“Work hard, play hard” is the motto of most of the top universities in this country. Johns Hopkins is no exception. While academics are our top priority, we also like to (and know how to) have fun. Hopkins students even find ways to socialize in the library when they should be studying…but please don’t tell our professors that! The following is a “how to” guide we have prepared to show you the steps you can take to ensure that you have both an active social life and a great time at Hopkins.
1. Make lots of friends
During Orientation, go out and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. Get to know the other kids in your dorm since you’ll be neighbors all year! Get involved in activities by going to the Student Activities Fair. Talk to your classmates. Many of them may be completing the same major as you so it’s good to get to know them since you are likely to be in classes with them all four years. Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook! Seriously, that person you saw on Facebook? Go up to them and start a conversation (since they definitely saw you on Facebook, too). Even if your group of friends changes drastically from what it is during the beginning of freshman year, it’s nice to have a core group of people that you can hang out with in the beginning as you all get used to college life.
2. Meet older students
Older students can provide you with all the knowledge you need of what’s going on around campus. Upperclassmen are a great resource in terms of academic advice, but they are even better for helping you navigate the Hopkins social scene and introducing you to even more people. You can meet upperclassmen through your student groups and your Resident Advisors. You will get a Peer Ambassador during Orientation as well, and they can also be a great resource for information. They will frequently be sophomores so they are only one year above you (not scary like seniors … just kidding!). Upperclassmen are also likely to have a car on campus so for all your faraway needs. Thus, they can be a huge help!
3. Get to know Charles Village
You can go out to dinner at the many restaurants in the area such as Tamber’s (diner and Indian food), Donna’s (“American bistro”), Eddie’s Market (sandwiches—famous for their “Smokin’ Jay” sandwich in honor of Hopkins), Cold Stone (better for dessert most of the time), Subway (sandwiches, obviously), Chipotle (cheap and filling burritos), Gertrude’s (great for brunch—try the crabcakes), Carma’s Cafe (neighborhood cafe), Paper Moon (24 hour diner), Ambassador Dining Room (Indian food), Hopkins Deli (pizza, subs, wings), Uni Mini (subs), Brasserie Tatin (French food), Chocolatea (coffee, tea, and pastries)—just to name a few! Especially when the weather is nice out at the beginning and end of the school year, all of these places have outdoor seating—grab a table and people-watch. This is a great way to get to say hello to all your new friends, both other freshmen and upperclassmen!
4. Get to know Baltimore
Baltimore is known as the “Charm City.” During your time at Hopkins, hopefully you will go out and discover all the charm it has to offer. While certainly not a large city, Baltimore has a rich history and culture which is seen through its many diverse neighborhoods. Each area has its own distinct character—some are more commercialized like the Inner Harbor and some, like Little Italy, feel very historic. The area around JHU is known as Charles Village (which we discussed above). Once you have learned your way around here, hop on the free CollegeTown Shuttle or take a cab to easily get to many other places.
Downtown is home to the Inner Harbor, which offers a mall with many clothing stores as well as a Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, etc. Orioles Park at Camden Yards is by far one of the most amazing ballparks in a America so make sure to catch a game with your friends while you’re in the Harbor! There are many restaurants here as well like P.F. Chang’s (great Chinese food), Cheesecake Factory, and ESPN Zone. If you want to avoid chain restaurants like these, head over to Canton and Little Italy. Canton has Baltimore favorites like Pazo (a tapas restaurant) and Mezze (Mediterranean food). Both of these have incredibly good food and are great for a date night or if your parents are in town. Little Italy is fairly self-explanatory. In addition to its wonderful restaurants, it is home to Vaccaro’s, the famous dessert place (all you can eat on Mondays). Also downtown, you can find Fell’s Point which is known for its annual Halloween party where people come dressed in all kinds of costumes. There are great food vendors and live music—it’s always a fun time!
If you want to go on a big shopping trip, Towson is the place for you. It’s north of campus and you can get there on the CollegeTown Shutle (which is free!). The Towson Town Center is your typical suburban mall and it’s great to have it so close by. If you have access to a car — another reason for befriending upperclassmen — you can drive to the Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s and Target that are also in Towson and grab a bite to eat at Panera. Towson is great for weekend errands—your RA may even reserve a JHU van and drive you all up there if you want.
Last but not least, the neighborhood called Hampden is
within walking distance of campus (or a short ride in aHopkins van away). Hampden is a cute, artsy area with a lot of interesting stores (there are some great vintage places) and fantastic restaurants. Favorites like Holy Frijoles (Mexican food) and Café Hon are places you must go while at Hopkins. So grab your friends from your dorm, call a Hopkins shuttle, and head over to Hampden for dinner! This is a picture of the Hampden holiday lights display that the residents organize every year.
Another interesting thing about Baltimore is its vibrant music scene. You can read all about that in Andrew’s guest blog entry here!
5. Learn about Greek Life
Greek Life at Hopkins is a vital part of the social scene; however, it is certainly not the only thing! There are many things to do aside from Greek Life, but for those who are interested, it is certainly there for you to participate either by going through recruitment for a fraternity or sorority or merely by befriending those who are in Greek organizations and supporting their social and philanthropy events. Greek organizations sponsor events both at their houses and on campus. They are also a vital part of the community service effort at Hopkins.
For guys, there are nine fraternities: Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Alpha Delta Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Chi, Lambda Phi Epsilon, and Phi Delta Theta. Recruitment for fraternities will likely begin during the second or third week of your second semester and you can go to as many houses’ recruitments as you would like.
For girls, there are four sororities: Alpha Phi, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Mu, and Pi Beta Phi. Recruitment for sororities is much more formal than that for fraternities. It will begin during the first week of your second semester and there are events every other night for one week. You must go through recruitment for all four sororities, but this is great since you can keep your options open.
6. See what’s happening on campus
There are plenty of things to do on campus on a given Saturday night that do not involve the party scene as well. There are frequently concerts in Nolan’s (in Charles Commons) from student bands and performance groups, theater plays in the Arellano and Swirnow Theaters from the Barnstormers, Freshman One Act plays during the fall, Dunbar theater productions, and Witness! Theater. The Peabody Conservatory is not exactly on campus, but it is easily accessible by the JHMI Shuttle and always has a concert going on. One of the best places to be on a Saturday night, though, just may be your own dorm. Some of the most fun nights you will have are in your dorm with your neighbors playing games, watching movies/TV and all that fun stuff.
By now you should be so busy, you can barely handle it (if only they made the spaces in the Freshman Planner bigger)! We may have given you a big list of steps, but do not feel the need to follow them. Switch up the order or only choose one of the steps … or none, it’s up to you! Your social life in college is one of those things that happens naturally and changes all the time. When you look around during your junior and senior years, the faces you see may be totally different from the group of people you hung out with freshman year. The important thing is that you enjoy the people you surround yourself with. Your friends should support you but challenge you, accept you but make you consider new paths, and move forward with you past the gates of campus and onto the real world. So get out there and make friends!