I’ve been spending summer working four days a week at the Harriet Lane Clinic, at the Children’s Center of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through a program called Health Leads, where we work with pediatric and adolescent physicians to care for the social needs of patients by connecting them to community and government resources. It’s been insanely rewarding and educational so far; patients can come in looking for anything from a food stamps application to a place to stay for the night, and we advocate for them and make sure they have the access to resources they need.

My shift ends at 2 every day. Then I take the JHMI shuttle home, change into basketball shorts, have a snack, and then shift gears. It’s July, which means I’m neck deep in medical school applications at the moment. About a month ago, I submitted my AMCAS, which is kind of like the Common App of med schools. It includes all your activities, grades, scores, and your personal statement. But then, a few weeks later, suddenly your inbox explodes with secondary applications for each school that you’ve applied to. They all have the same basic preliminary data that they ask for, but then they break off into their own essay questions. Each school. Several essays.

Granted, some schools are very nice and straightforward. Some have very short word limits, in fact, which brings its own issues. And others are long and/or numerous. The point is, I have a lot of writing to do in the next few weeks, and I’ve realized that my room just isn’t cutting it. It’s way too easy to take a “break” and spend 3 hours watching Veep accidentally. Or go into the kitchen and spend way too long making some food. I need to step out of my apartment if I’m to get any real work done, so I’ve started to branch out a bit, explore, and report back with my most productive environments to focus on writing.

Ceremony Coffee Roasters

I love Baltimore in the summer because it’s the perfect time to explore the city without having to worry about classes or exams. And this is one of the first places I ended up visiting. It’s considered the best cup of coffee in Baltimore (according to the entirely accurate Internet) and I do see why. Beyond the coffee, they make a mean avocado toast, the musics’s not too loud, everyone’s nice, and I’ve found they have one of the best spaces for me to focus on the blinking cursor in front of me to write.

Peabody Library

One of the classic, most well-blogged nooks of Hopkins and Baltimore, the Peabody Library is a bit downtown from the Homewood Campus in Mt. Vernon. It’s been said to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. By me. I say that. But it’s probably also been said, you know, in general. Main downside is the distraction of constantly dropping everything and just looking up.

BMA Sculpture Garden

So this is also a pretty recent find for me, but the Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden is literally – and I do mean literally in the literal sense here – across the street from my apartment. I mean I always passed it, but this summer I’ve started to finally walk through the entrance and sit on a little bench under a green canopy that looks on to this large, grey, slab of art. I’m really creative in this place. Although I did sustain a pretty gnarly bug bite last time I sat there.

Hutzler Reading Room

The Hut is the large, stained glass curve of a room at the back of Gilman Hall, and one of the most breathtaking spaces on campus. The leather couches there are insanely comfy, and they directly face the stained windows overlooking the woods. It’s one of those rooms that looks just as good when it’s cloudy. Plus, it’s the same room that also holds the Writing Center, which was a huge help for me when it came to constructing my personal statement.

It’s nice to be able to explore Baltimore and experiment which places help me get the most done and be the most creative. This is my first and last summer in Baltimore, and I’m going to make it my mission to keep on poking and see if there are other spaces around the city where I can let the creativity flow and my AWPM soar. I’ll report back to you when I do!