There is a lot going on this month. I could write about my Halloween, but I have nothing to say about the holiday that I did not already address last month. I could write about Hurricane Sandy, but I do not have the authority, and I would rather make people happy, and not sad. I could write about National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/), but then it would sound like me preaching about the importance of writing everyday. I could write about the election, but we already get enough of that everywhere we turn. I could talk about all of these things right now by saying that I won’t talk about them.
What I really want to address is something that I find myself explaining to people on an almost daily basis. I am from New York City and I chose not to go to school close to home. I wanted to try something new, to be away from what I already know and love. I initially wanted to go to a smaller school, but I have completely changed my mind about that. When I tell people where I am from, they say, “Oh, it must have been a huge adjustment for you to be in a much smaller city.” That is one of the most ridiculous assumptions to make about me. I know people are just making small talk, but they are putting me in a tough position. How am I supposed to answer this? You expect a certain answer from me. If I say “yes,” and walk away, then I am a jerk. Luckily, I disagree wholeheartedly.
For one, anywhere I would have gone would have been an adjustment for me. That is what I wanted. I wanted diversity. I wanted people who study different things than I do, and that is what I got. For another, Baltimore does not feel like a small city to me thus far. Maybe it is because I am just a sophomore, but I feel like whenever I leave campus, I am doing something that I have never done before. And the last thing, and this is most important: Baltimore is a city, regardless of its size.
Being in a city has shaped my college experience more than any other factor could. I have things to do near campus. I can walk to stores near school or take an easy ride to get to stores far away. I am not restricted to cars. I can easily get to the train station instead of having to wait for a bus that comes once a day to take me to the nearest station miles away (my mother had to do this at her school). I can decide to live in a house or an apartment. I can go do something “cultural” on a whim. I can explore a safe neighborhood I have never explored before or go to a concert or ballgame downtown. I have so many options.
Baltimore has become one of my favorite places. I love the art scene and have yet to fully explore Station North and Hampden. I love the identity of Baltimore. I also love that people from a myriad of places live here. I love the fact that this city actually keeps its old architecture. And when a character on “30 Rock” said that the Baltimore Philharmonic these days is “just a boom box and a guy in a crab costume” who “gets shot out of a cannon at Ravens games,” I laughed and then felt defensive. What do you know about Baltimore, NYU grad who writes for “30 Rock” with Tina Fey?
While this is partially a love letter to Baltimore, this is also a love letter to cities. Cities mean people and people bring community, ideas and intellect. We thrive on human interaction. We need to meet people who are different than us. We are here because we are at one of the greatest schools in the country, but we also happen to go to school in a city. It may seem small to some, but it is a place where culture thrives, where bands want to perform and where teams want to play. For the rest of this month, I will be ticking off things on my “Baltimore Bucket List,” while simultaneously adding more. I do not want to leave here without experiencing everything this city has to offer.