To have a taste of the material that we attempt to digest in class, we can take a look at the artwork of Cezanne. His artwork is truly pivotal in the painting industry because of the innovative way he presents reality. During his era, the general trend was that the pinnacle of an artist’s career would be defined by how well they can realistically depict reality. The closer the painting was to looking like a real scene (as if you are looking through a clear window at the scene unfolding), the better the painting would be. Cezanne, on the contrary, introduced a novel way of representing what existed before his eyes by manifesting the natural experience of the optics into brushstrokes.
Upon stumbling on a website that my friend concocted in his own spare time, I was inspired to do something of the like. Not necessarily programming a website from scratch per se, but creating a mental version of the similar content of the website. What he created was a daily log of gratitude for each day. He claimed that he “[plans] to continue this until the last day of [his] life because today could very well be.” So today begins my first.
Especially in an area where we are forced to climb the ladders of the academic hierarchy through blood and sweat, its all too easy to become blind to what we are actually provided with and surround ourselves with. We simply “don’t have time” to attend to certain aspects of our lives, that in actuality are constituent of the elements of the beings we are and have become. Granted, gratitude must not be mistaken with blissful ignorance of actual problems. Within our vicinity, there are, indeed, a lot of problems that can and should be addressed. However, we first need to acknowledge what has brought us thus far and embrace the shortcomings for their merit.
With that being said, I am thankful for the people who have walked into my life ever since Hopkins happened (to mention a few: my mentor back in Seoul, my researcher here at Hopkins, my boyfriend, my roommates, and the random strangers I meet on the street). My mentor, for always giving me the courage to be vulnerable; my researcher, for challenging and enlightening me with ideas that my country has been battling for centuries; my boyfriend, for inadvertently reminding me the importance of art and instilling within me, unbeknownst to him, the passion to pursue art; my roommates, for taking up the responsibility to stitch back the tears and wears of me; and the strangers I meet in passing, for making Baltimore not a distant, “out of the bubble” society, but a raw, real, and intimate community in which now I am a part of.
An aficionado for words and phrases, I keep with me a book – a pride possession, frankly – where I jot down novel words that I encounter throughout the day, phrases that I want to hold on to, and puny one liners that fulfill my daily dose of cringeworthy angst. To me, collecting these forms of expression (most of which happen in passing) has always had an empowering and cathartic element to it. With every additional word, the arsenal of phrases within the book becomes thicker with emotions and, in fact, forms something of its own character. This book holds within its layers of papers, in between each line, the values that I uphold, the the the dreams that i have for the future, the poignant sweet spots of my soul, the motivation behind my actions, sobering wisdom of aphorisms, and the ideas that I fail to express with my own words. Unfortunately, as with most unrequited love, words never seem to reciprocate the same feelings I do: I am neither an eloquent writer nor a silver-tongued elocutionist. I stumble with my words when someone challenges me against my idea, and I take an absurdly long time reading. This oil and water relationship between words and me has been rather a bane than a boon, especially in a college setting where mastering self-expression is deemed to be the holy grail of many students. Though frustrating at times, this chasm lying between us continues a drive, a crave for words that I don’t want to ever satiate.
On that note, and with thanksgiving looming, I’d take this time to express my gratitude for those around me by sharing with you the joy and knowledge they’ve given me through these soundbites:
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
1. “Seek out what magnifies your spirit – It’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.”
2. “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living – for as Annie Dilalrd memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, who we spend our lives.’”
3. “There’s a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively try to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. “
4. “Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?”
5. “No regrets… sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”
6. “Bernstein’s greatest point of enthusiasm was his lifelong devotion to enamoring young people with music. He understood that love and learning are inextricably linked, that learning is a kind of love and love a kind of learning, and he used his robust and radiant enthusiasm as a force of illumination.
9:30am: On a typical Monday, I attempt to wake up 30 minutes before my class starts..only to hit the snooze button 5 times before I’m physically out of bed.
9:45am: I stare at the pile of clothes on the beanbag chair in a groggy haze and decide to grab the first clothes that I see on top of the heap to slip into. This beginning-of-November weather has been very fickle lately so my wardrobe has been all over the place with its seasons.
10:00am: My first Monday class is Introduction to Developmental Psychology, taught by Lisa Feignson. This class is well known to be a very all-encompassing class that uncovers the age-old debate of nature and nurture on the topic of our psycho-social development from day 1 in this world. Learning about copious amounts of previous experimental studies on child development, the class tracks how our constantly changing environment turns on/off our given genetic blueprint and how the two interact in morphing us into the beings we are today. Although the coursework is not too loaded, the course material is
robustly built around her lectures so it’s crucial to attend class because a) the bulk of the midterms are contingent upon her lecture info and b) her lectures are not a resource available online.
