Apr 1, 2016

College Shopping


I knew Spring was happening on our continent even though those of us dwelling in the nether regions of Minnesota weren't getting the chance to experience it yet. We had to drive down to Indiana before we saw the beauty that comes with Spring. Every flowering tree we passed by I gasped, "Oh, how lovely!" I wanted Chuck to stop the car so I could take pictures of each and every one of the beautiful blossoms. This particular one is a magnolia bloom. Fragrant and beautiful. 


We took the opportunity to travel out of state during the kids' Spring Break this year to go on two college visits for Gavin. We knew we were in for an amazing day when we looked out of the window on our first day in Indiana and were welcomed by this serene vista. Gavin told us the scientific reason for the the fog resting on the river and the atmospheric pressure causes blah, blah, blah...but I was too enthralled in the beauty to be concerned with the science in the moment. Not that I don't appreciate the science...I just appreciate the beauty more.


Our first stop was Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. We didn't have a clue about what to expect and were pleasantly surprised with how wonderful this campus was. We had the best experience during the entire 3 hour tour. Each guide was helpful and knowledgeable. But more than that we each picked up on the vibe of the students all around us. They had a very welcoming, inclusive, diverse culture that really appealed to Gavin. That and the fact that they are the only University to have their own airport on campus. He previously didn't know he wanted a pilot's license - but now he does. Interesting fact: 23 Purdue graduates have gone on to be astronauts - including Neil Armstrong. 

Another interesting fact: apparently, Chuck and I went to college in the Dark Ages. At least we have come to learn as much after this tour. All the cool perks that come with college now-a-days were so not available to us. Heck, we still didn't have phone-in registration during the mid-90's!!! We just found the internet in 1995.  And as for meal-plan options...we practically ate mush. Kids these days have Starbucks and multiple ethnic cusinies at their beck and call. Get this...they even have an app that tells you when your laundry is done and people don't steal it! The only way we could ensure this same standard was to sit on the floor in the hot, stinky, loud laundry room with our rolls of quarters and change out our own loads. For the love! 


The University of Illinois Champaigne-Urbana is only an hour and a half drive west of Purdue. So we decided to hit two birds with one stone (that's such a horribly sad euphemism). We decided to drive around the campus the evening we arrived just to check it out so we wouldn't get terribly lost the next day when we had a schedule to keep. We also had the foresight to take a picture because the weatherman was warning of rapidly approaching serious storm systems. This was not good news for us as our tour would be of the out-doors variety. Plus, we packed for high 60 degree weather - not rainy and cold.  

This was what our tour of U of I looked like. At this point it was only sprinkling. But it got much, much worse. We were at the back of the pack of at least 25 people. We couldn't hear a word of what was being said. We couldn't see anything due to all the umbrellas in our way. We had no idea where we were, what we were seeing or where we were headed. And to top it off, we were walking way too slow for my liking. When there are storm clouds, thunder and lightening looming ominously above and around me, I rather prefer to be cuddled up next to the fireplace or at the very least inside a safe structure with a roof! That was apparently not the plan for our tour guide. This tour was going down do or die.  Three miserable, soaking wet hours later, we were mercifully back in our car. We were starving, sopping wet and oh so disillusioned with the U of I. There were a few things Gavin liked about the school, but his list of cons out-weighed the few pros he was able to find. That's why it's important to go visit. Some things you just don't know until you go there and experience it for yourself.


After finally arriving at our destination, we found that Bennett had secretly left his mark on the back of our weather-beaten, highway-weary car. We can always count on him to add a sense of humor to any and all situations. 

This whole trip was surreal for Chuck and I. We kept thinking that we're not old enough for this. We just graduated from college ourselves, didn't we? It was equally thrilling and depressing. We will be sending our firstborn off to live on his own in a little over a year. I had no idea time would go this fast. I think I'm still slightly in shock. I have no doubt he'll do awesome wherever he goes and whatever he chooses to do. I just don't think I'll do as awesome without his daily presence in my life. 



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