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One of my goals for my semester abroad was to take a solo trip. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I knew that the experience would be crucial to learning more about myself. After sitting on the idea for some time, I decided to go to Kraków, Poland for a few reasons. First, I have Polish heritage on my mother’s side. I grew up eating some Polish foods prepared by my grandmother: pierogi, babka and kołaczki, to name a few examples, and I was very intrigued by the possibility of having Polish dishes in Poland. Though I was most familiar with the country’s culture in terms of food, I was also interested in the nation’s history and nature, making the trip very appealing. I ultimately decided between Warsaw and Kraków and booked a four-night stay in Kraków due to the wide array of attractions available as well as walkability.
Growing up on the outskirts of Washington D.C., one of my favorite spots as a child was a bridge near my house that overlooked the trains rushing to and from our nation’s capital. Watching them with my grandparents was exciting for a five-year-old whose television habits involved Thomas the Tank Engine, Cars and other animated shows starring transportation. And so, my interests as a five-year-old included playing with a train set that I had at home, consciously observing bus and rail services, and reading books about our nation’s infrastructure and locomotives.
When I was younger, I was always known as someone with a “quiet voice.” I tended to be shy and let others speak for me, preferring to hang in the background and let my achievements shine through. However, this was not an attribute that I particularly liked about myself. I strove to break through those bounds and find other avenues to make my voice heard as I entered high school. I joined debate, the school newspaper and took on leadership roles to force myself out of my comfort zone and get used to public speaking.
Before every high school track meet, my coach used to give us pep talks on the bus. The whole team was drowsy, waking up from naps where our necks ached from sitting three to a row. We used to gaze up at him as he stood in the front of the bus, gesturing enthusiastically.
This academic year felt like the real beginning of the “new normal” after many false starts. During the pandemic, the paper shifted from a primarily print publication to operating online. As restrictions lessened, elements of old traditions returned. Last year’s Editors-in-Chief Leela Gebo and Laura Wadsten initiated the process of returning the paper to its normal operating status, as they brought back print magazines and welcomed masked staff back into the Gatehouse.
While walking through the hospital hallway at work the other day, I heard three, middle-aged women discuss in Mandarin one of the women’s new pair of brown leather boots and what shoe styles are currently “in.” A pang of nostalgia hit me, and I felt my eyes tear up, a familiar tingle rising in my nose that I suppressed by scrunching my face.
“Your English teacher said your writing skills are poor and that you need to work on them. We signed you up for these literature clubs and camps for you to improve.”
At some point in every Writing Seminars class I’ve taken at Hopkins, the same thought has crossed my mind: What if I’m actually bad at this?
Located just a few miles from the France-Germany border, Strasbourg was at the top of my list of places to visit within France. I was curious about the French and German cultural influences in the city and was excited to learn more about France’s Alsace region.
“You don’t need to learn how to code.”
At the beginning of my sophomore year, when I got off my taxi after 24 hours in airports and on flights, I discovered that my dorm had burned and the water damage from the firefighting rendered my room unlivable.
This past semester, my senior fall felt simultaneously like one of my longest and shortest semesters at Hopkins. I took more academic credits than I ever had during my time as an undergraduate, yet my workload felt somewhat lighter than in previous semesters.
“I’m going to be home for the summer. What about you?”
On a particularly lonely day, I am in a coffee shop, grief-stricken over the death of an imagined romance.
My sister always does the deep frying.
Attending a college as rigorous as Hopkins requires an extensive amount of time spent going to classes, completing assignments and studying for a never-ending stream of midterms. Because our days are filled with unceasing schoolwork, it can feel as though there is no time to do anything else.
When you listen to a vinyl, it is both the first and last time you’ll hear it. As the needle traverses the record it creates new grooves, subtle nicks here and there, like a co-producer editing the musical content beyond the control of its original artist.
Whenever my brother and I are back home in Manila, Philippines for break, we have a mission: to eat at all of our favorite restaurants. From the crepes of Café Breton to pasta at La Nuova Pasteleria to steak at Mamou, we have created a formidable list of places to go, always delighting in picking the restaurant of the day every time we eat out.
One of my favorite photos of me as a child was taken in the kitchen of the house I was born in — I’m standing at a cabinet that’s taller than me, unopened packages of pasta strewn on the floor, wearing a red onesie that says “Moose!” that was later passed down to both of my sisters.
At 3:30 p.m., I finally received the phone call.