After 18: Danielle Hopkins

Moving in.

Danielle Hopkins stands with her father Ewell Hopkins at graduation. — Courtesy Danielle Hopkins

Every year The MV Times asks four recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Danielle Hopkins graduated from MVRHS this spring, and is attending Barnard College in New York City. This is Danielle’s first dispatch.

This fall I am attending Barnard College, which is a women’s college located in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. During my junior year of high school, I had toured a few schools in New York City for April break. It was a long week that caused me to question if I really wanted to attend a school in the big city. But on the last day we decided to tour Barnard College, and the minute I stepped onto campus I knew I had found my place. Everyone I interacted with was intelligent and left me feeling empowered. You could tell that everyone was proud to call Barnard their home. As I stepped onto Barnard’s campus on move-in day last Sunday, this time just turned 18 and a high school graduate, I too felt at home.

From left, Stehpanie Zhang, Chelsea Sinclair, Danielle Hopkins, Nicole Gomez, and Asha Meagher attend a Yankees game. Courtesy Danielle Hopkins

Despite my assurance that I had found my new home, my move-in day was less than ideal. While we were driving into the city, I began to realize everything I had forgotten to pack, including pillows and toothpaste. And by the time my mother and I were done unpacking the room, she had to bring home half the stuff I did pack but didn’t need. I also did not meet my roommate until 6 pm that night, even though she had already been living on campus for three days for her international student orientation program. Even with all of these setbacks, I never at any point felt out of control or worried. I just knew that everything would work out. I ended up not getting pillows until the next morning, and not purchasing my own toothpaste for another two days, but I made it work. I had to ask whatever other girl was in the bathroom if I could borrow her toothpaste, and I used a towel the first night to rest my head.

New Student Orientation Program, or NSOP, just ended yesterday for us. It was a week filled with lots of new names and faces and a ton of information. We would have meeting after meeting every day, learning everything from how the dining halls work to sexual assault awareness, to tips for success in school from our professors. Even with the overload of info, I had a good time meeting and making connections with the people I would be spending the next four years with.

Right now I am trying to figure out how to make sure I get off the waitlist for my Intro to American Politics lecture. I am currently only registered for half the classes I am supposed to be taking this semester, and they start on Tuesday. I have comfort in the fact, however, that most of the other people I have talked to are in similar situations.

Danielle Hopkins, left, and Asha Meagher view Commes De Garçones at the MET. Courtesy Danielle Hopkins

Barnard College is the sister school of Columbia University, and is still a women’s college. In 1983, when Columbia College began admitting female students, Barnard was asked to merge into the university to make it just one big institution. However, the women at Barnard refused to be absorbed and fought for Barnard to remain. Currently Barnard and Columbia have a unique relationship where Barnard is its own institution, but students at both Barnard and Columbia are allowed to take classes at either school.

For me this basically means it is just harder for me to get into Intro to American Politics, since only Columbia offers the class. My only option at the moment is to attend the class on Tuesday anyway and email the professor personally, in hopes that she can find room for me, which if you know me, is not something I am excited about doing. I would feel much better knowing that I had a spot in the class and that my schedule was set and ready to go.

So this morning to take my mind off the scheduling fiasco I am having, I took the train to Brooklyn with two girls from my floor. According to the Health app on my phone, we walked 8.6 miles around the city. We went to the East River, then crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge, explored Chinatown and Little Italy, and took the subway back to Morningside Heights, where Barnard is located. If someone told me that I would be navigating the subway and going all over the city in my first week of school, I would not have believed them.

Danielle Hopkins with her mom Kimberly Cartwright on move in day. Courtesy Danielle Hopkins

I am looking forward to having more adventures like this throughout the year. I have only been here for seven days, and it is already starting to feel like home, which is a very good sign. I was surprised because I hadn’t had time to process the fact that I won’t see my friends and family again until Thanksgiving, so I wasn’t feeling homesick. Now that orientation is over, it is starting to sink in, and I am beginning to miss them all. But once classes start and I get into a real schedule, I am sure I will adjust quickly. I am just going to take everything one day at a time, knowing that in the end everything will work out for the best.