The world is full of college advice. Parents, teachers, friends, Buzzfee – everybody and their neighbor thinks they know what’s best for you going in to college. While this deluge consists mostly of chaff, there are some good kernels of wheat to be found. Of these, I have found one particularly helpful: set goals.

Goals orient and guide. They eliminate distractions and force you to direct your energy in defined directions. I firmly believe that every freshman should set at least one goal for themselves within the first few weeks of arriving on campus.

My goal?

Get as many free t-shirts as I can.

My interest in cost-effective outerwear began at Hopkins’ Student Involvement Fair in the second week of September. I had received a few shirts before that, sure, but this event was a gold mine. Student-run clubs were handing out freebies left and right. The main attraction, of course, were the t-shirts; students crowded around the club desks, clamoring for shirts emblazoned with the logos of clubs they’d never join. It was then that I began to understand the significance of these shirts – they were, and are, a tangible expression of what we as individuals stand for. People can pop on a shirt in the morning and instantly broadcast a message they care about and want others to see. Beyond that, shirts tell stories – each comes from a particular moment and place, and reminds the wearer of those circumstances.

I’d like to tell you some of my stories.


            if Fetty Wap was Jewish

I got this shirt on the very first day I came to Hopkins – technically before orientation week even started. Students from Hillel, the center for Jewish students on campus, stopped by my door to drop it off, along with a drawstring bag and a cup full of snacks (boy do they know how to recruit). Although the gesture was small, it immediately made me feel more at home, and previewed the central role Hillel was to play in my Hopkins experience. From friday-night dinners (free for anybody who’d like to come, by the way) to Hallah baking on thursdays, Hillel has provided a slice of home in an otherwise foreign environment.


   dip, duck, dodge, dive, and doge –                    and get free shirts

This is one of my more prized shirts. I snagged it from rec-center night during the middle of orientation week, during a large and unwieldy group volleyball game. Up to that point, I had been feeling a bit aimless and confused, as one might expect during his/her first week of college, and on a whim decided to abandon my pre-planned workout and join the group of first-year students playing sports. As the night progressed, so did my enthusiasm. By the third game of dodgeball – one of the all-time great sports if I do say so myself – I was all in. As if in a movie, the last game came down to the wire, mono-a-mono dodgeballery that went on for an agonizing 10 minutes. When our team’s player finally caught the opponents ball, our entire team erupted in celebration, and as my teammates and I walked back to our dorm – basking in the glow of victory – I felt calmly at peace for the for the first time in days.


            class shirt>class ring 

My class shirt – in my eyes, the ultimate proof that I really am a member of the Johns Hopkins class of 2020. They handed these out at the tailgate before our first football game – a rousing 45-29 defeat of Washington and Lee. Banners, cheerleaders, packed stands – the atmosphere was electric. As I sat in the bleachers – surrounded by my screaming classmates, watching athletes my age, from my college, playing in our uniform – I began to sense the first whiffs of school pride floating through my mind. I wasn’t in high school anymore, I was at Johns Hopkins, and I was just as much a part of the university as anyone else.


   Hopkins going up on a Saturday

Sometimes, shirts don’t come easy. Two weeks ago, The HOP put on its annual JAM music festival. On top of the fact that the lineup included D.R.A.M and ILoveMakonnen, the first 400 attendees received the lovely tank-top you see above, so I obviously had to be there. After arriving at the concert an hour and a half early and waiting in the admittedly very light rain (OK, it was more of an intermittent drizzle), I finally got my tank. As you can see, it was well worth it. Oh, and the concert was pretty good too.

Note: These are only four out of nine free shirts (so far), stay tuned for part 2. too meet the rest.