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Monday, August 22, 2005


I'm in Baltimore.

This is a bit overwhelming, of course. First impressions:

House: Good, on the whole. It's not quite as well-maintained as I had hoped -- for instance, I've got a leaky/rotting window -- but it's got character, and I don't mean that solely as a euphemism. My room is a tad bigger that I had pictured. The common spaces downstairs are fairly nice, and we have a lot of furniture, courtesy of my housemates, all of whom moved their stuff in before I arrived. I will post some pictures soon.

Neighborhood/City: I can't get over how different this is from Minneapolis. Baltimore feels old for its age. It's denser, and the variations from neighborhood to neighborhood are dramatic and rapid. For example, two blocks east of here, it's considered a not-so-good neighborhood.

Housemates: They're pretty friendly. Jason and Sarah are the two other first-years, and they both live on the second floor along with me. Jason worked for Senator Lautenberg (of NJ) for a few years since graduating, and Sarah worked for a division of NY city government that investigates complaints against police. Jason likes to drink a lot and has a bar set up in our dining room, but I think it'll be okay.

I've only met April, who's in her second year, very briefly, but she's also friendly. John, who I met on my couple trips to Baltimore prior to this, has been away for the week. I think everyone's going to be back tonight.

I've been busy unpacking since arriving on Thursday (and fiddling with the ethernet, which hadn't been working), but I've also had the chance to get out and about a bit, which is making me a bit more comfortable with the city. Last evening I met up with Annie and Ira from Carleton. We went to a festival in Little Italy that I had heard about, and it was amusingly tiny, but there was good food and a couple entertaining things to watch, like elderly couples dancing colorfully to a band and a hotly contested bocce tournament. (So hotly contested, in fact, that a ten-minute argument broke out just before we left over a disputed call.) Afterwards, we sat at Donna's, a coffee bar, for a little while. I really enjoy their company, so I'm glad they're here.

Momentarily, Sarah, Jason and I are going to head off to our first day of Institute for Policy Studies (henceforth IPS) activities. We're starting off with two full weeks of orientation and refresher courses, which I hear from the second years is rather boring, but a good chance to get to know your classmates. Today there aren't even any classes, just a group breakfast, a "math pre-test," tour, and "team-building" (trust falls, perhaps?).

Anyway, this'll be the first time I meet most of my classmates, so it's at least exciting for that reason.


ReeD said...

Congrats! Look, I even woke up before 9:00AM just to write on here to you. Well, perhaps not, but I am awake! Of course, now that you're on the east coast, I suppose it's already noon there. Sheesh.

Keep us posted and post lots of pictures. I'm really interested interested in learning more about Baltimore as a city. I've heard it shows it's age as well :-)

Good luck, have fun, and keep in touch!

LJ said...

Ooohh, "math pre-test!" Tell us....er, I mean, uh...

I'm glad to hear that things are fine so far. Your description of the city fits pretty well with what my friend Jared had told me, with all the different neighborhoods. Sounds like it would be a really neat (if sometimes alarming) place to wander and explore.

The idea of "team-building" activities as part of grad school orientation is so foriegn from my experience...math depts sometimes don't seem to really recognize many of your human traits. You'll have to tell us about that.

owena said...

Baltimore feels old for its age. It's denser, and the variations from neighborhood to neighborhood are dramatic and rapid.

Interesting -- Elly said almost exactly the same thing about Minneapolis: "Other cities have good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods, but Minneapolis has good blocks and bad blocks."