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Maryland Institute College of Art

What surprised me most about Baltimore: How openly accessible Baltimore is as a city. Although it has all the benefits of an urban space such as shops and restaurants, and the diversity of culture that comes with a city, it doesn't overwhelm you like New York would with its size and complexity. It's a place that makes you feel like you can easily assimilate and call it your own. Best school events: MICA has some of the most ridiculous, craziest and most engaging school events of any college that I know of. My freshman year there was Ice Cream and Condom Night, which is exactly what it sounds like. All the free ice cream you can eat along with piles of free protection. We also have some more normal events such as the Coffee House that happens a few times a year and gives students a chance to showcase their performative talents. We also hosted a bunch of great bands such as Cults and Future Islands in an intimate performance space, which was really great. Humans Vs. Zombies also takes over campus every spring, where for two weeks students battle "zombie hordes" with Nerf guns. Best non-school event: If it's a weekend you can probably find MICA students at the Bell Foundry or a multitude of other informal venues like Holy Underground, Club K or now The Crown. Best public transportation: The Light Rail runs right through campus at the Mount Royal stop, and the Circulator is pretty close as well. But most MICA students ride bikes because it's free and usually quicker than transit. Best free wi-fi on campus: Outside at Cafe Doris there's a bunch of tables under the shade of the Brown Building (the iceberg shaped structure, above right), where you can get wi-fi signal while you drink your coffee. Best free wi-fi off campus: Bolton Deli has free wi-fi and is right next door to the freshman dorm. You can sit at their tables outside in the shade while you eat a sandwich and stay connected. Best hidden gem near school: Every year the new freshmen slowly discover the tunnel under Falls Road and the Howard Street bridge. They usually go down there to walk along the stream and take photos in the concrete tunnel that runs underneath the bridge and the train tracks. The closest gem near campus though would be the Buddha statue behind the Fox Building, where students go to relax and reflect. Best way to meet people: Since MICA is a school of only 1,600 or so, it's pretty easy to make new friends. A lot of my friendships were forged either through eating in the dining hall or sitting outside a campus building and striking up conversation. Orientation is also quite valuable, because it provides opportunities where you are forced to interact with new people. A big freshman year friendship adventure would be to ask someone to go to the Inner Harbor and go shopping. Favorite on-campus place to study: MICA students seldom have the need to study, since most of our classes are studios and the academic electives rarely give exams. In the case that we do need to cram for a test, the best place is usually the Decker Library or in Cafe Doris in one of the booths. Favorite off-campus place to study: If it's really necessary to go off campus to study, I'd recommend going to Starbucks or some other cafe. Caffeine dulls the woes of studying as much as possible. Favorite thing to do on the weekend: If there isn't a good concert going on, I'll usually be hanging out on someone's porch or rooftop relaxing. MICA is also filled with a great deal of musicians, so I'll capitalize on any opportunity to jam with someone. My fellow students also capitalize on the opportunity to sleep as much as possible, because six-hour classes, five days a week, wears you down. Saturdays are usually the time for sleeping until 1 p.m. and then getting coffee. Must-take classes: One of the most enjoyable classes I had was Modern Political Philosophy, because being a very liberal school we have some fantastic conversations about politics. It also gets veryyyyy interesting when there is that one conservative who throws the whole room into a heated hour-long debate. Masculinity was also really engaging, because it basically applies the concept of feminism to men but is taught by a woman. We had some wonderful discussions about the social stigma of male emotions and how patriarchy is rooted in a lack of self assurance. What I wish someone had told me when I was a freshman: Not to wear your ID lanyard around your neck. It not only makes you look like a dork, but it also basically paints you as a giant target for anyone looking to snatch a wallet or iPhone. Best hangout spot on campus: Everyone seems to gravitate toward Cohen Plaza. It's the perfect grassy area to lay out in the sun and forget about school work. Best hangout spot off campus: I prefer to sit in the Park Avenue park by the fountain, or sit outside at On the Hill Cafe/Bolton Deli with a coffee. Since Bolton Hill is such an intimate neighborhood you're liable to see someone you know and they'll stop and chat. What the Greek life is like: Hahaha. I can't even imagine what a MICA frat might be like, but it is fun to occasionally visit a Hopkins frat gathering. Stepping into one of the Greek houses feels like an adventure into a foreign land. By Scott Bradley, senior, photography major
Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun
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