It certainly felt like the first day of a spring semester when the clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up just as I was getting to campus yesterday. Ten years ago, such weather would have ensured that I didn’t go to class for four weeks. Things are different in the new millennium, however, and I persevered. Since I’ve done most of the research about grad school on my own, I’ve had no formal tours of campus, etc. Thus, outside of where my class was, I had little idea where to pick up a parking pass, get an ID photo taken, or where to buy books. So I spent a lot of time before class walking back and forth across campus trying to find the appropriate building for each need. Add in the traditional early semester long lines everywhere, and I didn’t get much accomplished.

Class went well. I was definitely the oldest person present, outside the professor, but there were a couple people who looked like they were closer to 26 than 18, so I didn’t look terribly out of place. There weren’t any gasps when I took out my ancient pen and notebook to take notes, rather than a shiny new laptop. In fact, class meets in a computer room so I had to remind myself what the Windows shortcuts were so I could navigate around. The workload for class looks reasonable. No tests, no final. Just regular quizzes, daily in-class assignments, and a final project. I talked to the professor after class and he said to get my graduate credit, he’ll just ask that I write longer pieces than the other students. Like that’s a problem for me. Our first assignment was to write an article, in third person, about ourselves so he had some background on each of us. I thought about just submitting my infamous “article” about an alleged incident at The Peanut a few years ago, but thought better and submitted something legit.

The biggest change I saw immediately was how computers have exploded in the academic world. When I ended my undergraduate career, most students still didn’t take advantage of school e-mail accounts, and you certainly couldn’t rely on e-mail to exchange information with your instructors. There are terminals all over campus with long lines of kids waiting to check their e-mail. There are systems for submitting your course work on-line. In fact, we’ll print nothing out for class. You’ll do everything on a computer and submit it via e-mail or the school system. I’m not surprised by any of this; I’ve certainly done almost all my work on-line during my professional career. I remember a woman pulling out a laptop in class in ’95, though, and everyone just staring at her while she typed her notes in. Was she from the future???

A couple other early observations:

IUPUI’s “Union” is actually in what appears to be an old dorm. And the main bookstore is a tiny facility in the basement of a different academic building. It was so packed I think the Fire Marshall would have shut it down if he walked through.

I killed some time by walking around the med school side of campus. I imagined seeing my wife there five years ago when she was still in med school. I’m sure she was running around, pinching people’s asses all the time.

When you’re 20, you hope there are a lot of hot girls in your classes. When you’re 33, you hope you can get a seat close to the front and the professor is good.

One of the mid-20s people in my class came to school in sweatpants. Not the cool sweatpants that are ok (I guess) for wearing in public. I’m talking about the old school, grey sweatpants with the elastic in each leg. Fortunately, they were sized appropriately so we weren’t getting entirely too much information from him on the first day of class.