One of the valley dudes who changed my life this summer
It has taken me exactly 29 hours, 3 minutes, and 46 seconds to adjust to life back in the city. The moment of realization? Enjoying my first sip of a banana chai freeze in a vegan cafe while writing this blog and listening to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out. (Incoming freshman: where can you find this experience? One World Cafe! A short walk from the freshman quad).
I’m not going to lie, my first few hours back in Baltimore yesterday made my head spin. I have spent the past three months climbing trees and playing with kids, where the loudest noise I encountered was the hum of the weed-wacker by a field of grazing cows. When I laid down for a nap after work in my friend’s apartment my first day back, a few questions began looming: how had I forgotten how noisy the city is? How long would it take me to exchange crickets and quiet nights for the jazz music and sharp laughter the city sidewalk produces?
Not to mention a few other things: my time at the valley is over. And this doesn’t only mean my time forty feet in the air surrounded by leaves and spiders and fields, this also means my time part of a loving community with many people who made this summer the best one of my life. (Not to get TOO sappy…). Of course, it is not really over. I will be working odd weekends during the fall as a facilitator for Genesee and will stay in touch with many of these great people. Plus, as cheesy as it may sound, what they have taught me will carry through into my life at Hopkins.
My last day hanging out at the valley (with my family!)
And speaking of my life at Hopkins, the creeping feeling of “it is great to be back!” did in fact overcome me in fewer than thirty hours, for there is something about Hopkins kids and this city that is undeniably unique. I am working my job as a pre-orientation director for the next eight-ish days (can’t wait to meet all you pre-o kids!), and it is hard to explain the value of a Hopkins-nerd in an office setting. Computer problem? You can bet there’s a dude next to you who speaks Mac better than the Apple Store folks themselves. On top of that, I have missed the random idiosyncracies of Baltimore-ians and the convenience of the city itself. Starbucks within a block? This is always a pro.
Though it has been a crazy turnaround, I can say these past hours have left me happy with where I am now. I get to wake up every morning, walk through a city I know and love, and hang out with some pretty awesome people all day. This upcoming semester is looking better all the time, and who knows? Maybe I’ll hear crickets outside of Charles Commons sooner than I know.
Greetings from Maine! We’ve just completed our first week of second session here at camp, and that means a number of things- the biggest being homesickness. At age 8, missing your parents and your home is pretty natural, especially since these little girls are at camp for 4 weeks. At age 19, I’m finding that my “homesickness” is a bit more complicated. Not only do I miss Texas, but I also really miss Hopkins. After six weeks in Maine, I think that I’ve narrowed my home(wood) sickness down and pinpointed my top 5 things that I miss about Homewood, Hopkins in general, and of course, the awesome city of Baltimore.
Me and my camper, Cori, bumper tubing. Cori has been having a few bad bouts of homesickness lately, but she's getting more independent every day!
1) Living with my friends. Not that living with a bunch of 7-8 year-olds isn’t entertaining, but living with a bunch of people your own age is an absolute blast. Freshmen dorms at Hopkins are pretty social (especially the AMR’s), and it’s extremely easy to acquire housing with your friends as a sophomore. This coming year I’ll be living with 3 other girls in Charles Commons, and I really could not be more excited!
2) Going to class. Maybe it’s a Hopkins thing, but classes are usually super interesting. Next year, I’ll be taking organic chemistry, biology, biology lab, intermediate spanish II, and medieval world.
3) Extracurriculars. Reflecting back on my freshmen year, I really enjoyed my extracurricular activities- especially working for a psychologist at the med campus and translating for hispanic patients at the Baltimore City clinic. Feeling like you’re making a difference has a serious affect on your attitude, and I miss feeling as if I’m making a small difference for the city of Baltimore.
4) Free Time. Living at camp and working from 7:45am-10pm can be pretty exhausting, and it’s definitely made me more appreciative of the free time that I have in college. I think that the sheer amount of free time that freshmen have at first can be pretty overwhelming at first. My advice would be to get involved early on, but also leave enough time to decompress and relax every now and then.
5) Baltimore itself. While I’ve gotten to explore a bunch of towns in Maine this summer, I’ve come to realize how much I love the city of Baltimore. Not only does Baltimore have a ton of diverse restaurants, clubs, shopping, and concert venues, but it also boasts a ton of unique neighborhoods that I’ve yet to explore. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to get off campus this coming year.
That’s all for now! I hope that you are all having an awesome summer, and I can’t wait to meet all of the incoming freshmen in August!
This past weekend, I took a spontaneous trip to Baltimore to visit Sonu and Joy, who had just finished the first session of summer Orgo at Hopkins. To clarify, I love spontaneity but spontaneity doesn’t always love me. In retrospect, booking a train ticket for 6 a.m. was probably a little overly optimistic, seeing as I missed my train not once but twice (…oopz).
Regardless, I pulled into Penn Station around noon on Friday, after spending an hour sitting in the Richmond train station and another three hours being anti-social in Amtrak’s Quiet Car (I prefer to travel sans screaming toddlers and middle-aged women gabbing away on their cell phones. You know how some truly great love stories start with a guy and a girl meeting on an airplane or train? This might explain why I’m still single).
