While I’m by no means a time management expert, I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two about how to navigate midterms season at Hopkins in a way that leaves me feeling (slightly) less frazzled than my freshman fall self. I haven’t yet achieved the perfect balance between the vigorously studious moments and the Fun Times with Friends, but thus far, this year’s stretch of midterms has gone markedly better, due in part to the routine I’ve slowly but surely adopted over the past year. It’s got a little bit of everything: some Baltimore goodness, some Gilman, and maybe some mid-2000’s R&B/hip-hop.
It’s Saturday morning. I wake up at approximately 7:30 am, because I, much like my dear homie JHU_Emily, kind of like being up early in the morning. I shower, put on some attire, and look outside. The sun is streaming through the windows of my apartment, and I realize that going to Gilman today will probably make me kind of sad; I want to frolic in the sunshine, breathe the Balti air, and surround myself with the unpredictable mass of humans who exist outside of the Hopkins bubble. It’s Saturday. However, I still have work to do. There’s no getting around that. It’s a Saturday during midterms season, and I may or may not have a behemoth of a linguistics midterm coming just round the bend.
I put the essential study materials in my backpack, put on my playlist inexplicably entitled “hop-scotch” that starts with this song, and catch the 9 o’clock JHMI. I’m going to Red Emma’s in Station North, because I can comfortably sprawl out my work and maybe my limbs across one of its square tables and also get some “grub.” Here is the cheesy snapchat my friend took of me as I contemplated my workload/stomach’s needs:
and here is the really bad panorama I tried and failed to subtly take of my surroundings for the sake of this blog:
Maybe getting off campus to study sounds like a time-consuming/pointless/didImentiontimeconsuming endeavor. Maybe it is in certain situations, but it’s become a necessity for me during some of the most stressful parts of a typical Hopkins semester. We obviously have myriad study spots on campus, which you can get sufficient glimpses of in the H-I blogs or in various admissions pamphlets. Still, I’ve found that staying exclusively on campus to study can be more conducive to psyching me out than it is to approaching academic rigor with a sense of capability. All of a sudden, school becomes the end-all be-all, and my mind goes like this: There is no life after Hopkins, Hopkins is the final countdown, my hopes and dreams will be unattainable if these tests don’t go well for me, is there even a world outside of this big marble sign?
For the sake of maintaining my sanity in a place where the work load often feels insurmountable and campus sometimes gets a bit all-consuming, taking a free ten-minute shuttle ride to a different type of microcosm is rarely a bad idea. Older people and younger people and in-between people I don’t know sip their coffee and do their respective “thing”, and they’ve probably taken their fair share of stressful weeks as well. I look up from my work to creepily watch them for a moment and gain some perspective. I then continue to do my “thing”, i.e. tackle the day’s academic tasks, ideally whilst nestled at a table by the window overlooking W. North Ave.
*Transition to several hours and a JHMI ride home and a quick dinner later*
With a good portion of my weekend homework out of the way, I decide to spend the evening from 9pm onwards not thinking about passive transformations and syntax in linguistics or Jacques Ranciere’s dense (but very interesting) prose. I manage to catch a few gallery openings with the artist formerly known as JHU_Joseph and dance to the sounds of the sixties at The Crown, a Baltimore favorite for almost any kind of performance just down North Charles Street. Here is what all of that looks like:
*Approximately 8 hours of sleeping later*
Today is not quite as nice as the day and night before, and that’s okay. I’m in Gilman, and I look something like this:
Today is for confronting the terrifying underbelly of my linguistics homework, starting to write a 15-page short story that will be read by everyone in my fiction class, and tackling some hefty portions of Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics. It’s for some coffee and a little bit of calming piano music, which will later change to a playlist comprised entirely of my and JHU_Emily’s tried and true pump-up jams, because I still haven’t finished my linguistics homework, and I need Drake to reassure me that I’m fully capable of doing so.
Today is the flow portion of the midterms “ebb and flow.” It requires a good bit of concentration and a reliable set of playlists to fit the 5 stages of focus I go through over the course of my work day. There are many days like this at Hopkins, and not just during midterms season. Still, I manage to make it through the wilderness with some iteration of what I wrote about here. It’s a delicate balance that I’m only just starting to adopt as my own, but that I’m hoping will keep me grounded in the months to come.