There have been many beautiful things about my time here at Hopkins thus far. I’m in love with campus in the fall (those colors, man), the Writing Seminars program, and the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege of meeting (obligatory Clark house shout-out). And, of course, words could never express the affection and appreciation I have for Late Night at the FFC. But perhaps the most beautiful of beautiful events occurred about a month ago, when I sat down to do some online Italian exercises. We were learning our numbers, so the assignment mostly consisted of basic arithmetic problems. It hit me as I was casually typing “cinque meno due uguale tre” into the answer box that that simple subtraction problem was the first math I had encountered since arriving at Homewood. And to this day, I have yet to interact with numbers outside of some impulsive online shopping transactions. My calculator is collecting dust in my bottom desk drawer, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
See, I’m not what you would call a “Math Person.” In fact, I’m fairly certain I have a mild math allergy. What else could account for the flu-like symptoms that rear their ugly heads whenever I’m presented with anything even remotely resembling Calculus? Understandably, I’ve stayed as far from the subject as humanly possible. For my health.
Because, miracle of miracles, you can do that here. You can hate math. No academic advisor is going to come bursting into your dorm room, degree audit checklists ablaze, demanding to know why you haven’t registered for some required “I Can’t Math” 101 course. Hopkins isn’t about being good at everything – it’s about hardcore rocking at the things you love, your passions. And I’m proud to say that I plan to go all four years without ever stepping foot in a class that expects me to do anything beyond some Italian addition questions. No sir, I don’t need to integrate to graduate.
…I’m so sorry about that. I couldn’t help myself. Can we go on like it never happened? Thank you.
That doesn’t mean I’m completely off the math and science hook though. As a Political Science and Writing Seminars double major, I need to take twelve credits that can only be satisfied by math, science, and engineering courses in order to graduate. Some have been alleviated by an AP Statistics test that went surprisingly better than expected (it’s the most english-y of maths, I’ll admit), leaving me with a whopping eight left to fill with natural science classes, the least intimidating of my options.
I confess that I was terrified of them before registering for my first semester. I dreaded the sleepless nights, tear-worthy exams, and blows to my GPA that would inevitably accompany a doomed foray into the natural sciences. I cringed while searching the Earth and Planetary Science course listings, skimming past the scarier titles, until I stumbled upon what has turned out to be the best thing that could happen to a mathematically (and scientifically) challenged girl like me: a little gem of a class called “Conversations with the Earth.” I will affectionately refer to it as “convos” from now on.
I know what you’re thinking. What the heck does “Conversations with the Earth” even mean? It’s basically just a cool name for an even cooler lecture course that covers a broad range of topics, from plate tectonics to the origin of life. The speakers are dynamic and specialists in their respective fields, which makes each lecture feel like I’m getting an inside look at the real deal. Our “Life On Mars” guest speaker actually worked on the Mars rovers. Even I have to admit that’s incredible.
Still, the best part of the class was definitely a field trip (yup, apparently field trips exist in college) to Gettysburg. It was headed by Dr. Bruce Marsh, convos professor extraordinaire, a man who we all suspect was not unlike freaking Indiana Jones back in his days of Antarctic exploration. We traipsed around Gettysburg, paying attention to famous battlegrounds and some less-frequented places, like a beautifully abandoned railroad. It was definitely an experience I will not soon forget.
The moral of this story is that Hopkins does nothing but support its undergrads majoring in the Humanities and Social Sciences. I’m being offered an overabundance of science and engineering courses that were specifically designed to enrich the academic experiences of people who’d pick words over numbers any day. I love being able to walk into convos and know that I’m surrounded by people who actually get me. I feel like the distribution requirement system in lieu of a core curriculum is the biggest vote of confidence a college can provide; it means that Hopkins has enough faith in me as a student to allow me to chart the exact educational path I want for myself. And so what if that path doesn’t involve quantitative skills. I get to do what I’m crazy about.
Choosing Hopkins is a guarantee that you’ll be doing what you do best. And maybe you do love Math. That’s swell! Fill your days with linear algebra and sprinkle in a few writing courses catered to you crazy folks who don’t like words. Hopkins has them all, so go and derive to your heart’s content!
Meanwhile, I’m just going to chill over here, luxuriating in my dear old humanities, and you can call me if you need a spare calculator.