A few hours later, a quasi-monsoon hit, and all of Baltimore was drenched in darkness. So much for a celebratory weekend, right? I think this was Baltimore’s way of saying, “Congratulations, you survived Organic Chemistry! Now die in a pool of your own sweat.” With no electricity, hot water, or AC in 105-degree weather, it’s truly a testament to the company I was in that I didn’t dissolve into a puddle of bratty desolation. And while I am fully aware that all of this warrants a very big #firstworldproblems, I found that on a scale from one to watching any of the Twilight movies, braving the heat in the midst of a massive power outage wasn’t as miserable as I thought it would be.
With one of my favorite Desi gurlz – Love ya Sonu!
(Sidenote: This is coming from someone who has a notoriously low threshold for pain or discomfort – which is both good and bad. Like, for example, extreme cases of torture for classified information, piercings, tattoos, childbirth, shots at the doctor’s office, and/or fighting to the death in a wilderness arena against 22 other teenagers. Think about the first person that dies in every single horror movie you’ve ever seen – that’s me. On the bright side, you guys will never have to worry about me dying in a tragic cliff-diving accident.)
They say hindsight is 20-20, and I’m guessing this mantra was supposed to be applied to things like dysfunctional relationships, eating a giant tube of cookie dough at two in the morning, and other similarly poor life decisions, but I’m going to go ahead and use it to shed light (…too soon?) on surviving a weekend without power in B’more.
Survival Tip #1: Candles. Technically I think candles are considered contraband // possibly a weapon of mass destruction by the Housing Office. At best they are “strongly discouraged.” Anyways, my advice would be to blatantly ignore that rule and stock up in the event of another power outage or emergency.
Survival Tip #2: Use this opportunity to explore other well-lit, air-conditioned parts of Baltimore. Like Maxie’s (Kidding! Sort of). Unfortunately, half of Charles Village was closed – no Subway, Unimini, Starbucks, Chipotle, or Ajumma’s. So Jane, Joy, Sonu, Will and I went downtown Saturday night and enjoyed dinner at RA Sushi, which was thankfully open and had power (see: AC). We hit up Fell’s Point for a bit and met some interesting locals who made us laugh // forget about the lack of power back at Hopkins. You’ll probably have to eat out for at least a couple of days, so I took advantage of the situation and went to Carma’s and Donna’s (Turkey burger and sweet potato fries til I die), which I missed immensely while I was away.
Survival Tip #3: Oil-blotting sheets. While I know that an extra sheen of sweat pretty much kills any aesthetic motivation, invest in some of these. Unless you want to look like the BP oil spill happened on your face, blotting sheets will tide you over until you can take a decent shower. Which brings me to my next point…
Survival Tip #4: Get used to cold showers. It builds character.
At RA with my APhi loves. Did I mention there was AC?
Survival Tip #5: Eat everything in sight. So this might be more of a personal life philosophy (ALL I DO IS EAT EAT EAT NO MATTER WHAT…loljk) than a survival tip, but chances are that most of the food in your fridge is going to spoil within 48 hours – especially if Maryland state authorities are saying it could take up to a week to completely restore power. Before eating out, try to salvage what you can! By Sunday morning, Joy and Allison (our lovely hostesses!) looked so dejected and miserable that Jane and I ran to Eddie’s and Barnes and Noble to get them healthy, non-perishable food and cold drinks as a parting gift (to be honest I think Jane and I were responsible for at least a quarter of their drink revenue in two days…no big).
We were going to buy them a consolation cake before remembering that cake technically has to be refrigerated...oopz.
Survival Tip #6: Be grateful. If you live in the tri-state area and had power this past weekend, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I hate you. However unbearable the heat, we still had clean running water and a roof over our heads, which is more than the 1.4 billion people living under the poverty line around the world. From a less dramatic perspective, the only thing worse than being constantly sweaty is being constantly sweaty and surrounded by people you hate. Luckily for me, I spent the entire weekend with a really great group of people who still managed to be as ridiculous and fun as ever.
While I miss my friends and classes at Hopkins like crazy, I’ve really found myself to miss the charm and opportunity that lies in Baltimore as well. In order to supplement my St. Louis summer with the spirit of B’more, I’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on around the city through the news.
