Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 25, 2024

A letter to my freshman-year self

By SABRINA ABRAMS | August 31, 2020


Dear Sabrina,

Let me begin with saying you can chill out a little bit, you don’t need to stress too much about struggling to make friends. You’ll find your people. Start saying yes to everything because it works so much better that way — every Carma’s invite and pong night and the chance to listen to music with new acquaintances in the AMR I study room. And also maybe don’t go out of your way to meet upperclassmen (social climbing is not cool) and then wonder why your roommate is the only freshman you know for a month. She’ll be there for you, your forever roommate for all four years, but right now you don’t know that — she’s just another half-Korean girl from NYC to sit in the FFC with as you get acclimated to a brand new city and brand new people. 

Your relentless optimism for the people at this school will be your biggest asset as you navigate the next four years. Never give up on the fact that Hopkins can be fun if you make it fun. For every brutal 3 a.m. night in the reading room where you’re trekking home to your cold, space-heated AMR I room (I’m kidding, I really don’t use the reading room), there’s also dancing with your friends at a formal to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and running into every person you know in line to get a CharMar Sammy and tons of smiling faces as you walk around campus from Hodson to Gilman. 

You think you know what you want to study already. Remember that not every class needs to be a degree requirement and your love of knowledge will lead you towards new paths of study to add on to International Studies. Don’t be afraid of taking upper-level social science and humanities courses as a freshman — you love to push yourself and you will not feel intimidated once you’re there. Take the History of Space class because it sounds cool; you’ll never have the chance to pursue purely intriguing classes like this again in your life. Take Anthropology of Markets because your friend is in it; you’ll realize your passion for cultural anthropology, adopt another major and it might lead you to your first real job. There will come a time, then a second time, then a third time where you switch around your majors and minors to find what you’re uniquely interested in. That’s okay. 

Don’t be disappointed when you hit roadblocks in your Expos class and consequently struggle with self-worth, as any incoming freshman may. You know what to improve on and you’ll build upon critical thinking, writing and presentation skills with every passing semester. 

Live in the house with your friends even though only like 75 percent of its functions work at any given point in time. The opportunity to live with four of your girlfriends (and a dog) is impossible to pass up and will bring you some of your happiest moments of college. It won’t be easy at times, like when your washing machine floods the basement during the pandemic that you don’t know about yet, or when your friend’s boyfriend sees a rat on the stove at three in the morning, but ultimately you wouldn’t give this up for the world. 

You will think that after freshman year everything will be fun and straightforward. While it certainly won’t be, here’s a few tips I truly wish I could have given you back in the day. Don’t hit that Juul in the Phi Psi basement because you’ll spend the next two years trying to quit (you will finally do so successfully as a result of the aforementioned pandemic). Seriously, keep meeting new people and making new friends; you’re going to meet some of the best people even as your Hopkins career progresses. Sometimes people will grow apart and it might hurt, but just remember that there are so many more people to be friends with.

You’re not going to figure out immediately what you want to do outside of the classroom. But a friend who is now your Editor-in-Chief will respond to a GroupMe query about extracurriculars and you’ll slowly become increasingly involved in the lovely, intensive, eclectic world of News-Letter. You’ll deepen your passion for writing and develop an ability to talk to pretty much anyone by constantly interviewing people. You might think you’re outgoing but you’ve got more confidence to develop and it’s going to feel good. 

Start going to M-Level. It will take a few burgeoning new friendships but, believe it or not, this area of the library will become quite near and dear to your heart in a year, and the word “Megatable” will one day mean a lot to you. 

You’re about to have the best four years of your life and never want them to end. Just keep that in mind — you can already guess that it’s going to be fun. 

Also, don’t be slightly disappointed (even while you acknowledge that it makes sense) that no one celebrates your freshman year move-in day birthday. There will be plenty of people to celebrate with in subsequent years. 


Your senior-year self

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