What do Hopkins students think about love and relationships?

By RUDY MALCOM and SIRI TUMMALA | February 15, 2018

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COURTESY OF JACOB TOOK

Many Hopkins students wish they had more exciting plans for Valentine's day.

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, leading many students to reflect on their love lives and relationship statuses. But how do people really experience love at Hopkins? The News-Letter sat down with eight students who shared their thoughts on balancing academics and relationships; dating apps and hookup culture; and Valentine’s Day plans. 

The pressure of academics

Freshman Alia Nelson said that many students prioritize their academics and careers over finding love.

“A lot of people here are motivated by academics: getting that really great resume, getting into medical school or graduate school,” she said. “They want to find that great job and then find true love.”

Though she is currently single, Nelson believes that managing one’s time is key to balancing academics and relationships. 

“[Hopkins] takes up a lot of time, but it would also make me want to try harder with someone,” she said. “It’s more like real life because in real life you’re not going to have that much time — you’re going to have a job.”

Freshman David Francisco has been dating his boyfriend for seven months and said that he is able to see him most nights, despite his heavy workload. He warned that balancing academics and a relationship at Hopkins can be difficult. 

“You’re here because you’re trying to... do something bigger with your life,” he said. “If you have poor time management skills and you’re really busy, you cannot also be in a relationship.”

Francisco prioritizes academics over his relationship.

“I’m too ambitious to let men get in the way of my rise to power,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Senior Anwesha Dubey has been dating fellow senior Abhi Bathini for a year and a half. They are both pre-med, which they said makes it easier for them to see each other regularly.

“We spend all of our time together when we’re not doing something else,” she said. “We can focus on our individual things during the day without a problem.”

Dubey found it difficult to say whether her academic life or her relationship was more important.

“That’s like choosing between my life and my other life,” she said. “My academic stuff is so integral to the person I want to become... My relationship is still an aspect of me. I can’t prioritize me above me.”

Junior Taz Shah has been with her boyfriend for six months. She discussed how she focuses on her own happiness, despite a preoccupation with the future that many Hopkins students feel. 

“I want to be happy first,” she said. “That’s not a lot of people’s priority at Hopkins, which makes it hard to have relationships here.”

She noted that she sees an ideal relationship as one in which two individuals encourage each other to grow. Having to worry about the grades and responsibilities of one’s significant other, Shah added, can make a relationship less enjoyable. 

Apps, hookups and more

Shah described her experience with dating apps, which she tried once for a few weeks.

“It was hard for me to put a picture and a name on my screen to the idea that I could be in a relationship... with this person,” she said.

Freshman Aubin Lohier observed that many of his peers use dating apps. He currently does not use any but explained why that soon may change.

“I find it’s really hard to date otherwise, especially for a college student, because you can’t go out and socialize all that often,” he said. “I may have a Tinder pretty soon.”

Nelson feels that although students explore diverse academic interests, meeting people in different majors is difficult. She had not planned to use dating apps upon coming to college, but she now believes they help her find relationship prospects.

Shah, however, wrote in an email to The News-Letter that she finds that many use Tinder primarily as a distraction. 

“I’ve seen people take out their phones in lecture and swipe,” she wrote.

Others use Tinder to find short-term hookups. Lohier surmised that there are two categories of Hopkins students: those who hook up all the time and those who never do.

“I feel like the first camp... is way more the goal because everyone’s super stressed,” he said. “Everyone needs a way just to release — in more ways than one.”

Shah added that hookup culture might be especially prevalent at Hopkins due to its “high-stress” climate.

Nelson, however, thinks that hooking up is a waste of time. 

“I want something that’s real,” she said. 

Nelson and Shah both suspect that many turn to hookups because they find academics to be too demanding to balance with a committed relationship. Dubey suggested that this might be especially true on Valentine’s Day. 

“It may become one of those days where you just hook up with someone,” she said. “At the root of it, people want to form relationships, not necessarily romantic ones anymore.”

Long-distance relationships

At the beginning of the semester, Nelson was dating a student from her high school. While she thinks that relationship ended due to incompatibility, she believes that long-distance relationships can flourish if the couple strives for openness and communication. However, Nelson finds these relationships complicated.

“Doing ordinary things becomes very hard to explain to [your partner],” she said. “If they’re here, you can kind of just enjoy that together.” 

Dubey imagined how her relationship would change when it becomes long-distance after they graduate in the spring.

“We see ourselves in this for the long haul. We’re preparing to be apart for a long time because of medical school,” she said. “We’re not going to be able to spend 9 p.m. onwards together at night, so we’ll probably text more.”

Valentine’s Day

Shah had work until midnight on Valentine’s Day evening, but said she wished she were seeing a movie with her boyfriend, who she considers her best friend.

“Ideally, I’d be eating fried chicken that I snuck into a movie theater playing Penguins of Madagascar, which I think is the most romantic of nights,” she said. 

Francisco was not sure how he and his boyfriend would spend the evening.

“I don’t know what he has planned,” he said. “I’m going to get him one of those Insomnia Cookies cakes if they’re not too expensive. Don’t need to blow more than $20 on that.”

Lohier agreed that money can limit Valentine’s Day festivities. After noting that he would study or (more likely) nap after lecture that day, he imagined what he would be doing if he were dating someone.

“I wish I were spending time with my non-imaginary significant other,” he said. “Hopefully we’d go to a nice dinner... It’s hard, as a college student, because you can’t do anything too crazy.”

Though also single, Nelson said she did not wish she were with someone for Valentine’s Day.

“I don’t want to go on a date that day,” she said. “I would rather spend time with friends — people I know I definitely love.”

Bathini said that he was planning to take Dubey out to dinner, but his ideal Valentine’s day would be travelling to a city in another country. Dubey said she wished she could dress up and eat first-rate cheesecake with Bathini. She said, however, that their night would likely entail procrastinating and watching a movie.

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