I really like this article because it shows Baltimore’s commitment to the arts, especially in Station North, the major art district in the city. One of my favorite parts is the picture at left, showing a building-turned-workspace for street artist MOMO, because that building is actually Gallery CA, a contemporary art gallery where I’ll be interning in the fall while working with the current Curator-in-Residence, a MICA grad student in the Curatorial Practice program. Not only does Baltimore draw in artists from around the city, but also internationaly-acclaimed artists, such as John Ahearn who definitely made a statement at New York’s Frieze Art Fair. Baltimore is surrounded by New York and D.C., a few of the art capitals of the U.S., but it is evident that it is becoming a landmark of its own, made even more clear by the efforts of this year’s Open Walls Baltimore. (Click on the title link to see a few dozen more examples of recent and amazing Baltimore street art)
With the Baltimore Museum of Art getting ready to reopen their modern and contemporary galleries in the fall, (I’M SO EXCITED) they’re also acquiring new works through their In a New Light campaign. Morris Louis is one such artist whose works are being accessioned by the Museum, which is fitting seeing his long history with Baltimore, being both born in the city and graduating from MICA. In working in the curatorial offices at the BMA all last year, I actually got to attend a pre-accessions committee meeting in which the BMA contemporary curator showed us the works she was looking to acquire, among which were works by Louis, straight from his estate and still in the crate. It was an incredible experience to see the art in such an environment as the BMA vaults, and I know that the acquisition of such works will make the efforts of the BMA’s reinstallation even more incredible.
I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to food blogs; so, when an entry comes up about Baltimore, I’m eager to read it. One of the recent articles is about the “Camden Giant,” a new crabcake-topped burger available at the home of the Orioles. The crab and old-bay featured in the burger, staples of Maryland cuisine, make this one tempting dish, and as a burger junkie, it may prove hard to resist if I find myself at a game. During my year’s Orientation, there was a trip to Camden Yards, so if that goes on again this year, Class of 2016′ers, you may have to take one for the team and try it out.
Yes, I follow a blog called A Hamburger Today. No, I’m only slightly-ashamed of it. The blog recently put out a guide to burgers in Baltimore as chronicled by Charm City Cakes‘ chef Duff Goldman. (Fun fact: Charm City Cakes, the bakery in Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, is only a few blocks away from campus. Swag.) Coming in at #3 on Duff’s list is Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon, a food truck that frequently comes around the Homewood campus with some pretty tempting burgers. I’ve yet to have free time to try one myself when they’re serving up burgers right outside of Charles Commons, but it’s definitely become a priority for when I head back to Baltimore in the fall.
As you can see, Baltimore is a busy and constantly-changing city, and if you get out to explore it, there’s a lot to be seen. Class of 2016, get excited, because come the Fall you’ll be living in one of the best cities in the country, and even being 750+ miles away in St. Louis for the summer hasn’t made me a stranger to the Baltimore charm.
Kevin: Hi guys! I know that it’s been a long time since my last post, and I never really got to say a proper wrap up and goodbye, but goodbyes are sappy and whatever so maybe it’s for the best. Freshman year is o…wait for it…VER! Oh by the way I’ve been watching a lot of TV, including How I Met Your Mother, since I’ve been home. Whoops.
Back to the point of this post, after being away from the beautiful Hopkins campus for like two and a half weeks, I couldn’t take it anymore, and impulsively hopped on a train to come down and spend the weekend with my friends! They’re all doing cool things – one of them is doing some kind of genetic-y programming-y thing I don’t completely understand, another is working for Hopkins alumni relations, and the third is working for a program to increase college awareness within a local Baltimore middle school! I’m in pretty great company.
It’s been really great to come back to Hopkins without the stress of the year hanging over me. Don’t get me wrong – being here in the year exceeded every expectation I put forth and it was the greatest year of my life, but there’s really just a different feeling to be back and free. It’s fun.
So now I’m sitting down to co-write a blog with JHU_Miranda in her apartment to reflect upon a whirlwind 36 hours of food, sun, and friends!
Miranda: Hi everyone! It’s also been a while since I last wrote. In that time, I’ve written more pages than I care to count, moved out of my apartment and into my summer sublet in Homewood, and spent an amazingly wonderful 2.5 weeks visiting friends and family in England (which I’ll probably post about soon). After a 35 hour travel debacle involving pieces of planes falling off over the mid-Atlantic and getting stranded in Toronto, I’m back in Baltimore for the next eight weeks for my internship through the CSC internship program. Since finishing training Friday afternoon, I’ve been having fun enjoying Baltimore and seeing some of my Hopkins friends. Since this post focuses on the 36 hours in Baltimore from Saturday noon to Sunday at midnight, here are a few more things I did before that (which you could probably also fit into 36 hours if you tried!).
The Food Truck Gathering–Baltimore has a growing number of food trucks, and all of them descended on Hampden on Friday evening, forming a food truck food court! I went with my roommate from this past year and friend Jenny, and between us we got a tostada, a bulgogi bento box, and two cupcakes (strawberries and champagne flavored and french toast!), all of which was quite delicious. It was also during a tornado watch for Balitmore, and we ended up completely soaked from sharing my umbrella in a downpour. My shoes are still drying.
Farmer’s Market–I hadn’t been to the Farmer’s Market since last summer, but I was glad I went! Jenny and I had brunch there (chicken empanada and chocolate croissant for her and vegetable emapanada and Caribbean samosa for me), and I also stocked up on other food (and was promised a free Ethiopian samosa next week since they ran out right before I could try to get one!)
Gaah I'm still dying over how good that food was!
