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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A New Beginning

I have been looking forward to today for a long, long time. Next to the first day of classes on September 4, Orientation has represented the concrete reality of returning to school. I have been harassing the faculty of USM for almost a year now, asking annoying questions, and trying to set my own timetable of events. Each time, they have assured me that everything will happen in due time, and that if I just wait until Orientation, all will be well. That day was today.

I left the apartment around 7am for the 15 minute walk to campus. USM is split between three campuses and fortunately, both the math and science departments are here in Portland, just over a mile away. On most days, I can walk or bike, thereby avoiding parking headaches and fossil fuel usage. Registration began around 7:30, beginning with immunization records and student IDs. As I've mentioned, I got a tetanus shot last week, so I was all set on the medical front. I was happy that the photos were taken right away. On my last Orientation Day, back in 1995, my truck broke down on the way to UTK, forcing me to jog the remaining 2 miles. As you can imagine, I was in quite a state of disarray upon my late arrival and the first thing they wanted to do was take a picture. Thus, my haggard, sweaty moment was immortalized in laminated permanence for the next 5 years. Today's photo, which I may share with you, was much better.

There was a brief tour of campus beginning around 8, which I took advantage of. There are approximately 6 buildings, so it wasn't that much of a tour. Still, it was nice to have something to do while I was waiting for the presentations. My tour guide was a senior majoring in English. Let me just say this. I hope the Math department produces more competent students, because she couldn't find a coherent sentence with both hands and a flashlight. By the time she was done, I actually felt dumber for having listened to her.

Back inside, I was forced to endure 2 hours of the worst Powerpoint extravaganza I have ever seen. These people had less than zero design awareness. There was the typically unnecessary animation, which perfectly complimented the poor layout and asinine color pallet. Seriously, why would you place crimson font on top of royal blue background and honestly expect it to be readable? Fortunately, they all provided handouts that restated their entire presentation, and most of it was directed at traditional students anyway. I've done all this before. I pretty much get it already.

Finally, I got to meet with my adviser, who I had already cajoled into doing an informal transcript review last Fall. He vaguely remembered me, which is to say he was convinced of my motivation. I showed him the tentative course schedule I had designed and explained my desire to retake Calculus just to be on the safe side. We were completely on the same page and I was registered before I left his office. I kept my plan to continue working full-time to myself. I wasn't in the mood to here a time management lecture. I am well aware of how many hours there are in a day, thank you. Anyway, here is the official itinerary.

Calculus A
Structured Problem Solving: Java
Intro to Probability
General Physics I
Physics Lab

Total Hours: 16

It's going to be tough while working so much, but as I said most of it is review, so I think I will be all right.

Next it was on to lunch, which was great because I had skipped breakfast and was famished. I made small talk with a few folks and my story of moving to Maine on foot trumped all other anecdotes. There were a few clubs with tables set up, but neither the Outdoor Club, nor the Ultimate Frisbee intramural team was there, so I left empty-handed. I remembered a poorly publicized library tour at 1pm, so I headed over there. As it turns out, other people don't love libraries as much as I. There have been tours scheduled four times a day during each day of Orientation, and I am the first student to partake. There were some parents who toured yesterday, but other than that, just me. I had a personal tour from the head of the department, which even included perusal of the architect's model for the new addition housing the expansion of the map library, and the new University Commons building going up next door. All in all, well worth my time.

And so, it's even more official. Now I just have to wait another month and a half before classes start. I am so excited that this is finally happening. I hope that excitement carries me throughout the next three years. Lastly, I recall promising earlier a look at that student ID photo, and I hate to go back on my word. So here it is.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Promise fulfilled.


Rebecca said...

Wow, a face put to the name! I had no idea what you looked like so I can't say that I thought you'd look different or anything.

Jackie said...

Tony - thanks for posting the picture - I agree with Rebecaa, it is nice to put a face with the name.

I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences.