Just like that, another year at Hopkins has come to a close. Recently one of my friends asked me the following question: “How would you rate your college experience so far?”
This question immediately made me reflect on how I felt during freshman year when I was still apprehensive about whether I had made the right decision of coming to Hopkins. Even if coronavirus (COVID-19) disrupted my entire sophomore year, I can confidently say now that I have found my place at Hopkins and am grateful for all that I have gained here as a junior. From leading our first general meetings at the Gatehouse to dance rehearsals for our first Barrio Fiesta and Eclectics showcase to exploring Baltimore further beyond Hopkins, this year has been one of many firsts — even as a junior.
It seems like August was just yesterday. I remember driving down N. Charles Street in a rental car with my parents for the first time in two years, settling into my apartment and meeting friends who would become family members to me. This past year has forced me to grow up much faster than ever before, as I was thrust back into the busyness of college life with the additional responsibility of living off-campus.
Junior year has been a unique and exciting time. No longer faced with the uncertainties of college as a freshman, I now face the uncertainties of the future. No longer feeling insecure about my friendships, I have learned to live independently. And no longer trying to figure out my place in college, I am now trying to find my place in the world instead. Though we have been confronted with the realities of life, we are still able to hold onto the slight comfort of having one more year as undergraduates.
As we move forward into our senior year, it truly feels that we are at the crux of childhood and adulthood. The past semester has been spent networking, exploring job opportunities and applying for internships, but also staying up late and going out with friends, going on adventures for our first spring break and making the most of our first full in-person year at Hopkins.
While there were times when the school year felt overwhelming and stressful, I owe it to my friends for always keeping things light-hearted and reminding me not to take life seriously — lessons that I want to bring into adulthood as well. Because, yes, though grades are important, all of the core memories I have made throughout the past year were from experiences, activities and simply conversations with friends.
As the semester ends, I’ve had recurring discussions on how fast this semester has flown by, in parallel with the moving nature of time. This past week my mind seems to be functioning at 100x speed whenever I think of everything that I need to accomplish before the end of the year, and I wanted to step back and reflect on lessons I have learned throughout the year in the form of quotes from friends and family.
“Even if it gets rough, just trust that everything will work out in the end.”
My mantra for class registration and the uncertainties of the future.
As someone who likes to plan, when my advisor told me to make a four year schedule during my freshman year, I eagerly made a running document of potential courses for the rest of my time at Hopkins. However, as each course registration has proven time and time again, no matter how many hours I put into fixing my classes, they always change at the last minute. Whether it be getting waitlisted for a class or altering my plans completely to reflect my changing interests, the unexpected obstacles, though stressful, usually end up for the better. In the same vein, though the future remains uncertain at the moment, I have applied the same mindset to remind myself that everything will be okay in the end, even if my summer plans have changed multiple times already. Usually the best things in the world are those that occur unexpectedly, and the universe is abounding with opportunities for you to grasp.
“You could do worse than a six pack.”
Advice from my friends on keeping my standards high.
“CONFIDENCE!! You cannot expect validation from other people.”
Speaks for itself. This is something that my friends have yelled at me countless times throughout this year to hype me up. Though I continue to struggle with self-confidence, this past year has definitely helped me grow in this regard significantly, whether it’s being confident in my skills and accomplishments or within my plans and goals for the future.
“You’ll only be a better journalist when you get over your ego. Journalism is 90% failures and 10% success.”
Laura Wadsten’s advice on leading the paper.
This is a quote that the previous Editor-in-Chief of The News-Letter learned from professional journalists working in the field. As someone who considers myself a perfectionist, the quote resonated with me and served as a reminder to set feasible goals and expectations for the coming year. Especially in the field of journalism, as a precarious occupation, there is a prevalent challenge of ensuring that we are handling and reporting on issues ethically while adhering to our standards. Since failures and struggles are bound to happen, it is all the more important to take them in stride and learn from them while focusing on all of the things that we have accomplished as well.
“We’re not just going to survive. We’re going to thrive!”
The mantra that Molly and I have adopted as we lead the paper next year!
“Sometimes you have to be selfish and prioritize yourself because no one else will.”
Though this quote was relayed to me as career advice, I have applied this mindset to other areas of my life as well. Prioritizing activities that are fulfilling and setting boundaries on the amount of responsibility I can take on are essential not just to prevent burnout but also to ensure that workflows remain efficient overall. Moreover, in a world that has only grown more competitive professionally, it is necessary to take advantage of any opportunities that may come your way and offer the greatest benefits — something that has only become more important as I move forward in my career.
Michelle Limpe is a junior from the Philippines studying Chemistry and Public Health. She is the Editor-in-Chief for The News-Letter. In her articles she likes to reflect on finding the silver linings in life to give meaning to her struggles.