Daylight Sav(or)ing

There’s a couple of things that can brighten my mood instantly. That’s live music, free food, and nice weather. Luckily there’s plenty of all three here at Hopkins.

These past two weeks were some of the busiest, most stressful weeks of the semester so far, and at a time like this, it’s easy to start feeling really low. But this week, I felt unusually calm, relaxed, and overall just in a really good mood.

It was just winter, and two snow days later, it was spring. There’s something about the temperature being greater than 50 degrees and feeling the warmth of sunlight, no matter how slight, that makes life a thousand times better. This little peak at spring at Hopkins this week has gotten me really excited for the rest of this semester, with Spring Fair and SOHOP and homecoming, but even more so, just the little things. Eating and studying outside, hanging out on the Beach, going out for a run, or even just not having to fumble with big jackets when in class. I swear, this past week, I passed by more people smiling and laughing than I have for a long time, and that atmosphere has just made this week easier to get through. Despite midterms and papers and commitments and responsibilities, this weather reminded me to just take a moment and just breathe it in – just take it all in.

Eating outside, what?!

Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am to be a student at Hopkins. The opportunity to learn – to assimilate knowledge from not only my courses, but from other people, and from activities and experiences outside of the classroom – is something we often take for granted. The opportunity to speak freely and challenge and change the world we live in, on any scale, is something we often forget. You always have a little time in your day, no matter how busy you are, to think and reflect, and for me, this warmer weather has been one of the many things that helped me remember that. Taking advantage of these little moments has done wonders to keep me up and motivated for this last week before spring break.

Lots of people have been asking me if I had any plans for spring break, and let me tell you that my plan is to sit at home and vegetate for a good portion of these next nine days. At 3PM tomorrow I will be on I-95 traversing home for a much needed recharge, for home cooked meals, a queen sized bed, time with my friends and family, and days spent just savoring this daylight.

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TGIT: An Update and An Attempt at Productivity

So I’m one of those few lucky people who have no class one day of the week. For me, it’s Thursdays, which is actually perfect in my opinion. Problem sets are due on Friday, so I get the entire Thursday to work on it, catch up on other assignments and get started on others.

Well, ideally.

I always tell myself on Wednesday nights, “I’m going to wake up early, and get started on my work, maybe go to the gym, do laundry and run other errands”. These past couple of Thursdays, though, this hasn’t been the case. I’ve woken up at 10, gotten out of bed by 11, usually make it out of the door of AMR II by 12, and by that time, some people are already done class. Today, however, was a different story.

I woke up at around 9 this morning because my laptop fell off my bed (it’s okay, don’t worry). It’s actually a pretty good way to wake up and get your day started – I might do it more often. I was up, in the shower, played my morning pump up jam (currently: Pay No Mind – Madeon feat. Passion Pit) and headed over to the FFC to grab a quick breakfast.

People hate on this fruit/cottage cheese/toast combo but I’m really feeling it right now.

I ate it en route to the library to work on my “pset” (problem set) due tomorrow (I stole that jargon from the MIT admissions blog… no one calls them that here). I plopped down at a desk on M level and got to work. I planned accordingly for my hunger and smuggled some fruit out from the FFC for a study boost…

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then I got distracted and watched the end of the Gloria Steinem’s talk from yesterday because I had to leave early from it.

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After some more studying and distractions, I went to grab lunch from the FFC and ran into my friend Bobby (hey Bobby, I know you’re reading this). Topics of discussion: House of Cards, the Kappa date party, and sophomore housing. Tip: don’t go to the FFC at 2pm – there’s like no food.

Needing a change of scenery, I scored a seat in the Brody Reading Room to study a little for my exam in Introduction to Computing tomorrow. I got confused a little bit, but perfect timing – it was time for the SAAB meeting! Today, we talked about our new apply website, where my face is basically immortalized with the university, ways to make Hopkins-Interactive better, and previewed our “Welcome Class of 2019” video.

Afterwards, I made a quick stop to (big surprise) the FFC (you have to reap the benefits of the unlimited meal plan) and ate with some guys from my pledge class before attending an anti-hazing session (update: I’m pledging Beta Theta Pi).

