Category Archives: Reflection

Perspiration and Inspiration

     While the blazing sun had me helplessly wrapped around its finger for two months, this summer has been a pivotal juncture for me – it was the first time my college experience came into contact with the reputed “real world.” I have been extremely lucky enough to land a project this summer and work in tandem with a collaborative team that relentlessly motivates me to grow. With one year of college under my belt, I have been able to apply the social and occupational skills that I’ve accrued through college in a different atmosphere of professionalism. Here, my team encouraged me to explore my role as a Marketing Intern, giving me a flexibility that allowed me to be unapologetically creative and innovative with the material that I produce. Thus, I’ve forayed into various arenas of marketing: coding a blogging website for a startup, overlooking the activity of four different social media platforms, compiling information for project pitches, assembling a press kit, constructing a storyboard for the promotional video, and much more. Indeed, as stimulating as the experience was, it was no walk in the park. At the end of the day, however, each member supported me by giving constructive criticism on the product being made. Perhaps more importantly than crystallizing my career skills, I have found valuable relationships with my team beyond the mere coworker status. Nabbing a seat in the crowded cafes of Korea, we grabbed coffee on the weekends and had long tete-a-tete about movies, marriage, clothes, and relationships. Granted, the “real world” experience that I encountered this summer does not come close to what “real world” actually entails. In regards to working in a professional setting, however, I certainly got a taste of what the 9-to-5 grind feels like and what it is like to publish work that actually matters and can make a difference.
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The team that learns together, stays together

     Along with the growth of my skills as a teammate, this summer has been a time of self-reflection and inspiration. Being surrounded by people of great ambition induced me to constantly gauge where my aspirations lie and what contributions I would like to offer to the table. How can I combine my passion for the human brain and my skills to accomplish a feat that can hopefully serve as a boon to the community? What can I do to leave the world a better place than I have found it? Fortunately, I have been blessed with the gift of having amazing people around me who help me strive for the better. My friends (s/o to Suite 600, Sarah, Indira and Yasmin) and family keep me grounded, motivate me to put on my A game at all times, and constantly push me to never settle for anything less. My mentors have taught me countless of lessons that run the gamut from tiny tidbits of wardrobe advices to sage life counsel that I will carry with me throughout my lifetime – like how to be frugal at a convenient store and how loyalty can be a double-edge sword in the work arena.
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With the team that has given me an invaluable summer experience…much love 🙂

     At the onset of summer, a standout woman once asked me, “Can I tell you something?” to which I replied, “Sure thing.” She, then, told me, “I would absolutely love for you to be my one person for whom I would do anything to help you grow.” The feeling that I felt when I received that message is ineffable and unforgettable. Little did she know, at the moment, she planted a small sprout of inspiration in me that gave me the assurance that someone out there was rooting for me and supporting my growth as a student, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a woman. I owe it to her to do the best I can to be the best possible version of who I am. (Oddly enough, this incredible lady is a JHU alum and everyone needs to find a way to meet this amazing person!)
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Andddd the Esquire Squad! My seoul sister and my mentor

     Now, as I am sitting here, typing away at my computer about the unbridled hopes and dreams that I have, I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to ignite a similar spark of motivation in someone else and ask him/her the same question: “Can I tell you something?”
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Home is where the heart is <3

My Two Cents

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When push comes to shove, my roommates are never afraid to reach out and lend a hand…Can’t love them anymore.

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.

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A perfect place to collect my mind and thoughts – Inner Harbour

   Sure, the existential crisis kicks in during college, as common as it is. Indeed, they say every corner you turn, every choice you make eventually becomes a metaphor for the person you’ll become. In many ways, my experience was less of an of an empowering self-discovery, but a more humbling experience. Being surrounded by peers who are relentless in achieving their goals (like a fellow SAAB Blogger, Brianna), having discussions with my roommates about contentious topics, like abortion laws and child labor, I’ve learned more about other people and how different people view the world. Whether I agree with them or not, I figured these opportunities of intellectual ignition have allowed me to start formulating my own opinions around these issues. Throughout it all, these are the moments that I am most grateful for having: the opportunity to be constantly searching for MY answers – albeit their being not solidified or set-and-stone. Now, with freshmen year under my belt, I’ve been able to take the breath of fresh air that I needed to take to evaluate the confounding storm that had just passed. With that being said, here are a few words of wisdom that my most valued peers and I would like to share, although the list piled below hardly comes close to the sheer amount of lessons Hopkins has imparted.
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The amazing SAAB Freshmen team for the year 2015-2016!

