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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Charm City Science League (CCSL)
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.”
Lotus Life Foundation
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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’.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
“Hey, nice to meet you, Sarah. I’m also Sarah. We’re roommates.”
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.
“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.
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.