Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 22, 2021

Being the new junior on campus

By SOPHIA PARK | September 21, 2021

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COURTESY OF SOPHIA PARK

Park, previously a Peabody student, begins her first semester on the Homewood campus.

The night before the first day of classes, my roommate asked me if I would be able to find my way around campus. Inside, I knew the answer was probably not, but out of fear of letting my nerves show, I nonchalantly told her to relax and that I “100% got this.” The next day came, and once I arrived on campus, I immediately realized that I had absolutely no idea where I was going.

After asking around five similarly confused-looking freshmen and sophomores, I finally found a senior who pointed me in the right direction and arrived at my first in-person class only seven minutes late.

In hindsight, I definitely should have asked for a tour from one of my friends who had been on campus last year, but my ego simply wouldn’t let me. I kept saying to myself, “I am a junior in Blue Key — there’s no way I can admit that I can’t find my way to Gilman.”

However, I have to give myself some grace. On paper, yes, I am a junior, but in reality, this is my first time being on Homewood Campus. 

During my freshman year, I was a full-time Peabody student studying voice performance. I would wake up 10 minutes before my 8 a.m. Music Theory class, then sprint through the underground tunnels to make it in time. Having a class size of around 120 people, I knew almost everyone in my year. It was extremely comforting to lounge in the cafeteria and know that I would have at least one person to sit with at all times.

Only since the start of sophomore year have I been a Homewood student. I added the second degree in Behavioral Biology last fall when we were all remote and stayed home during the following spring semester as well. It was also at the beginning of that spring semester when I dropped my Peabody degree. 

Studying both subjects already seemed challenging, but to do so in a virtual setting proved to be extremely draining. I spent my mornings stressing over biology and calculus on Zoom, then in the afternoons, I would record ensemble repertoire for hours on end. This routine proved to be incredibly stressful for me, and I couldn’t keep up with it. I knew I ultimately had to choose only one degree to pursue, but by choosing I felt as if I had lost my safety net.

Coming back to campus — or should I say coming to campus for the first time — I have felt extremely alone. While I do have some friends here at Homewood that I have met through my sorority or other clubs, it’s definitely not in the same capacity as other juniors who have been on this campus since freshman year. At this point, most friend groups have already formed, and I don’t necessarily know where I fit on this campus.

After my first few days here, I immediately missed Peabody. I missed being able to wave hello to at least five people every morning. I missed walking down the iconic spiral staircase that revealed a gorgeous view of Mount Vernon. I missed hearing people obnoxiously practice at the crack of dawn. Overall, I missed having a sense of familiarity and belonging.

Looking back at these feelings a few weeks later, I recognize how skewed my outlook has been. 

Yes, I am a junior who is a little lost, but so are a lot of people here. Reading some of the other columns recently published, I have realized that most of us are still adjusting to change and are embarking on similar new beginnings. I have also seen the number of people staring at Google Maps while trying to make their way to class, and I can easily say that it’s not just me getting lost. 

Jokes aside, I think I am starting to see the silver lining to being the “new kid” on campus. These past few weeks I have met so many kind people either through sitting next to them in class, studying at Brody together or even just recognizing them from Zoom. I went from quietly walking alone up the Beach to waving hello to multiple people on my way to Bloomberg.

Because this is my first time on Homewood Campus, I am creating entirely new experiences and having a completely fresh start. 

I am beginning to understand the layout of this campus as well. I can proudly say that this week I have been only three minutes late to one of my classes and have even given a prospective student a brief tour of campus in my Join-a-Jay session.

Although I am still not confident that I can find my way to every building on campus, I now know the shortest route from my apartment to Gilman, and for the time being that’s definitely enough. As this semester progresses, I am so excited to get to know more people here and to finally feel like a “real'' junior.

Sophia Park is a junior from Toronto, Canada studying Behavioral Biology and History of Science, Medicine and Technology. She is one of the Social Media Managers for The News-Letter.

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