10:50am: End of class (a.k.a. time for food). I usually head to Levering to grab a quick meal because it’s the closest to my class but these days, I have been gravitating towards deli sandwiches at CharMar more frequently to satisfy my voracious appetite.
11:40am: After a full meal, I mosey on over to the Brody Café to whet my whistle with a vanilla latte and use this layover time in between classes to complete small busy tasks, like replying back to emails and making appointments. Fun fact about Brody Café: if you’re lucky and talk to the right baristas, they will give you a free drink on your birthday!
1:15pm: For my next class, I tend to go a little bit earlier just because I love the walk to Gilman. This time of the day is when the sun shining on the quad in front of the Gilman and it’s a placid walk to one of my favorite buildings on campus.
1:30pm: My next seminar class is called Illusion of Perception, in which we learn about the daunting yet fascinating notion that what we see and feel may not actually be the truth. This class explores the countless failures of the brain to truly represent the reality that is presented before us – to some which may seem as a curse but to others a blessing.
2:45pm: After class, I catch myself popping in my earphones and putting my Apple Music on random to hear a new song on my way to my next class.
3:00pm: My last class of the day is Introduction to Computing. In this class, we learn a variety of new programing languages like UNIX, Python, MATLAB, R, etc. As it is my first programming class, the fast paced class has thrown me off my guard multiple times but I find this class very useful and helpful in adding more flavor to my skill sets.
4:00pm: Once class ends, I head back to my dorm to have a post-hoc hang out sesh with my roommates and watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother. After two consecutive class, I run out of gas and need to decompress, which is what my lovable roomies (Sarah, Indira, and Yasmin) provide.
5:30pm: As my stomach starts orchestrating its own symphony of hunger, I usually meet up with my boyfriend to grab dinner. We wrestle with the dilemma of choosing our platter for quite a while but our choices often range from Potbelly, UberEats, Nolan’s, to home-cooked Asian food.
7:00pm: Upon our return from our dining, we head to the library to study. We love the atrium and the reading room because of its openness and the comfortable chatter noise in the backdrop of the area. As several articles like this one (http://99u.com/articles/17437/the-perfect-workspace-according-to-science) cited, having high ceilings is optimal to a workplace and the atrium & reading room satisfy that preference.
8:30pm: This is the time when I try to be the most flexible in my schedule because most of my extracurricular set meetings around this time.
10:00pm: Starting right about 10 pm, my circadian rhythm begins its usual signaling of its zoning in and focusing. Around 10pm ~ 1am is my prime time when I work most productively and most efficiently. Though, every day I try my best to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.
2:00am: By the end of my study time, I head to bed by 2:00am and usually fall asleep after a good thirty minutes. Sleep and I have had an oil and water relationship: we never really reconciled.
It creeps up on me during the daytime in class while it never allows me to peacefully rest at night. Hopefully, this will change after the midterms week subsides.
“What is your passion in life?” A svelte researcher from Berlin, Germany, posed this daunting question to me the day I went in the Vision and Cognition lab for a brief meeting. He was a man of elegance who radiated a sense of sage and intellect. You could already notice this ambient aura from the way he presented himself in his choice of outfit (a velvet grey striped suit with a black turtleneck) and his gesticulations as he talked (smooth motion of the hand with purposeful accents). At once eccentric and graceful, I found his vibe very interesting. I was curious as to what thoughts his mind harbored, what values he upheld, and what his background comprised of. He was a man of color with a European upbringing with the passion to study the human experience of color to complement his likening of painting. Indeed, a sentence fails to encapsulate the extraordinarily dense character of the man. But, what I can express that such a multidimensional persona was so electrifying that I focused my efforts on working with him rather than for the research topic itself.
As a research assistant at Hopkins, there are various roles that one can play in the research process. The responsibilities can range from menial tasks like categorizing video tapes into boxes to complex jobs like computing programing algorithms of data from hundreds of participants. More often than not, the research assistant position entails helping the researcher expedite the research process by setting up experimental tasks, conducting the tests, or researching about the topic of interest. Admittedly, it is difficult to sum in one sentence the entire scope of the all the possible roles of research assistants among and within departments. But, mostly, it is to assist the researcher attain their objective in their respective research.