Kevin: Wake up after getting in Friday night, decide what to do… hmm… brunch? I’m a classy guy, and I prepare to go out with my friends. Over an hour later…(No apologies no regrets)
Kevin: One World Cafe for brunch! French toast, omelets, coffee, …more coffee… This was the greatest decision of my life. I’m here with my Mock Trial family, Emily and Rob, but we’re missing Miranda, my big-big!
Miranda: I’m at the mall trying to locate my friend inside H&M. I open my phone to text her, and find 3 missed calls and 11 texts. Clearly, they miss me.
There was a lot more where this came from...
Miranda: The mall has one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe’s, so I’d suggested to Kevin/Rob that we make dinner at home so that we could eat good food without spending the money needed for eating out. After some discussion, we settled on homemade pizza, so we divided ingredient shopping. I also picked up other things to eat for the next few weeks, and went to wait for the (perennially late) bus home.
Kevin: Miranda texts from the mall for my friends and I to pick up ingredients at Eddies, a local supermarket, so we can all cook dinner together! Side note: Eddies donates food to the Tutorial Project for snack time, so I love to support the business.
Kevin: Chilling out at home base, my friend’s apartment, waiting for Miranda. She finally shows up and we make pineapple pizza. It was amazing! But let’s be real for a second – I made it, so success was always in the cards.
Words alone cannot do this show justice!
Miranda:Even though Kevin didn’t believe that my dough choice (garlic and herb) would work with pineapple, and dismissed my claim of eating this combination for the last seven years, he ended up a believer. Delicious pizza, made even better by the 8th floor view from Rob’s apartment!
Miranda: Rob and I are now being initiated to Kevin’s favorite show…
Kevin: BAGGAGE! Singles tell all their secrets for a chance for love, hosted by Jerry Springer. Bad TV has never been better.
Kevin: Miranda knows a playground down the road – plans made! We start walking over, but when we got there a bunch of like 6 year olds were on my turf — the swings. Not okay. So anyways we walked down to around Mrs. Shirley’s, a Baltimore favorite. Miranda and I also shared a moment with a crab.
Miranda: Baltimore has all of these crab sculptures around the city. They were part of an art installation, and have since been placed around the city (check out the Hopkins one by CharMar!). We found this one in a parking lot on Cold Spring Lane, and took several pictures, one of which Rob kindly instagrammed.
Miranda: It’s late enough that the playground has cleared out. We take over the swings, and discover that this playground is cool enough to have a mini rock climbing wall, as well as a big slide. We persuade Kevin to try out the climbing wall, and with encouragement he makes it down the slide too!
Kevin: Terror at the playground as I’m goaded into the rock climbing wall. I know that children can do this all the time but I’m pretty sure I almost died. The slide did make me feel better, though.
Miranda: We take a scenic route home, and enjoy the sunset on our way back. When we returned, we did karaoke to some fabulous selections, including the French version of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and “Accidentally in Love.”
Kevin: I’m a musical genius. My off-key and pitchy “Somebody that I used to know” is Idol-worthy. Get at me, world.
Kevin: That was just the first half, with a gigantic introduction. Check back very soon to Hopkins Interactive to see the rest of our Sunday shenanigans! Until then I expect all my millions of readers to sit anxiously at the edges of their seats checking furiously for part 2 to be released.
Miranda: But wait! There’s more! Check back soon for the rest of our adventures, including adopting a puppy, some more awesome food, and weddings.
So, we have two more weeks of full classes. Then, two (ish) weeks of review and exams. Then, I have a ten day backpacking excursion on the Appalachian trail, and finally it will be summer. The general feeling around campus is that things are winding down, but for some reason, I can’t make that phrase mesh with where I am. I keep thinking, I’m not winding down, so I must be winding up! But where is this feeling coming from? I guess the past couple of weeks have just instilled some sort of excitement in me.
So what has been going on? A few things. For once in my blogging career, I will be using a list!
1) Formals and Date Parties. A great thing about Hopkins? Even if you choose not to join a sorority or fraternity, you can always check out some of the fun parties they throw with your friends! In the past few weeks, I have joined many of my friends at their fraternity and sorority events though I didn’t rush this semester. It’s a great way to get to know new people and relax, and some of the parties are even during the week which is a fun way to break up your routine. I definitely recommend checking out what Greek life has to offer when you get on campus!
Kappa Date Party
Theta Tau Formal
2) Hopkins Lacrosse Games. Two weekends ago, my group of friends and I went to the Hopkins lax game vs. Maryland. Before hand we went to a tailgate sponsored by the university where they had free things like spray tattoos and noisemakers. Though the game was an unfortunate loss for Hopkins, we had a great time!
Hopkins Lax Game!
3) Spring Fair! This three day event is one of Hopkins greatest charms, and this past weekend I got to experience it for the first time! I spent my time tanning on “the beach”, eating chicken on a stick, looking at the many vendors, and hanging out in the kids section doing some arts and crafts! It was a blast and definitely something you should look forward to during your years at Hopkins.
At the kids' section at the fair!
