The Engineer and I are trying our hand at the travel side of adulting: namely, booking our own flights and transportation to all the grad schools he plans to visit before making the final decision about where he (and I) will live for the next five-ish years. So for most of the month of March, we’ve been traipsing around the country. For the week before spring break, we visited two schools in five days:
At my boss’s urging, I scheduled a visit to the Purdue Writing Lab, from whence came the amazing resource that is the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) that we use for virtually every tutorial involving MLA, APA, or Chicago style citations. Needless to say, I nerded out a bit. Although I plan to find a job off-campus after this year, it was interesting to see how another writing lab operates.
The student union building is basically a castle. There are stone arches and stained glass windows and double staircases and a hall where people nap on couches that look like they belong in a museum.
Also, we found the not-at-all-sketchily-labeled “Tunnel to Phys. Bldg.” on a door that looked like it should lead to a bomb shelter. Sure enough, despite some pipes sticking out of the ceiling and a few random sets of stairs that led straight into walls, we found ourselves in the physics basement!
Though I spent most of the days in the hotel or at the Panera next door, the Engineer brought me along to the final dinner with a few professors from the physics department. One of the profs asked each of us at the table about our area of study. “Astrophysics.” “Nuclear.” “Creative writing…” He was a tad confused.
The Ohio State University
The day after the Purdue visit ended, we rented a car and road tripped to Ohio (which was weird, since we’re used to much longer trips just to cross our single state, and also when did we get old enough to rent a car unsupervised?). I was looking forward to this visit even more than the Purdue OWL tour, because I got to hang out with Bird! The Engineer was whisked away on physics department activities, so I met up with my beloved sister for the evening. She bought me chocolate covered coffee beans and we talked for hours, as we tend to do.
On our second day, after a slow start thanks to our travel-related exhaustion, Bird and I got breakfast while the Engineer saw the physics research building. When we went back to her dorm, Bird was shivering and yawning, so I sent her to take a nap while I got some work done at her desk (leading 2 of her roommates to greet me with Bird’s name when they came in the door…for some reason people think we look alike). Turns out she had a fever, so the Engineer and I told her to go straight to sleep and just got dinner ourselves.
The Engineer and I explored while Bird was in class the next day (she had slept for 16 hours and her fever was gone, so that was good), and then he flew home. Bird wanted me to go with her to Bible study and a praise and worship thing at church that night, so I stayed an extra night. It was great to meet everyone at her Newman Center – one of her friends actually ended up giving me a ride to the airport at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, having extended the offer after 5 minutes of conversation! Sleeping on a dorm room floor for about 4 hours isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it was well worth it to spend time with my sister.
The next week was spring break, so I actually saw Bird a few days later after a brief return to our own college town. The Engineer had gone to North Carolina right after Ohio to tour another school without me, so his spring break was a bit abbreviated. Our vacation was lovely (more on that in another post), but at the end of the week we flew straight out for another round of visits:
We’ve agreed that the next time we go to Santa Barbara, we’ll just fly straight in to their airport rather than taking the cheaper-but-much-longer-and-more-headache-inducing route that involves LAX and a 2-hour shuttle ride. California was pretty, but I was under the weather during our one full day there, so I didn’t get to do much exploring. On most of these visits, the Engineer and I have sort of tag-teamed it: he goes on the academic, scheduled tours, and I try to get out and get a feel for the surrounding area, since I hope to live and work off-campus for the majority of the time he’s in grad school. Then we compare notes on our general impressions. Santa Barbara was fine, I guess, but I am not a warm-weather person. (As Bird once put it, “We are of strong Norwegian stock. We were built for 6-month winters and icy fjords.”) Since the visit was only one day, it was most whirlwind of our visits.
And then we had another 2-hour shuttle ride to get back to LAX.
After one full day at home (well, my home, the Engineer’s being 3 hours away), my dad dropped us off at the airport yet again for our final trip: University of Colorado, Boulder. I got a tour guide of my own on this trip, too, since the Commodore lives in Colorado! She was kind enough to shuttle us around, bringing us from the airport to our hotel and meeting up with me while the Engineer was busy even though she lives an hour away.
The Commodore and I being bookworms, we spent our first two days wandering around the downtown area of Pearl Street and perusing multiple bookstores. I limited myself to only two books this time, despite the Commodore being a blatant enabler when it comes to spending money on literary pursuits. (To be fair, I was equally encouraging of her desire to get yet another book about Tolkien. But it was one she hadn’t read before!) We also just hung out in our hotel room and talked, which I’ve missed doing with her since she moved.
Our departure from Boulder was weirdly scheduled, thanks to the Engineer realizing that he had to be back at school on Monday for an unavoidable commitment after we had already booked separate tickets. My flight was Saturday night, so the Commodore came to pick me up and took me to see her new apartment, where I finally got to meet her guinea pig, before taking me to the airport. The Engineer stayed in Boulder one more night before I picked him up Sunday morning and we both drove back to school.
The visits were definitely beneficial and will help us make our final decision, but for now both the Engineer and I are just excited to stop hopping time zones and stay in the same place for more than 3 nights in a row!