Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2022

Clinging to my youth (and my dining plan)

By MANAVI MONGIA | March 5, 2020



Mongia is savoring her time in college before she has to learn how to cook.

Frankly speaking, one of this University’s most unrealistic expectations of upperclassmen students is that they should cook for themselves. Most of my peers, far braver than I, have indeed begun attempting to hone this life skill. Some of these peers include my roommates, whose pots and pans piling up in the sink are a reminder of this learning process (If you’re reading this, it’s NOT too late to clean up!).

I, however, have happily chosen to cling to a meal plan, and I am lucky that I can do so with my parents’ support. Fellow upperclassmen often ridicule me for still depending on dining halls for sustenance. Yet, I’d much rather make an appearance at FFC and Nolan’s than inevitably rely on pasta topped with marinara sauce for dinner every day. Yes, I’m @-ing all of you.

My dining dollars have been instrumental in easing my transition back to Hopkins. For example, whenever I’m missing Paris, I just head to Char Mar’s Crepe Studio and it’s as if I’m sitting under the Eiffel Tower all over again.

Jokes aside, I am very happy to be back. I’ve gotten a necessary opportunity to reflect on my college experience because I was away last semester and because I was still participating in a Hopkins program. Hopkins has many flaws, but the semester away allowed me to return with a renewed appreciation for campus life here as well as the different friendships and interests I’ve been able to cultivate.

A crucial characteristic of a semester abroad was exactly that: It’s simply a semester. For me, its terminable nature induced a set of mixed emotions. The initial adjustment period — to a new city, to being surrounded by an entirely new group of students — felt that much more burdensome. 

At the same time, it pushed me to take advantage of everything that I could gain from such a new environment. Because my time there was so limited, there was rarely an excuse not to do something. My good friend, FOMO, never left my side.

Just as the end to last semester loomed over my head, so too looms the end of my time as a student. With all melodrama intended, I have become highly cognizant of May 27, 2021, the date that marks the funeral of my college career. It is truly a chilling realization that I have a mere two-and-a-half semesters left at Hopkins.

This realization, coupled with the fact that I just turned 21, has certainly spurred the onset of some quarter-life crises. 

Freshman year, I was expecting that I would now have a definitive vision of the career role I want. Now, I have eliminated some options — the research life is not for me — and I am now considering some completely new ones. Still, I wouldn’t say I currently have one linear path that I know to follow. Some telltale signs of old age have also begun to demonstrate my fleeting youth: I have embraced moccasins as my preferred choice of footwear, I often wear a brace for carpal tunnel syndrome (WebMD-diagnosed, of course) and I have a visible panic in my face from knowing that my sister met her fiancé at this same point in her life.

Thus, before I transition into adulthood and learn how to cook, I hope to carry with me last semester’s mentality and last semester’s raw excitement about my environment. 

While I am happy to be back, I do fear finding myself in the same routine. All too easily, student life can be characterized by class, work and Brody. Especially now, I want to seek ways to quell the frustrations that derive from such routine.

What’s more, I’d like to continue pursuing any interesting, new experiences, even though it would normally feel too late.

So far, some of these experiences have ranged from getting an iced dirty chai instead of a hot one, to adapting to my minor in Film and Media Studies and even to rushing another Greek life organization (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get in). I will gladly continue to cling to my youth just as I have to dining dollars.

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