Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 30, 2023

My first friend at Hopkins

By SHIRLENE JOHN | September 1, 2022



John describes how she met her first friend at Hopkins.

Hi! My name is Shirlene John. I'm from the Bay Area, California, and I’m thinking of majoring in English and maybe Neuroscience. I love running and being outdoors, and I can't wait to explore Baltimore! I love reading pretty much anything, so let me know your favorite book recommendations! I also love trying new foods, so please feel free to reach out to me!

I think I must have workshopped these four sentences a thousand times before I held my breath and submitted it to the housing portal. It’s so difficult putting yourself on paper — shortened to fifty words — and trying to come off as nice and friendly without giving too much of myself away. I didn’t want to be too much — too weird or too much of a try-hard. But I tried so hard to be so normal; looking back, a houseplant had more personality. 

Fortunately for me, there was a person out there who wasn’t scared by my excessive exclamation mark usage.

She reached out to me, and we talked about our favorite books. We both had read Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner, and she recommended that I read Virginia Woolf's book, To the Lighthouse. We managed to FaceTime across a nine-hour time difference, and with that conversation, I immediately felt like we were on the same wavelength.

Yes, there were moments of silence that we didn’t know how to fill. I was still trying to seem “normal,” but she was just someone who was easy to talk to. We bonded over being the oldest siblings, and I noticed that her shirt matched the wallpaper behind her. 

So, I guess I owe the housing portal for my first friend in college. I owe it for all the memories we shared in our little AMR III dorm room — from our growing plant collection to our late-night floor conversations to our stress cleaning after not understanding chemistry. We have a collection of books that we took from Gilman Hall that we still haven’t read. There are sticky notes taped on the walls with reminders and doodled artwork. We have a bucket list of things that we want to accomplish before we graduate college, including dyeing our hair green to scare our mothers, going skydiving and putting on Shrek The Musical.

We’ve cooked pasta at crazy hours. She’s an expert now at making rice and bullying me to play Mao. We know each other’s sushi orders, and we both complain way too much about the weather. She’s watched me leave the dorm three minutes before my class would start and heard my constant struggle to unlock the door. We both became obsessed with watching Formula 1, explored Baltimore together, figured out how to grocery shop and even spent Spring Break together in California. 

But most of all, she was there for me — there for me when I felt overwhelmed by everything new I had to learn, there for me when I felt like an imposter at Hopkins and there for me when I missed home. It's cliche to think that your roommate in college will turn out to be your best friend, but I’m so grateful she’s mine. 

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