I have had a standing weekly coffee date with a friend of mine for a few months now. She is a senior, and as the semester nears its end and her graduation date quickly approaches, we have tried to see each other more often to squeeze in as many fun memories as possible.
We always try to go somewhere neither of us have been before or only one of us has been so that we can simultaneously explore Baltimore and eat good food.
Since she has been in the city for much longer than I have, she is usually the one who comes up with the restaurant we should try next. In past weeks we have gone to Towson Hot Bagels, Red Emma’s and Charmington’s, to name a few.
This week, she took me to Pete’s Grille. Pete’s is a sweet little diner in Waverly, just outside of the precious “Hopkins Bubble” we all know and love.
To get there, you walk down 32nd Street in the same direction as the Waverly Farmers’ Market (open on Saturday mornings with great biscuits if you have not had the chance to get there). Keep going east towards Greenmount Avenue.
At first, Pete’s Grille seems like a hole-in-the-wall. The diner’s outdoor signage is unobtrusive. However, when you walk in, you immediately notice its draw.
There is only bar seating, which forces you to interact with your server much more intimately than is normally required at a typical restaurant. Lining the walls are cute little signs that encourage you to tip, discourage you from whining and trick you into thinking that there will be free lunch the next day.
The blueberry pancakes and the vegetable omelet were delicious and a nice break from the Fresh Food Café or my own cooking. They used real blueberries in the pancakes, which just made them all the better.
By forcing intimacy between the server and the customer, the seating in the diner creates a sense of community even within the time it takes to eat one meal.
Living in a city like Baltimore, it is easy to feel that there is no overarching sense of community once you get off of the Hopkins campus.
However, there are many community spaces in the larger Baltimore community that may be more comforting than some Hopkins communities or that may be a good change of pace. Venturing off campus is an important part of living in a new town, especially in a city as versatile as Baltimore.
Many of us are only here for three or four years. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a very long time. In the short amount of time we spend on this campus and in this city, we should make efforts to venture out of our comfort zones and engage with the local community.
It is very easy to get sucked into the “Hopkins Bubble” and think that you deserve to be there, to get overwhelmed by all of the security updates and think that Hopkins is the only safe zone in the big, bad city of Baltimore. It’s not. Baltimore is a community worth engaging with: You may be surprised by what you find.
Taking classes is not the only way to learn and expand your horizons, nor should it be. Talking to those around you, not only students but also Baltimore residents, who have had varying experiences that may be different from yours, is another extremely important way to learn.
Sharing experiences is often de-emphasized as a way of learning that will simply happen on its own, but if you do not make an effort to venture out of the bubble, then before you know it, you will be in a new place with a new community to engage with.