Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 30, 2024

Voices

Hopkins is a diverse university where an incredible mix of cultures, academic interests and personalities coexist and thrive. Here is the section where you can publish your unique thoughts, ideas and perspectives on life at Hopkins and beyond.



COURTESY OF GABRIEL LESSER
Lesser tells how his trip to Rio with his college friends allowed him to mix the familiar with the unknown and says his goodbyes to The News-Letter.

Closing a chapter: Holding onto the familiar, making room for the new

I’m sitting here writing my last piece for my column in The News-Letter, and I am at a loss for words. I’ve thought about this moment for a while: what I’d write in my last piece, where in my life I’d be and what closing words I’d share. While the last four years have shaped who I am and influenced who I have become, I’ve come to the realization that, at my core, I’m the same I’ve always been: discovering myself through my writing and growing from my experiences.


COURTESY OF MADELYN KYE
Kye reflects on how grief affected her experience studying abroad in Paris.

The truth about my semester in Paris, France

I studied abroad in Paris last spring and it still comes up frequently. Naturally, when people learn that I studied abroad, they ask me about it. Not wanting to kill the mood, I usually find myself lying, or, at least, oversimplifying the situation. 


COURTESY OF ISABELLA MADRUGA
Madruga discusses her relationship with The Sims.

Why I play The Sims, and why you should, too

Growing up, I never really played — or liked — video games. I didn’t get the point. Watching my 4th-grade crush play Portal in his bedroom was boring. Okay, you get to the next level, and then you get to the last level and then what? You just play it all over again? Never mind the fact that I didn’t particularly enjoy games that hurt people violently. Games on the Wii were more tolerable, but then whenever I’d win (or more likely, lose), I’d think, “What’s next?”


COURTESY OF SARA KAUFMAN
Kaufman reflects on how she has come to appreciate small joys.

Appreciating the fun-sized joys in life

I stand at a whopping 5 feet. That means I’m on my tiptoes for about half of each day, I fit comfortably in coach airplane seats and I have managed to end up with a list of “‘things in friends’ apartments that are taller than I am.” As a short person, it only makes sense for me to surround myself with other physically small things.


COURTESY OF PETER WANG
Li reflects on feelings of frustration and ponders finding her calling.

Why do we even try?

Why do we even try? As a graduating senior, I’ve asked myself this question many times. Sleepless nights spent cramming for Chinese exams and finishing English papers have left me wondering why I bother to put so much effort into my work and whether this effort will be worth it in the end.


ARANTZA GARCIA / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR
Koldas rereads old journal entries and promises herself to learn how to forgive.

My attempt to master forgiveness

Reading old journal entries is difficult to begin. If you’re a person who has never been good at facing failure, like I am, it is dreadful. For the last couple of weeks, even the thought of rereading my old entries was enough to make me nervous. However, a few days ago, I radically turned off the switch in my head that was keeping me from doing this. I wished to reflect. I wanted to see my growth, the steps I had taken forward, if any.


COURTESY OF AASHI MENDPARA
Mendpara reflects on her former obsession with teen magazines.

Here's to pining for the American teenage dream

I remember being 10 or 11 years old, sitting in front of my family’s desktop computer, staring at a picture of a girl. She was maybe 17, wearing a red varsity jacket with matching red Converse shoes and big gold hoops. Her hair was long, straight and blonde. She was sitting cross-legged on a baseball diamond, a bat casually resting on her shoulder. 


ARUSA MALIK / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR
Zhu reflects on her Shanghainese identity. 

Lost and found: Reclaiming my voice as a Shanghainese

Over winter break, my family’s activity and conversation revolved around a TV series called Blossoms Shanghai. Set in the ‘90s in Shanghai, the show interweaves stories of young Shanghainese fighting for their future in their own ways as the city undergoes tremendous economic changes.


ARUSA MALIK / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR
Swindle reflects on how her relationship with the piano has changed.

