Name: Natalie Berkman
Year: Class of 2011
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Major: Writing Seminars and Mathematics, minor in French Literature
Since I always say, “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure…”, when I was looking for a college, I tried to pick one that was a reasonable size. I had no idea what my major would be, or what I’d eventually want to do when I graduated, so it seemed like it would be a good idea to have lots of options. However, I’m from a little town outside Buffalo and I was used to that sort of life. That’s why I also wanted a college that wasn’t too big. As paradoxical as this seemed, this line of reasoning eventually led me to Hopkins, which is a city school with lots of options, but still has a reasonably secluded campus.
There are more majors than anyone could ever want, but if nothing appeals, you can always make your own. Still, I couldn’t decide (being indecisive and all…), so I’m a Writing Seminars and math double major who will hopefully get a French literature minor too. And honestly, it doesn’t seem like you can go wrong in choosing a major – every department at Hopkins seems to be one of the top in the country. For me, the math program is highly respected, the Writing Seminars department is generally considered one of the top in the country, and the French classes are all run by the French!
Aside from schoolwork, being at Hopkins has other benefits that make it a dream college for the indecisive people like me. For example, I play flute and I didn’t want to stop just because I was going to a different school in a different state. So, I take lessons at Peabody, a world class conservatory which is actually part of Hopkins! Even without lessons, though, it’s definitely worth a trip: there are millions of concerts, Peabody has the most gorgeous library, and the area is really nice. My roommate has an internship at the Johns Hopkins hospital, which is also an advantage of going to Hopkins – if you get sick, the number one hospital in the country is right there! The proximity to Washington D.C. is also useful. When I had to get a visa to study abroad in Paris this semester, being only 40 minutes away by train made the whole process much easier than if I had been in Buffalo (about seven hours from New York City, which is where the consulate is in New York). And the Baltimore Museum of Art is right next store to Hopkins, if that appeals.
There are also plenty of clubs to join, adding more options. I write for the Newsletter every week. They sometimes get me free tickets to concerts or musicals to see and review, so I get to learn a little more about Baltimore. I’m also in the band and the orchestra, so I can play for fun outside of my lessons. There are two clubs for tutoring little kids as far as I know – I’m in Refugee Action Project and we tutor Turkish refugees. And there are plenty more – I learned to twirl fire in Entertainer’s Club, I learned about Caribbean Culture with CCS, and I even saw the belly dancers club, Egyptian Sun!
Right now, I’m taking advantage of another great option that Hopkins offers: I’m studying abroad. I’ve been in Paris for a few days now, and the ability to be completely immersed in French culture is hard, but certainly worth doing (as I’m sure it would be for any culture). I feel as though my French has already improved a lot, and I’m living with a host family, which means I get to see how a French family lives up close. Soon, I’ll start taking classes at French universities, but right now, it’s orientation. Right now, what I’m most excited for is the l’OuLiPo meeting on Thursday. L’OuLiPo is an organization of French writers/mathematicians who write while imposing constraints on themselves (more troubled individuals who can’t make up their minds…). For example, Georges Perec wrote a book called “La disparition” (“A Void” is the English title) entirely without the letter E. Every month, they have an open meeting at La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and luckily, my host family is practically next door!
Basically, I’m a completely different person now than I was when I applied to colleges. Back then, I was looking for a university with a lot of options so I could learn the most, and I definitely found one! The reason I’m so different now is because of all that I’ve learned. I never thought I would ever feel comfortable writing about math in French, not that I ever knew that I’d want to do that. Through taking all of these different classes and participating in a variety of activities, I was able to learn that none of them are really separate. There’s a way to combine everything, and the creativity to do so is really encouraged at Hopkins from what I can see. L’OuLiPo combines math and writing in French; there are so many French mathematicians who developed new theorems in all branches of the subject; French literature is some of the best writing in the world. I think the education I’m receiving at Hopkins is incredible, even if the only thing I’ll be able to do when I graduate is write math textbooks in French.
As we celebrate the four year anniversary of the amazing Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog, we want to step back and remember that while we may have grown tremendously over the years, our central mission has remained the same; The Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog: Featuring a different Johns Hopkins student each week.
To showcase just how tremendous this blog has become, we have built the Guest Blog Map, dotted with each author's hometown (and our regular bloggers' hometowns, for good measure). We hope you'll browse through and enjoy finding entries you may have never otherwise come across. With that, we present to you...the Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog Map:
View Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog in a larger map
Every year, there seems to be a contest between my friends as to who finishes finals first and gets to leave school before the rest of us! Come the end of the fall semester everyone has the holidays on his or her mind and finals feels like a huge burden. But believe me, the feeling of walking out of your last exam is incredible.
