Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 28, 2023

Reflecting on my time here before I graduate

By ROLLIN HU | December 6, 2018



Hu, age 9 in the photograph, never imagined that he would attend Hopkins.

About a year and a half ago, I had a column in this newspaper called Irrelevant History where I wrote about weird individuals or events from the past. I graduate this semester, so I thought I might revisit this column as my final article for The News-Letter. Out of a delusional sense of self-grandeur or an in ill-advised attempt at closure, this week’s Irrelevant History topic is me.

According to my mother, I was not born but found in a trash can at the hospital. This conflicts with later accounts where she mentions buying me on sale from the baby store and keeping a receipt to return me for a refund.

During potty-training, my father classically conditioned me to urinate upon hearing him whistle. My first nosebleed was from confetti going up my nose. Some weekend meals were entirely made up of Costco free samples.

Now I am unemployed and still have the urge to pee upon hearing someone whistle. For the past three years, I’ve been at Hopkins reading articles online to procrastinate while telling myself, “Hey, I’m still learning something.” Although a sizable fraction of these “articles” were BuzzFeed quizzes, at least I learned that, if I were a Winnie the Pooh character, I’d be Eeyore.

Before I leave, I have some confessions for you, Hopkins. I often went to Nolan’s, before it allowed meal swipes, to sneak out orange juice. I have a sign in my living room that says “Alumni Memorial Residence Halls (AMRs).” I regularly fantasize about tearing down that god-awful Blue Jay statue outside the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC), like a Stalin statue at the fall of the Soviet Union.

These aspects of myself are not important, and almost everything else has been a continuation of these eccentricities and mundanities. As I am writing this in my third mid-life crisis of the year, I’m curious to see if I find anything noteworthy in this “irrelevant history” that is my life.

Writing history is an act of remembrance that often requires you to wait decades before you can develop a narrative about the past. What will I think of this “formative” period of my life?

Fortunately, given my crappy memory, I am pretty well prepared to reflect on these past couple years, like it was several decades ago. I don’t remember much class work. There are courses I’ve taken that I can’t even name without checking ISIS — sorry, it’s just called SIS now.

Instead I remember making a Christmas tree out of chopsticks and construction paper with a freshman-year floormate. And the professor who gave me a book as a gift after office hours. And the nights spent working with the editors of this newspaper.

The extraordinary people I’ve met these past years pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me to grow. I will be forever grateful to those who supported me through my “eccentricities and mundanities,” and we’ve had some fun, wacky times. These are the things I’d like to remember. And then there are things that I’d rather not.

There were solitary walks into the night, as emptiness welled up in my stomach. Times of being petty and stupid toward those around me. It was “unimportant” to care about anything or anyone — mostly myself — but this was really rooted in a fear of vulnerability. These thoughts blossomed during my time at Hopkins, and they will be something I continue to confront after leaving. BuzzFeed was right to tell me I’m an Eeyore.

I had always imagined that my last article would be an indictment of the misery-producing, inequality-perpetuating, Baltimore-colonizing, bureaucratic state of the University. But I will have plenty of time to criticize Hopkins as an alum.

As I stumble into the next part of my life, lyrics from singer Ariana Grande may sum up my thoughts best: “thank u, next.”

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