Before I came to Baltimore for my internship this summer, I knew very little about it. I had been here once before to visit a friend who goes to Johns Hopkins, but I’d only stayed for one night and ended up spending most of my time in DC anyway. Whenever I told people I would be in Baltimore for the summer, they would make comments about how it had a reputation for being a dangerous city, so that was pretty much all I knew coming in. As a stranger to the whole upper East Coast, I pretty much just pictured a regular big city.
Interning at a magazine that focuses on Baltimore lifestyle has given me a far better understanding of what Baltimore really is. For one thing, it’s full of a wide variety of boroughs and neighborhoods — I live in Charles Village, for instance, but my internship has taken me to places like Hampden, Fells Point, and Inner Harbor. I actually got a part-time job working at a restaurant in Fells Point, and even the simple act of driving there and back a few times a week has made me feel more comfortable with Baltimore geographically.
It’s not a big city in the sense that I was expecting — it’s not Boston, it’s not Chicago. Baltimore is a lot more residential and approachable, particularly to someone like me who’s very used to the Midwest. It’s a productive area, but it doesn’t feel overly industrial: there are trees everywhere, docks where you can look out at people rowing and sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and woods along the stretches of I-83 and I-70 that careen around the city. I’m terrified of city driving but have been able to get around Baltimore just fine for the most part, as long as I avoid the thick of downtown.
It’s also a great area for people themselves. A lot of the things I do for my internship involve writing and fact-checking web stories and profiles about things that people can do around the city, often with their families. In addition, there are a lot of up-and-coming companies around Baltimore, like Under Armour, as well as locally owned businesses and restaurants. There’s a terrific community of local artists; I’ve even gotten to interview a couple of them who were being featured in Baltimore STYLE. I’ve been amazed by the spirit of the people who live here: Everyone I’ve met who has lived in Baltimore for a long time seems to love it and is very proud to live here. A lot of people live in row-houses (including me, for the summer), which make it easy to make friends with neighbors and foster a great sense of community in Baltimore’s many pocketed boroughs.
All in all, I didn’t know a ton about what I was signing up for at the beginning of the summer, but I’m very glad I ended up in Baltimore. It’s a beautiful place that’s full of variety: it’s definitely urban and full of people, but it doesn’t feel intimidating in the way that a lot of other cities do, and pretty much everyone I’ve met who lives here seems to have a very positive relationship to the city. I wanted to go somewhere new this summer, and when I return to Ann Arbor in September, I’ll be bringing with me positive memories and a more complete understanding of a city that I would love to return to someday.