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Name: Vivian Tsai

Year: Class of 2019

Hometown: Holmdel, NJ

Intended Path of Study: Computer Science

Acronyms, Brightbulbs, and Chocolate Cake

When I accepted my place at Johns Hopkins, I imagined I’d be embarking on a new and wonderful adventure come September. Little did I know said adventure would actually start over the summer (well, sort of. Let’s call it a prequel adventure).

So, class registration.

I picked out my fall classes in a tiny, un-air-conditioned little room in an apartment that overlooked Taipei (my parents, brother, and I were visiting relatives in Taiwan). This meant that the computer I was using kept switching to Chinese whenever I wanted to type something… which meant that my Word document ended up being harassed by a bunch of foreign characters. This also meant I had to spend a good chunk of time reassuring my cousin, who hasn’t yet acquired the vocabulary to decipher “Integrated Student Information System” but knows enough English to recognize the acronym for an extremist group when she sees it.

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Anyway, I may have gone a little bit overboard with preparing for class registration. By this I mean (i) panicking because there were so many interesting classes! (ii) panicking that I wouldn’t get the classes I finally settled on, (iii) coming up with not only Plan B but also Plans C through Z* in case my schedule didn’t work out, (iv) panicking when I discovered my shopping cart had a space limit (what about the backup classes for Plan X?), and (v) just panicking in general. It did not help that my older cousin’s response to my perpetual panicking was:

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Then there was the process of actually registering for classes.

Fortunately for me, my family and I were vacationing in Japan at that time, which meant that my call time was 8:00pm and not some ungodly hour of the morning (sorry, Pacific Central kids. Please don’t kill me) – although for the record, I too have suffered my share of alarms set at five-minute intervals (ahem second semester senior year). Also fortunately for me, I snuck a preview peek at the itinerary and found that at the time of registration, we would not be riding on a tour bus or hiking in the mountains but instead enjoying “free time” at a hotel resort place with Wifi.

Unfortunately, my family then unexpectedly chose to attend a fancy dinner buffet thing at the resort at the same exact time.

Because I was already freaking out half an hour before registration, I refused to take my eyes off for even a second. This meant that I ended up hopping around trying to balance a laptop, an IQ-challenged phone, and a slippery wireless mouse while riding in an elevator with extremely polite but most definitely confused people.

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Side note: for those of you who are picturing a nice sleek MacBook Pro, let it be known that our family laptop is a dinosaur of a device whose (literal) thickness rivals that of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince* and who farts constantly.

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At any rate, I eventually found myself sitting at a fancy dinner table with my eyes still glued to the laptop screen and my head still knee-deep in panic mode.

I should probably mention that a large portion of the reason I was so hyped up about registration was because I had not actually decided what writing course to take yet. So I spent the twenty minutes prior to 7:00am EST frantically trying to weigh pros and cons on a very complex imaginary scale while people shoved food at me (food that looked delicious even from a peripheral point of view (or a daze. Ignoring food is difficult, but somehow I managed to block it all out)).

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And then my laptop clock, still set to Eastern Standard Time, struck 7:00am.

I clicked Register.

I waited.


…and then I got all the classes I’d picked. The end.

So class registration was ultimately one of the most anticlimactic experiences ever. And I may or may not have taken advantage of this situation.

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Except there is a very short epilogue to this prologue to my Hopkins adventures – because post-class registration, reality started to settle in.

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And so I started to get kind of nervous, particularly about the making friends part of college. See, I’ve lived in the same little suburban town for my entire life, and so starting off with zero friends has not been a problem for a very long while. This led me to the Whatifs, my least favorite friends.

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Fortunately, after a generous helping of worrisome thoughts, all these Whatifs were halted by a sudden lightbulb of a thought (an extremely bright lightbulb. A brightbulb, if you will) that said:

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It’s still pretty nerve-wracking to be going off to college and all that. But every time I get the teensiest bit uneasy, I try to remember this brightbulb of an idea and remind myself that I’ve already survived class registration, and I once again become excited for the real adventure.

Actual fin.

* I’m not actually that insane; I like hyperboles.

** Not figurative thickness; J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books are worlds more intellectual than that laptop.