Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 4, 2022
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COURTESY OF DIKSHA IYER

Iyer and Salem look back on their first year at Hopkins and the first year of their friendship.

One thing we can say we have always done together are the firsts. What firsts, you may ask? Well, most recently, making fried eggs in the Fresh Food Café (FFC). In typical Laura-and-Diksha fashion, we managed to score a first experience even during the final stretch of our freshman year. It would not be a typical column from Laura and Diksha if we didn’t share it with you. 

Of course, we have both made fried eggs before. We know how to operate within the realm of a kitchen. However, the FFC is an entirely different ball game. 

Firstly, Diksha can’t really eat anything in the FFC, so the introduction of the omelet bar was quite the revolution for her. She’s never used her meal swipes so much. 

As we watched the herds of people crowd around the omelet bar, we attempted to gain the courage to go cook our own eggs. The omelet bar was daunting, as we would be forced to struggle in front of everyone in the FFC. 

Eventually, we bravely walked up to the station and began the process of cooking our eggs. We gathered all the necessary equipment, argued about which heat setting to use (Laura said five and Diksha said 16) and finally placed the pan onto the stove. Diksha skillfully cracked the egg onto the pan, convincing Laura that she knew what she was doing. This was the first mistake. 

Laura watched in horror as Diksha smashed the egg yolk with her spatula. Laura stood there in shock over the atrocious event that had just taken place. Diksha, who firmly believes in a well-done yolk, had simply broken the yolk out of habit, but Laura, a runny yolk lover, was appalled. But in the end, Diksha finished cooking Laura’s egg perfectly. It was absolutely delicious despite the absence of a runny yolk, so Diksha didn’t mess up too badly. 

Egg-breaking incident aside, our experience at Hopkins has been quite the journey. Who would have thought two girls who met at Drag Bingo night would strike up such an eventful, fruitful friendship? Admittedly, we didn’t actually meet at Drag Bingo night. Rather, we met because we both were getting kicked out of Drag Bingo night for not having tickets and then lying about having said tickets. 

However, the best part of that night was getting to know each other on a wooden bench outside of Levering Café, trading stories, secrets and dreams. We both made a fast friend that day. 

As we reflect on how our freshman year has changed us fundamentally, the one thing that has stayed constant is our friendship. We can go a month without connecting and then spontaneously have a three-hour-long catchup session on a Sunday night. But we always feel a sense of understanding that comes with having a friend who has seen you at your highs and lows. 

The anecdotes we choose to share might be silly and seemingly not at all indicative of a deep, strong friendship. Yet, we assure you that these goofy anecdotes are the very foundation of a friendship like ours. 

Our freshman year of college was one of revelations, tears and celebration. We are so close to finishing, yet have no idea where to go next. There is no feeling quite like this. It’s almost as if we are in a strange limbo. Freshman year was meant for exploration and new experiences, but it is hard to say specifically what we have learned and use that to guide our decisions next year. 

We both feel like we are entering our sophomore year as green and new as we did our freshman year.

At the start of the fall semester, Diksha was absolutely convinced that her calling was in neuroscience, and Laura was just hoping to find a passion that would suit her. Now, Diksha is passionate about public health, and has mapped out a five-year plan that will most likely change within the next three weeks (and we have learned that is entirely okay and expected). On the other hand, Laura has become interested in psychology and plans to take advantage of the opportunities within the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences here at Hopkins. 

By December, we were feeling extremely unbalanced. We never felt more lost than we did after that first semester (just like how Laura felt when Diksha butchered her egg). It seemed like everything had gone wrong, and we had made all the wrong decisions. Sometimes we felt that we had picked the wrong courses to take during our freshman year, and therefore we were hopelessly behind everyone else with no idea of what we wanted to do. 

It felt like everyone else was more put together than we were. They were eating healthier, going out more or able to strike a better balance between work and social life. However, once we started reflecting on how we learned to take ownership of our own mental and physical health and be more independent (Laura went on a plane by herself for the first time!), it seemed pointless to continue comparing ourselves to others to derive our own happiness. 

We knew we were going to support each other through these times, because they didn’t define our entire university experience. But they did teach us two important lessons: 1) prioritizing your mental health is more important than anything, and 2) your life plan will always change, since life is filled with unpredictable occurrences. 

College is meant to teach you how to be flexible and change your career trajectory so you can find where you will be the most happy (even if everyone tells you that it’s unsustainable). 

So, even though we are just as uncertain and lost as we were as new freshmen, at least we know we’re supposed to be. Figuring ourselves out is what we came to college for. Just like we had different approaches to making a fried egg, we know that no single path is the “correct” one, and no outcomes will be perfect outcomes. What matters is our journey there. 

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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