Last week, I finally passed my evaluation to become a Hopkins tour guide. I get to put on a bright green JHU sticker, raise my hand as wide-eyed juniors clutching maps and free pens wander over, and walk backwards shouting. It’s a dream come true.
It’s also an educational experience. Answering questions forces me to know the answers. For one thing, it’s given me a reason to read up on the history of Hopkins: the names and the dates and the charming anecdotes. But those are the easy questions. How many of our classes are under 20 students? 71%. It’s in the manual.
But some questions are harder. Not because they don’t have an answer, but because I have to find that answer first. We had some downtime before our next talking stop as I led my tour group up to the Rec Center, so I asked the group if they had any questions. I’d just gone over housing and dining, so I was ready to go with specifics of room assignment and meal plans on hand. A mom poked her son in the shoulder, whispered something, and then looked away. The boy raised his hand and asked “So why did you choose Hopkins?”
I’m not really sure where to begin. It looked nice, for starters. Bold Federalist brick and marble that would cheat occasionally with sleek metal and glass renovations. A walking campus with no internal roads. I liked the quads and the trees and the lawn chairs. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that had the “university look”, and Hopkins delivered.
Digging a bit deeper, I liked the academics. The lack of a core to let me tailor my schedule to my majors, and to let me pick my majors based on my passions and curiosities. I pored over the extensive Neuroscience curriculum, which was really important to me, and poked around to see what other classes I could take across the huge array of academic departments. I liked the proximity to one of the best hospitals in the country, but I also liked the idea that Hopkins would let me expand to learn about so many more fields and subjects and perspectives aside from medicine.
So yeah, I liked Hopkins. But I liked a lot of schools. I still hadn’t answered the kid’s question.
I think it clicked for me during SOHOP. The trip to the harbor was fun. The night festival was fun. The performing arts show was fun. But at the end of the day, my host ushered me through a turnstile, into a door branded CLARK, and up two flights of stairs. When I arrived outside the door to his dorm, I found myself in the middle of this mass of students lining both sides of the hallway. Doing homework. Playing cards. Helping each other in classes they didn’t necessarily have. Rewinding and unwinding from a long day. I saw this perfect marriage of work and play; an air where it was okay to have an intellectual conversation one minute and end it with a bad pun just as abruptly as it had started. This idea that everyone was in the same boat, and wanted to help each other in every way they would. A sense of togetherness, and curiosity, and family.
And I think that’s when I said pretty loudly in my head “Yeah, no, I want to be here”.