And now I’m here, sitting in Brody, going over practice exams, confusing my commands, and contemplating making the trip up to the Cafe. Overall, I’d say today was pretty productive – I promise that sometimes I do more than just eat and study. I really enjoy having these Thursdays off because I get a little bit more freedom in my schedule, and a short break from classes. Last semester, I basically had the same schedule every day, which could kind of get a little monotonous.

Today was one of the first really productive Thursdays I’ve had. And with midterms upon us, these next two weeks will be some of the busiest, most stressful times for us. Spring break is close, but the flowers aren’t blooming and kids aren’t playing outside. There’s still snow on the ground and instead, we’re hibernating in Brody. Alongside academics, extracurricular activities are in full swing – my very first HOP event I planned is happening tomorrow, JHU Wind Ensemble is back in session to prep for our spring performance, we’re getting some more clients at work, and I’ve begun the pledging process for Beta. I’m going to need these productive Thursdays now, more than ever. Hopefully, I’ll accidentally kick my laptop off my bed more often.

Playing Favorites

Ever wonder what my favorite parts of Hopkins are? Probably not, but here they are anyway, formatted in extreme particularity.

favorite thing to do on campus

MSE Symposium and Foreign Affairs Symposium bring some amazing guest speakers to Hopkins. This past fall, MSE Symposium brought R.J. Mitte from Breaking Bad and B.J. Novak from The Office, and this spring, FAS will bring feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem and founder of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton. The symposiums are always fantastic, and they are free and open to the public!

Cons: only getting to talk to B.J. Novak for five seconds while he signs your copy of his book just when you realize that a true friendship could blossom there between you, him, and Mindy Kaling.

Look how beautiful this lineup is. *bows down to FAS*

favorite on-campus food

There’s another Sterling Brunch this upcoming Sunday, which reminds me of possibly the best thing I’ve eaten on campus – the baked brie. It’s doughy, it’s cheesy, it’s calorie laden, and it’s pure joy. Something more everyday that I really like – noodles from One Bowl in Levering – they satisfy me when I’m craving “Americans-trying-to-make-something-Asian-tasting” food and the pineapple tamarind is the best out of all the sauce options. Close runner-up – fresh squeezed orange juice at the FFC.

Cons: calories, guilt.

Sterling Brunch, photo credit Jilliann Pak.
Sterling Brunch, sans baked brie, feat fresh squeezed OJ, photo credit Jilliann Pak.

favorite place to study

B Level accommodates whatever type of assignment I’m doing: problem sets, readings and response papers, or computing exercises. When I’m in the Brody atrium, I try to snag one of the normal-height tables and chairs (I’m sorry, but I just can’t get work done on those dinky coffee-table height excuses for adequate study space). The movable whiteboards are perfect for groups tackling tough linear algebra questions or when you want to write out some example problems to study for an upcoming exam. There’s a variety of other seating I like to use for when I’m doing readings and don’t require a lot of desk space. And if I find myself not focusing enough in the more open environment of Brody, I can easily walk over to MSE B Level and get jiggy-with-it in a quiet cubicle. It’s not eerily silent like in C or D Level, but not as loud as A Level can be.

Cons: two flights of stairs up to the Daily Grind, the scarcity of reachable outlets, the draft every time someone opens the door to the cold, outside world.

favorite caffeinated beverage

Before college, I never really drank coffee, so the dirty chai was like the perfect stepping stone from tea to coffee for me, and it’s now my go-to drink. I like it iced, even in the winter, just because it’s easier to drink and I burn my tongue on almost every hot liquid. When needed, I go for a redeye. It saves the day (or night, rather) and also I think I sound super cool when I order one.

Cons: being over-caffeinated, finishing half of your drink before you sit back down.

My friend Karina, modeling a dirty chai. Backdrop: Brody B Level, of course. Photo bomb: Michael Korn.

favorite study music

I had this great Spotify study playlist before I switched to my individual account that was full of my all-time favorite solo piano, wind band, and orchestral pieces. They are great to listen to because you have nothing you can sing along to that will distract you. For the band geeks out there, I’m really enjoying some of Joseph Curiale’s stuff, partially because it allows me to reminisce about being in marching band my freshman year of high school.