Spring is a very active time at Hopkins! I guess my enthusiasm must come from my fellow students who are also excited for summer and enjoying the many events around campus like I am! Though it is strange to think my freshman year will be over in a few short weeks, at this point I’m thrilled about my time at Hopkins now and the many fun things to look forward to in the future!
“I’ve been writing this story for about two years now, and this is my first trip to Las Vegas,” the author explained, as our English teacher passed out thick packets of paper to each of us. “I was so shocked at the stuff you guys had here! Your school has a church in it!”
“It’s a Catholic school.” Everyone smirked.
“It was just so weird, seeing a church in Las Vegas!” The author smiled. “Now kids, I want you to read the story so I know I’m on the right track. It’s about a kid just like you from Las Vegas whose dad is an Elvis impersonator and who goes to school on the Strip! I want you to tell me if what I think Vegas is all about is true, and don’t go easy on me!”
With dread filling our little high school freshman hearts, my classmates and I began to read.
Going to a Catholic school in Las Vegas is like being Italian and using pasta sauce from a jar in that it’s weird and sooner or later someone’s going to ask you about it. Even taking out the confusion about churches existing in a place called Sin City, growing up in Las Vegas is going to get you some weird questions from outsiders. I had people literally freak out the first few weeks of school when I introduced myself to them, with reactions ranging from “Do you even own a coat?” to “I bet you party ALL THE TIME!”
“Stereotypes, man,” sighed my best friend from her dorm room in California via Skype. ”Only Vegas people get Vegas.”
When I went home over winter break I noticed something odd happening when people would ask me where I went to school. Going to Johns Hopkins is is like being Italian and using pasta sauce from a jar in that very few people do so (the last few years have only let in about four kids a year.) People back home literally freak out when they find out where I’m going to college, with reactions ranging from “What kind of doctor do you want to be?” to “Don’t you feel unsafe in Baltimore?”
“Hopkins just has this reputation,” sighed my roommate (or, rather, she texted me and I read it in my head as a sigh.) ”I feel like you have to come here to understand it.”
Then it hit me: Johns Hopkins and Las Vegas both suffer from some massive image problems because the stereotyped image of both places is all most people have in their heads when they hear their names. If that author my freshman year of high school had decided to write a book about Johns Hopkins without visiting it first, it may have been about a kid just like me who went to Hopkins as a pre-med BME/ChemBE double major and had no life because she spends all her time in the library hiding out from both the roving bands of violent criminals hanging out outside the library doors and from the cutthroat kids inside the library who kept stealing her notes before a test. And this book, like her book about Vegas, would make everyone furious because those stereotypes are not what these places are in the slightest.
Career Field Stereotypes
In Vegas Everyone Works in a Casino and At Hopkins Everyone is Pre-Med
They didn't have an Elvis costume small enough for me, so I was unable to staff this stand of Hangover merchandise. This failure will haunt me throughout my life.
Vegas truth: Okay, my best friend’s parents are blackjack dealers and my dad provides food to most of the restaurants in the casinos. I’m not going to argue that no one works in a casino, but there are plenty of other career paths you can take in Vegas. My friends’ parents have the usual assortment of doctors, teachers, lawyers, television weathermen, and government workers that every other city needs to function. One of my classmates had parents who worked for -get ready for it – the water authority. Hardcore, right? Clearly The Hangover was an accurate portrayal of my hometown.
Hopkins truth: There are pre-meds (in fact I’m living with three of them next year), but the school is more balanced than people seem to think it is. International Studies is our largest major on campus, we have a pretty even split between natural science majors, engineering majors, and socials science/humanities majors. Even if you want to argue that there are a lot of pre-meds, one of the great things about Hopkins is that you can be pre-med and major in anything you want as long as you complete a few pre-med required classes, so I know political science major pre-meds, writing seminars pre-meds, and English pre-meds. The students here are certainly not one-trick ponies.
In Vegas Everyone Parties All the Time and At Hopkins Everyone Studies All the Time and Is Mean
My friends and I going wild on New Years Eve...by playing Super Smash Brothers.
If you’re from New York, do you visit the Empire State Building all the time? If you’re from D.C., do you go to the Library of Congress all the time? If you’re from California, do you go to the beach all the time? I suppose there is a small portion of Las Vegans (pronounced veh-GAHNS, not VEE-gahns like that diet where you’re nicer to animals than I can ever hope to be) who party it up nightly, but the majority of us are worried about other things (paying mortgagees, keeping jobs, keeping our grades up) that almost make us seem, you know, normal. If you are a Vegas kid, you are forever considered the “party kid”, even if your craziest moment was not properly ejecting a flash drive from your computer, because when people think “Las Vegas” they think of The Hangover and New Years Eve and bachelor parties and all the insanity that go with them, but most people going crazy in Vegas are not the locals.
