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

As I publish this, I am back in my dorm, after a much-needed Thanksgiving break filled with family, friends, rest, relaxation, and recharging.

Though finals may only be two weeks away, I can’t help but feel that the toughest portion of my semester is several weeks behind me. This semester has been—in two words—a lot. My workload, especially in my two humanities classes, has certainly been higher than I anticipated.

Nevertheless, I’ve been able to soldier through it all, due in no small part to my peers. Obviously, one knows coming in to their freshman year at Johns Hopkins that their peers are talented, intelligent, and hard-working. Still, I really have been surprised by the sheer dedication to schoolwork that I’ve seen here.

Keep in mind that our first-semester grades are covered*. Our grades this semester don’t factor into our GPAs and aren’t seen by grad schools/med schools/companies in all but extenuating circumstances. Yet most everyone does all their homework, studies diligently for exams, and stresses about their grades (sometimes a bit too much, though I suppose that’s not surprising).

Surrounded by hard-working peers, surmounting my challenging workload suddenly doesn’t seem quite as difficult. Beyond just mutual venting, this effort put forth truly escorts everyone forward towards success.

roughly half of my physics and calc problem sets

some of my many physics and calc problem sets

There have been days where I woke up at 9:30 am, worked from 10 am to 1:15 pm, had class from 1:30 pm to 4 pm, then worked again from 4 pm to 1 am, breaking only for lunch and dinner. Those days are tough. But the culture, the professors, the fellow students of the Class of 2020, the faint yet ever-present spirit of the thousands of accomplished alumni that have graced the brick paths I now wander—they all push me forward.

Hopkins is a challenge—but I can’t imagine a more fulfilling one.

*for future Blue Jays: the administration has announced that future classes at Hopkins will no longer have their first-semester grades covered. There’s arguments on both sides about the merit of the policy that I don’t wish to get into, but the point about my own class’s performance still holds.