With the work that I am doing with my researcher, however, the tables are turned. Instead of selfishly imposing his visions of his projects on me, my researcher has constantly sought for my input in his experimental questions, incessantly suggested possible works that I can pursue in the future that relate to my passion, and relentlessly challenged me to construct my own opinions around complex issues. Although we haven been researching about a topic so closely integrated in the visual system – how we see color – he has encouraged me to find ways to draw connections of the subject matter to the interests that I gravitate towards. We have gabbed on for hours about how our sensory modalities can converge to create color vision whilst hearing music. Topics like these that engage both the informative research subjects as well as my intrinsic amusement are hard to come by in a day to day conversation with friends or professors. My talks with my researcher has motivated me to think of innovative artistic ways to musically and visually stimulate the mind in ways that can affect the emotional state of students here at Hopkins.
I have been extremely lucky to have someone who can provide the scaffolding of intellectual instruction to me out of volition. The chances that I get to meet someone who is willing to see the growth of my intellect and help me create my own brainchild are very infinitesimal. I can not wait to see how my passions will strengthen or change throughout the next couple of months spent with my researcher.
The moment he asked me the question about passion, my mind halted to an absolute stop. I did not know where to start and if anything, I didn’t even have a starting point. I ended up fishing for empty words that could fill the awkward gap. The gut feeling I felt at this moment is so vividly ingrained my memory, because it magnified the lack of clarity I have in my mission here at Hopkins. It was the much needed slap in the face for me to not only localizes which arenas my interest lies in but also search for practical steps that I can take to bring me closer to the fore of my passion. My researcher concluded today’s meeting with a commonly said but beautifully hopeful remark that reinforces the optimism that the society needs more of, “The sky is the limit.”
When a slew of midterms rush in and heaps of responsibilities from extracurriculars seem endless, the only way that I find a sense of refuge is through the vessel of music. There’s something so visceral about it that makes an experience not only void of anchoring thoughts but also so full in its dimensions of feeling. Something about it brings you to the forefront of the moment, instilling within you the power of feeling the fluidity of the past, present, and future. To me, music is the most abstract yet pure mechanism to digest time.
What fascinates me the most about music is that it is a felt language that goes beyond what is just heard through the ear – it involves the subjective creation (and recreation) of visualization in our minds both for the listener and the artist. Our minds can, in fact, “see ” music. Though music is essentially just a compression of the pressures of molecules traveling through the medium of air, music has the capacity to take hold of the hidden crevices of the heart by communicating what is the ineffable.
This semester, I’ve tried something new and joined the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus. We meet bi-weekly at the Peabody Institute to prepare our concert for the winter and this semester’s focus is on R.Vaughan Williams piece of Dona Nobis Pacem. Along with the technical choral skills that we rehearse, each practice teaches us how to listen to others to find balance as a choir and challenges us to grow a deeper sense of understanding for the purpose of each component of the music, imagining what Vaughan Williams had in mind while composing the song. I walk out of most practices with a newfound sense of inspiration and the urge to improve.
Thus, in hopes to share with you my deep-running love for music and its significance, here is a list of tunes handpicked by Hopkins students that you can vibe to at your leisure.
Intro / Stronger Than Me – Amy Winehouse
For those want a little bit of soul and funk by Amy Winehouse
What You Don’t Do – Lianne La Havas
For those who want a contemporary groove with many musical elements and a voice-like-honey
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Joseph Vincent Cover
For those of you want someone to warm the cockle’s of your heart, Joseph Vincent is your man.
Cranes in the Sky – Solange Knowles
For those who seek an ambient sound for the perfect backdrop while studying
Cold Water ft. Justin Bieber – Major Lazer
For those who want to stay ahead of the curve in the music scene, here’s a cool, vibe-y tune that is on our radar
In The Name Of Love – Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha
For those who crave the jittery feeling of hearing a loud, clear, and fun song
Its an understatement to say that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote. Since then, I’ve become a brother of a professional business fraternity, lucked out by getting two charming Bigs who’ve showered me with treats and care, landed a research position with a professor at the nation’s best education school, met a myriad of inspiring mentors, and, without a doubt, put on some pounds and lost a few strands of hair. The brief hiatus of writing, though, has allowed me to take a step backwards from the frenzy of college. Feeling the need to outline and form into words the whirlwind of something so novel as college was paralyzing and tough for me at the time. I simply had too much to say but not enough words to express them. I would struggle to start sentences and grapple with finding the right words to end them. So I gave up. Instead, I spent my time trying to absorb the moment and take snapshots of the reality occurring before me. Unnervingly, though, I got lost through the constant zooming in and out of college life. Getting slapped by failed time-management meltdowns while at the same time completing feats that I’d never imagine I’d be doing, I’d say the past couple months were hard to swallow.
- Know your priorities. But more importantly, act accordingly.
- Take initiative. Be active.