Cons: reminiscing so much you start back-stalking your Facebook profile to 2010, browsing Spotify for too long looking for new study music.

Music on my study playlist that also happens to be music we’re playing in JHU Wind Ensemble.

favorite place to eat in charles village

I don’t want to sound cliche, but Carma’s Cafe. Per JHU_Genevieve’s suggestion, I have come to accept the fact that the TCB (turkey, cranberry, brie sandwich) is the food of the gods and I actually bought a bag of Carma’s cookies to take home to my family for Christmas because they were just that good. Also, the grilled cheese and tomato soup combination never fails me.

Cons: can get crowded, you’ll always want more, finishing your food too fast, lighting not prime for Instagram.

Not Insta-worthy :(
Not Insta-worthy 🙁

favorite baltimore neighborhood

I hate this question because I have yet to explore every Baltimore neighborhood, so I don’t even know why I included it, but I think so far, I really like Mount Vernon. It’s free and easy to get to using the JHMI shuttle and there’s so many places to eat. Mekong Delta Cafe is the place to go when I need my Vietnamese fix, and TenTen has great ramen. Also in Mount Vernon: Iggie’s Pizza, the Bun Shop, Dooby’s, plus the original Washington Monument, and Peabody!

Cons: going to the Peabody Library when it’s closed, forgetting to try new restaurants, losing that feeling of awe when seeing the Washington Monument in D.C.

Peabody Library is located in Mount Vernon and just look at it. Photo cred: Regina Ferrara.

favorite class

Surprisingly enough, right now I’m really liking my “Introduction to Computing” class. My mom is a computer programmer, so I think it’s in my blood to think that this class is actually fun. The class itself is fast-paced, but I find myself learning a lot, and enjoying what I’m learning. The professor is sweet and approachable, and there’s so many open lab and office hours to get help and ask questions. 

Cons: forgetting a character, “command not found”, almost accidentally rmdir-ing your entire homework folder, having people not understand your Unix jokes.

Following this post, I have come to the realization that:

  • I am extremely excited to hear Brandon Stanton speak.
  • I am really hungry and want Sterling Brunch.
  • I might be spending way too much time on B Level. Like right now.
  • I should probably start my computing homework.

Add/Drop It Like It’s Hot

I sincerely apologize for the sad pun of a title.

Let’s go back in time.

It’s 2003. Cue “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne. Okay, I might be really into my “Early 2000s Teenage Angst” Spotify playlist right now, but not that far.

It’s 2011 – 10th grade again (oh God). JHU_Quan is taking AP Bio. Quickly, he realizes that his class has only covered half the required material and the exam is coming up. He decides to study like never before – flashcards, video lessons, exam prep books on exam prep books, the whole shebang – and he gets a 5. He decides that he’s actually learned a lot and takes the SAT II Bio. He gets a great score. He realizes that perhaps, he and biology are meant to be.

Fastforward to senior year. JHU_Quan, after taking all the so-you-want-to-be-an-engineer math/science APs, applies to the Biomedical Engineering program at the Johns Hopkins University. The admissions committee, knowing JHU_Quan all too well, decides not to admit him to the BME program, but instead to the University overall.

JHU_Quan thinks to himself: Wow, maybe admissions is right, maybe I’m just not cut out for this whole science/engineering thing. But hey, I know I really like math. The Applied Math department sounds interesting. I’ll test it out, and maybe take a biology class one semester to see how it goes. 

Finally, it’s freshman fall at Hopkins. JHU_Quan had signed up for a freshman seminar about RNA. And after the second day, JHU_Quan drops the class. Instead, he picks up an expository writing course that later, gives him 3 sweet writing intensive credits in all of their glory. His rationale:

Maybe I just didn’t like that particular bio class so much. I’ll try another one next semester.

Now, it’s freshman spring and JHU_Quan has yet again, added and dropped another bio class.

I don’t know what happened. Biology used to be my thing, and now, not only do the words jumble together, but it just doesn’t seem to spark my interest anymore (no offense to bio majors, props to you!) And while it’s sad to realize that something that used to be your thing just isn’t anymore, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s like letting go of your Neopets or that ratty pair of socks that you swear are your “lucky charm”. It’s just time.

