The idea of religious life on campus can at first glance seem a bit incongruous. College is the place people come to experiment, to find themselves in what can often be a secular academic climate. People may come from religious places, but everyone is here to try new things, get new experiences, and often times that doesn’t jive with finding yourself religiously.
I have and often still do struggle with my faith. I’m not exactly sure what I believe in, let alone if I believe in anything at all (philosophy major problems), but having a community to turn to both on occasions of joy and times of difficulty is rewarding in and of itself. Sure, a community doesn’t have to inherently be religious to fill those criteria, but the communities I’ve found here for the most part have been.
I can only speak to one aspect of religious life on campus, the Jewish community (though I do know that a wide variety of groups exist on campus. From organizations for Catholic students to those practicing Wicca). Hopkins has a very active Hillel community (Hillel is an international organization for Jewish students on college campuses), a dedicated Jewish Students Association and a variety of religious options/ services for all denominations.
I come from a somewhat religious household, we go to services every Saturday morning, we keep a kosher household, so I certainly didn’t expect college to be the place where I feel most connected religiously. Maybe it’s that I’m constantly being exposed to so many new ways of thinking, experiencing new things every day, but it’s nice to have something comfortable to cling to.
I can go on a Friday night to Hillel, sing the same songs I sing at home, that my ancestors have been singing for thousands of years. I can eat the same meal, recite the same prayers, and essentially give myself some consistency in a place where change can sometimes be overwhelming.
I don’t know if I believe more or less, I don’t know how my theological views would fit into mainstream Jewish thought. I do know, that more and more I feel connected, to something, spiritually. And it’s nice to have an outlet for that, an opportunity on campus, to get away from the academics, and feel at home, as part of something larger than myself.
Hopkins is by no means an overly religious campus, but religious life was not something I gave much thought to when I was applying to schools. Looking back on it, I wish I could stress how nice it is, as I continue finding myself intellectually, emotionally, to continue to develop spiritually during my time here as well.