  • Know your priorities. But more importantly, act accordingly.

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    When food becomes our #1 priority 😀

This one is a tough one to come to terms with. We all know, whether unconsciously or consciously, that certain things should be on top of the list; for me, it’s my well-being. However, once you’re caught in the blur of college, it’s a real test to actually commit to what we think should be prioritized. If you value how much you learn in class, then maybe you should wait till class is over to finish the eight-page paper that is due tonight. If meeting people and finding the right community is important for you, then, by all means, go to the party, gathering, etc. and promise yourself that you will finish laundry as soon as you get back. Easier said then done, these responsibilities do pile up and can overwhelm any sane person. All you have to do is remind yourself of what you consider to be important, not only for your success in the future but for yourself as a whole – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
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When food becomes #2 priority too..

  • Take initiative. Be active.
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A different view than the cubicle in C-level of MSE, Gilman is the perfect place to buckle down and focus.

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. 

  • TREAT YO’ SELF

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    When the roommates buys you a succulent because (a) you love plants and (b) you don’t have time to water them.

I’m not exactly the most qualified person to advise someone else to utilize this rule, as it has been proven maybe once or twice (and by once or twice, I mean maybe a couple of hundred times 🙂 ) I take life too seriously. But, during my freshmen year, it was increasingly apparent that nurturing the soul was crucial for my sustainability at Hopkins. It’s so easy to get lost in the climb, and when you’re making the effort to bring home that A+, operating on three hours of sleep can become a routine occurrence. But, every once in a while, we need to “shut off” and recharge ourselves. “If my body fails because I pushed it too hard, then what good am I to the world?”(@JustinBaldoni). Have a study break and get FFC Late Night with a couple friends. Take a day off to watch the Light Show at Inner Harbor. Splurge a little on food by trying out Stang of Siam near Penn Station. Or simply, go stargazing on the Beach. These little down times in between will lift the damper on your day and give you a clearer lens to refocus on the things that unfold before you.
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The time I got lucky and won a raffle ticket to New York to watch a Broadway Musical for free. 🙂 Perks of Hopkins

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Treating ourselves by dressing up and fooling around at the traditional Hindu Diwali Festival

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The henna I got was pretty for 10 minutes… until I ruined the design by being clumsy and smearing it all over my clothes…:(

 

  • 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.

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My boyfriend who always motivates me to achieve more and laugh more.

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Love of my life, who I respect for her bravery in having a strong voice and being supportive through wear and tear.

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The ultimate gift that Hopkins has given me…They are my college, my school, my education, and my joy.

 

 

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!!

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Congratulations, once again! (click for motion)

Attitude of Gratitude

     With 2015 rapidly winding down, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what we have been thankful for this year. Upon stumbling on an inspiring TED Talk video, it has dawned on me that happiness is not what makes us feel grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBsl3j0YRQ

     The thing about gratitude is that true gratitude does not arise from simply having something but having the opportunity to do something with what we have. If we change our paradigm to be grateful of the opportunities given to us, we can live gratefully, for every missed opportunities leads us to another, different opportunity.

paris-terror-attacks-aftermath     In the wake of the attacks in Paris during the past weeks, it is, indeed, a challenge to feel grateful for the disturbingly uncomfortable predicaments that transpire in our daily lives. Be it violence, bereavement, unfaithfulness, oppression, etc. Surely, it’s not easy to find joy in all aspects of life. However, once we rise to the occasion and respond appropriately to the opportunity given to us, feeling gratitude is possible. Being given the opportunity to learn how to be patient after an argument with a friend. Being given the opportunity to reflect on humanity and figuring out ways to ameliorate social ills after an event like terrorist attack on Paris and better the status quo. Being given the opportunity to stand up for your conviction amidst a conflicting situation. In my case (for this year’s thanksgiving), being given the opportunity to reunite with my whole family on the day of my grandmother’s funeral. Certainly, when we are confronted with a difficult situation, it can tear us into pieces. But, finding the gift in such sufferings is what gives taste and color to our visceral human experiences.

