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Peabody is beautiful tonight, and so are the soothing sounds of the city.

It’s been a mere three weeks since school has started, but I feel like I’ve been here so much longer. After a long overdue phone call with my parents tonight, I sit alone in the Piper courtyard at Peabody in a particularly reflective mood.

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Check it out in person! It’s a lot more peaceful than what the pictures show.

To explain my beginning experiences as a dual degree student between Homewood and Peabody is something that isn’t easily described. It definitely hasn’t been what I imagined the “traditional” college experience to be, but it’s so far been crazy and enjoyable all at the same time. For those who don’t know what the Peabody double degree is, let me explain. I’ve gotten so many puzzled looks during Hopkins and Peabody orientations, but I must admit it’s worked as a solid conversation starter.

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Isn’t it beautiful :’)? [Source: http://hub.jhu.edu/2015/08/26/class-of-2019-photo]

The ‘Double Degree Program’ is basically a joint enrollment between Johns Hopkins and the Peabody Institute of Music where students are able to earn a B.A/B.S. and B.M degree at the same time. It’s different from double-majoring in the usual sense because students in the program are at two different colleges, and not just one. (Learn more about it here: https://apply.jhu.edu/apply/peabody-double-degree/)

Because the program takes place at two schools, double degree students (kind of) get two of everything: inter-school meal plans, cross-registration for classes, the chance to experience two completely different student bodies, and contrasting dorm experiences. As a freshman I’m required to live at Peabody, but I have the option of choosing to live at Homewood during sophomore year.

Now, the double degree at Hopkins/Peabody isn’t just something that has double the benefits; being enrolled in two schools full time presents notable challenges. For me (and I think for all the other double degree’s), transportation is one aspect I definitely overlooked. Depending on where classes are and what classes I have on each day, I have to take (a thankfully free) 15-20 minute JHMI Shuttle ride to Homewood or to Peabody. In a typical week, I have to commute 20-25 times to get to classes, student groups, and my dorm. Of course, I’m undeniably jealous of my freshman friends that only need to take a short 3-minute walk from their dorms at the AMR’s.

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Literally my second home. [Source: http://jhuprecollege.blogspot.com/2013/07/getting-around-baltimore.html]

I understand that it’s only been the beginning of the semester, but meeting and making new friends as a double degree Hopkins/Peabody student has been surprisingly tough. Especially because living at Peabody is a must during freshman year, creating acquaintances at Hopkins can only be made at classes, student groups, and the short time we’re at Hopkins orientation. Even then, having to constantly travel between each school ensures that I can’t always stay with friends for too long.

But despite the inconveniences and crazy workload from Hopkins/Peabody classes and practicing my saxophone, I’m SO excited that I was given the chance to pursue two completely different interests at the same time. When applying to colleges, I thought that I had to concretely pick what I wanted to do, and I was torn between my lifelong involvement in music and curiosity in the sciences. I chose this program for that very reason; there aren’t many other schools that let you receive two degrees from a top academic institution and famed music conservatory.

I have yet to figure out how I want to combine neuroscience and saxophone performance degrees in the future, but for right now, I’m trying to look at potential research opportunities involving music and the brain. With easy access to the Johns Hopkins Hospital and faculty at all affiliated schools, I’ve been able to find numerous individuals that have the same, wacky research interests. I’ll write about my experiences in a future blog post!

From everything I’ve learned about Hopkins and Peabody so far, I can begin to say that this is an environment where I feel driven and inspired. I’m surrounded by quality opportunities pertaining to just about everything I can imagine and I’ve been challenged in creative and surprising ways. From what I’ve seen so far, students and staff work admirably hard to achieve what they want and I’m urged to do the same.

While I don’t feel that I’m getting the typical college freshman experience, I have all the freedom I want to choose my academic and social directions. It’s only the start to the school year, and I can already tell that it’s going to be a crazy ride.