No one’s going to look at a resume and go, “Hopkins? What a joke school!” People get that Hopkins is challenging and that’s why we have such a good reputation. Like the small portion of Las Vegans who party it up every night, there is a portion of kids at Hopkins that will live in the library, but the majority of us are doing other things because we realize that a GPA is only one part of what college is about. Kids here are some of the most active extracurricular participants that I know, doing stuff like hosting a Model UN conference for 1,600 high school students or participating in the performing arts, because they’ve realized that students cannot live on classwork alone.
Persian candy being modeled by our resident beauty JHU_Kevin.
There’s an entire community here filled with kids that do amazing things outside the classroom. About 25% of students are a part of Greek Life, so there are definitely parties here, (that are also open to non-Greek students) and most clubs or teams will have their own get-togethers. As for meanness, I’ve seen time and time again more collaboration here than I did at my high school. Everyone realizes that you’re not going to get any better grade by hurting the person next to you in class, and it’s much more productive to work together so you both succeed. Professors, too, care a lot about their students. My Persian teacher brought us Iranian cookies and deserts for class one day because he thought we were doing such a good job!
Las Vegans Live in Casinos and Hopkins Students Live in a Slum
The road leading to my house. Note the lack of both casinos and Elvis Impersonators.
I live about 15 minutes from the Strip and five minutes from a casino, (fun Vegas tidbit: even though most casinos are in a certain area, there are also casinos spread throughout the Valley) but you wouldn’t know it from the quiet suburban neighborhood. I pay more attention to the gorgeous mountains you can see from my window than the casinos, and the only time I realize how close I am is on New Years Eve and the Fourth of July when all the hotels and casinos have massive fireworks shows that I get to watch from my friend’s balcony. Vegas is largely suburban outside the very touristy Strip, but we also have gorgeous desert and mountains surrounding us with a ton of parks to go hiking in (one of these parks also contains Mojave Max, a desert tortoise who performs a similar function to Punxsutawney Phil in that he comes out of his home to tell us if winter is over.) We also the largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere, Lake Mead, that was created when the Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression. A ton of people take their boats out on weekends. A lot of people barely even go to the Strip because there’s so much other stuff to do.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I was going to get shot in Baltimore, I would be richer than Hopkins alum Michael Bloomberg. A big reason for this stereotype of Baltimore being a dangerous city comes from the fact that The Wire was such a successful show that focused on the seedier aspects of Baltimore (in the way that CSI: Las Vegas gives people a picture of Vegas that focuses on its seedier aspects.) I’m not going to suggest that you walk around ten blocks off campus talking loudly on your iPhone and carrying your MacBook, but this advice applies to every college that isn’t in a rural area. Baltimore is a city, and like every city there are nice areas and not so nice areas, but the area around Hopkins is extremely safe. We have a ton of security (led by a former Secret Service agent) keeping an eye on the students, and in my first year I’ve never had a time where I felt unsafe (or perhaps the criminals were scared off by my imposing 5 foot nothing frame.) Greater Baltimore also has a ton of things to do, and I thank my involvement as a videographer for Learn More, See More, B’More for allowing me to see a lot of Baltimore as a freshman.
It’s Always Hot in Vegas and It’s Always Miserably Cold in Baltimore
It’s not always hot. I wore jeans, boots, and a turtleneck sweater to take an AP exam last year-in May. The arid climate (humidity is still a strange concept to me) means it can go from pleasantly warm to freezing with winds up to 40 mph in a few hours. It also gets very cold here in the winter, and the greatest thing is that any snowfall at all results in an automatic snow day because no one owns snow shovels in a desert! Shaking snow off a palm tree is something I was able to cross off my bucket list last year. When it’s hot, I won’t lie, it is hot, (after going up to Dartmouth in -14 degree weather for a debate tournament in January I was able to brag that I had experienced 134 degrees of temperature fluctuation throughout my life) but, as the locals say, it’s a dry heat.
Hopkins covered by....invisible snow I guess? I was told there would be snow and was lied to.
It’s been warmer here than in Las Vegas for a significant number of days. My parents were taking cover from hail back home when I was walking around in a tank top and skirt this February. I think it’s legitimately snowed once in Baltimore this year, which is a far cry from the weather I was expecting when I lugged a parka and a brand-new pair of snow boots to Hopkins in August. A lot of kids I know, and this applies mainly to West-Coasters, worry that the weather on the East Coast will be terrible, but this year has been a lot better than I thought.
Reading the story of an Elvis impersonator’s son taught me a valuable lesson about stereotypes: they doggedly exist, no matter how hard you try to kill them and no matter how false they may be. Little did I know back then that I would eventually be going to a school full of stereotypes like everyone going to medical school, stealing each other’s notes from the library, and generally being filled with misery. Like the stereotypes of my own home town, I’ve found these all to be totally exaggerated or just flat out wrong, but the only way you’re going to find out for yourself is if you come out to visit. You’ll have to plan your Vegas trip yourself, but for admitted students SOHOP is right around the corner and a great way to see for yourself what Hopkins is all about!
Featured image is not my picture (it belongs to Wikipedia user Lasvegaslover) and can be found at this page.
