My freshman year is almost over.
Just typing those words makes me feel silly. Like, what do you mean freshman year is almost over, it can’t be almost over, I was supposed to actually, you know, learn things about myself and become a better person and all that fun adult stuff. But the fact of the matter is that I will be moving all of the hundreds of things I’ve managed to fit into my dorm room back home in exactly two weeks, and I’m feeling totally unprepared for that. Next year I’ll be a sophomore, one terrifying step closer to the real world, and people will start expecting me to know things. I’m not ready!
But enough premature fear-spiraling. Because I’ve realized that one of the best aspects of my freshman year has gone without proper attention, an extreme oversight on my part. I’ve taken Clark house and all who inhabit it for granted because they’ve essentially been my college experience. They are what pop into my brain when I think “Hopkins.” And it’s only now, in the eleventh hour (too much?), when I’m about to bid AMR II goodbye forever, that I’m starting to grasp how sad I’m going to be without them.
One of the questions I’m asked most frequently by prospective or incoming students is, “Which dorm is the best?” And of course I’m quick to say AMR II. That’s simply what’s done. Technically there is no best dorm, because all have very distinct pros and cons. But dorm loyalty is very real at Hopkins, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone unwilling to get into a long-winded debate over why his or her freshman dorm is inherently superior to your freshman dorm. (**cough** JHU_Noah **cough**)
If I were answering that question honestly, however, it would be a little more like this: “AMR II Clark, duh, but also with these exact people, so, sorry, you can’t have them.”
Clark was almost immediately weirdly close. Whether this was due to the typical first-day hallway “parties” (does the act of everyone gathering around a single fan count?) or sheer force of will on the part of our darling RA, we’ll never know. But somewhere in between the formation of our (endearingly tone deaf) a cappella group on the night of convocation and our domination of capture the flag during dorm wars, we became a little makeshift family.
And a makeshift family is exactly what I wanted coming to Hopkins. This is a stressful place, and I knew I wouldn’t survive without a hefty amount of support and commiseration. The Clarkians (we just can’t help ourselves) give me all of that and then some. Just knowing that I can knock on any door of our house and find a friendly face has made a world of difference, especially now, when the weight of finals and papers is getting particularly heavy. I’m proud to admit that I fully depend on them for my sanity. Who else could I turn to after realizing the night before a big Italian exam that I literally know zero irregular past participles? Only my floor-mates would take the time to patiently quiz my sorry self.
But, maybe most importantly, we just have a lot of fun. In addition to our daily group antics, a fair number of us recently went to Hershey Park (chocolate theme parks are the only theme parks). We stayed together as one giant mass of Hopkins apparel and waited in line for all of the best roller coasters, not even minding the hours spent in the sun, because there is never a dull moment with the Clark Crew (trust me, we know how bad that is). Honestly, we just like to be around one another.
And that’s why it’s going to be killer to say goodbye. I’ve grown so fond of my house and all of the people packed inside that I can’t even imagine not living with each and every one of them come next fall. While I’m fully prepared to fall in the love with the air-conditioning and private bathrooms provided by Charles Commons, my future home, I know that I probably won’t miss anything about my freshman year more than Clark. My year can be measured in impromptu movie nights, delicious homemade baked goods (Clark is full of impressive bakers), house dinners, snow photo shoots, secret santa presents, and ginormous, RA-encompassing hugs, all because I was randomly put in a room on the third floor of Clark house. Three cheers for randomness! And three cheers for Clark house, the sweetest place on earth.