New Paltz, New York
So, these have been the most unexpectedly bizarre past few days of my life. I am officially back at New Paltz, back to everything I’ve known for the past 3 years, everything familiar to me. Only problem is, I’ve never felt more lost.
As my summer wound down – in a most anticlimactic fashion, in case you were wondering – I started getting excited for New Paltz. For getting back to my school, which inadvertently became a second home of sorts, after spending a semester in a foreign country. While most assumed I should be sad to be back home, I was actually excited. I would take the things I learned in that foreign place – about the world, about myself – and apply them in a setting with which I was more familiar. And holy hell, was I wrong.
For one thing, I don’t even recognize half of campus. While I was away, and then while I was at home for the summer, construction workers finished up their “love child” – a giant glass…something. A mountain, a pyramid, a sad replica of the Louvre. However you want to refer to it, it’s gaudy, unnecessary, and a HUGE waste of money. There was no need for its construction, save for aesthetic “purpose,” though I can’t seem to find one. Except for the occasional, “Hey man, I’m at the big glass thingy. Meet me here in 5 minutes.”
As if this exterior was bad enough, the inside of the “glass thingy” looks like the front desk of a museum. Downstairs features a bunch of futuristic couches, a giant flat screen TV and a “rec center” complete with pool and an air hockey tables. From this area, you can see inside the bookstore, because they changed it to look like some store in the mall: floor to ceiling “store windows” complete with mannequins adorned with our over-priced campus merch. There are now two separate lines, one devoted solely to textbooks (the only good decision made), and it just looks bigger. Speaking of malls, they also felt the need to renovate the entire food area inside: adding, fixing, changing, ruining. I walk into the student union building and I feel like I’m in a food court at a mall. I can no longer recognize what was once there, what it looked like before all our Bob the Builders came along. Most offices in the basement were refurbished – because that many students honestly noticed the aesthetic errors of the R&R office when trying to drop Calc or Psych? – with full glass windows and modern furniture, much like a doctor’s office. If I can’t solve in 5 minutes what I came to that office to do, I’m not going to bother poppin’ a squat on one of their new and improved armchairs. Pointless.
I guess for a newbie, all this new crap must seem exciting. Like, Wow, I go to an under-funded state school but with the illusion that we have a decent budget! But for someone whose past three years were practically planted out in the quad, these changes are a bit jarring. Frightening, even. Especially since I found out that redesigning the school – from the logo to the lobbies – cost us $300,000,000. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT. Upon arrival, my room had one garbage can instead of two, our phone jack was completely destroyed, and they didn’t have “enough of a budget” to provide things like free planners for students – something, I don’t know, useful? – because they spent all their money building a glass thingy and all that came with it. I could vomit.
I can’t help but wonder if I should have lived off campus this year. I’m sure half of you are screaming, Yes!, but honestly, I just didn’t see the point, seeing as how I’m a senior who doesn’t plan on living here past graduation. I didn’t see the point in schlepping even MORE of my stuff up here than normal, and spending time and money (re)furbishing a house to which I didn’t have any long-term commitment. I guess I still don’t see the point. But 90% of the people I talked to on a regular basis here are now living off campus – which, although in some cases is down the street, might as well be in the next town over – a fact which makes things even more foreign for me.
And the weather, I assume, doesn’t help. Rain comes and goes – in drizzles, drops, and downpours -like a drippy faucet immune to a plumber’s work. I didn’t realize when I arrived in New Paltz, I was also arriving in October, with its bitter air and its bleak, gray sky. Pour me some cider and pick me a pumpkin, where the hell am I?
Here’s to hoping the next 15 weeks aren’t as lackluster as this. *clink*