As the holiday season commences and our campus transforms into a winter wonderland, it is normal for any first year student to start to feel a bit homesick. Time usually spent at home with family now being spent with new people can feel unnatural and daunting. Fortunately, there are many different holiday/winter-themed events going on in the city or on the Hopkins campus itself to get students into the spirit. Here are just a few things to do as the season changes.
*Note: each item/event mentioned in this post was either free or under $5!
Baking Cookies in the Common Kitchen
Who doesn’t love cookies? My friend and I decided to get into the holiday spirit by purchasing some oven-ready ones from University Market. We borrowed the baking tray from the AMRII Residential Life office, then we used an electric kettle to make hot chocolate with marshmallows. We made an event out of baking them then watching movies afterwards!
Decorating your Room
If you’re a person with a penchant for the aesthetic, one way to celebrate the holidays is by decorating your room! This is a great way to get in touch with your creative side amidst countless hours of studying for finals. The decorations can be simple or super elaborate. I decided to go to CVS to purchase some bells for my door and a mini light up snowman, while my friend Ashley made the two posters for me! This has made coming back to my room from class or the library feel a bit more welcoming.
Miracle on 34th Street in Hampden
Each December, residents of the 700th block on 34th street in Hampden adorn their homes with beautiful, over-the-top, holiday lights. The display pays homage to the classic Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street, which debuted in 1947, the same year the event started. My friend and I decided to spend some time in Hampden, which is close enough to walk to, but since it was cold we decided to take the free Blue Jay Shuttle. We then walked along the block and got ice cream (despite the cold) at The Charmery. It turns out they have my favorite flavor, cinnamon! I’ve only ever been able to find it at home, but it was nice to know that I can enjoy it here in Baltimore as well.
Christmas Village in the Inner Harbor
During the wintertime, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor goes all out. Hosting a lighting of the Washington Monument, lighting of the Esther Ann Menorah, and Christmas Village, the Inner Harbor leaves virtually no holiday uncelebrated. My roommate and I decided to spend the day there for a bit of holiday cheer after our first finals. First, we walked around and got hot chocolate at Christmas Village, then we decided to go ice skating at the Pandora Ice Rink. Fun fact: the first 100 skaters get in for free at the opening ceremony! I highly recommend taking a trip to the harbor at any point during the month of December.
Lighting of the Quads
The most notable winter event here on the Homewood campus is Lighting of the Quads. The tradition dates back 13 years, and it is hosted by the Hopkins Parents Fund each December during finals week in an effort to give students a break from studying. This year, the event featured “iceless skating” on Levering Courtyard, hot chocolate and snacks, and fireworks behind MSE library. My friends and I showed up just in time for the ceremony. Out of all of the winter events, this one had to be my favorite. The library had been packed for the last few days but once the event began, the quad was almost instantly filled with students. It had been the first time in a while that I had seen people of all years come together, and I felt a sense of genuine camaraderie with the entire student body. It was so nice spending time with a large portion of the Hopkins community and the event illuminated how grateful I am to be a part of the Hopkins family.
Despite the old cliché that goes “there’s no place like home,” both the Hopkins community and the greater Baltimore community make an effort to make the holidays feel like it. Whether you choose to stay on campus or venture out into the city, there is always something festive to do to make the holidays feel fun. To me, the holiday season was a respite from tying up all of the loose ends of classes and taking exams before I go home on the 21st. Until then, as Robert Frost might have said as a college student, “more finals to go before I sleep.”