Every semester since coming to college, I’ve rolled out an emotional soliloquy in an effort to tackle the unavoidable admissions-season question: Why Hopkins? I’ve talked about the people, how for the first time in my life I’ve found myself surrounded by peers who make me feel supported and understood. I’ve tried to describe this feeling of belonging, the way I can’t help but smile walking to class on beautiful mornings because being here still hits me just as powerfully as it did on my first day.

But it’s nearly impossible. You just kind of have to be here, living the amazing life of a Hopkins student, to have that indescribable “ah-ha!” moment.

So until you step foot on Homewood soil and experience that inevitable epiphany, here are some of the more unsung—but totally indispensable—aspects of Hopkins life that come to mind whenever I hear the phrase, “Why Hopkins?” They may not capture the total picture, but they come pretty dang close.

Location. Baltimore is an East Coast powerhouse of art, food, and music. I’ve lived right next to this city my entire live and never really got a feel for it until moving here. In those short two-and-a-half years, I’ve eaten enough incredible seafood and seen enough mind-blowing theatre to last a lifetime. The city of Baltimore is a defining component of life at Hopkins—there’s never a dull moment here.

Professors. I’ve already sung the praises of Hopkins academics, and you know the stats: We have some of the best programs in the world, all supported by the best faculty. What you don’t know is that my Shakespeare professor dressed in all black during Hamlet week to embody the Dark Prince of Demark. What you don’t know is that my Poetic Forms professor is taking time out of his day to help me get published. And what you certainly don’t know is that my favorite marketing professor forwards me any theatre internship she comes across, simply because she knows that’s what I’m into. Studying with these people makes class a privilege, not an obligation.

Work hard, play hard. It’s hard to describe the general ~vibe~ of Hopkins, so I’ll let this clichéd phrase do it for me. Sure, every one of us has clocked far too many hours in the library, even on weekends. But we more than make up for it in our free time. A rough night before an exam just makes me more determined to get out there and do something fun the very next day, whether it’s checking out a new restaurant, seeing a show on-campus, or walking through the BMA. The key is balance, and it’s the first thing you master as a Hopkins student.

I can always count on these girls to play hard.

I can always count on these girls to play hard.

And these ones!

And these ones!

Spring fair. Aka what gets me through the period between spring break and finals every dang year. For one weekend in April, campus becomes a gorgeous, bustling celebration of the season. Food, rides, vendor booths, and live music take over the main quads and poof: stress and studying are rendered virtually impossible. I spend my winters dreaming of those handmade strawberry smoothies.

And gently giving my gorgeous roommate a pie in the face. <3

And gently giving my gorgeous roommate a pie in the face. <3