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Dear New Jays,

Welcome to what might feel like the end of an era – the summer before your first year. The truth is, despite all of the dramatic “lasts” you’ll experience and the sad goodbyes you’ll share with your family and friends, college isn’t the end-all-be-all of anything. Sure, if you’re leaving your state and going hours or even a plane ride away from home things will change, but as sappy as it sounds college really is a fresh start and a new opportunity.

I know this from experience. As someone who was extremely close with my family and four best friends from my hometown, being the first one in that unit to leave for college for the year was tough. (For reference, move-in day for JHU21 started August 25th.) I remember my friends from home helping me pack stuff into the car for the long drive ahead, and hugging them goodbye as if this were the last time I would see them again. Slightly overdramatic yet warranted at the time, I thought that my whole life was going to change once I left home.

Google maps image of the drive from NJ to Hopkins.

I started planning my trip to Baltimore before high school even ended.

However, one thing that I and many people in general often forget is how easy it is to fall back into old habits. This is in part due to our faulty wiring as humans, but it is also a mechanism that allows us to better adapt to new changes in our lives. Going to college did not all of a sudden make me a less procrastinatory person, but it did provide me with an opportunity to try new things. However, whilst trying these new things I also stayed connected to home – decorating my room with lots of family pictures and keeping in touch with old friends over Snapchat allowed me to keep one foot in NJ with the other in MD.

I won’t pretend that it won’t be difficult being away from home either. It was difficult for me to adjust to a life where I didn’t see my family every day, but we made it work. FaceTiming for hours before bed (despite being wholly aware of the fact that I had 9ams the following morning) made me a lot happier and therefore better able to prioritize my work and understand the purpose of my going to school far away.

The most important thing you can do this summer is to appreciate the time you have in your hometown, but recognize that it isn’t completely over. Yes, you will be spending most of the year away from home, but accept that going to college is something that you have decided to do for a reason and leaving your comfort zone will only make you stronger in the end.

The point is, be open to new experiences, but you don’t need to dive headfirst into college. Straddling between home and Hopkins can be emotionally stressful and difficult, but you will eventually find a balance and realize you don’t have to choose one or the other.

And pro-tip, don’t overpack for move-in day : )

 


 

Important events/services for staying connected to home:

  1. Family Weekend – for the class of 2022, this event will take place the weekend of October 5th. It’s basically a weekend during which your family can come down to Hopkins and partake in some family-themed events on campus, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to see your family shortly after move-in day.

    Me and my little brother during family weekend.

    Me and my little brother during family weekend.

  2. FaceTime – never underestimate the power of a good FaceTime call. After a hard day of work or just stress from homesickness, calling up the people you care about makes it feel like you’re still home! I can think of many situations in which a FaceTime call turned my entire day around.

    Picture of my FaceTime with my older brother.

    My older brother (also in college) and I would FaceTime almost every weekend.

  3. Greyhound bus – the Greyhound bus is a transportation service available for students who live within driving distance of campus. It tends to be cheaper than the Amtrak train which is why it’s popular amongst students who want to take weekend trips, but it can also be slower. Personally, I never took the Greyhound bus and opted to only visit home during longer breaks.
  4. Amtrak – the most popular transportation service amongst students at Hopkins is Amtrak. It’s easy to purchase a ticket online from Baltimore Penn Station, but make sure to purchase your tickets early because the prices go up very quickly!
  5. Rideshare – JHU Rideshare is a group on Facebook that allows students to coordinate transportation to and from BWI (the closest airport to Hopkins), Penn Station, or anywhere. Sharing a ride with other students is not only a cheaper option, but it’s also nice to spend more time with your classmates before a trip.