Before coming to Hopkins, I never fully embraced the Korean side of my identity. Growing up in a majorly white community, I was one of few Asian students at my high school. With this community around me, I leaned towards one aspect of my identity: the American side of my Korean-American identity. This came in the form of American pop culture references, speaking only English at school (while feeling conflicted about those freely speaking Korean at school), and never expressing my inner interests of Korean music, food, and culture.

However, coming to Hopkins, I realized that the small bubble I grew up in, where I resided for all 18 years of my life, was not the entire world. Immediately stepping onto Homewood and walking into my freshman AMR I dorm, I saw the many different types of people on-campus, ranging from international students from Australia to a local Baltimorean. With the hub of diverse languages, people, and cultures on campus, I was shocked; the world was so much bigger than the small, suburban city in Pennsylvania.

This led me to explore the different opportunities Hopkins provided. Because college is a time of exploration, self-discovery, and curiosity, I decided to join a cultural group. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I decided to audition for Humming Jay, a Korean-interest a cappella group on campus. Despite my zero experience publicly singing, I was fortunate enough to join my freshman year, and the group has been my second family since.

Similarly, I wanted to meet and know the Korean community at Hopkins. After hearing about the Korean Students Association (KSA), I, mostly on a whim, decided to join as a freshman representative. Ever since then, I have learned so much about Korean culture, history, and its international relations. From running events that celebrated the beginning of Korea’s independence movement to giving out authentic Korean food on Levering Courtyard, I never expected Hopkins to be a place where I tapped into my long-ignored Korean identity.

Both on-campus organizations have been forms of community, and I have made some of my closest friends in these groups. Not only have I learned about Korean culture, but I also learned about how to embrace (and feel comfortable) in my identity. My time at Hopkins thus far has enabled me to explore, question, and step outside my comfort zone, and as a result, I learned so much more about myself while solidifying my confidence and identity.

There are so many opportunities available at Hopkins, ranging from cultural groups to academic opportunities. Whether it be joining something you’re passionate about to trying something new, Hopkins is where you can learn about yourself while finding encouragement, support, and community.