Welcome to Johns Hopkins University, where people will assume you want to be a doctor and will also butcher your school’s name in ways you would never imagine (no, it’s not John Hopskins). Here are some of my best tips for a fledgling Blue Jay:
Dorms: In response to your lack of covered grades, it seems that the administration has tried to make up for that by putting air conditioning in the AMRs. In the past, they have been unbearable in the summer, but luckily for those of you living there this year, you will not need to invest in hundreds of fans and deal with the smell of sweat everywhere.
For those (most) of you with roommates, my advice is to be friendly, but don’t expect to make a lifelong, everlasting friendship with the person you live with. A much better strategy, in my opinion, is to just try to coexist with your roommate. Divide the space from the beginning so your roommate is not taking up the entirety of the floor by October. If you have separate living areas, they can worry about their space and you worry about your own.
A final piece of advice is to get a can of Febreze from the very beginning. You never know what type of food your roommate will have or what workout clothes will sit in the room for weeks, so having a can of Febreze is your best bet for neutralizing any unforeseen odors that make their way to your side of the room.
Activities: Hopkins has every sort of opportunity you can imagine. There are so many different types of people here that you will find your niche by just pursuing what you are most passionate about. There are 12 a cappella groups on campus, over 20 dance groups and many other groups for whatever you love to do.
There are video game tournaments from FIFA to Super Smash Bros. There are also club sports teams and intramural leagues for sports from basketball to innertube water polo (highly recommended). These types of groups and activities are probably the best way to make new friends at Hopkins, because they will connect you with people who share a mutual interest in something, no matter how obscure it is.
Courses: Your class already is unique in a way no freshman class at Hopkins has been in 45 years: You won’t have covered grades. This Hopkins tradition was started in 1971 and aimed to ease the transition to college. This policy made your first semester grades show up as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
Though your fall grades will be showing up on your transcript and will influence your GPA, fear not. Even with covered grades, many students got their best grades the fall of freshman year.
Just because your grades aren’t covered doesn’t mean you should hole up on D-level and study 24/7. You are some of the smartest students in the country, and you know how to get the grade in the end. If you never give yourself a chance to relax, you will burn out and probably end up with worse grades than if you took a minute to sunbathe on the beach or toss around a Frisbee on the freshman quad.
Support: One of the best ways to have fun is to go to events and cheer on/embarrass friends. Sports events at Hopkins can be great to attend because Hopkins fans make up for what they lack in numbers with their spirit and witty taunts of the other team.
If you’re not entertained by sports or funny insults of opposing teams you can attend other events, like any one of the many dance, a cappella or theater groups on campus. If you have a friend who is in one of these groups, go, and yell their name as loud as you can. They might hate you forever afterwards, but it will be in one of the most loving ways possible.
Explore: One of the most fun things I have ever done with friends is just walking around campus trying to discover new, unknown spots. Whether it is a great study spot that no one knows about, a room called a “secret undisclosed location” (I challenge you to find it) or the steam tunnels, there are plenty of hidden gems across Hopkins.
Leave no stairwell or grate unchecked, because you never know where you will find a new view of Hopkins or a potential place to leave your mark.
Outside of Hopkins there are also tons of places to explore. Hampden is walking distance from campus and has many events throughout the year to go to, one of the best being the Christmas decorations put up by the houses on 34th Street.
The Inner Harbor hosts all the Baltimore sports teams, and the Baltimore Orioles offer a great deal for students to get $7 tickets to Friday night home games. The aquarium is also a classic in the Inner Harbor, and after visiting all the fish, you can go to any of the great restaurants in the area.
If there is one thing you take from this guide, it is that you are in college — enjoy yourself. The classes will be harder than high school, but you still know how to handle it. You do not need to stress out. Make this the best four years of your life.