Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 27, 2021

Four things I learned during week one at JHU

By AISHWARYA RAJE | September 20, 2012

1. With time, small talk becomes more tolerable.

“I’m Aishwarya, I’m from New Jersey, and I’m planning on majoring in international studies.” I have spent at least 60 percent of my first week here saying that sentence, and there comes a point where is starts sounding so robotic and monotonous that I get bored just hearing myself say it. Initial conversations with new classmates almost feel scripted, with questions about which dorm they are living in, whether they play sports, and what classes they are taking. In an ideal world, there would be a way to skip the small talk and just jump to making ever lasting friendships with people. Unfortunately, the first week of college requires learning how to push through awkward silences, being enthusiastic about someone’s not-so-exciting hometown and laughing at a joke that was not too funny. Once I got the hang of it, I actually started to enjoy talking to new people. I feel as though I am now an expert at small talk, which boosted my confidence a bit. I’m not usually one to go out of my way to talk to complete strangers, but I definitely became more comfortable doing so.

2. J-Cards are sacred.

On my second day of college life, I quickly learned that taking one step outside my room without my J-Card is a huge mistake. It is the passport to everything from the dorms, dining halls, library, rec center and practically all buildings. Not having it is like being locked out of the university. I went to the Wolman gym (getting a head start in beating the freshman fifteen), but I forgot my J-Card in my room. I know it sounds overdramatic, but not being able to go upstairs made me feel helpless. Lesson learned: don’t let your J-Card out of your sight.

3. Upperclassmen are not as intimidating as I thought.

It’s tough going from being the top dogs in high school to being the young ones in college. We are suddenly thrust into an environment where we do not know anyone, and we are surrounded by people who are more experienced and more mature than we are. Even though I’m 18 years old, I don’t feel like an adult. I don’t have any heavy responsibilities and I still rely on my parents for a lot. Some of the people in my classes are actual grown-ups. They are about to venture into the real world, they have their own apartments, they are of legal drinking age and essentially make me feel like a baby. I was expecting the upperclassmen to be somewhat aloof towards the freshmen, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ones I came in contact with were more than kind while giving me directions, telling me about different professors and sharing general advice on how to do my best in college. It just made me so happy and much more comfortable knowing that the students here are so approachable.

4. Everyone is just as anxious as I am.

I felt so lonely and homesick for the first few days, and I thought I was the only one. I didn’t have any friends and I didn’t have a sense of the social scene. Everything was so foreign and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. It was stressful, but soon I found out that everyone had their moments of initial anxiety. Luckily, we have made it past that. In one week I’ve made some great friends, and I am starting to understand why people say college is the best four years of a person’s life.

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