This past weekend I had the honor to attend the JHSPH Open House for admitted students. It took a full day of travel to get to Baltimore (I left my apt at 10:15 and didn’t get in until 5:00…silly MA transportation) but when I arrived the sun was shining and I had no problems basking in it while I waited for my friend to pick me up. After getting me from the gorgeous Penn Station, we headed over to Patterson Park where Allison and her housemate play kickball competitively as part of the Kickball League of Baltimore.
After an intense game, we headed back uptown to Charles Village, one of the many neighborhoods that comprises Baltimore. Charles Village is described as liberal, quirky, and close-knit and after my visit, I can definitely agree with that assessment! It honestly reminded me of bit of Amsterdam, with the streets upon streets of thin-but-tall row houses. Obviously there were no canals or European charm or red light district but there was definitely a sense of the familiar. I love the charm and character of the older buildings, the easy accessibility to the JHMI (johns hopkins medical institute shuttle), the tree-lined streets, funky colors, and potential for some outdoor space (I had grand plans to grow tomatoes and herbs this summer…).
After throwing together a delish stir-fry for my host and I with her on-their-way veggies (asparagus, peppers, kale, onion), some brown rice, a can of black beans, a pinch of chili powder, and lots of 21 Seasoning Salute. <;– I seriously need this in my life. I'm writing it off as a "makes life easier" expense, just like I did with the cruet! I did some PP and blog work and then read food blogs until I was too exhausted to think. All-in-all, I was a nervous wreck. Every bit of insecurity and self-doubt coursed through my system. I skipped out on a trip to a local brewpub (yes I know, crazy!) so I could review the schedule for Friday + practice my response to “so what do you do?” + get to bed early. <;–you can guess which of those two things did not happen! I got about 4 hours of fitful sleep and woke up naturally (the best way) at 6:30 a with a massive stomachache and ridiculous amounts of adrenaline + cortisol coursing through my system. I didn’t need to get up just yet so I rested quietly, repeating whatever permission statements <;–what my coach calls affirmations came to mind so that I would have the strength to get othrough the day. Before officially arising, I called momma for a dose of motherly love + inspiration + strength (xo) and spent a couple more minutes doing deep breathing + repeating my permission statements.
Little did I know, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
I made it down to JHU no problem, even meeting another MPH applicant en route. Within 5 minutes of the first presentation they started talking about PASSION. I almost burst into tears right then and there. I checked my phone at the end of that presentation and my bestie had filled it with just the words I needed to hear/read: I deserved this, hold my head high, I’m bad ass, change is difficult but I’m not navigating it alone, and, most importantly, she’ll be waiting for me at the end of the day to offer comfort and love in this time of transition. I felt wholly one with the Universe in way I that hadn’t in a very long time. Words cannot do justice to the beauty of those moments when I felt that I was right where I was supposed to be, having arrived at last. Suffice it to say, it was perfect.
I enjoyed a lecture on HIV Prevention in drug-using, sex workers (Pi Bags is the result of the research). I debated food policy with fellow future classmates. We had $2 beers at the well-attended Happy Hour, sponsored by the school’s water conservation group. <;–seriously, does it get more ME than this?! I chatted with financial aid, checked out the new apt complex (not as impressive as I would have hoped), and met people who have the potential to become life long friends. Most importantly, I not once felt that I didn’t belong…that I was any less worthy than anyone around me. The fact that I was able to sentence my ego/gremlin to time out for the day showed me how far I’ve come…
In a lot of ways, JHSPH reminded me of my alma mater. There was a close-knit feel among the current MPH students who described both faculty and their classmates as being the best of the best, but incredibly supportive. No one minced words regarding the intensity of the program but alongside that we were given practical guidance + tools for navigating the change. I could not have asked for more, except maybe better food in the cafe (seriously, no non-dairy milk?!). At the end of the day, everyone I met was mature, open, and kind. While there are still traces of fear about this next step in my life, overall I am feeling confident because I know with 100% that I am supposed to be at JHSPH, inciting huge changes in the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for my trip!
So what else happened? Well plans changed, I stayed in Baltimore an extra night, I popped my Chipotle cherry (I know, I know, its egregious that it took so long!), slept in until 10, cuddled with my friend’s puppy, ended up in the wrong part of town, chatted on the steps of a middle school, visited an urban farm (!), took the wrong train (twice…once to my $ advantage and once, not so much), got off the wrong shuttle stop, ate too many skittles, had the best portobello sandwich + sauteed veggies ever, chatted with the president of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, quoted Monty Python with fellow Amtrak passengers, rocked some hip openers in the back of the train (pink fuzzy socks included), and founds some inner peace + joy + relaxation among it all.
This was one of the best trips I had in a long time. I wasn’t drained at the end of it despite learning a lot (like to book my train home from Penn Station and not BWI so that I don’t have to get to BWI only to go back through Penn! #travelfail). I gained a decent grasp of the city I’m moving to <;–if I can brag one of my favorite talents! plus a deeper understanding for the program I’ll be a part of. I left with a sense of feeling blessed knowing that I have found my place at last. Plus beau was waiting to pick me up at the New Haven train station where I got to devour some delish food from Claire’s followed by beer from the Cask Republic.
Yes, I’ll say it was a pretty perfect first visit indeed!