Learning to play piano

When I was seven years old, I started to learn the piano. I had a wonderful (albeit strict) teacher, who taught me a lot about how to place my hands on the keys, read bass clef and approach three-octave scales. I graduated from intro exercises to sonatinas after a couple of years and started performing annually at my teacher’s recitals.


Baltimore strong: The resiliency of cities

Like many other residents of Baltimore, I woke up on Tuesday morning to the news of the Francis Scott Key Bridge falling overnight when it was hit by a massive ship that was exiting the Port of Baltimore. It goes without saying that this was a devastating incident for the city, and our thoughts and prayers are especially with those who lost loved ones.


COURTESY OF KAITLIN TAN
Tan writes about her experience on her spring break trip.

Off-season: Reflections on the road

There is a strange peace to the sight of a beach town emptied. Arriving at Cape Cod at noon in late March, we were served a sight of pastel storefronts and wooden walkways that wove around one another in a tangle of overlapping outlooks and porches. My roommate and I were the only passengers on the large bus into town.


COURTESY OF GABRIEL LESSER
Lesser reflects on a quote he encountered in January.

A small note on gratitude

While sitting at dinner during my class trip this past intersession to Brazil, I ordered a drink with a small yellow note attached to it. It said in Portuguese, “não espere ter tudo pra aproveitar a vida, se você já tem a vida pra aproveitar tudo.” Don’t wait to have everything to enjoy life, if you already have life to enjoy everything.


COURTESY OF RAGHAV AGRAWAL
Agrawal writes about the community he has found in the Baltimore Bike Party.

The sounds of Baltimore: Learning to listen

While running the risk of taking the name of this column too literally, it's time we talk about the sounds of Baltimore. While it may be famous for its crabs, Old Bay and Natty Bohs — its glistening harbor, picturesque parks and breath-taking sunsets — the voices of the city hold a special place in my heart.


COURTESY OF SARA KAUFMAN
Kaufman describes the learning curve associated with culturing cells in the lab.

A learning journey: My experience with cell culture

Working with cells requires knowledge, dexterity, time management and an absurd amount of confidence.  For years, I watched researchers culture cells in biosafety cabinets. I took notes as they changed out cell media (the liquid “food” cultured cells float in), passaged cells from one flask to another and conducted experiments on the microscopic organisms. 


ARUSA MALIK / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR
Mulani explains how her relationship with reading has evolved throughout the years.

I’m most myself when I’m reading

When I was younger, I was a voracious reader — that’s the word my mum used to describe me. I read on the breakfast table, on the way to school, during break and lunch time, in between classes, during classes, at the dinner table and under the covers at night.


COURTESY OF BUSE KOLDAS
Koldas reflects on becoming accustomed to an uncomfortably hectic schedule.

I’m always in a rush, and it’s the Hopkins normal

It has been seven weeks since this semester started, and I regret that I let the time pass me by, because I was so caught up in the resulting success that I forgot that progress also matters. Now, I’m scared: Will the weeks to come pass this fast, too? Have I made any memories I will look back to when I’m old in these past seven weeks?


COURTESY OF LANA SWINDLE
Swindle discusses how her relationship with school spirit has shifted since high school.

A love letter to lacrosse

I sat down with my friend in a sea of light and dark blue sweaters, flags, posters and hats. I’d never seen an audience so excited about a sports game, and I actually kind of loved it.



ARANTZA GARCIA / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR
Kye talks about her shifting approach to writing.

On seeking new inspirations for writing

At the end of 2023, I felt very burnt out with writing. I love writing, but I felt as though I had spent the fall semester writing excessively as I drafted, edited and often scrapped one short story after the next. To combat this, I decided it was time to seek out new inspiration. I often pull from my own life in my work (and I will continue to do so), but I wanted to work to make sure that I always had material, even if there was nothing in my personal life currently interesting to me as a writer.


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