Sometime in the past six months, I’ve developed a rather unstoppable addiction: taking pictures of food I am about to consume. Be it the cookies my friend’s Mom made over winter break or my ice cream birthday cake from November, I almost have more pictures of food on my iPhone than anything else. People give me stumped looks when I whip out my phone as soon as the waiter brings us our order, to which I’ll respond: “Food is the greatest memory!” This usually prompts more confusion. Finally, after all these months, I will offer up an explanation.
I’ve come to find that the simple things jog your memory the most. When you think back on your life so far, you don’t remember the overpowering feeling of graduating from high school, you remember how your graduation speaker had a runny nose. You don’t remember all of the games you played on the playground in elementary school, but you do remember the feeling of the wood chips under your feet and the monkey bars on your palms. Same goes with food. When I’m able to look at my friend Andrew’s strangely crafted meal at the FFC, it spurs on all the fun memories of joking and hanging out with my friends.
Now that’s the deep psychological reasoning behind my recent addiction, but if you really cut down to it, I just love food! Who wouldn’t want to remember the taste of exquisitely crafted creme brulee oatmeal from a resort in Palm Springs? Or perhaps my mother’s eggs
My boyfriend's cooking!
benedict that she only makes once a year on Christmas? Or my boyfriend’s amazing pasta and broccoli dishes that he only makes for us on special occasions? All of these things not only taste fabulous, but they also connect to great memories in my life.
Whether you are a food lover or not, I urge you to try being the weird one and take pictures of tiny things that are perfect in your life. You’ll have no idea how fun it is until you’re on a long plane ride, completely disconnected from Facebook or any other people you know, and you’re able to look back through those pictures and relive and appreciate the good details. What have I learned from all this? Maybe being a food blogger is in my future. But for now, I just enjoy taking pictures of the amazing meals that are a huge part of my life.
As per usual, I’ll leave you with a few pictures: some of my favorite foods, most of them from right around the Hopkins campus!
Lots of ice cream! You can get it at CharMar (Charles St. Market)
What is better than a home-cooked eggs benedict?
A honey cappuccino from Carma's
Great sushi from Niwana!
My birthday cake (Happy 19th!)Chicken tikka masala from Tamber's!
My friend Andrew's meal of shrimp and rice- very well balanced!
As I was flipping through the photos on my iPhone en route to New Jersey this weekend for yet another debate tournament, I noticed something odd about the pictures I had taken from all my trips this year: there were a lot that focused on architecture. Over half of the pictures I’d taken in Philadelphia, Hannover, and New York City focused on buildings and not on people. I suddenly realized that I sort of liked architecture, a realization that was confirmed as Pavlos, my debate partner, and I got hopelessly lost on the Princeton campus about four times and we started talking about the many examples of Gothic architecture present at that school as we wandered around aimlessly. When I got back home on Saturday night, I thought to myself, “Have I ever actually taken a look at the architecture of my own town? There have to be some pretty cool looking places, right?”
After combing through my pictures of Baltimore, I came to a conclusion: Hopkins’ Homewood campus has some of the best architecture in Baltimore, and this video should definitely show that.
When searching around for schools to apply to, one major factor was location. Sure I could have stayed in St. Louis eating toasted ravioli all day and hanging out with Nelly, but when else in life do you get the opportunity to pick where you want to live and explore life in a whole new city? (Spoiler alert: not often). So when I chose Hopkins, I couldn’t wait to come and find what makes the city of Baltimore so unique with shenanigans along the way. In order to give you an idea of just a few of the things that I love in Baltimore, here are some top 3 lists that explain some of the best parts about living here.
Note: All images are property of their respective owners and, unless original, link back to their source
The presence of the arts is strong in Baltimore; be it the impressive museums, nearby art school, or general vibe of the city, Baltimore offers a large exposure to anything from ancient to contemporary art. Below are my three favorite 2D works that I’ve seen so far in B’more.
Morris Louis, Alpha Eta, MICA Brown Center
Morris Louis spent a lot of his career in Baltimore studying, working, and teaching. His work in color field painting shows the influence of artists ranging from Frankenthaler to Noland, while the work itself shows an exploration of raw canvas and the flatness of the paint becoming the subject itself. After Louis’s death in ’62, his widow donated Alpha Eta to the Maryland Institute College of Art where it now hangs in one of their digital art buildings.
Mary Cassatt, Young Woman in Black (Portrait of Madame J), Baltimore Museum of Art
When I first visited the BMA during my first few days at Hopkins, I saw this painting and it really stuck with me. I was used to the subject matter of Cassatt’s that I had seen in the past, portraying pleasant scenes of a mother and daughter, but this work exposed me to a different side of her work. I think that the quiet drama of this painting, as well as the intense daylight against the dark form creates for a work that plays on human emotions at multiple levels.
Andrew Raftery, Open House Series, Baltimore Museum of Art
The BMA’s main exhibition right now is called Print by Print: Series from Dürer to Lichtenstein. The coolest part about this show is that it was organized by Hopkins students in a Museums course last year. It presents a wide range of subjects, styles, and techniques in their entirety from the BMA’s permanent collection. One of the most intriguing works for me was a series by east coast artist Andrew Raftery that explored the common idea of real estate open houses in a way that increased the tenseness of the situation and created a distance between the figures and their environment.
