The flagship AU Alternative Spring Break to Baltimore fell flat of expectations, according to several students who participated.
The trip, organized by School of International Service Peace and Conflict Resolution major Angell Stevenss, aimed to expand dialogue and understanding between D.C. collegiate hipsters and their Baltimore counterparts. To prepare, students researched Baltimore’s underground music scene, communicated with hipster “pen pals” from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, spent hours digging through local thrift store clothing bins and knit earth-friendly scarves to exchange in a large communal ingathering at the trip’s beginning.
“The idea was to make everyone understand that hipsters in all parts of the D.C. metropolitan area can overcome their differences and work for social justice and Urban Outfitters franchises for all,” Stevenss said, reaching to replace her iPod headphones. “You have the new Norwegian Handheld album, right? Those cronkites really make me want to bust a moby.”
“When we heard Angell’s idea, we couldn’t say no,” said AU Alternative Break coordinator Mandy Campbell. “Alt Breaks are all about what we can learn from other cultures, and how they can benefit from our generosity and privileged Northeastern background. It’s a win-win in every sense of the phrase.”
Despite promising plans, many students who paid the $150 trip fee were disappointed with what they got in return.
“I was totally looking forward to crashing in the dorms and living rooms of UMBC people, but they were all so midtown,” said Lorren Daniels, a Women and Gender Studies major active in AU’s online Livejournal community. “When I asked to bum a few bronsons, they said they were totally out of kale since mom still hadn’t sent the rent. I thought we were going to meet people with problems I don’t already have.”
“I wanted to try something new and enviable, but, um, hello? My friends helped poor people in Latin America and jetted to Southeast Asia, and I ended up in this place billed as exotic that looked about the same as Northwest D.C.,” protested franCisco Martens, a junior known on campus for his extensive ironic T-shirt collection and heavy usage of Murray’s hair pomade. “False advertising, that’s for sure.”
Other disappointments were the much-anticipated vintage bicycle ride from coffee house to coffee house, which fell through when Stevenss and another student got into an argument over whether or not fair trade coffee and plush couches were available at one planned destination, and the discernable lack of an obscure enough underground punk music
“I ended up sitting in front of some fish tank in the back of the Recher Theatre, cradling a can of National Bohemian and pining for The Warehouse Next Door,” Martens said. “The acts on the bill were recognizable enough to be traumatizing.”
The final straw, according to Daniels, was when a few students opted to bow out during the first weekend of the trip, only to discover that MARC trains to D.C. only run on weekdays.
“What is this crap? Are they, like, commuter trains, or something?” Daniels said. “I’ve had more deck times in Georgia, and I’m guessing that’s much farther away from D.C.”