Fifty-one years ago, I set foot on the campus of Oklahoma State University as a 17 year old Freshman, a very fresh Freshman.  At least I had friends who came with me, but it was a shock to say the least.  I hadn’t really been away from home that much and I had come from a big class in a big school in a big city, but this was a really big school in a college town.  My new roommate was from a very small town in Oklahoma with a graduating class of 12.  I had a lot to learn.

Last week, I was once again on campus the first week of classes.  I’d been up the week before, amused and remembering what it was all like as I watched two students carry a couch down the street.  I walked across campus to pick up my staff parking permit right between classes, so I felt like I belonged in the throng.  It was hot so the dress was shorts and t-shirts, a far cry from the skirts I had to wear.  While I walked, I read the messages on the t-shirts, mostly OSU themes or shirts promoting rock bands or bars.  They carried their books in backpacks while we just carried ours on our hips in the olden days.

I remember how much we walked back then.  I wouldn’t try a bike on campus since you have to weave between so many students.  The parking is tight, so you walk.  It’s amazing that students ever put on weight with all the walking.  I remember the wind that whips across the campus, that wind that sweeps across the plains in the song, “Oklahoma.”  I walked in sun, rain, and snow when I was a student.  I guess I’ll be doing that again.

In front of the beautiful library, I looked up to the tower.  I haven’t had the desire to go inside, afraid it will dim my memories of so many hours with the card catalogues and hunting through the stacks or shelves for a certain source material for a research paper.  Do they even have books and periodicals now?  Is it just rows of computers?  I’ll get in there eventually.  IMG_5057

The sidewalk had chalk messages reminding students of an upcoming event.  The new patio area in front of the Student Union, the top Student Union in the country, had tents and tables for various groups to recruit members, or have a blood drive, or sell posters, and there was a row of tables with vegetables, baked goods, jewelry, and odd items.  Everybody is figuring out where they belong or who they belong with.  IMG_5058

There are twice as many buildings – or maybe more than that – than when I was there.  The old familiar standbys are matched with new structures that parallel the older ones in style, giving the campus such a uniform look, one of the nicest things about that campus.  That’s the way it should be, with the historic buildings still standing and still used mixed with the new.  Signs of traditions and history mixed with progress and growth.

The campus bookstore doesn’t really have many books.  About 75% of it is clothing or decorative items.  There’s an Apple store with all the latest in computers, phones, tablets, printers and accessories.  There are school supplies back in the back with the few books.  They even had 3-D printers for sale.  Wow!  A whole new world out there from my Freshman year when the only phone was on the wall in the hall or the pay phone booths downstairs.  I had a manual typewriter (not electric), a lamp, a record player, a popcorn popper and a hair dryer.  That was it for my special equipment.   No refrigerators or microwaves.  All snacks were from the machines in the basement and meals were in the cafeteria, except on Sundays when we went out or ordered sandwiches or pizza.  We had discovered pizza by then.

Walking back, I saw a familiar box with the student newspaper.  Back then, it was the O’Collegian, but we called it the O’Colly and now that is the official name.  I pulled one out, amazed that with a digital version they still print the paper one.  It was nice to have one in my hand, just for old times sake. IMG_5060It was a good start back to school.  Even though I’m there to advise students, I know I’m going to learn more from them.  It’s comforting to see how much stays the same, even with all the changes.  It’s nice to come back to a place that holds so many memories.  Should be a good year!