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In the first semester, “Introduction to Chemistry I: Lab” was the bane of my existence. I really, really hated it. Every Thursday I would wake up filled with this impending dread, for I knew my fate: at 1:15 of that day I would be confined to the walls of the UTL for four gruesome hours, safety goggles strapped tightly to my face and bunsen burner in hand. I would emerge from each lab period utterly drained, motivated only by my equally exhausted lab-partner and the promise of good food at CharMar. Now, this is NOT the universal experience of Chem Lab, and I’m sure people who genuinely enjoy chemistry and/or STEM had a perfectly normal time in the course. I just happen to be a Writing Seminar major who got lost during course selection. But still — what a grave mistake to have been made.

All of this rambling is simply to say that when anybody says, “Let’s go to the lab!” my immediate reaction is to recoil in fear and disgust. However, recently those words have taken on a new meaning, because my friends and I have discovered a too-easily overlooked gem: the Lab (capital L).

The Lab was opened recently in February of 2017, and is located near Homewood Apartments. It was crafted as a social space, a building for Hopkins students that was specifically designed for kids not to work, but to relax. The building is half-restaurant, half-game center; the bottom floor has a small counter that serves all of your late night cravings — nachos, cheese steaks, pita pizzas, milkshakes. Go up the stairs and you enter a gamer’s paradise; they have everything from board games (Monopoly, Settlers of Catan) to Shuffle Board to Jenga to video games that are played on a giant flat screen TV (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros.) Yes, they have both an X-Box and a Wii.

The Lab boasts different deals every night — my personal favorite is Monday, where they have $2 milkshakes after 10 PM. I can tell you that there is nothing more therapeutic than finishing your work, grabbing a bunch of your friends, heading down to the Lab, downing a milkshake, and screaming at the screen while you attempt to complete Rainbow Road without falling off. Mario-Kart-and-Milkshake-Monday has become something like a tradition among my circle of friends, and it actually become commonplace to hear the words, “Let’s go to the lab!” I’m slowly becoming accustomed to this new, much more enjoyable meaning.

Way too many Hopkins students over look this wonderful resource. Cheap, good food, tons of games, comfy couches — the Lab really has everything. And since it is so unknown, it can be a really great place to go to get away from it all. The Lab provides Hopkins with something that can’t easily be found on a lot of other college campuses: clean, wholesome, genuine fun.

The trek to Homewood may seem daunting (even though it really isn’t), but if there’s anything I would truly encourage you to do, it’s take a trip to the Lab!!! Some of my best memories at Hopkins have been formed around that table in front of the flat screen, passing Wii remotes and banter back and forth, taking my mind off of work in favor of something nostalgic and simple. It’s become a tradition of mine, and I want it to become one of yours, too. See you there?