ourselves in the middle of an arts-music-food-shopping heaven!

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The street was lined with local vendors selling everything from handmade arts and crafts, to local food, to vintage clothing.

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Hopkins gives away almost as many free t-shirts.
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Food trucks galore. Plus Tariro.
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An insanely graffiti-painted bus full of tons of vintage clothing to check out. Plus Andrew.
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Nothing beats local bands putting on live shows!

We took some time to sample some food…

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Golden West Cafe’s chorizo/banh mi tacos! I have a passion for fusion food.

…and discover some awesome street art.

The “Hon Mural”!

Giant tangrams are also cool.

We spent a pretty long time trying to figure this out...
We spent a pretty long time trying to figure this out…

The day was indeed well spent. Despite my love for Homewood and all the awesome activities that happen on campus, it is always fun to go out and experience Baltimore. Hampden is a very cool neighborhood, with tons of quirky shops and great food to taste, even when it isn’t Hampdenfest. I highly recommend a visit! And for places a little farther away than Hampden, the JHMI, the Blue Jay Shuttle, and the Charm City Circulator are free and easy ways to get around Baltimore. So until Hampdenfest 2015, explore Baltimore!





How I Wanted Pancakes But Got Friends Instead

The weeks leading up to Hopkins move-in were filled with excitement interspersed with intense moments of panic. Of all my fears, there was one that was more looming than Calc III and more frightening than getting locked out of my room in just my towel.

How do I make friends?

Should I say hi? Introduce myself? Meander my way through some awkward small talk in order to have someone to sit next to at lunch? Back in kindergarten, you could share your snack with the kid next to you and you became the best of friends. Is it still that easy?

The answer is yes.

People say, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. For me, this is astoundingly true. (Ladies, take note).

Caught eating at Dorm Wars... typical.
Caught eating at Dorm Wars… typical.

It was the night of move-in. After a series of car rides, a train ride, a marathon of unpacking, and some painful goodbyes, you could imagine that I was pretty hungry. My roommate and I decided to head over to the FFC to experience our very first Late Night here at Hopkins. (For those of you who don’t know… the Fresh Food Café serves breakfast food from 9PM to midnight… aka heaven on earth and a one-way ticket on the freshman fifteen express). The ten-second walk (not exaggerating) over to the FFC from AMR II came to a screeching halt when we saw that the dining halls run on a different schedule during Orientation. They were not serving Late Night that night, and my dreams of a satisfied stomach were crushed. I let out an exasperated sigh, and shouted something along the lines of,


At the time, I had no idea that my empty stomach would lead to me meeting some of my very first friends here at Hopkins. It turns out a couple of hungry girls behind us also came to the FFC, expecting a Late Night meal. Hearing my very loud complaint, we shared our disappointment and stomach growls and spoke of our favorite granola bar flavors and instant mac and cheese. You could say it was the start of a beautiful friendship. I don’t think I will ever forget how I met these two…

Post-dinner in the Inner Harbor!
Post-dinner in the Inner Harbor!

…or how I befriended my first floor housemates after hoarding fruit from the FFC to make smoothies with their NutriBullet.

Smoothie ingredients: fruit from the FFC, orange juice and yogurt from CharMar, and agave nectar.
Smoothie ingredients: fruit from the FFC, orange juice and yogurt from CharMar, and agave nectar.

And now, we all try out every Baltimore restaurant together, make the best FFC fro-yo creations with each other, and constantly share how surprised we are that the sushi at CharMar is actually really good.

Food + friends = happiness.
Food + friends = happiness.


I am a strong believer that food, even the food from a college dining hall, brings people together. Like the kindergartener who befriends the neighbor he shares his cookie with, I made friends with people who had a mutual appreciation for food. You might think it’s funny, but to me, falling into their lives in this way describes me so well. And isn’t that what’s so great about friends? You can be yourself around them, even if that means eating three grilled cheese sandwiches at lunch and not being judged for it. We’re already in the midst of planning our Thanksgiving dinner before break. Stay tuned, and good eats, my friends. Good eats.