Over the past month, I’ve developed a new catch phrase. I’m not talking about my recent adoption of “hella” or “wicked” as adverbs (thank you, friends from California) and I’m not talking about the abbreviated names for the Charles and University Markets (CharMar and UniMini, if you’re curious). I’m talking about a new defining statement: “I have to catch the bus!”

For the most part, Hopkins is not a commuter school. Most freshmen and sophomores live on campus, and all of the dorms are within a ten minute walk of the furthest buildings from them. No matter where you are at Homewood, you can make it to the opposite side of campus in a reasonably short amount of time. So you may be wondering why there’s a shuttle bus at all, but there’s good reason for it. The JHMI shuttle, affectionately pronounced “Jimmy”, connects the medical campus with Homewood, Peabody, and Penn Station. It runs between these locations 7 days a week: four times an hour Monday through Friday, and once an hour Saturday and Sunday.

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Outside the Peabody JHMI bus stop on a Friday morning featuring the majestic sunrise

Anybody who takes music lessons at Peabody or works at the hospital has to take the JHMI. It’s a really convenient way to get to Penn Station, it’s completely free and easily accessible to anybody traveling up North Charles or down St. Paul but above all, it is a defining experience for me as a double degree student.

Double degree students at Hopkins are rare; there are four in my freshman class, which is the largest number of double degree students that has been admitted for any single year in quite some time. We all intend to receive one degree from the Peabody Institute and another from Arts and Sciences or Engineering at Homewood.

I am currently taking thirteen credits at Homewood as well as thirteen at Peabody. For each individual campus, it’s a fairly low number of credits but when you combine them, it’s a whole different story. It creates a schedule that some people consider to be nightmarish. To me, it is a schedule dictated by three online calendars and a planner. It’s both insane and incredible, and I’ve only been living this hectic life for a month. Sometimes I question my ability to pursue two equally challenging degrees, and I cannot say with complete certainty that I’ll come out with both when I make it to the end of these four (or five) years, but I do know that I’ll be taking the JHMI until I can make that decision with certainty.

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For those of you who thought that the textbook struggle was real, add music theory and keyboard skills to the equation!

One constant over these past four weeks has been the JHMI. It allows me to keep one foot solidly on each campus and reminds me that help in either direction is just a short bus ride away, which is definitely comforting. I take half of my classes here and half of my classes there. I have half of my meals here and half of my meals there. I practice here and I study there. I sleep here and I go to the gym there. I have learned to plan more diligently and more precisely, and I’ve developed a sense of direction in Baltimore that took me four years to develop in New York City during high school.

Living at Peabody has given me the experience of living with a tightly knit family but I am also fortunate enough to walk Homewood campus during class changes and see that I am part of a community that is so much greater than myself. I have never experienced such a perfectly chaotic split between any two things as I have in the past month. I don’t know if I will be confident enough to pursue two equally demanding degrees tomorrow or next week, or if it will last straight through the next four years, but until I decide, I’ll be catching the JHMI from Peabody to Homewood and back at least twice a day. It’s definitely a shorter (and cleaner) ride than the New York City MTA, so no complaints over here.

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Another shameless photo taken at Homewood on the Breezeway, which is my favorite place on campus