The past three weeks of school have flown by. Compared to the quiet summer months when only a handful of students walked the brick pathways, the campus is now abuzz with the activities of Hopkins Blue Jays, whether they be new or returning to the Nest.

A-level is once again emanating with laughter and conversations that can be heard from the Atrium, flyers advertising meetings and applications cover previously bare announcement boards. Clubs shout at passerby to “Buy a Doughnut!” and students play spike ball or soak up the sun on the Beach.

Of course, there have been a number of changes, too. Gilman Quad is closed until next year, the FFC has a “Make your own Doughnut” station (as well as a significantly smaller dessert table), an apartment complex popped up on St. Paul St., and the new J-Cards make getting around campus easier. And (because this is the most important imo), CharMar no longer carries breakfast sandwiches of ham and provolone-mozarella on toasted croissant.

Oh – I’m also a sophomore now, which means I get my very own “big kid” blog! Needless to say, it’s great to be back on campus.

But if there’s one word that describes my first three weeks, it’s busy.

There have been constant meetings, events, dinners, assignments, work, research, volunteering – did I mention meetings? And to be honest, it was kind of overwhelming. When people asked me how I was doing, my answer would always be the same: “Busy”. I would only see my roommates occasionally, and I live with them!

As Hopkins students (and as college students in general), we’re used to being involved in numerous clubs and activities on top of keeping up with schoolwork. I mean, we did it in high school, right? How hard can it be? I’ve found that college is a whole different story – there’s a lot more “out of the classroom” learning involved, whether that be through more readings, teaching yourself how to draw Fischer Projections (Organic Chemistry midterm on Thursday, yay!) or joining a club or sport. So how do you balance them all? It’s no easy task, and I for sure have yet to master time-management. Thankfully, a friend was able to help me take a step in the right direction.

It was a Monday afternoon and we were lying  on a plushy carpet I got off of the Free & For Sale page in my living room. Like typical conversations that occur when you’re sprawled out on the floor, I shared my woes, doubts, and dreams with her (stay with me here). I told her about how overwhelmed I felt, that there was a constant checklist of things to do and study in my mind. She then had me list out everything that I was involved in, how many credits I was taking, and why I was doing each of them. We then identified which ones were most important to me and those that weren’t so much. I decided to stick to my top three, really investing my time in those activities.

I ended up dropping a class, whittling down the number of clubs I was in, wrapping things up at the research lab I was working at (I was contemplating majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology freshman year), and really just identifying what is important to who I am as a student and as a person.

And let me tell you, this was not easy. I felt like I had to justify everything I was involved in, unwilling to remove myself from the picture – if even temporarily. Since I’m pre-med, don’t med schools like to see that I was involved in a lab all four years of college? And if I take this class, it’ll allow me to “get ahead of my credits so I can do more later on”! And this club ensures that I “get out of the library and onto the field” and so on and so forth.

After doing this, I realized that “busy” might not be the best word to describe my everyday activities. More like, “intentionally full”. My life is varied, and I choose to have it that way. I choose to be involved with these clubs and activities. But I learned that I have to choose with care.

So my advice, dear freshmen (and prospective applicants), is to think about what activities you want to invest your time in, as well as the motivations behind them. It’s going to be hard to drop things, I know, but it will make for a better outcome and it will be more rewarding. Make sure to set aside time for your friends, for your roommates, and also for yourself. Find someone whom you can confide in, someone who can help you like my friend did for me. Or be that someone for another person, whether a hall mate, roommate, or classmate. I’m excited for this coming year and all the people and opportunities it will lead me to.

So there, dear reader, is a candid tidbit of my tumultuous, exciting life as a Hopkins sophomore.