Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

Mistakes and regrets from freshman year

By RUDY MALCOM | August 31, 2019

COURTESY OF RUDY MALCOM Malcom reflects on what he's learned from some of his most embarrassing freshman year moments

Whether you’re still wearing your lanyard (please take her off), vomiting illegal liquids into the communal bathroom sink, or facing newfound commitment issues with romantic partners and extracurriculars, this year is sure to bring a multitude of missteps and debacles. But fret not! How else will you mature from a collegiate fetus into a wise Blue Jay?

My most epic fail from freshman year (I’m a junior now) was sending someone the 200-word explanation behind why I was ending things with him after a single date. Or maybe it was when my professor waved at me while I was taking a video of him playing “Born This Way” before our 400-person lecture. Or maybe when someone politely introduced himself to me and then asked, “Were you the guy who ripped the Christmas wrapping paper off my door three months ago?” (For the record, by mid-January I was no longer vibing with the holiday spirit.)

If you’re anything like I was, you’ll likely spend a solid amount of time this year at the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC) wallowing in regret during extended meals. And as Sam Smith so eloquently put it, I know I’m not the only one. 

For instance, though students sometimes try to eat less to avoid the dreaded “freshman 15,” junior Joshua Krachman might recommend ensuring that you’re chewing on more than air.

“One time at the FFC, I thought I had a roll of bread in my left hand, so I chomped down as hard I could,” he said. “My lip and tongue were horrible for two months.”

Senior Sebastian Durfee also had some frightful moments at the FFC. Your J-Card, which you’ll use for meal swipes and library entry, is arguably the cornerstone of your identity here. Yet as a freshman, Durfee forgot to bring his J-Card back to Hopkins after winter break. 

“My mother was too cheap to send it first-class, so for a week I had to orchestrate a clever key swap involving two other people and mooch off of their meal plans, as well as straight-up sneak into the FFC during Late Night,” he said. “I was a nervous wreck every time.”

Make sure to befriend your roommates, Durfee advised, so that they can lend a hand for similar misfortunes. 

Know, however, that the bonds you forge with others this year won’t always last. You may come to realize that your best bud from O-Week is toxic and not worth the emotional energy. You’ll grow and change; so will your friends and both of your schedules. Be open to fostering relationships with those who truly make you happy.

Last year, sophomore Orlando Espinoza struggled to nourish a dead-end relationship.

“Every week, I’d feed the squirrel in the AMR I courtyard, hoping to finally make friends with it one day. It never worked,” he said. “One time I even rinsed and dried salted almonds with boiling water because salt is bad for squirrels. The squirrel didn’t even touch it.”

Espinoza’s dedication to this misanthrope was excessive. It is important, however, to make time for friends. Try not to isolate yourself in the library too much.

Senior Shilpa Saxena recalled studying for a Neuro exam in the library one night during her freshman fall semester. 

“I thought I could game the system and leave my backpack at a cubicle to reserve it for the next morning,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “I took my laptop and important stuff out of it, and I was so proud of myself for having this foresight.”

Unbeknownst to Saxena, security sweeps the library after closing and brings abandoned items to the Central Lost and Found, located within the JHU Office of Campus Safety and Security at 3001 Remington Ave. — three-quarters of a mile away.

“I had to walk there the next day before class and shamefully pick up my backpack, pretending I’d ‘accidentally’ left it there,” Saxena wrote. “The security guard definitely knew I was a freshman.”

Don’t think you won’t keep blundering next year, though. According to folk etymology, the word “sophomore” means “wise fool.” Maybe you’ll eat part of a succulent for attention or take to Messenger to ask someone why you didn’t match on Tinder (oops). 

As you will soon discover, there is an inordinate amount of pressure to succeed on this campus. But it’s okay if you get a C. And, as junior Becky Shade added, it’s fine if you decide you no longer want to become a doctor.

“Not wearing sunscreen to chill on the Beach at your first Spring Fair might turn you almost as red as you are when you go home for summer break and tell your parents you’re dropping pre-med,” Shade said.

Just remember that college is about learning from your mistakes and experiences so that when you graduate, you’ll be able to flap your azure wings, nosedive into a heap of debt and then finally soar, far and wide. 

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