You’d think that after months and months of pouring over online statistics, College Confidential forums, and admissions blogs (like this one), you’d have a good idea on what a university would be like – how the students would act, how the classes would be, how your dorm room would be decorated, that kind of thing. And while you probably have a great grasp on what university is like as a whole, there are certain subtleties that admissions pamphlets just can’t convey that will surprise you; at least, they surprised me. Out of all of the small surprising things that I found upon coming to Hopkins (I mean, I knew the freshman fifteen was a thing but I severely underestimated how good the ice cream in the FFC would be…), the one that stuck out to me the most was the almost immediate sense of community.

It is all too easy to adopt a cynical mindset during orientation week. After all, it’s a time filled with jovial icebreakers and communal gatherings and introductions you keep on repeating until the words sound meaningless to you – all things that are easy to satirize and dismiss as childish, or useless. Beyond the superficial elements, though, what makes O-week so valuable is that it bestowed unto the freshman class a sense of togetherness, one that has extended beyond those first few weeks of class and now continues to permeate the entire campus.

As we freshman struggle valiantly onwards, still trying to decipher Hopkins culture, we are joined together by a sense of community. The late nights at the FFC trying (mostly failing) to make a waffle, the long hours at Brody half-spent distracting your friends, the multiple attempts at laundry until it finally goes right – all are problems we initially grapple with. However, what makes them bearable, enjoyable, even, is that we are all experiencing them. There’s a sense of honesty here – nobody is trying to pass themselves as a completely put together individual. Rather, we are all reveling in the novelty of it all, and helping one another through the unknown.

As an example, I can distinctly remember the day when my moving boxes arrived. Since I went to boarding school in Connecticut, I had a bunch of dormitory stuff that I couldn’t bring back home but also couldn’t discard; thus, I had put all of it in storage and then shipped it to Hopkins. When all my stuff arrived, all four massive boxes of it, I had no idea how I would get all of it back to my room – the trip was a long one, and involved multiple sets of stairs. I ended up recruiting my friend, Addy, to help carry the boxes, but even between the two of us there were still four long round trips. Basically, we had no clue what we were doing.

However, what I wasn’t expecting was that every single person who we passed along the way offered us a hand. Whether it was opening a door for us, or grabbing a corner of a box as we wrestled it up the stairs, or simply joking around to make us laugh, every student was eager to help, regardless of how clueless they themselves might have been about what to do. What probably would have been a tedious, borderline impossible task to do by myself turned into something actually enjoyable, solely due to the community present here.

We, as freshmen, have all been in situations we feel ill-equipped to handle, whether that’s in an academic, health, or social context. And we don’t try to hide it; rather, this fact brings us closer together. This sort of feeling is the kind that is hard to depict within admissions pamphlets and statistics, but one that you recognize immediately upon stepping onto campus. It may be a small and unexpected thing, yes, but so many of the best things are. It’s what makes Hopkins, Hopkins.