Somehow, summer is yet again gone and a new school year has begun. By the end of every August, I am typically itching to return to school. Although I cherish the long summer nights and new daily adventures, I always end up missing the structured routine I have at school. But this summer was a little different.
A lot of people refer to the months before college as their "last real summer" before starting work and internships. I didn't quite understand this until now.
For the first time, I spent my whole summer away from home and stayed here, in Baltimore. After my first night, I realized it would be much harder than I expected. I knew it would be difficult living alone, hours away from my friends or family, but I did not expect just how tough it would be.
Being in Baltimore during the school year, I had people I could reach out to to be with anytime, events I could attend on campus, and clubs to fill my spare time. Now, I was stuck in my own apartment, while most of my friends were at home across the country.
My first day at my internship did not help ease my worries, as I realized the hours I had spent in my research lab after classes could not compare to the work I would need to do at a full-time position.
On top of that, coming home to realize I would have to buy groceries and not rely on a meal plan suddenly made me understand all of the jokes people make about finally becoming an adult.
Although I started out the month of June feeling stressed, alone and tired, I decided that my summer would not be bound to these feelings. I took advantage of things I never had time to experience during the school year — primarily exploring the city. I spent weekends exploring restaurants with my friends (both new and old), studying in cafés and the gorgeous library at the Peabody Institute and trying new desserts (I definitely had one too many cakes from Vaccaro’s). I made friends throughout the medical campus and took the time to network and volunteer.
My one takeaway from this summer: the ‘Hopkins bubble’ is real. There is so much to explore in the city (yes, more than taking a trip to Inner Harbor once a semester). There are so many museums, restaurants and shops that not even a whole summer’s worth of time could permit me to experience. While being on a small campus may get monotonous, it feels so different to be back knowing that there is so much out there that I have yet to see, whether in Baltimore or beyond.
As the semester begins, I don’t look back on my summer in regret. I am grateful for the people I met, the city I was able to experience and for everything I learned. “Stop and smell the roses” is one of my least favorite platitudes, and I hate to say now that I agree with it.
It is easy to get entrenched in work, exams and research and forget about the world around us, especially in a competitive environment. College does not have to feel like a burden; school and life do not have to be separate entities.
Julia Zacharski is a sophomore from Long Island, NY. studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. Her column explores the ups and downs of her journey from a tiny beach town to the city of Baltimore.