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One of my friends keeps joking that Hopkins has three classes of freshmen this year. And while I don’t want to make light of the serious loss we’ve all suffered in our education (and other areas of life), he’s not exactly wrong. There are the juniors, who had their actual freshman year cut short; the sophomores, some of whom were here last semester but many of whom are now on campus for the first time; and then there are the legitimate freshmen (welcome!).
I chose my column name for two reasons: I wanted to focus on positivity, and I’ve needed glasses my whole life... until now.
Few things about sixth grade stand out as particularly memorable to me, but I do remember something my band director used to say to me when I meandered into his room complaining that I couldn’t wait for the day, the week, the year to end. He’d always say, “Don’t go wishing your life away.”
I walked along N. Charles Street this morning, Taylor Swift’s album Red playing in my ears and the crisp, 63-degree air necessitating a cardigan to keep me from shivering. The feeling of the cool air, complemented by the warmth of the sun’s rays, made me feel excited to see the turning of the seasons, the likes of which I had never seen.
As the end of August drew near, I began to spot more and more cars filled with boxes and suitcases parked outside the AMRs and CharMar. After a semester and a summer of online everything — whether it be a class, movie watch party or an internship — seeing people walking around on campus was surreal. Watching the bright-eyed freshmen move their bedding, pillows and other school supplies out of their parents’ car trunks, I was reminded of how I arrived at Hopkins three years ago.
You can’t go to Hopkins without hearing about impostor syndrome. As soon as I accepted my admissions offer from the University, it was like a specter waving at me from the semester to come. The phrase continuously popped up in Reddit threads and prospective student group chats. Upperclassmen warned me that I would sometimes (or often) feel inferior to my classmates, doubt my intelligence and wonder how I ever got accepted in the first place.
My mother’s dream since childhood was to have a horse. She was not around horses as a kid, other than in books, and only began riding in her 20s. In her 40s, she began volunteering at a horse rescue. She was interested in quite a few of the horses that passed through, like Troy, the thoroughbred who wasn’t fast enough to be a racehorse.
Whenever I think of the first day of school, I think of a specific photo of myself standing outside of my grandparents’ apartment in Rio. I’m 3 years old, wearing a school uniform, holding a clear backpack and grinning from cheek to cheek. My parents had put me and my sister in school in Rio during parts of July and August, and I was so excited to be able to attend.
For most people, the COVID-19 pandemic constituted an upheaval of regular social order and a reworking of existing patterns and habits. While this manifested in my life in many ways, it was especially distinct in its effect on my relationships, considering the important transitionary period I was entering during the pandemic. I and the others in the graduating class of 2024 had the displeasure of starting college fully online, without the same experiences or opportunities that incoming college freshmen are usually granted.
If you blink, you’ll miss it. Just like that, four years are coming to a close. Four magical, frustrating, incomparable years full of love, learning and growth. There are so many things I want to say and so many people I want to thank — I could fill volumes with words, but for now, during my last week, I’ll keep it concise and reflect on some things I wish I had known during my first. So, to freshman year San, this is for you:
I recently passed the Rec Center and noticed the blown-up photograph of students on treadmills. I suddenly came to the realization that, in my four years at Hopkins, I have never set foot in the exercise room there. (My trips to the Rec Center have always been for the squash courts — please don’t judge me and my athletic inclinations.)
After a longer-than-expected hiatus from the Gatehouse (The News-Letter’s office), I’ve somehow found myself back here again to write my last column. It feels fitting. There is something comforting about being back in the space where I spent so much of the last four years. In fact, there were many weeks where I spent more time here than I did in my own apartment. It feels good to be back, though more than a little bittersweet.
I love a good sense of symbolic closure.
In April 2020, sitting at computers almost 3,000 miles apart, we were elected to be Editors-in-Chief of The News-Letter. By then, we’d been doing remote production for about a month, but at the time, we believed that things would soon return to normal.
Last weekend, one of my friends helped me take graduation photos around Decker Quad. It was unusually cold and windy. We posed in front of the lecture halls and admin buildings that framed the well-tended lawn, forcing smiles against cool gusts of spring air that whipped across the quad.
So this is it — the last week of college. And yes, my last article. Goodbye, Perls of Wisdom. It’s been fun. I’ve taken the trip down memory lane a few times this semester. I’m more sentimental than I expected. Until this week, I had the false idea that school was ending for the summer and I’d be sitting on the beach with my friends in three short months. Obviously, that’s not what’s happening.
When I was nine years old, I convinced my family to drive 3.5 hours to Hershey Park to see a Selena Gomez concert. As a huge child fan of the Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place, I was thrilled beyond belief to finally see Selena in person. As we found our seats on the bleachers of Hersheypark Stadium, I gradually noticed the clouds turn a dark gray, and I soon heard the rumbling noise of thunder. As a massive downpour began, the opening act exited the stage, and the concert came to a halt.
As a writer, I started off wanting to explore the cool things, the unusual things, the macabre things — murders and betrayals, lies and promises, abuses of power, grossly violent crimes and what leads people to such dramatic actions. In my freshman year, the first story I wrote was about a man who got caught in a grocery store shooting.
In so many ways, I feel lost. I feel lost in the direction I want my life to take. I feel lost trying to figure out whether I truly know myself or not.
My mother has always been my icon. She’s a strong, career-driven woman; I grew up watching her get dressed at 7 a.m. every morning and have been an audience member at countless panels where people attentively listened to advice I cribbed about receiving on a daily basis. There is no question that my feminist ideologies largely stem from living with a powerhouse, but many equally important teachings have come from my father.