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

And, as quickly as ever, a new year at Hopkins has begun. It feels as if summer never happened — the Hopkins Student Center construction looks the same as it did in April, the sun still shines relentlessly (maybe too relentlessly) and the campus bustles with new and familiar faces. 

I can't say I'm thrilled. While the campus has returned to its lively nature, walks to the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy are becoming longer and longer, waking up for my 9 a.m. classes has started to feel like a battle and my to-do list seems never-ending. 

Moving back to campus for the third time has been a challenge. Often it feels the same as freshman year. My first year at Hopkins consisted of my mom texting me recipes that I could easily make in my kitchen dorm room — this year, I was given a metal spice rack and a handwritten cookbook for my next two years in my row home. Similar to my first year at Hopkins, I have had to learn how to live with new roommates (shoutout to the one that’s stayed with me since freshman year), find time for household chores and self-care and face my fears of having to do laundry in the basement. 

However, it’s also been different. Instead of having to learn how to navigate the entirety of Baltimore, I’m learning to navigate our small residential neighborhood. No longer am I finding time to go to dining halls, but instead finding the moments in my day to cook. Where I once worried about finding friends and becoming more social, I now find myself, with others, dwelling on our shared uncertainties of the future. 

In many ways, the beginning of junior year is turning out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my college experience thus far. Coming home to some of my closest friends, dinner cooking on the stove and music playing from the living room makes my heart feel warm. It’s been beautiful seeing the people I love most gather in my kitchen, laughing about the last few years at Hopkins and talking about plans for the future. 

I wish that I could go back in time and tell my freshman-year self that it was going to be okay, that every college experience is different and what hers ends up looking like is rewarding and worthwhile. The first few weeks of my freshman year were filled with more tears than laughter and more moments of frustration than content. I remember feeling like a mess, thinking I would never adjust to this new place or find the people who make me feel love, joy, beauty and everything in between. 

Mostly, I just want to give my younger self a hug. I wish I could warn her that she’ll study for weeks on end for an exam and still not do as well as she wanted, that she will sit with her future roommates on the curb in front of Bradford Apartments and cry over a boy and that she will go through some of the hardest mental battles of her life. 

With that, I would tell her that she will be surrounded by some of the most inspiring people and that they will end up becoming close friends and mentors she grabs lunches with on the weekends. I wish I could tell her she goes through meaningful experiences that reaffirm her career goals and dreams. And, I wish I could tell her that she learns how to rest, enjoys moments of peace with people she cares for and eventually lives out her dreams of Friday night dinner parties with a record player and bouquets of flowers on the dining room table. 

Life is hard, Hopkins is hard and junior year is (supposed to be) hard; don’t you fret — sophomore year still takes the cake on this one, but all three are just as beautiful as they are challenging. 

My time at Hopkins has been filled with learning things I am truly passionate about, dealing with personal challenges and working to make my family proud. I will forever be grateful to call Baltimore and the people I love home for four years, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. 

Cheers to the beginning of the fall semester and cheers to forever growing, feeling eternal peace and always exuding love. 

Aashi Mendpara is a junior from Orlando, Fla. studying Neuroscience and Anthropology.

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