Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 8, 2021

How are freshmen and sophomores adjusting to life on campus?

By KAITLYN JUNG | September 23, 2021

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COURTESY OF LAURA WADSTEN

Students discuss the ups and downs of social life as they return to campus for the fall semester.

As Hopkins students settled into their routine of going to in-person classes, extracurriculars and activities, sophomores and freshmen reflected on the past month of navigating campus social life. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Clara Lim expressed her appreciation for the Orientation Week (O-Week) and First-Year Mentor (FYM) events that eased the transition into college. 

“Being assigned to orientation groups allowed me to get to know new people, especially because we would eat lunch and dinner together,” Lim said. 

However, Lim felt that the many activities planned for O-Week were socially draining.

“You meet lots of people, and you don’t really have a chance to remember their names afterward,” Lim said. “In big gatherings, it’s hard to tell who everyone is and you have so many numbers on your phone that sometimes you can’t tell who you met where.”

Freshman Erin Kim echoed the same sentiment, noting that the break times in between the O-Week events were not enough to recharge for the next event but also too long not to do something useful. 

She added that she was grateful for the opportunity to interact in person with her friends. She mentioned that it might be easier to approach people online but actually meeting and spending time together allowed her to connect with them on a deeper level.

Due to their previous semesters being online, this fall semester is the first on-campus experience for many sophomores as well. 

Sophomore Ellie Zhang described how in-person classes affected her social life in an interview with The News-Letter.

“In-person classes have definitely allowed me to talk to my classmates more in a setting that is less awkward than Zoom,” Zhang said. “I can talk to classmates that sit next to me and make new friends through in-person classes rather than online Zoom classes where everyone has their camera off.” 

In an email to The News-Letter, sophomore Elaina Regier agreed that conversation comes naturally in an in-person classroom environment. 

“In in-person classes, you can connect with your group without even participating in conversation much yourself, but online conversations either happen privately or people just don’t even acknowledge that you’re there,” Regier wrote.

Sophomore Madai Morales explained her opportunities to socialize expanded as her clubs switched to in-person as well. She noted that it was easier to skip events or not pay attention in an online format, but the change to in-person encouraged participation and created active interaction.

Morales elaborated on how her sorority has transitioned to in-person activity.  

“For Pi Phi, we’ve had little events where sisters do outdoor yoga together, which is one way for me to interact with everyone in my sorority instead of just having online chapter meetings. I also joined the Museum Club freshman year, and now that things are in person, I am excited to go on field trips with the club,” she said.

Regier feels that in-person Student Government Association meetings have become more productive; they also allow her to socialize and work at the same time.

Even though this semester is the first in-person experience for many sophomores, they haven’t been given a formal orientation. In her email, Morales expressed her dissatisfaction with the University-organized social events and the lack thereof. She pointed out that social events organized by Residential Assistants only create a community within students’ dorms.

She also suggested some sophomore-specific events that she would be interested in attending. 

“I would have liked to see the University take us to Mount Vernon, for instance, or organize free events and prizes because University students love free stuff,” Morales said. “People become friends when they are doing things collectively with a common interest, as opposed to just sitting together at a social event.”

According to Regier, the bustling campus is a foreign sight compared to the previous semester.

“Last semester I saw the signs of the pandemic everywhere. This semester, we can go on living our lives and just keep [COVID-19] in the back of our minds. From what I’ve seen, everyone’s doing a really good job at sticking to the current policies. I really hope we can keep that going even after the novelty of just being able to see people at all wears off,” Regier wrote.

Kim also shed light on how her preconceived idea of college is very different from the reality of it. She explained that college life is tough due to her new responsibilities and social life added to her academics.

“College is different. It is a lot more studying, and it’s more difficult to make friends than you think because it seems that everyone has their own set friend group already. Responsibilities such as making sure you eat all of your meals in between classes are tough,” Kim said.

Erin Kim is a contributing writer for The News-Letter. She did not contribute to the reporting, writing or editing of this article.

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