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Not gonna lie, it’s been a hot minute since I walked out of my last final. Weeks have passed since I’ve moved out of my dorm. It’s been a while since I’ve boarded my Southwest flight to San Jose, California. I’m doing remote research with a professor at Hopkins, I’m hanging out with friends, and I’m enjoying the mellow weather. But with several weeks and over 2,000 miles between Baltimore and I, I’ve had time and space to think about where I was about a year ago. I’ve changed so much as a person, and I’ve learned even more about everything from love (save your eye rolls!), to ancient Chinese history and economics, to myself and what I value. If I told you guys every single lesson I’ve learned in the past nine months, I think we’d be here for the entire summer. So instead, I’ve decided to give a timeline summary of my freshman year and spare everyone the monotony of scrolling down a list of every cliché lesson I’ve learned.

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First Semester

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Move in/O-Week!

My parents helped me move into Wolman Hall and hung around for a few days. They stayed around until the third day of Orientation Week, or O-Week, and said goodbye to me the morning before I met up with my O-Week group. I had to wear sunglasses that day so that other people wouldn’t see me crying! My O-Week group sang me happy birthday later that week, which was really sweet. Needless to say, O-Week was a milestone because it was the first time I was completely away from my family for an extended period of time, and my first taste of the independence that college brings.

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First week of classes

I had no idea what to expect. Some professors went over the syllabus, whereas others immediately went straight into lecture and assigned work. Guess which one was which? (Hint: I spent a few hours that weekend doing my Calculus I homework!) I remember sitting in my Chinese history class thinking about how I loved college. Thanks to Hopkins’ lack of core curriculum, I was finally able to study things I was passionate about. I was no longer forced to sit through boring high school classes.

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Parents’ Weekend

Guess who came by? My dad, and the Plain White Ts! I almost cried when I saw my dad and ran up to hug him. I did cry when I saw the Plain White Ts perform Hey There Delilah, though. (In addition to the Plain White Ts, Amine swung by campus in September to perform. And no, I wasn’t the only one screaming the lyrics to Caroline in the crowd.)

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Fall Break

I pledged to leave the library and not open a single book this day off. My friend and I headed down to D.C. and spent the whole day walking around the National Mall and around downtown districts. It was pleasantly empty and we managed to snap a bunch of really nice photos. Even though my wallet was drained by food and Uber rides, we had great photos and memories from the day off.

Second Semester

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Recruitment

I went through sorority recruitment, and oh boy. It was only three days long, since Hopkins doesn’t have a large Greek scene (about 25% of Hopkins students participate in Greek life), but it was so tiring. You talk to girls for hours each day and you walk all over campus. But in the end, it was worth it. I joined Kappa Alpha Theta, a group of women whom I’m proud to affiliate myself with, and I love to joke that I’ve finally found Theta!

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Snow day!

Imagine my surprise when I wake up to a text message from Hopkins declaring all classes cancelled for the entire day. I wish I could say my friends and I took advantage of this day by building a snowman on the Beach or having a snowball fight, but we both had a lot of work to do. The library was shut down, so we needed a plan B. We ended up taking getting to-go boxes from the FFC, calling a Lyft to The Bun Shop, and doing work there for the day. All in all, not a bad way to be spending a snowy Wednesday.

Spring Fair

This one’s super Hopkins specific, so we’ll have to make do without a .gif (sad, I know.) This is my boyfriend posing with the most delicious funnel cake I have ever consumed in my 18 years. It was only $6, and it was worth every cent. Spring Fair is a really relaxing weekend and a great way to find excuses to eat away from the FFC, since food trucks come by campus. There are also a bunch of other booths around campus from animal exhibits to dunk tanks to sorority and fraternity philanthropy events.

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Finals

I studied. So. Much. And yet, I didn’t pull of the grades I wanted. Sound familiar? It might, in a few months. But the big takeaway here is that it’s okay if you don’t meet your expectations. It is okay to fail. Failure is the best way to learn. And even though it might seem like people are doing so much better than you, it’s important to keep in mind that that appearances can be deceiving. You aren’t alone. This is a hard school, and the fact you’re here already means so much. Trust me, everything will be okay. 🙂

And that’s all, folks… For now.

Freshman year was a roller coaster. So much has happened in those months, but I’ve made so many memories with so many different people. I have three more years at Hopkins, and I’m so excited to make every minute count.

Until next time!

— Steph