On my first day QUT I got lost on campus, and ended up in a music room instead of my lecture hall. On my first day at San Diego State University, I got lost just in the food hall. Which is easier to do than you might think, because it’s about the size of Suncorp Stadium and just as loud.
Coming to terms with the fact that your university campus is larger than the town you grew up in can take some time. I’ve been a card-carrying student of San Diego State University for about two weeks now, and I still don’t think I’ve seen all of the university grounds. I definitely haven’t gotten used to there being about eight different Starbucks scattered around the place. It’s hard to get any work finished when you decide to take a short walk to clear your head and happen to come across the football team practising. It doesn’t take a lot to distract me from my philosophy homework at the best of times, and stumbling on thirty or so shirtless, toned athletes running around in the California heat somehow made me forget all about existentialism in the early twentieth century. I’m only human.
Seriously, though, I still feel like I haven’t entirely gotten the hang of the place. I mean, I can now purchase most daily items without making the sales assistant want to murder me for taking so long to tell the difference between the tiny coins. My system works like this: ignore anything that’s smaller than a quarter—25 cents—and deal with it in five months when all the nickels and pennies might actually make up enough money to buy me a small McChicken meal. Except that OH MY GOD McChickens only cost ONE DOLLAR here. That’s right, people. Capitalism ain’t all bad. Leaving aside the wars and political turmoil that keep the wealthy white males over here employed, you’ve got deliciously cheap and tasty burgers to keep you fed, dormitories to give you friends and university events to keep you busy and happy.
And trust me, this isn’t some out-of-the-way place. This is a supersize university if there ever was one. They know they have students to entertain, and they deliver. Last night they held a Monte Carlo night on campus, with a go-kart track and gambling tables and everything else you can imagine. Today, regardless of that fact that I’ve had less than 3 hours sleep and am running out of money faster than I can believe (evidently I overestimated my skill at the blackjack table last night), I’m flying to SAN FRANCISCO for four days! And as I still haven’t packed or done my readings for next week, I’m off to try and get my life in order before I leave it to go cycling on the Golden Gate Bridge and wandering through Haight-Ashbury.
More about that next time!