If your student organization has a retreat, go. Many are scheduled for all day, and at Hopkins, an all-day activity during the weekend immediately induces a heart attack. But you should go. Spending a whole day with people helps you bond with them.
This weekend I attended an SGA retreat, and while I was worried about it being from 10 to 5 at first, I had a lot of fun. I enjoy spending time with the people, and I love the organization, so why wouldn’t I want to spend a whole day with them and talk about issues I care about?
We are so concerned with our schoolwork that I think we sometimes forget about the city our school resides in. I know I do. I’ve been here for three years, and there are so many neighborhoods that I have not yet ventured to. I’ve visited the places right around campus and the neighborhoods that are most popular.
I remember venturing to Sherwood Gardens and feeling proud that I had expanded my radius by so much. Sometimes you need a little nudge to reach beyond what you know and what is close.
While my retreat was not about exploring the city, it taught me to spend a day not concentrating on my work or on how stressed I am. We all gathered at FastForward U and talked about our long-term goals for our organization and how to work together as a team to achieve those. We outlined our objectives and strategized about how to be more productive and more successful as an organization. As we did this, we bonded. We even made a Spotify playlist to guess each other’s favorite songs. We made jokes and laughed as a team.
At the end of the retreat, we went to dinner at Kabul, an Afghani restaurant in the Inner Harbor. We pushed multiple tables together, and we crowded around as we waited to dig in. We were loud and most likely bothered all of the other customers, which I feel bad about, but we were having an amazing time.
The room was filled with laughter, and we shared stories throughout dinner. All in all, the retreat turned out to be a great day, and I wasn’t behind or stressed. In reality I would have spent my Saturday with friends or alone watching Netflix.
I would have sat in my cozy apartment in sweatpants, but at FastForward U, I was learning, listening and talking to people, to friends.
The retreat was one way to get us off campus, and my professor recently got me off campus as well. For our class she asked us to explore a Baltimore neighborhood and write a piece about our experiences. I chose Greektown because I had never been there, and honestly, I had never heard of it. I had a interesting afternoon walking around the neighborhood and meeting people in stores and restaurants. Some people were very forthcoming and wanted to share stories about their home.
I was a spectator at a game I had never seen; I was experiencing a part of Baltimore that is not really frequented by students. Now that I understand that one day wandering around a neighborhood can open my eyes to a part and a side of Baltimore that I’ve never encountered, I have to visit more places.
Coming from a small town, I complained that there was nothing to do. I dreamed of living in a city with infinite places to explore and events to go to every night. Now I have exactly that. I have everything that I once desired when I was in Valdosta, and now that I’m in a city filled with murals, festivals, food and events, I complain that I don’t have time to do things. I do have time.
I just have to allocate some of that time to discovering what Baltimore has to offer. The next year and a half will be my attempt at unearthing both hidden treasures and those in plain sight. I want to understand the place that I call home, and after all that it has given me, shouldn’t I at least give it some of myself?
I encourage you all to explore with me, and if you already have, then I admire you. I look forward to all there is to see and to learn. Most of all, I am excited about the people I am going to meet during this adventure.