|THESE ARE SPARTANS. Yes we know.|
It's taken a bit of adjustment. It's not what I thought it was going to be like, and it certainly isn't anything like my short experience at Western Carolina. If I were to best describe my experience so far, I'd have to say UNCG is organized chaos.
It starts the moment you arrive on campus and park. If you arrive before 11 AM the campus is shockingly calm. I know when I was in high school, there was colleges with reputations of "party schools", but I find it absolutely odd, especially being a commuter student with other responsibilities, that campus doesn't really get rocking till about 11 AM. Once it does, it's epically insane. Vendors in the sidewalks, bikes weaving in and out of people, cars driven by lunatics, and people running from one side of campus to the other to make it to class on time with the short ten minute class change times.
I suddenly realized on Monday, I could not make my French class in time from my drama class due to the logistics of the two classes being at complete opposite sides of the campus, and the trek being entirely up hill. So Monday evening I went out and purchased a bike rack for Le Metro (my affectionate Geo) and on Tuesday, I took my bike to school. This in itself has required some coordination, since campus is sort of wibbly wobbly. If you're in my shoes, then you actually want to park the bike on College Drive and and walk down to the science building. Trying to bike up hill, (or carry the bike up steps [tried that!]) is insanely futile unless you're Lance Armstrong. This still involves a half mile bike ride up a slight incline, and if I bike as fast as my fat arse can pedal, I'll make it to my seat in French class sweating and wheezing like a swine, just before to bell tolls. (I'm certain I'm fulfilling my American stereotype in my French teachers eyes.) I highly recommend a bike. In fact, I think it's a requirement of attendance in my opinion. There are some downsides. Bike racks, aren't always where you need them, (can we please get one behind the Ferguson Bldg?) and there is no-defined bike lanes on pedestrian walks (like College Dr. [or at least that I can figure out.]); it's almost dangerous. More importantly, if I had one specific hope for change while at UNCG, it would be for Spring Garden Street to be closed completely to cars, or at least made one-way. Crossing the street is downright nail-biting on foot or bike.
Class formats are vastly different then what I've experienced before. Most of the professors seem keen of reading, and self teaching for students, followed by review and lecture. (One class I have as over eight books to purchase, most have 3-4.) I'm accustomed to it being reversed, and it does make you wonder if this format is due to the size of the student body, or perhaps a less personalized approach to educating. (Not all my classes follow this format, but most do.) I'm not so sure it's inherently bad, but it does put a great deal of responsibility on the student. With the cost of education, I could see how some students may find such methodologies conflicting with their expectations for educators. I also should point of many of the professors are completely hot (both male and female). Apparently you must pass some sort of beauty contest to gain employment at UNCG. It certainly makes it difficult to argue against going to class, when everyone just looks so darn good.
Criticisms aside though, by Friday, I was really warming up to UNCG. My professors seem to have a wealth of knowledge, who push you hard, and make you think. They ask a lot of you, in fact the whole campus does, both physically and mentally, but I love it. Is UNCG a good school? The verdict is still out, but I can honestly say, I've made more positive changes in my life, this week, then I have in quite awhile, and isn't that what university is all about?
Update: Last day of the semester:
Well today was my last final exam. Decided to make a time-lapse of the journey (first ever attempt). The next time I enter a classroom should be in Brussels in the fall. Parting is such sweet sorrow, as UNCG has become a second home to me.