Today’s society presents us with many different choices. We choose a career path, where we want to live, and who we want to spend our lives with. All tough, scary choices. But of all the stressful decisions I’ve ever had to make, the choice that was the most difficult one for much of my life was: what kind of ice cream and which toppings to get on my weekly ice cream sundae.
Now, you might be reading this and wondering, JHU_ Dan, are you insane? What kind of person compares the stress of deciding where to live, or what career to pursue, to deciding what they want in a sundae? Well, maybe you’re right. Maybe I am insane. But give me a chance to explain. From about age 10 to age 16, my family and I had ice cream once a week at our local ice cream parlor. Rain or shine, winter or summer, we went weekly (ice cream never stops) and I would always order a sundae. As much as I loved the actual eating of the sundae, the decision process of what flavors to have was extremely stressful. There were so many variables: was I in a chocolate or vanilla mood? Did I want a crunchy topping or did I want fruit? What color sprinkles did I want? (Always go rainbow!) And don’t even get me started on the classic “hot fudge vs. caramel” debate. Finalizing a complete sundae was extremely difficult for me until I decided to look at it from a new perspective. I realized that I should start by breaking things down. I needed to focus on what was most important for me in my sundae, which I decided was the ice cream base, and let all the other things, the toppings, fall into place.
In many ways, selecting a college is like choosing ingredients for a sundae. There are countless variables, and you have to decide which of these variables is most important to you, which to focus on. As an immigrant, I had no idea what college in the United States would be like. I had no understanding of what the experience entailed, and therefore had no clue what I could realistically hope for. So, from an early age, I constructed a conception of what the ideal university would be like. When I visited Hopkins in the fall of my junior year, I knew the school matched up perfectly with my vision. The academic philosophy was what I craved, an institution truly designed to promote the synthesis of knowledge. I felt like I could become part of a community here, that Hopkins could become home. Having found my ice cream, all the toppings fell into place—the proximity to home, the social life, and the extracurricular opportunities. After a few more visits, I knew Hopkins had everything I wanted. It was a place where I would have access to all the resources of a huge research university, without feeling like I was drowning in a sea of people. Hopkins, I knew, was a place where I could begin to make a difference, whether it be through the plentiful research opportunities, or as a volunteer at a local clinic. It just felt right. That’s what we should all aspire to find in a school: a place that just feels right. I had the most delicious sundae I’ve had yet on December 14th, the day I was accepted to Hopkins. I hope that all of you dedicated JHU_Interactive readers are able to find your perfect sundaes as well.