It’s crazy how fast it’s gone by, but somehow, my first semester at Hopkins is already winding down. With the official end of classes and the start of reading period, I decided it was about time to reflect on all the highlights of the first half of freshman year. From studying, to exploring the charming neighborhoods of Baltimore, to getting to know our school and all of its traits and traditions, everyone’s unique Hopkins experience is determined by their personal favorites, and the incredible diversity of ideas and lifestyles on campus means that no two people have the exact same experience at JHU. As hard as it would be to sum up the semester in just a single blog post, I think people’s favorite places and discoveries are like snapshots into their lives at Hopkins.
I can’t even begin to list everything I loved about first semester, but after much careful consideration, here are some of my favorites from freshman Fall:
Places to Study
AMR II Courtyard:
When the weather in Baltimore was still relatively warm, my favorite study spot on campus was the courtyard of AMR II, one of the freshman dorms. Its abundance of shade and picnic tables makes it the perfect spot to either crank out that last-minute problem set or just hang out with friends. Everyone who lives in AMR II passes through the courtyard to get to their rooms, so it was also a really good place to get to know other people from my building who I might not have otherwise met. Aside from that, Fall weather in Baltimore is absolutely gorgeous, and I have no doubt I’ll be spending my afternoons in the courtyard once again this Spring.
The Hutzler Reading Room (The Hut):
The Hut is a definite favorite for all Hopkins students, simply because of how beautiful it is. My personal study habits call for a lot of natural light, so when the weather’s too cold or rainy for the courtyard, or I’m in the mood for a change of scenery, I’ll spend a few hours in the Hut instead. The coffee shop right outside provides a steady supply of caffeine for those late-night study sessions, and the comfy chairs and huge stained-glass windows make the Hut a relaxing and peaceful environment for getting work done.
Fall Hopkins Traditions
Fall is my all-time favorite season, and moving away from New England’s foliage and festivities, I was a little worried about not getting my annual Autumn fix on campus. Clearly, I had nothing to worry about–Hopkins goes all-out for Fall, and one of the most fun weeks of the semester comes in the form of Hoptoberfest. The week included a pumpkin patch on the beach, cupcake decorating, a bonfire, and even a beer tasting for those over twenty-one. Campus also turns beautiful with all the trees changing color, and the level of excitement for Halloween is contagious, from dorm decorations to trick-or-treating around different buildings on campus. At the end of Hoptoberfest, there’s always a free concert on campus, and this year we had the Plain White T’s perform!
Though the main campus dining Hall, the Fresh Food Café, always has a wide variety of delicious & nutritious food, they pull out all the stops the first Sunday of every fall month for the highly-anticipated Sterling Brunch. Each month has a different theme—in November, the Thanksgiving brunch included sweet potato pancakes, a hot apple cider station, and every variety of pumpkin-flavored breakfast food one could imagine. Throw in some acapella performances, gorgeous decorations, bagels with lox, cocktail shrimp, and even the occasional ice sculpture, and you get the perfect way to kick off the new month and a favorite Hopkins tradition among all the students.
Lighting of the Quads:
Every year right before finals, Hopkins students take a break from studying and gather on Keysar quad for the annual Lighting of the Quads celebration. The event includes hot chocolate and cider, gingerbread cookie decorating, photo booths with fake snow, acapella performances, and of course, tons of lights. At the end of the night, the quads are lit up with string lights and a fireworks display. It’s a relaxing and fun way to forget about finals for a few hours while enjoying the holiday spirit of campus, and was definitely one of my favorite nights of the semester.
32nd Street Farmers Market:
Every Saturday morning, tons of local vendors in Charles Village gather in a parking lot a 15-minute walk from campus for the 32nd street farmers market. It’s the perfect place for some locally-grown produce, baked goods, handmade gifts, and even the occasional baby goat petting zoo. It’s a really fun and easy way to get out into the Charles Village community while staying close to campus, and is definitely a popular weekend activity for a lot of students at Homewood and people in the area.
Another Hopkins favorite is the neighborhood right next to campus, Hampden. There’s a path behind campus to get there in less than fifteen minutes, and once there, there’s never a lack of things to do or shops to visit. My friends and I have gotten breakfast at Common Ground, a popular coffee shop, checked out the Charmery for ice cream and color-changing spoons, and spent weekends exploring the antique shops for 3-dollar records and dorm decorations. During the holiday season, one corner of Hampden turns into “The Miracle on 34th Street,” and every house on the street goes all out with lights and decorations.
All in all, it’s been one crazy adventure of a semester, and I’m doing my best to take advantage of all my Hopkins favorites before leaving campus for break. I’m so thankful for all the wonderful memories of the first half of this year, and for all the people I’ve met who have made it a truly unforgettable semester.
Until next time!