Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024


Salem and Iyer describe the beginning of their friendship.

Honestly, we met in the most curious of ways. Neither one of us could have imagined meeting such a close friend in the way that we did. Coming into Hopkins as newbies — and just barely making it through Orientation with all of the walking that we had to do — we were terrified of the workload that was soon awaiting us... thus, a night of Drag Bingo. 

Diksha had gone through quite a day already, so she was ready to unwind at Drag Bingo. The thing was, she hadn’t registered. Laura had spent the previous night in her dorm room crying to her mom over the phone and hoping to go home. In the midst of her emotional conversation, she promised her mother she would attend just one extra orientation event and, hopefully, make a friend. Laura also had not registered, but she simply showed up to the event and expected to slip in through the hordes of people. 

When we entered, we were stopped immediately since we didn’t have the QR code needed to attend the event. It was an amazing coincidence that we were right next to each other in line, having arrived at the same time, both trying to lie about our registration status and both getting caught. 

As we both realized we were getting embarrassingly ejected from Drag Bingo, we decided walking out of the building together would be less awkward than walking out alone. The only other option we had was to go back to our respective dorms. Diksha would’ve had to tell her roommates that she was kicked out of an event she had been hyping up right before she left. Laura would have had to return to her dark dorm and think about how much she wanted to go home (again). 

Our first interaction was admittedly hilarious, because it happened so quickly. We had the normal first conversations, with Laura giving the spiel that she was from Connecticut and that her body was shutting down in the absence of Dunkin’ Donuts. Diksha said that Tim Hortons is superior. Laura spent the next 15 minutes trying, and repeatedly failing, to guess where Diksha was from. By the end of the night, she figured it out — after all, there are only 50 states. 

Initially, Diksha didn’t want to get too invested in the conversation, so she started rambling about nothing, hoping the conversation would end within 30 minutes and she could hide away somewhere for another two hours. She never expected Laura to be so in tune with her thoughts, because Laura was honestly trying to keep the conversation afloat almost as if she knew Diksha didn’t want to be left alone that night. 

Diksha kept awkwardly trying to turn the conversation towards a “goodbye” category, like “What are you going to do after this?” and “Where are you going now?” but Laura hit back with “Whatever you want to do” and “Want to sit outside?”

Before we knew it, Diksha was ranting about the difficulties of getting a driver’s license in Michigan (they make it a huge process for nothing while Laura only had to drive down a road for two minutes), but Laura had different plans for where the conversation was going to go. 

“Have you heard of the show ‘19 Kids and Counting’?” Laura asked, nonchalantly.

Laura was astonished that Diksha had absolutely no idea who the Duggars were, so she took it upon herself to inform Diksha of the inner workings of this family. That’s how we knew that we were going to be friends — no one else could match our energies the way that we could. I mean, who else could get so heated about a reality TV show? And make completely valid and relevant points about the parents’ neglect of their kids and the insanity of the Duggar family?

One of the reasons we found a beautiful friendship from such an awkward beginning is because, from the start, we never judged each other or our respective experiences. We found ourselves telling each other our fears and regrets — things that we had not even told some of our closest friends or our parents. And we listened, laughed and cried out in frustration at the right moments. We felt absolutely and completely heard.

Both of us had come to Hopkins as out-of-state students, uprooted and far away from everything that we had ever known. Neither one of us knew what she was doing, and we didn’t feel very prepared for college. Hopkins seemed too intimidating and harsh for either one of us to face it alone and suddenly — like it was fate — we met another person who needed someone to lean on, too. 

When you are trying to create a tower of cards, not a single one stands alone. Instead, a collection of cards leans on and supports one another. We are each other’s partner cards — we both have different struggles and pains, but at the end of the day we are standing because of each other. 

Drag Bingo was supposed to be a mindless event where we could sit and laugh, forgetting how much we missed home. At the end of the night, we didn’t feel like we had missed out on anything from Drag Bingo — we had each found something much better.

Laura Salem is a freshman from Tolland, Conn. studying Psychology and History. Diksha Iyer is a freshman from Dearborn, Mich. studying Public Health and Neuroscience. Through their differing perspectives, Laura and Diksha stumble their way through their college experience, one step at a time. 

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