There’s nothing wrong with trying something out because it might be interesting, and realizing that you’re just not that into it. The point of add/drop period is to test out different classes and see what you want to take. I’m glad that I tried out that second bio class because it helped me realize that biology just isn’t for me anymore. Although, I am sad because Dr. Moudrianakis seems like the best professor ever.

But now that I no longer have that lingering feeling of “what if”, I have more room in my brain to soak up knowledge from all of the great courses I’m taking. Here are some highlights:

Linear Algebra was one of my favorite classes in high school, so I’m really excited to take it in a college setting. Plus my professor uses bloodlust as a metaphor for getting a matrix into reduced row echelon form, so that’s great.

Race and Ethnicity in American Society. I saw this on our course listings and I knew right away that I needed to take this class. It’s only been two days, but my classmates are always eager to discuss, share their own experiences, and learn about what race and ethnicity means to us as Americans, and how racial differences result in socioeconomic disparities.

A super exciting picture of some syllabi and my first linalg problem set.

Fundamentals of Health Policy and Management is a requirement for the Public Health major, but I am genuinely interested in learning about our healthcare system – what’s good and what can be fixed. In particular, I’m excited to analyze and evaluate the Affordable Care Act, taking what we learn and applying it to a pressing modern-day issue that affects everyone.

If you asked me three years ago what classes I would be taking in college, I can guarantee you that I would not have said a single one of the classes I’m actually taking right now. Biology might not be my thing anymore, but I still kill the science questions on Trivia Crack.

Proof. Don’t look at my win/loss ratio.


Excerpts from a Freshman Fall

When I’m not writing these (extremely anticipated) blogs, I’m tweeting.

Tweets are fun, impromptu, unfiltered, and weirdly satisfying when you get a lot of retweets. They’re little snippets of my thoughts assembled in 140 characters or less. So what better way is there to sum up my Hopkins experience so far than to take a look at what @yourbuiquan has to say? I’ve selected some of my award-winning tweets to highlight my freshman fall.

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Here it is, the start of my Hopkins career! The summer after senior year went by incredibly fast, but it was finally time to move in and I couldn’t have been more excited.

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True fact: there is nothing more tear-jerking than seeing your mom cry.

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Read this from bottom to top. Last night in DE –> first day at Hopkins! An update: showering with shoes on really isn’t that bad.

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There were many rounds to follow during the rest of the semester. The rec center and the FFC are just so close, and close to my dorm. The beauty of the AMRs, everyone.

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Remember that one time I got in to SAAB?

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Ok so this is my favorite concert band piece of all time and we played it in JHU Wind Ensemble! “An American Elegy” was composed by Frank Ticheli in memory of those who lost their lives and to honor the survivors of the Columbine High School shooting. It’s, simply put, a beautiful, moving piece of music.

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No one ever did.

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This is like my entire life in two tweets. Freshman fall consisted of a lot of learning, snacking, and laziness.

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The HOP brought Iggy Azalea to Pier Six Pavilion! I’m not sure if I should have went, though, considering how late I stayed up to finish my discrete math problem set that night…

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Public Health in Film and Media live tweets. There’s just something about airborne diseases, shattering centrifuges, and needles that gets me so stressed out. We were literally watching “Outbreak” and our post-screening discussion tied in the film along with the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which was actually quite interesting, despite my uneasiness.

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There is no difference in my thinking from September 28 to January 7. These things are so good. Ted Mosby once said, “Nothing good happens after 2AM.” Well Ted Mosby, you obviously have never had UniMini chicken fingers after 2AM. I am also a big fan of the chicken parm and mozzarella sticks. Wait, what’s UniMini, you ask?

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I was finally hit by the freshman plague 🙁

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Ok this is still funny.

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A prayer before my first midterm, which if you’ve read this post, you would know I didn’t do so hot. Update: I killed the next midterm and the final, and ended up with an A in calc III, so Dr. Brown’s pep talk and my new and improved study methods worked!

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Remember that time OMA and OLE brought Jackie Cruz, from Orange is the New Black, to speak?

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Or that time the HOP and MSE Symposium brought BJ Novak? This is him signing my copy of his book, One More Thing, which from what I read on my short train ride home for winter break, is hilarious.

