So I’m nearing the end of my first semester at Johns Hopkins University.
What. The. Heck.
I’ll take my first and last final on Friday (humanities for the win!), spend all Saturday staring at a suitcase and wondering how I ever managed to fit the entire contents of my wardrobe in it, and be whisked away by my parents on Sunday morning. I’ll wake up (beautifully late) on Monday and almost definitely devote the afternoon to season two of Scandal (Kerry Washington is my spirit animal) and homemade Christmas cookies. I won’t make the trek to Gilman for Italian, sit through an American Politics lecture, or get nervous about reading my sonnets to a super talented class of creative writers in Intro to Fiction and Poetry. And while I’m more than ready to kiss the stress of final papers goodbye and head home to my family and friends, I must admit that I’m totally going to miss this place. As corny as it sounds (JHU_Girija and I are channeling the cheese this week), Hopkins has already taught me so much in such a short time, and I know, come Sunday, I’ll be sad to go.
So now that I’m feeling all gushy and prematurely nostalgic, I’m here to provide a list of the little things I’ve learned this past semester, both about being a Hopkins student and life in general. Since there isn’t enough time in the world to catalog them all, I’ll try and limit myself. Emphasis on try.
1) Don’t nap longer than an hour. This was my classic first week of classes mistake. A two-hour afternoon nap left me feeling like I’d awakened from a winter-long hibernation, in the style of your typical irritable grizzly bear, which should give you an accurate image of what I felt and looked like for the rest of the evening. If you’d like to wake up knowing what day it is and where you are, keep ‘em to an hour max.
2) Friends are key to your survival. It’s so typical because it’s so true. I am one hundred percent certain that I would be in a fetal position under my bed by now if it weren’t for the absolutely incredible people I’m lucky enough to call my best friends. We bonded over the intensity of academic life at Hopkins, so we’re all more than capable of handling one another’s pre-exam and post-exam freak-outs (which are plentiful). From study sessions, to movie nights, to shamelessly eating buckets of ice cream at midnight, these lovely guys and gals are shaping my life at Hopkins, and I’m so much better for it.
3) Free food is the best food. Period.
4) Go out and actually, you know, do things. At the end of a long day, I want nothing more than to crawl under my covers and watch The Office until I fall asleep. But I only have so many semesters to enjoy Hopkins, so I’m trying to make the most of them! Getting involved with SAAB and the Barnstormers has been so rewarding, and now I know I’ll always have something to look forward to when the weekend rolls around. I’ve put my darling Jim and Pam aside, because I’ve learned there are better ways to spend my time.
5) Be open. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I don’t have a ten-year plan. And that’s so totally okay. I realize now that this is where I’m going to start figuring it all out, and that makes the future much less terrifying. I’ve learned to stop stressing and enjoy the opportunities I have to explore classes and subject matters that I’d never considered before.
6) Call your parents. They miss you, I promise. And they’ll be there to tell you that you’re smart, talented, and capable, even when you’re feeling the exact opposite. Talking to my mom and dad is always a nice reminder that there is still a world outside of the stresses of Hopkins, and sometimes a beautiful reality check is just what I need to make it through the day.
7) Talk to your teachers. Sure, some of my professors and TAs have been intimidating, but that’s only because they are so scary brilliant. It’s important to take advantage of that scary brilliance while it’s still available to you, and asking questions shows a professor that you’re engaged and eager to learn. Staying an extra five minutes after class to chat about the latest readings has given me a chance to get to know my professors, and it’s awesome to have a conversation with someone who has so much to share about a topic I love.
8) Take care of yourself. Take vitamins. Eat your vegetables. Stick to something that has the faintest resemblance to a normal sleep schedule. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll feel, and I’ve learned the hard way that an extra hour of sleep can mean all the difference when facing a midterm or presentation.
9) Get to know everyone in your dorm – including your RA! I was fortunate enough to be placed into AMR II Clark – aka the best house on campus. These people have grown into my Hopkins family, with Linda, our fearless RA, as a source of inspiration and infinite wisdom. Being friends with the people I live with has given me an invaluable support system, the kind of system you need going into any sort of college experience.
10) Fall in love with the AllNighters. Okay, I’m biased. But c’mon now. Boys in vests? Singing without instruments? Sign. Me. Up. In all seriousness, these a capella cuties just had their fall semester concert, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
11) It’s okay to not wear makeup. Some days you’re just going to have to choose sleep over eyeliner. Stand behind your life choices, and hold your head high.
12) Make time for yourself every day. Getting a moment alone is often a challenge in the freshmen dorms, especially since I live in the AMRs, but the value of taking a moment to just sit quietly by myself cannot be overexpressed. Downtime is a precious commodity, so it should be filled with friends and fun, but occupying a couple minutes of every day with just my thoughts helps me lead a much calmer life.
And there you have it! I’m sure I’ll think of ten others after posting and subsequently bash my head into this poor keyboard, but for now I think this is a pretty representative list of the new tips, tricks, and life lessons I’ll take into next semester. So thank you, Hopkins, for teaching me more than how to conjugate irregular Italian verbs or to scan a line of poetry for rhyme and meter. Thank you for all the things I didn’t even realize I was learning until I sat down and tried to fit them into the length of one blog. Thank you for the little things.