Going the Extra Mile

What the formal admissions sites don’t disclose, this blog will do. This blog is dedicated to all you prospective students who want the inside scoop of the lives of students who go the extra mile and devote their time to extracurricular commitments:

Calvin

Charm City Science League (CCSL)

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Club’s Objective:“We strive to enhance the stem education of inner city Baltimore students of the secondary school level (mostly 7th to 8th graders). We provide them opportunities in the science field that occurs outside of the class room. We hope to stimulate their scientific interest and expand upon their potentials.”

What do you do as a member?: “All members of the CCSL sign up for a school and a day that they want to mentor. I interact with the kids at my specific school at my specific day and help them with their projects that are in preparation for regional science olympiad competitions.”

Commitment Level: “Each member can choose how much time he/she wants to commit to the club. If you have a lot of time, you can go on multiple days and multiple schools. I, specifically, go every Wednesdays with three other people on a zip car (20 minute drive there, 20 minutes coming back). Each meeting is about two hours long.”

Why would you recommend this club to a prospective student: “I would recommend this club to a prospective student because it’s definitely a fulfilling experience. Giving younger people the same science opportunities that you had in your high school years and helping them share their passion for science is an unbelievably rewarding feeling.”

Favourite Moment: “One of my kids claimed that a hollow tube was heavier than a solid tube. I had to explain to him for hours that a solid tube was heavier than a hollow tube. It was entertaining to have a riveting, heated debate about science.”

Aamna

Lotus Life Foundation

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Club’s Objective: “The Lotus Life Foundation is a student-found organization that empowers disabled women in India through physical therapy and self-sustainable training. We strive to reduce the stigma that is associated with disability in India. In fact, we teach the parents the methods of sustainability in hopes that they can help their children without intervention.”

What do you do as a member? “I work on operations that develop certain protocols and am involved in one of the partner foundations. We are specifically trying to create an AMR system which is an electrical medical system that can aid the disadvantaged children.”

Commitment: “We devote one meeting per week to consolidate everything that all the members individually accomplished. But in general, the workload is up to each member. We all have our own responsibilities.”

Why would you recommend this club to a prospective freshmen? “The work that the Lotus Life Foundation conducts is impactful on a global scale. This is because we yearn to change a rooted problem in India and in turn, other countries that face the similar dilemma . Seeing the changes unfolding before our eyes and improving the quality of life of these children is certainly empowering.”

Favourite Moment: “What is exciting about this club is that there are always new projects that any member can be involved with. A lot of times, many clubs often put on an active mask while actually being dormant. This club, however, is always working, always active, always involved in something. You have to be on your best game, and it’s what motivates me. This is the best part of the club.”

Jee-soo

Humming Jays

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Club’s Objective: “Our club’s main goal is to express the beautiful amalgam of Korean music culture and American music culture.”

Why would you recommend it to a prospective student?: “First of all, you get a close-knit family to spend time with and to cherish memories in a foreign environment. Not only does being a part of Humming Jay introduce you to a quick, immediate family, but it also serves as a stress reliever from the rigours of academic life. To me, singing with the Humming Jays is a healthy break amidst my studies, especially because I have a lot of intense classes.”

Commitment: “We practice three times a week, 2 hours each practice. When concert time rolls around, we try our best to meet as much as possible, most usually singing two hours everyday. But, because we all are devoted to and genuinely love singing, it’s no biggie.”

Favourite Memory: “My favourite recollection so far is the time we went to Inner Harbour and stayed overnight at a hotel. This was the ultimate day that all of the Humming Jay members bonded and truly got to know each other.”

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Balance in life is crucial. Once the seesaw of academics and social life become lopsided, we are risking our mental, physical, and spiritual stability. Amidst our grueling study grind, it’s best not to neglect spending time in activities that’ll serve as a release valve. Consider taking a breath of fresh air by going the extra mile in pursuits other than academics. 

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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.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60811-d439096-i35310997-Vaccaro_s_Italian_Pastry_Shop-Baltimore_Maryland.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60811-d439096-i35310997-Vaccaro_s_Italian_Pastry_Shop-Baltimore_Maryland.html

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

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.”

Sarah and Sarah

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. 

Gilman