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I think I chose to eat. I love Brody Reading Room so this was a really tough decision.

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Thank you, Calc III.

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Still one of my favorite songs at the moment! We blasted this in a Gilman classroom after we were brain dead from studying, and it might have been the highlight of my entire freshman fall.

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Sheds virtual tear. :'(

From these tweets, I’ve gathered just a couple of notes about freshman fall:

  1. Time goes by way faster now.
  2. There’s nothing better than enjoying good music.
  3. We study, we dance, we eat things.
  4. Life is short, get a special with hash.

It’s always fun to backstalk… even when it’s yourself. It’s crazy thinking that I’ll never again have a freshman year fall semester. While there are some things I would have done differently, figuring things out is a work in progress and I am happy how it turned out. Time to take on the rest of freshman year. Hello, Intersession and spring semester!

I’m taking a B’More class over Intersession, entitled “Junk Food vs. Whole Foods”. B’More classes take place during the last week of Intersession, immersing freshmen into the city and utilizing Baltimore as a resource for a more engaging and experiential education. For the course I’m taking, we will be looking specifically at Baltimore’s food systems and what has been done (and what can be improved on) to assure the availability of nutritious, affordable food to all Baltimoreans. I love food, and I love exploring the city, so it was a done deal when I saw the B’More course listings.

And spring semester means new classes (!!!!), Spring Fair, sophomore housing lottery, uncovered grades (eeeek), lacrosse season, more opportunities to explore Baltimore, etc. I’ve had a rejuvenating winter break at home, but I’m definitely ready to be back on campus.

Unwritten Essays, Defer-gatory, and Other Thoughts

One year ago, I had written a single, measly introduction paragraph for my application essay to the Johns Hopkins University. Like many high school seniors plagued with the highly contagious “senioritis”, nearing the last mile of the college application submission marathon and headed into winter break, I debated whether or not I should even waste effort applying to Hopkins. I mean I wasn’t even going to get in anyway – I had just been deferred from my “dream school”.

I vividly remember being at a math league meet (yay math) when the clock struck the hour and I knew that admissions decisions were up. I decided to wait until I got home; my friend had opened up his decision for his “dream school” only an hour before and had been placed in the hanging limbo. Deferred.

So after the meet, the bus pulled back into my high school’s parking lot, I almost slipped on some ice sprinted gracefully to my mini-van (I know, don’t laugh) and sped drove the speed limit all the way home. I ran into my house, found the nearest computer, typed in my login information with shaky fingers and paused to breathe before I hit enter.

Within less than a second, I had learned that I was also placed into this purgatory of college admissions.

Being deferred is kind of tough. It’s like, “Okay, you don’t want me now, but you might want me later?” Now what? I actually have to do other college applications… It was time to buckle down, but I mean, apply to Johns Hopkins? That’s basically like ASKING to top off my deferral with a nice, healthy serving of rejection. I couldn’t get into my “dream school”, how would I get into Hopkins?

Today, as I look back at the revision history on Google Docs for the file entitled “Why Hopkins?” and dated December 18, 2013, I can’t exactly tell you what gave me enough common sense to finish my essay, look over my application fifty times and hit the submit button. But I am so glad it did. I was eventually rejected from my “dream school”, but soon after, accepted to Hopkins! I decided to swing on down to Baltimore for SOHOP, and just a little later, I accepted my spot in the class of 2018 at the Johns Hopkins University!

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So this is a message to all the college applicants. The ones who are fearful, tired, worried, frustrated, perhaps a little lazy. Apply. Who knows? We might see you here on campus in the fall of 2015. I personally could not even picture being a student here, but I am living proof that you just never know. If you need motivation, this is it.

This is a message to all the deferred and rejected. It’s okay. I know how it feels. You will find your place at whatever institution you decide to attend. I sure did. If I had not, I wouldn’t be blogging right now.

And this is a message to the accepted students. The early decision-ers of the class of 2019. Congratulations! I sure am excited that you are excited to be here, and I love being a “(current student)”, answering your questions.



  1. Your dream school might not actually be your dream school.
  2. Always, always, apply.
  3. Life does not end at your bachelor’s degree.
  4. Congratulations to the Hopkins ED Class of 2019!


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.