As college students, it may be easy for us to get swept up in the vigor of an academically advanced institution. It’s important to remember, however, where and when the work stops, and when other parts of our lives begin! Fortunately, Hopkins makes ‘living’ far simpler for us through its emphasis on the student experience and its resources to enhance our time at college.  

Right from the onset, first-year students can start finding their community through Orientation week and moving-in earlier than the rest of the university. While this immediacy may sound daunting, fear not! The offices of Student Transitions & Family Engagement and (our beloved) Residential Life are here to help!  

Even before Orientation begins, optional Pre-Orientations are conducted by numerous offices and departments as 3.5-day programs that give students a chance to meet peers with similar interests and ease them into their college experience. Attending the International Students Pre-Orientation was a chance for me to meet folks who could relate to my experiences and emotions. I’d highly recommend folks do a Pre-O program if they can—it’s also a chance to move in earlier, which was a big bonus for me to become familiar with my surroundings! While I personally have a soft spot for the International Students and Outdoors Pre-O (more on that in a bit), I suggest signing up for something that interests you or that will help you explore a part of your identity.  

During Orientation, students spend a week with 15 other first-years and navigate the ins and outs of campus life with their First-Year Mentor (FYM)! As an FYM myself, I love seeing friendships bloom in O-week! It’s amazing to see folks gel together by sheer coincidence of being placed in the same group, the odds of which are somewhat easily calculable but still tremendous! I still keep in touch with peers I went through Orientation with in my first year and value all the fun and learning we went through together.  

My Orientation week as a first-year student.
My Orientation week as a FYM!

Another extremely impactful experience for me in making friends was living in Baker Hall in AMR II. The ease of O-week meant I had folks knocking on my door to introduce themselves, which really comforted me when I felt out of place; it reminded me that everyone was in a similar place of uncertainty but was also making an effort. I will never forget when my now best friends (who lived across from me) knocked on my room door and asked my roommate and I if we’d like to play Bananagrams. The night carried on and ended with an impromptu rendition of “Hamilton,” which drew the attention of our other hall-mates and laid the foundation of a group I now consider my adopted family.  

These opportunities to create your community extend beyond O-week (and your first year)! An easy way to find like-minded individuals who share your interests is through our 450+ clubs and registered student organizations. There were a few I was certain I’d join but the most influential ones have been those I discovered along the way. My experiences with the Outdoors Club cemented my position in a fun-loving community. While I joined with the expectation of exploring my interests in backpacking and whitewater kayaking, I have found a group of people that enjoy each other’s company and are always eager to help—whether it’s teaching you how to tie a bear hang in a pitch-black forest or with the odd problem set in a class they had taken years ago. We have played intramurals together (with more folks coming out to cheer us on than compete, explored our communities (join us for Urban Hiking in Baltimore in the fall!), and grown as people. The club has yielded roommates and best friends, a tight-knit community that transcends graduation years, and most importantly, a home (some 9,000 miles away from where I grew up).  

Our backpacking training trip in the spring semester of my first year!

There really is something for everyone at Hopkins; every day is a new chance for you to understand your identities and stumble across a friend you very shortly will not be able to imagine life without. It can be hard to put yourself out there, but I promise you the outcome will be worth it. Be unafraid to sign up for a club you may think you enjoy but are not sure yet. Join an intramural sport even if you can’t convince a friend to play it with you. Be open to new experiences! To end, I think it’s wise for me to pass on advice my FYM gave me as a first-year in the fall of 2022: Every time you walk into a room, try walking out having learned a new person’s name. You’ll be surprised by how easy it may be to make a new friend and cultivate relationships that transform over time.