Excited to leave Baltimore, you may be lucky enough to get a friend to drive you to the airport and then nothing like home. Unfortunately for some, the heavy snowfall this year meant that several of my friends were grounded for a weekend as the airport struggled.
You get home and see your friends and its terrific fun and you don’t really think about school besides from your friends. However, every year seemingly, the longer the break lasts the more of a yearning you develop to get back to school. For example, I am sitting at home in London right now, looking out on perpetual snowfall and I find myself wishing that I were joining my friends back at Hopkins this Friday.
This happens during both of the big breaks, but in the summer it is only towards the end August. With winter its different. This is because the spring semester, in my mind, is a lot more fun. The days get longer and warmer, Lacrosse season starts and Greek rush is always a blast. Mixed in with all of this is reuniting with friends, starting a new bundle of classes and best of all being removed from parental nagging.
Furthermore, it seems as though every winter break the desire to return is stronger. Freshmen year, one doesn’t really know what is going to happen. Sophomore year, its fun, but unfortunately you still live on campus, and finally Junior year you are off campus and ready for the action. You might have heard it before, I definitely did, but Hopkins really does get better every year. It’s sad to see seniors leave, but they are around for four more months, so bring on the spring semester!
A busy fall semester has come to a close bringing winter break and intersession upon us! For those unfamiliar, intersession is the three-week period in January, during which students can stay at home for an extended break, or come back to campus to take a variety of unique classes or just hang out with friends and enjoy their time off in Baltimore. For more information and to see some of this year's offerings, be sure to take a look at the 2010 Intersession website.
While the Guest Blog will be on break during intersession, we're looking forward to a very exciting spring semester and hope you'll be back to join us in February. In the mean time, check out our blogs from the semester, all wonderful entries on a wide range of topics:
"My friends always say that I have more clubs than classes. Many of my activities range from committees, advisory boards, volunteer groups, dance, and multicultural student groups. Spreading multicultural awareness on campus is close to my heart, so I’ll tell you about 2 of them that were created to assist multicultural students—SSS and MAPP."
"While I have thoroughly enjoyed my academic experiences at Hopkins, the one thing I look forward to most in the week is dance. Not only is it a great way to keep in shape, but its also fun and it can work to help you unwind after a tough week. Here on campus, there are tons off dance groups to choose from. It was really hard for me to decide, but I ended up settling on Ole Latin dance and Eclectics."
"Anyway, I wanted to mention this because I was one of the few people who had finished finals, so I wanted to show you all that people still have fun during finals period!"
12.14.09: Sarah - Balancing Act
"That is the million-dollar question. Sometimes, I don’t even know how I manage to pass Organic Chemistry and stay involved with six outside activities in college. But then I ask myself if I really want to be locked in my dorm room twenty-four/seven studying carbon-carbon bonds and reaction mechanisms. The answer: Absolutely not. And therein lies the answer to the question: Balance."
12.10.09: Daniel - Teaching About the Social Web
"It was excellent teaching the course. I received a real appreciation of what it takes to build a course from just an idea to making the course successful for all of my students. This level of experience I personally feel is only available from teaching an entire course."
12.07.09: Hannah - Toward the Saving of Sweatshirts
"If that girl from two years ago, preserved true to emotional form, could see me now, she would wonder at the fact of my existence. How could it be that I did not simply cease to exist the moment it became clear I was not going to my first-choice school?"
12.03.09: Laura - Hopkins Soccer
"I started thinking that I actually might have a chance of continuing my athletic career and playing soccer in college. I had never really thought about varsity athletics beyond high school because I never considered myself good enough to play at the next level. Plus, I was supposed to be focused on schoolwork. But after careful consideration, I finally decided to email the coach."
11.30.09: Anna - Life in Technicolor
"Daydreams are all well and good, but honestly, when I decided to attend Hopkins last spring, I had no idea what to expect. Looking at my life, I realized that I had spent the past nine years at a tiny independent school in Athens, Georgia and was about to graduate alongside the same 62 kids that I had known for most of my life. What was I getting myself into? Needless to say, I was terrified at the prospect of moving over 600 miles away to attend a school several times larger than I was sure my comfort zone could handle. Before I knew it (or could accept it), it was move-in day."
11.26.09: Laurin - Back On My Feet
"An Internet search taught us that Back On My Feet is a group that organizes running clubs at homeless shelters. It started in Philadelphia and now has a chapter in Baltimore. After attending an orientation session, Charlotte and I became official “non-res members” (meaning we don’t live at the shelter) of one of the 4 BOMF clubs here in the city. We get up around 5 a.m. on Friday mornings (sooo early, I know—but it’s only once a week!) and head down to the shelter in order to start running with our new friends by 5:30."
