Category Archives: Social Life

Hymns of Hopkins

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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 MeAmy Winehouse

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aycP2KV1Mls)

For those want a little bit of soul and funk by Amy Winehouse

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What You Don’t Do – Lianne La Havas

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWDw3O6yvac)

For those who want a contemporary groove with many musical elements and a voice-like-honey

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Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Joseph Vincent Cover

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIG38MD_l3k)

For those of you want someone to warm the cockle’s of your heart, Joseph Vincent is your man.

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Cranes in the Sky – Solange Knowles

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnUV4cz0gv8)

For those who seek an ambient sound for the perfect backdrop while studying

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Cold Water ft. Justin Bieber – Major Lazer

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMvIARf_SUU)

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

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In The Name Of Love – Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeGfss2vsZg)

For those who crave the jittery feeling of hearing a loud, clear, and fun song

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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)

The Art of Exploration

The crux of the beauty in Baltimore lies in the fact that its often masked. It’s hidden until you seek out for it. Mired down by the quotidian grind of study-eat-sleep, we’re all victims and perpetrators of our own blindness to the enchanting gems the city has to offer.

To step out of my habitual radius, I took the time to venture out with a good friend of mine this weekend. Our destination for the night was Inner Harbour. Inner Harbour is a historic sea port that was cited as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world.” It’s a host to a myriad of activities like cruising on the Bay, unearthing dinosaurs at the Maryland Science Center, and getting close to nature at the National Aquarium.

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Ranging from elegant gourmet cuisines to ethnic foods to fresh seafood from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, the restaurants at Inner Harbour are, hands down, an experience in and of itself. My friend and I decided to dine in at Thai Arroy, an authentic Thai restaurant in Federal Hill. In its relaxed, informal setting, Thai Arroy offers its customers the comfortable vibe with contemporary music yet culturally rich food.

After plumping our stomachs with a heavy meal, we took a stroll around the waterside at Inner Harbour to digest the food and to walk off the food comma. What we saw before us was bewitching. Because we went at night, the stark contrast between the peaceful flow of the dark, tranquil water and the vibrant, luminous life of the city was at first captivating and beautiful.

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Only a walking distance away, our next venue was Vaccaro’s in Little Italy. Recommended by many, Vaccaro’s is an Italian pastry shop that serves delectable cannolis, biscotti, cake, and all the possible dessert that are near and dear to everyone’s heart. You know you’re in for a treat when you open the door and its packed with a queue of people waiting. Truly the icing of the cake, this dessert place spoiled my tastebuds with the scrumptious cannoli that we ordered. Certainly, the interior of the shop was aesthetically pleasing as well. Dazzling with bright coloured walls and eccentric fluorescent chandeliers, it was easily the best refuge from the cold weather in October.

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Concluding the night at Vaccaro’s with my friend by my side, my day was complete. At the end of the day, it’s not the things you do but the people who you share those moment with that shape the experience the most. Being able to soak in the beauty of the Baltimore at night with someone you sincerely care about..it’s certainly an experience you don’t want to pass up on. And that, is the beauty of exploration – of the city and of the people. 

Apple Picking

“In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens, and the red leaves bestrew the road, and you can feel the breath of winter, morning and evening — no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness in the air.” – Alexander Smith

At a time when the world is covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon, I’m glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers. Every leaf becomes a flower; every foot step disturbs the repose of the earth and air. The autumn in Hopkins carries more gold in its pocket than all the other season.

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Falling in love with Gilman in the Fall


To celebrate this golden season, my friends and I went apple picking to Larriland Farm in Woodbine. There, we garnered green Granny Smiths and ripe red apples that delighted our palates, very much like the breezy weather that uplifted our mood.

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Apple Picking lanes


Further up front of the farm was a petting zoo where llamas and goats lounged about, beseeching for the snacks we held in our hands. 