For all the people I thank

For all the people I thank

     Experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially during college, is tough. Don’t get me wrong, grief devours boxes of tissues spent on tears, dried eyes, and an over-actively running nose. But, one thing that I’ve come to understand is that Thanksgiving is a poignant but heartening time to mourn and honor those you have lost. Its the perfect time to be thankful for being given the opportunity to be living the life as someone’s granddaughter, daughter, sister, and friend. I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to find those I can truly rely on at the hardest of times, here, in college. I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to bond with my friends on a deeper level.I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to experience and grow from the sufferings during such a fragile time at a safe haven with my friends at Hopkins.

So, I learned to stop and look. And give thanks.

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Hop(kinship)

They say, ‘you’ are simply a looking glass self – that is, our concept of ‘self’ emerges from our ability to assume the point of view of others and thereby imagine how they see us. We get a sense of who we are by how we react to the responses of others and the society.

http://www.practiceofmadness.com/2013/06/pygmalion-effect-glass/

http://www.practiceofmadness.com/2013/06/pygmalion-effect-glass/

Walking out of my first Introduction to Sociology class with this newly learned thought in mind, I stopped to reflect on how the interactions and people that I’ve encountered so far have made a difference in my concept of my “self” – which part of me stayed the same, which changed? 

My Room/Suite-mates:

“Hey, nice to meet you, Sarah. I’m also Sarah. We’re roommates.”

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Sarah-squared

Cohabiting a room with a completely random stranger is rather a vulnerable experience and can often be fairly a hit or miss. It really takes the right partnership to allow honesty and comfort to reign. Suffice to say, my roommate and I had the same first middle/last name (a pleasant surprise!). What we did not realise at the moment of our awkward first greeting was the myriad of commonalities that we shared, other than our name: our obsessive-planning-personality, familial values, and our admiration of – or perhaps obsession with – Beyoncé (shoutout to Indira). Somewhere in between our first Facebook chats and the almost-daily Flatbread lunch meets at CharMar, a mutual affinity blossomed. What could’ve been just friendly acquaintances at best, my suite mates and roommate became a source of safe haven. With them, the strange became familiar. With them, ‘home’ wasn’t 4 walls. ‘Home’ was, simply, being with them.  

Inner Harbour Adventure

516AB at Inner Harbour

Our RA:

“Edmond to the rescue.”

The word “eccentric” does not do the description of my Residence Advisor justice. He is beyond erudite and insistent on the bonding of the floormates in Wolman. From late night horror movie runs to free cupcake sharing, our floormates have garnered numerous, unforgettable memories together within the span of a couple of weeks, sympathising with one another about upcoming tests, putting our heads together to solve inscrutable Physics problems while bringing our hearts together for heart-to-heart conversations, feasting on heaps of shrimp chips, all thanks to the efforts of our awesome RA, Edmond. When and if anything unexpected happens (i.e.when you lock yourself out of your own room, or your roommate has stomach cramps at midnight), he is always there for us. 

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Wolman 5 West Floormates

With the first few weeks of Hopkins under my belt, I’ve already encountered a plethora of incredibly talented people. But, regardless of how many people I’ve met, my college experience thus far has been defined by how much of the people I met. At a place like Hopkins, where the invitation to aspire and achieve is ubiquitous, the interactions we have with people can offer a significant edge. All of us are trying to find ourselves, in one way or another. And in that journey to find ourselves, discover ourselves, empower ourselves, we may get lost in our trajectory, stumbling into uncharted territories that make us feel uncomfortable – even afraid. But, while the struggle is there, the communal kinships we create at Hopkins ultimately enhance and add on to the many factors that sculpt and outline our subjective experience. 

Spending time here has revealed how interconnected our individual fates actually are – a point often missed in the anonymity of the daily grind. Amidst the bustling chaos,  it is soothing to think that all of us are constituents and active creators of the social fabric of Hopkins that, in return, shapes the individuals we are and will become. This reciprocity is what makes forming Hop-kinships special and valuable here at JHU. And for being given that opportunity to be here, at Hopkins, and to meet the people I met and will meet, I am forever grateful. 

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