Once you arrive here, you’ll feel the palpability of the opportunities abound here. People are doing amazing things, like programming a cure for breast cancer through BME Design Teams and creating films that unveil the entrenched injustice of our society. In fact, Hopkins is a bustling mecca of diverse activities, ranging from competitive a cappella groups to machine-building to memberships of groups of faith. Once you fall in to the comfort of the regularity of life, though, it’s easy to miss the knock on the door of opportunity. I, for one, found my research position by checking the daily bulletin announcement and deciding to shoot the professor an email. All it took were a couple clicks of my email, message, and send. When you keep your eyes peeled to what’s around you, it’ll be much easier for you to expand your vista of the world through the experiences you can possibly get. My two cents would be to constantly keep a conversation with your peers, be on the look for flyers, bulletin boards, emails, etc. or simply share your interest with a professor online and offline. Who knows, your professor might even want to get coffee with you just to chat (it’s happened to one of my close friends). Be active and take initiative.
- Last but not least, appreciate.
One time, I was grabbing dinner at Carma’s Cafe with a senior who left me with a saying that has been with me ever since. “It’s the attitude that carries the experience’s weight and value.” We’re social creatures that are rather easily influenced by our surroundings and other’s opinions. It’s what makes us such fluid beings. So, it’s only natural that when the atmosphere suggests a certain vibe, we tend to blend ourselves with it and let the prevailing clime dictate our perception of the experience. At Hopkins, you’ll encounter countless of opinions and attitudes about a class, a teacher, or even the school, itself. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. But, I’ve come to learn that I operate better by keeping negative vibes at bay and relishing the moment for the good things. Call me naive, but by being realistically optimistic, I’ve been more open to appreciating the community I have, the people that surround me (especially my roommates), and the support I get from my loved ones. Having this mentality has significantly allowed me to experience college with joie de vivre. Always give thanks for those who have made you possible.
Phew, long post! For those of you who’ve still stuck around to read this, thanks. 🙂 To those who this post’ll serve, as long as you are passionate at what you do and try your best at it with good intentions, I’ll always be rootin’ for you. I’m absolutely ecstatic for those who have committed to come to Hopkins next fall! I can’t wait to run into some of you next year. 😃 Be excited!!
When cherry blossoms burgeon on the trees on the path up the Beach and you hear squirrels skitter through the grassy fields of the quads, you can smell it in the air: Hopkins’s spring has sprung. Waking up no longer feels like a battle and all you see are traces of vibrant sandals on everyone’s feet. Spring at Hopkins is as fresh as it can get, as nature treats itself with a sprinkle of rain every now and then. What is exciting is the exploration that could be done in this location. A rendezvous for students to learn and be mentally stimulated, Hopkins in April teems with life as new and upcoming concerts, events, fairs are ready to showcase. Here’s a snippet of what the excitement is all about.
- Spring Fair: A time when Hopkins students revel in the festivities of food trucks, vendors, the petting zoo, music performances, and of course, the beer garden.
- Concerts: This year, The Chainsmokers performed live on the campus.
- Doughnut Sales: Before the week of Spring Fair, many organizations built up the momentum of spring fair by selling a city favorite, B-doughnut doughnuts.
- Banquets: To celebrate the looming end of the 2015-2016 year, many cultural clubs are having one last reunion through banquets. Specifically, the Korean Students Association will host a banquet that’ll bring students together to enjoy a little of home away from home.
This time of the year has a new cadence, a new rhythm, a new breath. Enliven with music, smiles, and greetings, Hopkins pulsates with a brand new energy.
As 2015 waves us goodbye and 2016 whispers its sweet promises of the new year, there is an ample amount of new experiences that I hope to encounter in the days to come at Johns Hopkins. Here, I am privy to the overflow of unlocked potentials, open doors of opportunities within and beyond our campus. There is absolutely no excuse in staying lackadaisical in your dorm during one’s stay at Hopkins. Complied here are a couple feats I am looking forward to accomplishing in the new coming spring semester of Freshmen year.
- Joining a volunteer extracurricular activity.
- Fending off the gains of Freshmen 15 by regular visits to the gym.
- Going on a spontaneous trip to Washington D.C. via the train.
- Doing an Random Act of Kindness to a stranger/peer/professor at least once a week.
- Using more meal swipes at the FFC.
- Researching about an internship position at a hospital during the summer.
- Getting a hot dog covered in crab meat macaroni and cheese at Stuggy’s
- Staying hydrated.
- Visiting the National Aquarium.
- Finding a mentor.
- Going to Peabody and try learning a new instrument.
- Participating in The HOP held events.
- Cheering for the Blue Jays at a sports event.
- Contacting family more often throughout the year.
- Taking time off studies to have quality time with friends, exploring the Charm City together.
May 2016 bring greater peace to the world, stronger passion in our pursuits, and deeper love in relationships.