To support safety and public health during the Covid-19 pandemic, all on-campus events are canceled until further notice.

Today is my birthday, and in an act of selfless birthday charity, I’m sitting here, writing and posting this blog, instead of stuffing my face with various baked goods. Rest assured, baked-good-face-stuffing is in my very near future, but I’ve got my priorities in order. I suppose that this level of maturity just comes with age. You’re welcome.

And with my fabulously spooky October birthday comes the sure-fire arrival of fall on Homewood campus. For those of you unfamiliar with the unpredictable climes of Baltimore, we feel our seasons very strongly over here. Sure, the past couple of weeks have been somewhat of an autumnal flirtation, with temperatures flitting from the forties well into the seventies. Although I do love that summer sun, I’m definitely ready to stop sweating in my North Face as soon as noon hits.

Fall at Hopkins is gorgeous. Aesthetically, it’s my favorite time of year, and not just because of birthday bias. (Though I’ve found that the fiercest people were born in October. John Lennon? Pablo Picasso? Gandhi?!?) For weeks, my Instagram feed has become a catalog of the radical color changes on campus. I didn’t think our quads could get any prettier. Spoiler alert: I was wrong.

Thanks for the stunner, Andrea Fields!

Thanks for the stunner, Andrea Fields!

So, yes, on paper, fall is perfect. Heck, he might even be the one. You both love Steve Madden boots and infinity scarves, stylish vests and burgundy lipstick. Don’t even get me started on his adorable obsession with pumpkin spice **everything.** But Hopkins fall has one flaw, one, fatal, fatal flaw: midterms.

And boy is it a doozy of a deal-breaker. Suddenly the changing leaves aren’t charming; they’re panic-inducing. As the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, those ten-page papers and three-hour midterms start nipping at your heels, until you’re overrun with the biggest projects and hardest assignments a class has to throw at you. Who has time to stop and smell the pumpkin spice when fighting for a study carrel in the library has become increasingly Hunger Games-esque? You don’t even want to know about the private Brody study room situation. Every man for himself.

It’s easy to burrow into your textbooks as soon as Halloween passes and only come up for air (and mashed potatoes) on Thanksgiving, but resist the urge! Fall at Hopkins is meant to be loved, not feared. And after 1.5 autumns at Hopkins, I’ve developed a fool-proof method to not only survive Hopkins fall, but enjoy it. Because everyone has the right to hot apple cider, bad scary movies, and pumpkin-carving, dangit. Don’t let midterms rob you of those simple, autumnal pleasures.

Oh how I wish I could take credit for this masterpiece.

Oh how I wish I could take credit for this masterpiece.

“Just Say No” to Procrastination

This is on the top of the “obnoxious advice to give college students” list, but it has some real-world seriousness in the fall. Procrastination in the spring is so fun! The sun is shining, Spring Fair is literally right outside of your door; of course those chapters can be postponed indefinitely. But getting behind in the darkening fall months, when it’s already so tempting to stay huddled in a ball of unproductivity until Christmas, is bad news bears. So, repeat after me: go to class, do your reading, and get help if you need it. Your weekend plans will thank you for it, as will your GPA.

 Stay Healthy

The only thing worse than taking a midterm/writing a paper is taking a midterm/writing a paper with a head cold. October marks the first wave of the “Hopkins Plague,” and germs just go crazy for dorm life (think preschool, but worse). Don’t let a bundle of phlegm-y awfulness set you back in your classwork and subsequently make a difficult month an impossible month. Wash your hands, get your flu-shot, drink your orange juice, and give that hacking, nose-blowing girl in class a wide berth. As someone who’s been that hacking, nose-blowing girl for the past two weeks – no, we will not be offended.

Avoid Naps

If you’re waking up at 6:30pm in total blackness, rendered fully unaware of the day, month, and year, you’re doing it wrong. Though a catnap is sometimes the only solution, aim for short, sweet, and early on in the day. Instead of taking a three-hour chunk of prime work time out of your afternoon, power through, and reward yourself will a full eight hours of sleep. Honestly, if you’re a serial nap-er like I am, this small change can make a world of difference when dealing with the onslaught of autumn assignments. (~Alliteration~)

And finally:

Make Time for Friends/Get Out of the Hopkins Bubble

Cliché things are cliché for a reason. Fall, and all other seasons really, would be absolutely un-survivable without my best friends. In times of great stress, it is always wonderful to get off campus and do something fun and fall-ish, like apple-picking, hay-riding, or haunted-house-fleeing. There are awesome, seasonal things to do on-campus as well (Smashing pumpkins to relieve stress? If you insist!), but there is nothing like a stroll through Weber’s Farm to remind you that there are more important things than next week’s test.

Yes, there is a cupcake on my head.

Yes, there is a cupcake on my head.

At the end of the day, fall at Hopkins is entirely what you make of it, and with my (fabulous) advice, you can make it full of the fun and festivity you deserve. So, try to make things work with good, old fall. He’s just beautiful and misunderstood. (Jon Snow, anyone?)