As college freshmen, we’re all in a similar boat. It’s a lot of our first times away from home during the holiday season, so it’s our time to make new traditions and celebrate the season with our new friends and surrogate families.

Christmas is big deal in my house, so it was weird not being home for the first time to partake in the annual family argument about which tree to buy or to help my mom decorate. But the Homewood campus and Baltimore are becoming home as well, as evidenced by my inability to decide whom to root for in a recent Patriots/ Ravens game, and while different, new traditions help Baltimore seem more like home

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The traditional holiday scene: 4 east edition

For example, before leaving for winter break, my floor exchanged gifts as part of a Secret Santa/ Non-Denominational-Holiday-Figure. We put up a pseudo Christmas tree in our common room, topped with a Star of David and artist rendering of someone’s Calculus III professor. It felt like a true family affair, with more joke gifts exchanged than legitimate ones, wrapped in a myriad of creative ways. Some received gifts in empty cereal and food boxes, plastic cups taped together, and plain old trash bags, the epitome of the college budget.

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Festive or fire hazard?

While not the same as decorating a whole house, decorating a dorm room is just as fun. My suitemates and I somehow managed to deck our hall with Christmas lights and spread holiday cheer during the otherwise grim finals period. To top off the feelings of home and family, we also went out to an early Christmas dinner at Tamber’s, just across the street from Wolman, and take a family holiday card photo.

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The 407 fam

The Hopkins campus also helps to get in the spirit of the season, with the annual Lighting of the Quad and lights around campus. The Lighting of the Quad is a cool JHU tradition, with all of those feelings of community and festivity that are woven throughout the Holiday Pandora station. Plus, if you look hard enough, you truly can spot Holiday cheer anywhere.

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Free donuts + hungry students = Christmas tree?

During the finals frenzy and hectic end of the semester, it was nice to have the spirit of the season around to get us through the home stretch of the semester. Now, sitting on my couch in Massachusetts, I can say that the Homewood campus is an excellent second home and a place where I can’t wait to spend three more years.

Happy Holidays!

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My Christmas tree at home is pretty hoppin’