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With our bags of apples sashaying by our side, the next destination was a cozy Korean restaurant. This communion with friends and nourishment of the body reminded me of the reason why I loved Octobers in Maryland: the mellow nostalgia of home evoked by the autumn weather and gathering.

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Although autumn wafts reminiscence in the air, a different sense of “home-ness” arose , here, at Hopkins. Spending quality time with such quality people, it started to feel like home away from home.

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F I R S T ‘ s

At this point in the year, I am caught in a state of limbo. Five months ago, I was gallantly tossing my graduation cap in the air with my friends by my side in South Korea. Fast forward to now, I am a full-time college student, studying for my first college midterm. With a month and a half of college out the window, a pell-mell of motley feelings – of perplexity, excitement and jadedness – rush in me. Summer still hasn’t left me. Every turn, every corner, I am constantly reminded of the surrealness of my being a college student in Hopkins.

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Studying for midterms in the cushioned chairs at the exquisite Gilman Hall.

Along with the dream-like state of being away from home – feeling like an extended summer camp -, it’s slowly dawning on me how fast (or slowly) time has gone. Time, this mysterious force that we really only notice when we are its victims, has played its tricks on me. While studying for the exams, I felt that the pace of this week has been excruciatingly fast yet slow.

Recently I read a news article that posited that the more new experiences you have, the more longer time feels. Thus, I’d like to share my trough of new experiences, occurrences, sensations.

Without further ado. . .

#1st College Flu 

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Thank you FFC for the tea

The grisly Freshmen Plague hit hard for everyone around campus this week. Cough commotions and throat-clearing grumbles were the common currency of communication for most Hopkins students, as we shamefully infected one another with handshakes, uncovered sneezes, and unsanitized hands. To remedy this malady, my suite mates and I were constantly brewing tea and drowning it in a sea of honey to assuage our sore, swollen throats. Not to mention, my sweet friend surprised me with a pack of Get-Well Halls to save me from dying of coughs (s/o to Matthew)! Hopefully, the Freshmen Plague prevalent in the Hopkins community abates before mid-terms end.  

#1st Moon Cakes  
I’ve only heard about these “moon cakes” through Amy Tan’s books and have always wondered what makes them the traditional dessert for the August Moon Festival. This week was my first time tasting them, but it most definitely won’t be my last. They say, exam stressin’, food messin’.

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Shoutout to Sarah Lee’s mother for sending us these mooncakes from Boston!

#1st Indian Culture

Baltimore was pulling some serious master chef skills on us in Masala Kitchen. To keep the quality dinner streak alive, my suite mates and I sallied forth St. Paul’s street to feast on warm buttered Indian Nan wallowed in buttered tomato sauce to spoil our palates. Excuse me while I die happy. 

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Dinner at its finest.

Invited by my suite mate, I attended an Indian Social Gathering and constructed a clay figure of the best known and loved deity in the Hindu pantheon of gods, Ganesh. This elephant figure is the Lord of Good Fortunes who provides prosperity, fortune, and bonanza. I plan to place it in front of my desk as a good luck charm for the looming midterms. 

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Cathartic, throwback experience to Kindergarten art class, making clay elephant figures with quality people.

#1st Festival 

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The vibrant vibe of Hamden is palpable.

Riveting music reverberating through the air and the smell of authentic Baltimore street food wafting aloft, The Hamden Festival was the gasp of fresh air that was much needed. There, my friends and I shopped for handcrafted souvenirs and finally tried the famed crab cake. Needless to say, it was divine. The relaxed yet bustling vibe of the city of Hamden reflected the idiosyncratic culture of the district, a stark comparison from the other towns in Baltimore. 

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Crab Cake…<3 Oh heaven, thou hath found me.

Being immersed in a culture so intimate and so true to the people that inhabit the place, I am constantly learning and craving for more knowledge – about Baltimore, people, culture, and myself. With such mental hunger, these past few weeks felt very long yet short. In the days to come, I hope that there will be more First’s, more new experiences that can edify and enlighten all of us, despite the illusion of times. 

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The lovable Korean squad in Hamden