11.23.09: Adam - Notes from a Hopkins Teaching Assistant
"The way I teach is really the way I learn: through problem-oriented, question-driven discussion. I always try to bring the conversation back to the historian we’re reading: Why did she choose the evidence she chose? How is she using it? What is her argument? Do we agree? Why not?"
11.19.09: Katie - Salaamaalekum ci Senegal (Greetings from Senegal)
"I knew I wanted to study abroad starting in high school, and maybe even earlier. I had imagined myself going to France, given the fact that I started taking French in middle school. I definitely surprised people when I announced I wanted to study abroad in Dakar, Senegal. West Africa is certainly a world away from Europe."
11.16.09: Kim - The Vocal Chords Experience
"A cappella has been infused in every aspect of my college life. I’ve always been a singer. I planned on trying out for a variety of music groups in college, but I didn’t expect that the one I joined would affect my entire undergraduate experience."
11.12.09: Neha - International Conference on Birth Defects & Disabilities in India
"My goal at the 4th International conference was not only to represent March of Dimes Team Youth, but to relay the importance of “The Power of Youth in Global Public Health.” My presentation offered strategies for mobilizing young professionals in developing countries to help reduce the rates of death and disability from preterm birth and birth defects in local communities."
11.09.09: Sam - London Calling
"After looking at the course catalog (which was essentially perfection for someone with my interests), I made up my mind that instant. I knew that I would be spending next semester in the land of the Beatles, royalty, and – most importantly – afternoon tea."
11.04.09: Kit - L'automne à Paris
"To get to class every day I have to take a 30 minute bus ride. That might sound pretty terrible to you… except I forgot to tell you that I live in PARIS! So, my bus ride isn’t just any bus ride. I get to drive down the Champs-Elysees, cross the Seine, see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and catch a glimpse of the spire of Notre Dame. All on my way to class. No biggie."
Name: Kristine Carter
Year: Class of 2012
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Major: Civil Engineering
Extracurricular activities—some do it to fill up resumes, or to help them get into grad school. I do them because they make life so much more fun and exciting! Wikipedia states that “On average, in the United States, many students participate in a minimum of one extracurricular activity throughout the course of one school year.” But that’s unacceptable for me, because I’m not average. I’ve always known that. I mean what eleven year old says they want to be a civil engineer (random right?!) My friends always say that I have more clubs than classes. Many of my activities range from committees, advisory boards, volunteer groups, dance, and multicultural student groups. Spreading multicultural awareness on campus is close to my heart, so I’ll tell you about 2 of them that were created to assist multicultural students—SSS and MAPP.
The story of me getting becoming involved in SSS and MAPP began the summer before I officially stepped foot onto campus as a freshman. That summer I received a letter asking if I wanted to sign up for two multicultural student groups, Mentoring Assistance Peer Program (known on campus as MAPP) and Student Success Series (SSS), that were intended to help me, as a minority student, have a better transition to Hopkins. Optimistically I replied that I would join both organizations because they sounded fun—and without a doubt, they were.
For SSS, we moved onto campus a few days earlier than everyone else did, then we attended a retreat where we learned about study techniques, what some typical days in the life of Hopkins students were like, and of course what college retreat would be complete without icebreakers? Soon after our retreat, the first week of freshman year began, and thanks to SSS I had already formed relationships with many other multicultural students, who were also in many of my classes as well.
By the second week of classes when I got an email inviting me to a MAPP barbecue, I’d almost forgotten I was in that club too. So what is MAPP? It’s a program aimed at giving incoming multicultural freshmen a mentor for one on one support during the usually tumultuous freshman year. Incoming freshmen sign up for the program and are assigned to a MAPP mentor based on personal interest as well as major. Each mentor is assigned about 5 freshmen, and a group of about 4 mentors and their mentees create what we call a MAPP family. So, I arrived and was introduced to my MAPP mentor, Ryan. And we sat in our MAPP families and got to know each other a bit better. We later had a “family event” where we baked cookies and played charades, our most memorable night of the year. And other MAPP events like freshmen study sessions, trips to Arundel Mills Mall, Laser tag, field day, Relay for Life and MAPP spring formal made my freshmen truly unforgettable. Not to mention I met a lot of my close friends from MAPP.
So if you are ever sitting at home one day and an opportunity comes your way to do something, that maybe you didn’t think you were interested in, you never know, it could be the experience of a lifetime…so try it! My interest in promoting multicultural and ethnic diversity and awareness led me to join these two groups, and I haven’t looked back since!
