My adventure outside the Hopkins bubble

By RUDY MALCOM | February 1, 2018

Many students at Hopkins, myself most definitely included, regard a snowstorm as the perfect photo op. Flocks of snowflakes descend from the sky and blanket the architecture, trees and fields of the Homewood campus in an aesthetically pleasing manner, masking our lost hopes and dreams with a fluffy white veneer. They fashion the contents of our Hopkins bubble into an idyllic backdrop.

Your friends from Los Angeles County who have never before witnessed the Lord’s dandruff plummet from the heavens ask you to take photographs of them to send to their parents or to use as their LinkedIn profile pictures. Forced candids of sleep-deprived faces reanimated by that good lighting flood your Instagram feed, with virtual blizzards as inadvertent product placements for outdoor clothing brands.

Of course, your photographs simply will not stand out against those of the masses if they aren’t taken in portrait mode. If you lack a friend that owns a phone with this requisite feature and care at all about the number of likes you receive, I’d honestly suggest joining a new friend group.

Luckily for my social media reputation, on the first snow of the season, which fell on the Saturday during Reading Period, one portrait-mode-bearing friend and I accompanied another on an adventure to pick up her prescription, shattering the frosty Hopkins bubble and braving the weather for our standout images.

Although final examinations and deadlines for final papers were mere days away, we walked around Inner Harbor and Federal Hill for hours. We felt no pressure to be academically productive. We put our responsibilities to the side and slid away from them. (For me, this was a literal process: I slid down and then off not one but two snow-covered slides in a playground. I also rolled and pushed myself down the hillside, leaving behind distorted snow angels in my wake. Don’t, but like please do, ask me for the videos.)

Having relinquished our collegiate veneer of adulthood, we allowed ourselves to enjoy jumping and slipping on the playground as if we were children — to see the snow-globe world and its restaurants and Christmas Village as if we were doe-eyed. Indeed, my first snow at Hopkins felt like my first snow ever.

Before I left for Hopkins, many of my high school friends joked about Baltimore’s infamously high crime rate. Would I make it back home alive for Thanksgiving break? But we shouldn’t let inaccurate stereotypes of Baltimore lead us to believe that escaping the Hopkins bubble will transform us into characters on The Wire.

Of course, that day was not the first time my friends and I had left campus. But we were thankful to have explored Charm City for such an unprecedentedly extended period of time. One of the friends with whom I frolicked that day said that our experience “humanized Baltimore” for her. The snow made everything seem less harsh, she said, more inviting.

It is important to recognize that, even without the beautification of snow, Baltimore has far more to offer than the University Market in Charles Village or the stained glass windows in Gilman Hall at sunset. We have much to explore in each neighborhood of our city.

Over Intersession, I used my free time to visit multiple art museums with diverse and intellectually stimulating pieces and to walk past numerous delicious-seeming restaurants before ultimately choosing to take advantage of my prepaid meal plan at the FFC.

The Baltimore Youth Poetry Grand Slam 2017 at Red Emma’s was particularly moving. Each poet’s performance was insightful, impassioned and captivating. The speakers employed their rhetorical talent — their beautiful artistry — to address and denounce the juxtapositionally hideous issues that afflict Baltimore and our nation, such as poverty, racism, crime, homophobia and misogyny.

They helped me to become a prouder resident of the city they had empowered with their voices. I am grateful to have had this experience, even if I failed to get a good insta out of it.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a sentence that was misleading has been clarified to more accurately express the author’s point of view. 

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.