This weekend, I went some university campuses. Two campuses, to be exact. And honestly... I almost wish I hadn't gone.
For almost a year now, I've been fixated on a specific career path that I think I would be perfect for. Along with that fixed career, I've also fixated on a specific program at a specific university. When I applied early this year, I had that program as well as some filler back-up plans. But really, that was the one I wanted.
This isn't even true to the post. I just found this online and thought it was funny. Don't judge me.
A few weeks ago, I went to a debate tournament where I met a bunch of people from around the university's area. They basically told me that the campus looked like absolute crap. Here's where I started getting a little anxious.
Since we had a few days before leaving for vacation this March Break, my family and I decided to hit up the campus and see what it was really like. Since another university I had applied to was very close, we decided to visit that campus as well. To keep things simple, let's call the other university University #2 and the one I wanted to attend University #1.
After hours of driving (and 4 purchases of various boots along the way because shopping makes road trips more fun), we got to University #2. We ended up being the only ones signed up for the tour, so we got a more personalized experience and got to ask a lot more questions. The campus was small, but beautiful. The facilities were gorgeous, and its minuscule size was actually part of its attraction because I could walk to everything in less than two minutes. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and everyone we passed was always super courteous. It just felt nice to be there.
This is not the university. Nor is this the same atmosphere of the university. I just liked this picture too. Still judging me? Stop.
As we were getting dinner after the tour, I texted some of the friends I had met at the debate tournament, who lived in the area to see if there was anything else to do around town. Long answer short: there wasn't. This town was even smaller than the one I lived in, which was saying something. There really was nothing around except tons of coffee shops. To be completely honest, I wasn't even bothered by that. I didn't go out much, so a small quiet town was just what I needed. The universities had bars and grills if I did want to hang out, and there were at least two ski hills that were about half an hour driving distance away. I jokingly told my friend that I'd prepare myself for the hideousness of the buildings tomorrow before closing my phone. If tomorrow goes like today, I thought (tomorrow = day we were planning on visiting University #1), I think I'll be pretty happy here.
Can you guess? No, the next day did not go as well. If you're one of those people who can read while listening to music, put on some sad classics because things are going to get gloomy...
The next day was cloudy... is this foreshadowing the experience to come? Pathetic fallacy at its finest?
University #1 was big. Much much bigger than University #2: we got lost just trying to find the right parking lot. Since we were about an hour early (you can only sleep for so long, and as aforementioned, there was literally nothing to do around town), so we decided to explore about before the residence and campus tours started.
The first thing I noticed was that the place was like a ghost town. No one was around. In fact, the only place where we actually saw people in the whole campus was... you guessed it... in front of the library. The library hadn't opened yet (it only opens at 11AM? What kind of university library does that?!), so students basically had their books and were patiently waiting outside for it to open. Gloomiest. Scene. Ever.
When the tours did start, it didn't get much better. There were some nice buildings, but for the field I wanted to major in, most of the buildings were deliriously old. Finally, all the students that emerged from these buildings were male, and Asian. The student who gave the tour of the residence I had planned to list as my first choice confided in me that for the first week, her legs were sore all the time because of all the walking she had to do across campus to get to her classes. To make things worse, the residences are multi-floored, but none of them had elevators. Well, that's actually not completely true. One of the suite-style residences did have an elevator, but get this: the elevator only stopped between floors.
Needless to say, after the tours finished, I was questioning my choice of university. And since things tend to escalate quickly in my brain, I started questioning other choices, like where I was going with my life and what I wanted out of it.
In the end, it all came down to how much the campus appealed to me. University #2's campus was gorgeous, but University #1's program was far more kick-ass. Should location matter so much? Or is it the quality education that matters more?
My visceral reactions are fighting the intellectual and pragmatic side of my brain right now. Good thing I have till June to see how the battle pans out.