Name: Tabitha Moses
Year: Class of 2011
Hometown: Oxford, England
Major: Cognitive Science, Philosophy
So, finals are over for me, and I have a blog to write. I have just got no idea what to write about. I don’t want to ramble about finals; I think there are enough regular bloggers who are telling you all about their finals and what finals are like here at Hopkins.
I am currently going through the post finals clean up and catch up. When finals come I’m sure most people would agree that cleaning (unless you’re procrastinating) and extracurricular stuff go out the window, so now I have to clean the mess out of our living room. I would like to point out that most of this mess is due to a cat who likes to knock all glasses over in an attempt to drink whatever was inside. Needless to say there is a lot of sticky, soggy paper lying around the room.
Anyway, I am glad my finals are over, and after my last final on Saturday afternoon, I came home to finds my house full of people and very good food! One of my housemates was hosting a Chanukah potluck. Everyone was invited, not just real Jews (lucky for me) and everyone brought something to eat. What was most interesting is that my housemate is vegan, so most of the food was vegan; I enjoyed seeing what sort of food people tried to make! This picture here is of everyone lighting the collection of Menorahs, a tradition that concerned me a little considering we had to leave them lit, and the food table was right next to the Menorah table, and people were very desperate for food! Luckily, no one got hurt, although a lot of people did get attacked by food if they crowded around the food table for too long: I’m not looking forward to cleaning apple sauce of the rug!
Anyway, I wanted to mention this because I was one of the few people who had finished finals, so I wanted to show you all that people still have fun during finals period! On this note, I am going out somewhere else tonight because another friend of mine is having a thanksgiving dinner. You may ask why, but I’m not entirely sure! Originally he was going to have it the Sunday after thanksgiving, but then things got busy, so now it’s tonight. I’m really looking forward to it, he’s doing all the cooking, and making real food: turkey, or eggplant parm (depending on your meat eating leanings), mashed potatoes, corn, salad, garlic bread, biscuits, and for dessert: apple pie, cherry pie, and ice cream. AND for a little bit of festivity, egg nog! For someone like me, who is far to lazy to cook, this is heaven!
Speaking of my very lazy cooking habits, there is something I have to bring up (actually, I have been told by JHU_Jackie that I have to bring it up), and that is my minor addiction to Carma’s café www.carmascafe.com. It’s right next to campus, and is, in fact, on my way home from campus, which is really the only reason I’m there every day! They really do have a great selection of everything, and it’s the only place other than my house that I can actually get any work done, which is good. Anyway, my point is, if you come visit Hopkins, Carma’s is a great place to go to if you want to grab something to eat.
It’s not just me that likes the place. In a recent article, the New York times wrote about them. Actually, if you are planning a visit to Hopkins any time soon and are wondering what you can do in the area, this is actually a very useful article. The article is about 36 hours in Baltimore, and what you can do, and they seem to agree with most of us on Hopkins Interactive that there is a lot to do around Baltimore, and that it is actually an interesting city.
Well, on that note, I’m off to go find something fun to do. I think I should probably start my Christmas shopping! Good luck to all you early decision kids out there.
Stop back at the guest blog for more from me in January when I tell you stories about my great winter break, and how awesome intersession is (not just the classes, but also fun extracurriculars you can take part in).
**Editor's Note: Be sure to check out Tabitha's previous guest blog entries!**
My Jet-Setting Summer, Classaholic, Fall Break, What's Up In Wolman 3 East and Hopkins from the International Perspective.
Name: Sarah Capponi
Year: Class of 2012
Hometown: New Hope, PA
Major: Writing Seminars, Psychology Minor
One of my favorite extracurricular activities is Blue Key Society, in which I give tours of the gorgeous Hopkins campus to prospective applicants and students. At the beginning of the tour, I stand outside Mason Hall and give this little blurb about myself:“Hi guys, welcome to Hopkins. My name is Sarah, and I’m a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences. On campus, I write for the JHU News-Letter, tutor with the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, am Social Chair on the Club Tennis Team, am a Resident Advisory Board Director, and am involved with Hopkins Hosting Society!”At this point, only about a minute and a half into my tour, multiple jaws invariably drop to the floor in utter shock – and they haven’t even seen the Mock Operating Room in CSEB yet. Someone in my group whistles in appreciation, and then a worried prospective stammers out, “How do you do all that and still have time for schoolwork?” That is the million-dollar question. Sometimes, I don’t even know how I manage to pass Organic Chemistry and stay involved with six outside activities in college. But then I ask myself if I really want to be locked in my dorm room twenty-four/seven studying carbon-carbon bonds and reaction mechanisms. The answer: Absolutely not. And therein lies the answer to the question: Balance.