UPDATE: Read Patch’s coverage of the university’s community tours: “UMBC Students Tour Arbutus, Catonsville.”
With the end of August comes another fall semester at UMBC and another batch of freshmen. There’s a lot for them to get the hang of, and that goes beyond how to navigate campus or what classes to take. There’s also the matter of life off campus: Where’s a good restaurant to take a date? Where can you go for a walk or a picnic? Where can you buy an extra-large cup of cheap coffee for those midnight study sessions?
And, of course, what are Catonsville and Arbutus really like?
That’s where “Tour of Your College Towns” comes into play. It’s a free tour for students, highlighting the Arbutus and Catonsville area and put together by UMBC. Since 2004, the tour has helped to provide the newcomers with an opportunity to get to know the local area, which many of them will call home for the next four years.
Students depart from the university’s Commons Circle on shuttles, which follow a route that takes them from the Eskimo Shack in Arbutus to the Double T Diner in Catonsville, from the Hollywood Theater to Patapsco Valley State Park. The entire route is designed to highlight businesses and attractions that might be of interest to young people, according to Lee Calizo, Director of Student Life at UMBC.
“It’s not the typical shuttle route that the transit usually goes on,” said Calizo. “We’ve designed a certain route to specifically point out locations in Arbutus and Catonsville that students might frequent.”
Serving as guides are members of the Arbutus and Catonsville Chambers of Commerce, who can point out spots to the unfamiliar, as well as a community liaison member of UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA). Last year, Meghan Carpenter, a junior majoring in political science and the SGA’s Director of the Office of Community and Government Affairs, was on the bus.
“I went on the tour my freshman year, and was the student leader of the retreat last year,” Carpenter said. “I’ve lived in Catonsville for 13 years, so I’m well acquainted with the area, and helped to make other students more comfortable with traveling off campus through the tour.”
This knowledgeableness of Carpenter and the other guides has helped make the tour a success for both UMBC and Arbutus and Catonsville. In the past, the shuttles’ 30 spots quickly fill up, along with a wait-list of about 15 to 20 students. As a result, there will be two tours for students this year.
The 2012 “Tour of Your College Towns” for UMBC will be held on Tuesday, August 28, at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., both of which will last for one hour each.