Hey Hopkins Insider! Welcome to my first blog post!

My first semester at Hopkins has absolutely flown by, and I can’t put into words what a wonderful experience it’s been. I’ve met so many incredible people, explored a really cool new city, and of course, learned a ton about myself and the world. However, of all the lessons I’ve learned while at Hopkins, some of the most important ones were taught before I even set foot in my first class. After coming across a page on the Rec Center Website last Spring, I decided to participate in an Experiential Education Pre-Orientation program, and it ended up being one of my favorite weeks of the summer and the perfect way to go into freshman year.

As the name suggests, Pre-O happens the week before Orientation, and is an opportunity for students to get to know Hopkins and other members of their class before the school year officially begins. From the wide variety of programs, I decided on the “Multi-Element” week. This Pre-O, led by the JHU Outdoor Pursuits Club, had about forty incoming freshmen split into five groups. We spent the week at a campground in Ohiopyle, PA, and every day each group got to try out a new outdoor activity—my group, Multi 1, went kayaking the first day, then rock-climbing, then backpacking, and finally white-water rafting.

Though I had almost no idea what to expect going into the week, each day I learned things that have had a lasting impact on my first semester at Hopkins. Presented alongside a scrapbook of photos from the week, here are the most important lessons I learned on Pre-O:

Making Do with What You Have

Our breakfast of very-burnt pancakes ended up being one of our favorite meals of the whole trip, and taught us that everything tastes better with Nutella on it.

Our bus broke down for a few hours on the way home from the trip, but we still made the most of our last day as a group, stocking up on stickers & snacks and playing games in a nearby park.

Facing Obstacles Head-On

Multi 1 in full protective rain gear after hiking what became known as the “Bee-Mile”: a mile of trail on our backpacking day that just happened to be filled with wasp nests. We suited up in raincoats, winter hats, and long pants for protection, and made it out with only one sting.

The second morning of our backpacking trip, exhausted from the previous day but ready to hike the eight miles back to base camp.

Going With the Flow

Even after getting lost on the hike to our rock-climbing site, Multi 1 took time to stop and enjoy the views of a gorgeous river on the side of the trail.

Three hours into our day of kayaking, we tied our boats together and floated down the river for a lunch break.

Working to Achieve Your Goals

On our way back to basecamp after backpacking sixteen miles over two days, happy to have completed our journey.

Ryann, a member of Multi 1, giving a wave after making it to the top of the most difficult rock climbing route.

Turning Strangers Into Friends

Jeremy and Ryann laughing in the Multi 1 tent, which was made for six people but most evenings fit all eight members of our group, telling stories and talking late into the night.

Multi 1 back at Hopkins on the last day of Pre-O, sad to say goodbye to our group but excited to officially start our new adventures on campus.

Finding Joy in the Small Things

The view from “Lunch Rock” on our first backpacking day; we stopped to enjoy some apples and the gorgeous scenery of Ohiopyle.

At the end of our backpacking trip, a perfect pick-me-up came in the form of some ice cream from our leaders and a quick swim in the beautiful Youghiogheny River.

Going on Pre-O has been one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to Hopkins. Aside from learning how to cook powdered falafel on a camp stove, how to “LNT” (Leave No Trace!), and how to properly set up a bear hang, my week in the wilderness taught me how to take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and take advantage of every moment. From my wonderful group members, to the beautiful and welcoming town of Ohiopyle, to each and every adventure, Pre-O made the transition to college smoother than I ever could have expected, and the lessons it taught me still stick with me every day. I have no doubt that Hopkins has plenty more life lessons in store for me over the next four years, and I’m beyond excited to discover them.

Until next time! Allie