A Guide to “The College Life” in Maryland

(Your crash course in crab cakes and more)

Buildings at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Welcome to college in Maryland. No matter if you’re brand new around here or you were born with crab cakes in hand, you’re in for a real treat.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for a life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it.

Chapter One: Maryland Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to Maryland is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life “Marylander” you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on populations and state birds and all and expect to fit in. You gotta go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try out a few of these conversation starters:

  • “Pass the Old Bay.” One of the most important things worth knowing before you hit the ground in Maryland is Old Bay Seasoning. It’s a blend of celery salt, pepper, red pepper, and paprika and it’s in just about everything around here and on every restaurant table.
  • “I’ll take a Natty Boh.” National Bohemian beer has been a staple of Maryland life for decades, and even though the National Brewing Company was sold to Pabst Blue Ribbon, Maryland is still responsible for 90% of the total beer sold.
  • “Be a hon, wouldja?” For decades, Marylanders, and especially those in Baltimore, have called each other "hon" as a sweet little term of affection not as a pick-up line. Well, maybe sometimes, but it’s meant to be harmless.

Chapter Two: Where to Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

According to rentcafe.com, the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, has one-bedroom apartments going for a steep $2,296/month. Luckily in Baltimore, home to Johns Hopkins University, you can expect rent to be a more reasonable $1,264/month. But of course that’s right inside the city, and you can always find lower prices out in a number of nearby suburbs or neighboring cities for a few hundred less.

PRO TIP: If you put two to three bunk beds in every room and grab a bunch more roommates, your rent will be dirt cheap!

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among the folks of Maryland, it’s best if you understand them. And the first thing to know is that residents here come in all shapes and sizes including the fast-paced, high-strung, white-collar workers who are constantly commuting back and forth between work and home. Work ethic is high around here, and as a result, so is road rage. 

While technically just south of the Mason-Dixon line, many Marylanders still consider themselves to be Northerners, but there is a strong mix of both northern and southern influence here with the accents to match. For example, the name of the state is often pronounced, "Merlin" or "Marilyn", depending on who you ask. People here are so passionate about their state and its unique flag that they wear it on everything, including their car’s bumper stickers.

And a big warning: if you're not a fan of seafood, residents may think you’re off your rocker. The state’s known for its delicious blue crabs, and Marylanders are crazy for crab cake everything — sandwiches, sides, salads, you name it.

Chapter Four: Where to “Study” around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into Maryland life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • A beach: Whether it’s Ocean City or North Beach, nothing beats the relaxation of studying on a beach with waves crashing in the background. And Maryland’s got plenty of that, don’t you worry.
  • LEDO pizza: Right in the center of the University of Maryland is a college kid’s slice of heaven. LEDO has been around since the ‘50s with their own incredible take on a Maryland must-have, square-sliced pizza, the perfect fuel for a tough study marathon!
  • National Aquarium: So they say having a fish tank helps keep you calm and relaxed — important for tackling the stress of studies, right? Well, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is a massive version of that with more than 660 different species all swimmin’ around.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around Maryland

One of the best things about college are the weekends. And Maryland has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • US Naval Academy: Unless this is where you’re already going to school, the academy is definitely worth the trip. The second-oldest armed service school in the nation has history and alumni that are incredible. Plus, it gives a great perspective on the strictness of your own school’s rules and policies.
  • Assateague Island: More than two million people every year head to Assateague Island not just to camp on the white sandy beaches, but to witness the herd of feral ponies called Chincotagues that are native to the island. And who doesn’t love ponies, right?
  • Antietam National Battlefield: In northwest Maryland along the Antietam Creek, this historic site pays homage to the bloodiest single-day battle in America's history which occurred during the Civil War. You’re free to explore, reflect, and take in a reenactment as well.
  • Ocean City Boardwalk: Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is Maryland's most popular beach town (and senior week destination), Ocean City. One of the main attractions is its boardwalk which has dozens of eateries, tattoo artists, shops, museums (including Ripley's Believe it or Not!), bars, rides, and of course, the beach. Don't miss Thrasher's French fries, which are boardwalk-style fries doused in malt vinegar and salt.

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local market and which careers are hot right now around town.

Maryland is sandwiched in the Mid-Atlantic region and comes with a Mid-Atlantic pricetag. Living here ain't exactly cheap, and according to usnews.com,  washingtonpost.com, and many others, this is the wealthiest state in the country. That being said, what could the job market possibly look like?

For starters, the state's unemployment rate is 4.0%, which has been on a slight, steady decline from 7.8% in 2010. The state's minimum wage is $9.25/hour, according to minimum-wage.org.

Some of the fastest-growing job fields around Maryland include interpreter/translator, information security analyst, home health aid, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and personal trainer. But if you’re really chasing those big bucks, you might want to consider the highest-paid careers like surgeon, doctor, OB/GYN, psychiatrist, orthodontist, CEO, pediatrician, and nurse anesthetist.

Chapter Seven: Pack Your Polo Shirts, ‘Cuz Here You Come

All right folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to the Maryland college life. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And don’t forget the Old Bay.

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