Magnolia, Texas never felt rural to me.  

After I came to Hopkins, however, I realized my town was a little more rural than I previously thought. I remember casually mentioning a time in high school when my friends and I pet the cow in the ag barn behind our school. My story was met with puzzled looks, laughter, and lots of clarifying questions about what an “ag” barn is (it’s an agriculture barn used by students in the Future Farmers of America organization).  

This hilarious memory led me to reflect on some of the culture shocks I experienced when I moved to the East Coast, and now I’m sharing the five biggest ones with you guys. Let’s get into it! 

1. Increased Diversity of Food 

While there is some food diversity in my area, it’s definitely easiest to find things like barbecue, sweet tea, and Tex-Mex. Although I enjoy these foods, I’ve had a blast trying different things when I came to Hopkins. There’s a lot of restaurants and food trucks nearby that specialize in cultural foods, or just foods I’m not used to. In my Intro to Hopkins class, my teacher let us sample Baltimore-specific foods like Berger cookies. I’ve also tried ramen, samosas, Old Bay seasoning, and bagels with cream cheese. I was really surprised to see crab-flavored chips and popcorn, which I even brought home for my family to try. I just wish I could’ve brought them Taharka ice cream because that’s easily been the best ice cream I’ve ever had.  

Ramen for a friend’s birthday
The bagels here are also really good
Free samosas I had on campus

2. More Public Transportation Options

Before coming to Baltimore, the only bus I’d ever taken was the school bus. I wasn’t used to city buses or trains. It’s still a little overwhelming to navigate the different train and bus routes, but one of my friends from New York has helped me a ton with this. It seems like there’s a way to get anywhere using these paths. It’s been pretty nice not having to drive everywhere and figure out parking in a busy city. Some of my friends have cars and others don’t even have their driver’s license, so there’s an option for everyone. Another thing that’s surprised me is how pedestrian-friendly Baltimore is; there are sidewalks and bike lanes everywhere. This has been a nice change because walking outside back home means either walking in the street or walking in grass and ant hills.  

3. Proximity to Shopping and Cities 

Since coming to the East Coast, I’ve been amazed at  how close everything is. Back home, nothing is within walking distance and nearly everything is a thirty-minute drive. During my first week of school, I showed up twenty minutes before all my classes because I was used to leaving so early. Now, I leave ten minutes before they start and still get there with time to spare. One of my favorite things to do is go to a class, then come back to my room and nap before my next one. I’m still getting used to the fact I can block out twenty minutes to go shopping, but at home, it takes about an hour and a half. Another thing that’s surprised me is how close the East Coast states are to each other. New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are just a few close by. Washington, DC is only an hour away, and New York is three.  I’m accustomed to driving five hours and still being in Texas.  

Washington, DC is really close to Baltimore

4. Less Wildlife 

Although Baltimore has its perks, I miss seeing the wildlife I’m used to back home when I’m at school. I don’t live near farms, but it’s not uncommon for neighbors to raise horses, donkeys, pigs, and rabbits. It’s rare, but occasionally I’ll see people riding horses on the side of low-traffic roads. On some roads, however, we have to drive slowly and watch out for deer, possums, and armadillos. Just the other day, a little girl in the grocery store was holding a bunny and let me pet it. Needless to say, I’ve seen just about every animal you’d expect in Texas. In Baltimore, I’ve seen a lot of squirrels, tons of birds, and even a fox. Whether it’s someone walking a dog or a squirrel climbing a tree, every animal I see reminds me of home. Thankfully, I haven’t seen any snakes at school though; those can stay in Texas!  

Deer I saw in my neighbor’s yard
Cardinal eggs laid in our front yard
Baby cardinals

5. Starry Skies Replaced by City Lights

The views in Texas and Baltimore are completely different, but great in their own ways. Texas has clear, starry skies and flat, open fields. Outside it’s silent except for the hum of cicadas in the summer. In Baltimore, colorful lights illuminate the night and historic buildings give the city charm. Some of the best views I’ve seen are from the Inner Harbor, especially at night when lights reflect off the water. It’s fun to walk around and look at the exotic buildings. Their distinct heights, colors, ages, shapes, and styles make them all interesting to look at. Although it’s always noisy outside, seeing the action of people around is entertaining. In such a big city, it’s almost impossible to see the same person twice.  

East Coast architecture
Inner Harbor
Christmas in Hampden

Overall, it’s been fun living in two very unique places. I was initially nervous about how I would adjust to such a big move, but I’ve learned nearly every student at Hopkins is experiencing this too. Culture shocks have been one of my favorite parts of this process, and I love sharing them with my friends and family. I can’t wait to see how many more I experience during the rest of my time at Hopkins!