Hopkins is continually adding to their collection of sculptures, while Baltimore is a huge outlet for outdoor sculpture.
George Segal, Woman with Sunglasses on Bench, Johns Hopkins University
George Segal is a renowned sculptor most known for life-size plaster cast works. While his work is widely exhibited -- I saw one of his pieces at the Smithsonian American Art Museum the last time I was in DC -- Hopkins was given one of his works two years ago which was installed in the MSE Library. While the piece is easy to pass up in the bustle of the library, it calmly stands its ground and invites contemplation from the often unexpected viewer.
Tony Smith, Spitball, Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
The BMA Sculpture Garden is great because 1) it’s literally right next to campus, if not on it, and 2) it’s really one of the coolest places in Baltimore. Whether you’re just walking through or coming to check out the dozens of contemporary sculptures, it’s a really calm and exciting piece. As hard as it to pick one favorite piece, I had to go with minimalist sculptor Tony Smith’s work, because the large planes of flat painted steel create really unique shadows while the form changes with the perspective of the viewer.
Jonathan Borofsky, Male/Female, Penn Station
When Borofsky’s sculpture was installed outside of Penn Station in 2004, it definitely got mixed reviews. Personally, I really enjoy the work, its combination of steel and lighting, and its position outside of the central train station in Baltimore. Its enormous presence is undeniable, but its implication of equality is universal.
Baltimore is a great place to be for anyone who loves music, as the local venues and those nearby in DC bring about so many performers every year . These are my 3 favorite bands that all have some connection to Baltimore.
Future Islands -- Balance
Future Islands is an incredible band that plays new wave music that can put you in a delightfully chill mood. Not only are they based in Baltimore but they even played at last year’s JHU Spring Fair. Although I was just one year off from getting to see them, my expectations are high for this year’s Spring Fairlineup.
Animal Collective -- Brothersport
Animal Collective brings back countless high school memories of driving around St. Louis with friends jamming to their eclectic songs. The four members of the group all went to school in Baltimore County where they started out their career. Everything from their progressive beats to their downright kooky music videos, (the one above involving children wearing animal masks and neon water balloons, culminating in casual egg-painting/paint fighting dance party), make this band truly in a league of their own.
Dan Deacon -- Paddling Ghost
Dan Deacon’s experimental, electronic and energetic music is pretty out there, but that’s what makes it so great. His performances are supposedly indescribable (in the best way possible) and since he’s a Baltimore-based artist, he frequently has shows in the area.
Just because you’re on a college budget doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of things to around Baltimore for free.
The Book Thing
I went to The Book Thing for the first time with some floormates and was amazed at just how unique of a place it is. Basically they accept donations of books, shelve them, and then let anyone come and take as many books as they could possibly want…for free. Seriously, I walked out with a book on art history, a french dictionary, Huis Clos, and Candide, all for free. It’s a simple but ingenious concept and puts unwanted books into the hands of those who can use them.
The Baltimore Museum of Art in Charles Village and the Walters Art Museum in Mount Vernon (pictured above) are extremely close to campus and extremely free (if that’s even a thing). The Walters houses ancient to impressionist art, while the BMA’s collection ranges from non-western works to contemporary. The museums hold regular events, lectures, and exhibits, the majority of which are also free to the public.
It’s easy and yes, free, to get to the Inner Harbor to the spend the day walking around or go out for dinner by the water. It’s nice to know that you can always get there (did I mention for free?) and have a fun day off campus.
I’m going to attempt to keep my obsession with food at a moderate level while I highlight my three favorite Baltimore restaurants.
About two blocks away form my dorm is a little place called Carma’s. Personally I think their sandwiches are beyond good, especially the tuna, and they have homemade deserts including blueberry marshmallows. My friend got their meatball sub last time we were there and its been on my mind ever since.
Papermoon Diner is walking-distance from campus and exemplifies quirkiness. I’m a fan of their burgers and milkshakes, but, if you’re not distracted by the jumble of found objects cluttered around the dining rooms, you’re sure to find favorites of your own on the menu.
University Market (Uni Mini)
Uni Mini is, unfortunately for my health, about a block away from dorm and open 24 hours. It’s a late-night favorite at Hopkins from their breakfast sandwiches to hoagies to addicting mozzarella sticks all served up inside a convenience store. I may or may not have gotten hungry while writing this and gotten Uni Mini, hence the picture above.
Now, I really could go on and on about what makes Baltimore so crazy, enjoyable, and special, but why ruin all the fun? Personally, I can’t wait to spend the next 3+ years finding more and more of the things that make Baltimore so unique. Maybe it’s even the aspects that can’t be categorized in a list that make Baltimore so great. From the people you meet to the sense of community, there’s literally so much about Baltimore that can only be understood by coming here. You really can find the charm in Charm City if you’re willing to get out and explore the city, and trust me: it’s worth it.