Going into my first year at Hopkins, I was beyond excited to become a Blue Jay. I had a schedule of interesting classes, a lovely roommate, and a whole new city to explore. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous. Though coming to Hopkins was exciting, it was a big change. I had never spent more than two weeks away from my family, and I had gone to school with many of the same people for the previous 12 years. When I moved in on that first day, I was very unsure of how I would find my people—that is, until later that night when O-Week (aka Orientation Week) began.
At Hopkins, new students have a week of orientation with their FYM, or First-Year Mentor, before starting classes. This week allows students to acclimate to their new environment and independent lifestyle alongside a group of other newbies with a student mentor for guidance and support. In my FYM group as a first year, I became friends with people I might not have met under other circumstances, like in classes or clubs. Several of these people are still some of my closest friends, and I have O-Week to thank for that!
O-Week is an exciting and energetic week no matter which side of it you’re on! As an FYM, I loved getting to know the students in my group; each one had such different interests and passions that contributed both to our group and to the larger Hopkins community. I felt fortunate to have a group that clicked so well and showed so much enthusiasm about every activity, even long lectures that might not sound like the most fun way to spend the first few days at college. Through different games and meals together, my mentees found common interests among themselves. I showed them my favorite spots on and off campus, like the Charmery, where we took a group walk for ice cream one night. Another evening when not much was planned, I got a text from a mentee inviting me to a movie night that my group had planned themselves! I couldn’t go because I had another FYM obligation, but I was thrilled their friendship was extending beyond our required activities, and I was sure to send them some Insomnia Cookies!
While FYM groups meet less frequently throughout the semester, the O-Week bond doesn’t just disappear. I checked in with each of my mentees throughout the year. While not every mentee wants to stay in touch, many of mine got coffee with me or joined me for a group movie night. Others say hi to me in passing. Sometimes I’ll see a few of my mentees hanging out or walking to classes together, and it makes me smile to see how O-Week can influence the rest of a student’s year and college experience.
The most rewarding aspect of being an FYM came a few weeks after O-Week had ended. I had wondered if I would spend the rest of the year reaching out to my mentees and receiving disinterested responses, as they may have moved on from our group, found new friends, or felt they didn’t need their FYM anymore. But soon, one mentee reached out to me asking about a class they were taking. Then another about housing. Then another about the school’s health and wellness center. Throughout the year, I had mentees asking me for help with schedule planning, navigating internship applications, and general college life. Though not all my mentees needed me after O-Week, I was so happy to know that some of them viewed me as that person they could turn to.
Throughout the year I’ve reunited with some of my mentees in classes and club meetings, others at larger events like lacrosse games. No matter how much you rely on your FYM, it’s always nice to have one more friendly face around campus. I’m spending the fall semester of my junior year abroad in Rome, Italy, and while I am thrilled about this opportunity, I’m also sad that I won’t be a First-Year Mentor for a new cohort of first years. However, I will certainly be applying again my senior year. I know that when I do get back in the spring, I will have my group from last year on campus, and I can’t wait to catch up with them about their sophomore years!